There’s a well-known old saying that “necessity is the mother of invention.” In other words, we tend to develop new innovations in response to previously unanswered needs. And, those inventions that truly provide a unique solution tend to be the most successful. The people of Park Industries, a company based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, can certainly vouch for the truthfulness of that statement.
Since opening its doors in 1953, Park Industries has been a family-owned company that designs, manufactures, sells and supports solutions for the stone industry. Today, under third-generation ownership, Park Industries employs over 250 associates at two factories located about a block apart.
“We’ve always been involved in stone processing once the stone has left the quarry,” says Jeff Walerius, architectural product manager for Park Industries. “Until recently, we’ve never been involved in actual quarrying. Historically, our equipment has always been intended to process stone after the point where it has been quarried.”
Because working in a quarry can present various physical challenges, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has established some fairly strict safety regulations. Finding drilling equipment that is both effective and meets those regulations isn’t always a simple task. “Quarries in the U.S. and Canada were actually purchasing some drilling equipment from companies overseas,” explains Jim Fuchs, a mechanical engineer for Park Industries. “Other quarries purchased old drills and modified them to suit their needs. Regardless, the majority of that equipment really met all of the MSHA safety requirements.”
Capitalizing on an opportunity
A 33-year veteran of the dimensional quarry business, Fuchs saw this lack of safe, reliable and productive equipment as an opportunity for Park Industries. He wanted to incorporate some features into a drill that made it possible for quarry owners and managers to improve their productivity and keep their employees safe under MSHA standards. Fuchs worked together with Jeff Walerius to develop a drill powered by hydraulic pumps. However, the two still needed to find an appropriate machine upon which to mount that drill, which they chose to name the “RAPTOR.”
“I looked at lots of different machines,” Fuchs says. “I’d like to think I looked at everything that was feasibly possible on which to mount a drill. During my search, I found that certain machine features were absolutely necessary for us to achieve our safety and productivity goals.”
Fuchs knew that the right machine would have a boom that could support the RAPTOR drill’s weight while allowing operators to place the drill exactly where they need to use it. That can be anywhere from ground level up to 10 or 12 feet high. The machine also needed adequate hydraulic pumps that could not only supply power to the drill, but also to its other important features, like its dust collector and air compressor.
Finding the right equipment partner
Walerius and Fuchs went to ConExpo 2014 in the hopes of finding a piece of equipment that would meet all those requirements. That’s when the JCB 536-60 AGRI telescopic handler first caught their attention. “We walked around and visited the booths of various telehandler manufacturers, but most seemed uninterested in our idea,” Fuchs recalls. “They weren’t all that enthusiastic. JCB embraced us right off the bat, was willing to work with us and provide all the information we needed.”
JCB’s 536-60 AGRI telescopic handler, or telehandler for short, sits on a chassis that’s designed for load-bearing and stability. A side-mounted JCB Ecomax engine combines with JCB axles and transmission to ensure a reliable drivetrain performance from well-proven components. Three steering modes provide easy operation, a tight turning radius and great maneuverability. The 536-60 AGRI can lift an impressive maximum weight of 7,000 lbs to a maximum height of 20’6”. While the machine is designed with the agriculture industry in mind, it can be used in any application that requires excellent strength, power and lifting ability.
After much discussion between Walerius, Fuchs, Park Industries’ electrical engineer and the telescopic handler specialists at JCB, the 536-60 AGRI model became an integral part of the RAPTOR drill vision. Park Industries purchased a 536-60 AGRI from local dealer A & C JCB out of Paynesville, Minn. and modified it with an auxiliary hydraulic drive to provide additional power. Because of how the drill is designed, it must be sold with the JCB 536-60 AGRI telehandler and is not compatible with other similar machines.
Safe, powerful and versatile
Park Industries began testing a prototype RAPTOR in September 2014 and officially launched the product at SURFACES | StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas, a nationwide industry conference, in January 2015. According to Fuchs and Walerius, the RAPTOR has been very well-received in the marketplace to date. The RAPTOR has been in use at a major U.S. quarry since May 2015, and it’s also been demoed to a large number of potential customers.
“Our customer has given us some very helpful feedback, and we’ve made some slight modifications based on their input,” Fuchs says. “That’s allowed us to integrate some unique features that other drill manufacturers don’t offer.”
A camera is mounted on the machine’s drill line so that operators can physically sit in the cab, view the monitor and start drilling from the cab without leaving it. This keeps operators in a safe environment that’s also protected from noise and weather. And, thanks to both its unique design and the integration of the JCB 536-60 AGRI telehandler, the RAPTOR offers greater versatility than competing drills.
“One of the features we like most about the telehandler is its quick coupler that allows us to uncouple the drill,” Walerius says. “Customers can easily drop the drill from the telehandler and use it for other purposes. When we designed the RAPTOR, we made sure that the telehandler itself was kept completely intact so that operators can still use any other attachment that fits the machine.”
For example, if an operator is drilling in a quarry, and he or she also needs to load an item onto a truck, it’s possible to put a set of forks on the front of the telehandler and use it for that purpose. Owners and operators could also put a bucket on the 536-60 AGRI and use it to shovel snow.
“Maintaining that ability to use other attachments is unique in our industry,” Fuchs adds. “Our competitors do not have that option; you have to use the drill on the machine at all times. Not only can our customers use the RAPTOR for other applications, we at Park Industries can also develop additional types of drills or other industry-related attachments for use on the 536-60 AGRI. There’s so much opportunity left to explore.”
To learn more about JCB’s 536-60 AGRI telescopic handler, visit www.jcbna.com. For more information about the RAPTOR drill, or to view a video of it in action, visit www.parkindustries.com.