Superior company buys John Deere’s first hybrid end loadersRJS Construction Group in Superior made history this month when they took the keys to the first construction-scale end loaders in the world made with hybrid technology.
By: Mike Creger, Duluth News Tribune
No, nothing runs like these John Deere machines.
RJS Construction Group in Superior made history this month when they took the keys to the first construction-scale end loaders in the world made with hybrid technology.
RJS officials went to the John Deere plant in Davenport, Iowa, this week to take part in a ceremony celebrating the first two units off its line.
The hybrid loaders use a diesel engine combined with an electric drive train. The end result is an average savings of 25 percent in fuel, noise reduction and fewer emissions as movement is controlled by cycling electric power.
John Chesterman, the product marketing manager for wheel loaders at John Deere, said the loaders are just as capable as traditional equipment.
“We eliminate the standard components that compromise efficiency,” he said.
The technology isn’t new; it’s used all around us, Chesterman said, including the large loaders found on the Iron Range.
Until now, using that technology on smaller machines was cost-prohibitive, Chesterman said. The 644K Hybrid Loader is five to 14 times smaller than the type of loaders found in ore pits.
“Costs have come down,” he said. And Deere has incorporated the electronic drive into its production. Very few parts come from sources outside of the company, Chesterman said. The computer controllers for the system are made by Deere’s facility in Fargo, N.D., John Deere Electronic Solutions.
RJS will start using the machines later this year to move dirt, gravel and other materials. John Deere is the chief brand of heavy equipment RJS uses.
Lance Lindahl, a vice president at RJS, said he saw the new loaders at a trade show in Las Vegas in 2011. They weigh 40,000 pounds with a 3.5 cubic-yard bucket.
“We decided then to order,” Lindahl said. “And we wanted the first two off the runway.”
Chesterman said that was no problem, since it has had a strong relationship with RJS over the years through Nortrax, the dealer in Ashland.
“Efficiency is the big ticket for us,” Lindahl said. “And they’re green,” he said, referring to the low emissions.
John Deere will closely monitor the work of the two loaders. The first projects will be loading in one of the RJS sand pits and a road and culvert project south of Bemidji.
“People come off of it blown away with how it performs,” Chesterman said.
He said construction companies under pressure to find ways to cut expenses and win bids is part of what drove John Deere to hybrids.
“It makes us much more competitive,” RJS president Pete Weidman said. “That really helps us.”
“We’re looking to the future,” Chesterman said. “It’s getting that fuel efficiency.”