How Technology Boosts Excavator Productivity

March 20, 2017

Digging graves is a serious business, and no one takes it more seriously than Cody Taxacher, owner of Taxacher Specialties, an excavation contracting business based in Connellsville, PA, 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

Taxacher, who started his business in 2009, handles a variety of excavating and earthmoving jobs for local municipalities, but his main activity is grave digging. Using a new Hyundai R60CR-9A compact excavator equipped with a Trimble machine control system, Taxacher dug a total of approximately 500 graves in 2016 for nearly 50 cemeteries within a 30-mile radius of Connellsville in southeastern Pennsylvania.

“We started out doing small odd jobs, mowing yards, and it kind of progressed to where we are now with an excavation and earthmoving business,” says Taxacher. “Grave digging is the biggest part of our business, and with our new excavator and machine control system, we are as fast and accurate as anyone could be.”

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He continues, “The Hyundai compact excavator is the perfect machine for us, because it doesn’t damage the ground, it’s very maneuverable, it’s got the power we need to dig in any conditions, and the machine control system results in a precise dig every time. All the cemeteries in this area know they can depend on us for speed, accuracy, and protection of their grounds.” The R60CR-9A is a 6-ton-class, compact-radius design machine, with maximum dig depth of 11 feet, 9 inches, and bucket breakout force of 8,228 pound-feet.

Technology Boosts Excavator Productivity
Taxacher says the addition of an electronic machine control  system “adds an extra level of productivity to the excavator.”

He describes the Trimble GCS900 system as “an electronic tape measure” in the cab. “You just watch the screen and it tells you where you are. You never have to leave the cab to inspect your excavation.”

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Taxacher adds, “Whether it’s a grave or a trench for a utility project, you just watch the screen for guidance, and you get a perfect dig. It shows you an exact 3D [three-dimensional] profile of the excavation. If someone says they want a waterline two feet deep, you don’t have to be out there with a tape measure, you just look at the screen.”

Attaching hoses

The Right Machine for the Job
In addition to the Hyundai compact excavator, Taxacher’s equipment fleet includes two dump trucks, a skid steer loader, a tracked utility truck, and a larger excavator. “We always try to match the right machine to every job,” notes Taxacher.

When it came time to replace his previous compact excavator, Taxacher carefully examined the market for the right machine. “I tried every excavator on the market when I was looking to purchase a new machine,” he recalls. “I honestly hadn’t thought of evaluating a Hyundai, but Jim Langer from Highway Equipment Company [the local Hyundai dealer] brought out the new R60CR-9A model for me to demo, and I was very impressed with everything on it. I ended up loving it and buying it.”

Taxacher continues, “The Hyundai warranty was great. The financing was good. It has the biggest cab in the industry. It’s the most comfortable cab out of any excavator I tried. It has Bluetooth for your telephone—no one else has that. It has a nice touchscreen—you can see all your controls and monitor how much fuel you have. It’s all right there on one screen.”

Another important productivity feature on the excavator is its quick coupler for changing attachments. Among the hydraulic attachments Taxacher uses on the Hyundai excavator are multiple buckets, a tamper, a breaker, and a grapple.

“First of all, we change buckets a lot. Second, if we hit a rock while we’re digging a grave, we take the bucket off and put the hydraulic breaker on. We put the bucket back on. We put the hydraulic tamper on to fill the grave and compact the soil. And we’re done.”

He says the excavator’s dozer blade—a standard feature—is handy for leveling the machine and backfilling an excavation.


Support From the Dealer
Taxacher expressed satisfaction and confidence in his equipment dealer, Highway Equipment Company, based in Zelienople, PA. “I was looking for a small tracked truck and nobody seemed to have one. I called up Highway Equipment Company,” says Taxacher. “They had one and let me demo it. And I purchased it. That’s how my relationship with Highway Equipment Company began. They’ve been great with service and parts support. They’re out here when I need help, and they’re always responsive when I call.”

What’s the next phase of growth for Taxacher? It will undoubtedly involve expanding his equipment fleet to compete for a wider range of projects. “I’m hoping to get a Hyundai HX145LCR compact radius excavator soon,” he says. “I like short-radius machines because there’s no tail to get in the way, like on a conventional excavator. Plus, I don’t feel it’s a big sacrifice of digging power to go with a compact-radius machine.”

Regardless of how his business grows, Taxacher says he’s right where he belongs. “I was one of those kids who was always playing with trucks. This is what I always wanted to do.”