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Spring 2006

Compact Track Loader Eases Workload in Oil and Gas Fields

When Mark Kimmel was contracted to maintain roads and move equipment on oil and gas drilling sites in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, he went looking for a no-excuse machine to handle the work. He'd be operating on wind-swept mountain tops in temperatures ranging from 95°F above zero to 40°F below zero. At the same time he'd be battling blinding snowstorms, working on ice and mud and crossing soft peat bogs and slippery shale surfaces. Just getting to the jobsites, miles from the nearest highway, might require chaining up his truck to negotiate 50 miles of tricky backroads.

Once on the job, Kimmel needed a machine that he could count on to work quickly and efficiently without fail on the small sites. After looking at several different possibilities and discussing machine requirements with his dealer, Bobcat of Red Deer, he purchased a Bobcat® T300 compact track loader.

Kimmel, who owns Extreme Equipment, Ltd., Didsbury, Alberta, works along a stretch of mountainous terrain in the southwest region of the province. His T300 provides the agility for working productively on the square-shaped drilling sites, which typically measure no larger than about 100 yd. (on a side). It also provides great flotation, sure-footed traction and ample power for a variety of tasks.

Bobcat T300 Loader

The T300 compact track loader owned by Extreme Equipment clears snow in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.

The machine's most important job is lift and carry work to reduce what Kimmel calls slip and trip hazards and back injuries for workers.

"Before, two or three men would be needed to move heavy sections of pipe by hand," he explains. "They risked slipping on ice or stumbling on ruts and injuring themselves. Now, I use my T300 and pallet forks to carry the pipes. Also, when the ground is muddy, I use the machine with a bucket to smooth out the site at the end of the day. Then, if it freezes overnight, the workers can walk on a pavement-like surface until the site thaws again."

Visibility when operating the machine is also an important safety consideration. "I can see every corner of the machine from the operator's seat so I can keep an eye on nearby workers and equipment," Kimmel says.

The 3,000-lb. rated operating capacity of the T300 comes in handy for stacking pipes on skids, moving large planks and carrying heavy weights, which are used to hold pipes in place on the ground. "My T300 is much faster for moving heavy loads around these sites than using a crane and setting outriggers," Kimmel says.

The flotation resulting from the low ground pressure of the machine's rubber tracks is ideal for the conditions he faces. "A wheeled machine couldn't survive in this kind of work," he says. "I take the T300 through ditches and across muskeg bogs and it's never been stopped."

The sites may receive as much as a foot of snow in just a few hours, Kimmel reports. Here, again, the impressive abilities of his compact track loader shine when clearing away the snow or building snow roads for trucks. Even the coldest winter temperatures don't stop the machine. At night, he says, he plugs in the engine block heater and the engine has never failed to start in the morning.

Kimmel, who may spend 12 hours or more a day operating his T300, also likes the spacious comfort of his enclosed, heated and air conditioned cab, which he's outfitted with an AM/FM radio.

The compact track loader's power and speed makes the job easy for him and his machine, says Kimmel. "No matter what I do with it, my T300 just seems to be playing," he says. "It's not even getting a good workout."