Family-owned Victorian commercial demolition specialist Bernie Leen Demolition & Contracting has been buying Komatsu excavators for over 25 years.
With its original PC200-3 purchased in 1992 still working to date, in late 2016 the company took delivery of two brand-new PC220-8s and a PC138US-8.According to director Trent Leen, Komatsu excavators are "the best going around".
"They've always been a reliable honest machine, and we like the Komatsu 'feel' and the way they operate," he said.
The company, which was founded by Trent's grandfather, Bernie Leen over 60 years ago, is today operated by Bernie's son Tony as Managing Director, along with Tony's son Trent, carrying out a wide range of demolition contracting works throughout Victoria.
Bernie Leen Demolition & Contracting's services include commercial demolition, project management and co-ordination, asbestos removal and full site remediation works.
Specialising in technical refurbishment demolition and engineered partial demolition, Bernie Leen Demolition manages projects both large and small, long-term and short-term.
In addition, the company is a Licensed Class B Asbestos Removalist and can facilitate the safe removal of contaminated materials above and below ground.
Bernie Leen Demolition's company fleet includes eight Komatsu excavators; in addition to that original PC200-3 which has logged around 13,000 hours and the two latest PC220-8s and PC138US-8 (traded up from a PC128US-5), the company also runs a PC60-6, a PC200-6, a PC400-5 and PC400-6.
With 90% of its activities mainly specialising in Demolition, the machines work with a number of attachments, including shears, pulverisers, crushers, grabs and hammers, as well as a full range of buckets and rippers.
"We've continued buying Komatsu not only because of their reliability and performance, but also because of their standard specifications," said Trent.
"For example, we will spend a bit of money on machine guarding, such as protective systems for demolition, rub rails along the bottom of the machines, and so on to minimise damage to the machines on our worksites.
"We put turret rails along the bottom of that original PC200-3 25 years ago to protect the panel work and the undercarriage area something Komatsu has introduced as standard on its machines.
"Komatsu also uses heavier duty underbelly plates. They are a lot thicker than most other manufacturers, so we have no need to add on heavier plates, and the expense that is involved with this.
"That means new Komatsu machines arrive virtually ready to go straight out to work," he said.
While demolition work is demanding, it also involves relatively low machine hours, which is why Bernie Leen Demolition has opted to hang on to some of its machines for many years.
"Our machines generally average only 1000 hours a year, and they are not constantly digging or hammering like most contractors' excavators," said Trent.
"In the past 12 months, we've relocated our original PC200-3 to the yard feeding our crushing operation. It doesn't go out to sites anymore, mainly because it doesn't meet OH&S requirements for demolition sites, but it still performs pretty well loading and hammering.
"And that's why we still have our original PC400-5 40 tonner, which has 14,000 hours and our PC400-6, which has 31,000 hours."
Trent said the latest machines, with their additional power, combined with the KOMTRAX remote monitoring systems and Komatsu Australia's service packages, have added a lot of value to the company's operations.
"We're very pleased with the latest machines. With the new PC220-8s, we're finding the extra power is good for us," he said.
"A lot of our jobs are short duration, so we can float the machines in that morning and put them straight to work, plus they have a lot more capacity than the older machines, so we can get them back out pretty quickly.
"Our operators are also pretty pleased with them, and the standard Komatsu spec these days.
"Every time we go to buy a new machine, the boys are always pushing hard for a Komatsu. Always."
According to Trent, the standard Komatsu service packages add a lot of value when selecting a new machine.
"When you compare the Komatsu packages with other manufacturers, and you add in the value of the full service contracts they offer, then the costs are a lot more equal," he said.
"We operate our machines all over Victoria, and being able to have them serviced anywhere in the state rather than having to bring them back to the yard, is a big advantage for us.
"Komatsu's service guys have been great. We deal with quite a few different servicing departments because our machines are all over the place, and we have been very pleased with all of them."
Trent has been finding the KOMTRAX remote monitoring system on the new machines is also helping him better manage running costs and operational issues.
"We've been using KOMTRAX to monitor fuel usage and a couple of other issues," he said.
"For example, we've been able to educate operators as to the best mode they should be working in. KOMTRAX was indicating they were running in full power mode 99% of the time, where fuel consumption was much higher than it should have been.
"We had a chat to the operators and explained full power mode wasn't necessary all the time. As a result, we cut fuel consumption by 40%.
"We also had one attachment that automatically switched the machine to full power mode whenever it was being used, and another that kept the machine in attachment mode whenever it was connected, which meant the oil was overheating.
"KOMTRAX picked up what was happening with both these issues, and we were able to adjust the attachment settings to fix these issues," Trent said.
"We are also getting requests from some of our builders to provide energy use and CO2 emission reports. We can get all that straight out of KOMTRAX, so that's something very easy for us achieve.
"To date, we are really only using KOMTRAX reactively if we have issues such as high fuel consumption or oil overheating," he said.
"We now need to look at this more closely and see how much more we can get out of the system.
"So, taking everything into account with the machine reliability and durability, the better base build means there's less to do to the machines when we get them.
"With the field service packages from Komatsu Australia, you can see why we are still buying Komatsu," said Trent.