Cover story: Terra Cat - Bullock

Keith Bullock Contracting are are staying on target and working more efficiently and safely than ever before with the Cat data systems of SITECH as Terra Cat roll out factory-fit integrated Cat Grade with 3D systems on new Cat excavators.

Next-generation Cat 325, 352 and this 315 excavator are among Bullocks’ latest fleet additions

When it comes to the team behind any machine, Glenn Bullock from Keith Bullock Contracting is adamant about one thing: "You may as well just be working with a shovel if you don’t have good back-up," he says.

Working right across the Wellington and Wairarapa regions, Keith Bullock Contracting (Bullocks) has built a reputation for tackling the big stuff and tackling it well, forged across more than 60 years of earthmoving.

"I wouldn’t say we have a huge machine fleet," says Glenn. "But we do pride ourselves on having a modern one. We obviously want reliable machines that’ll help us get the job done, but these days, factors such as health and safety specification and machine emissions standards are important parts of tenders, so the later the model of machine, the more likely it will tick all those boxes."

Top-notch support

Bullocks has been a Terra Cat customer for some time now and runs a modern Cat fleet

With its fleet of modern Cat equipment, Bullocks has been a Terra Cat customer for some time now, and for Glenn, that comes down to the aftersales support as much as the hardware itself.

"Terra Cat is very good at providing solid back-up for us. If you have something go wrong with a machine and it’s sitting idle for two or three weeks because the supplier can’t get a part or a loaner machine out to you, then what’s the point? That’s not what I’d call ‘support’. But Terra Cat looks after us.

"Another benefit of having an up-to-date fleet is that we have them provide contract maintenance on our gear. We make sure to talk regularly as a business about what might need replacing, what projects are coming up, and whether there will be the need for additional equipment.

Terra Cat knows our business and our fleet, and this helps make that conversation a two-way thing. It’s a good position to be in from a strategic point-of-view."

Modern fleet

The 22.5-tonne Cat 325 has been fitted out with dozer grouser plates and roller guards

Among other equipment, the company’s fleet consists of two Cat 730 articulated trucks, a Cat 301.5 next-generation mini excavator, a Cat CB1.8 utility compactor, and a Cat CB56B single drum compactor.

Bullocks’ fleet also includes two Cat 730 articulated trucks, a Cat 301.5 next-generation mini excavator, Cat CB1.8 utility compactor, and a Cat CB56B single drum compactor

Recently, next-generation Cat 315, Cat 325 and Cat 352 excavators were the multi-generational family firm’s latest fleet additions. Like all of Bullocks’ excavators, these were specified with tilt hitches, while the 22.5-tonne Cat 325 has also been fitted out with dozer grouser plates and roller guards.

The Cat 325 features Cat Grade with 3D, which improves on-site efficiency

Glenn says the machine is brilliant at climbing around mulching with this addition. All machines also feature Cat Grade systems as standard from the factory. Utilising leading GPS positioning technology, Cat Grade ensures the excavator stays on grade effortlessly with single-lever digging, thanks to the standard Grade Assist functionality.

Meanwhile, Bucket Assist automatically maintains the desired angle in sloping, levelling, fine grading, and trenching applications. Caterpillar states that on-site productivity can be boosted by up to 45% over traditional grading, thanks to the system.

In the meantime, Bullocks’ new Cat 315, Cat 325 and Cat 352 can operate at a more measured pace in line with the task at hand, meaning less mechanical stress and less fuel burn.

While Cat Grade with 2D comes standard in the Cat 315, Cat 325 and Cat 352, Bullocks decided to go one better, opting instead for the advanced Cat Grade with 3D system. This allows Glenn, his sons Mark and Dean, and their team, to grade complex designs, working on the design plan in real-time right from the cab.

The compact radius Cat excavators offer the same "big machine" features in the cab as larger models

The accuracy of the system (bolstered by the option of using an in-cab display to indicate bucket position and depth-to-grade, along with audible height and depth alerts to help stay on target) means fewer machine movements when completing cuts and no risk of over- or under-cutting.

Cat Grade with 3D essentially eliminates the guesswork, reducing time, labour, and machine wear and tear while improving on-site efficiency and project completion speed.
Glenn’s son Mark, who looks after the machine fleet ("He’s the tech guy of the family," says Glenn) says he wouldn’t purchase an excavator again unless it had 3D GPS.

"It’s just so good. It really does make life that much easier," says Mark. "The fact that it’s part of the package from the factory is a huge bonus. Because it’s all fitted at the factory, the wiring harness and all the components are tucked away nicely.

It comes with a five-year warranty as well, so all-in-all, I feel like we’re investing in the best technology we can get, and with solid support behind it too." Mark also says that the compact radius Cat excavators have come a long way in terms of operator comfort and now offer all the same "big machine" features in the cab as larger models in the Cat excavator range.

The full package

While technology solutions such as this have been third party arrangements in the past, Terra Cat has now partnered with SITECH to offer an end-to-end package for contractors.

"Essentially, Terra Cat supplies the iron and SITECH supplies the site survey positioning data," says Tim O’Meara, manager—GCI, Terra Cat. "This has numerous benefits for customers, not least a standardised warranty package across the Cat Grade with 3D systems."

Tim says the amalgamation of Terra Cat and SITECH’s combined aftersales support will give contractors peace of mind. "Bullocks could see the value in the combined proposition, as well as what Cat Grade with 3D can help them achieve.

They are strong proponents of the technology and as Cat Grade with 3D supported by SITECH gives them office-based solutions to support their own survey work on-site, they have an end-to-end job management solution right there in the machine.

"For a customer who’s comfortable using what they have used for many years, the idea of 3D grade technology might involve a leap of faith. However, it’s up to us to prove the capabilities of this technology and we can demonstrate the efficiency it brings to the job site and the back office alike.

"Now, with the power of SITECH and the factory fitment that Cat can offer, it’s easier than ever to invest in this technology, use it every day, and get ahead of the field."

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