From haulage to earthmoving: How Mason Enterprises uses Cat® machinery and technology to grow

With about two decades in the transport game, Derek Mason has built his company Mason Enterprises (trading as Trans-Plus) after starting as a cartage contractor based out of Western Australia’s Wheatbelt region.

Derek’s business is headquartered in the Wheatbelt town of Merredin, where he resides with his two young children, although it’s slightly too early to tell if they will follow in their father’s footsteps.

“My young bloke’s only 10 years old. So, who knows yet, but hopefully one day the kids might take over,” he muses.

If they do take over the family business, Derek has set solid foundations with his haulage operation and, in recent years, has expanded Mason’s offerings to include earthmoving services.

“The decision came about to complement what we were already doing as a business,” Derek explains.

“We had side tippers running and found we were always hiring loaders, so it just made sense to buy our own and do it properly.”

Since then, Derek says the business has grown steadily over the last few years, largely by word of mouth, which is testament to the quality of work he and his team carry out.

Mason makes the move

With a growing earthmoving division, Mason Enterprises recently made the switch to Cat® machinery, having acquired three machines in the last 15 months – a Cat 980 Wheel Loader, Cat 150 Mastless Motor Grader and the first Cat 352 Next Generation Hydraulic Excavator to be delivered in Western Australia.

Cat 980 WHeel Loader

“Buying Cat gear is like buying Kenworth or Toyota, if you look after them, they still hold their value five or 10 years down the track,” Derek says of the switch.

"When it comes to upgrading the fleet, they move quickly because people know the Cat brand and its reputation for durability and reliability.”

He adds the combination of the Cat 980 Wheel Loader and the Cat 352 Excavator has already been having a positive impact on the business.

“The digger is a lot bigger than we’ve ever had, so obviously productivity when we are digging is way up and the technology onboard is unreal.”

Cat technology eliminates guesswork

Derek says the Cat Production Measurement technology packed into his Cat machinery takes out a lot of the guesswork, allowing him to precisely measure how much dirt he is shifting and show evidence to his clients.

“Say you are going to dig 5,000 tonnes for a client, but you send the digger out without scales, you could end up digging 7,000 tonnes because you are only guessing, you’re not going to get paid for the other 2,000-tonne you’ve dug up,” he says.

“Now we can show the client the exact amount we have dug, which also ensures we are getting paid accurately for the work we are doing; there’s no guesswork.”

The Cat technology packed into both the excavator and the loader provides additional oversight for Derek’s business when he’s not behind the controls himself.

Cat Next Gen Excavator

“There was one job we were on, and the digger dug 2,010-tonne and then the loader loaded it out and it was only about 10-tonne either side, so you accurately know what you’ve done for the day,” he says.

“The tech also tells me how hard our operators have worked on any given day. With a quick glance, I can tell which operators have been productive that day and praise them for their efforts.”

Cat technology ensures compliance

Cat Payload Technology also helps ensure Mason Enterprises’ haulage business is compliant with Australian National Transport rules, giving Derek a record of the weights per axle group or weight per trailer of loaded material.

“Even though the trucks have scales, the Cat technology helps give us peace of mind, knowing for certain our loads are compliant,” Derek says.

“If the scales say the truck is loaded with 25 tonnes per trailer and the loader says the same, you know it has to be right, there’s no margin of error.”

Gaining a competitive advantage

According to WesTrac Account Manager Brian Slater, Derek's choice to invest in Cat machinery and accompanying technology has given his business a competitive advantage.

“The added investment in Cat technology on the Cat loader, grader and excavator has given Mason Enterprises a productivity edge by maximising utilisation on major projects in the Wheatbelt of WA,” he says.

WesTrac Technology Application Specialist Neil Dodge says WesTrac helped lead the push to get this technology into Cat Next Generation machinery to meet unique needs of Australian haulage companies.

“Our customers had been asking for something that could get right down to individual axle groups for road trains, and this new software gives us that ability now,” Neil explains.

“We were on a call with the Caterpillar® development team in the US and they quickly understood what our customers were asking for and produced a software update to suit Australian needs.”

Neil says the advent of Cat Next Gen wheel loaders combined with payload CPM systems has given WesTrac the ability to become a lot more in sync with what customers, like Mason Enterprises, are asking for.

“When this new software came out, it was a great fit for Derek's business. For anybody that's loading on highway trucks, where you have to meet compliance, it's a big leap forward.”

Multi-tasking made easy

Neil notes Mason Enterprises has also benefited from a multi-tasking feature in Cat Next Generation machinery, which allows operators and Derek to easily keep track of the performance and productivity of machinery as it carries out various tasks throughout the day.

“It's just a push of the button on the screen and the operator can quickly flick between truck loading and another task such as loading the crusher,” Neil explains.

“If Derek shifts 2,000 tonnes of material using the one machine, with the multi-task technology he can show 1,000 tonnes went on the trucks and 1,000 tonnes went in the crusher. You can show that difference quite easily.”

The future of payload technology

Not resting on its laurels, Neil explains, Caterpillar is looking to roll out more software updates to its Cat Next Gen machinery.

“WesTrac & Caterpillar are working closely together to bring new features to the market including Split Mode & Multi-Task mode for Wheel Loaders, Joystick Steering & Lift Assist for Excavators, Steer Assist & Steer to Design for Dozers, to name a few.”

Training enables the proper utilisation of technology features

When it came to learning how to get the most out of technology packed into his Cat equipment, Derek says WesTrac took a hands-on approach, sending a technician to site to walk him through everything.

“When they handed the machine over their technician came up and made sure my operator knew every trick that machine could do,” Derek says.

"That really stood out, as half the time you buy new equipment elsewhere you have features you don’t even know are there. So, I really appreciated the extra step that was taken by having someone come out to make sure we maximised our use of the machine.”

Parts ordering and pickup is a breeze with WesTrac

He adds the aftermarket sales support is something he remains impressed with from WesTrac, particularly when it comes to sourcing Genuine Cat Parts.

“I have a single contact that I call up when I need to order new parts, so I’m always speaking to the same person,” Derek explains.

“For example, I just tell them that I need some more oil filters or cutting edges. They'll ask what machine I need them for and then organise the rest.

“We just go down to the Perth Customer Service Centre and pick them up and it’s all ready to go when we arrive. You’re out of there in no time. I love it!”

Calling your local WesTrac branch like Derek is one of four convenient ways customers can order Genuine Cat Parts from WesTrac. You can also shop online using Parts.Cat.Com, visit your local WesTrac branch in person to order at the parts counter or, if you’re looking for a more complete long-term parts buying solution, WesTrac offers an integrated procurement connection. When it comes to picking up your parts, WesTrac also offers various options like Click & Collect.

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