The Cat’s meow

L to R: Kevin Colvin, Joe Stella and Woody Heckathorn (Bing Materials loader operator)

L to R: Kevin Colvin, Joe Stella and Woody Heckathorn (Bing Materials loader operator)

Caterpillar equipment is designed to last. Just ask Joe Stella, fleet and production manager of Bing Materials. He is still running a Cat 988B Wheel Loader — a machine that debuted when Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” was topping the music Billboard charts for the first time in 1976. After almost 40 years of hard work, the Cat 988B started having a few maintenance issues. Kevin Colvin, Stella’s Cashman Equipment product support sale representative, suggested trying oil sampling to start monitoring the health of the machine.

After a year and a half of oil sampling by Cashman Fluids Analysis lab, 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, the numbers still kept going up; 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 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, Caterpillar hardware that provides detailed information about the location, utilization and condition of the machine.

With the accompanying VisionLink software, Stella could log in to see details of machine performance right on the dashboard — including the fuel utilization tab.

Based on the approximate cost of fuel, Stella estimated that the 980K was saving them $2,500 per month ­— something he insists would not have happened without Colvin.

The Cashman rep 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 Colvin and simple oil sampling from Cashman Fluids Analysis lab paid real dividends for Bing Materials.

They now own a piece of equipment which allows them to ease the load on their 988B (yes, they’re still running it!), start saving thousands in fuel, and also 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.

“It’s really the cat’s meow.”


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