Heavy Equipment Guide Logo

High production and low downtime are busy contractor's critical criteria for equipment purchases

Cat 320C excavator loading a Volvo A30G articulated truck.
Cat 320C excavator loading a Volvo A30G articulated truck.

Berkim Construction is constructing the new Canada Post sorting facility in Burlington, Ontario. The family-owned construction company, which specializes in small-to-medium-sized projects like this one, brought the first equipment on site last October and expects to have the work completed by July.
"A lot of work is subbed out – formworks, steel erectors, steel manufacturers, earthworks," says Alex Monteleone, site supervisor, Berkim Construction. To perform the earthworks, the company hired MGI Construction Corp. 

MGI Construction is more than an earthmoving contractor. Besides the company's excavation and earthworks division, they also have divisions that do heavy civil and site services, demolition and abatement, and asbestos and remediation work. The four divisions integrate to offer full-service packages that track development projects start-to-finish.

Based out of Etobicoke, Ontario, the company has been around for close to 10 years now, has completed construction projects of various sizes large to small, and owns more than 100 machines and attachments. Safety is one of the company's core values.

Planning and testing
Earthmoving contractors are under pressure to move material at the lowest cost per ton while meeting schedules. In order to develop an effective plan, they need to calculate how much material needs to be moved, the type of soil, what equipment is necessary, labour needs, schedules and more. 

Lou DeVuono, site superintendent, MGI Construction, says it is important to "choose suppliers in close proximity. Having material readily available is key to getting a project done on time."

MGI did a survey of what is on site, what needed to be avoided and what needed to be removed.

"This project was previously used as a staging area," says DeVuono. A construction company had set up their trailers, equipment and building materials there while they repaved Mainway Road, which runs on the north side of the Canada Post property. "They had put down some aggregate base and asphalt, which we had to strip independent of the native soils, so it was a two-step process for a large area of the property." 

"We used a utility locating service to provide us with the general area where the utilities are located and then brought in a vacuum truck to daylight those utilities to verify location and depth and, in some cases, to verify size of existing services, such as the water main and sanitary service," says DeVuono. 

MGI Construction also tested the soil for contaminants. While non-contaminated soil can be hauled to any landfill, contaminated soil gets hauled to a different facility for treatment, which costs more. 

A John Deere 750J dozer brings the property to grade and a Hitachi 245 US LC excavates a trench while workers wait to deploy a Wacker Neuson RTxSC3 trench roller. To complete the Canada Post construction project, MGI Construction had to excavate more than 800 metres of trenches.

Choosing equipment for the job

The Canada Post construction project required hauling 5,000 cubic metres of soil off-site. Initially, the company brought in a Caterpillar 320C excavator, a Volvo A30G truck and a John Deere 750G dozer to lower the north side of the property, which was at a higher elevation than the rest of the property.

"Caterpillar excavators are easy to use and pretty standard across the lineup. An operator who typically works in a larger machine can get into a smaller machine and know how to operate it," says DeVuono. "They provide excellent visibility and are comfortable, too."

MGI Construction prefers using a truck and excavator combo versus a scraper in order to excavate. According to DeVuono, one reason the company prefers them is because excavators are more versatile than scrapers and therefore offer more bang for the buck to a company with services as diverse as MGI Construction.

"On a small site, it allows you to do your cut efficiently; you can do the cut with just one pass of the excavator and load it onto the truck," says DeVuono. "Scrapers generally outperform excavators and trucks when you are stripping a large amount of topsoil and then there is a long distance between the cut and the stockpile, such as on subdivisions or large commercial property development; in these cases, there is significant area for stockpiling material.

"MGI Construction cut the site to subgrade. Then they either hauled the earth off-site right away or stockpiled it, depending on the availability of dump trucks. However, it is better to haul the material off-site right away if that is possible. "When you cut and haul, you are handling the material once. When you stockpile, you are handling the material twice – once when you stockpile it and then again when you haul it. So, there is an extra cost in stockpiling material," says DeVuono.

DeVuono says their Volvo A30G has proven to be effective in both small and large projects for various uses from hauling dirt to demolition debris. The machine's six-wheel drive provides a great advantage in poor traction conditions, and that the faster travel speeds have led to greater production. It is also a very reliable machine with little downtime, which leads to increased production, he says.

Kubota compact track loader used for cleanup.

Adding to the fleet

As the project progressed, MGI Construction brought in more equipment, including three more excavators – a Caterpillar 352F, a Hitachi ZX350LC and a Hitachi ZX135; a Caterpillar 730C articulated dump truck; two compact track loaders – a Kubota SVL75-2 and a Caterpillar 259D for site cleanup and to move materials around the jobsite; a Caterpillar 950M wheel loader for moving materials around the jobsite and loading trucks; a Caterpillar CS 433C single-drum roller; and a Wacker Neuson RTxSC3 trench roller.

They used the Cat 352F and Hitachi ZX350 for bulk excavation. "The Hitachi 350 is a great mid-sized, general-purpose machine. Its versatility allows it to perform bulk excavation while also cutting out watermains. Although it is a smaller machine, it is still powerful enough to handle the heavy work. We previously used it on a bulk excavation project, which required removing 22,000 cubic metres of material. It demonstrated fast cycle times while being very reliable, allowing us to complete the work quickly. High production and low downtime are always a key factor in any machine choice."

The company had to trench 550 metres so that the underground utilities could be installed and another 260 metres for the envelope of the building. The company used the Hitachi ZX135 for the footings of the building and the Hitachi ZX245 equipped with a bulking bucket – which is wider than a general-purpose bucket – for the majority of the trenchwork, but then switched to a trenching bucket – which is narrower than a general-purpose bucket – for the bottom of the trench.

Getting to grade faster

In order to meet grade quickly and accurately on construction projects, MGI Construction had purchased two John Deere dozers, an 850J and a 750J, equipped with Trimble grade control technology. They used the 750J to help bring the property to subgrade and for grading the parking lot, which envelops the entire building.

"We find the John Deere dozers to be a little more powerful than the competition, while not being bulky. Some competitive machines of equal power are bulky, and this interferes with visibility. John Deere dozers have great visibility and perform very well," says DeVuono. 

By using grade control, MGI Construction could calculate more accurate estimates, which means less rework and therefore less time needed to complete a task. They also don't need to use grade stakes and, by viewing the information on the screen, the operator doesn't ever exit the cab in order to check the grade.

"The Trimble system is excellent; we had very little difficulty setting it up and using it. The 10 surfaces we input into the grade control program are very accurate, and this has translated into less re-grading, and therefore we achieve greater production levels whether we are grading out gravel or cutting sub-grade or bulk pushing. Today, construction has tight timelines and you need to be as efficient as you can," says DeVuono.

More from Earthmoving

CONEXPO-CON/AGG wins Construction Junkie's Best Construction Podcast vote, introduces new direction and host – Missy Scherber

Beginning in August 2019, construction business owner and social media influencer Missy Scherber will take the mic as the host of CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio in a new series called "Contractor Conversations." This announcement comes on the heels of CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio being named Best Construction Podcast by Construction Junkie for the second year in a row.

Watch JCB's first electric compact excavator do the bottle cap challenge

The bottle cap challenge is the latest internet sensation and involves performing a precise roundhouse kick to spin the cap off a bottle without knocking the bottle over. It was started by Farabi Davletchin, a Kazakh Taekwondo champion, who then challenged action stars such as Jason Statham to give it a go – and now all the kids are doing it. Not to be left out of the silliness, JCB has gotten in on the fun with its first electric compact excavator performing the stunt.

Cat marks 30,000 rollers with special-edition utility compactor award

Caterpillar Inc. recently celebrated 30 years of small vibratory roller manufacturing and surpassed the 30,000th roller production mark. To commemorate the milestone achievement, Caterpillar held a sweepstakes in the United States to give away a special-edition Cat CB24B roller. Thousands of contractors entered the Feelin' Lucky sweepstakes held from February 4 through April 15, 2019.

Subscribe to our free newsletter

Get our newsletter

Learn more

Earthmoving business booming at bauma

Volvo EC200E Excavator
The EC200E crawler excavator gives a new choice for contractors and rental companies who want Volvo quality with exceptional value in light to medium applications.

Liugong North America introduces new high production wheel loader

LiuGong North America (LGNA) has introduced its new 877H wheel loader, a high production machine, to fill the gap between its 856H and 890H wheel loaders. The new machine has a Cummins QSL9 engine, generating 331 HP. With an operating weight just over 54,000 pounds and a bucket size of 5.5 cubic yards, the 877H is positioned to fill the needs of the most common "rock and dirt" bucket applications, including in the aggregate industry. The 877H transmission and axles are manufactured in Germany, then imported to factories in China for assembly. 

Discover how Komatsu’s new dozing logic moves machine control beyond finish grading into rough dozing

Machine control has been around for some time and many contractors have benefited from the advantages these tools have provided. However, in the last few years dramatic functional developments have improved the way many contractors move dirt, adding efficiency and precision where there used to be judgment calls and plenty of boots on the ground measurements.

John Deere's latest dozer boasts larger engine, increased weight and new operator station

Designed to meet the demanding needs of today's earth movers, the new John Deere 850L Dozer boasts the productivity, reliability and durability customers expect in a production dozer. A few of the customer-inspired updates include a larger displacement engine, increased operating weight, new operator station, and several improvements to maximize reliability and durability.

Cat M Series wheel loader updates include lower operating costs and improved operator comfort

2019 updates for Cat M Series Medium Wheel Loaders (950M – 982M) include technology advances that provide: lower operating costs via extended service intervals; enhanced operator comfort with new seats and suspensions; added machine configurations; expanded productivity measurement tools; remote software update capability; and more.

Volvo launches Haul Assist with on-board weighing in North America to optimize hauler loads

Volvo Construction Equipment continues to add to its portfolio of productivity services with the North American launch of Haul Assist, a system that shows how much material an articulated hauler has moved, providing operators data and real-time insights to help achieve optimal payloads and improve productivity. Haul Assist comes standard on Volvo's A35G through A60H haulers and is optional on the A25G and A30G models.

Subscribe to our free magazine

Get Our Magazine

Paper or Digital delivered monthly to you

Subscribe or Renew Learn more

John Deere expands offering of grade guidance technology to 56-ton excavator

Power and precision converge with the new grade-guidance-technology equipped John Deere 470G LC excavators. First introduced for the 210G LC and 350G LC excavators, John Deere developed this solution in cooperation with Topcon Positioning Group. The integrated grade guidance system provides the operator with the bucket's location in relation to a 2D reference or 3D design surface. This information arms operators with the detail they need for precision excavation projects, such as digging trenches for pipes, shaping ditches or slopes or digging structure foundations. 

Volvo's Load Assist, Dig Assist now standard on select excavators and wheel loaders

Volvo Construction Equipment continues to unlock the full productivity potential of its excavator and wheel loader lineup with its basic package of Dig Assist – Dig Assist Start – now standard on new EC220E to EC480E excavator models, and its Load Assist system now standard on new L150H to L260H wheel loader models.

Kobelco introduces next generation excavators

KOBELCO Construction Machinery has  introduced the enhanced SK75SR-7 and SK85CS-7 excavator models in North America. This next generation of KOBELCO SR Series of mid-size machines, offer short rear swing capabilities and a range of new features.

United Rentals Helps Contractors Advance Trench Safety Through Training

Trench and excavation work represent some of the most dangerous jobs in the construction industry. Maintaining up-to-date training on safety regulations and equipment solutions is essential to not only keeping employees safe but also leads to improved project productivity. United Rentals, is providing dedicated resources to the construction industry that offer quality trench safety instruction, together with assistance outside the classroom including jobsite consultation, engineered designs and safety equipment.

Hydrema ready to raise standards for safety with new dump truck

Hydrema is ready to set new safety standards for working with small dump trucks. In its 60th year, the Danish construction equipment manufacturer will launch a new dump truck that breaks with old traditions by offering a brand new design in the 6-9 t sector. This new machine has been made to comply, in particular, with UK safety regulations concerning site dumpers.

Subscribe to our free newsletter

Get our newsletter

Learn more

John Deere’s new L-Series make it easier for operators to do more, more comfortably

John Deere's new L-Series utility wheel loaders – the 524L, 544L and 624L – were designed with the operator in mind and incorporate several new features, including improved cabs for more comfort and visibility, electro-hydraulic (EH) loader controls for easier operation, redesigned near-parallel linkage, and enhanced-performance buckets.

CASE N Series Backhoes

CASE has made numerous updates to its N Series backhoe loaders, including new industry-exclusive PowerBoost functionality, a new PowerDrive transmission upgrade with Direct Drive, and a factory-installed thumb that makes backhoe operation more versatile. New CASE N Series backhoes also feature updates to loader controls, including a new declutch trigger, new roller/rocker switch for better attachment control, and an all-new F-N-R thumb switch for simplified operation. A standout feature is PowerBoost, which provides the operator with a momentary boost of increased hydraulic power without decreasing engine RPM (so as not to affect speed/cycle times) —ideal for digging through tough conditions, including hard clay, rock and frost.

Trimble-ready factory option introduced for Liebherr PR736 generation 8 bulldozer

Trimble and Liebherr have introduced a Trimble Ready factory option for new Liebherr PR736 Generation 8 bulldozers. PR736 Generation 8 bulldozers that ship direct from the Liebherr factory are now ready for the installation of the Trimble Earthworks Grade Control Platform, which can significantly reduce the cost and complexity of the installation for the contractor. The announcement was made at bauma 2019.

Subscribe to our free magazine

Get Our Magazine

Paper or Digital delivered monthly to you

Subscribe or Renew Learn more