By Peter Roberts
Dale Elphinstone is living proof of the old adage that you can’t keep a good man down – in his case, a good manufacturer.
Elphinstone’s (pictured below) story is one of those that begins in a garage, this time in the small mining, industrial and port town of Burnie on the north-west coast of Tasmania, and ends in international prominence.
In his case tough, that prominence has come twice, and in the tough field of manufacturing underground and surface mining equipment.
Elphinstone first modified Caterpillar surface mining equipment to work underground in 1975.
His first product design, a 13 tonne articulated dump truck, of 1983 was followed three years later by what became his signature product, an underground load haul dump (LHD) truck.
With more than 5,000 vehicles were sold to 50 locations in Australia and more than 35 overseas, Elphinstone’s success attracted the attention of Caterpillar.
Caterpillar and the two parties established a 50/50 joint venture in 1995, Caterpillar Elphinstone Pty Ltd before Cat moved to full ownership in 2000.
However with Cat’s intention of moving production to Thailand by 2016, Elphinstone could not stand still.
Today Elphinstone Pty Ltd is once again a recognised Cat OEM, manufacturing the Haulmax 3900 off highway mine haul trucks, Railmax RMT14D road-rail excavators and Elphinstone underground support vehicles.
The Haulmax fills a gap for small or remote mining operations between standard highway rucks and the heavy monsters that inhabit Australia’s mining pits – the Haulmax taking smaller loads but over longer distances.
Underground support vehicles include agitators, motor graders, personnel carriers, delivery trucks, service trucks, water cannons, water tanks, among other specialised equipment.
Elphinstone most recent release (main picture) is a family photo of the WR810 6m3 Agitator, WR820 8m3 Agitator, and WR820 10m3 Agitator vehicles.
All three machines will be used for shotcrete, construction and backfilling applications.
Elphinstone is also a producer of electrical harnesses.
Turning over $1 billion and employing 2,000, Elphinstone is a powerhouse of Tasmania’s north-west.
His manufacturing operations, Caterpillar and other dealerships, and investments in related equipment industries span all states and stretches as far as Vietnam.
Dale Elphinstone’s is a great story, showing just what can be achieved in manufacturing in Australia.
Picture: Dale Elphinstone/Elphinstone Agitator range
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