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Excavator rebuild creates 30 per cent saving

Smiths Concrete’s Cat 330BL excavator has put in around 14,500 hours at its its Bubbenhall quarry near Coventry, where it is responsible for excavating sand and gravel for the company’s concrete processing plant.

As a result, the machine that was purchased in 2001 was showing signs of wear, with two oil leaks in the engine. With firms constantly under pressure to reduce budgets, Smiths Concrete took a closer look at ways in which they could maintain a fully functioning machine without having to pay the full cost of a new one.

Equipment supplier Finning offered company site manager  John Green three cost-saving options. “Finning said they could either take out the engine, repair the oil leaks and reinstall the engine,  or repair the engine and some other parts on the machines, or have a whole rebuild. We looked at the costs and decided to go with the rebuild,” says Mr Green.

The rebuild process

Following the completion of the consultation process and agreement of the rebuild works, the Cat 330BL was shipped to Cannock to commence the five week rebuild. On its arrival it was disassembled by a team of three engineers. Prior to this part of the process, all of the identified parts required for the rebuild were ordered and made available.

Finning product support rep Guy Hughes says: “Once disassembled some of the engine, pumps and motor parts were overhauled and others were replaced with Caterpillar remanufactured units. These are reman Caterpillar parts that are given a second life.”

Around 85 per cent of the hydraulic hose assembly was replaced, along with some major rewiring throughout the machine. To ensure the undercarriage continued to have a second life, worn track shoes were replaced and a turn pin and bush carried out, as well as track tensioning. 

A cost saving

Although the rebuild work was extensive, it still was cheaper than investing in a new piece of equipment, yet the end result was of a comparable quality. “The rebuild cost about 70 per cent of the cost of purchasing a new machine. We’re now looking at getting another 15,000 hours worth of operation out it,” says Mr Green, meaning the life expectancy of the machine has effectively doubled. He says this was important, as the excavator is expected to be on site for some time, both for extracting sand and gravel from the site and the site restoration expected in two years.

Rebuilding, rather than replacing, had additional benefits for the firm. “We’re a small company and it’s a case of one machine for each man, so operator familiarity is important to us,” says Mr Green.