This story was produced by Caterpillar and originally published as an interview case study in Earthmoving Equipment Magazine. It has been republished (with permission from EEM) here by WesTrac in July 2023.
Don Downey, owner of multi-faceted Sydney civil works company Access Tec, is a straight talker. He loves land clearing work, and he’s not ashamed to say so.
“We started Access Tec back in 2019 as a plant mechanic business, and over the years we’ve progressed into owning machinery and carrying out a bit of wet and dry hire,” he says.
“We carry out a lot of civil works, as well as a lot of land clearing. A lot of our customers were involved in land vegetation management, so that’s how we ended up getting into it. And I absolutely love it.”
Don says the work can be especially rewarding, particularly when given the chance to really transform somebody’s home.
“We did a job in Razorback recently, where a customer had a beautiful city view from her property, but she couldn’t actually see it through all these trees,” he says.
“We came in and just cleared it all out, and I’ve never seen someone so happy. It just looked amazing.”
The right tools for the job
Access Tec’s latest acquisition is a 9-tonne Cat 309 CR Mini Excavator packaged with an HM210 Mulcher – a package designed specifically for efficient forestry management. Don says his existing relationship with WesTrac made the process very easy.
“We bought our first Cat machine from WesTrac in 2020, a 1.7-tonner, and it’s just progressed from there,” Don says.
Nina Zeidan, WesTrac Product Advisor for Cat Attachments, says the purchase process was a good example of WesTrac’s commitment to pairing customers with the right product for their needs.
“Don was originally looking at a larger 15-tonne machine,” she says. “We got talking about landscaping attachments, what exactly was possible, and ended up coming up with a different solution.”
Nina recommended Don consider the smaller 9-tonne Cat 309 CR paired with a Cat HM210 mulcher, advice that Don ultimately followed.
“Traditionally, councils and land management operators have utilised 15–20-tonne excavators for clearing with a mulcher,” Nina says. “While there’s no dispute over their ability, those machines can be harder to manoeuvre in tighter access fire trails, and aren’t set up for tracking while mulching at the same time.
“The 309 and the HM210 are made for each other. It’s a high-flow mulcher, and the 309 has the dedicated auxiliary pump, which means there is no lag when travelling while working with the mulcher at full flow. You’re able to finish your job quicker and access tighter areas that you couldn’t with a 15-tonne machine.
“As a lighter machine, you can also carry it on a tip tray, which is something you couldn’t do with a larger machine.
“It was the perfect solution for him,” Nina says. “He took a leap of faith, and the results speak for themselves.”
“A feature that sold this machine the most was having that dedicated hydraulic pump to run the mulcher,” Don adds. “I’ve had this machine going up against some other bigger machines on work sites, and this thing just out-runs all of them.”
Roberto Manna, Access Tec’s local WesTrac rep, then worked with Don to customise the excavator to a forestry spec machine.
“For Access Tec’s requirements, the 309 was the perfect fit, especially with the HM210 mulcher going onto it,” Roberto says. “The cab is very well protected, it’s got window guards, and a thick polycarbonate front window to stop any potential hazard flying out of the mulcher.
“There’s a Cat tilt hitch fitted as well, so they can get the angles right when mulching on batters and embankments. Access Tec does a lot of roadside work, so having the rubber pads on the tracks is very handy and versatile too.”