Measure of Success

Technology Helps Excavating Contractor Meet Tight Tolerances

Excavation is a precise business. Tolerances are tight, many times .02-inch or less. To be successful, contractors must utilize machines equipped to efficiently meet projects specs with no rework.

TEC, Inc. (Tatum Excavating Company), Texarkana, Texas, utilizes Cat® machines and services to help meet demanding tolerances and better measure machine operation and efficiency.

A Cat 140M2 Motor Grader was purchased recently, in part, because the blade position is automatically controlled to help the operator meet each project’s exacting grade specifications.

Utilization of a GPS grade control system greatly improves the 140M2’s accuracy and efficiency. With the technology, grade stakes are eliminated and fewer passes are needed to achieve target specifications.

Sensors provide real-time blade position, which is compared to a three-dimensional electronic site plan. The hydraulic system and operator are signaled to raise or lower the blade to achieve design requirements.

The 140M2, as well as a D6K and a D6K2 Dozer, used the GPS grade control system for site prep work at a 2,000-foot expansion of an existing rail spur in Pittsburgh, Texas.

TEC, Inc. duties at the job included construction of 2,000 feet of new rail spur, associated drainage, earthwork, ditches, the installation of riprap, as well as reconstruction of a section of existing rail.

“On another project, we were running .02 grade tolerance on a one-mile road. A slipform paver came in right behind the 140M2,” says Ross Sarine, vice president. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”

High Uptime
The company has utilized S•O•SSM Fluids Sampling for the past 20 years to help keep its fleet operating at peak performance. Fluid sampling accurately charts machine performance, prevents minor problems from escalating, and keeps uptime high.

“When a component is out of spec, we can immediately diagnose the source of the problem before we have a catastrophic failure,” Sarine says. “Or it can be as simple as an engine oil fuel cap not sealing properly, and it’s letting dust in. It gives us a heads up that the naked eye would never catch.”

 TEC measures machine operation cost per hour, including repairs and service costs, to be sure that machines are working efficiently. Tracking costs, TEC, Inc. management knows with certainty that the 20 Cat machines the company owns are the least expensive to own and operate per hour compared to other brands in its mixed fleet.

“We code all repairs and operational expenses to each machine. Historically, Cat machines perform much better in long-term owning and operating costs than other brands. Cat machines have fewer repairs and better uptime,” Sarine says.

He cited a D6K Dozer purchased in 2007 as an example of the high-quality, low-maintenance Cat machines in the company’s fleet. “The D6K had its first System 1 undercarriage replaced at 7,500 hours. That’s a huge cost advantage.  We replace undercarriages for other brands at 3,500 hours,” Sarine says.

The rotating bushings in the dozer’s undercarriage increase the component’s life in the highly abrasive, sandy environment in which the machine works. The D6K’s high uptime and long life were key factors in the company’s decision to purchase a D6K2 Dozer in 2013.

Helping Hands
Outstanding support from Caterpillar and their local dealer, HOLT Cat, are important factors when purchasing new machines.

“Having machines working on the job every day is essential. The dealer provides the support to help us meet demanding schedules,” Sarine says. “We use HOLT Cat for key repairs and field service, even some in-shop repairs and service.”

Parts delivery also keeps uptime high. “Caterpillar has, without question, the best parts network. We can order a part, and have it the same day or next morning. Cat support is 24/7,” Sarine says.

TEC, Inc. uses its own machines approximately 95 percent of the time, and rents a specialty piece or an additional piece from HOLT Cat to supplement the fleet. “That’s when we look to our Cat dealer,” Sarine says. “We commonly rent support equipment like compactors. We also rent specialty equipment like long-reach excavators that we don’t keep in the fleet.”

In a field where precision is of the utmost importance, TEC, Inc. has built a reputation for high-quality workmanship, outstanding production, and customer satisfaction. “That’s what keeps customers coming back,” Sarine says.

TEC, Inc. completed construction of the first section of the rail spur in Pittsburgh, Texas, more than a decade ago. The company was hired to do site prep for the update because the customer remembered the contractor’s skill, precision and efficiency.

That is a legacy that would please any contractor.

TEC, Inc. recently purchased a Cat® 140M2 Motor Grader, in part, because the blade position is automatically controlled to help the operator meet each project’s exacting grade specifications.

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