By Bill Tremblay
Over the Edge Excavating has carved its own excavating niche with a Kaiser mobile walking excavator, also known as a Spider.
When Mitch Coers set out to create Over the Edge Excavating, he knew he would need a unique business model.
Based in Abbotsford, BC, Coers learned about the construction industry working at a large excavating company.
One day on the job, a member of the crew played a video of a mobile walking excavator, also known as a Spider.
“It’s kind of a weird series of events that lined me up for looking into a machine like this,” Coers said.
“I’m a younger guy, so I thought I have to be different. I didn’t have the contacts or the experience to compete with everybody in the industry. I decided to go about a different strategy than others and get a niche market.”
The Kaiser S2 Spider excavator
The S2 is a 10-tonne excavator from Kaiser, and it’s designed for a wide variety of deployments in tough terrain, including steep slopes, river beds or marshlands.
The hydraulically adjustable legs offer maximum standing area for uneven terrain. The front wheels can be quickly removed for stable working in extreme terrain.
“I grew up on a farm and I’ve been running equipment since I was a little guy. I figured I can figure out how to run the machine.” He said.
Once he mastered the mobile walking excavator’s functions, Coers was able to enter his niche market: tackling British Columbia’s toughest terrain.
“The jobs you are doing are all steep terrain or limited access,” Coers said. “There’s definitely no shortage of steep terrain over here.”
The S2 has about 46 functions on the joystick. On flat ground, the machine can be driven like a wheeled excavator. To travel on inclines, the legs of the mobile walking excavator move up and down and side to side creating a crab-like walking motion.
“You can essentially walk sideways. And you can drive it around, but once you get onto the steep terrain, you use the bucket to push yourself up the hill. Then you reposition the bucket and push again,” Coers said. “There’s a lot of things to move, as well as getting your balance and transferring your weight. That adds a challenge all on its own.”
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Recently, Over the Edge Excavating was hired to assist Manning Park install a new chair lift for its ski resort.
Coers’ role was to excavate the footings for nine lift towers as well as the station at the top of the ski hill. After that, he demolished the former lift footings and backfilled everything.
“It’s 1,357 metres at the base of the ski resort and 1,789 metres at the peak. It’s a steep grade, a 45-degree slope, and it varies on the hillside,” Coers said.
To expand his niche market to include habitats and creek banks, Coers also runs Panolin biodegradable lubricants.
“It’s not the same price, but works just as well,” he said.
The abilities of the mobile walking excavator, paired with biodegradable oil, means Coers can enter an area without damaging habitat.
“It’s less invasive, I don’t need to build a road to go into areas. And being able to walk the machine side to side, I’m able to limit the impact that way,” he said. “You can manipulate the machine to the environment, without having to rip it up and destroy it.”
While mobile walking excavators are uncommon machines, Coers said there are a few operators in British Columbia using a spider.
“I’ve never actually had the opportunity to watch anyone else, we’re all competition and we’re all over the place,” he said. “And we’re always in limited access areas or where people can’t see you.”