Sanco Pipelines Inc. purchases first two HB365LC-3 hybrid excavators in  Northern California

Sanco Pipelines Inc. purchases first two HB365LC-3 hybrid excavators in  Northern California from new Komatsu distributor Gee Heavy Machinery 

During the past 68 years, Sanco Pipelines Inc. has installed countless miles of underground pipeline in Northern California. Current owner Braden Schrader is continuing to build on the legacy previous generations of the Los Gatos-based company set forth. 

“We have continued to grow by sticking to the principles that my grandparents and dad taught:  deliver a quality product, done right and on time,” said Schrader. “That’s helped us develop a lot of long-term relationships with developers who trust us. We have also maintained our focus on what we know best, which is putting pipe in the ground. If it’s storm, water, and sewer, we  do it.” 

Schrader’s grandfather and grandmother, David and Jean Schrader, founded Sanco Pipelines in  1956, and his father, David Robert Schrader, joined the business in 1970. David Robert oversaw the company until he retired a few years ago.  

Today, Sanco Pipelines routinely has 20 to 30 jobs in various stages of development at any one time. With approximately 250 employees, Sanco Pipelines works throughout the Bay Area and  Northern California on residential, commercial, and public works projects. In addition to utility installation, Sanco Pipelines offers general contracting services, television inspection of pipe,  vacuum services, and potholing of existing utilities.  

Over the years, Sanco Pipelines has built a large fleet of Komatsu equipment. Excavators are especially prominent on the company’s job sites. 

“I have an old picture on my desk of a Komatsu dozer that my grandfather purchased in the late  70s, which was actually one of the first Komatsu machines in our fleet,” said Schrader. “Since then, we have continued to buy Komatsu. Being an underground-focused company, excavators are our mainline machines. We like Komatsu for a couple of reasons. One, the longevity. They last. The second is the speed and efficiency versus competitive brands. My guys like the fast  cycle times.” 

Super fast, very quiet 

Speed and efficiency were major factors in Sanco Pipeline’s recent purchase of two Komatsu  80,000-pound-plus HB365LC-3 hybrid excavators from Gee Heavy Machinery. Schrader worked with Gee Product Support Sales Manager Patrick Cofield on the acquisition. Cofield recalled that  Sanco Pipelines’ acquisition of the excavators happened by chance.

“We had an opportunity to take two of Sanco’s senior operators to Komatsu’s Quarry Days in  Arizona a few months ago, and they wanted to demo a larger excavator,” recalled Cofield.  “While we were waiting our turn to run that machine, they saw an HB365, and one of the operators decided to run it. His immediate reaction was, ‘Wow, this thing’s super fast and very  quiet.’ That led to discussions with Sanco’s management, and they made the purchase knowing  that the machines would get the job done while lowering emissions, so they exchanged them  for some older machines that had tiered out in California.” 

Schrader admitted to some hesitation in purchasing the hybrids, but with his operators’ endorsement and support from Gee Heavy Machinery and Komatsu, he was convinced they were a solid move. 

“California has some of the strictest emissions laws, and that leads to companies like ours having to replace machines and upgrade to newer models to meet the standards,” said  Schrader. “I probably would never have bought a hybrid, though, without my lead operators  telling me how fast they cycled and how they could increase production.” 

Schrader added, “That said, I still had some reservations because it’s something new, and I was worried about maintenance and them being harder to fix than a standard excavator. Komatsu and Gee provided training, and the excavators are backed with a solid warranty. Patrick has always taken good care of us. All that, factored in with the lower emissions and good financing  options from Komatsu Financial, gave us peace of mind.” 

Operator Juan Botello recently used an HB365LC-3 to dig trenches for storm lines on a project near Tracy, California. Botello switched between a variety of bucket sizes to match the trench width and depth.  

“I’m moving dirt out of the ditch faster, so productivity is increased,” commented Botello. “At first, I was kind of caught off guard because the machine is so quiet, but once I got used to that and saw the production, I knew it was going to work. It looks like we’re burning less diesel, so the company will be saving money on fuel. From an operator standpoint, the cab is  comfortable.” 

Operator Charles Webber described the hybrid as “spunky.” 

“It seems to have a fast in and out of the hole swing, and that equates to good productivity,”  Webber said. “It cranks up and gives you power when you need it.” 

Equal or better performance, lower emissions

Komatsu’s HB365LC-3 hybrid excavator has equal or better performance than its standard  PC360LC excavator, with fuel savings that could be as high as 20%, depending on the  application. It’s an ideal machine for companies that use excavators in high-swing applications. 

An electric swing motor captures and regenerates energy as the upper structure slows down and converts it to electric energy. It’s using the energy that is normally wasted and makes it available to do work, which contributes to increased efficiency and decreased fuel usage. 

“Our hybrid excavators have many advantages,” explained Taimoor Khan, Business Development  Manager, Carbon Neutral Products, Komatsu. “To begin with, the product architecture developed by Komatsu allows us to isolate the swing circuit from the traditional hydraulic work equipment. This allows the machine to focus all the hydraulic capacity toward the boom, arm, and bucket cylinders, creating an impressive production-focused machine that provides customers with increased productivity, reduced fuel consumption, and lower carbon emissions.  While these types of hybrid technologies are common in large mining shovels, which are  renowned for their durability and reliability, the HB365LC-3 utilizes similar scaled-down  technology for the construction industry.” 

The energy captured during each swing braking cycle is stored in the HB365LC-3’s ultracapacitor.  Each time the excavator swings, the capacitor discharges electric power to the electric swing motor. Based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s CO2 formula, the hybrid excavator potentially offers an up to 20% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to the standard PC360LC 11. 

“We’re super excited about the hybrids, especially in this market,” said Joel Larson, Chief  Operating Officer for Gee Heavy Machinery, which became the new Northern California  Komatsu distributor on December 1, 2023. “These are the first two sold in Northern California.  They cycle so much faster than other machines, and we believe that once other contractors see  these machines and what they offer, the demand will expand.” 

Dave Damboise, Vice President of Sales and Rental for Gee Heavy Machinery, added, “The  HB365 is in alignment with where California is headed with lowering emissions and green energy. They are more fuel efficient and better for the environment. At the same time, they are strong and fast, which makes them extremely productive. We feel that Komatsu is absolutely  the best product available, and coupled with its service and support, it’s a winning  combination.” 

Cofield worked for the previous Komatsu dealer and stayed on board when Gee Heavy  Machinery took over the territory. He worked directly with Schrader on the HB365LC-3  acquisition. 

“Gee Heavy Machinery has brought a much anticipated and very-welcomed interjection of energy and resources to Northern California, which is exciting,” said Cofield. “We have added
staff and improved support capabilities to better take care of customers like Sanco Pipelines, who I have worked with for over a decade. It’s great to see them utilize the hybrids and increase
production rates.”

An investment in the future

Moving forward, Schrader plans on slowly expanding Sanco Pipelines, while continuing to follow  his company’s motto, “Experience, quality and efficiency since 1956.”  

“Our success has been built on providing good service,” said Schrader. “If you go out and show that you have a good team of hardworking people that can get jobs done right quickly, that results in long-term relationships. The hybrids were an investment in the future and have shown that they can speed up production, which means we can finish projects faster while increasing sustainability and lowering emissions. With great employees and equipment, we’ll keep growing  slowly.” 

In the distant future, Schrader hopes to pass on the business to his sons and keep his family’s legacy alive for many generations to come. 

*The opinions expressed here are from the end user as quoted. The results described herein are those of these end users under certain conditions. Individual results may vary.