By Bill Tremblay
Schouten Excavating is making sure its fleet of heavy equipment stands out, both in performance and aesthetics.
The Watford, Ontario-based company has started the process of painting its equipment fleet black, as well as equipping its excavators with OilQuick couplers.
Schouten Excavating began its black rebrand after purchasing two new Caterpillar 323 Next Generation excavators and a D6K dozer from Toromont Cat in London, Ontario.
“All of our pickups and transports are black. It’s our company colour,” said Calvin Schouten, who founded the company more than five years ago alongside Wiebren de Boer. “We think it stands out. People notice it, they don’t forget about it. They’ll look even better when the windows are tinted.”
One of the new 323 excavators is already on site, and proving the effectiveness of Schouten’s marketing strategy. The machine is tasked with removing the foundation of a former hotel in Strathroy, Ontario.
“We don’t have our logo on the machine yet, but I’ve had two people ask me if we’re working near the Tim Horton’s in Strathroy,” de Boer said. “It’s only because of the colour, there’s no logos.”
Before painting the machines, Schouten ensured black wouldn’t create a heat retention issue. However, Schouten explained the manufacturer wasn’t concerned.
“The cooling systems on these new machines is pretty good,” Schouten said.
Resale of the excavators is a possible concern with black, but Schouten plans on getting at least five years out of the machines.
“We think the benefits outweigh the cost as far as our marketing strategy,” Schouten said. “If people remember you, you get a leg up. And it does look good.”
Next gen excavators
The new technology included on the next gen 323 excavators was a selling point for Schouten Excavating. The excavators are equipped with integrated Cat Connect Technology, which increases operating efficiency by up to 45 per cent, according to the manufacturer.
The Cat Grade with 2D system helps operators reach grade quickly and accurately, by offering guidance for depth, slope and horizontal distance to grade. As well, Grade Assist, another standard feature, automates boom, stick and bucket movements, so operators stay on grade with single-lever digging.
“The new technology really relieves labour on the site,” Schouten said. “You can do a lot of your grading without having a stick man or a laser man.”
He added the hydraulic design is another advantage of the 323 excavators.
“It’s a fast machine. It’s quite a bit faster than the old ones,” Schouten said.
“It has 200 feet less hydraulic hose than the previous generation. Less hose equals less leaks,” de Boer added.
The purchase of the 323 excavators and a D6K dozer marks Schouten Excavating’s complete move to Caterpillar machines.
“You can’t beat their support. For us, that’s everything,” Schouten said. “If that machine goes down, they’ll send me a new one that day to keep us running.”
Schouten Excavating’s switch to OilQuick
When Schouten Excavating began operations about five years ago, they knew, one day, they would incorporate OilQuick onto their machines.
“We knew right away it was the thing to do, but it’s definitely an investment,” Schouten said. “The cost of oil quick is far greater than putting a Cat coupler on, but we believe the payback is there.”
OilQuick is an automatic quick coupler system for excavators that allows hydraulic work tools to be connected — or disconnected — from the operator’s cab within seconds.
Working with Shear Power Corp., Schouten began to install the largest coupler offered by OilQuick for its excavator fleet, which ranges from 20 to 40 tonne machines.
“Usually that’s three separate coupler lines. We went with the biggest one and incorporated it onto the smaller machines,” Schouten said. “If we’re in a pinch with a bigger machine, we can throw a bucket on from one of the smaller machines, so we have full interchangeability across the board.”
Using a single coupler is assisting with coordinating machines and attachments on the company’s jobsites.
“We used to have to coordinate machines based on what would fit,” Schouten said. “Now we can send a machine and give it the attachment it needs, instead of maybe sending two machines.”