Keep Loader Costs Lean
No other operating cost gets as much attention today as fuel costs. Even though diesel is a lot less expensive than it was a year ago, it’s still one of the few costs you can have some control over. And it’s the one cost most manufacturers can successfully help you control.
The first way to reduce the fuel burned per unit of work performed is, as mentioned earlier, to design a machine where all the components are engineered to work together harmoniously, and by adding features like additional shifting modes that better match the tire speed and torque-to-traction needs. Lock up torque converters are a good way to gain a few extra gallons per hour when roading a wheel loader or doing load-and-carry work. A closed-center, load-sensing system with variable displacement piston pumps will reduce wasted energy by only pumping as much oil as is needed for the immediate demand. In side-by-side comparisons to the previous generation Dash-3 models, the WA500-6 is 15 to 17 percent more fuel efficient in terms of gallons per hour and 25 to 30 percent more efficient in yards moved per gallon, say Warden and Murawski.
Plug those kinds of figures into an O&O calculator and you start to see some significant savings. In this case, the most conservative figure, 15 percent savings in gallons per hour (at $2.25 per gallon), still delivers $26,325 in savings over the life of the machine.
Tracking your assets
Another big boost to fuel savings comes from the use of asset tracking programs to monitor and manage concerns such as excess idle times. Komatsu calls its asset management program Komtrax, and most of the major OEMs, as well as GPS providers, now offer similar capabilities. What these offer is the ability to remotely track the location and operating condition of your equipment and/or vehicles. You can customize reports to alert you to things like excessive idle time, then you can coach operators to shut the machine down when not working.
Asset tracking also helps you save money in service calls. Although this isn’t something we would plug into an O&O calculator, you can do your own rough estimate on how much you would save if your technicians never had to chase down a hard-to-find machine, or if all your maintenance or diagnostic issues and needs were e-mailed to the shop every morning before the service truck headed out. Asset management programs combined with onboard diagnostic systems will also tell you about small problems before they grow into big problems and allow you to more efficiently schedule preventive maintenance.
Maintenance and repairs
The figures we used for preventive maintenance and repairs are based on Komatsu averages. If you’re in a high-labor cost area or have a lot of variables that depart from the average, be sure to detail these with your dealer.
One thing we did not put into the formula was the cost of replacing bucket cutting edges and/or teeth. These vary widely depending on what the machine is used for and the soil or material conditions. Bring your own replacement schedule to the table when you do your own calculations.
Wheel loaders, 7- to 8-yard bucket capacity
Note: These numbers are based on a new Komatsu WA500-6 wheel loader for five years at 2,000 hours a year (10,000 hour total). The figures cited here are theoretical, however, and for discussion purposes only. For an accurate accounting of your future owning and operating costs, consult with a dealer. Also note: sums may not total exactly in these calculations due to fractions and rounding.