When something works well, word gets around. That has certainly been the case with Komatsu wheel loaders at The Andersons, Inc., a Maumee, Ohio-based agribusiness with interests in plant nutrients, grain and ethanol.
Several years ago, The Andersons’ plant nutrient facility in Weberville, Michigan, started using a Komatsu WA470 wheel loader to load fertilizer onto customer trucks. Joe Schweitzer, operations manager for the Maumee and Toledo plant nutrient facilities, heard the Komatsu was working out well, and decided to look at Komatsu when it came time to replace wheel loaders in his plants. He called Columbus Equipment Company to talk about the machines and was immediately impressed with the response.
“What really sold us on it was the willingness of the sales rep, Luke Matheson, to go the extra mile to match up our needs with the right machine. He wanted to make sure we had the right machine with the right capacity set up right to work in the environmental conditions we work in,” Schweitzer said.
“Columbus Equipment Company staff came out and measured how long it took to load a truck. They recorded the kinds of trucks we loaded and how high the trucks were. They also looked at timing, to see how quickly we needed to make a round to keep things as efficient as possible. This was all new to us. Luke must have visited us 10 or 15 times to make sure we had the right machine in both locations,” the operations manager added.
Matheson recommended a WA500 with high lift for the Toledo plant and a WA470 with high lift for the Maumee plant. Noting the harsh environment inside the fertilizer plant causes machinery to rust quickly, Matheson proposed a solution. Columbus Equipment would also outfit each machine with an anti-corrosion package.
The anti-corrosion package includes coating the machine with Nyalic, a clear, polymeric plastic resin coating that protects against chemical and environmental corrosion. Nyalic protects the metal surfaces of the wheel loader from the corrosive effects of the materials used in fertilizer. “Several of our guys spent two or three full days taking the machine apart and putting Nyalic everywhere they could,” Matheson said.
“Komatsu’s wire harnesses already have high-quality, sealed DT connectors, but due to the highly corrosive nature of The Andersons’ application, Columbus Equipment went a step further by using dielectric grease and mastic tape to further seal harness connections. We believe that will ensure maximum uptime,” Matheson added.
“Columbus Equipment’s anti-corrosion package has slowed corrosion down tremendously,” Schweitzer said. Corrosion typically begins almost immediately and can cut the life expectancy of a machine by 30 to 50 percent, he explained, so the effects of the Nyalic were evident from the start.
The machines have been working out well—so well, in fact, the company has also purchased a WA380 for a plant nutrient operation in Eastern Ohio and another WA380 for a grain operation in Ohio. “I would definitely recommend them to others,” Schweitzer said. “The machines are good on fuel, and the operators really like them. They are comfortable to operate and the controls are very user-friendly. It’s a harsh environment but the Komatsus are well equipped to succeed in the structures, and under the conditions, we have onsite,” Schweitzer said.
The Komatsu wheel loaders are used to load dry fertilizers on customers’ trucks or rail cars. The product is sold to distributors and end users, and each plant moves “tens of thousands of tons each year,” Schweitzer said. During the busy seasons—spring and fall—the wheel loaders operate all day long.
The company relies on Columbus Equipment to maintain the wheel loaders, which are equipped with the KOMTRAX vehicle monitoring system. “With the KOMTRAX system, Columbus Equipment knows when the machines need to be serviced and taken care of. They are very good about scheduling around our needs,” he added.
The Andersons Inc. traces its history to 1947 when Harold Anderson started a grain elevator in Maumee with the intention of making it easier for local farmers to get their product to market. The company has grown into a major diversified agribusiness corporation, with over 3,000 employees and operations around the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Its divisions include plant nutrients, such as the operations in Maumee and Toledo that produce granular fertilizers. The Ohio plants service customers in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, as well as in Ontario, producing single-nutrient fertilizers and custom blends. Companywide, there are 18 fertilizer plants that produce more than 2 million tons of plant nutrients annually.
The company also runs grain terminals in the central U.S. with the capacity to hold 139 million bushels of corn. In 2013, The Andersons’ grain terminals handled shipments for nearly 500 million bushels of corn. The Andersons also has a division that leases out rail cars, another that operates four ethanol plants, one that provides risk management services, and divisions that produce palletized mineral products and industrial products. Other parts of the company include retail centers, professional turf products, and a division that manufacturers a variety of products from corn cobs.
The wheel loader purchase was the first time that Schweitzer had done business with Columbus Equipment, and it was a good experience, he said. “Before, we usually got a machine and the bucket that comes with it, but thanks to Columbus Equipment, this time we let our business dictate the right machine. They really looked at our needs. Everyone has been good to work with. After the sale, we still see Luke. He stops by or calls to make sure things are running smoothly.”
“Finding the right wheel loaders for The Andersons’ plants in Ohio has been a team effort,” Matheson said. “We looked at their business and their challenges, and they listened to our suggestions. They’ve been great to work with.”
“Our goal is to bring tangible value to the operation,” added Matheson. “Helping customers find the right equipment and the right solutions for their business is simply part of that process.” As Joe Schweitzer discovered, Columbus Equipment is focused on an enduring partnership, not just a quick sale.