“Upgrading to Hardox® 500 keeps us a big step ahead of our competitors. And I would say that this is pretty much what our customers expect from us. Excavator buckets from Gjerstad have always been a strong brand on the market. We not only intend to keep that position; with this new bucket, we can focus on growth.”
It has been just over a year since Tor Kjetilson Moe, CEO at the Norwegian excavator bucket manufacturer Gjestad, decided to take their products one step further.
“To our customers this is most of all a question of finances,” he says. “By going from Hardox® 450 to Hardox® 500 we’ve created a bucket that is even lighter than it used to be. This is really important to our customers. Even though each bucket does not weigh so much, they know that every weight reduction pays off in less fuel consumption. This is increasingly important to the companies using our buckets.”
Gjerstad has built the reputation of the company on its extensive use of steel from SSAB. For more than 20 years, SSAB has been the main supplier of steel for wear parts in the buckets.
Behind the first row of buckets, spectators find the first prototype made from Hardox® 500. There is no paint left since the bucket has been in intensive use for 18 months.
“But the steel as well as the new design fulfilled every expectation from both ourselves and our customers,” says Tor. “It is lighter and stronger than comparable buckets. This immediately pays off in reduced diesel cost, but there are several advantages that customers can expect in the long run.”
Experience has proved to Tor that maintenance costs will be reduced. Partly for the bucket itself, but reduced weight at the end of the excavator boom will probably also be positive for the wear on bearings and other parts on the boom and links.
Nearly ten years ago, Gjerstad upgraded the wear plates in its buckets from Hardox® 400 to Hardox® 450.
“This was nothing less than a revolution in the business,” states Tor. “We could develop lighter and stronger buckets, and they had a strong impact on the market. Everybody loved them.”
“If the new design comes anywhere near that I will be very pleased,” says Tor.
He emphasizes the fact that we are looking at a completely new design. Thanks to the reduced radius on the teeth and different angles on the bucket itself, less force is needed when extracting rocks and stone, for example.
“It’s the combination of smart design and Hardox® 500 that makes the difference,” Tor explains.
SSAB’s technical support has been involved in the development process.
“We have had good backing from SSAB with all technical issues over the years,” says Tor. “Our designers often take part in SSAB seminars regarding material properties, welding and shaping. They also use the manuals and the possibility to discuss technical matters directly with SSAB’s help desk.”
“In fact, the global presence of SSAB has also been an advantage for Gjerstad.
In 2006, they decided to outsource their manufacturing to countries with lower labor costs.
“We kept design, development and maintenance in Norway, but moved everything else to Sweden, Denmark, Italy and Asia,” says Tor. “But we soon encountered problems that we had never seen before. Cracks and damage of a kind that made us suspect that our suppliers did not use Hardox® 450, but other steel grades.”
That’s when Gjerstad decided to contact SSAB.
“Since SSAB has a presence in all the places where we have manufacturing, we could easily arrange visits and seminars at our production sites together,” says Tor. “This solved the problem. But not only that. When our suppliers understood the advantages of using Hardox® wear plates, they even had other applications where Hardox® 450 could bring quality and lifespan benefits. As a result, SSAB made some valuable new contacts from this tour.”