In March 2016 a joint venture of Italian pipeline contractor Bonatti and Greece’s J&P Avax was awarded the engineering- procurement-construction (EPC) contract for this section of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline project. Following a competitive analysis of eight leading excavator manufacturers, Bonatti-J&P Avax bought 52 Doosan crawler excavators, from 30 to 55 tonne class, for the excavation work and for the laying of the 1200mm (48 inch) diameter pipes in the project.
The €4.5bn Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is the European leg of the Southern Gas Corridor, which aims to connect European markets to new gas sources in the Caspian basin. TAP will cross Greece and Albania from the Greece-Turkey border to the province of Lecce in Italy. TAP facilitates the transport of natural gas from the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan to western European, including the UK.
The 52 Doosan excavators bought by Bonatti-J&P Avax were ten DX300LC-5s twenty DX340LC-5s, ten DX380LC-5s and twelve DX530LC-5 models.
Franck Adam, key accounts director at Doosan Bobcat EMEA, says the deal was “the result of a close collaboration between various ‘actors’ who, from June to November last year, have been able to set up the processes needed to complete this important deal in a very short timeframe.”
He says: “The rapid availability of the machines as well as the right specifications and performance for the job were key factors in Doosan’s success in winning the order.”
John Joannou, procurement manager at Bonatti-J&P Avax, says it was a value for money purchase. “The decision behind which brand of excavator we would choose started with an analysis of eight leading manufacturers and we selected Doosan after careful evaluation of the technical features and the aftersales package.
“Doosan machines offer great value for money, especially when analysing performances and fuel consumption, which, after several months using the excavators, we can confirm are in line with the impressive values given in the technical data sheets. For example, for pipe handling with vacuum lifters, Doosan excavators were the only 53-tonne machines to meet the necessary requirements when compared with the 60/70-tonne models from the competitors, thus allowing us to save first on the price of purchase and now on fuel consumption.”
The Doosan DX530LC-5 53-tonne model has the widest undercarriage for this size of machine on the market. With its 3.9-metre wide undercarriage in the extended position, the DX530LC-5 has the best lifting capacity in its class, Doosan says. Bonatti-J&P Avax’s twelve DX530LC-5 excavators have been equipped with a ‘mass excavation front’ short arm (2.4 metres) and boom (6.3 metres) providing an enhanced hydraulic performance for handling, with the vacuum lifters, the 14-tonne/18-metre steel pipes at full reach through 360° at the required heights and distances.
"Comparing manufacturers by the weight of the models was not the way to go,” John Joannou continues. “For example, we found that Doosan DX340LC-5 34-tonne excavators are equivalent to the 38-tonne models from the competitors. Also the availability of a range of excavators from Doosan with six different models from 30- to 55-tonne has been helpful, enabling us not to oversize in the machinery fleet. Doosan was also able to meet our needs for urgent delivery of the machines. Once the agreement was confirmed, the excavators arrived within a month, between October and November last year."
Doosan excavators are working in a range of different applications, from preparatory work including grading, removing trees and site clearance, lifting gas pipes to lay them out or ‘string’ them, digging trenches using hydraulic breakers or buckets, to loading crushing and screening equipment to create backfill for the trenches that does not damage the pipes.
After six months on the project, the excavator operators have confirmed that the Doosan machines are delivering the digging forces, traction forces and hydraulic output that was expected, providing smooth, fast and precise responses.
According to one of the operators: "Before this project I had never used a Doosan excavator and, now that I've been working for over 600 hours, I can say that I have been surprised and impressed by the simplicity of the excavator controls. Besides being very spacious, the cab offers great visibility and it’s very quiet."
The contract for the excavators includes a service package with round-the-clock back-up and two years’ warranty, with an option to extend it by another year. Service is handled directly by Ergon Tzanidakis, the Doosan dealer in Greece, which bought two new service vans specifically for this contract.
Bonatti-J&P Avax also uses the DoosanConnect telematics system, a web-based fleet management system that monitors the performance and security of the machines, as well as promoting preventative maintenance. This is a standard feature on all new generation Doosan Stage IV compliant excavators from 14 tonnes, as well as wheeled loaders and articulated dump trucks.
“Operational data gives me insight into monitoring the machines’ fuel efficiency and the selected power modes in different applications,” says Yannis Panayiotopolos, site plant manager of Bonatti-J&P Avax. “This is helpful to determine if the operators can make adjustments in order to do the same work with less fuel.”
He adds: “Accurate machine usage reports, such as the number of hours a machine has been used for a particular job, help me to estimate when completing job bids and planning for jobs. The system also allows access to the machine’s maintenance history and aids in scheduling routine services, whilst eliminating the need to physically check fuel levels on the machine, as the information can be viewed remotely.”