by John Bauer, brand marketing manager, CASE Construction Equipment
One of the challenges for any new construction company is how to put capital equipment in place to get that very first job done. Kim Ozalas, owner and operator of KO Pipeline, was no different when her company embarked on its first project in 2014. Since then, KO Pipeline, based out of Cambridge, Ohio, has been busy in its first two seasons of work with much of the steel and horsepower required to get the job done coming from Todd Clipner and Southeastern Equipment (also headquartered in Cambridge).
“When I came to Cambridge to start my first jobs here, I didn’t even have a shovel,” says Ozalas. “Southeastern let our people come down, get on the machines, and they adjusted the equipment to fit the operator. (Input from the) CASE rep is common. Sitting down with them, talking with them and getting their ideas are important. It really gives people buy in. When you get buy in, then it all works out.”
The working relationship between KO Pipeline and Southeastern Equipment was on display recently at a 12-inch natural gas gathering line near Barnsville, Ohio. KO Pipeline installed a mile of that line, using the CASE 2050M dozer to make the initial cut and the new CX350D excavator to do the trenching. Once the pipe was in place, two CASE CX350C excavators and the 2050M dozer completed backfilling and final grade.
Making the cut with the 2050M
While KO Pipeline is “new,” Ozalas has an extensive pipeline and engineering background. She has built an experienced team of supervisors, foremen and operators around her.
“Nobody that we have is new to the game,” she says. “Our asset is our people. In our top five people within KO Pipeline, there’s more than 100 years of experience.”
That includes Superintendent Nicky Jordan, foreman Allen Eason, and operators George Hardaway and Josh Wilson. Hardaway was one of the first operators to break ground on KO Pipeline’s leg of the project. He made the original cut into the right of way with the 2050M dozer.
The 2050M features 214 hp and is built to react to the jobsite with an advanced load management system that automatically reduces track speed when there is a heavier load on the blade and it increases track speed when there is a lighter load on the blade.
“It’s incredible. There’s no stalling,” he says. “You get it at a steady push with no track slippage. It’s awesome. Like a lot of the older dozers I used to run would stall out if I got a load like the ones I get with this machine.”
Another of the benefits for Hardaway is the control customizations that allow the operator to tailor machine performance exactly to the jobsite conditions. That includes the ability to set blade sensitivity, steering sensitivity and shuttle (forward to reverse) sensitivity to smooth, moderate or aggressive, all independently.
“When the machine first came out, all the settings were set on aggressive. I just tooled it down a little bit to my preference,” he says. Hardaway keeps his shuttle at aggressive, alternates steering between moderate and aggressive, and put his blade control on moderate because, in his opinion, a fast blade doesn’t work as well in the soils encountered on this project.
“Some material you work in, like thick clay for instance, if your blade is too quick, it will suck it in the ground. If it’s just gradual, it works a lot better. I’m set on moderate, and I can run it like that forever.”
The aggressive shuttle setting worked better for him for a simple reason: faster transitions equals greater productivity. “It’s a good pusher, and I’ve got a long way to push,” he says. “I want to get back and make another cut pretty quick.”
Hardaway then adjusts steering sensitivity based on conditions. “We’re coming off our cutting at 45 degrees across the right of way. Sometimes you have to be quick with it, but most times, it’s a gradual turn to spill your dirt. It’s not (as aggressive).”
“A lot of the older tractors, if you didn’t like it, you just had to deal with it. This one, you can set it to your liking. That is a big deal.”
The 2050M also features the first selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology built into a dozer, which contributes to fuel savings of up to 14 percent. SCR is well suited for bulldozing because it lets the engine run at peak performance without compromising power or drawbar pull.
Hardaway noticed how fuel efficient the new dozer was compared to other machines he had run in the past. “It’s definitely good on fuel. Compared to the (other dozer) I was running, it is very fuel efficient — especially considering the amount of loads and how much dirt I push in a day’s time.”
“I liked everything about it, right from the start,” he says. “Being able to tweak the machine to your specs, and the power surprised me a lot. Not only the power, but the finesse.”
Trenching with the CX350D
KO Pipeline put an all new CX350D excavator on the project to dig the trench, which was 48-inches wide and ranged from six to 11-feet deep, depending on location.
The CX350D offers faster cycle times and smoother operation because it has a new, electronically controlled pump, a larger control valve and multiple sensors. These features combine with the CASE Intelligent Hydraulic System and its four integrated control systems to make the best use of the machine’s hydraulic power and momentum. That results in added strength and fuel efficiency
That speed was important to Josh Wilson, who praised the machine for its ability to move dirt faster. “This new machine is probably 20 to 30 percent faster than other machines I’ve run,” he says. “It’s one of the quickest. It’s a good smooth machine. You aren’t jerking around. You aren’t bouncing around in there.”
At 268 horsepower and with a bucket digging force of 51,639-pound-feet, the CX350D delivers the power needed to transition through different soil conditions in the trench. “It still has the same power on it — even in rock. We dig about six to seven feet deep, and then there are some spots where you go to 10 or 11 feet, and it never slacks up. It has great power,” he says.
Another hallmark of the CX350D is the ability to improve fuel efficiency — by as much as 14 percent — over previous models. This is accomplished by adjusting the hydraulic system for efficient operation using any of three working modes: Speed Priority, Heavy or Automatic. These allow the operator to match the excavator’s output to jobsite conditions.
“The most I’ve ever burned in a 12-hour day was around a quarter of a tank,” he says. “In other machines, we’re burning close to half.”
Overall, Ozalas has been impressed with the experience of working with Southeastern Equipment and CASE. “The excavators are faster than any excavator my operators have ever been on,” she says. “They will come out and they’ll adjust them to their specific style. It’s faster, but it’s also tailored to what they need or what they like – their preferences.”