Cat® equipment is designed to last. Just ask Joe Stella, fleet and production manager of Bing Materials in Gardnerville, Nevada. He’s still running a Cat 988B Wheel Loader that after almost 40 years of hard work was starting to have a few maintenance issues. That’s when he turned to his local Cat dealer.
Kevin Colvin, a product support sale representative at Cat dealer Cashman, suggested trying oil sampling to start monitoring the health of the machine. After a year and a half of oil sampling, the lab analysts began noticing an increase of metal in the transmission from the oil analysis test. The test also revealed low oil viscosity (or thickness) showing that the component was running hot. The analyst recommended keeping an eye on it through more frequent sampling. Unfortunately, a thorough service inspection revealed the need for a $57,000 rebuild.
Stella and Colvin looked at the age of the machine and the hours on the machine frame and components. They began discussing other options to maintain productivity on Bing’s Minden, Nevada aggregate pit, the largest in the area. Should they rebuild it? Should they buy new? Should they just rent while it was repaired?
A 980K Wheel Loader to demo from Cashman’s rental fleet seemed to be the most practical answer. Not only was the 980K about 36 years newer, it also came equipped with Product Link™, a remote monitoring solution that collects data from an asset's electronic control module and provides information that helps more efficiently and effectively manage a fleet. With the accompanying VisionLink® software, Stella could login to see details of machine performance right on the dashboard – including the fuel utilization tab. There, Stella found some hard facts.
“With Product Link and VisionLink, I saw the difference in the fuel myself, rather than listening to the guesstimates of an operator,” said Stella. “With the 988B, we ran about 9.5 gallons of fuel an hour. With the 980K, we never break six gallons an hour.”
Based on the approximate cost of fuel, Stella estimated that the 980K was saving them $2500 per month – something he insists would not have happened without help from his Cat dealer. His dealer was the one who suggested oil sampling, as well as the 980K rental demo that Bing Materials eventually decided to buy.
“We’d be running another brand of equipment out here if it weren’t for Kevin,” Stella stated. “I had just about had it with Cat equipment until we started working with Kevin. He just works for us.”
Ultimately, working with Cashman and simple oil sampling paid real dividends for Bing Materials. They now own a piece of equipment that allows them to ease the load on their 988B (yes, they’re still running it!), start saving thousands in fuel, and they were also able to remove two other machines from active production due to the efficiency of the 980K.
“We got a good one with this 980K,” Stella said with a smile in his voice.