Provisioning for our customers’ needs

The following article was published in the 2023 edition of the PotashWorks industry magazine. The original publication can be viewed by Clicking Here.

Provisioning for our customers’ needs is fundamental to the operation of an efficient and effective earth moving company that is ready to meet the needs of its clients. One of the more critical aspects of operating a reliable fleet of heavy equipment is knowing when to rebuild, replace, or upgrade various pieces of equipment in the fleet. This requires the owner-operator needing to have a command of the new and used equipment market. Operators must be in-tune with the equipment market and know when to take advantage of opportunities that the market may or may not afford. Case in point, in today’s current market, because of COVID-induced supply chain issues, it’s almost impossible to find new earth moving equipment to purchase with quoted factory wait times of a year to a year and half out. This has had the knockon effect in the used equipment market significantly pushing up the prices of used equipment. It’s an ideal time to sell heavy equipment but not to buy. So, in the near term, unless an operator is planning to go out of business and sell off the heavy equipment fleet, operators are only left with one choice, and that is to rebuild tired and high hour equipment to ensure equipment is available to work the next construction season. These investment decisions are not inconsequential as the cost of rebuilding one piece of heavy equipment, such as a larger dozer, can typically run in the mid-six figures and that’s if parts are available. Multiply this by the 10 to 15 pieces of equipment that may be rebuilt over the winter shutdown period, and you get the point. Longer term, an owner operator may speculate on the need to update some pieces of equipment and place an order with a supplier, knowing that it could be up to two years before new pieces of equipment are available for delivery.

With over 200 pieces of earth moving equipment to maintain, KPCL has on staff a complement of both journeymen and apprentice mechanics. These mechanics are resident on its construction sites during the construction season to ensure that scheduled maintenance is completed, emergency repairs performed, and the equipment has high availability. In the off season these mechanics move into KPCL’s maintenance shops located in Estevan and Clavet, Sask. Over the winter period they complete thorough inspections of each piece of equipment and undertake all necessary repairs to ensure each piece of equipment is in tip-top condition for the next construction season. And as noted previously, the mechanics spend a considerable amount of time in the off-season rebuilding select pieces of heavy equipment.

Record keeping plays a vital role in KPCL’s reliability centered maintenance processes. Using a computer-based data- management system, the system pushes out scheduled maintenance for each piece of equipment based on the equipment’s hour meter. Once a service or repair has been completed, the mechanics log the services and\or repairs performed on each piece of equipment. This is not only important for confirming that the equipment receives required maintenance on a timely basis, but if a replaced part fails while under warranty, it’s readily identifiable and KPCL can go back to the supplier for cost recovery.

While ensuring that KPCL has reliable, current model construction equipment complete with the latest pollution abatement systems may not be the most exciting part of the heavy construction business, it is a critical component to ensuring that our clients’ needs are fulfilled on a timely basis. Knowledge, experience, and a modern, well maintained fleet enables KPCL to build today for a brighter tomorrow.