Strength and Support
Completion is near in the initial stage of clearing debris from Manawatu Gorge slip between Woodville and Ashhurst on State Highway 3 with plans in place to allow the first traffic through from May’s end. During the clean-up, Goodman Contractors has debuted its new Cat 336DL Excavator. Its performance on the project has met with their high expectations. One of the company’s Directors, Stan Goodman, spoke with Allison McMillan.
Sub-contractor of Higgins Contractors for the NZTA contract, Goodmans began work at the Manawatu Gorge in December 2011. Soon after, Goodmans took delivery of its new Cat 336DL Hydraulic Excavator from Goughs which began bulk excavation twenty metres down from the top of the bank.
Six months on, the excavator has worked over 900 hours, progressed the ‘benching’ of the slip down from 300 metres above the road and played a significant role in moving the 360,000 cubic metres of debris displaced from the hillside so far.
Working alongside other large excavators and track-type tractors, the Cat machine dumps the debris in bulk for the tractors to push down the slip for loading out on trucks, and has also been utilised for some ripping work. Stan Goodman of Goodman Contractors expected the 336DL to be a smoother operating unit than his other competitively branded machines and it has proven to be.
Despite some extra levering work required with the bulk bucket attached, it is easy to load up to two cubic metres at a time,” he says.
Stan Goodman is one of the company’s directors and oversees tendering and project management. Goodman Contractors is a family owned and operated business running for over 50 years. Stan says that his choice of a new Caterpillar machine has stemmed from a good experience running the Cat gear in harsh environments and responding well to the rigours of the job.
“We’ve got a [Cat] D10R Track-Type Tractor on lease to the Stockton Alliance, and it’s working upwards of 380 hours per month,” he says.
“The dozer’s performance is impressive month after month, a prime example that Cat machinery gives a great return and that we are well taken care of by [Goughs].” Goodmans’ 336DL is backed up with a quality parts, service and support package from Goughs that is proven to significantly lower the owning and operating costs over the machine’s entire working life.
The Waikanae based company is well positioned to access both Goughs’ Palmerston North and Wellington branches and field service teams for both preventative maintenance and warranty servicing of the Cat units in the fleet, as per their Customer Support Agreement.
At times in the Manawatu Gorge, access has proven more difficult but certainly no less achievable. “The digger has remained on the hillside the entire six months we’ve been working on the slip. The conditions have been too tricky to remove it, so we’ve completed all of the servicing on site… Sometimes the Goughs team has had to walk in like the rest of our team, and on occasion we have flown them in,” Stan says.
Goodmans has its own workshop in Waikanae with an in-house team of mechanics – including fitter-turners, a painter and an auto-electrician – and can handle its own minor and major repair jobs, but Stan says there are specialised areas of fleet management that can only be provided by Goughs. “[Goodmans] makes full use of the fluid sampling at Gough Analytical for all of our Cat and non-Cat machines, and the accuracy of the results is reassuring for preventing large scale problems further down the line,” he says.
“And, currently we subscribe to the ProductLink technology for our Cat 336DL, 320DL excavator and D10R dozer which is a really clever way to monitor each unit.”
Caterpillar ProductLink™ is a machine-integrated, web based application that allows machine owners to remotely monitor all aspects of its operation including fuel usage, working hours and global positioning with comprehensive results. “Recently the [ProductLink] system picked up on the D10R showing signs of overheating, and the machine automatically downgraded its activity to compensate. It’s very clever technology.”
The Cat 336DL is the first new excavator purchase Goodmans has made from Goughs and Stan says the machine’s operator at Manawatu Gorge, Euen Jones, has told him of the machine’s benefits.
“You wouldn’t usually find Euen in the cab of a machine (he’s one of my foremen) but the Gorge job called for a high level of technical skill… it’s not for the faint-hearted,” he says.
“Euen has a lot of positive feedback for the digger. It’s got efficient cycle times, good brake-out force, and a high level of operator comfort.”
At 36 tonnes, the 336DL is the largest machine to be allowed on site at the Manawatu Gorge slip, and its capabilities respond well to the urgency of the task at hand.
The boom and stick regeneration circuit saves energy during boom-down and stick-in operation which increases efficiency and reduces cycle times allowing more debris to be moved in a shorter time.
Also, the close layout of the main pumps, control valves and hydraulic tank reduces the likelihood of friction and pressure losses in the lines.
The digger is operating ten hours a day, seven days a week on the Gorge slip. The workstation is spacious, comfortable and quiet to accommodate the operator’s needs and assure high productivity during a long working day.
The 336DL is one of three Cat excavators to be acquired by Goodmans since late 2011. With at least five earthworks and drainage contracts on the go at once in the central and lower North Island, Goodmans has moved in excess of 1.2 million cubic metres of material in recent months. Their extra digging power has come in the form of a new Cat 320D and a used Cat 314 excavator, both purchased from Goughs.
“The 320 has full GPS capabilities, and is working on a two kilometre stop-bank in Lower Hutt. Its finishing tolerance is so precise it’s like having a surveyor right there in the cab with you,” Stan says.
After six months on site at the Manawatu Gorge slip, Goodmans’ involvement in the project is being scaled right back as the next phase of bridge repairs begin. An inspection by bridge specialists has shown that the bridges along the affected span of road are severely damaged and will have to be completely rebuilt, likely to take around four months. Until that time, two-way traffic will be restricted and only allowed access in daylight hours as night works will be a priority.