Gary Ashe trekked up to Ballymena, Co Antrim to chat with female operator Carrie Murray, who is working for Northern Irish demolition outfit A Bonnar and Son.
A Bonnar and Son were demolishing a site for refurbishment at the NRC, Ballymena when I visited.
Carrie has been in the game around three years now but coming from a farming background in Newtownards, being around big machines and operating them is just in her blood.
“I originally started driving excavators back home, I’m from a suckler farm so it was kind of just things like cleaning out sheds and stuff like that, so from there I just developed an interest”, she says.
So, I asked when did she start driving excavators professionally?
“I actually started driving excavators as a job about three years ago, coming from a farming background I always wanted to drive lorries, diggers, tractors etc.
I kind of did the tractor thing and then I just decided to get my blue card for the excavators, so here I am. And also, I decided before Christmas to go and get my HGV so hopefully in the next month or two I’ll go from a Class 1 and see where it goes from there.”
I asked Carrie about her academic background.
“I never really went to school; I wasn’t an academic person”, she said cheekily.
“The only real qualification I decided to get was my digger test, my blue card and it developed from there, a couple of licenses and some more categories but I certainly was never an academic person” she laughs.
What type of machine are you driving today? I asked.
“She’s a 24-tonne Hyundai HX235 LCR. She’s got the shears on at the minute. We also have a pulverizer and a hammer and a few other bits and pieces, but today we’re just shearing up steel. We’re going for number one which is anything from five foot and under”, she replied.
A hobby that pays
Clearly, Carrie loves her job as she tries to portray to me her daily routine. “I don’t really feel like I’m actually going to work, it kind of feels more like a hobby where I get paid on top, which is just a bonus”, she said.
I enquired about those cold damp winter days and how Carrie approaches it. “Cold weather never really bothered me, even back on the farm you can’t just say ‘It’s cold, its wet, it’s snowing, I don’t want to go to work.’ It’s just always been programmed in me, you know, wet weather, whatever you just get on with it, too warm, you just get on with it. It’s just part of the job, sometimes you might get a nice picture of snow in the background”, she said.
So, Carrie, how to you get on with your colleagues?
“Honestly, great! I would say it’s a really small, close-knit outfit. I’m not just saying it because I work here but we all get on very well. You get a laugh, you get a joke, everyone knows their own wee job and what they do. Everybody just gets on and it makes the day go much quicker if you get on with the people you work with”, she said.
What’s your favorite part of demolition work? I enquired.
“Pulverizing. I love pulverizing, some people don’t like it cause it’s a long, ongoing dreary kind of process but if someone says, ‘Carrie there’s a pile of rubble, off you go’, you could leave me at it for a couple of hours or a couple of days I’m as happy as can be”, said Carrie.
Does it ever get boring? I asked.
“Each and every day is a school day, you’re always learning something different and even my colleague Dodge, who’s been at it for many years, will tell you that every day brings something new and different, something you haven’t discovered before.”
The Korean cutter
The day I visited, Carrie was operating a Hyundai HX 235 LCR with a shear attached.
The 235 excavator is built to provide up to 129kW or 172 hp, delivered from its powerful Cummins engine to the 24t HX 235 LCR machine. The Hyundai HX 235 LCR can be grouped in the medium-sized machine segment in the crawler excavators category.
The HX235A LCR features the A-series upper frame design, which significantly increases lifting capacity. This is combined with reduced tail swing and a lifting mode, to make this powerful machine an excellent all-rounder for digging and moving heavy loads. EPFC (Electronic Positive Flow Control) EPFC improves fine control while also reducing fuel consumption. The system allows operators to tailor their machine for the job at hand, ensuring the optimal balance of power and precision.
The HX235A LCR is equipped with an eco-friendly Cummins B6.7L engine that satisfies the strictest emissions requirements. It also delivers impressive power and performance with 881 Nm of peak torque (31% more than its predecessor) setting a new industry benchmark. Like all A-Series machines, this excavator features our all-in-one exhaust aftertreatment system. Removing the need for EGR has also enabled us to improve productivity through better fuel economy and longer service intervals.
The cabin is designed to provide the operator with a comfortable working environment that boosts productivity and reduces fatigue. It includes a high-quality seat and a well-thought-out layout that places the most important controls within easy reach. A range of options are available including a new audio system with radio, USB, AUX input and Bluetooth.
For convenience and security, the HX235A LCR features Hyundai’s Hi MATE remote fleet management system, which uses mobile data technology to provide the highest level of service and support. You can monitor your equipment wherever you are via a dedicated website or mobile app, with access to working parameters like total engine hours, machine utilization, actual performed working hours and fuel consumption and machine location.