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Stackers vs Wheel Loaders
Posted by Jacob Hart

7 minutes read

We have visited hundreds of quarries around New Zealand and across the globe, which has enabled us to see how managers run their quarries in a variety of environments. With this insight and experience, we can authoritatively compare what an efficient quarry looks like vs one that needs improvement.

A common question that comes up from managers wanting to improve their quarries performance is “why should I purchase a stacker when I could pay a little more for a loader and achieve a broader range of tasks with it?”

The answer varies depending on what the end goal is and what efficiencies need improving the most. A key consideration is how large is your quarry is and what capital investment is needed most.

In this article, we will compare what it costs to run a Tracked Stacker vs a Wheel Loader, the breakdown of these costs and additional points to consider to make an informed decision.

To start the comparison, we will compare the financial performance of a Tracked Stacker and Wheel Loader, both of similar hourly capacity to move material 25m. We will be using the Keestrack S5 Stacker and an aggregation of the latest Wheel Loaders in the same size that can move 300 tonnes per hour.


Keestrack S5 Stacker

Wheel Loader

1) Operating data



Operating hours per annum



Average throughput per hour (tonnes)



Operating days per annum



Operating hours per day



Annual throughput (tonnes)



2) Investment cost



3) Operating cost per annum



3.1) Amortisation cost per annum



Amortisation time (years)






3.2) Insurance cost per annum



3.3) Personnel costs



Rate per hour



3.4) Fuel costs



Price per litre of Diesel



Diesel consumption per hour (litres)



3.5) Additional operating costs (consumables)



3.6) Services and preventative maintenance costs



4) Summary costs per annum



Cost per tonne



All data is indicative only based on the time of writing and can vary according to application and material properties. Designed to be a guide only.

The numbers give a good indication of what machine is better for the job by looking at the cost per tonne to move. The cost to run the Stacker is 71% less than the Loader. We will look at 5 reasons why a Stacker is so much cheaper to run.

5 Reasons why a Stacker is cheaper than a Wheel Loader

1. Investment/Amortisation cost

A Wheel Loader costs more outright to purchase – this is a considerable extra cost, in this example $350,000 for the loader or $170,000 for the stacker – therefore requiring the business to pay off this debt in more substantial sums over a six year term.

2. Insurance costs

A more expensive asset means a higher insurance premium every year.

3. Loader operator costs

An important factor, a Loader needs an operator to drive it. In contrast, a stacker is set up in conjunction with processing equipment allowing the operator to concentrate on loading and running the plant to its maximum. It can also negate the need for additional staff to just handle material movement and stockpiling.

4. Fuel costs

With a larger engine and more moving parts the Loader costs significantly more to run with fuel being the main cost, equating to 697% more fuel needed than a Stacker.

5. Other wear costs

Since a Loader has significantly more moving parts and wear parts such as cutting edges on the bucket it incurs higher maintenance and operating costs. In contrast, the Stacker is stationary and receives material directly from the Screen/Crusher which means no bucket wear, tyre cost and generally lower maintenance needs.

Other key considerations to make before buying a Loader or Stacker.

How many other loaders do you currently have?

If you a starting with a new quarry it is highly likely you will need to buy a Loader before purchasing a Stacker. There is no point buying a Stacker and having no Loaders – you will need to load trucks, tidy the yard and/or have a machine to load the equipment if you don’t have additional equipment. However, if you already have one or two Loaders and are considering another one, it is worthwhile planning out what the quarry is looking to accomplish and asset utilisation. A Stacker is the better option for moving material 25m or less, whereas a Loader is the better the option for moving material further and more general tasks a Stacker cannot do. Good Quarry planning though is essential to keep costs low, loader movements and double handling result in skyrocketing costs, so making use of space, moving equipment, and building the layout to suit a Stacker also brings significant benefits.

How far does the material need to be transported?

The larger Tracked S5 Stacker can transport material approximately 25 meters – ideal for any operation that has a large floor area or only needs to carry the material a reasonably short distance. If you need to transport material further you will likely need to consider a few Loaders or a Dump Truck – ideally, with a mobile plant, you can move your crusher to the best location cutting down on transport.

How high can the material be stacked?

Height is the aim of the game! The higher the material can be stacked, the less floor space it will take up in your yard. With a Keestrack S5 Stacker, the material can be stacked up to 9.3m with a capacity of 2,500 tonnes per stack before needing to swing the Stacker around to start a new stack.

For a complete cost breakdown on our Stacker vs a Loader or to get some more information on what is better for your Quarry get in touch with us.

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