Case Study, Cat, Caterpillar, Earthmoving Machinery, Wheel loaders

High buckets give Van Schaik’s Bio Gro a lift


For a leading supplier of organic materials Van Schaik’s Bio Gro, Cat® equipment is king.


When Van Schaik’s Bio Gro was formed 28 years ago, a Caterpillar® 924F wheel loader was the principal machine used to help the business meet its goals of delivering quality products from organics.

Today, the reliance on Cat machines remains as strong as ever, with up to 15 Caterpillar machines in the fleet, playing their part in maintaining the company’s standing as trailblazers in the organics recovery industry.

Working in partnership with industry, the operation owned by the Van Schaik family produces a range of high quality products tailored for the horticultural, agricultural, viticultural and landscape markets.

With its head office in Mt Gambier, South Australia, the company collects and transforms more than 700,000 cubic metres of bark material, green waste, wood chips and various organic materials a year.

More than 350,000 tonnes of organics are diverted from landfill annually, including kerbside Green Organics and Food (FOGO), commercial timbers, whey from the dairy industry, bi-products of the intensive agricultural and commercial food industries, garden and landscaping waste, and forestry bi- products from the timber milling industry.

Bio Gro SA operations General Manager Nathan Thompson has been with the company since inception, and said he’d always used Cat loaders in that period.

“I’ve been through the G models, done tens of thousands of hours in Cat machinery, and been through loaders with fixed buckets through to the high lift stage,” he said.

“The new 950 is probably one of the best models I’ve actually driven for comfort, fuel efficiency, and the lift buckets.”

The Cat 950 wheel loader brings premium performance with simple-to-use technologies as a standard offering, boosting operator efficiencies and delivering consistent high bucket fill factors resulting in increased productivity.

Extended service intervals help lower maintenance costs, while the machine is designed to meet emission standards without interrupting operations, offering improved performance, reliability, durability, and versatility all in one machine.

Comfort is provided via easily adjustable seat and suspension, increased legroom and adjustable seat controls and an automatic air conditioning system.

Nathan Thompson and the Cat 950M.

New in-cab dashboard and high-resolution touch display(s) are easy to use, intuitive, and user-friendly, while sound suppression, seals, and viscous cab mounts decrease noise and vibration for a quieter work environment.

The standard HMU steering wheel provides precision control, resulting in excellent comfort and accuracy. An optional seat-mounted electro-hydraulic joystick steering system is also available in many regions.

Among all the improvements, it’s the high buckets that are proving to be the best feature.

“The buckets are a winner, saving us time in taking trucks up ramps,” Nathan said.

“We can just go straight to the pile, load our trucks at 4.2 metres high to get the most material we possibly can get on them.

“With the high dump buckets, we can load all our trucks in a matter of a couple of minutes. They’re done, out the gate. We’re not burning fuel going up and down ramps.

“We’re running another 30 per cent volume in the bucket compared to a Cat 938. We’re getting that much more efficiency out of what we can move with the new bucket.”

Bio Gro purchased the Cat machines from Cavpower, the exclusive Cat® dealer for South Australia and Broken Hill, backed by over 50 years of experience.

The relationship between Cavpower and Bio Gro dates back to 1988, when a Caterpillar 916 loader was purchased.

Product Support Services Representative Simon McInnes said the dealer believed in offering solutions to customers, not just products.

“Bio Gro was in the market for a solution to help with loading over high-sided trailers to enhance their efficiencies,” he said.

“We recommended the Cat 950 wheel loader with the high dump buckets to solve this problem, which has helped them immensely.

The high dump buckets enable trucks to be filled quickly without the need to use ramps.

“The key benefit of the bucket is its usefulness for loading over high-sided trailers without having to utilise loading ramps.

“With the high dump buckets, the tipping point begins at the tip of the bucket.

“You can reach higher sided trucks to load with the conventional bucket pin on.

“Users are governed by the end of the loader arm distance, and you don’t get any damage to sides or trucks.”

Simon said that the relationship with Bio Gro goes beyond just equipment purchases.

“Bio Gro has signed on to Cavpower’s Maintenance Support Program (MSP) which offers peace of mind through multi year fixed price servicing for preventative maintenance and fixed travel rates with all servicing taken care of by certified Cavpower technicians,” he said.

All preventative maintenance events are handled with a Cat Certified Maintenance Plan using only genuine Cat parts and recorded service history to maximise machine performance.”

The program ensures that machines are proactively maintained and incur minimum downtime through valuable services such as priority service bookings, machine down rapid response, express lane component rebuilds, SOS fluid sampling, remote services, condition monitoring and expert technical support.”

A Cavpower MSP also provides access to a suite of connectivity and digital solutions for data- driven insights into the overall health, utilisation and performance of their machines.

VisionLink – one of these digital solutions – allows Bio Gro to receive equipment data seamlessly on their mobile or desktop devices to make informed decisions using machine insights such as location, hours, fuel burn and emissions calculations helping them lower operating costs, increase efficiency and stay compliant with carbon regulations.

Nathan said he also valued the service that Cavpower provided.

“If we have any issues with maintenance, we make phone calls to them and within reason they’re pretty quick to fix the machines,” he said.

Transferring woodchips is easy with the 950M’s high dump buckets.

Simon said that was because, with more than 500 expertly trained technicians and support staff strategically located across 9 local and regional branches, Cavpower possessed the capability to support customers across a variety of industries.

“Cavpower not only offers the best-in-class Cat earthmoving and mining equipment, but also provides an extensive range of unrivalled product support services including maintenance, repairs, parts support, parts exchange, full machine rebuilds, hydraulics, engineering, and fabrication to deliver a bespoke solution for every customer,” he said.

Cavpower maintains a fleet of over 80 fully equipped field service vehicles and lube trucks. Every field service technician is highly trained and equipped with the latest Cat diagnostic tools and programs to conduct on-site maintenance and repairs quickly and efficiently.

Simon said Cavpower provided three levels of parts support through its extensive parts network capabilities:

  • On-site parts availability through a Cavpower- manned parts store for instant access to preventative maintenance and critical spares
  • Dedicated Parts Distribution Centre in Gepps Cross which stocks over 43,000 different part types and components worth over $45 million, covering the breadth of Caterpillar machines
  • More than $1 billion of parts inventory held by Caterpillar at the Parts Distribution Centre in Melbourne, which operates an overnight service ensuring all parts are made available within 24 hours at Cavpower’s Adelaide and regional parts centres.

“Cavpower’s state-of-the-art Parts Distribution Centre at Gepps Cross has been
modelled on the best Cat distribution centres worldwide to ensure comprehensive parts availability and capability to offer flexible, reliable, and cost-effective parts solutions to every customer,” Simon said.



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