The sites on which South Texas Landscaping works are never ideal. Humidity and remaining flood waters make the ground conditions extra soggy and especially taxing for heavy equipment.
Choosing the right piece of equipment was a challenge for the crew, as ground conditions, space constraints and lift requirements all combined to make compact equipment too weak and large equipment too heavy.
The crew selected the Mustang ME12002, sourced from Gulf States Equipment in Gulfport, MS, because it has the perfect combination of strength, agility and buoyancy.
The Mustang ME12002, with an operating weight of 25,397 lbs., boasts a 98.4-hp engine and 19,665 lbs. of lifting capacity.
"Much of our equipment was too large to get into the neighborhoods and weighed too much for the swampy soil we needed to maneuver though," says Rudy De Leon, owner of South Texas Landscaping. "The Mustang was chosen because it met our weight and size requirements."
The crew works off landing mats in wet ground conditions. "We can't spend our time digging those mats — not to mention a machine — out of the mud," adds operator Jack De Leon.
Machine weight is also important for transportation, as the crew convoys the unit from site to site on a lowboy trailer.
The equipment has earned its 320 hours removing trees, clearing land and demolishing homes too damaged for repair.
Equipped with a bucket with a thumb, the ME12002 is able to handle difficult and off-size debris.
While his work is physically and emotionally difficult, Manriquez, who operates the ME12002 on the crew, appreciates the small comforts and conveniences of the Mustang excavator.
Often working 10-hour days behind the controls of the excavator, Manriquez is happy to have an enclosed, air-conditioned cab protecting him, not only from the muggy heat, but from the mosquitoes — which are often the only remaining residents of the neighborhoods he clears.
He also appreciates the ability to switch from rubber to metal tracks as the job conditions change.
Manriquez and the rest of the crew will continue to work in these damaged areas until things are back to normal and the homeowners can return to the areas they used to live.
"We are so proud of our employees, who have conducted themselves professionally as they clean up these homes," said Rudy De Leon. "They take their work very seriously and do their best to help these residents get back the life they had torn away."
Driven to succeed
John Deere zero-tail-swing compact excavators: productivity in tight spaces
Contractors both large and small will find the John Deere D-Series ZTS compact excavators indispensable in just about any job. With faster operating speeds and increased drawbar pull, operators can move more material in less time. And, a zero-tail-swing design combined with an independent-swing boom and 360-degree rotation means the D-Series is far more maneuverable and productive in tight spaces than larger machines.
Just ask Bud Willitzer, president of Lakemaster, a boat dock and seawall manufacturer in Muncie, IN. For many years, crew members used a jackhammer to install the interlocking vinyl sheet piling panels that make up a seawall. Today, their John Deere 35D does most of the work. Using a concrete breaker fitted with a special shoe, the operator simply drives in the piling from the comfortable seat of the operator's station.
"The machine is versatile. It's become an absolutely necessary piece of equipment on the job," Willitzer said. "A backhoe simply doesn't have the 360-degree rotation we need to move dirt away from where we are digging, so we can keep moving down the shoreline."
Many of Lakemaster's shoreline jobs are surrounded by steep hills and are difficult to reach. The 35D's compact size allows it to be unloaded at the worksite from a barge.
"I can get into a lot more places with it than I can with a bigger machine," said operator Kevin Grim. "And even though it's compact, it has good power. Controls are smooth, sensitive and easy to work with. Visibility is wonderful. It's just an all-around good machine."