Trade In or Trade Up?
Learn how to gather information and make the best equipment procurement decisions possible.
by Rodney E. Garrett
There is no better time to reassess specific equipment brands and alternative equipment options than at trade-in time. However, making the best decision requires gathering pertinent equipment information and evaluating performance records. To illustrate, consider the equipment employed at the beginning of the traditional rock-to-aggregates process and then fast forward to the equipment used at the end of the process. Typically, the equipment kind at the quarry face is a wheel loader, and the equipment used to load delivery trucks at the aggregates stacks is likewise a wheel loader, albeit smaller in capacity.
When considering an equipment trade, questions arise about what brands and models should be chosen. Further study may include alternative types of equipment. Often, the equipment to be traded is six to 10 years old, so newer technologies have been introduced with many focused on improving machine performance.
S.M. Lorusso & Sons, Inc., a Walpole, Mass.-based aggregates producer, has addressed these questions as well as many others before trading its equipment. By completing a thorough analysis of its equipment performance, operational costs, and production goals, it was able to upgrade to better performing, more cost-effective equipment.
S.M. Lorusso & Sons, Inc., was founded in 1940 by a father-son team as a sand and gravel supply company. Today, the son, Tony Lorusso is the company president and tends to corporate matters. His son, AJ, serves as vice president and handles the equipment management program and daily operations of four quarries.
The company remains a family affair with six family members owning S.M. Lorusso & Sons, as well as Cape Cod Aggregates and Lorusso-Bristol Stone Corp.
S.M. Lorusso & Sons owns and operates four quarries in Massachusetts with its headquarters in Walpole. One of S.M. Lorusso & Sons’ more notable projects included supplying aggregates to the Boston MTA Big Dig Tunnel Project.
Two of its quarries serve to illustrate Lorusso’s equipment-evaluation purchasing program for excavating/loading equipment; West Roxbury Crushed Stone and Wrentham Quarry. Both quarries are named after the respective towns in which they are located. Although these are two of the company’s more mature sites, they have the latest excavation and loading equipment that is owned by the company with some pieces that are only a year-old.
The West Roxbury quarry is comprised of eight benches/faces in depth, with each face about 40 feet high. The Wrentham quarry does not have as many benches, but it also is conventionally laid out. West Roxbury produces aggregates for asphalt paving and ready-mixed concrete production, as well as railroad ballast. The bulk of aggregates produced at the Wrentham quarry are supplied to the CertainTeed Corp., a major manufacturer of roofing materials, where the supplied crushed/screened aggregates are further reduced in size to produce roofing granules.
Most of the rock quarried at Wrentham is rhyolite. It is a fine-grained igneous decomposed (chemically weathered) volcanic rock that is massive with extensive jointing. It includes silica as well as some alkali feldspar and quartz. Los Angeles abrasion tests show results ranging from 11 to 15 percent. The rock quarried at West Roxbury is a relatively hard granite, which is an igneous plutonic rock and similar to rhyolite, but does not have rhyolite’s microcrystalline structure. It, too, is quite abrasive, which can influence the kind of excavating/loading equipment chosen for the work at the face.
Consider performance records
The flagship excavating and loading equipment in the Lorusso fleet is currently Liebherr, which is by choice. According to AJ Lorusso, there are many very good equipment brands to choose from. “We do not endorse any make equipment. We have used different brands of wheel loaders, excavators, and even a shovel,” he says. “We evaluate the different brands before purchasing, and then we select the best that is offered at the time. Our loyalty is to the company and what equipment best serves it and not to a particular brand of equipment.”
S.M. Lorusso & Sons maintains thorough performance records on each piece of equipment, but AJ says this information is not sufficient for making a well-informed decision when choosing replacement equipment. He says that just because one brand of wheel loader was an outstanding performer in the past, it may not be the current equipment category leader. This explains why the company’s wheel loader brands have varied through the years.
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