One of the largest projects in its history, involving the filling in of former strip-mining pits, presented a renowned Pennsylvania grading and excavation company with a challenge. The company’s top minds gathered to determine how to complete the project safely and effectively.
A heavy civil contractor from Blandon, Pennsylvania, Schlouch Incorporated, was hired earlier this year to grade and clear a 362-acre site in eastern Pennsylvania in preparation for the construction of the 5.5 million-square-foot Hazleton Creek Commerce Center. There will be five enormous warehouses in the industrial park, east of Interstate 81, that range in size from 550,000 square feet to 2.2 million square feet.
The contractor has a solid reputation in the area for its strong business ties, ethics, and commitment to doing things well. Since March, its teams have been working on the Hazleton site to conduct excavation for the pads that will serve as the foundation for Building four and Building 5 as part of Phase I. Later, Buildings 3, 2, and 1 will be constructed as part of Phase II.
The warehouse buildings at Hazelton Creek will also include 50-foot building heights, over 1,700 tractor-trailer parking spots, room for 2,700 automobiles, and access to freight transportation via the Norfolk Southern line that passes along one of the park’s edges.
Don Swasing, Schlouch’s chief operations officer, remarked, “This location is clearly where you would like your company to be situated.” “You can rapidly go to New York City, Philadelphia, and other major megacities by accessing Interstates 81 and 80 in the area.
The Lehigh Valley still sees a lot of warehouse development, but this region is eastern Pennsylvania’s new frontier.” The 5.5 million square foot industrial park’s construction is being managed by the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based Allied Building Corporation.
The Triangle of Internal Equipment at Schlouch Selects the Best Excavator for the Project
The Hazleton site is located in a ravine that was extensively strip-mined and deep-mined from the early 19th century through the 1960s. It also contained two former landfills.
Because of this, the area is difficult for any excavating contractor who hasn’t extensively examined the land to identify any potential hazards.
Before beginning the project, Schlouch conducted an analysis of the site to determine the procedures required to stabilize the earth beneath the proposed business park.
In doing so, Schlouch Site Superintendent Derek Bainbridge said the company also realized it required a larger mass Cat 395 excavator with the “capacity to transport larger amounts of dirt and debris in less time.”
In particular, Schlouch’s Site Foreperson Andy Kelchner assisted in persuading the team to purchase the sizable Cat 395 hydraulic excavator after consulting with Schlouch’s “Equipment Triangle,” a group of three corporate officials who have the final word over any equipment acquisition.
You might be interested in
Swasing, Chief Financial Officer Richard King, and Fleet Coordinator Kevin Reimert made up the trio.
With our Equipment Triangle, we discovered that we could make better decisions if we took into account the fleet, operations, and financial aspects and looked for three green lights. “Application, dependability, productivity, and operational preference are considered. On the fleet side, we assess uptime, maintenance, and lifetime. From a financial perspective, we take into account utilization and how it affects our pricing. In the end, we discovered that using this strategy and working closely with others is a superior method to make judgments.”
Swasing continued, “As a team, we prioritize the lowest cost over the lowest pricing. We can determine the route that will result in the lowest cost by using our process. That is to our benefit.”
After making a choice, the contractor contacted Foley Inc., which has offices in Piscataway, New Jersey, and Bensalem, Pennsylvania. The dealership, which services eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, is “attached at the hip” to Schlouch, according to Swasing.
Regarding Jeff Merle, vice president of machine sales at Foley, he remarked, “Our uptime is just as essential to him as it is to us.” We are confident that his squad will be there to help us whenever, wherever, if we call them.
But Schlouch didn’t get his hands on the 207,000-lb. Cat 395 until after Cat and Foley met with the contractor to address concerns about the equipment and provide information on how well the excavator had performed.
According to Sales Consultant Marty Lindmeier of Foley Inc., “When the people at Schlouch were debating which brand manufacturer to purchase from, Cat excavator product experts met with them, together with Cat district representatives and Foley’s executive leadership and sales representatives, to explain the contractor’s queries, concerns, and product benefits and specifications.
Productivity of Cat 395 Excavator Surpasses Expectations
Schlouch and its group of equipment policy-makers came to the conclusion that the large Hazleton project required a large machine, and the 542-hp Cat 395 excavator fits the bill at the Hazleton job site. To date, 16 parts of iron equipment, such as excavators, haul trucks, loaders, and dozers, have been on the project.
The next-generation excavator is advertised by the OEM as having greater productivity, greater durability, and lower maintenance requirements—features that undoubtedly caught Schlouch’s Equipment Triangle’s attention. The 395 model also features a stronger frame than comparable-sized models, more swing torque, stick power, and a maximum digging depth of nearly 32 feet.
When Cat clients upgrade from a smaller excavator class to a 100-ton class excavator, Merle said, “it’s almost like utilizing a model from Cat’s mining group because the larger machine has a different life and service cycles as well as different expectations.” If you ever reach the point where you want to sell a 395, it is simpler since it has a high resale value because the intervals are longer, the lifecycle is longer, and there is more predictable uptime.
Kelchner instantly became a champion for the Cat 395 and thinks Schlouch will benefit from the larger, more potent excavator since it will be more competitive in its area when bidding for significant bulk earthmoving projects.
“We can move a lot of soil and save time with the new 395 models,” said Kelchner, who is an authority on the issue after spending more than 20,000 hours operating large excavators. “With the set of guys we currently have, we can manage projects of a greater scale, not be constrained by our resources, and deliver on time.
We can reduce that timetable while still doing it safely by bringing the Cat machine in. A machine that large can withstand everything we can throw at it and still function reliably because the climate up here is different.”
According to Kelchner, these two improvements in equipment design are the main factors in a grading contractor’s capacity to utilize every minute of every daily shift.
Hazleton Construction Site Poses a Number of Challenges
Any contractor would find that grading more than 5 million cu. Yds. of soil is a challenging project. Schlouch, on the other hand, has been doing it for more than four months and has strengthened its standing as a company that can come up with solutions for difficult tasks in the process.
The ongoing work is likewise included within the first edit. There will be a significant amount of blasting in the vicinity of Building 5 and on the upper side of the project at Building 4.
In the 1950s, this coal strip mine was one of the biggest in the state, according to Bainbridge. “Originally located on the land, Hazleton City Hall was relocated so they could access the coal. In the 1990s, the mine was subsequently shut down.”
Mine Pit Filling Is a Complex Procedure
According to Kelchner, the Hazleton Creek site will be graded level over the course of the following five years, with the additional fill being trucked in. According to Kelchner, Schlouch will only need to go down about 20 feet on some of the fill in order to meet its grade. On other parts of the fill, however, it will need to go up approximately 20 feet. The fill’s deepest point, according to him, is up to 45 feet deep.
Schlouch Buys Cat 395 After Considerable Research
Many contractors, according to Reimert, do not use Schlouch’s way of selecting which construction equipment to buy or sell. Still, he believes it is crucial when making a significant capital investment.
“You really want to take the time to do it well, and we did that when you buy a machine of that size and significance,” he said. “Each element of the triangle contributed in some way. We had extremely particular production goals and demanded the most up-to-date technology while also wanting to be safe.”
King was certain that the executive team had gotten reliable information about the Cat 395 that appropriately represented the machine’s cost.
The deal’s framework was another thing that Jeff Merle and Marty Lindmeier of Foley worked on, according to King. Because we sold two Cat 627 scrapers and utilized the proceeds to buy the 395 excavator and some other assets, the way it was arranged really helped us with the investment.
Barry Schlouch, President and Founder of Schlouch Incorporated, encapsulated the significance of this project for his business and the importance of owning the Cat 395 excavator.
He stated, “We’re humbled to get the prize for this project, and we know that to recruit, develop, and keep the greatest person in the industry, we must give them the best equipment, technology, and resources to produce excellent work. “The Cat 395 excavator’s addition accomplishes exactly that.”