Backhoe Benefits in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, as the fifth-most-populous city in the United States, takes air management – and the reduction of diesel emissions – seriously.

Since 2003 the city has implemented the Philadelphia Diesel Difference, a public-private partnership aimed at reducing diesel pollution in the greater Philadelphia area. Recent accomplishments include retrofitting 78 city-owned fire trucks and 119 waste haulers with diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs), which have reduced tailpipe emissions by 20 to 50%.

The reduction of diesel emissions also extends to contractors hired by the city to complete projects within the city limits.  Seravalli Inc. is one of those contractors.

Headquartered in Philadelphia, Seravalli is a second-generation construction firm serving the Delaware Valley since 1962. The full-service, heavy-highway site utility contractor works in both the public and private sectors. The majority of its business, according to Fran Seravalli, President, is for the city of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT) and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA).

“We spend a lot of our time completing municipal work,” he explains. “And sustainability is an important element of that work by nature.”

A progressive approach to equipment

As part of a field follow study, Seravalli was asked to test a Cat 430F Series Backhoe Loader for several months. The contractor had plans to update its backhoe fleet and was interested in seeing what the next generation Cat 430F could do.

The city’s aggressive emission reduction plan was also a factor. “We knew the city of Philadelphia wanted to reduce its overall emissions by 20% across the board,” Seravalli explains. “The Cat F Series backhoe loaders are powered by Tier 4 engine, which we knew would help with that goal.”

As a company, Seravalli owns a fleet of about 100 machines, mostly bearing the Caterpillar name. The contractor incorporated Cat D Series backhoe loaders into its fleet years ago; upgraded to the E Series a few years after that and most recently were considering the new F Series machines.

Seravalli put more than 1,000 hours on the field follow Cat 430F and was pleased with it on many levels. Although he notes that it was “too soon” to get a true handle on fuel consumption [with just one machine], he did say,  “Overall the 430F fit in with our fleet, performed very well and we had no problems with it.” He notes a few more specifics of the backhoe loader:

  • Performance. The Cat 430F’s front loader arms delivered more reach, dump height and breakout
  • Power. The increased horsepower delivered greater pushing power, increased aggressiveness in hard bank loading, and faster roading and hill climbing.
  • Hydraulics. The new electronic pump control provided better pump response for improved hoe and loader productivity, performance and power management.

Updating for the future               

Seravalli Inc. recently purchased 13 Cat F Series backhoe loaders (420F, 420F IT and 430F) and have just taken delivery of the final unit. After a few modifications (decals, etc.) done in house, the machines will be ready for duty. The new machines will replace the company’s aging E Series machines.

“One of the main reasons we update our fleet is to sustain the value of our used fleet,” he explains. “These new machines offer us a standard three-year warranty [and we upgraded to a five-year extended warranty],” Seravalli says. New machines also decrease repair and shop time significantly.

Each new backhoe loader is equipped with Cat Product Link. Seravalli expects to achieve improved fuel consumption and reduced emissions with the new machines. Product Link will help Seravalli track the results of both fuel consumption and emissions output.

To read the full story, click here to download the Fall 2013 issue of Sustainable Construction.