Cat Rules at BNH

There isn’t much Brad Perrett misses when it comes to the latest Cat product launches. Responsible for the day to day managing of family run Buckland Newton Plant Hire (BNH) in Dorset, he is always among the first to invest in any new Cat machines coming on to the market.  Brad has built up a long term and successful relationship with the team at authorised Cat dealers Finning UK & Ireland.

For example, BNH acquired the UK’s first next generation Cat 313 GC when it was launched just over two years ago. They were also among the first in the UK to add a new Cat 950 GC wheel loader to their fleet, and they were among the first to order not one but two new Cat 302.7 mini-excavators when they were launched on to the market. 

Not surprisingly, BNH Plant’s impressive and growing hire fleet is predominately made up of Cat machines, which has become central to the company’s brand. It includes Cat excavators ranging from micros up to 18 tonnes, Cat wheel loaders from 8 to 19 tonnes and Cat telehandlers with reaches from 5 to 17 metres. Also included in the fleet are a 19-tonne Cat D6 dozer and a Cat 950 loading shovel.

BNH Plant was founded in 1979 and over the years has diversified from carrying out agricultural contracts, groundworks and civil engineering projects, together with some haulage and waste disposal, but today is mainly focused on self drive plant hire. Its varied list of clients includes building developers, large contractors and private individuals across Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and further afield. 

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We recently travelled to Buckland Newtown near Dorchester.  Here, some of the Cat machines were being employed on raising one of the lakes on the Perrett family farm by about nine metres as part of a hydro electric installation.

“We have carried out a number of solar installations and other renewable energy projects for others in the past, but decided it was time we developed one of our own, and given that the farm has several lakes that we could put to better use, we opted for this hydroelectric scheme,” explains Brad.

“We could have just installed a crossflow turbine, but we found this water wheel hydro electric scheme more interesting to do. When completed, we believe it will be the biggest electric generating waterwheel in Europe. It is understood that at the moment, that accolade goes to the Aburdulais Wheel in Port Talbot in Wales.”

Overlooking the family home, the water wheel, which is constructed of galvanised steel with a 200mm shaft, 72 buckets and large bearings, sits in a reinforced concrete pit.  It is 1200mm wide and measures 9 metres in diameter.  It has a flow of around 150 litres per second all year round, perhaps slightly higher in the middle of winter and during heavy rain fall and slightly lower at the end of summer. Electricity that is generated by the hydro scheme will be used to supplement the power needed for the farm’s commercial industrial units, houses and stable blocks.

“We’ve been running Cat machines since the 1980s because they offer great reliability and have a very good resale value…”

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On the day we visited, at least seven Cat machines were working on the site.  This included the latest Cat 320 excavator which was out on demonstration from Finning to assist in the development of the scheme which covers quite an area on the family farm. The Cat 320 offers the operator a spacious and comfortable working environment, with controls that are easy-to-reach, improved viscous mounts to reduce cab vibration by up to 50% over previous excavator models and plenty of in-cab storage behind the seat, overhead, and in the consoles.

Currently, the company also has a fleet of around ten 3-tonne 302.7 Cat mini excavators and recently took delivery of another two. Always in big demand, these fuel-efficient next generation Cat machines pack a powerful punch for a machine of this size and features comfortable cabs, with operator friendly controls and an LCD monitor that provides the operator with easy to read machine information. The compact radius design and retractable undercarriage makes these machines ideal for working in the tightest of areas, which explains why they are very popular with customers.

“The Caterpillar name has always been great for us locally,” says Brad. “Not many operators run as many as we do here in the south of the country. We’ve been running Cat machines literally from the 1980s because they offer great reliability and have a very good resale value which is essential as we are always investing in our fleet.

“The service and support we have had from Finning over the years has been exceptional. We have dealt with various representatives in the past and currently enjoy a great relationship with Finning’s Reuben Bentham who is looking after all our needs,” states Brad.

He adds that the Cat machines are easy to service, which is a big bonus as the company has its own workshops and carries out a great deal of their own servicing and repairs. “Ease of maintenance is really key for us. Our mechanics know the Cat machines like the back of their hand and we never have any issues in getting spare parts or other support from Finning.”