For two successful highway and bridge contractors, Lane Construction and Branch Highways, productivity is key for completing the high volume of infrastructure projects that are critical to their success.
With dozens of large, complex projects in progress simultaneously, both firms rely on dependable construction equipment that delivers superior results. And Doosan construction equipment fits their needs well.
Business: Lane Construction
In business since: 1890
Location: Cheshire, Connecticut
Doosan machines: Two wheel excavators and two crawler excavators
Doosan dealer: H&E Equipment
Lane Equipment matches Doosan equipment to job needs
For Lane Construction, the pre-project planning process is an important step for allocating the proper equipment for the job. Equipment managers, project engineers and others meet to discuss jobsite requirements and determine which machines will work best in each project phase.
“In our Mid-Atlantic region, we have plenty of options — 800 to 900 pieces of equipment — so we can match machines to our jobsite needs very well,” says Aaron Gonzalez, one of the company’s equipment managers in the region. “Our goal is to try to do an entire job ourselves. At times we hire a sub, but our equipment inventory gives us the capability to handle most of the work.”
For more than 120 years, Lane Construction has been a leader in the construction of highways and bridges. Engineering News-Record magazine ranks the company as the nation’s largest highway contractor. It works within several core sectors in the transportation industry, including earthwork, utility relocation, drainage, concrete structures and asphalt paving. The multi-billion-dollar company also has facilities for aggregate production and the manufacture of concrete and asphalt pavement.
Lane Construction’s Mid-Atlantic region, based in Chantilly, Virginia, has invested in high-production Doosan excavators in recent years “The performance of these machines really opened our eyes to what Doosan equipment can do,” Gonzalez says.
The company’s first DX190W wheel excavator was purchased in 2011. The four-year-old used machine performed so well that it opened the eyes of company personnel — both management and operators — to the many benefits of Doosan excavators.
“At the time of purchase, our expectations for the first DX190W were not very high,” Gonzalez says. “It turned out to be an amazing workhorse, with minimal maintenance expenses. The machine is still working 8 to 12 hours a day, five or six days a week.”
He says that wheel excavator has returned the company’s investment many times over. Part of the success was due to how fast operators bought in to using it. “We had some guys who were loyal to other brands and they were initially skeptical,” Gonzalez says. “After running the DX190W for a few minutes, they were sold. When the operators are on board, it helps productivity.”
Since then, the company has purchased additional Doosan equipment, including two Doosan excavators that worked at a pair of high-profile highway and bridge projects in 2015.
A DX350LC-3 was on a jobsite in Roanoke, Virginia, where the company worked on a $38 million design-build contract to complete the partial interchange at Interstate 581 and Valley View Boulevard. “The Doosan excavator at this site was digging, lifting barriers and moving trench boxes,” Gonzalez says. “The machine was unstoppable and very dependable. Its performance really stood out.”
Another Doosan excavator was selected to work on a highway and bridge project about 35 miles south of Washington D.C. At the intersection of Interstate 66 and Route 15, near Haymarket, Virginia, the company designed and built a diverging-diamond interchange (see illustration below). Gonzalez says that when the company looked at the functions that had to be performed at the Haymarket location, it was obvious a wheel excavator would be needed throughout the project. The machine had to be powerful enough to move barriers, dig and grade. But it also had to be small enough to work in a fairly narrow space next to barriers and traffic.
The choice for this job was a DX190W-3 wheel excavator, a machine that rates high in durability, operator comfort, productivity and fuel efficiency. The unit, which will be at the Haymarket jobsite until it is concluded in 2017, is ideal because of its ability to work next to a heavy volume of traffic.
“Maneuverability is a must,” Gonzalez says. “So, too, is versatility and productivity. The DX190W is a big help on this project.”
Business: Branch Highways Inc.
In business since: 1986 (parent organization was started in 1963)
Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Doosan machines: Three crawler excavators and two wheel loaders
Doosan dealer: H&E Equipment
Branch Highways relies on versatile Doosan equipment to handle increased workload
Branch Highways, one of the nation’s premier heavy/highway contractors, has 20 to 25 projects during a typical summer throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast areas. In 2015, however, the number jumped up to around 35 to 40.
To handle the increased workload, the full-service company needed more employees and more equipment. The employee count doubled the past two years. While some equipment was added through purchase and rental, the firm had to rely on its machine inventory — which had proven to be versatile and reliable. There was little time to waste as the signed contracts arrived.
“The release of both federal and state funds for infrastructure improvements, not just roads and bridges, has really helped us keep busy,” says Chris Caldwell, an equipment general foreman based in Roanoke, Virginia. “Department of Transportation projects have been a staple of our business from day one. We are still doing plenty of that work and expanding into other areas, such as building concrete pads for utility firms.”
In many cases, Doosan excavators and wheel loaders have delivered just what the company needed to handle the increased workload productively and efficiently.
For example, last year Branch Highways completed the installation of an additional high-occupancy toll lane on I-95 in northern Virginia. The nine-mile portion of the corridor, from exit 143 to exit 151, near the Quantico Marine base, is an exceptionally busy and congested stretch of interstate. It could not be closed and there could not be any interference with traffic flow during construction.
“One of the machines that performed very well at this site was our Doosan DX235LCR reduced-tail-swing excavator,” Caldwell says. “When we were laying pipe, the excavator had to work in a tight area, with several traffic lanes on one side and a barrier wall on the other side. This was a safety-driven job, so the excavator’s ability to work in a restricted area was invaluable.”
In addition to the DX235LCR excavator, Branch Highways has other Doosan equipment among its 300-machine inventory. Three crawler excavators, including a DX350LC-3 and DX225LC-3, are helping build a grade-separated, diverging-diamond interchange at the U. S. Highway 460 bypass and Southgate Drive near the entrance to Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg. The excavators handled a variety of jobs, including digging, loading trucks, moving materials and land-clearing.
“We’re not a land-clearing contractor,” Caldwell says. “However, the DX225LC-3 equipped with a (hydraulic) clamp removed brush from the jobsite. It was such a versatile machine that when it was done clearing the property, it went right to work laying pipe and handling erosion control and drainage projects.”
He also rates the DX350LC-3 high in versatility, a trait that the company discovered the first time it used the machine. It was at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, where multiple jobs kept the excavator very busy. “One day the DX350LC-3 was used to load dirt into trucks as we built ball fields; the next day it was doing sediment ponds, laying pipe and setting barriers,” Caldwell says. “That’s our bread-and-butter machine.”
The firm’s pair of Doosan wheel loaders delivers superior performance as well. The DL200TC-3 and DL250TC-3 are used for all of the firm’s storm drain jobs. Caldwell says the tool carriers and pallet fork attachments can pick up large pipe and move it around efficiently.
“We’ve found that a wheel loader is one of the most important pieces of equipment you can have on a road project,” Caldwell says. “That’s because it can do a number of different jobs at the same site. Among other things, we use our wheel loaders to constantly supply stone and pipe so projects keep moving forward. A load of pipe will usually be dropped in one location and if the job, for example, is 5 miles long, you need a reliable machine to handle the material.”
For a busy contractor like Branch Highways, versatile, dependable equipment is a must. That’s why the company has used Doosan products since 2008.