“When your boats are in the business of running, you can’t afford downtime.” Mike Ragas believes in doing whatever it takes to keep his vessels up and running—and that’s why he makes sure the engines powering them are protected with Cat® Extended Service Coverage (ESC).
“It’s a no-nonsense decision,” says Ragas, who serves as chief engineer for Louisiana-based Delta Launch Services, which operates a fleet of four pilot vessels on the lower Mississippi River and into the Gulf of Mexico. “It’s a bargain that’s hard for any owner/operator to refuse. I don’t understand why more people don’t do it.”
As its name implies, ESC extends protection beyond the original factory warranty—helping protect customers from repair costs associated with defects in material or factory workmanship. Commercial marine customers can choose New ESC before their warranty coverage expires, Advantage ESC after warranty expiration but before the first overhaul, and Overhaul Protection for Commercial (OPC) ESC after a qualifying overhaul. There is also a Bundled Repair Solutions option - overhaul kits and additional engine components that customers can purchase from a Cat dealer – which can also include ESC protection. Coverage options can be customized to fit individual needs.
Delta Launch Services added New ESC when it purchased the eight Cat C18 marine propulsion engines that power its vessels. For Ragas, the peace of mind that comes with knowing that Caterpillar and his Cat dealer, Louisiana Cat, are standing behind the product is well worth the price.
“I know what I’m getting,” he says. “If something goes wrong, it’s on the manufacturer’s back. Caterpillar isn’t going to give me an engine that doesn’t run.”
Following the engines’ first overhaul, Delta Launch Services added OPC ESC. Rather than repowering its vessels with new Tier 4 engines, the company hopes to get years of additional performance out of its proven C18s. The fact that they’re backed by OPC ESC gives Ragas more confidence in the overhauled units—not that he expects he’ll need it to use it.
“They’re basically new engines,” he says. “They should be good for about another five years.”
Mike Murzi, a marine parts and service sales representative with Louisiana Cat, agrees.
“When they leave our shop, with the exception of the block and crankshaft, those engines are like brand-new,” he says. “Delta Launch Services is basically hitting the reset button.”
If issues do arise, Ragas has no doubts Louisiana Cat will be able to address them.
“Whenever we’ve had a problem, they’ve had somebody there the next day—or even that same day,” he says. “Nobody can stand with them in terms of product or support.”