Fighting at the Front
Caterpillar skid steer loaders are on the front line of Nikau Contractors operation and three new 246C units recently arrived in Christchurch are playing a key role in the company’s deconstruction operation as part of the city’s rebuild.
Nikau Contractors is a family-based company established in 1980 by owners John and Diana Stil. Serving the New Zealand building and construction industries since its inception, Nikau Contractors has firmly cemented their position as one of this country’s leaders in innovative deconstruction, recycling and salvage techniques. Auckland based and now also domiciled in Christchurch, the company has a long history of involvement with key demolition projects throughout the North Island.
The company has successfully completed many large scale contracts, assisting government agencies, regional councils, iwi's, developers, general contractors and property owners with demolition, site works and environmental projects.
Owner John Stil takes up the story, “Our history with Caterpillar skid steers goes back 7-8 years and in that time we’ve acquired twelve Cat skid steers from Goughs, with ten of these still working on the front line.”
“We’d previously bought a competitive skid steer brand, but since making the choice to go with Caterpillar, we haven’t looked back. The performance we get from Cat skid steers is incredible. Nothing goes wrong with them…they’re extremely reliable and productive workhorses, ideal for operating in confined areas where excavators cannot go.”
Caterpillar skid steers are at the forefront of Nikau Contractors operations so they always work in the harshest environments. Utilised primarily for interior demolition, the Cat units strip out materials to get a building back to its concrete shell. They can sort materials into product groups such as wood, wiring and aluminium, which is always important for the recycling aspect of demolition.
John says, “The Cat B-series model 246 has been a great performer for us, so it was a straight forward decision to move to the 246C when Goughs introduced this. The 246 is very robust in design and engineering, and from our experience it’s the best in its class.”
“Time will be the telling factor of course, but I’m confident we’ll get the performance from the 246C models to match our high expectations. Regular servicing is important and Goughs also matches our expectations here. It’s great Goughs has just opened a Christchurch rebuild support facility in the city to service contractors working in there that we’ll also be able to take advantage of.”
Powered by a rugged Cat C3.4 DIT engine providing net flywheel power of 54 kW, each 246C is fitted with a Cat Industrial Grapple Bucket, designed for excellent clamping force on material using heavy-duty hydraulic rams, and the wheels have solid tyres to eliminate punctures. Skid steer versatility is displayed with optional broom and fork attachments.
The 246C is one of nine models in the Caterpillar Skid Steer Loader range including four C-Series machines – the 246C, 256C, 262C and 272C. It features a radial lift design, providing excellent performance and superior mid-lift in tough working conditions. High performance power train provides high engine horsepower and torque, with Electronic Torque Management and standard foot throttle allowing the machine to be operated at part throttle for lower sound levels and fuel consumption.
Comfort and ease of operation are designed in every aspect of the operator station. The wide, spacious interior and seat mounted adjustable joystick controls provide a comfortable work environment with excellent head, shoulder and leg room to keep operator productivity high and fatigue low…important factors in the demanding work environment the Nikau units are working in.
When John and Diana saw the first images of the February 22 earthquake they knew they had to get to Christchurch to help as quickly as possible . “We had surplus machines we made available, basically we got them on a transporter and got them to Christchurch ASAP. By the 25th we were involved in the recovery operation at the PGC building site, working 24-hour days over an eight day period.”
Since then Nikau has been involved with over 50 specialist demolition projects. “These all have required meticulous planning and very specialist demolition equipment. Coupled with our extensive experience we’ve successfully completed many difficult and dangerous jobs that involve such technical aspects as multi story deconstruction and asbestos or hazardous material removal.”
“One of the highlights in doing this type of work has been the ability to retrieve peoples personal possessions for them that have been previously inaccessible. You can’t put a price on how pleasing it is to see people reunited with items precious to them.”
John finishes by saying, ”Our Cat skid steers have been at the forefront of our deconstruction work in Christchurch and with a replacement programme in place on our older skid steers, I expect to see additional new Caterpillar 246C units joining our fleet in 2012.”
“Their presence will be vital as we move into larger building deconstruction projects next year and you can rest assured that there’ll be no let up from the Nikau team in our efforts to help with the rebuild of Christchurch.”