SMARTCONSTRUCTION DIVISION RT Vernal Paving & Excavating: Geared Up For Future Growth with iMC
When Rick “RT” Vernal III saw Komatsu’s fully-integrated, intelligent Machine Control (iMC) dozers at ConExpo in 2017, he was intrigued. He asked Columbus Equipment Company to let his North Lima-based company, RT Vernal Paving & Excavating, demo a machine for a week.
“I put the Komatsu i-machine toe-to-toe with another dozer, a different brand, and the operators preferred the Komatsu,” Vernal said.
Since that demo, his company has purchased two D61i dozers and two D39i dozers. “The i-machines are excellent dozers that bring efficiency and versatility to the jobsite, “ observed Vernal, vice president of the company his parents founded.
Previously, the company ran dozers equipped with aftermarket, machine-grade control systems, and having the fully-integrated machine control offers several advantages, he said. “Previously we had four briefcases full of stuff and a big mast on the blade we had to set up every morning. Now all you need is a thumb drive and a little laptop case.”
The fully-integrated machine control performs better, too. “It just seems the fact that it’s integrated into the system results in a better response time. The sensors on the lift cylinders are more in tune with the machine,” he said.
Whatever the case, the bottom-line benefit is increased efficiency on the job. Once the 3D project model is put into the machine “we essentially have a blueprint on the machine, so we’ve got efficiency without a surveyor or a guy shooting grade,” Vernal said. “The operators have the grade at their fingertips, they know exactly where they are at all times, they know the orientation of the project.”
And with the i-machine, if there’s a problem he makes one call to find a solution. “Before [with an aftermarket system], you didn’t know if the bug was in the hydraulics on the dozer or in the grade-control system. Now, it’s one system serviced by one company. When we have issues, I just call Columbus Equipment and they can tap into the system remotely. Sometimes it’s a little thing a service tech doesn’t need to come out for, and it’s fixed in the course of a phone call.”
RT Vernal’s excavation division has used the Komatsu dozers on major earthmoving and utility projects, and for building pad prep.
One project involved preparing a site for a new car dealership. “The site had a couple of hundred-thousand-yard cut-and-fill to get on grade. We were removing the back half of the property down 8 or 9 feet and bringing it to the front of the property. We used the D61s to hog out the dirt and the D39s in the front were receiving the dirt, fine grading it out and compacting it for a future parking lot,” Vernal explained.
The dozers also finish-graded aggregate for the parking lot. “We find waste on aggregate is much less, because there are no low areas on the grading or high spots on the aggregate. We can be much more precise on our dirt and stone grade.”
Even if you ignore the iMC system, the D61i is a particularly impressive dozer, he added. “The D61 is an all-around well-balanced machine. It has the power to really hog out dirt at bulk level, but at the same time to finish or fine grade. It’s not bulky, and is very nimble for both kinds of work. It’s hard to find that on a bigger dozer.”
The company was a Komatsu user in the past, and the i-machines have helped reintroduce him to the brand, Vernal said. “Columbus Equipment’s sales staff has been reintroducing us to the line, and Tim Kresowaty [sales rep at the Richfield branch] has been very helpful in letting us know what they have, the different sizes and what they can do.”
Vernal’s dozers are covered by Komatsu CARE, and Columbus Equipment Company technicians have been accommodating about scheduling service during off hours or when the machines aren’t being used, he said.
“The sales, service and support staff at Columbus Equipment all work together, and that makes everything easy for me. With the integrated machines, whether I need support on the technology or the machine itself, it’s nice to have just one person and one company to call,” Vernal said.
Since Rick and Jody Vernal started as paving contractors in 1975, RT Vernal Paving & Excavation has made a series of smart purchases to enable expansion. In 1985, the company acquired an excavation contractor, and in 1994, it built an asphalt batch plant to supply its growing role in paving and site preparation in northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Embracing Komatsu’s iMC equipment and the efficiency it brings appears to be another smart move in fueling the company’s growth trajectory.
Visit columbusequipment.com/news/videos for additional video coverage on RT Vernal Komatsu’s experience.