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Keeping the Equipment Operating

“Several times—half a dozen or more—we got a courier to bring a big part from Caterpillar headquarters in Morton, Illinois. One Saturday at 5 p.m., Caterpillar didn’t have the part we needed. But they told us Whayne Supply, the Cat® Dealer in Louisville, Kentucky, had one. I called Whayne and asked if they had a courier available to drive the part down to us. ‘A what?’ they asked. They couldn’t imagine we would want the part by Sunday morning. ‘A courier,’ I said. ‘A driver to bring it to us.’ They found a driver and a truck, and we had the part on site before the sun rose on Sunday morning.”

— Carl Sponsel, Yancey Bros. Co.

“We ran a twenty-four-hour operation seven days a week,” Bill Hammack recalls, “with two ten-hour shifts, with two hours for fueling and maintenance at the end of the shift. While we were there, Yancey maintained all the equipment.”

The decision to use six Caterpillar 777s illustrates the importance of minimizing down time for the entire fleet. The speed of the operation and the constant flow of material from the quarries to the embankment site demanded the use of all six trucks all the time. Loss of a single truck meant the loss of 17 percent of capacity. And the 777s were so big, they had to be shipped from the plant in pieces. So if a major problem arose, a temporary replacement was virtually out of the question.

Yancey Bros. Co. assigned a minimum of four service technicians, three preventive maintenance technicians, and two PM trucks to the project at all times. Carl Sponsel and David White headed up service operations and were personally available to answer calls at any time.

The parts department set up permanent quarters on the job site with a 2,000-square-foot “warehouse” and more than 1,000 line items stocked. Consumables (fanbelts, turbos, GET, filters, and alternators) for all Cat® machines on the job were carried in stock, along with spools of hydraulic hose and fittings so that any hose could be assembled and replaced within an hour. Ronald Smith, a longtime parts department staffer, headed up the parts operation.

The Yancey service department relied on new satellite-aided technology from Caterpillar called Product Link to monitor every piece of equipment on the job. With hardware installed on each machine, Product Link gathered and provided up-to-date information to a series of computers and satellite downlinks for Yancey employees to use in evaluating the health of equipment. Product Link™ provided information on equipment location, fuel usage, and performance faults or warnings. Service personnel at Yancey headquarters monitored the equipment 24/7 in what became known as the “war room.” Operators for 5R ran on two ten-hour shifts per day, leaving four hours for scheduled preventive maintenance, usually late at night to avoid burning daylight.

The result was minimal down time, and 5R Constructors finished the job six months ahead of schedule. “At the end of the day the airport was extremely pleased with the result,” Bill Hammack says, “It was a success for us and for Yancey Bros. Co.”

As word spread about the success of Yancey’s utilization of Product Link™ and its accompanying diagnostic software, executives from Caterpillar as well as from dealerships from across North America flew into Atlanta to see for themselves.

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