Wheel Loader Success Story with Bjoin Limestone

Pulling Its Weight

How a new Volvo loader is paying its way at Bjoin Limestone.

“It’s an excellent machine. It’s got plenty of power, good speed and it’s great on fuel. Plus it’s very comfortable to operate.” — Eric Duskey, Bjoin Limestone

Back in 1978, Howard Bjoin bought 170 acres of hilly farmland that lay just off State Highway 11 in Janesville, Wisconsin. “Howard knew there was rock in this field,” says his daughter-in-law Kathleen Bjoin, the president and CEO of Bjoin Limestone. “He bought a dump truck at an auction, and a lime mill. He figured the farmers around here needed ag lime for their fields.”

Bjoin Limestone
Today, Bjoin Limestone Inc. is a thriving limestone quarry and custom crushing business with some 15 crushing customers in southern Wisconsin. (Bjoin is pronounced Bee-yon.) Bjoin produces approximately 1 million tons of aggregate every year from various quarries. The company leases some quarries, and moves three portable crushing plants around to serve the customers

A crusher only works at Bjoin’s Janesville quarry two months of the year. For the rest of the year, the three crushers and two screening plants are working for custom-crushing customers. “Most of our business is custom crushing,” says Shaun Bjoin, crushing superintendent.

Each rock crushing plant is a substantial business in itself. Bjoin runs two Lippmann primary jaw crushers and a Nordberg primary impact crusher. Each of the primary crushers is paired up with a secondary crusher, which will consist of a combination of cone, jaw, and roll crushers. Bjoin’s Lippmann Dual King secondary crusher, for example, can put out 5,000 to 7,000 tons per day of crushed limestone. Production tonnages depend on the type of material being crushed.Dollars and sense.

For years, Bjoin fed the crushers and loaded trucks with Caterpillar loaders. Then it became apparent that a couple of those loaders were getting up in years and required too much maintenance. “We kept them for too long and they were nickel-and-dimeing us to death,” says Kristopher Bjoin, Kathleen’s son who runs a family excavating business. “They were hard on fuel and still are.”

For years, Bjoin fed the crushers and loaded trucks with Caterpillar loaders. Then it became apparent that a couple of those loaders were getting up in years and required too much maintenance. “We kept them for too long and they were nickel-and-dimeing us to death,” says Kristopher Bjoin, Kathleen’s son who runs a family excavating business. “They were hard on fuel and still are.”
 

Bjoin Limestone

Then early in 2008, Bjoin tried out a Volvo L350F loader on a demonstration basis. Bjoin found that not only could one Volvo replace the work of two non-Volvo units, but the Volvo only burned 8.6 gallons per hour of fuel. By contrast, the non-Volvo loaders each burned 15 gallons per hour, for a total of 30 gallons. So the new Volvo could save 21 gallons of fuel per hour. Plus the second operator could do something else, and the repair bills would drop to virtually nothing.

At $4 per gallon for diesel fuel, that 21 gallons of fuel per hour becomes $84. That $84, multiplied over the course of 2,000 hours, becomes $168,000 a year. That kind of money, the Bjoin family realized, would go a long way toward making the payments on the new Volvo L350F. “The new Volvo could pay for itself in three to four years,” says Shaun Bjoin, crushing plant superintendent.

“And the production of the Volvo was a heck of a lot more,” says Jon Bjoin, who manages crusher moves and serves as a jack-of-all-trades for the business.

Dealer service.

“We get excellent service from our Volvo dealer, who is Lee Fisher at Aring Equipment Company,” says Kathleen Bjoin. “Lee is a genuinely good man and takes care of our needs in our crushing operation and excavation business. He really believes in his product and cares about his job.”

Uptime is critical to a crushing operation. If the crusher is feeding an asphalt plant, the crusher needs to run constantly to keep the asphalt plant up and running. And the crusher depends on the loader that’s charging it. If the loader goes down, the operation comes to a halt. “Downtime of a day or more is catastrophic,” says Kristopher.

On that score, the new Volvo excels. “I’d say we get 97 to 98 percent availability with the Volvo,” says Shaun. “Very seldom do we lose a day; if it’s down, it’s only for a couple of hours. You won’t find any loader that gives you 100 percent uptime.”

To buy the Volvo was a step outside the Bjoin family’s comfort zone, says Kathleen. It was the first new loader the company ever bought, for one thing. “We’re very pleased with the new Volvo,” says Shaun. “We have about 6,000 hours on it, and we have put two new tires on it so far. It’s comfortable, it’s quiet, it has good power and good breakout force.”

Jon Bjoin has run the new Volvo L350F for 80 to 100 hours. “The visibility is great, and the joystick steering works wonderfully,” he says. The joystick is very comfortable to use, and saves on muscular effort, compared to a steering wheel. “It’s far less fatiguing for an operator to use the joystick to steer,” says Jon. “And it has an air-ride seat that’s very comfortable. The seat is even heated for use in cold weather. We run the loader every month except January and February.”

When we visited the Bjoin operation, the Volvo L350F was fitted with a 10.1-cubicyard spadenose bucket. The loader was feeding sand and stone mixed with clay to the Lippmann Dual King crushing plant located in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. The crushed stone and dirt were going to an aggregate washing and separation facility at a nearby location.

Bjoin Limestone

“We need to keep a steady flow of material moving to that wash plant,” says Shaun. “Uptime is very critical, and the Volvo is giving us that. Plus it gives us excellent production. It’s not having any trouble keeping up with the demand of the Dual King plant.”

Eric Duskey has run the Volvo L350F for a year and a half. “It’s an excellent machine,” he says. “It’s got plenty of power, good speed and it’s great on fuel. Plus it’s very comfortable to operate. I can spend 12 hours in that Volvo, get out of the machine at the end of the day, and not be fatigued. And in that air-conditioned cab, I don’t have to eat dust all day.”

“Visibility is excellent and so is production,” says Duskey. “With that 10.1-yard bucket I have no trouble keeping up with the crusher. We have done 8,000 tons a day with this Dual King plant. The Volvo is an awesome machine. I’ve always been happy with it.”

A family affair.

Bjoin Limestone is very much a familyowned and operated business. Mike Bjoin and his brother Paul are second generation – Howard’s sons – and are very involved in the business. Mike is vice president in charge of crushing operations, and his son Shaun is its superintendent. Paul manages and maintains Bjoin’s trucks and coordinates the ag lime spreading business.

Bjoin Limestone is very much a familyowned and operated business. Mike Bjoin and his brother Paul are second generation – Howard’s sons – and are very involved in the business. Mike is vice president in charge of crushing operations, and his son Shaun is its superintendent. Paul manages and maintains Bjoin’s trucks and coordinates the ag lime spreading business.

Kathleen, or Kathy, is Paul’s wife and serves as president and CEO of the company. “Nobody argues with her, either,” says her son Jon. As the utility infielder of the company, Jon moves crushers, installs sewers for the excavating business, serves as its foreman, and operates equipment on occasion. His brother Kristopher is the superintendent of the excavating business and does estimating and project management.

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