Big K-Tec scrapers cut $1 million from earthmoving cost for municipal lagoon construction project
A contracting company sitting atop Stony Mountain just north of Winnipeg, Earth Max Construction is gaining ground in a niche earthmoving market for public works departments of rural municipalities in Manitoba. Initially moving dirt with an excavator to top-load a 40-ton articulated dump truck, Earth Max has switched to scrapers which offer them greater productivity.
They decided to ease into scraper equipment, which allowed them to test its efficiency. This proved to be a smart business decision.
Randal Dueck, Earth Max Construction project manager, explains: "We bought our first scraper about six years ago. It was a used K-Tec scraper and it has worked fantastically for us. We liked it so much that we decided to buy a few more, and we just love them." They purchased two new K-Tec 1233 scrapers, each with a 33-cubic-yard heaped capacity, allowing for impressive production results for their business.
Dueck explained the way that their operations have changed since using scrapers, "With the scrapers versus hauling with a rock truck, we get to [work] in a lot wetter conditions. We don't rut up the clay nearly as much, so we can haul a lot more clay without making a mess. The efficiency is also a lot higher, as we only have one machine running versus two on an excavator load, so it works fantastic that way."
Contractors need to take advantage of effectively operating in less than ideal conditions when working in the sticky gumbo clay of the Red River Valley, with unexpected torrential rains. For the projects that Earth Max was awarded, their earthmoving performance would have a direct impact on two rural municipalities.
Big savings in lagoon construction
In 2017, Earth Max Construction provided earthworks for a pair of lagoon projects that they were awarded by rural municipalities in southern Manitoba. Lagoons are pond-like bodies of water dug out of the earth that are constructed to receive, hold and treat wastewater for a predetermined period of time.
Located in the Rural Municipality (RM) of Morris, the Lowe Farm lagoon expansion project involved the construction of a new secondary lagoon cell with a storage capacity of 40,580 cubic yards. Once constructed, the berm between the original and new lagoon cells was removed to create one large primary lagoon cell that would meet future population growth and hydraulic loading of 86,325 cubic yards per year.
The cost of the project was split evenly between all three levels of government. Ralph Groening, reeve for Rural Municipality of Morris, said at the start of the project: "The tender bids [came] in significantly below engineered estimates, so we're hoping that the project will be able to be completed for somewhat less than the $1.5 million. The work for dirt moving came in considerably lower than the estimated amount," he noted.
As the Lowe Farm lagoon project progressed, the rural municipality revised their projected cost to be $905,000. In the end, the final actual cost was $442,000. Earth Max's earthmoving efficiency provided substantial project cost savings for the RM of Morris.
In a testimonial to the cost efficiency of K-Tec scrapers, Groening said, "We did some research and discovered that the low bidder for the Lowe Farm lagoon project, as well as the second-lowest bidder, exclusively use scrapers manufactured by K-Tec Earthmovers. K-Tec is an amazing company that produces the world's largest earth scraper. They sell their product all over the world including Saudi Arabia and Australia, and their machines are in demand."
The scrapers also proved their worth on the St. Pierre lagoon project, which required 196,000 cubic yards of earthwork to double the lagoon capacity. This expansion would allow for a capacity of 150 additional homes or 2,000 residents. The project required construction of a new secondary cell and a new wetland cell. Earthwork consisted of topsoil stripping, stockpiling, excavation, embankment and dyke removal.
Earth Max Construction started the St. Pierre lagoon project in May 2017 and completed it in July 2017. More rain was encountered on this project than the Morris one; however, with the excellent floatation on the scrapers, Earth Max was still able to work on most days.
Mayor Mona Fallis, Village of St. Pierre, explained what this lagoon expansion means for their community. "We've been on a development freeze going on five years, so there has been very limited new construction in the community. The lagoon expansion allows us to approve and expand new developments and subdivisions. Commercial construction can now move ahead, so this is a huge benefit for our community."
Shaving more than $1 million off the initial project estimate allows the rural municipality to tackle more public works projects, providing greater value for the community's tax dollars. The use of efficient scrapers for lagoon projects provides a win-win for all stakeholders.
Earth Max's Randal Dueck also praised the easy servicing of the scrapers. "The good thing is that there is hardly anything to service on the scrapers. We grease them regularly and they go to work. The guys at the shop look through them once a year and that is it. There's never anything that breaks on them."
Having only two daily grease points on the scrapers makes a difference in productivity, because instead of searching for numerous grease points, more dirt can be moved. The need for minimal maintenance on K-Tec scrapers makes it easier to get ahead of projected schedules.
Increasing use of scrapers
Kelly Goossen, senior VP of sales for K-Tec Earthmovers, has noticed a trend in recent municipal tendering process. "Lately we have seen tenders go out that have specifically stated that the project must be completed by use of K-Tec pull-pan ejector scrapers. The decision makers are recognizing that our earthmoving machines provide maximum efficiency on their projects, and don't want to chance using other types of earthmoving equipment."