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July 2008

Bobcat 331 Saves County Road Crew Time and Money

Bobcat 331 compact excavator

The District 3 Highway Department of Madison County in Nebraska uses a Bobcat 331 excavator for road- and bridge-building projects.

For every job on a road or bridge building project, there is a piece of equipment that is perfectly sized to perform the work. A machine properly sized for a job will complete the work more efficiently, which can lead to savings in labor and operation. The Madison County, Neb., District Three Highway Department has streamlined its operations by using a Bobcat® 331 compact excavator.

Madison County is located in northeast Nebraska. The county’s Highway Department is divided into three districts. Each district is responsible for road and bridge construction and maintenance in one of three areas of the county. Overall, the Highway Department is responsible for 2,000 miles of roadway in Madison County. In District Three, there are 500 miles of roads and about 70 bridges. Foreman Dave Heggemeyer’s crew uses the 331 excavator to replace culverts and bridges. One or two bridges are replaced each year. Heggemeyer’s crew uses the 331 excavator with a Bobcat hydraulic breaker to demolish approaches, beams and back walls.

All culverts 24 inches or smaller are replaced by the 331 excavator. Heggemeyer says that his crew uses a 24-inch bucket to dig the new culvert immediately adjacent to the existing culvert. Once the new culvert is in place and the trench has been backfilled, the crew uses a plate compactor attachment on the excavator to compact the trench.

Heggemeyer says that the addition of the Bobcat 331 compact excavator has streamlined his crew’s operations. Large excavators can do the culvert replacement work, but in cases where the culvert is 24 inches or smaller, using a large excavator created more rework. Larger excavators have larger buckets and disturb more ground, which means more time spent replacing and compacting backfill than with an excavator more closely sized to the work. “For our smaller jobs, the 331 completes the work more quickly than a larger excavator,” says Heggemeyer.

With oil prices hitting record highs almost every day, adding the 331 excavator to the District Three crew will save as much in fuel costs as it did to purchase the machine. When the District Three crew used larger excavators to perform work now done by the 331, a semi was required to transport equipment to the jobsite. Larger excavators burn more fuel than smaller machines. The District Three crew hauls the 331 to most jobsites on a trailer pulled by a pickup truck. “I think that we’ll end up burning three-fourths less fuel with the 331 than we did with the larger excavators,” says Heggemeyer.

District Three puts 25 to 30 hours on the 331 during three days of use in an average week. “It’s a handy machine, and the size suits what we’re doing very well,” says Heggemeyer. “We’re constantly discovering new ways that we can use the 331. We’re the first district in the county to have this excavator, and it’s worked so well that the other districts are thinking of purchasing 331 excavators.”

For more information about the Bobcat 331 compact excavator, click here.