Strategy Improves Total Operation for Britton Industries

📅   Fri September 01, 2017 - Northeast Edition #18
Brad Stemper - SPECIAL TO CEG


The new G Series wheel loader fleet is supported by Groff Tractor.
The new G Series wheel loader fleet is supported by Groff Tractor.
The new G Series wheel loader fleet is supported by Groff Tractor. A Case 921G wheel loader loads a truck at its Philadelphia location. Britton recently added 13 new Case wheel loaders to achieve commonality of equipment and the reliability of new equipment. In addition to being one of the region’s largest mulch producers, the company also recycles concrete and produces topsoil. Jim Britton, owner, Britton Industries. The company keeps a range of buckets handy that allow for easy changeover and for any loader to load any size truck or trailer.

Family-owned and operated Britton Industries, a producer of natural and dyed mulches, screened topsoil, leaf compost and aggregate products, has been servicing the landscaping and construction markets of central New Jersey and southern Pennsylvania for more than 28 years.

The company operates a full wood product recycling center as well as a concrete recycling center — making crushed concrete for fill, as well as decorative stones and other products. It also produces and distributes a variety of custom soil blends for contractors and serves as a convenient disposal center for area businesses and homeowners.

“Somebody can call me and say, 'I need 50 percent topsoil, 20 percent compost, 20 percent sand.' We can make this mixture right here for them and send it out. It all depends on the customer's needs,” said John Hornor, site supervisor at Britton Industries.

“We take materials from all the area landscapers, when they clean up homes and stuff like that. They can bring all that stuff to us. So not only are we recycling, we're allowing for people to come in and dump here, for them to clean up. Homeowners can come in with their own little trucks. It's a full site for everybody. Whether you're a giant contractor, or you're a little mom and pop, or you're a homeowner.”

Rethinking Equipment Acquisition

In order to stay competitive, the company's prices have to remain relatively fixed, so Britton needed to find other ways to increase profitability. With more than 100 employees and several hundred pieces of equipment operating across four busy locations for 12 plus hours a day, six days a week, having the right equipment on site can make a significant difference in operating costs.

“You're not getting a raise [from] outside,” said Jim Britton, owner, Britton Industries, “it has to come from within.”

New, reliable equipment with planned maintenance contracts and predictable owning and operating costs can help improve productivity and boost efficiencies for any business. Britton Industries has recently worked with local Case dealer Groff Tractor — a company that has been serving the construction market in the Mid-Atlantic since 1958 — to purchase several new Case wheel loaders and excavators as part of a new consolidation/standardization strategy.

“In order for us to grow at this point, we need to nail the numbers and what each facility spends and earns,” Britton said. “The only way to do that is to do exactly what we did this past year with Case. We can literally nail it to the penny. So now we can grow productively and profitably.

“We had many different brands, many different sizes. My philosophy in the past was, get good deals on used machines and just create more assets — the more the better. Within the past few years, we've wanted to consolidate things, go more of the same brand, the same sizes.”

With the transition to a tighter, more specialized fleet, Britton has seen improvements across several aspects of his operation — from maintenance costs all the way down to the bottom line.

“From a maintenance standpoint, from a costing standpoint, it's very simple. The numbers don't lie. Just from a maintenance standpoint and capital expense. It makes all the sense in the world to have all the same size machines. We're narrowing things down. We're doing more of the same items in business, so it requires the same size machines. You don't need ten different size pieces of equipment. We're trying to refine things.”

The ability to control and predict ownership costs throughout the lifecycle of a machine allows equipment owners to make smarter decisions about machine investments and allocation. All 17 of Britton's new machines — nine 821G wheel loaders, four 921G wheel loaders, and four CX250D excavators — came standard with Case ProCare. ProCare includes a three-year, 3,000-hour full-machine factory warranty; three-year, 3,000-hour planned maintenance contract; and a three-year Advanced Case SiteWatch telematics subscription.

Britton has seen a demonstrated difference in productivity and uptime since implementing its new equipment acquisition strategy. When every truck in and out of a facility affects the bottom line, downtime on any piece of equipment has a domino effect.

“The dilemma with us is there's a lot hinged on each and every piece of equipment,” said Britton. “Several trucks per piece, so if one piece goes down, it takes up to ten trucks down with it, at any moment. At this point, we're working probably 15-hour days, so you can imagine what that would do, as far as an impact goes. From March to July is our busy time, and we can't afford any downtime. Back in the day, we'd have five extra pieces of equipment, just to make up that difference, and then rush around trying to fix what broke, or supplement what was down. We don't have that problem anymore. We have less pieces, but they're consistently running every day.”

Another key advantage to Case's ProCare is the three-year SiteWatch telematics subscription. Remote monitoring of equipment via telematics gives owners insight into the performance of their fleet, as well as the ability to analyze long-term utilization trends.

“Up to this point, we've been pretty fortunate because nothing's gone wrong,” said Britton. “But through monitoring it, when something does finally go wrong, we'll understand what happened, and how it happened, and if it was employee or operator error or machine.”

The three-year planned maintenance contract and the support of the local dealer is the final piece of the puzzle that assures uptime and keeps the company's operating costs low and predictable.

“If ever I have a problem, I make one phone call and within a blink of an eye, I have a Groff guy here,” said Horner. “Sometimes they have to do service on these machines — maybe at the 100-hour mark, 500-hour mark. I can't afford to shut my machines down during the day. Well, I'll have a Groff guy here at 4:00 in the morning working on the machines. By the time I get in at 6:30, 7:00 the machine's done, ready to go for work for the day. That, to me, is priceless. To not have to worry about having to shut down or losing business because I have machines down, and to have them up, taken care of while nobody's even here, that's fantastic.”

Productivity and Fuel Efficiency

Working in a high-production environment that processes wood products, yard waste and other dusty, potentially combustible materials can create several challenges with certain types of Tier IV machines — particularly those that require a high-temperature regen cycle to burn off excess particulate matter.

Case was the first manufacturer to employ SCR (selective catalytic reduction) technology in heavy earthmoving equipment — and G Series wheel loaders are the second generation of Case wheel loaders to benefit from the fuel efficiency and cooler operating temperatures provided by the technology. There is no regeneration cycle, no recirculation of exhaust gasses, and no temperature spikes to burn off particulate; all of this ensures that a greater percentage of fuel use is put towards productive work, and the lower operating temperatures greatly reduce the likelihood of dangerous thermal events in dust-laden environments.

“I do notice a gain in fuel efficiency,” said Hornor. “They run at a high RPM, yet they never run hot.”

All Case wheel loaders also feature innovative cooling technologies that keep operating temperatures down, keep the engine compartment clean and provide easy access for routine cleaning. Models in the 131 to 225 hp range feature a Case-exclusive mid-mounted cooling module, which pushes the engine lower and further back towards the rear of the machine, improving balance and stability, according to the manufacturer.

The G Series wheel loaders provide a variety of additional features geared towards achieving optimal cycle times and productivity, including four selectable power modes, ride control and standard automated bucket controls such as return-to-dig, return-to-travel and height control. Even simple considerations like easily-exchangeable buckets (made possible by the standardization of a single loader type) can make a big difference in productivity for companies like Britton Industries.

“The way that the Case loaders make the buckets interchangeable makes the job so much easier. I can go from loading a truck with one ton of stone to, within seconds, having a bucket on that I can load a tri-axle with 30 yards of mulch. Before, you had to get out, you had to take a bucket off. Or you had to actually switch loaders because the loaders didn't have interchangeable buckets. This is one push of a button, bucket comes off, another button, bucket goes back on, and you're ready. It's really made things so efficient and really easy. One guy can service, essentially, all the products to many different types of trucks in a single machine.”

Operator Comfort

The cab and operating environment of the G Series have been designed to provide optimal operator performance, ergonomics and engagement with both the controls and the machines' surroundings. The spacious cab features a new 8 in. LCD monitor providing the operator with simple control and greater insight over many loader functions and activities.

Advanced electro-hydraulic controls, and numerous seat and adjustability options further simplify operation and training. A one-piece rounded windshield and optimally placed mirrors, along with a rearview camera that feeds directly to the monitor, ensures full 360 degree visibility.

“Very comfortable — air ride seat — everything is right there in front of you. There's no real guesswork. Anybody can run it,” said Hornor. “I can teach somebody how to run that loader in about two minutes, and have absolutely no problems. Everything is spelled out for you.”

With a large staff of equipment operators, the ability to fine-tune the cab to an individual operator is also a benefit.

“The seats have so many adjustments. I happen to be 6 ft. 3 in., [another operator] happens to be 5 ft. 5 in., 5 ft. 6 in. All I do is slide the seat up, adjust it a little bit… I'm comfortable within two seconds. Just one little adjustment, slide the seat up and you're good to go.”

28 Years of Growth — Just the Beginning

With nearly 30 years under his belt, and several children already involved in the family business, Jim Britton feels like he's just getting started.

“I'm an all-in guy. I don't know how to explain it. I love heavy equipment, love my family being in it. I have five kids — been married 25 years.”

“Twenty-eight years, and I feel like I'm just starting out, so we've got a lot to go. The next ten years are going to be fun. That I can tell you.”