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Great Lakes Gets Superior Performance Out of XL 2200

Sat October 28, 2000 - Midwest Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Great Lakes Construction, headquartered in Independence, OH, outside of Cleveland, is a general contractor specializing in highway and other large construction projects in northern Ohio. The reconstruction of an interchange and underpass on Interstate 271 in nearby Warrensville Heights is a typical job for the company. The contract for the new work was let by the state of Ohio in March 1998, and it was designated job No. 299. Scott Kaib was named the site superintendent and work started in June 1998.

The first year on job No. 299 consisted of rough grading then building a storm sewer and culvert. Because the job site is at the highest point in the Cuyahoga county, winter snows stopped work in November 1998. It picked up again in April 1999, with paving (including construction of a paved channel with provision for water run-off into a flowing creek) installing sidewalks beneath the overpass and contouring the entire area.

Before the spring work started, Kaib planned what was going to be needed in terms of machinery. Because of Great Lakes’ large size and the amount of work done in the Cleveland area, the company owns most of the machinery it needs on the job site and shuttles it from job to job as required. But, in the case of job No. 299, there was a need that Kaib knew was going to have to be filled from outside Great Lakes’ machinery inventory.

He could see that grading beneath the bridge overpass for sidewalks as well as contouring the ground leading to the paved channel could best be done with a telescopic boom excavator using a large bucket to contour the earth.

Because of the geometry, the boom segments on a knuckle boom type excavator large enough to do the work under the overpass would extend above the height limitations imposed by the 18-ft. (5.5 m) high bridge floor. Kaib needed a grading machine with a straight, telescoping boom and enough reach to extend from the pavement level to the slope beneath the overpass. Another criteria was getting a machine with a large, maneuverable bucket and enough power to manipulate 2,000 plus lb. (907 kg) loads.

Great Lakes Construction owns three Gradall telescopic excavators which could have done some of the work, but they were being used for the summer on other Great Lakes’ jobs. Furthermore, they all were truck-mounted units.

While a truck-mounted machine would have been satisfactory for the work beneath the bridge, it couldn’t handle the steep inclines and spongy terrain of the newly formed road shoulders above the paved channel. For that work, Kaib needed a track-mounted excavator.

Since they only needed the machine for about six weeks, Kaib decided to rent one and put in a requisition asking his office to find a machine that would fit the job requirements.

Coincidentally, a United Rentals’ outlet in nearby North Olmstead had just added a Gradall XL 2200 track-mounted telescopic excavator to its rental fleet. It was exactly the type of machine needed. A big plus for the machine was the knowledge that there are already a number of workers within the Great Lakes organization that are experienced Gradall operators, so there wouldn’t be any time lost to a learning curve.

While Gradall telescopic handlers are carried by many rental centers catering to large contractors, Gradall telescopic excavators have only recently been discovered. This may be attributed to the mis-perception that they are too specialized to have broad usage.

But, attitudes are changing. For instance, United Rentals just acquired its first unit for Cleveland during the summer of 1999. Yet, because of Kaib’s need, it went right out on rental. Now that other contractors have seen the unit in use by Great Lakes, they too have been asking United about renting it. The interest has been great enough that more units are expected to be added to United Rentals’ fleet in coming years.

The Gradall XL 2200 Kaib had rented for use on job No. 299 is a unique machine. At 26,000 lbs. (11,793 kg) gross weight, it is smaller than most excavators so it is more maneuverable and can easily be driven around bridge piers and over the rough surfaces of road shoulders and drainage ways. It features a 360-degree tilting boom so that the bucket can be rotated to any position for grading and a straight boom with 24-ft. (7.3 m) reach that can extend under a bridge overpass without being hindered by the overhead road. Although other attachments are available such as excavating buckets and grading blades, the machine Kaib rented had a 60-in. (152 cm) wide ditching bucket.

A feature of the machine that Kaib really appreciated is its hydraulics. The XL 2200 is fitted with two main piston pumps operating at up to 4,500 psi (310 bar). Both hydraulic pumps are load sensing so they deliver flow-on-demand rather than continuous pressure to the machine. That results in 40-percent lower fuel cost.

On job No. 299, that economy translated to only re-fueling the excavator every three days rather than every other day.

After it was delivered by United Rentals, Kaib assigned the Gradall to Raymond Tomazik, a construction veteran with many years of experience operating Gradall machines.

“The telescoping excavator was the only way I could get this job done. I can put the bucket where I need it without the hassles of worrying about an overhead obstruction, then tilt it until it’s at the grade I want. With the way Great Lakes jobs go today, you have to do more in less time so I need a versatile machine like the Gradall, so I can get it done,” Tomazik said.

Typical of the work on the job was contouring the shoulder leading to the paved channel. It required riprap be added above the drainage channel and contouring of an area approximately 25 by 600 ft. (7.6 by 183 m) with grades ranging from 4 to 1 up to 2 to 1.

Tomazik was able to finish the entire shoulder in one day, and estimates that if he had to use a knuckle boom, the fastest he could have done the job, if it could have been done at all, would have been two to three days.

Work on job No. 299 was finished in early November, but use of the Gradall XL 2200 continues on other jobs. Other superintendents at Great Lakes Construction have seen the usefulness of the telescoping excavator and want to use it on their projects.

It has been in continuous use by Kaib and other superintendents since it was first delivered, and United Rentals expects Great Lakes to keep on using the Gradall until the snows of winter shut down construction for the 1999 season.

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