Western Builder's "Project Of The Year" Contest

By Mike Larson | September 28, 2010

Western Builder Magazine's 2008 "Project of the Year" contest will give contractors the opportunity to tell how an innovative solution helped them succeed on a challenging project this year.

Sponsored by Case Construction Equipment, the Project-of-the-Year contest will highlight construction projects in Wisconsin or Michigan's Upper Peninsula that have provided unique challenges for companies and their construction equipment — especially those involving innovative applications of the equipment.

The entries will be reviewed and winners selected by Associated Construction Publications editorial staff and a panel of judges from Wisconsin construction associations.

Deadlines for entry are September 15 and November 10. A winner will be selected from each group, and the grand-prize winner will be selected from those finalists.

The grand-prize winner will get a substantial credit toward Case products, as well as other prizes including one-year subscriptions to the on-line ReedBulletin and to Western Builder magazine.

Each of the winners will be the subject of a feature article in Western Builder.

Ads with complete contest details, instructions and rules will soon be appearing in Western Builder magazine.

So start thinking about the innovative solutions that have led to your success this year on challenging projects.

It's time to tell us the story. Click here for entry form.

Case Shows Off New Products, Lets Editors Operate

In June, Case Construction Equipment hosted about 25 trade press editors from the U.S. and Canada at its customer center in Tomahawk, WI, to provide hands-on demonstrations of many of the 40 new or improved products the company is launching this year.

The new equipment, ranging from compact track loaders to wheel loaders, hydraulic excavators, graders, compactors, and more, offers new features that improve reliability, efficiency and serviceability, as well as sound and vibration control.

Two features common to many models are single-piece tilting hoods for easy access and maintenance points that can be reached from the ground. The idea is to make maintenance so quick and easy that it gets done properly.

Many of the new or improved Case products have Tier III engines, can burn higher levels of biodiesel fuel, and have been designed to permit collection of all waste oil during maintenance — all to help keep the environment cleaner.

Many run more quietly — and also emit noise that sounds more pleasing.

The cabs are designed to minimize noise and vibration, and maximize operator comfort. Many sit on vibration-absorbing mounts and have curved windows that keep the cab more quiet. Fully adjustable seats and control consoles let operators of any size work comfortably.

Those are just a tiny sample of the many, many new features Case demonstrated.

The highlight of the event was the opportunity for the visiting editors to actually operate the equipment.

What a thrill for people who normally fire up nothing larger than a word-processor keyboard and a digital camera!

Almost every week, I visit at least one job site, taking photos of contractors' projects and equipment. While clicking away, I'd previously wondered how it felt to run one of the powerful machines I'd see in the viewfinder — but I've never had the chance.

Case offered us all kinds of equipment to play with: skid-steer and compact-track loaders, backhoe loaders, articulating front-end loaders, hydraulic backhoes, and even a large articulating off-road dump truck.

I'd have operated every piece if there had been time.

I started with the largest excavator, then worked my way through an articulating front-end loader, a backhoe loader, and a skid steer before time ran out.

The excavator's electronic joysticks were surprisingly easy to use, and watching the big bucket bite into the earth, curl up a full load, then rise high on the end of the extended boom to dump a cascade of dirt was exciting.

Ditto for steering the wheel loader around the site, then scooping up a big bucketload from a dirt bank. Operating the backhoe loader was equally good.

Afterward, we editors also had the opportunity to test our operating skills in three timed events, during which we used hydraulic excavators to pick a basketball off a cone and drop it into a garbage can, pick up a metal fish and set it into a three-foot circle, and roll two 4-inch dice into a hula hoop.

It felt I completed the tests in about average time, which means most of us could have been clocked with a sundial. But every second of it was fun and forever memorable.

The experience raised my already high esteem for the skill of heavy-equipment operators. And I no longer wonder what it feels like to sit in the operator's seat.