The first thing I noticed was that the initial straps securing the flexible pipe below the excavator’s boom and stick had been swapped for a new smarter looking system. It needs stressing that they are fine-tuning what is essentially a prototype.
There was a different operator too, this time main driver Patrick Crielaard, who has piloted several Cat excavators for Boskalis, including a two-year stint with a 336E on the Dutch island of Texel.
In fact, when he first sat on his latest mount in January this year he expected it to be with its standard bucket. Boskalis had other plans though, and Patrick was asked whether he was interested in being involved with something special.
“Initially, I thought it was a shame to modify a new excavator,” he says. “Also, I thought it might be a bit boring, but it is actually really interesting and challenging work.”
The operator can alter the height of the end of the stick to the ground. Using the bucket cylinder, it is also possible to alter the discharge height at the end of the extension.
“If I get it right and accurately fill in the colour chart then the excess water runs back to the lake, and other than a final spot of levelling, there is not a lot of work for the dozer,” he adds.
Once the second sand layer is deposited the excavator will move on to the next location. More sand will be needed to raise the level to create the required 1:15 slope from the top of the new dike at Warder to the water. This will all come from the lake, but will be unloaded into the ADT skips by a pontoon-based excavator.
There is still another year of rainbowing left for the Cat 336 at the current project. Patrick admits to missing moving cubes on a standard excavator, but relishes the opportunity to be involved with something special.
“My dream is to travel and work abroad and I would love to do it with this excavator,” he says, “and especially at coastal defence projects to protect land from rising sea levels.”
Australia, Canada and the Middle East are high on his wish list. Boskalis works at water projects all over the globe so it is just possible he might have an opportunity to fulfil his travel ambitions when the current works are completed.
If not then I suspect they will remove the additional in-cab screen, but probably leave the heap of electronic wizardry in place.
It will probably take a couple of days to remove all the pipework, after which the excavator can be reunited with its bucket and get back to digging cubes of material rather than spreading them.