Building a Highway Means Building a Country

One major area of infrastructure revitalization and construction is the creation of motorways, particularly the construction of a new motorway that will connect cities Banja Luka and Doboj. “This is one of, if not the biggest and most important project in the country right now,” says Mirza Sabljica, the General Manager at Cat® dealer Teknoxgroup in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Before the war, there were no highways. After the war stopped, the economy started to recover and we now have more than 120 kilometers of highway.”

Plans Set In Motion

Heading up the project is Integral Inženjering, which belongs to Integral Grupa. This is the largest, privately owned, construction company and market leader in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The company specializes in civil and water engineering projects. Along with other subcontractors, they are responsible for the 70-kilometer highway.

“We have successfully finished all project plans and preparations. Now, we are in the phase of building and constructing the highway between the two main cities in this area, Banja Luka and Doboj. The first of two sections to be completed is the 36.6 kilometers between Doboj and Prnjavor,” says Siniša Praštalo, one of the owners and manager at Integral Grupa. “This project is crucial to our country. It means a better and faster connection between the people of the two cities as well as the growth of the state and local communities.”

Performing the majority of work on the highway are 36 Cat machines. On site are mostly heavy excavators, bulldozers, motor graders, articulated trucks and some smaller equipment, like backhoe loaders and mini excavators. In fact, 70 percent of the machines in the Integral Inženjering fleet is Cat equipment. “We prefer Cat machines because of their ability. Plus, the operators are very satisfied with the equipment. They are well trained and very disciplined about their job,” added Siniša.

Today, the stretch between Doboj and Prnjavor is 80 percent complete with a scheduled completion date of July 2016. The second, 35-kilometer section of highway, which connects Prnjavor and Banja Luka, is now undergoing final preparations before asphalt is put down. Integral Grupa is also beginning earthmoving operations on the final part of the highway, the Mahovljani loop, that is on target for completing in two years. Overall, the project will take about four years.

Technology Performs

Helping operators and their Cat machines meet those deadlines is technology such as AccuGrade™, which is relatively new to this area “We are the first company in Bosnia and Herzegovina to buy this new technology. I am extremely impressed with the quickness and efficiency of working with this new technology. The quality of work is also excellent along with the cost saving related to fuel consumption,” says Vlajko Nikolić, Construction Equipment Manager at Integral Grupa. “When it comes to final preparation, our operators and motor graders could complete 250 meters a day before using this technology. Now, we can do one kilometer a day. The value speaks for itself. We have AccuGrade on all our motor graders and dozers and we are planning to install it on our excavators as well.”

 

“Each step in road building requires a different kind of knowledge to get the job done right. AccuGrade™ helps me complete my job much faster and I don’t need many other people around me to do the work.”

 

Also complimentary to the effectiveness of AccuGrade is Živorad Vujić, Motor Grader Operator with Integral Grupa. “Each step in road building requires a different kind of knowledge to get the job done right. AccuGrade helps me complete my job much faster and I don’t need many other people around me to do the work.”

The Value of Maintenance

Contributing to that productivity and efficiency is a service and maintenance agreement for the Cat equipment through Teknoxgroup. “We make sure to educate our customers about the importance of service and maintenance. It is crucial if they want to have a healthy fleet and be ready for any challenges. It is especially important for a big highway construction job such as this one,” adds Mirza. “This is not only true for Integral Grupa and other customers we work with, it’s important for us to be able to offer these kinds of service. Not only does it mean we can help prevent future damage to machines, it’s also an advantage when potential customers are comparing us with competitors.”

The area of construction for the Banja Luka to Dojob highway runs through the middle of the country. The Mahovljani loop section is 20 km from the city of Banja Luka and close to the Banja Luka international airport.

 

Integral Grupa is taking full advantage of their agreement. According to Vlajko, “We have five to ten machines that have 20,000 to 30,000 working hours on them. On several of those, Teknoxgroup did the repair and maintenance of engines, transmissions and oil. Everything done was of very good quality.” Siniša agrees. “Teknoxgroup is an important long-term partner. They perform at a high level when it comes to service, maintenance and product support. Their service technicians perform quickly and parts delivery is fast and accurate.”

Part of that agreement includes service technicians who will stay on site as needed to help prevent future failures and educate the Integral Grupa technicians on how to make repairs. “They are appreciating our efforts regarding product support. We are, time wise, a fast parts provider and we are also equipped with educated and highly motivated service people. We can be on site within a couple of hours and provide what’s necessary to help fix machines without having to come back a second time,” says Mirza. “We also provide training for operators and educate service people for daily maintenance for each type of machine from mini excavators to big front shovels.

 

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Well On the Road to Recovery

Besides the Banja Luka and Doboj highway construction, there are also other motorway projects in the works. The central part of corridor 5C around Zenica city, the southern part of the same corridor from Počitelj to loop in Međugorje and part of the northern route from city Odžak to the Croatian border. Plans are in place to build a total of 230 kilometers of roadway over the next five to six years, to finish the most important infrastructure project in the country, the highway on corridor 5C.

“In terms of economy and in terms of returning to normal life, a lot of companies have decided to come to Bosnia to sell their goods and to give the local people advantages and the ability to live normally,” Mirza says proudly.

 

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