When a driveshaft broke on the used 972G wheel loader All American Recycling Corporation (AAR) acquired from Foley Inc. in 2004, Eric Cliff, customer support representative, suggested a Caterpillar Certified Powertrain rebuild, based on the “value of a certified against the cost of a new machine.” General Manager Bill Gannon agreed.
In fact, it was part of Gannon’s plan when he purchased the loader. He purposely selected a loader with a waste handling package so that it could handle the excessive hours and be rebuilt a second time.
“A new machine is a large investment. A rebuild is significantly less money, plus any extras you add in.”
Once part of a rental fleet before coming to the recycling facility, the 972 worked double shifts at AAR: 20 hours a day, six days a week.
“We put on hours quick and hard,” Gannon acknowledged. “It takes some companies five years to add 18,000 hours, but we do it in two to three years due to our volume.”
At 23,000 hours, the 972 underwent a Cat Certified Rebuild (CCR) in May 2007. A CCR strips the machine down to the frame and completely rebuilds the engine, power train, cab, radiator, transmission, torque converters, gauges, wiring, controls and approximately 7,000 other parts. The end result is a like-new machine with the latest technology and engineering updates, complete with a new warranty and Serial number-all at a fraction of the cost of a new machine. More than 350 test or inspections are performed and the machine is completely repainted and new graphics are applied on a total-machine rebuild.
This year, with an additional 16,500 hours, it came back to Foley for a CPT Plus.
The CPT Plus involves a major overhaul of all powertrain components, including differentials, axle assembly, transmission and engine, as well as any additional necessary repairs, said Pete Policastro, machinery shop foreman of Foley, Inc.
“The ’plus’ work on this machine included painting, hydraulic pump repair, repair of wiring non-related to the powertrain, replacement of control valves, hydraulic lines and hoses and rebuild of a relay panel.”
Because every component is replaced or rebuilt to Caterpillar guidelines, a new warranty was issued.
The program has been a “huge success,” bringing life back to equipment and providing options for customers.
“For all purposes, the Powertrain is brand new, except for the buckets and tires, because a CPT comes with a three years/5,000 hours or 2 years/ 6000 hours warranty. It’s virtually worry-free.”
At the same time, AAR’s 980H loader also is undergoing a certified powertrain rebuild. Doing both at once “prices out better,” Policastro said. With those two machines in the shop, AAR relied on an expanded fleet that includes a new 966H extended grapple bucket loader and a 938G grapple bucket loader. The 966H was purchased in 2011 in anticipation of the rebuilds for the 972 and 980, but Gannon said that due to growth, “one or two loaders is no longer enough.”
Business for the Jersey City, N.J., recycler has been growing and is expected to continue doing so, with monthly tonnage of 20,000 to manually sort.
“There’s not a lot of floor space,” Cliff said, “so they need to move the material quickly.”
By adding to his fleet, Gannon is able to rotate equipment to prevent premature failure.
“It’s more economical than blowing the budget on all new equipment. I was replacing equipment every two years,” Gannon said, “but this plan lets me extend the life of our machines by two years because we’re not running them as hard. By optimizing how I run, we’re not skipping greasing or services.”
The extremely harsh conditions at the recycling facility wear out equipment, so his business plan is to rotate new machines in while extending the life of older ones by refurbishing in-house and opting for Cat certified rebuilds through Foley. As a pilot for Foley Inc.’s new PM program, AAR purchases a PM (Preventative Maintenance) kit to do their own service at smaller intervals.
“It’s one part number for all the filters, O-rings and gaskets they need to do a 250-hour or 500-hour service,” Policastro said. “We do the larger services at 1,000 and 2,000 hours.”
AAR is able to keep track of hours through a GPS monitoring system, as part of Foley’s Product Link/Vision Link program.
“It makes it easy for them to keep on top of maintenance,” Cliff said.
“Cat equipment is top of the line,” Gannon said. “It’s costly to fix, not to maintain — but if you don’t maintain it, it’s very expensive.”
Profit margins are slim in the recycling industry. By expanding and rotating its fleet, AAR achieves the versatility necessary to adapt to changes in the market.
“The business has changed,” Gannon said. “There’s not room for a lot of recyclers. It’s a lean and mean industry.”
The key to business is feeding AAR’s three balers, Gannon said. “If the belt is empty, it means a loss of revenue. To feed the belt, we need the right machinery. Without [the 972 and 980], I would have to buy brand new equipment.”
In addition to minimizing the impact on AAR’s budget by spreading out acquisitions of new equipment over a four- to five-year timeline, extending the life of these loaders through certified rebuilds reduces downtime. Another benefit of the rebuild, Cliff said, is that it allows AAR to retain machines their operators and mechanics are familiar with.
Gannon gives Cliff credit for devising the plan of rotation and acquisition that allows him to increase AAR’s efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
“Eric’s knowledge is the key. We wouldn’t be where we are now without his knowledge of the machinery. He has allowed us to put together a plan. He also keeps on top of oil samples and ensures our fleet is taken care of.”
Eventually, Gannon said, AAR will sell the 972 that has served them so well — relying on Cliff’s recommendation based on hours and oil sample results.
“Eric is a customer support rep, not a salesman; he tells it like it is. That’s exactly what I wanted: someone who knows what equipment works for my situation.”
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