Memphis Heavy Equipment Services Division Keeps Public Works Department Moving
What makes Memphis, Tennessee, well known? The musical heritage of Beale Street, known as home of the blues; the legendary Sun Studio, birthplace of rock ‘n' roll; the home of Federal Express that helped create the world's busiest air-cargo airport; a major distribution and transportation hub that includes the nation's third largest rail center and fourth largest inland port; and the internationally recognized St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Located on the east bank of the Mississippi River, Memphis is home to over 653,000 residents, making it larger than Atlanta, Georgia; St. Louis, Missouri; Boston, Massachusetts; Seattle, Washington; Denver, Colorado and Washington D.C. The sprawling city occupies about the same amount of land as Dallas, but with half the population.
What Makes Memphis Work?
More than 6,300 city employees carry out jobs that help make the city a better place to live and work.
The Public Works Division is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the City's infrastructure, which includes streets, sanitary sewers, storm drains, bridges and flood control. In addition, the Division is responsible for the collection and disposal of the City's Solid Waste and the transport and treatment of both domestic and industrial wastewater for the metropolitan area.
Environmental Engineering, a major division of Public Works, is responsible for the operation and maintenance of two large wastewater treatment facilities that treat over 60 billion gallons of wastewater each year and dispose of more than 215 million pounds of bio-solids annually in accordance with stringent State and Federal water quality regulations. They are also responsible for preventive maintenance and emergency repair of more than 2,400 miles of sewers and operation of 97 sewer lift stations and nine major flood control pumping stations.
Public Works provides these services by employing a staff of approximately 1,300 employees distributed among three primary departments and several satellite offices. The Public Works annual operating budget is in excess of $60 million and its Capital Improvement Budget averages approximately $80 million annually.
Within the Division of Public Works there's a small group, about two-dozen employees, who impact the city in a big way. The behind-the-scenes team, including members of the Heavy Equipment Services Department, is on call all hours of the day and night, supporting city maintenance and emergency activities.
Heavy Equipment Services provides road side ditch grading and street sweeping of public streets within the City of Memphis as well as specialty construction related services including demolition, major excavation, earthwork, and heavy cleaning of drainage infrastructure. The Department is often called upon to provide support services to other departments, divisions, and public agencies, particularly in the area of Emergency Response whenever there is a need that requires the expertise and use of various types of heavy equipment.
"We work for every department in the city," says Gary Hardin, Heavy Equipment Supervisor and 20-year veteran with Public Works Department. "For many jobs - both emergency and routine - we are the only group that has the specialty equipment to handle certain assignments efficiently and safely."
Among the large inventory of heavy equipment are two Doosan Crawler Excavators - a DX255LC and DX300LC SLR (Super-Long Reach). Both excavators were purchased from the local Doosan dealer, H&E Equipment Services in Memphis. Another city department also has a DX255LC.
"The City purchased the DX300LC SLR two years ago when we identified a need for a long-reach machine that could clean reservoirs and ditches we could not reach with other equipment," Hardin says. "The DX255LC is used throughout the year, while the DX300LC SLR is more of a specialty machine."
The DX300LC SLR has a 213-horsepower diesel engine and a maximum reach at grade of 57 feet, 1-inch. Powered by a 185-horsepower diesel engine, the DX255LC has a maximum dig depth of 22 feet, 4 inches. Beyond their superior reach and dig depth, both units are known for fuel efficiency and minimal maintenance costs, premium comfort and good all-around visibility, superior reliability and outstanding production.
"When we get a call, we go out to the jobsite and decide which machine will work best," Hardin says. "The two excavators give us some good options."
Plenty of Other Work
What about when there is no emergency work? "That's when we help out with preventive maintenance projects," Hardin says. "For example, cleaning drains and ditches to prevent flooding, or taking down older buildings as part of a city revitalization project. Every day we are not on call, we are doing something to take care of the city."
When the City of Memphis purchased its first Doosan excavator, Hardin, who was an operator at the time, was somewhat apprehensive because he was not familiar with the brand.
"After running it for a day I decided it was a good machine," he recalls. "There are plenty of things to like about the two excavators: smoothness, power, cab, visibility, reliable and fuel-efficient. They are very valuable and have made a lot of our jobs easier and safer."
The value of all those features is regularly demonstrated, notes Hardin, because his department gets plenty of difficult assignments. "If the job is associated with the city, we are available to do it," he says. "That's why we're here and why we have all this equipment."