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Utah Hauler Hits Optimum Performance With Cat Engine

Sat April 22, 2000 - West Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Gregg Larson, founder/owner of Larson Trucking Inc. (LTI), one of central Utah’s largest aggregate and cement haulers, recently discovered the lighter weight Caterpillar C-15 truck engine can pull even the heaviest loads in the hardest terrain while maintaining optimum performance.

After months of testing the C- 15, Larson is convinced that his other trucks, which typically gross more than 58,050 kilograms (129,000 lbs.), have been packing around 90 kilograms (200 lbs.) of unnecessary engine weight — weight that in the test truck has been converted to more payload.

The truck, a 1999 Kenworth W900, hasn’t suffered for the loss of engine weight. According to Larson, it has turned into a better on-road performer. “In addition to the increased payload, it uses less fuel, runs quieter and is even turning in shorter trip times,” he said.

For months, the C-15 powered W900 has performed one of LTI’s toughest jobs: hauling dry bulk cement 150 miles from a plant in Lemington, UT, to users in the greater Salt Lake City area. And the engine’s loaded-on-the-grade performance is outstanding, according to veteran LTI driver Kevin Barney, who has driven LTI tractors with electronic and mechanical engines of all ratings.

“At 129,000 pounds, the C- 15 powered W900 has better hill-holding — better effective torque — than other tractors,” he said. “It shows up on long, steep grades, such as the 15 miles uphill to Park City, which has several grades of six and seven percent.”

LTI has 35 highway tractors and 78 trailers moving sand, gravel and bulk cement within a 200- to 300-mile radius of Salt Lake City. The fleet is projected to double in growth over the next few years. With the kind of growth he is expecting, Larson has no room for wasteful expenses. He is impressed not only by the performance of the C-15, but by the money it has saved the company.

“That engine is doing the job,” he said. “The C-15 powered truck is carrying more payload, moving it faster and at lower operating cost than heavier engines in the fleet.”

“In a typical day, we make $15 more revenue off increased payloads on that truck due to the C-15’s lighter weight, and even more than that in shorter runs,” Larson said.

Fuel consumption also is lower. Larson said he sees a quarter-mile per gallon improvement in fuel mileage, and once the engine is broken in he expects that to improve to a half-mile per gallon. And better engine performance on long hauls is saving ten minutes per trip, which amounts to a cumulative four hours less operating time every month.

All together, the truck’s operating economy has the potential to make a substantial impact on LTI’s bottom line.

“The reductions in both operating time and fuel cost, and the increase in payload are significant. Multiply that by 35 trucks and you are talking about the potential of some real money,” Larson said.

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