Wheel Loader Refurbishment Success Story

The 3 R’s. Wheel Loader Style.

Ahhh Hawaii… visions of beaches, palm trees, warm tropical breezes, sun, sand, surfing…and hundreds of thousands of tons of green waste annually that must be dealt with.

It could go to the landfill but… enter Hawaiian Earth Products. This Oahu-based company, the largest producer of compost in the State of Hawaii, almost like magic recycles a hundred thousand tons of yard waste and trimmings annually, turning it into Menehune Magic. Well it’s not really magic… it takes forty dedicated staff and over thirty pieces of heavy equipment to get the job done.

According to Mark Cummings, Vice President of Operations for Hawaiian Earth Products, “We sometimes feel a bit isolated and don’t have access to all the heavy equipment services that Volvo owners on the mainland enjoy. That often means that our equipment has to remain in top form for longer periods of time to get the job done.” Currently the company operates a wide variety of heavy equipment at multiple locations in the State. And not unlike Volvo owners and operators around the globe, downtime is a dirty word for Mark and his team.

We love that machine

“Our first Volvo was a Volvo L220E Wheel Loader,” Cummings went on, “we worked it hard putting on over 14,000 hours with no major problems. We loved that machine and we still do, so we bought another. But our first 220 was beginning to show its age and when we looked at the cost of replacing it or rebuilding it, it was all in the numbers.

Mark had worked with Gary Labelle of Clyde West Equipment in Seattle, Volvo Construction Equipment’s dealer group and the only Volvo Certified Refurbishment Center in the Pacific Northwest, and in the absence of a local Hawaii-based Volvo Construction Equipment dealer, gave Gary a call.

“We were very pleased with the refurbishment cost estimate that Gary put together so we loaded our beloved 220 onto a barge for the over 2600-mile journey to Seattle. I was pretty affirmative as to how I wanted this loader to look and perform,” Mark stated, “and we weren’t disappointed. Our ‘like new’ 220 has worked flawlessly since its return home.

An ocean away

On this side of the Pacific ocean, North America’s largest comprehensive waste and environmental solutions provider has made a corporate decision to refurbish rather than replace as much of their heavy equipment fleet as is practical. They look to their refurbishment program to double the life cycle of their equipment and to date it has been working very well for them.

Annually this company handles over a million tons of trash, and to get the job done their heavy equipment must perform for long hours in what could best be described as severe  working conditions. Nowhere are these harsh conditions more evident than at the company’s material recovery station in south Seattle, Washington. Working sixteen-hour schedules daily, on enclosed landings that have concrete floors and concrete walls on three sides, two Volvo L70E Wheel Loaders handle between five hundred and one thousand tons of dry, dusty, ugly trash and recyclable construction and demolition material daily.

Somewhat like Hawaii… summer and fall weather conditions in the Seattle area are hot, dry and dusty. Average temperatures range from lows of 60 degrees to the high 70’s fahrenheit with occasional spikes into the low 90’s. But totally unlike Hawaii…winter and spring conditions are the exact opposite, with temperatures often dipping to the high 20’s and low 30’s, accompanied by lots of rain, snow and ice. The end result… rain, heat, snow, cold, plenty of dust… and often all on the same day.

The company’s Seattle-based maintenance supervisor knows all too well how difficult the working conditions are and the importance of keeping the trash moving. Just like Hawaiian Earth Products, they can’t afford any downtime. If something breaks down, the facility could get overloaded with trash in a matter of minutes. But their Volvo loaders have been excellent, handling every application with economy, comfort and ease.

Rough shape.

According to Gary Labelle, this company’s first Volvo L70E, to get the ‘VCRP’ treatment, had over 18,000 hours on the clock and was in pretty rough shape when it arrived at their shop. “But we knew what to expect. The Volvo refurbishment program guidelines are very clear both for the customer and for our mechanics.”

According to Gary Labelle, this company’s first Volvo L70E, to get the ‘VCRP’ treatment, had over 18,000 hours on the clock and was in pretty rough shape when it arrived at their shop. “But we knew what to expect. The Volvo refurbishment program guidelines are very clear both for the customer and for our mechanics.”

Heavy equipment refurbishment programs are not uncommon within the construction equipment industry as several major manufacturers have various forms of such programs. However, the Volvo Certified Refurbishment Program provides a wide range of advantages to Volvo customers. “At Volvo we understand that a new machine isn’t always the right fit. Our customers may have budget or timing issues or the machine may be ‘just’ comfortable… this program enables our customers to give New Life to higher hour Volvo equipment,” states Kevin Stock, VCE’s refurbishment program manager. “This program is consistent right across the country. We start by certifying the dealer, their location and their parts and technical staff. We want this program to be as solid and reliable as every Volvo. It’s a ‘customer up’ style program, not a manufacturer or dealer down approach.”

Comprehensive absolutes.

There are certain absolutes with this comprehensive Volvo approach. It starts with a firm quote to rebuild the drivetrain, then items that have been identified during the machine inspection that are requiring replacement are added and finally the additional items that the customer may wish to add are included on the estimate. The customer is involved all the way.

Renewing the engine and powertrain involves replacing major components using Volvo remanufactured parts. Then every inch of the machines is inspected, verified and rebuilt as necessary by certified Volvo technicians. Finally, the machine is cleaned, painted and decaled to look like new. Warranties are not overlooked either. Each Certified Refurbished Volvo comes with a 12-month / 2,500-hour warranty on all Volvo remanufactured components and a 12-month / 1,500-hour warranty on all replaced genuine Volvo parts.

“But what really sets this Volvo program apart from others is that it is fully customizable to fit each customer’s needs and budget,” states Stock. “Quite often as the teardown and inspection continues we find components such as brakes, gear assemblies and hydraulics that have plenty of life left in them, at which time we simply replace the soft goods such as bearings and seals and re-assemble, thus providing a substantial savings for our customer.”

Does it work? Is there value?

According to Mark Cummings “The refurbishment of our loader was the highest quality rebuild that we had ever experienced. The machine looked, sounded and performed ‘factory new’ just as it did when we purchased it brand new in 2004.”

According to one veteran Seattle based operator, who had the opportunity to operate the Volvo L70E the day it arrived shinny and new from the dealer and was the first operator back on the machine following the rebuild, “I like it. Its as good as new or maybe even a bit better.” Certainly a strong endorsement of the Volvo Certified Refurbishment Program and the work done by Clyde West.

Is there value? Certainly there is for thesetwo companies. One to incur the additional cost of barge transportation and still save money and the other to make refurbishment of their heavy equipment a corporate decision.

So if you have a high-hour Volvo that feels as comfortable as an old pair of slippers, give your Volvo dealer a call. The Volvo Certified Refurbishment Program might be just the thing you need… while adhereing to the 3 R’s. It will be good for your machines and even better for your bottom line.