CBI Grinders Keep Supreme Industries on the Move Clearing for Pipelines and Right-of-Way

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Durable and dependable performers, CBI 6800 and CBI 6400 grinders provide a Nutmeg State company with high-production capability it needs.

HARWINTON, Connecticut — Utility and pipeline construction companies do a great job of preparing the affected property owners for what to expect. Yet that preparation only initiates the positive outreach aimed at good results, said Gavin Boucher, Project Manager for Supreme Industries, a company that does the actual clearing.

Understanding concerns of property owners is essential to excellent results, stated Boucher. “We do our best to minimize traffic on local roads. We are courteous to abutters – we are just passing through their property.”

Finding the right equipment is a must when efficient and conscientious land clearing is the goal. Supreme Industries works the northeast corridor of the United States, with job sites from Maine to Ohio. The machinery has to be able to handle the steep, rough, and rocky terrain that is often encountered. “A majority of the felling is handled by track fellers suited for the task,” Boucher commented, “Three different brands are included in our lineup: a TimberPro 735, a Tigercat 822, and a Caterpillar 521.” When hand felling is necessary, most of the crew is equipped with Husqvarna chainsaws, however some bring their own chainsaws to the jobsites.

A tremendous amount of wood is removed in this type of clearing, and much has to be processed on site and en route. Supreme Industries has turned to Continental Biomass Industries Inc. (CBI), headquartered in Newton, New Hampshire to assist in the task. Supreme Industries deploys three CBI tracked grinders for their pipeline work, including a CBI 6400, a CBI 6800-A, and a CBI 6800-B. “All three of these track machines are extremely maneuverable,” declared Boucher, “and help us to keep job site disturbance at a minimum.” These remote-controlled grinders can be driven down narrow paths and have a light environmental footprint, which of course is a big plus in the eyes of abutters, pipeline companies and gas companies alike.

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Treading lightly – or as lightly as possible – on the substrate is a good way to ensure the continued goodwill of neighbors to job sites. And the CBI grinders at Supreme Industries are designed to be powerful and as light as possible. The CBI 6800-B, for instance, weighs in at 82,000 to 89,000 pounds, depending on options. But it’s not merely about a maneuverability and environmental footprint of the grinders, explained Boucher, “It’s also about high production and getting the job done.”

The CBI 6800-B, for example, has been specifically redesigned for land clearing companies that demand high-volume throughput and maximum reliability. It has throughput capabilities of up to 200 tons per hour. CBI also promotes rotor design efficiencies that require less power by relying on principles of kinetic energy. In addition the CBI IntelliGrind Variable Feed System automatically sets and adjusts feed speed based on engine load, translating to efficient use of horsepower for any given application.

In the early 2000s, Supreme Industries had its first experience with CBI grinders, purchasing a model 4000. “I’m second generation, [so] I wasn’t involved in that purchase,” said Boucher.

But Boucher has a good idea as to why Kevin, his father, chose the first CBI machine. “I imagine [it was] the high quality, the durability and the level of production,” he explained, noting they are the same reasons that Supreme Industries has continued to do business with CBI over the years.

Boucher joined Supreme Industries fulltime after graduating from Saint Michael’s College in Vermont, where he earned a degree in business administration and economics. He began to take an increasing leadership role at the company in 2008. And along with that he became more directly involved in not only day-to-day operations, managing projects, but also in working with vendors.

Getting to know the team at CBI has been one of the many plusses in his work, said Boucher. Members of the CBI group know the operation of Supreme Industries, making site visits and looking at the way CBI equipment is used. CBI’s interactive service and receptivity to customer input is greatly appreciated by Boucher. “I definitely have given them feedback,” said Boucher, “and they listen and give attention to the individual business needs of their customers.”

Attentiveness to customer input and feedback often leads to design innovation and improvements in areas like serviceability. The men servicing the CBI machines at Supreme Industries appreciate that innovation. Safety and accessibility being key, the CBI track grinders got good reviews from the individuals charged with maintaining them. “The guys enjoy working on the machines,” said Boucher. A unique clamshell design opens the hog box in seconds with the push of a button. Those servicing the machine have quick and full access to the rotor and quick-change screens.

A feature highlighted on the Magnum Force 6800-B, which was purchased in mid-summer 2013 by Supreme Industries, is the optional state-of-the-art metal detection and release system. An electronic sensor tuned to detect tramp metal will immediately reverse and lift the infeed roll, allowing for quick removal of metal and debris from the infeed, keeping the machine productive without down time. The CBI 6400 track grinder illustrates other needed capabilities necessary to a land-clearing company. Its four swappable rotors (forged drum, solid steel, two-pocket or four-pocket chipper), allow for the machine to readily switch between ingesting and mulching trees and stumps – and stem wood. With right-of-way work moving across long distances and varied terrain, the biomass that must be felled and removed can be quite different on a single job.

Boucher indicated that Supreme is usually running two spreads, or sites, simultaneously, and have 30 to 40 employees engaged at each. A CBI grinder is in use at each site with one spare. In addition to the felling equipment and grinders, the company also utilizes excavators and skidders from John Deere and Volvo. When we talked with Boucher in early September, a CBI Log and Stump Screw was also on order. The attachment, which fits all excavators, log loaders, front-end loader/backhoes, farm tractors and skid steer units, splits oversized butt logs, pole wood and stumps (up to seven feet in diameter and up to 20 feet in length).

Using its own low-bed trailers (and hauling contractors, as necessary), Supreme Industries transports its CBI track grinders and other equipment to its job sites across the northeastern United States. “We take it wherever our projects are – to construct natural gas pipelines or right-of-way,” said Boucher.

So what happens to the ground product from the CBI grinders? Much of it is left on site as a ground cover or mat. Some of it goes to a related company that makes mulch, regrinding with a CBI grinder. Some is sold to mulch-making companies. In certain instances, there is valuable timber. And if possible, it is separated. “If we have a project within a realistic distance of [the Hinman] sawmill, the valuable timber will head there. But trucking costs limit the distance across which such timber can be transported,” explained Boucher. The sawmill, E.R. Hinman and Sons, is a lumber and custom sawing business, and is part of a sister company, Supreme Forest Products (SFP), also founded in 1982 by Kevin J. Boucher, the president of the firm. Other valued sawlogs and firewood logs are stacked and left for the property owners.

“We haven’t been in the pipeline right-of-way sector very long,” said Boucher. “We are hoping to establish our reputation as a safe, clean, working company.” And Boucher anticipates that the CBI track grinders will help in meeting that overarching goal.

Supreme Industries is based in Harwinton, Connecticut. The town is located in Litchfield County in the western part of the state. It has approximately 5,300 residents.

The land-clearing work that Supreme Industries has completed across the years includes large scale site work and emergency disaster relief, as well as simple mowing and tree removal for maintenance. Installation of new utility paths – be they electrical right-of-way or gas pipelines – is an ever-larger component.

The durability of the CBI grinders gives the team members of Supreme Industries the confidence they need to complete work a great distance – hundreds, to more than 1,000 miles from their home base. All welds on CBI equipment are 100 percent welds. The steel welded is high-quality

alloy steel. And the gear drives are planetary. Closed-loop hydrostatic systems are standard. Another part of the philosophy of CBI is to overbuild equipment as a way to enhance its ruggedness and longevity.

CBI selects components for their strength and endurance. It relies on manufacturers such as CAT, Hagglunds, Rexroth and Brevini. Moreover, subassemblies are built to keep performing for tens of thousands of hours and to do so in extreme environments. The subassemblies are put together on custom bases and chassis, which are also built for long-term performance.

Getting it right is a philosophy shared by CBI and Supreme Industries. With lots of neighbors looking over the shoulder of pipeline and right-of-way crews, only the most focused, fastest and least disruptive effort will do. Keeping a low profile is made easier with equipment that does the job and does it in a tightly contained area – so the sure-footed track grinders from CBI provide a real assist.

In addition to manufacturing equipment for wood products applications (forestry and sawmill waste), CBI makes equipment for construction and demolition debris, municipal solid waste, biofuel generation and more. Certain CBI grinders are designed to switch among tasks. For example, the CBI 6400 can grind highly contaminated construction and demolition waste or railroad ties with the tie plates attached.

In some ways, Boucher sees a reflection of his own approach to business among the principals at CBI. “I enjoy developing new relationships,” he said. Meeting and working with people is a great way to learn and devise new lines of business, he explained.