“The intelligent Machine Control system takes the worry away”
G.A. West is an Alabama company that got its start in the late 1980s performing heavy industrial work. It soon built a reputation as a leading construction company in the Mobile area and grew into the largest direct-hire contractor in the southern part of the state. With massive growth and a workforce nearing 1,200, Legacy Equipment, Inc. was established as a sister company to help manage G.A. West's growing project list.
“We formed in 2007 as a hub for G.A. West to support their needs,” recalled Equipment Manager Joe Barber. “We began by completing some civil projects and served as an equipment rental house as well. As time went on, we began doing some of our own work, and it has grown from there.”
Barber describes the relationship between the companies as that of a parent and child. Legacy was born from G.A. West and has become more independent through the years. However, the connection between the two is valued on both sides.
“I would estimate that approximately 80 percent of our dirt work is a result of G.A. West hiring us as a sub contractor,” explained Barber. “Typically, if we’re doing civil work, it’s a G.A. West job. People see our huge fleet and say, ‘they’ve got all this equipment, but they don’t work anywhere.’ Well, that’s because we’re at the same places as G.A. West.”
Legacy is currently tackling an 18-acre terminal expansion job with G.A. West. Legacy crews are installing storm sewer with four aqueduct systems and pouring concrete at the site.
While Legacy’s main focus is assisting its parent company with service and equipment, the firm also books its own civil projects and has opened some rental fleet and hauling services to outside customers.
“Equipment rental is a strong area for us,” Barber added. “Nearly half of our crane rentals are to G.A. West, and we supply a majority of its equipment fleet as a third-party renter. We also have a large trucking division, and we handle all equipment hauling for G.A. West.
“We keep expanding on our own each year,” Barber continued. “We have a very strong crane division, and we rent a lot of man lifts. Last year, we did several large civil projects, and we’ve completed jobs in Florida, Texas and Kentucky. It’s our goal to continue to grow.”
The newest additions to the company’s equipment fleet are intelligent Machine Control pieces from Komatsu and Tractor & Equipment Company (TEC). Six months ago, Legacy added Komatsu D61PXi-24 dozers and a PC360LCi-11 excavator. The results were immediate.
“In the first six months, we experienced a 25-percent increase in efficiency, and that number is growing each day as our operators become more comfortable with them,” noted Barber. “The intelligent Machine Control pieces are the favorites for our operators – they love them.”
The PC360LCi-11, Komatsu’s latest introduction to its intelligent Machine Control excavator fleet, has been a hit for Legacy.
“We typically use the PC360LCi for pipe projects,” detailed Barber. “On a recent job we trenched and laid 80,000 yards of 48-inch pipe. It works flawlessly for our trenching, and the PC360LCi has the power to handle all the lifting. The GPS keeps us on grade, and we can load trucks quickly.”
The new equipment allows Legacy to save time and money by eliminating the need for stakes on both rough and finish grading. It has also reduced material waste due to over- or under-excavating.
“The automated control takes the guesswork out of the equation,” described Barber. “We are on-grade all the time; we don’t have to go back to add or remove dirt. It makes everything run smoothly at the site.”
The advantages go beyond time and material savings, noted Barber. “The integrated features also make the machines much safer for employees. They aren’t climbing out on the blade to put up the masts and cables, which the aftermarket systems require.”
Support that matches technology
The Komatsu intelligent Machine Control pieces arrived at Legacy equipped with the most advanced technology in the industry. Fortunately, they also came with support and training from Komatsu and TEC Technology Solutions Experts.
“We went to Komatsu’s Customer Center in Cartersville, Ga., to learn how to use the options on the machinery, and everyone there was amazing,” said Barber. “They treated us like we were the largest customer in the world. They really paid attention to us and did whatever it took to make sure we knew what we were doing. That set Komatsu ahead of the competition in our eyes.”
Even with specialized training and support, Barber was surprised at how quickly the crew incorporated the grade-control system into their daily operations.
“The machines are easy to learn,” he said. “Our workforce is changing, and we knew that our younger employees would pick it up easily – but our veteran operators got it as well.”
In addition to increasing efficiency at jobsites, the PC360LCi’s integrated technology helps Legacy expand the number of employees who can operate at a high level.
“With this technology, you don’t need 20 years of experience to be a really good operator,” stated Barber. “The intelligent Machine Control system takes the worry away. We can put someone qualified in the cab, give them a couple of days of training, and they work like a seasoned operator.”
Barber expects Legacy’s operators to continue to improve thanks to Komatsu.
“We appreciate that the training and support from Komatsu continued when we left Cartersville. They’ve visited our operation to provide more training. With each interaction we get a little better. I am excited to see how much more efficient we can be as we continue to learn. I don’t think it’s crazy to think we could become as much as 50 percent more efficient than before.”
Legacy Equipment has built a strong foundation during its first decade. Thanks to a solid relationship with G.A. West and a growing reputation of its own as a civil contractor, hauling operator and rental source, Barber is excited for the future.
“We are focused on expanding,” shared Barber. “We’re completing more projects on our own, and we have a significant hauling division. There are many opportunities for us in those areas if we continue to offer a high-quality service.”
Barber also sees opportunity for growth in the relationship between Legacy and G.A. West, thanks to its new Komatsu intelligent Machine Control equipment.
“In order to maximize the technology of the machines, you need an operator who understands how to use it,” Barber detailed. “Our goal is to get to a point where we send an experienced iMC operator with the machine in order to get the most out of it. This way, G.A. West can make the most of its rental and get a new machine operating at peak efficiency. It just makes sense.
“The technology makes things very easy,” he said. “It’s the future, and that’s why we’re investing in it.”