The ZW220-6 wheel loader has been named one of the Contractors’ Top 50 New Products of 2021* by Equipment Today, the nationally recognized equipment magazine serving commercial construction contractors.
According to the publishers, “Winning products represent the leading edge of innovation, quality, efficiency and productivity in the construction equipment field today.”
You can read the editors’ comments the #ZW220 in their report from April, 2020.
To see the ZW220 in action, watch its video highlights here:
* Due to industry interruptions by the Covid pandemic, the 2021 awards include new products over a 16 month period from March 2020 to June 2020
Black Gold Compost Company relies on Hitachi wheel loaders to keep their compost business moving
If you’ve been in a big box or retail home center store in the past few decades you’ve seen the distinctive black and yellow bags of Black Kow Compost in the garden sections.
Behind those products is an Oxford, Florida-based company, Black Gold Compost, with a long relationship to the wheel loaders of Hitachi and its predecessor, Kawasaki.
Black Gold Compost was founded in 1970. The Lange family bought the company in 1985 and at one point all the brothers and sisters had worked in the business. Today, Michael Lange is the president and one of his sisters still works in the office. The company has gone from producing 50,000 bags of compost in its first year to 6 million last year, and it now offers a diversified range of products such as Black Kow Topsoil, Black Velvet Planting Soil, Mushroom Compost, and the basic Black Kow Mature Manure compost.
And as with so many other home and garden products throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, sales of Black Gold Compost products have boomed. “We’re probably up by 30 or 40%,” Lange says.
The Black Gold’s site fills some 120 acres total, with up to eight loaders traversing 80 acres of that. The loaders stay busy, each averaging about 2,000 to 2,500 hours of work a year.
Almost every day, mountains of dry cow manure are hauled in from dairy farms in the region and dumped onto the back of the site. As needed, the manure is loaded into trucks, then laid out in dozens of long windrows. After being mixed by stirring machines, each of the windrows are moved forward by the loaders in a slow march towards the front of the site.
“We compost year-round in Florida,” Lange says. “After all, the dairy cows make manure every day. But because of the seasonality of sales, it may be six months to a year before the material goes into a bag.”
Loaders are essential to the process from start to finish and Black Gold’s relationship with Hitachi and before that, Kawasaki, goes back decades. More recently, the company bought two new Hitachi ZW220s to keep up with the growing demand.
“We’ve done business with Great Southern Equipment and Kawasaki from the beginning,” Lange says. “The first loaders we bought in 1985 were Kawasakis. They make up probably 80% of our fleet. They are reliable and they don’t break down. I think the operators like the comfort and the controls.”
For the purchase of the two newest Hitachi loaders the company ran a comparison test with loaders from two competing brands. Hitachi won the competition based on price and two other important factors.
“It seemed like the Hitachis had a lot more power and were more user friendly,” says Jody Futch, general manager. “There wasn’t much difference between these and our Kawasakis, so they were familiar to our operators. For them it’s like riding a bicycle—exactly the same.”
Good maintenance, long life
Looking around the Black Gold site in Florida, you’ll still see several of the KCM branded Kawasaki loaders still running strong.
The company was even recognized by this magazine back in 2014 when it purchased Kawasaki’s first generation of Tier 4 emissions compliant loaders, the Kawasaki 80Z7.
As the loaders age, the company will have Great Southern Equipment rebuild their engines and transmissions to give them a second life. The only regular replacement item unique to the operation is the bucket.
“The Hitachis [have] a lot more power and were more user friendly. They were familiar to our operators.”
–Jody Futch, general manager of Black Gold Compost Company
“Because of the corrosive nature of the compost, we used to have bucket liners that got us to about 5,000 hours,” says Futch. “But our supplier went out of business so we’ve started using a heavier duty bucket and those seem to last a little longer.”
Even the airborne dust is corrosive, so the loaders are pressure washed at the end of every day. “We have a washout station set up and it only takes five or ten minutes,” says Futch. “If you let that material sit on the loader, it will slap eat it out,” he says. Hose fittings, valves and pins are particularly vulnerable.
The corrosion was one reason why Black Gold decided not to put auto-lube systems on their new Hitachis. “The material we were loading was corroding the ends of the lines, so we wanted to try the new loaders without them and just have the operators grease them every morning,” says Futch says.
Hitachi’s new loaders use selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) to reduce emissions. Many other brands of loaders and equipment use diesel particulate filters (DPF) to reduce emissions but these systems also require periodic regeneration—meaning a super-hot blast of fuel is blown through the DPF and out the exhaust system to burn off soot.
The possibility of DPF-based regens causing a fire when a machine is near combustible material is minimal, but not zero. With hundreds of acres of organic material and airborne dust swirling around Black Gold’s site, fire prevention is an important aspect of the operation.
“The Tier 4 Final KCM 80Z7 and Hitachi ZW220s meet the emissions standards without the need for a DPF,” says Steve Tuton, salesman for Great Southern Equipment. “They have DEF fluid and a DOC only, thus no regens. It’s a serious benefit to buying Hitachi, and thankfully, a problem Black Gold does not have to deal with.”
Mike VanDerTulip, the company’s general manager, is strict with his service protocols. Oil changes and other routine maintenance items are handled at 250 hours. In addition to equipment management, VanDerTulip has operational responsibility for the bagging operations and recently supervised the installation of the company’s first robotic bag stacking arm. Of the nearly 25 employees at the company, six are wheel loader operators, and VanDerTulip has a good way to make sure the operators he does put on the machines will take care of them.
“Our operators are chosen from employees who work in the bagging operations,” VanDerTulip says. “Those are the entry level jobs. If they work hard and show interest, we will move them into a loader operator job when one becomes available. It’s considered one of the best jobs here. We teach them how to run the loaders by having them push dirt and compost on flat ground, then gradually move them to stockpiles. Once they have the skills, we let them load trucks and the hoppers at the bagging plant.”
The process of turning farm waste into a useful product is good in more ways than one. Lange says his father, who bought Black Gold Compost with a partner in 1985, worked in the agriculture feed industry and had long been aware of the problem dairy farms experience getting rid of their animal waste.
At the time, industrial scale composting was a relatively new industry. But over the years the industry has grown as more people recognize its benefits. It is good for the farmers and good for the environment. It’s also good for consumers and their gardens and landscapes, helping homeowners improve poor soil, grow better vegetables and beautify their landscapes.
“The compost industry today is getting much better at the production and quality of compost,” Lange says. “And all that material is kept out of the landfills.”
Recipe for success
Since composting takes place outdoors, weather is always a challenge. And trucking out as many as 26,000 bags of compost a day requires great logistics
The key, Lange says, is to have good people, good processes and a good product. “Put them all together and it will keep you busy.”
And since loaders are the key to the operation, having good machines and maintenance is also critical for uptime. “We keep our loaders until they won’t run anymore, which can be 30,000 or even 40,000 hours,” says Futch. “But we keep track of everything. Every bucket that loader moves we track to make sure everything is running efficiently.”
J.D. Raymond Transport expands into concrete market
When J.D. Raymond Transport acquired Haley Construction, they needed dependable, rugged equipment to expand into the concrete crushing market. They chose to replace the existing equipment with Hitachi wheel loaders, a decision based on the breakout force, visibility and operator comfort of the Hitachi ZW180 and ZW220. But it was the strong dealer relationship that sealed the deal.
In 1999, John Raymond founded J.D. Raymond Transport with a single truck and trailer. He began by hauling sludge and waste from Massachusetts to Maine. In the years that followed, he grew the business by adding trucks and owner-operators and expanding the field of materials they produced.
Today, J.D. Raymond Transport is focused on producing and transporting its own materials such as bark chips, mulch and firewood. Raymond was looking to expand the business again in early 2020 and set his sights on acquiring Haley Construction, a Maine-based transit mix concrete manufacturer. He was particularly interested in one of this 85-year-old business’ divisions, Redi-Rock of Central Maine, which produces small and large wall blocks that are all approved for municipal construction by the state Department of Transportation.
In April 2020, J.D. Raymond Transport acquired Haley Construction, now known as Haley’s. The three Haley’s concrete plants in Sangerville, Farmington and Hartland, Maine, were recently supplemented significantly with the purchase of another plant in Monmouth, Maine. Raymond brought on Tyler Erickson, a friend of the family, as general manager of Haley’s, and a few months into the acquisition it was time to replace the three wheel loaders used to move materials for concrete production.
“These were our mainline loaders for plants in Monmouth, Farmington and Sangerville,” Erickson explains. The company was considering Hitachi and two other competitor products before purchasing the loaders.
Haley’s first demo’d the Hitachi ZW180-6 and, because they wanted a larger machine for the Sangerville plant, they also tried out the Hitachi ZW220-6. Erickson says operators leaned toward Hitachi; in particular, the operators said they appreciated the comfort and feel of the machines. The final decision came down to the Hitachi’s excellent access to the engine and service points and good visibility from the cab.
“I like the way they dig. It goes right into a pile of stone the same as sand — it slides right in, smooth and easy,” operator Reginald Page says. “You just fill the bucket and back away. It has really good traction; it’s heavy and balanced enough to hold the back end down when the bucket is full. And it’s got great visibility.”
Erikson says the operators reported that the Hitachis had better breakout force and more engine power. “And we actually saved money by going with Hitachi. It was a no-brainer at that point.”
With some of the competitor machines, “you always felt like you were going in blind. You can’t see what you’re doing very well, especially loading trucks,” Erickson says. “The Hitachis offer great visibility. It’s a good, comfortable cab, there’s plenty of power, there’s great controls, and I like the speed of the hydraulics,” he adds.
Raymond also got in and tried out the Hitachi Dash-6 wheel loaders to give his stamp of approval. “I liked the visibility, I liked the power, I liked the ergonomics and the way it felt — it’s a pretty rugged machine. It’s a really nice machine,” he says. Ultimately, Haley’s opted to lease two Hitachi ZW180s and one ZW220 specifically for Sangerville, which is the company’s only rock-crushing operation.
The Hitachi loaders offer great visibility. It’s a good, comfortable cab, there’s plenty of power, there’s great controls, and I like the speed of the hydraulics. – Tyler Erikson, general manager of Haley Construction.
Going the extra mile
In this case, the decision to go with Hitachi wheel loaders was also dependent on the service provided by the dealership, Frank Martin Sons, which has branches in Fort Kent and Madison, Maine.
That service is supported by ConSite, Hitachi’s reporting and analytics system that monitors operational performance of the loaders. “ConSite allows us to be proactive on the service side,” says Kris LePage, manager of the Frank Martin Sons Madison branch and an outside salesman. “We can see hours on machines, and we can see trouble codes sometimes even before they know about them.”
“Service is the name of the game,” he continues. “I always say that I make the first sale, but it’s parts and service that come behind me and sell the rest.” The dealership handles all scheduled maintenance and any problems that arise utilizing their mobile service trucks.
“Sales-wise, Kris put more into this than any other salesman,” Erickson says. “The service and the work that these guys put in has been second to none, including anybody I’ve dealt with in any area of this industry. Kris followed up, was here to answer questions and was all over it, so the service side of Frank Martin Sons was great from the start.”
LePage — who started out as a heavy equipment operator and then worked as a technician before getting into sales — spends much of his time on the road traveling out to see customers, many of them remote. “I have a beautiful office where I get to work,” LePage says about the company truck where he traverses the Maine countryside on his way to see clients.
“We’re very happy with the Hitachi machines. We’d certainly consider Hitachi if we need more,” Raymond says. Haley’s, which produced 60,000 yards of concrete in 2019, easily surpassed that amount for 2020.
The Hitachi loaders helped support that increased productivity.
Haley’s recently installed a parking lot wall at Puritan Medical Products, which produces COVID-19 testing swabs. “We just did a big wall for Puritan. It was a huge project, and we sold all the blocks for this one wall and it wraps all around the parking lot. We’ve had some awesome work this year,” Erickson says.
Even in a difficult economy, it’s all that Haley’s can do to keep up with demand. “Right now, our inventory for our blocks is across the board in the red.” Erickson notes. “I have salesmen that I basically can’t let them go out and sell because we can’t keep up with the orders that they’ve already taken. We’re extremely busy. Good news, for sure.”
The release of the new ZW220-6 shows how Hitachi Construction Machinery Loaders America has raised its sights to deliver productivity and efficiency for the most demanding owners and operators. The ZW220-6 is the first of Hitachi’s new mid-sized wheel loaders in the Dash-6 series, fully equipped to excel in the full range of duties expected from the top tier in this class. Hitachi Construction Machinery Loaders America offers outstanding parts availability, an unmatched factory component exchange program, and a wide range of services and programs.
To read the full ShowCase article featuring the ZW220-6 in the September/October 2019 issue of Grading & Excavating Magazine, click here.
Hitachi rolls out the ZW220-6, the first of its new mid-sized wheel loaders in the Dash-6 series. Designed as a do-it-all loader, the machine weighs in at 38,910 pounds and is powered by a 200-horsepower Cummins Tier 4 Final (DPF-free) engine. It delivers 34,170 pounds of breakout force. Heaped bucket capacity is 4.2 to 4.7 cubic yards, with loading heights of up to 13.5 feet. Smart technology features such as ride control, telematics, auto power-up, and a color LCD monitor are included in Dash-6 loaders. Hitachi’s Global e-Service combines with its Consite reporting program to give fleet managers 24/7 remote monitoring, maintenance, and daily operational data, as well as monthly summary reports. The cab boasts a fully updated comfort and convenience package, and an airtight seal to keep out dust. A tilt/telescoping steering pedestal is linked to a pop-up pedal that returns the steering pedestal to its start position. Air conditioning, excellent ventilation, and a new sound system with roof-mounted speakers create a comfortable work place for long shifts.
To view the entire Rollouts article featuring the ZW220-6 in Aggregate manager, click here.
Hitachi Construction Machinery Loaders America calls its new ZW220-6 wheel loader a “do-it-all” machine. The first mid-sized loader in Hitachi’s Dash-6 generation lineup runs on a Cummins diesel engine providing 200 horsepower and 34,170 pounds of breakout force. The engine also features an auto-shutdown feature that results in a 7 percent reduction in fuel costs. Bucket capacity is 4.2 to 4.7 cubic yards, and the machine can reach loading heights up to 13.5 feet. A new Power Mode provides a 10 percent boost in engine rpm.
To read the full Marketplace article featuring the ZW220-6 in the September 2019 issue of Equipment World Magazine, click here.
The release of the ZW220-6 shows how Hitachi Construction Machinery Loaders America has raised its sights to deliver productivity and efficiency for the most demanding owners and operators. The ZW220-6 is the first of Hitachi’s new mid-sized wheel loaders in the Dash-6 series, fully equipped to excel in the full range of duties expected from the top tier in this class.
Designed to help skilled operators get the best out of the ZW220-6 is Hitachi’s “do-it-all loader in the new generation Dash-6 series, built to endure long shifts in demanding work environments. It ships at 38,910 lbs., powered by a highly efficient 200 HP Cummins Tier 4F engine and delivering 34,170 lbs. of breakout force. The heaped bucket capacity of 4.2-4.7 yd3 can reach loading heights up to 13.5 feet.
To read the full article featuring the ZW220-6 in Focus On Magazine, click here.
NEW HITACHI ZW220-6 PUTS POWER AND AGILITY INTO THE HANDS OF LOADER OPERATORS
Designers of the new Dash-6 Hitachi wheel loaders understand that, for equipment owners to get more out of their machines, the machines have to let them get more from their operators. With the launch of the ZW220-6 articulated loader, Hitachi delivers a machine that’s built to get the best from today’s best operators.
The ZW220-6 is Hitachi’s mid-sized “do-it-all” loader in the new generation Dash-6 Series. A tough, agile machine designed to thrive in demanding work environments, the ZW220-6 tips the scale at 38,910 pounds, with a highly efficient 200 HP Cummins power plant generating 34,170 pounds of breakout force. The heaped bucket capacity of 4.2- 4.7 cubic yards can reach loading heights up to 13.5 feet. Dash-6 models offer a range of advanced features that target the needs of premium operators for responsive power and control.
To read the full article, check out the Hitachi Partner Solutions article in the July 2019 issue of Equipment World magazine.