Idle Talk

IDLING AWARENESS: Three winners announced in DMI’s “No Idle Your Way to 2014 CONEXPO” contest

May 15, 2014

Contest winners save fuel, protect resale with less idling

DMI announced the winners of its “No Idle Your Way to 2014 CONEXPO”contest, giving each winning company a trip for two to the show that was held March 4-8 in Las Vegas (see related story). Three recipients received admission to the show, airfare, hotel and a stipend for food and transportation – H&H Construction, Dave Hulstein Excavating and Pete Lien & Sons.

“For several years, Komatsu has raised awareness of the detrimental effects of excessive idling,” said DMI President Dan Healy. “We wanted to build on that, and this contest was a great way to do it. The companies with the lowest idling percentage were named the winners.”

DMI ran the “No Idle Your Way to 2014 CONEXPO” contest during a four-month period last fall. To be eligible, customers had to have qualifying equipment that logged at least 400 hours during the time of the contest. DMI tracked the machines with Komatsu’s KOMTRAX remote machine-monitoring system and calculated the idle percentages by dividing the total idle hours by the total engine hours.

The idea behind the campaign was similar to a contest Komatsu ran last year, which centered on lowering the percentage of time a machine idles during productive hours. Studies show that most machines in North America idle about 40 percent of the time.

Idle time can have adverse effects, including increased owning and operating costs from wasted fuel and using unnecessary hours that lead to faster service intervals. It could also affect the resale value when it’s time to trade or sell a machine.

“We like to use this example: idling a 20-ton excavator for an hour costs about $25,” said Healy. “If a typical machine runs 2,000 hours a year and 40 percent of it is idle time, that’s 800 hours at $25, or an annual cost of $20,000. After five years, that’s $100,000. If a company has multiple machines, think of the staggering amount of money that’s wasted.”

Results not surprising to Dave Hulstein Excavating

Dave Hulstein Excavating’s list of services continues to grow. During the past two decades, it’s evolved from a company that was focused on smaller jobs, such as septic installations, to a company working on full-service comprehensive projects that include everything from clearing to utility installation to final grading. The company has also added more commercial and municipal work, as well as expanded its working radius, which now extends about 200 miles from its Edgerton, Minn., home base.

Owner/President/Founder Dave Hulstein oversees the business, and his wife, Donna, handles the accounts payable and payroll. Their son Travis runs the work in the field, and their daughter Traci Hunter administers accounts receivable in the family business. Traci’s husband, Jesse, also works for Dave Hulstein Excavating.

Travis estimates that during the past few years, the company has grown about 50 percent. In addition to staff, Dave Hulstein Excavating further expanded its equipment fleet. Among others, the company added a D61PX dozer that DMI tracked for idle time as part of the contest.

“We were not surprised that we were one of the winners,” stated Travis. “We already kept a close eye on idle time. In fact, we didn’t change any practices as part of the contest. Our operators know that it’s important to keep machines working and minimize the time a machine idles. Other than startup and shutdown, those machines are in nearly constant motion. When we look at our utilization rate at the end of the year, our production hours very closely match the actual hours put on a machine. Idle time is minimal.”

Even though Dave Hulstein Excavating already took a proactive view of minimizing idle time, Travis said the “No Idle Your Way to 2014 CONEXPO” contest increased awareness.

“It definitely made us take an even closer look at what we were doing,” he said. “It makes sense in terms of fuel savings and hours, as well as reduced maintenance, to shut down a machine when it’s not in use. The contest also reinforced what we already knew about DMI: that it cares about more than just selling equipment. DMI is committed to working with customers to find ways to reduce owning and operating costs.”

Pete Lien & Sons already focused on idle time

Rapid City-based material supplier Pete Lien & Sons’ history dates back 70 years to when Pete Lien and his sons Chuck and Bruce founded the company with a small limestone quarry. Today, it produces and supplies more than 100 products from ready-mix, quarry, and sand and gravel operations.

Pete Lien & Sons uses a Komatsu PC490LC-10 in its sand and gravel operations to remove overburden and load unprocessed sand onto trucks. The 109,250-pound excavator qualified for DMI’s “No Idle Your Way to 2014 CONEXPO” contest. The company also uses new Komatsu HD605 haul trucks, as well as older model wheel loaders and excavators.

“We use the PC490 eight to 10 hours a day,” said Mobile Equipment Manager Ron Sargent, who oversees the company’s fleet. “Our main operator, John Masterson, understands the excavator’s capabilities very well, so he’s producing at a very high level. The excavator is almost always in use, so our idle time was minimal to start with, but the contest further opened our eyes to the benefits of keeping idle time to a minimum. We’ll continue to look at idle time across the board and take care to keep it as low as possible.

“We have a great relationship with DMI because they take care of us from every standpoint: sales, service and parts,” he added. “We appreciate that they’re interested in our success and keeping our owning and operating costs down. The contest was a good testament to that commitment.”

H&H Construction sees benefits

H&H Construction Inc. provides a variety of excavation-related services, from clearing and grubbing to final grade, including utility installations. The Granite Falls, Minn.,-based company also performs demolition, has its own demolition landfill and operates a sand and gravel pit.

Owners Paul Hinz and his son David oversee operations as President and Vice President. “We’re hands-on owners,” said David. “Dad and I are in the field working, and he runs equipment every day.”

In fact, Paul operates the Komatsu PC240LC-10 that DMI tracked during the No Idle contest. “Dad and a lot of our operators are old-school and believe that keeping a machine in production is essential, so our idle time wasn’t excessive before the contest,” said David. “We agreed to participate because DMI laid out the benefits of reduced idle time. With the price of fuel, every little bit helps, but what really brought it home to me was the resale value. Every extra hour a machine idles is money lost when it’s time to sell or trade in a machine.”

David added that owning and operating costs are affected as well, because additional hours equate to more service intervals. DMI currently takes care of those service intervals on the PC240LC-10 under the Komatsu CARE program that provides complimentary scheduled maintenance for three years or 2,000 hours. H&H Construction also has a PC220 excavator.

“Our relationship with DMI and our Sales Rep Dar Ellis goes back several years,” said David. “Because they take such good care of us, we’ve purchased and rented other machinery from them, as well as parts. DMI also has excellent field service. Having a contest like this proves that DMI is committed to more than just selling equipment. It takes an interest in ensuring our owning and operating costs remain low. We’re grateful, and we had a great time at CONEXPO.”