Rebuilt? or Reborn
John Deere Powertrain ReLife Plus program gives machines new life
Staying one step ahead of the competition is all about managing owning and operating costs. Extending the life of a machine through Powertrain ReLife Plus, John Deere’s machine-rebuild program, can really help. The cost of a rebuild is a fraction of a full replacement and can lengthen the life of John Deere articulated dump trucks, dozers, excavators, wheel loaders, and scraper tractors.
Read on to learn about the experiences of two large contractors with the Powertrain ReLife Plus program (spoiler alert — they were both very positive!).
SECOND LIFE FOR SCRAPER TRACTORS
Visitors to Gering, Nebraska, who are expecting to see the Great Plains will be surprised to find a picturesque community near Nebraska’s scenic Wildcat Hills. In 1980, Paul Reed moved here and formed Paul Reed Construction & Supply. “It was just my father and his big German Shepherd, a pickup, a hammer and shovel, and a dream,” says Paul’s son Adam Reed, the company’s current president and CEO. “Through hard work and effort, he built a successful company.”
The elder Reed started off erecting grain bins and sprinkler pivots while doing small building remodels. “My dad’s first big job was a liquor store,” recalls Reed. “The guy he did it for mounted a plaque with a picture of Dad’s dog in the brick on the exterior of the building. People just loved that dog.”
Over the next 20 years, his father got more into concrete work and the company grew to 40 employees. Today Paul Reed Construction employs approximately 170 people and has seven divisions, including Heavy Highway, Underground Utility, Design Build, Concrete Crew, and Commercial Building.
Reed started working for his dad at a young age, stocking parts in the shop. As he got older, he worked on a carpenter crew and then a dirt crew, where he learned how to run heavy equipment. He worked as an operator to put himself through school at the University of Nebraska, where he played fullback. Reed loved football, but school wasn’t really his thing. “I went to school for construction management, but I grew up in the business, so I’m not sure I learned that much. I wasn’t the best student. I’d much rather move dirt than read production reports every morning.”
When we heard about the ReLife Plus Program, we thought we'd try it out. And I can tell you this, we've been nothing but happy.
Paul Reed Construction now runs almost 100 pieces of construction equipment. About 85 percent of the fleet is John Deere, which includes excavators, dozers, wheel loaders, scraper tractors, skid steers, and compact excavators. The company has used Deere equipment since day one. “When my dad first moved to the valley, the other equipment dealer in town wouldn’t give him the time of day,” says Reed. “But the local John Deere dealership (which would later merge with current dealer Murphy Tractor) gave him financial credit in order to rent machinery, which ultimately led to him buying his first backhoe, so we’ve been very loyal ever since. Murphy Tractor treats us better than any of our other vendors. They are always there to help and are a great resource.” Murphy Tractor approached Reed’s company about the Powertrain ReLife Plus program two years ago. “We have six 9560R Scraper Special Tractors, and we were at the point of either trading two of them in or selling them,” recalls Reed. “When we heard about the ReLife Plus program, we thought we’d try it out. And I can tell you this, we’ve been nothing but happy. Getting 14,000 to 18,000 hours from a machine will make us more competitive in the bidding process because it brings ownership costs down. It’s been very positive.”
Owning and operating costs are important considerations when bidding jobs or acquiring machines. Paul Reed Construction Equipment Manager Mark Knaub carefully weighs historical information such as cost per hour and maintenance expenses. Knaub was considering buying new scraper tractors, but rebuilding them and extending their life presented a cost-effective alternative. “Through the Powertrain ReLife Plus program, we can rebuild a scraper tractor for about half the cost of a new one,” says Knaub. “We believe we’ll be able to get at least another 8,000 hours out of each machine. That means for each of these machines, the cost per hour goes down significantly.”
The first scraper tractor was rebuilt at 6,500 hours and the second one at 8,000 hours. Certified John Deere technicians began by installing a complete set of John Deere Reman powertrain components, including the engine, transmission, and axles. They also painstakingly evaluated the machines and recommended other parts to replace. In addition to the major powertrain components, Knaub chose to replace major hydraulic hoses, steering components, and brake valves. The company has opted for extended warranties. Three-year/3,000-hour extended warranties are available for scraper tractors (three-year/5,000-hour or two-year/6,000-hour extended warranties are available on other construction machines).
“Those are great terms,” says Knaub. “The ReLife Plus process was simple for us. We have a great relationship with our dealer, and the parts are backed by John Deere. These machines run just like new tractors, and I expect machine life to be every bit as long as the original.”
WHEEL LOADER REBOOT IN KANSAS CITY
Another Murphy Tractor & Equipment Co. customer in Kansas City, Missouri, also loves the John Deere Powertrain ReLife Plus program, but asked to remain anonymous at the request of its public-sector customers. The large aggregate company supplies construction materials to markets in western Missouri and eastern Kansas, running close to 70 John Deere wheel loaders at its 20 locations to keep up with demand.
Recently the company had its fourth wheel loader, a 724K, rebuilt through the Powertrain ReLife Plus program after rebuilding three 824Ks. A Capstone-certified technician performed a thorough inspection of each machine, detailing every element that was worn or in need of repair, such as cylinders, wiring harnesses, controllers, hoses, pins, wiper blades, bypass valves, and fan motors.
“The company’s goal is to perform the rebuild at around 15,000 to 17,000 hours, and it believes it can get another 15,000 hours out of the machine,” says Brian Nitschke, customer solution specialist, Murphy Tractor. “On all the rebuilds, the company has been opting to make all the repairs, saying it’s like getting a brand-new machine, but for approximately half the cost.”
The rebuilds typically have taken about a month and use John Deere Reman components, which are warranted for one year. For each rebuild, the company has opted for an extended warranty, which covers major powertrain components for three years/5,000 hours.
The main benefit is the total cost of ownership over the entire life of the machine. Spreading the initial cost of the machine, plus the ReLife Plus cost, over 30,000 hours results in significant savings. The company expects to cut operating costs by a quarter to a third by rebuilding the machine instead of buying a new one.
Paul Reed Construction & Supply, Inc. is serviced by Murphy Tractor & Equipment Co., Gering, Nebraska.