CX160D with 2D Machine Control Keeps Site Contractor Ahead of the Competition
BT Excavating is proving what machine control technology can do for excavation businesses — the savings in time, labor and efficiency are even more impactful when deployed in a small business where time and resources are critical to keeping an edge.
Brent Tauschek of New Franken, Wisconsin grew up around heavy equipment. In the excavating and sitework business for more than 25 years, Tauschek started his own company, BT Excavating, in 2019. He now serves the Green Bay area with both residential and agricultural sitework — offering a complete set of site excavation and prep services.
“Generally, I like to do residential basements,” Tauschek says. “I can also do the sewer and water, or the septic systems for them. We strip the topsoil, dig the basement, come back, backfill, finish grade. We also do agricultural work, where we do feed pads, new barns, additions and general site work.”
A recent residential construction boom in the Green Bay area has kept BT Excavating busy, but it has also made the sitework landscape more competitive. “There's a lot of people getting into it, so the margins are getting tighter and tougher.”
Staying competitive in a market like this is critical, and the right combination of machine and technology can help contractors like Tauschek do that. He leads his way with a CASE CX160D excavator matched up with a 2D machine control system for excavators from Leica Geosystems.
When Tauschek started out, grading was done the old-fashioned way with a transit and grade pole. While he didn’t deploy some of the earlier machine control solutions available for excavators, he believes that technology, price and ease-of-use is now at a place where it makes sense for many contractors. He’s able to save considerable time and labor on each jobsite.
“Now, with this grade control, I have a screen that correlates with the machine angles and so forth, the bucket angle, and I can see exactly where I am at all times,” he explains. “So, when I do start getting close, I can slow down. It makes each job so much faster and so much more responsive.”
“There's not as much downtime. That is the great part about it. And actually, I have a guy that helps me out—he can help get me started with grade on a basement or footings and make sure that I'm digging at the right grade. And then after that, I can send him off to a different job, versus him standing watching me dig a basement or dig footings [to keep checking grade].”
“The advantages of labor are pretty big because I don't have to pay a guy to stay there and watch me dig. This [system] shows up to work every day. You don't have to worry about it calling in sick, ‘It's too cold, too warm, too rainy.’ That's a huge advantage right there.”
For business owners that may still be hesitant to adopt machine control technology, Tauschek offers some advice as it relates to those labor savings. The time savings on site are obvious, but he looks at it as a comparison between the cost of the system and if he was paying an employee just to be a grade guy: “For the amount of money that was spent on that [system], I couldn't pay a guy for a whole year to stand there and hold a grade pole.”
And while machine control still represents a new technology for many, Tauschek confirms that it wasn’t that hard to learn.
“I think it actually only took me one full day to completely understand the system,” he concludes. “And after that, it's been really easy. It's just a matter of understanding the couple of key features that are in it. Once you get them down, it's actually a very simple system.”
Tauschek equipped the system on a CASE CX160D excavator, a full-sized machine that’s perfectly sized for basement digging and other site development projects, and at 38,400 pounds is relatively easy to transport to sites of all sizes.
“Through the years I've dug with various sized machines, dug with a bigger class, I've dug with smaller classes,” he explains. “I just feel that this [CASE CX160D] is a great all-around size machine. It's not too big to get into certain areas and then it's not too small. It has great reach for digging and it also performs real well speed-wise, power-wise. I've been very happy with the machine for all around performance.”
One of the stand-out features has been the machine’s fuel efficiency.
“Being a small company and a one-man operation, you don't have to run for fuel all the time, you're not constantly fueling machines at the end of the day. I can go two days for sure with fuel and — I don't have to have a fuel truck on the job site every day. That is huge in that aspect.”
“It also has an Auto Idle button as well, which is great. And the one feature that I like as well is it also has an auto shut-off after so many minutes of idling, so that if I jump on out of the machine, to go do something, it will shut down by itself at a reasonable time so that I don't burn up engine hours for maintenance and oil changes.”
CASE D Series excavators are designed to provide smooth, efficient operation through the CASE Intelligent Hydraulic System, an electronically controlled pump, a larger control valve and advanced sensors—making the most of the machine’s hydraulic power and momentum. This helps achieve extreme control responsiveness, faster cycle times and improved fuel efficiency. “Through the machines that I've ran in the past, I can honestly say this CASE is probably one of the smoother-operating machines that I've ran. The ability to fine-control, fine-tune around utilities, power, gas—it's very good.”
Further assisting in fuel efficiency are three working modes: Speed Priority, Heavy, and Automatic, that are designed to match machine performance to the intensity of the work.
“I usually operate in the SP (Speed Priority) mode,” he says. “It's the one I feel most comfortable with. It feels like it performs the best for me.”
Tauschek also enjoys the serviceability of the CX160D. “All the compartments are nice and big,” he says. “You can get at them, you can open them, you can visually see in there. Checking the oils, checking the fluid levels and everything is actually very operator friendly.”
All CASE D Series excavators come standard with CASE ProCare – a three-year Advanced CASE SiteWatch™ telematics subscription, a three-year/3,000-hour full-machine factory warranty, and a three-year/2,000-hour planned maintenance contract. “With purchasing this machine, I also got the ProCare package with it, which was a big selling point. I figured out what it would cost to change the oil every 250 hours, 300, versus them having to come out. And the downtime of me bringing the machine back to my shop or doing it in a field was a big selling point for me as well. For the next 2000 hours I don't have to do anything but put oil in it, grease it and add DEF.”
For Tauschek, the ProCare package means more uptime and less time hauling the machine back to the shop for service work.
“I can have more time spending it with my family,” he explains. “I’ve got two young boys, and that makes a big difference.”
Tauschek has had a relationship with local CASE dealer Miller-Bradford & Risberg for more than 20 years. He worked with them to spec his machine, and they handle all of his maintenance and service needs. “They've been a great company to work with for that duration. It’s good to know that they have your back when there are issues or concerns.”