Rock Products

APR 2019

Rock Products is the aggregates industry's leading source for market analysis and technology solutions, delivering critical content focusing on aggregates-processing equipment; operational efficiencies; management best practices; comprehensive market

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22 • ROCK products • April 2019 Hinkle W inding through misty mountain roads, the stunning landscape softens to rolling hills gleaming with the vibrancy of early spring. Last night's soft frost is losing ground in the warming sun. While most people covet the increasing hours of daylight, it's a luxury nearly foreign to the under- ground miners of Hinkle Contracting Co. "Oh, I don't pay it any mind," said Hinkle's East Area Manager Donnie Spencer as he regards the lack of natu- ral light on this jobsite. "You start your shift pretty well in the dark, spend a good 10 hours down there, and come back up about the time the sun's setting. All in a day's work." Easy to say for a man with mining in his blood. "And honestly, in the winter it's pretty nice," Spencer added. "It stays a constant 60 degrees and is relatively quiet, other than the machine noise. Most every- one is in a sealed cab, so the little bit of dust really isn't even an issue. I've never heard any complaints about the work environment or missing the sun. Whether underground or on the sur- face, miners are a pretty tough breed." Jagged, cavernous and colossal, the Bourbon Limestone quarry of Paris, Ky., looks more like the ancient ruins of a lost civilization than it does the foun- dation for our modern one. Even with a map, auxiliary lighting, and hieroglyph- ic-like markings on the walls, it's easy for a newcomer to get turned around. But coming from a mining family and with nearly 40 years of experience, Spencer serves as a far more valuable guide. "From where we stand, it's 375 ft. straight up to the surface, the ceiling is A Tough Breed A Set Of Specific Challenges Arise When Working Underground, and Deere Equip- ment – Along With an Unflinching Workforce – Make It Possible to Master Them. By Mark S. Kuhar at 65 ft., and we have about 35 acres of open space down here," Spencer said. Hinkle cuts its headings in 50-footwide slabs, leaving another 50 ft. before starting the next. This creates a check- erboard-like pattern of columns that support the tremendous amount of earth overhead. "We blast three or four headings at the end of each day, and try to move most of it all out the next." That makes for an approximate 3,000 yd. or 4,000 tons of material processed per day at this location alone, contributing to the com- pany's yearly total of 3.6 million tons from its 16 quarry locations. Lighting The Way With no sun to govern its work hours, this crew relies on its own light to get the job done. "The light from the equip- ment is about all we need," explained Spencer, while Jeff Mingus, vice presi- dent, Equipment Division, added, "We really love the lighting on the new John Deere models. The optional deluxe LED lighting package on our 944K Hybrid Loader lights up the place like nobody's business." Having cut his teeth in the Wild West of oil-field construction, where tight deadlines and self-reliance dominate the jobsite, Mingus has just about seen it all. And thanks to Deere engineers, his operators can, too. "The attention to detail regarding illu- mination alone is pretty impressive," Mingus said. "Visibility underground is a huge concern – the better the lighting, the safer we can work. Little touches like the deck, stairway, and ladder lights go a long way. Not to men - tion the engine bay and other service

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