Cat® Frontless Excavators Stand Up to Hard Rock

Chen Hu established Chengdu Sanhe Construction Equipment Rental Station (Sanhe Rental) to get engaged with the equipment rental business within earthmoving and construction industries back in 2010. Over the years, rental machines from Sanhe Rental have been an integral part of the construction of many roads in Chengdu. Under Chen’s operation, the company has gradually grown in size and now owns more than 10 machines – their fleet includes excavators, loaders, and compactors.

Chen Hu knew very little about earthmoving machines when he made the decision to step into the rental business, so he decided to do some comprehensive research based on his needs and also turned to friends in the industry for recommendations on equipment brands. He needed reliable machines with low service rates so that his customers could focus on their operation instead of equipment service. Chen’s research and recommendations led him to consider Cat® machines. His first purchase was a 323D L Excavator, which has had reliable performance for years, and he quickly added additional 324 and 329 Excavators to his growing fleet.

In recent years, Chen won the contract for work on a four km road project in Nanning Road, Tianfu New District, Chengdu City, China. Nanning Road is located in the mountains, so unlike previous projects, the soil conditions are extremely hard. Typically, this type of soil and hard rock would be blasted and loaded into a truck to be hauled away, but blasting is not allowed in the Tianfu New District project so Chen was faced with a new challenge in providing the right equipment to move two million cubic meters in 15 months as required.

After more research, Chen decided to use large excavators equipped with rock arms and rippers to meet the customer requirements for the construction site. He rented five 40-70 ton excavators – four from Japan and Korea and one Cat 374 Excavator – to test their capabilities in these conditions. When he put these machines to use, he found that the four machines from Japan and Korea were not strong enough to deal with the extremely hard soil. The rock arm attached to the Cat 374 could do the job with ease, but the rent per month was prohibitive to using a full Cat fleet of machines. After further consideration, he decided to purchase a used Cat 349D L Excavator with a rock arm attached, featuring all the traditional advantages of a Cat machine with the capability of handling the hard rock on Nanning Road.

The Cat equipment worked so well that he was faced with another dilemma – one was not enough. Chen needed more machines to ensure the work was completed on schedule. If he purchased additional excavators and removed the boom, stick, and bucket then those portions would be left unused and he would still need to purchase the rock arms and rippers separately. Additionally, these modified excavators would no longer be covered by warranty, meaning Chen would pay a high price for any service required. All of these things meant a great decrease in profit, so Chen was looking for a creative solution.

 

IN COMPARING THE CAT PRODUCTS SELECTED FOR THIS JOBSITE VERSUS OTHER BRANDS, CHEN HAS FOUND THAT THE CAT 349D2 L OEM CAN DIG ABOUT 30 TIMES MORE IN ONE HOUR THAN THE SAME SIZE EXCAVATORS PURCHASED THROUGH JAPAN AND KOREA, AND ABOUT 400 TIMES MORE IN A 14 HOUR WORK DAY.

 

Chen Hu has had a long partnership with local Cat dealer ECI-Metro, which introduced him to Caterpillar OEM Solutions to help him find the right excavator solution for the job. OEM Solutions is focused on providing Cat integrated solutions in different industry applications, ranging from complete machine solutions down to power systems and components.

Caterpillar OEM Solutions was able to work with Chen to understand his job requirements and provide a comprehensive solution that eliminated his concerns and conflicts. He was able to purchase a Cat OEM Frontless Hydraulic Excavator which was approved for his specific application by OEM Solutions to be fitted with a rock arm and ripper. ECI-Metro worked with a selected manufacturer on completing the machine, which is still covered by warranty through Caterpillar OEM Solutions. Not only did the newly outfitted 349D2 L OEM Frontless Excavator cost less than his original standard 349D2 L purchase, but it also avoided having an idle boom, stick, and bucket.

 

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In comparing the Cat products selected for this jobsite versus other brands, Chen has found that the Cat 349D2 L OEM can dig about 30 times more in one hour than the same size excavators purchased through Japan and Korea, and about 400 times more in a 14 hour work day. Assuming that it would dig one cubic meter of earth each time, more than 20 truckloads of earth can be handled in a day. With this efficiency, the work schedule was adjusted accordingly, giving the operators less strenuous shifts. The operators also sing high praises of the machine – strength, power, high operating speed, and a comfortable cab make for an easy workday.

By working with Caterpillar OEM Solutions, Chen gained individual service customized by Caterpillar in partnership with his local dealer, ECI-Metro. As experts in these niche markets, OEM Solutions can offer customers the quality and value of a standard Cat product in applications that meet very specific needs, tailored to very specific jobsite requirements.

 

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