A mechanic’s best friend: Toolcat 5600
Versatile Toolcat 5600 utility work machines are kept busy year-round at a cement plant in Colorado
GCC Rio Grande employees Rich Barrera (left) and Mike Grisham say they depend on the facility's versatile Toolcat machines on a daily basis to help keep the facility and equipment running smoothly.
When Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua (GCC) Rio Grande opened its new Pueblo, Colo., cement plant in 2008, the company said the state-of-the-art facility would use the industry’s most advanced equipment and technology. Based on the Toolcat™ 5600 utility work machines' unique features and versatility, they fit right in with the other leading-edge equipment at the more than $300 million plant.
“At our other locations where the company was manufacturing cement, light-duty pickup trucks were used for transportation, material handling, snow removal and similar chores,” says Rich Barrera, maintenance technician. “Before this plant went into production, we had the luxury of looking at other equipment options. There were many products available, but nothing compared to the Toolcat machines for all-around versatility.”
The three 5600s, purchased from the Bobcat of the Rockies dealership in Pueblo, were onsite the day the plant opened. Two of the units have toolboxes mounted in the rear cargo box in order for the millwrights to have all of the tools necessary to repair the cement manufacturing equipment throughout the sprawling complex.
“Not only can we transport our tools, but equipment and parts as well,” Barrera says. “The parts we need are typically large, so the pallet fork attachment is perfect for carrying them to the repair location. The Toolcat machines are major timesavers, eliminating the need to make multiple trips back and forth to complete a repair job.”
Moving around the facility is no easy chore for the 16 members of the maintenance staff. The plant and adjoining limestone quarry occupy 900 square acres situated on the Comanche grasslands and high desert plains of southern Colorado (4,600 feet above sea level). The facility, with its production machinery located outside, produces a million-plus tons of bulk cement annually.
“This is a heavy-duty industrial work environment,” Barrera says. “Carrying toolboxes, parts and people around 24/7 in temperatures that can range from minus 10 degrees F in winter to 110 degrees F in summer is a tough job. Add in the dust from cement manufacturing and you have a recipe for equipment failure. Not so with our Toolcat units. They have held up well.”
Toolcat machines were introduced by Bobcat in 2003, and still are the world’s only utility work machine. They combine the best features of a pickup truck, tractor, skid-steer loader and utility vehicle, and deliver productivity, efficiency and versatility to dozens of applications, including industrial users such as GCC Rio Grande.
Integral to snow removal
In addition to transporting people, tools and parts around the plant, the three 5600s play a major role in snow removal. “We have trucks coming and going around the clock,” says Barrera, “so we need to keep the areas around the plant and the roads clear of snow out to the main road. The 5600s, equipped with a snowblower, snow blade or V-blade, do an excellent job of making sure accumulating snow does not impact production. Operators like working in the enclosed heated cabs and, of course, with the air conditioning on during the sweltering summer heat.”
With regular maintenance provided by the company’s onsite mechanic, the Toolcat machines are helping keep this high-production plant operating all day, every day. “The versatility of the 5600s is so valuable than we cannot be without them,” Barrera says.