This story is based in 2 counties located in east, central Alberta, Canada. Two counties with an area of over 4,285 square miles, or 2,742,400 acres. There may be more than 2 hills, but not many more. This is flat Canadian prairie.
Weather conditions in the area can often be rather inhospitable. Temperatures range from minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit (-46 C) in January to plus 95 degrees Fahrenheit (+37 C) in the summer. There is usually a harsh drying wind in the summer and a brutal, bone-chilling winter wind. Precipitation, a combination of rain and snow, can reach as high at 74 inches (187 cm) annually.
Between the counties there is a population of approximately 8,000 people and over 3,320 miles (5,343 km) of roads, of which less than ten percent are paved. The challenge… keep these roads passable through the snows of winter, the muds of spring, the rains of summer and the frosts of autumn, keep them passable 365 days a year! The above… ample reason for 22 motor graders. Motor graders that must perform!
Willy Derda has operated a variety of road construction equipment for over four decades and motor graders for The County of Two Hills for the past eighteen years. A quiet, humble man, he spoke with great enthusiasm when asked about the Volvo G976 All Wheel Drive Motor Grader he has been operating for the past few months. "I like this grader. It's got lots of power. I love its short turning radius, especially on some of these narrow roads. The cab is great. Great visibility. Quiet. Comfortable both summer and winter. It's easy to maintain. It's great for snow plowing… I just like it!" Sincere words of praise from a veteran motor grader operator.
The Volvo G976 All Wheel Drive Motor Grader with a blade down force of 21,574 lb. (9,776 kg) and a maximum blade pull of 36,679 lb. (16,635 kg) can get the job done. The low-emission, turbocharged Volvo diesel engine provides maximum power output of 265 hp (198 kW) and when coupled with the optional Volvo HTE1160
transmission with 11 forward and six reverse speeds is economical and versatile with precision control at low-speed, efficient travel at high speed and greater accuracy in the working range. The all-wheel drive mode provides more traction and control for an extra 8,500 lb. (3,855 kg) of blade pull and high-speed capability for operation in heavy snow or insecure footing.
Raymond Bouchard, Public Works Manager for the county, is charged with keeping the roads open and drivable for the 4500 residents of the county. "We purchased our first Volvo (motor grader) and we are pretty impressed so far. The operators like its performance. The maintenance staff is pleased with its reliability. It's terrific for snow plowing. It's a great machine. The value is there."
The County of Two Hills also does their own road construction as well as grading the miles of gravel, dirt and oiled surface roads and once again the Volvo G976 shines. Bouchard and his operators are pleased with the power and performance of the all-wheel drive when working on heavy-duty road repairs or road re-construction. "It really holds the slope when cutting. It's got good weight for blading. It's a strong machine."
A bigger problem for Bouchard may be with his senior operator Willy. "He didn't want to leave his Cat (motor grader) but now that I convinced him to try the Volvo he won't go back. He's become a big Volvo fan."
Traveling south a few miles, you reach the northern borders of Flagstaff County. Amongst its over 1800 miles (3000 km.) of road is a mix of gravel, bladed dirt roads, all-weather roads, oiled roads and undeveloped road allowances and a few miles of asphalt or paved roads for variety.Darrelll Szott, Public Works Superintendent for the county, explains that, "we have broken the county into ten maintenance areas. We have assigned a grader or graders to each area and they have a minimum of 160 miles (257 kms) of road to maintain." When asked, "why Volvo," Darrelll went on to explain that, "It is my job to deliver value for the taxpayers. We were familiar with the quality of Volvo equipment, we have been using a Volvo wheel loader for some time and also a Volvo track excavator but our grader fleet has been Cat for a long time. We replace our graders every 5 years. The contracts always stipulate a 5 year buy-back schedule with full warranty." Flagstaff County recently purchased two new machines, a Volvo G940 Motor Grader for the maintenance fleet and a Volvo G976 AWD for the oiling crew.
When asked about fuel consumption, Murray Moulder, Public Works Foreman, pointed out that, "Fuel consumption on the Volvo graders is good but it is also dependent on the operator and the type of roads they are working on. We have sand roads where a cutting edge will last for two weeks and then we have roads where the surface is a combination gravel and bentonite clay and it takes three times more blade pressure and we have to change the edge twice a day. So you can see our fuel consumption can vary. But all-in-all we are very pleased with the performance of our Volvo graders."
Gates Morin has been working with the Volvo G940 for a few weeks. "I have worked with almost every kind of heavy equipment made. As for graders, I was a Cat man but this Volvo is a really nice machine. I like it."
VCE and Their Dealer Providing value for the taxpayers was a common theme of both Raymond Bouchard and Darrell Szott. When it came time to replace aging graders in their respective fleets, both thoroughly checked out the competition. Both concur that the lowest price is not always the best deal. The end result, both counties purchased Volvo motor graders. Both agreed that VCE, their Strongco CSR Shawn Grykuliak and the entire Strongco team made their decision easy. The value in the machines was obvious and the dealer service and attention to detail second-to-none. Both are pleased with their Volvo motor grader's performance and are confident that they have made a positive value decision on behalf of their taxpayers.