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Fall 2011

No Rest for Heavy-Duty Utility Vehicles

Carpenter Technology Corp.

Carpenter Technology employees can easily traverse the 300-acre steel mill site and carry tools in the utility vehicle’s cargo box.

Steel mill keeps machines working around the clock.

Carpenter Technology Corp. is known as a leader in the development, manufacture and distribution of stainless steels and specialty alloys. The company’s customers in the automotive, aerospace, energy, industrial, medical, defense and consumer products industries depend on Carpenter for timely delivery of quality products.

The firm’s main steel mill, located on a 300-acre site in Reading, Pa., consists of 100 buildings (one is 110 years old) that house scores of melting, hot-working, finishing and testing equipment. The highly automated facility has some of the world’s most advanced steel-making equipment.

Among the 2,500 employees at the site is a staff of highly trained mechanics. They are on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week to make sure all of the equipment is working properly. To move around the plant efficiently, the mechanics rely on three dozen Bobcat® utility vehicles.

“For the past eight years we have been replacing a collection of old industrial trucks, pickup trucks and even cars with the utility vehicles as a way for mechanics and their tools to get to the jobsite,” says Jack Pawelski, area manager for mobile equipment. “We’ve looked at plenty of options — small pickup trucks (too big), golf carts (not strong enough) and several other brands of utility vehicles (too wide, local dealer service concerns and other issues).”

Representatives from all areas of the plant, including the mechanics, participated in evaluating the utility vehicle choices. They agreed that the Bobcat machines were best for their purposes.

“We need vehicles that can carry two people, their heavy toolboxes and spare parts,” Pawelski says. “They must be able to get into tight spaces so the mechanics can bring their tools and parts as close as possible to where they are working. That means maneuvering between some gigantic equipment.”

Initially Carpenter purchased the 2100 models and more recently added the newer 3200s. The company presently has 18 of each type, purchased from Bobcat of Reading.

“I’m a firm believer in standardizing equipment,” Pawelski says. “Once you find something that works, stick with the same type of machines because they are easier to maintain with common features and parts.”

The 3200 is a 29-horsepower unit with a cargo box maximum load capacity of 1,100 pounds. A 2-inch receiver hitch allows the vehicle to tow up to 1,500 pounds. The towing capability has proven very useful around the Carpenter plant.

“Most of our vehicles serve as mobile toolboxes for the mechanics,” Pawelski says. “So the heavy-duty frame and load capacity are perfect for our needs.”

The utility vehicles drive on more than three miles of roads in and around the plant. They even travel on a private bridge across the Schuylkill River because Carpenter has buildings on both sides of the waterway.

With the exception of major holidays, the plant never closes. That means the utility vehicles are working 24 hours a day.

“The hours are adding up, but the machines are holding up well,” Pawelski says. “We count on them all day, every day.”