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Turtle Companies Prove That Strong, Steady Wins on Jobs

Turtles have long been depicted as strong, steady and wise, which are characteristics that The Turtle Companies of central Florida try to abide by.

Tue June 24, 2014 - Southeast Edition
Jeff Winke

The mythology, legends and folklore surrounding turtles span the globe and history. From the magical significance of turtles found in ancient Earth-creation stories, to the masked heroes of the more current day Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the turtle reigns.

Turtles have long been depicted as strong, steady and wise, which are characteristics that The Turtle Companies of central Florida try to abide by. The two companies, Turtle Southeast, based in Largo, Fla., and East Coast Milling Turtle, located in Vero Beach, Fla., offer asphalt surface milling services, principally to Florida and neighboring states.

Over the past year, Turtle has milled more than 10 million sq. yds. (8.4 million sq m) at depth ranging from ¾-in. to more than 24-in. (1.9 to 60.9 cm). During this time period, Turtle experienced down time to operating time ration of less than 1.3 percent.

Turtle’s largest project ever was the iROX I-75 road expansion project in Lee and Collier Counties where Turtle Southeast milled 30-lane mi. (48 km) or 1.6 million sq. yds. (1.3 million sq m) of milled surface. During this massive project, Turtle had as many as five milling machines operating at once, and experienced less than one percent downtime.

“Experiencing minimal downtime is typical of how we try to operate,” said Tim Hammer, maintenance supervisor of The Turtle Companies. “Our elite maintenance program and a remarkable guardian telematics system on our newer milling machines has virtually eliminated unexpected downtime.”

Turtle’s elite maintenance program calls for three hours of maintenance after eight hours of milling. According to the company, this level of maintenance far exceeds the industry standard. Additionally, all the work crew members have been trained to recognize and perform simple repairs as required.

Four of Turtle’s 15 late-model milling machines are equipped with the Roadtec guardian telematics system. The telematics-equipped machines are two Roadtec RX-600e milling machines and a Roadtec RX-700e.

The telematics system is designed to monitor a selected machine in real time through a wireless signal and address any issues that may arise while the machine works. It also allows Roadtec customer service personnel to remotely view the machine in real time and be there for the customer anytime, anywhere. The engine, hydraulic system, electrical system and grade control can all be monitored in detail. In addition, the machine can be located by GPS using the guardian system.

“Diagnosing a machine equipped with the guardian system is a much quicker and more efficient process,” Hammer said. “The system’s live schematic lets me see all electrical circuits in a simple and efficient layout with real time status of all switches, valves and settings. If I need to, I can make changes to the grade control system parameters from my laptop without touching the machine.”

The system also will e-mail fault codes, service reminders and production reports to keep Hammer and others in the company in the loop. Staying up to date with the latest information on each machine is designed to allow Hammer to be much more proactive in monitoring and lowering their operating costs.

“At any time I can log on to the guardian system and view machine, speed, location, engine load and fuel usage, all in real time, without being on the job site — it’s like being right there on the machine,” said Hammer. “This is especially helpful in monitoring fuel consumption. If I see a machine running at 85-feet per minute and I can alert the operator to slow down to 65-feet per minute, I can save a considerable amount of money on unwarranted fuel use.”

With the telematics, production speed can be monitored in real time, which can lead to natural conflicts with the expectations of a site superintendent wanting to complete a project ahead of schedule or a mill operator wanting to test the capabilities of the machine.

This remote machine monitoring of production, fuel usage and machine diagnostics was especially helpful to Turtle Southeast on a recent job.

“We were working on a 700-acre residential and commercial development project located in Panama City, a good 300 miles away our home office,” said Hammer. “With the guardian system on our Roadtec RX700-e milling machine, I could monitor the progress of the three-week project from my office. Fortunately, everything was trouble free, but if anything had gone wrong, I would have seen it and could have handled it thanks to the telematics system.”

The Panama City project, SweetBay phase one, is the location of the abandoned old Panama City-Bay County International Airport. Turtle completed 160,000 sq.yds. (133,780 sq m) of milling at depths that range from 4 to 8 in. (10 to 20.3 cm).

Having remote, real-time diagnostic access to the company’s milling machines appears to be benefiting The Turtle Companies in a couple of ways. First, they can see problems that may not be readily apparent to the machine operator upon initial inspection. And second, even though the company’s service vehicles are fully stocked with the typical wear items and parts known to break after heavy use, the guardian system can pinpoint a problem requiring a part that one of Turtle’s technicians should be dispatched to install.

“Turtle has always been quick to embrace new technologies to help improve operations,” said David Ando, president of Turtle Southeast. “We had already been using a third party telematics system for almost three years. When we heard that Roadtec was developing their own system we were very excited. The guardian telematics system has become significant to our business. It allows us to be more efficient with what we have and decrease operating costs and increase profits. It also enables us to see problems before they become major which provides for scheduled maintenance and repairs before there’s a breakdown on the job and costs our customers money.

“We have also been showing our customers the system and they seem to be impressed that we are monitoring our equipment so closely and can handle things remotely like making MOBA setting adjustments without needing to send a technician.”

For The Turtle Companies, the bottom line for having telematics on its milling machines is better control… that is, the ability to monitor production real time and diagnose any problems with the engine, hydraulic system or electrical system.

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