Finning UK & Ireland’s team of specialist rebuild engineers accomplished a remarkable feat, completely transforming a 15-year-old Cat® landfill compactor for FCC Environment in just 12 weeks. The compactor underwent a comprehensive rebuild process, incorporating a combination of reconditioned and remanufactured parts, making it fully equipped for a second lease on life.
FCC Environment boasts ownership and operation of over 200 recycling, treatment, and disposal facilities spanning the UK. Remarkably, they manage a staggering volume of more than 8.5 million tonnes of waste for their diverse customer base, including approximately 72 local authorities located in North Yorkshire, Suffolk, and Essex.
Landfill sites present challenging environments with rough and contaminated land surfaces. Machines operating in such conditions need to be exceptionally durable and robust. So, one can only imagine the condition of the machine when it arrived at the Finning service workshop after enduring 15 years of relentless, unforgiving hard work.
FCC’s waste processing fleet currently consists of 500 machines, encompassing landfill compactors, wheeled excavators, track-type loaders, and articulated dump trucks, with Cat equipment accounting for nearly half of the fleet. The Cat 836 landfill compactor was originally acquired from Finning in 2007, along with a comprehensive repair and maintenance program, ensuring the machine’s uninterrupted operation with minimal downtime.
Towards the end of 2022, the transmission on the machine experienced a failure. In close cooperation with FCC Group Plant Manager, Bill Stone, the Finning team thoroughly explored various options to find the best solution that would align with FCC’s requirements. This involved considering the purchase of a brand-new replacement machine or undertaking a complete refurbishment of the existing machine to the highest possible specification, involving a Cat certified machine rebuild.
“As a company operating in the waste and recycling sector, we recognize the significance of adopting sustainable practices throughout our business. We have undertaken a transformation in our operations to reduce our company-wide environmental impact and embrace more sustainable approaches.”
“Though sustainability was a crucial factor in our decision-making process, we also had to consider the time and cost implications. The lead time for a new replacement machine was longer compared to the estimated three-month rebuild turnaround. Ultimately, it was Finning’s assurance of the machine’s quality and performance that served as the tipping point, prompting us to commission them for the rebuild.”
For each rebuild project, a specialized team of engineers is assigned. Under the leadership of Ben Marston, this particular project was undertaken with the expertise of Thomas Raybould, along with other engineers who collaborated diligently throughout the entire 12-week duration to handle every aspect of the machine rebuild.
The engineers’ initial task was a complete disassembly of the machine, taking it apart piece by piece. This process involved draining all oils and fluids from the major components, disconnecting them, and removing the axles to facilitate the removal of the engine, torque converter, and pumps in one efficient step. Subsequently, they dismantled the transmission, fuel tank, and steering cylinders, preparing them for a thorough washdown and detailed inspection. This meticulous examination of the machine and cab allowed the engineers to identify the full scope of work required to restore the machine to a pristine, as-new condition.
Ben Marston stated: “This was undeniably one of the most challenging rebuilds I’ve encountered.”
He emphasized that the harsh operating environment had significantly impacted every aspect of the machine, with the transmission being the worst he had ever encountered. The condition of the cab was also severely deteriorated, presenting significant challenges during the rebuild process.
“As a crucial aspect of the inspection process, we diligently identify the parts that can be reconditioned and reused. In this particular case, we successfully restored and reused seven out of the ten radiator cores.”
During the reassembly phase, which may last up to nine weeks, the duration depends on the size and complexity of the machine and the extent of reconditioning needed. This phase is where the engineers’ technical expertise truly shines, as they skillfully piece together the components to bring the machine back to its optimal functionality.
An essential aspect of the rebuild process is upgrading components or systems within the machine to the latest technical updates introduced during its production life. In this particular case, a combination of remanufactured and reconditioned components was used. After refitting the major elements and reinstalling the cab, all electrical elements were reconnected, and the oil and coolant were topped up to ensure the machine was ready for restarting.
The performance testing phase is undeniably the most crucial stage of a rebuild, where all components undergo meticulous assessment to ensure they meet Caterpillar’s approved specifications. This comprehensive testing includes the first full run of the machine, during which all systems are bled, and the electrics are thoroughly tested. Subsequently, the engine, transmission, and hydraulic systems are subjected to rigorous pressure checks and critical electronic calibrations to ensure their optimal performance.
After reinstallation of the panel work, the fire suppression and reverse camera systems are fitted, as they are essential safety measures for machines operating in landfill environments. Adam Walker, Engine and Drivetrain Product Manager at Finning, is overseeing the project and highlighted the growing significance of sustainability in fleet management decisions, particularly for those involved in the waste and recycling sector.
“Maintaining open and consistent communication with the customer is paramount during a rebuild project, and we place great emphasis on keeping them informed of the progress regularly. As part of this approach, we conduct a weekly video walk-around of the machine, where our engineers explain in detail the specific elements they have worked on and address any particular issues that may arise.”
“As part of the rebuild process, our goal is to recover and recycle over 65% of the original machine. Opting for a rebuild also brings significant cost savings, with customers typically saving around 40-50% compared to purchasing a new machine. Additionally, utilizing remanufactured parts, including over 8000+ Cat certified options, can result in savings of up to 60% compared to the cost of brand new components.”
After approximately three months, the rebuilt machine is now back in operation on site. Bill Stone expressed the significance of their mobile plant fleet for their operation, emphasizing the need for effective asset management. Finning’s crucial role in this aspect was highlighted, with their strong aftermarket support providing reassurance and confidence in the decision to have the machine rebuilt.
“The process did undergo some changes from the original scope, mainly because many machine components revealed their true condition only after being exposed during the disassembly in the workshop. Nonetheless, the finished machine is truly remarkable, both in sound and appearance, standing as a testament to the skills and pride of all those who contributed to its transformation.”
“Making the right choices is of utmost importance, and opting for sustainable options not only aligns with our values but also makes good business sense. It is a path we will continue to follow as a part of our fleet succession plan.”
“We have been thoroughly impressed with every aspect of this machine rebuild, from the exceptional skills of the engineers to the excellent communication throughout the process, and most importantly, the remarkable quality and performance of the machine. As a result, we are already in discussions with the Finning team about commissioning another rebuild in the upcoming months.”