Keeping America beautiful, as the slogan goes, can be a real challenge. Just ask Darrell Westmoreland, vice president of North State Environmental Inc., and he’ll tell you about some of the messes he’s cleaned up.
Whether it’s turning landfills into wetlands or restoring destroyed aquatic habitats, Westmoreland knows the trials –– and rewards –– of helping preserve some of nature’s finest resources. He takes pride in the fact that some of the most highly trained professionals are on his staff. But even highly trained professionals can get stuck in the mud if they’re not operating equipment capable of handling the tough, wet conditions his crew encounters.
In 2003, Westmoreland implemented a unique haulage solution that has helped ensure the productivity of his company’s job sites, regardless of conditions.
Founded in 1994 by Westmoreland and his wife, Stephanie, North State Environmental is dedicated to repairing and restoring North Carolina’s urban and rural streams and rivers. This includes wetlands mitigation, erosion control, bioretention cell construction, bioengineering and reforestation. Employing approximately 30 people, the company has earned a reputation for excellence and is rated among the best environmental contractors in North Carolina. Westmoreland said high standards and on-going training fuel the company’s success.
“It’s the quality of work we do and our understanding of the streams, wetlands and the technology that sets us apart from our competitors,” said Westmoreland. “Another advantage we have is that we are probably the most highly trained contractor [for his niche market] in North America.”
Taking Technology One
North State Environmental has a diverse customer base. The company works with large and small organizations ranging from city governments to the Natural Conservation Service and North Carolina’s universities to mitigation groups. Because of the breadth of projects and customers North State Environmental handles, it encounters varying ground conditions from site to site.
On a typical day, the company uses an equipment fleet of crawler carriers, excavators, track loaders, dozers, skid steers and dump trucks to work through water, mud, clay and sand. But finding a haulage option that could withstand those varying conditions, while guaranteeing productivity, was a real challenge.
In August 2003, North State Environmental found its solution with Komatsu’s CD60 and CD110 crawler carriers. These machines, designed for treacherous applications that require low ground pressure, offered North State Environmental a feature that no other North American manufacturer could: a 360-degree rotation capability.
Conrad Graham of Mitchell Distributing Co. helped North State Environmental make the decision to add the crawler carriers to its fleet by supporting every step of the process from machine selection to delivery to operator training and beyond.
“Before we bought the machines, we were doing stream work during the wintertime. It had been an especially wet year, and every articulated truck we tried wound up getting stuck,” explained Westmoreland. “Mitchell Distributing Co. brought in the two Komatsu tracked trucks and they were able to work in the conditions, which allowed us to move around all the time. I finally decided to buy one and instantly loved it.”
Both the CD60 and CD110 are used in North State Environmental’s daily operations and are regarded as the workhorses in its fleet.
Currently, the company is working on the creek stabilization restoration portion of a job that will ultimately restore a wetland that is now a landfill.
“We’re basically taking a city landfill and excavating 41,000 yards of debris,” said Westmoreland. “It’s our job to restore the area, which involves fine grading, planting, vegetating and putting water back into the wetlands.”
With 3,000 ft. (914.4 m) of new channel to dig, North State Environmental depends on the CD60 and CD110 to reduce downtime and increase productivity.
According to Westmoreland, the feature that sets the machines apart from others in their class is the ability to rotate completely around on its base, allowing the machine to pull forward to the dump site, rotate around, dump its payload and pull away in the opposite direction.
A major benefit of the 360-degree turning radius is that it allows forward-facing operations at all times, under any conditions, including tight, confined areas, and it eliminates the need for U-turns.
Westmoreland noted that having this ability greatly increases productivity for the company, as it wastes no time making the transition from driving to the dumping destination, dumping the load and returning to the loading area. It also allows the operator to have a clear view of his surroundings at all times, including the ability to constantly make visual contact with the loader operator.
“We are working on steep banks a lot of the time, so the 360-degree turn is nice because we’re able to go down and turn the body to whatever direction we need to dump, rather than spin the entire machine on that type of incline,” he explained. “Another advantage is that the operator can maneuver the bed into any position he wants without ever having to move the tracks.”
Another important benefit North State Environmental realized after using the CD60 and CD110 is reduced site downtime due to the machines’ power and low ground pressure. The CD60, operating at a weight of 18,740 lbs. (8,500 kg), has an output of 133 hp (99.1 kW) and a low ground pressure of 3 PSI (.207 bar) (unloaded). The CD110 has an operating weight of 39,460 lbs. (17,898 kg), an output of 266 hp (198.2 kW) and a ground pressure of 4 PSI (.276 bar) (unloaded).
Because of their low ground pressures, the machines have the versatility to work in varying conditions without stalling or getting stuck while working in mud or flood planes.
“The Komatsu tracked trucks allow us to get around all the time,” said Westmoreland. “We recently had a job with a very wet bottom. The track trucks were deep down in the water and mud, loading and unloading and they had no problem. They climbed right through everything and worked every minute of the day.
“There is definitely a need for these machines in this industry because you’re going to be able to go a lot of places you couldn’t before,” he continued. “The bottom line is you’re either working or your not. We choose to work.”
Photo: North State Environmental uses an equipment fleet of crawler carriers, excavators, track loaders, dozers, skid steers and dump trucks to work through water, mud, clay and sand.