Shifting Equipment Acquisition Strategy Improves Total Operation for Britton Industries
Posted on: 20 Jul 2017
Britton Industries is a leading producer of natural and dyed mulches, screened topsoil, leaf compost and aggregate products. Servicing the landscaping and construction markets of Central New Jersey and South Pennsylvania, the family-owned and operated company has been in business for over 28 years.
The company operates a full wood product recycling center as well as a concrete recycling center—making crushed concrete for fill, as well as decorative stones and other products. They also produce and distribute a variety of custom soil blends for contractors and serve as a convenient disposal center for area businesses and homeowners.
“Somebody can call me and say, ‘I need 50% topsoil, 20% compost, 20% sand.’ We can make this mixture right here for them and send it out. It all depends on the customer’s needs,” says John Hornor, site supervisor at Britton Industries. “We take materials from all the area landscapers, when they clean up homes and stuff like that. They can bring all that stuff to us. So not only are we recycling, we’re allowing for people to come in and dump here, for them to clean up. Homeowners can come in with their own little trucks. It’s a full site for everybody. Whether you’re a giant contractor, or you’re a little mom and pop, or you’re a homeowner.”
Rethinking Equipment Acquisition
In order to stay competitive, the company’s prices have to remain relatively fixed, so Britton needed to find other ways to increase profitability. With over 100 employees and several hundred pieces of equipment operating across four busy locations for 12+ hours a day, six days a week, having the right equipment on site can make a significant difference in operating costs.
“You’re not getting a raise [from] outside,” says Jim Britton, owner, Britton Industries,” it has to come from within.”
New, reliable equipment with planned maintenance contracts and predictable owning and operating costs can help improve productivity and boost efficiencies for any business. Britton Industries has recently worked with local CASE dealer Groff Tractor—a company that has been serving the construction market in the Mid-Atlantic since 1958—to purchase several new CASE wheel loaders and excavators as part of a new consolidation/standardization strategy.
“In order for us to grow at this point, we need to nail the numbers and what each facility spends and earns,” Britton explains. “The only way to do that is to do exactly what we did this past year with CASE. We can literally nail it to the penny. So now we can grow productively and profitably.”
“We had many different brands, many different sizes. My philosophy in the past was, get good deals on used machines and just create more assets—the more the better. Within the past few years, we’ve wanted to consolidate things, go more of the same brand, the same sizes.”
With the transition to a tighter, more specialized fleet, Britton has seen improvements across several aspects of his operation—from maintenance costs all the way down to the bottom line. “From a maintenance standpoint, from a costing standpoint, it’s very simple. The numbers don’t lie. Just from a maintenance standpoint, and capital expense. It makes all the sense in the world to have all the same size machines. We’re narrowing things down. We’re doing more of the same items in business, so it requires the same size machines. You don’t need ten different size pieces of equipment. We’re trying to refine things.”
The ability to control and predict ownership costs throughout the lifecycle of a machine allows equipment owners to make smarter decisions about machine investments and allocation. All seventeen of Britton’s new machines—nine 821G wheel loaders, four 921G wheel loaders, and four CX250D excavators—came standard with CASE ProCare. ProCare includes a three-year, 3,000-hour full-machine factory warranty; three-year, 3,000-hour planned maintenance contract; and a three-year Advanced CASE SiteWatch™ telematics subscription.
Britton has seen a demonstrated difference in productivity and uptime since implementing their new equipment acquisition strategy. When every truck in and out of a facility affects the bottom line, downtime on any piece of equipment has a domino effect.
“The dilemma with us is there’s a lot hinged on each and every piece of equipment,” says Britton. “Several trucks per piece, so if one piece goes down, it takes up to ten trucks down with it, at any moment. At this point, we’re working probably 15-hour days, so you can imagine what that would do, as far as an impact goes. From March to July is our busy time, and we can’t afford any downtime. Back in the day, we’d have five extra pieces of equipment, just to make up that difference, and then rush around trying to fix what broke, or supplement what was down. We don’t have that problem anymore. We have less pieces, but they’re consistently running every day.”
Another key advantage to CASE’s ProCare is the three-year SiteWatch telematics subscription. Remote monitoring of equipment via telematics gives owners insight into the performance of their fleet, as well as the ability to analyze long-term utilization trends.
“Up to this point, we’ve been pretty fortunate because nothing’s gone wrong,” says Britton. “But through monitoring it, when something does finally go wrong, we’ll understand what happened, and how it happened, and if it was employee or operator error or machine.”
The three-year planned maintenance contract and the support of the local dealer is the final piece of the puzzle that assures uptime and keeps the company’s operating costs low and predictable. “If ever I have a problem, I make one phone call and within a blink of an eye, I have a Groff guy here,” says Hornor. “Sometimes they have to do service on these machines—maybe at the 100-hour mark, 500-hour mark. I can’t afford to shut my machines down during the day. Well, I’ll have a Groff guy here at 4:00 in the morning working on the machines. By the time I get in at 6:30, 7:00 the machine’s done, ready to go for work for the day. That, to me, is priceless. To not have to worry about having to shut down or losing business because I have machines down, and to have them up, taken care of while nobody’s even here, that’s fantastic.”
Productivity and Fuel Efficiency
Working in a high-production environment that processes wood products, yard waste and other dusty, potentially combustible materials can create several challenges with certain types of Tier 4 machines—particularly those that require a high-temperature regen cycle to burn off excess particulate matter.
CASE was the first manufacturer to employ SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) technology in heavy earthmoving equipment – and G Series wheel loaders are the second generation of CASE wheel loaders to benefit from the fuel efficiency and cooler operating temperatures provided by the technology. There is no regeneration cycle, no recirculation of exhaust gasses, and no temperature spikes to burn off particulate; all of this ensures that a greater percentage of fuel use is put towards productive work, and the lower operating temperatures greatly reduce the likelihood of dangerous thermal events in dust-laden environments.
“I do notice a gain in fuel efficiency,” says Hornor. “They run at a high RPM, yet they never run hot.”
All CASE wheel loaders also feature innovative cooling technologies that keep operating temperatures down, keep the engine compartment clean and provide easy access for routine cleaning. Models in the 131-225 HP range feature a CASE-exclusive mid-mounted cooling module, which pushes the engine lower and further back towards the rear of the machine, improving balance and stability.
The G Series wheel loaders provide a variety of additional features geared towards achieving optimal cycle times and productivity, including four selectable power modes, ride control, and standard automated bucket controls such as return-to-dig, return-to-travel and height control. Even simple considerations like easily-exchangeable buckets (made possible by the standardization of a single loader type) can make a big difference in productivity for companies like Britton Industries.
“The way that the CASE loaders make the buckets interchangeable makes the job so much easier. I can go from loading a truck with one ton of stone to, within seconds, having a bucket on that I can load a tri-axle with 30 yards of mulch. Before, you had to get out, you had to take a bucket off. Or you had to actually switch loaders because the loaders didn’t have interchangeable buckets. This is one push of a button, bucket comes off, another button, bucket goes back on, and you’re ready. It’s really made things so efficient and really easy. One guy can service, essentially, all the products to many different types of trucks in a single machine.”
The cab and operating environment of the G Series have been designed to provide optimal operator performance, ergonomics and engagement with both the controls and the machines’ surroundings. The spacious cab features a new 8″ LCD monitor providing the operator with simple control and greater insight over many loader functions and activities.
Advanced electro-hydraulic controls, and numerous seat and adjustability options further simplify operation and training. A one-piece rounded windshield and optimally placed mirrors, along with a rearview camera that feeds directly to the monitor, ensures full 360° visibility.
“Very comfortable—air ride seat—everything is right there in front of you. There’s no real guesswork. Anybody can run it,” explains Hornor. “I can teach somebody how to run that loader in about two minutes, and have absolutely no problems. Everything is spelled out for you.”
With a large staff of equipment operators, the ability to fine-tune the cab to an individual operator is also a benefit.
“The seats have so many adjustments. I happen to be 6’3”, [another operator] happens to be 5’5”, 5’6”. All I do is slide the seat up, adjust it a little bit… I’m comfortable within two seconds. Just one little adjustment, slide the seat up and you’re good to go.”
28 Years of Growth – Just the Beginning
With nearly 30 years under his belt, and several children already involved in the family business, Jim Britton feels like he’s just getting started. “I’m an all-in guy. I don’t know how to explain it. I love heavy equipment, love my family being in it. I have five kids—been married 25 years.”
“28 years, and I feel like I’m just starting out, so we’ve got a lot to go. The next ten years are going to be fun. That I can tell you.”
D Series Excavators
In addition to purchasing 13 CASE G Series wheel loaders, Britton Industries also purchased four CX250D excavators for their concrete recycling operation. Weighing just under 57,000 lbs., the CASE CX250D is a full-size Tier 4 Final excavator featuring a 177 Horsepower Tier 4 Final Certified engine, and provides bucket digging forces of up to 36,419 foot-pounds.
“I have an excavator that sits on the concrete pile, and it feeds a jaw crusher and a cone crusher all day. That is my favorite excavator that I’ve ever been in,” says John Hornor, site supervisor at Britton Industries. “They are [the] ultimate [in operator] comfort. They run super quiet. They are strong. They are super fast. I tell all the guys that come down here, the excavators are by far my favorite. I’ve been in a bunch, but nothing like that, and they are fantastic.”
The CX250D meets Tier 4 Final emissions standards through a combination of cooled exhaust gas recirculation (CEGR), selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) technologies, which helps maximize uptime and performance – all with minimal maintenance.
There is no diesel particulate filter, no regeneration cycles or associated lifetime service costs associated with other types of after-treatment systems.
Faster cycle times are the result of a new, electronically controlled pump, a larger control valve and multiple electronic sensors. These features and the rest of the CASE Intelligent Hydraulic System make the best use of the machine’s hydraulic power and momentum.
“The controls are super quick. When I first started I had an excavator that, when it swung over, if you didn’t start going back the other way halfway, you could run into stuff. This thing, with the joysticks, it’s just like playing a video game, pretty much—they are right on. It’s fast. It’ll cycle through with no problem; and very, very strong too. Very strong.”
“For that size machine, the swing power, the boom power, the stick, the bucket, the tracks… Everything is exactly what you’d expect for that size machine,” explains Jim Britton, owner of Britton Industries. “We’re pulling piles down, we’re loading crushers with concrete products. We’re loading screeners with topsoil for screening. We’re baling. We’re doing a little bit of everything. It’s the happiest medium and the most efficiencies that we could find in a machine.”