Primco Builds Excavator Fleet for Road & Bridge Construction
Primco Inc. has built out an excavator fleet for road and bridge construction that runs the gamut between full-sized (the CASE CX210D) and minimum swing radius (CASE CX145D SR and CX245D SR). Each excavator plays a specific role in the demo and construction process.
Founded in 1968, Primco Inc. of Fort Wayne, Indiana has served its community for more than 50 years.
Originally formed as a small, family-owned bridge contracting company, Primco has grown exponentially over the decades. Now Primco employs more than 135 people, and in addition to bridge construction and rehabilitation, Primco also specializes in concrete paving, structural concrete work, as well as general commercial concrete and site development. The company also works closely with Speedway Construction Products, which supplies concrete and other construction materials both for Primco jobs, and for other contractors throughout Northeast Indiana.
“My father started the business with another gentleman back in 1968, and we have grown from a bridge crew company to road and bridge,” says Todd Fredrick, president, Primco, Inc. “We do heavy highway, foundation work, sheeting work, piling and concrete road building—anything to do with that, any concrete along with that. We also do our own manufacturing of the materials that we need for our work.”
“The majority of our work is all government-based, whether it's county, city, state or federal contracts. Into the early 1990s, we saw the need to start growing into flat concrete and paving and production. So, that was one of my first tasks after getting my teeth cut in the bridge side. So then we built our own paving side of the company and started doing mainline slip forming and curb and gutter for commercial jobs.”
An Excavator for Every Task
Primco relies on a fleet of several CASE D Series excavators in both standard and minimum-swing configurations for tight road and bridge work. With up to 17 crews operating on any given day, Primco outfits all of their excavators with thumbs, quick-couplers and auxiliary hydraulics packages so that they’re all capable of performing in a variety of applications as efficiently as possible.
“We are not gentle at all on excavators,” Fredrick says. “They're really set up for heavy-duty removal in any size.”
“I think we've done a good job with RPM Machinery over the years of marrying the right sizes with the right class of excavator. We've been very fortunate in that standpoint that they've held together with spec-ing them out for heavy-duty.”
CASE D Series excavators have been built to achieve faster cycle times, improved control/responsiveness and greater fuel efficiency. Each features an electronically controlled hydraulic pump and larger control and solenoid valves that boost breakout forces, increase lifting strength and improve responsiveness. These features combine with the CASE Intelligent Hydraulic System and its four integrated control systems to make the best use of the machine’s hydraulic power and momentum, resulting in added strength and fuel efficiency.
“If we buy an excavator, whether it's a CX210D or a CX245D, we'll put a thumb on it, we'll put a coupler system on it, and we will outfit it with all the hydraulics to run all those pieces. So we don't have to worry about moving the special ones around,” Fredrick explains. “We've always had the CX210Ds… And where you're not tight or [where] you can, we run them all day long. So, our true reconstruct, where we're totally rebuilding a bridge and not on just a cosmetic type bridge job—totally coming out and putting back in—we'll put a [CX210D] in when there’s more room.”
For tighter road and bridgework where they may be working alongside traffic and other obstacles, Primco will deploy either a CASE CX145D SR or CX245D SR minimum swing radius excavator.
CASE minimum-swing excavators are designed to provide increased digging and lifting power in confined work areas and feature a compact counterweight and modified boom placement that minimizes the machines’ footprint, resulting in highly productive and maneuverable excavators that are ideal for restricted operating conditions.
“I will tell you that if you talk to any of my guys, they are going to tell you that the CX145D SR and the CX245D SR are the best bridge building excavators on the market today,” Fredrick says. “That size—less tail-swing—we get into confined spaces on jobs. We have single lanes. We can't swing over the top of the barrier wall (with a conventional excavator) because you’ve got traffic on one side of it.”
“We're using the CX145D on all of our concrete patching jobs,” he continues. “You can be up on top with the peckers, breaking up the patches, driving down the finished product. That's good with the rubber tracks. And then coming up with another one, digging it out with a bucket on it, and then another one behind it, putting in the stone and the subgrade getting ready for concrete.”
Balance and Productivity in the Yard
In addition to providing ready-mix concrete and other building materials for Primco jobsites, Speedway Construction Products also provides a variety of aggregate, concrete and landscaping materials and services for other contractors in the area.
Some of the busiest machines in the Speedway yard are the CASE 721G wheel loaders. “The 721Gs and all the other 721s—we started buying wheel loaders of the 721-size back in the late-1990s. They’re duty cycled for concrete plants and we use them every day,” Fredrick explains. “We set them up with a quick-coupler system, so we have the forks and we have the booms for unloading materials.”
The 175-horsepower 721G offers 33,000-pounds of breakout force, as well as a 5-speed transmission with lock-up torque converter that provides faster acceleration and travel speeds up to 25 miles per hour. An SCR engine solution offers excellent fuel efficiency with no diesel particulate filters, no regeneration, and no extreme exhaust temperatures.
The G Series also features the most intuitive, comfortable and operator-friendly cab of any CASE wheel loader to date, and offer a number of ergonomic features that improve comfort and visibility.
“It’s windows all the way around, so you can see down in front of you on the ground,” says Brian Stidham, operator for Speedway Construction Products. “It’s great visibility.”
“Having the shift button right here on the joystick, you never have to shift here (the other side of the steering column),” Stidham continues. “You can squeeze this trigger and it will put you back into first gear.”
“The other nice thing is that the lever stays with the seat, so you’re not having to reach for the lever all the time when you adjust the seat.”
Speedway outfits their 721G wheel loaders with a four-yard multipurpose bucket for day-to-day operations. “The four-yard bucket is the right size for the duty cycle,” Fredrick says. “For less trips from the pile back to the hoppers, and keeping them maxed up.”
“You want the biggest bucket you can get without being too heavy for the machine, and that it’s stable. So that's really how that 721G performs as good as we could ever get.”
Fredrick attributes Primco’s continued growth and success to staying local. They decided a long time ago that they would strive to grow within their community, and that develops a sense of trust and reliability with their customers. “One of the differences is that we all live here, right? We all go to church with the people that are overseeing our jobs. Our kids play sports together with the people that we're building the jobs for.”
Ultimately, it comes down to operating an honest, reliable business, and investing in the right people. “We have a lot of high quality people, and probably invest as much as we do in the people as we do the equipment. And if we invest in good equipment, it takes care of the good people. So it's, it's a two-way street and that is how we live.”