Plote Rebuilds with Emissions Grants

Rod Sutton, editor in chief | September 28, 2010

Plote Construction repowered three Caterpillar 980G wheel loaders using grant dollars available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Plote coupled the repowers with machine rebuilds done by Patten Cat and, in effect, gave each machine a second life.

Dan Plote, president, says the 12-year-old machines had upwards of 20,000 hours on them with original components, and the rebuild gives them “almost new machines with warranties and financing terms.” 

Patten had to re-engineer the wheel loaders, which were operating with Tier 0 engines, to accept the new Tier 3 powerplants. The process was accomplished with Caterpillar engineering assistance from the corporation’s Peoria headquarters. In order for the new engines’ ECMs to function, Patten incorporated sensors on the rebuilt transmissions and other components so the ECM could communicate and manage emissions as designed. Additional work was done to house the new cooling package.

The opportunity for Plote was particular timely, as the economy was forcing the company to reconsider plans to purchase new equipment.

“We’re always buying new equipment, but we saw the economic slowdown coming and wanted to be extra careful,” Plote says. “So we went to Patten and asked, ‘What are our options?’”

Patten was aware that federal money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was earmarked for state programs to help upgrade older, less-efficient diesel engines. Plote says incorporating the Tier 3 engines into the rebuilds might not have happened without the grant, secured with Patten and the Chicago area Clean Cities affiliate. “Use of the grant brought us to the price of a normal rebuild,” he says.

The benefit, of course, is that in addition to second life, the loaders are now equipped to work in various of Plote’s markets that are nonattainment or for customers such as Cook County, The City of Chicago, and Illinois DOT, all of which are starting to write emissions requirements into bids specs.

Patten’s environmental health & safety manager, Bill Blayne, keeps track of environmental laws and how they impact Patten customers.

“We’ve been talking emissions for about two years now, to help our customers comply with the upcoming regulations from Cook County, the Illinois Tollway, the state of Illinois” and other entities, Bayne says. “A lot of people weren’t aware of the options they had.”

Finding those grants and helping customers apply for them is another big part of Bayne’s job.

“Many contractors and business owners weren’t aware that stimulus money was available for upgrading their heavy equipment,” Bayne said. “We’re here to help them find that money and apply for it.”