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A Certified First For Finning

Caterpillar dealers Finning UK complete the first Cat Certified Hydraulic Rebuild in Europe

Rebuild of a machine or a powertrain is an option that many Caterpillar dealers worldwide have been offering for years under the Cat Certified Rebuild (CCR) and the Cat Certified Powertrain (CPT) programmes. Following the same idea, Caterpillar’s UK dealers Finning recently carried out a hydraulic system overhaul for customer Westminster Dredging. This was the first rebuild under the new Cat Certified Hydraulic Rebuild programme in Europe.

Besides being the first one in Europe, and among the first in the world, what made Finning’s hydraulic rebuild particularly unusual was that the work was carried out on a Cat 330 medium-size hydraulic excavator that is permanently mounted on a dredger working off the coast of the UK. The excavator’s undercarriage has been removed and its slew tower is directly mounted on the Norstone, a trailing suction hopper dredger, which works for Northwood Gravels, a subsidiary of Westminster Dredging, which in turn is part of the giant Royal Boskalis Westminster Group. The entire group runs more than 1,000 dredging vessels worldwide.

Delivered in 2006, the Cat 330 hydraulic excavator had clocked up 4,335h of operation when the rebuild commenced. While that might not seem like a large number of hours for an excavator, the machine is working constantly in salt water, which takes its toll on the hydraulic and electrical components. However, it was not the machine that prompted the rebuild, but the fact that the ship itself was being removed from the water for its regular special survey, and would be in dry dock for some time. Westminster’s technical superintendent, Peter Tudor, opted to carry out the Cat Certified Hydraulic Rebuild (CHR) at the same time to prevent downtime in the future. ‘We’d had a few niggling faults developing and it seemed like the perfect time to carry out the work,’ he said.

As the machine has no track motors or lower hydraulic components, Finning developed a specific CHR programme for Westminster. The machine was removed from the ship and transported to Finning’s Halstead workshop, in Essex, where the company could ensure that Caterpillar standards of hydraulic cleanliness could be met. As parts were being delivered regularly over a six-week period, it was essential to ensure contamination control in the rebuild environment, which would not have been possible on-board the ship.

The dealer rebuilt the engine and complete hydraulic system, using the most cost-effective combination of new, remanufactured and reconditioned sub-components. For example, for the engine, the firm opted for remanufactured fuel injectors, cylinder head and turbo, reconditioned sub-components, and new gaskets and seals. Product updates were included to bring the Cat 330 up to date with the latest machines.

Although the excavator is used to discharge dredged materials from the ship, rather than actually digging below the waterline, there was corrosion on the rams that required more complex repair work to be carried out. Even so, the total cost of the rebuild amounted to just 40% of the cost of a replacement machine (and that is without taking into account the lack of demand for a Cat 330 without an undercarriage on the used-equipment market).

In addition, Finning were able to complete the work and refit the excavator on the ship during the time the vessel was out of the water. Ordering a replacement excavator would have required a longer lead time, due to the unusual machine specification.

With the rebuild completed, the excavator has now gone back to work. The machine, which already benefits from a Finning service contract, has been covered by a standard Cat CHR warranty. Moreover, the machine is backed by a Finning Committed To You warranty for the second and third years of operation.

‘The decision to have a complete hydraulic rebuild has proven the most cost-effective option for us,’ said Mr Tudor. ‘At the moment, the machine is operating perfectly. What’s more, the company has the benefit of an as-new excavator for a fraction of the cost of a replacement, leading to the lowest ownership and operating costs available throughout the machine’s life.’

Finning are no strangers to the Cat rebuild programme and usually carry out around 20 machine rebuilds each year, of which two thirds are dealer rebuilds and one third are Cat Certified Rebuilds.

However, with the downturn in the industry in the UK, an increasing number of customers have been opting to extend the life of their equipment to second life. This led to Finning carrying out 14 Cat Certified Rebuilds in 2010, along with 16 dealer rebuilds.

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