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RFI Energy, Cat Celebrate Rare 100,000 Hour Milestone

Fri August 27, 2010 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Cat D11N, serial number 74Z1000, Unit 1468, "has not had an easy life," said its owner.

This unit has spent 18 years in surface mining for RFI Energy, Sligo, Pa., working two nine-to-12-hour shifts, seven days a week, building the site, or "bench," for a 45-cu.-yds. dragline and another six years, and counting, on backfill duty with occasional returns to the dragline.

Even with all those demands, Unit 1468 hit 100,000 hours this spring — a feat so rare in a machine typically topping out at 40,000 hours, that Caterpillar and Cleveland Brothers officials traveled to Sligo in May for recognition ceremonies.

In its heyday, Unit 1468 saw availabilities around 90 percent, with production exceeding 500 cu. yds. pe hour. Even today, the aged D11N's availability hovers around 88 percent.

"These Cat D11's really delivered," said Dan Fescemyer.

Fescemyer is president of RFI Energy, a key player in surface coal mining in Pennsylvania's western bituminous region. The company was formed in 1997 when C&K Coal Co. spun off its mining division.

Fescemyer was C&K's general manager in February 1992 when the company bought the Cat D11N and tagged it as Unit 1468.

Fescemyer, who's been responsible for the machine since its purchase, attributed its longevity to four factors.

First — skilled operators who know how to take care of the equipment.

"This machine has had only a few operators who are well seasoned and care about their machine," Fescemyer said.

Second — management's commitment to the well-being of their machines "by keeping them well maintained and the operator comfortable and alert." That commitment includes strictly followed preventative maintenance and repairs made correctly the first time, "using quality Cat parts."

Third — the new dozer's immediate enrollment in the Planned Component Life Program (PCLP). Through PCLP, one of Cleveland Brothers' customer support agreement offerings, the machine has had regularly scheduled powertrain replacements.

PCLP enrollment "not only provided an insurance policy for premature failures, but also provided quality fixed cost exchange major components that had a very high percentage of running their full term," Fescemyer said.

Enrollment also included detailed oil exams every 250 hours – for 400 exams total — and complete inspections "that have caught small problems before they became large and expensive."

And fourth — the quality of the machine.

"Caterpillar has always delivered, in my opinion, the toughest mining machines built on earth," Fescemyer said. "The true quality of any mining machine is not found in the first year of operation, but in how it performs in productivity, availability and cost over the life of the machine. This machine, as well as all of RFI's Caterpillar equipment, has proven that Cat's quality persists over the course of years of operation."

After Unit 1468 logged 100,000 hours, Caterpillar recognized RFI Energy for promoting the machine's long life, and Cleveland Brothers officials noted the 20-year relationship built with Fescemyer and his colleagues, not just through Cat equipment purchases but through care of the machines.

Participating in the ceremony were, from RFI, Fescemyer, maintenance supervisor Terry Guntrum, coal production manager Larry Morrison, and equipment operator Bob Corbett; from Caterpillar Global Mining, product support and demand stream manager Chris Davis; from Caterpillar Harrisburg District, Americas distribution services manager Marcos Salowicz, and service operations representative Mark Wilkinson; and from Cleveland Brothers, vice president/sales Tom Schachner, area sales manager Dave Kunkelmann, parts and service sales representative Todd Mills, machine sales representative Chuck Kahle, Customer Support Agreements manager Daren Ashurst, and CSA coordinators Brady Kadunce and Randy Deem.

RFI employs 52 people and has endured the recession without layoffs by delivering quality products and reliable service, Fescemyer noted. He attributed the company's success, in part, to its commitment to maintain "a very productive fleet of older equipment."

"We here at RFI want to thank Cleveland Brothers for their continued commitment to our success, and to Caterpillar for giving us the tools we needed to achieve our success."

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