Finning rebuilds Cat compactor14 August 2023

Finning UK & Ireland Cat landfill compactor

A team of engineers at Finning UK & Ireland have rebuilt a 15-year-old Cat landfill compactor for FCC Environment so it is fit for a second life.

A team of engineers at Finning UK & Ireland have rebuilt a 15-year-old Cat landfill compactor for FCC Environment so it is fit for a second life.

FCC Environment owns and operates over 200 recycling, treatment, and disposal facilities across the UK, managing more than 8.5 million tonnes of waste for their customers, which include some 72 local authorities across North Yorkshire, Suffolk and Essex.

FCC’s current waste processing fleet comprises 500 machines including landfill compactors, wheeled excavators, track type loaders and articulated dump trucks, with Cat equipment making up almost half. It bought the Cat 836 landfill compactor from Finning in 2007 with a full repair and maintenance programme, which kept the machine operational with a minimal amount of downtime.

The transmission on the machine failed at the end of 2022. Working in collaboration with FCC Group plant manager, Bill Stone, the Finning team was able to consider the best solution that would meet FCCs needs and included looking at buying a brand-new replacement machine, or have the existing machine completely refurbished.

Stone said: “As a company operating in the waste and recycling sector, we understand how important it is to embrace sustainable approaches across all aspects of our business and have transformed our operations accordingly to limit our company-wide environmental impact.

“While sustainability played a big role in our decision, we also needed to weigh up the time it would take and how much it would cost. The lead time for a replacement machine, for example, was longer than the estimated three month rebuild turnaround. Crucially it was Finning providing reassurance on the quality and performance of the machine that was the tipping point, so we commissioned them to carry out the rebuild.”

Each rebuild project has a dedicated team of engineers. This one was led by Ben Marston with Thomas Raybould who worked with other engineers throughout the 12 weeks on every aspect of the machine rebuild.

The first task that the engineers undertook was to disassemble the machine. This involved draining off the oils and fluids from all major components, disconnecting them, and removing the axles so the engine, torque convertor and pumps could be taken out in one go. Then the transmission, fuel tank and steering cylinders were removed ready for the engineers to wash down and carry out an inspection of the machine and cab to identify the full scope of work required to get the machine back to as new condition.

“This was easily one of the most challenging rebuilds I’ve been involved in.” explained Marston.

“The harsh environment that the machine has been operating in has taken its toll on every part of the machine. The transmission was the worst I’ve ever come across, and the cab was falling to pieces when it came in.

“A key part of the inspection process involves identifying which parts can be reconditioned and reused. In this case we were able to restore and reuse seven of the ten radiator cores.”

A key part of the rebuild process involves upgrading components or systems within the machine to the latest technical update that would have been introduced during the machine’s production life. This machine had a mix of remanufactured and reconditioned components. Once the elements were refitted and the cab reinstalled, all the electrical elements were reconnected, and the oil and coolant topped up, so the machine was ready to be restarted.

The performance testing where all components are assessed to ensure they are within Caterpillar’s approved specifications. This includes the first full run of the machine which includes bleeding all the systems and testing the electrics. Then the engine, transmission and hydraulic systems are given a work out by performing pressure checks and critical electronic calibrations.

Once the panel work is reinstalled, the fire suppression and reverse camera systems are fitted.

Adam Walker, engine and drivetrain product manager at Finning is overseeing the project. He said: “Sustainability is driving a lot of fleet management decisions, especially for those operating in the waste and recycling sector.

“Customer communication is key throughout a rebuild project, and we take a lot of care to ensure we keep the customer informed of progress on a regular basis. This includes a weekly video walk round the machine so the engineers can explain in detail what elements have been worked on and have the opportunity to flag any specific issues.

“During a rebuild, we aim to recover and recycle over 65% of the original machine. In addition, customers choosing a rebuild typically save around 40-50% on the cost compared with buying a new machine. While remanufactured parts, of which there are around 8000+ Cat certified parts available, can be up to 60% less than the cost of a brand new one.”

The rebuilt machine has now been back and operational on site for around three months.

Stone said: “Our mobile plant fleet is key to our operation, so it is essential these assets are managed effectively, and Finning plays a vital part in that. The strong aftermarket support we’ve received over the years provided reassurance and confidence in deciding to have this machine rebuilt.

“The process did evolve from the original scope. This was due to many of the components of the machine only being exposed and their true condition seen once the machine was taken apart in the workshop. The finished machine sounds and looks fantastic and is a testament to the skills but also the pride of all those involved.

“Doing the right thing is vital, and choosing the sustainable option makes good business sense, and a route we will continue with as part of our fleet succession plan.

“We’ve been impressed with all aspects of this machine rebuild both in terms of the skill of the engineers, the level of communication throughout the process and in the quality and performance of the machine. We’re already in discussions with the team at Finning about commissioning another rebuild in the next few months.”

Operations Engineer

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