How a Concrete Saw Became Skid Steer Loader – Cuts Inc.’s Skid Steer Saw
Located just steps from the Tennessee River, the Kuwahee wastewater treatment plant in Knoxville, Tennessee needed to renovate one of its holding tanks for the construction of a building above. Hundreds of micropiles were required for the support, each requiring cutting and drilling into a 15 inch. thick slab. The plant is the city’s main wastewater treatment site, pumping fresh water into the river.
A seemingly simple job until you consider the lingering water that has seeped into the area through every cut, every hole. While the site was continuously pumped, the pumps could not keep pace. Working about 30 feet below water level, cutting concrete meant working in standing muddy water. Not only did the job require a sizeable saw blade, it also demanded a solution to keep workers upright and out of the water. After another contractor was unable to complete the demolition, Cuts Inc. was hired to use its Skid Steer saw.
Keep your feet out of the mud
“We started sawing the holes flat, but by the time we got all the water and everything, the drilling contractors who were installing the piles came in and started drilling. Their soil and their garbage was coming out. And by the time we finished a third of the job, there was six to eight inches of mud and mud at the bottom of the tank. They could barely hold the clean up and get it out, ”says Matt Hephner, president and senior estimator of Cuts Inc.
Using diamond sawing tools, Matt Hephner started the first sawing and drilling business for the Knoxville, Tennessee area in 1989. In 2004 he then sold this business to a partner and started Cuts Inc. “We offer all kinds of concrete and asphalt. and demolition of blocks and bricks–everything is done with diamond sawing tools. Cuts Inc. has built a reputation for finding unique solutions to difficult or challenging jobs, ”he says. Matt runs the business with his son Matthew Hephner, vice president of Cuts Inc. The small business has about 14 to 15 employees.
In addition to providing demolition and cutting services, the company also sells the Skid Steer Saw, a hydraulically operated diamond saw mounted on a skid steer. The machine itself draws its power from the skid steer.
Available in three different models, the models currently are the 2600 (one 26 inch blade), the 3600 (one 36 inch blade) and the 4200 (one 42 inch blade). The 3600 and 4200 models use the same motor and come with an appropriate shield size.
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Each Skid Steer saw is assembled by hand. At first by the Hephners themselves, but today by a single individual in a modest industrial park in Appleton, Wisc. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, vertically integrated manufacturer Lake Air Products provides precision metal fabrication, painting and finishing, metal stamping, welding and assembly. The Appleton site measures approximately 20,000 square feet. installation (and seeks to double this space soon). Each customer has a dedicated assembly cell. Which means every sliding steering saw comes out of the same 40 by 40 feet. zone configured for this product. The building is filled with industrial machines at different stages of assembly; the sounds of drills, pneumatic impact tools, and hard work fill the air.
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This hard work pays off, Lake Air Products achieves approximately $ 8 million in sales per year. As a big business they are able to keep the sensitivity of a small business–giving them the opportunity to pay special attention to each client.
Having a dedicated worker for Cuts Inc. allows the specialist manufacturer to protect their quality control of the unit being manufactured outside. Each sliding direction saw is made from 0.25 in. 836 steel with hidden tubular subframe. Two lockable maintenance covers protect the standard SAE hydraulic connections and the hydraulic manifold. Custom length 0.5 ”. The 5,000 and 6,000 psi hydraulic hoses are specially cut to attach to your skid steer loader to be as plug-and-play as possible. (A wiring adapter may be required depending on your mini charger model.)
In 2019, the company was invited to participate in a competition at the Bauma trade fair, held in Munich, Germany (which was recently postponed to October 2022), known as the world’s largest trade fair. The competition was organized by the International Association of Concrete Drillers and Sawyers (IACDS), which researched “the best new technology for sawing and drilling concrete”. Of the many bids submitted from around the world, the competition narrowed down to six – the sliding-steering saw was one of them. Unfortunately, while Matt Hephener was present that year, he did not win but received the “Diamond Award” for his recognition as a nominee. The BRAUN wire saw for bridges from BRAUN Maschinenfabrik GmbH was the winner in the product category.
Having the saw mounted on a skid steer loader gives you the mobility to take it anywhere a skid steer loader can go–not to mention placing the concrete contractor behind a safety glass and off the ground. This means you can work safely in potentially hazardous environments like cloudy water from a concrete tank at a water treatment facility right next to the Tennessee River.
Cuts Inc.The work at the Kuwahee plant required cutting approximately 146 four-foot squares and 45 36-inch squares. diameter holes for the 191 micropiles in 15 inches. concrete, heavily reinforced with 1.25 in. frame. Another grouting contractor drilled deep pylons causing the grout to mix with the already muddy water, preventing Cuts Inc. from seeing the ground for cuts. They used a flag to mark the location of each square. In addition, 36 in. 36 in. diameter. deep holes had to be drilled on the outer edges. Three skid steer loaders were used, one with the skid steer saw, a second with a drill attachment (which Cuts Inc. also supplies) and a third for cleaning.
146 four-foot squares
45 36 inch diameter holes
191 bored micropiles
A 15 inch. thick slab, reinforced with 1.25 in. frame
30 feet below water level
The mobility of the skid steer loader was a major key. “They had three big, trailer-sized pumps trying to pump water at the same time,” says Matthew Hephner. “If one of these broke down, we had to practically evacuate the area.” Despite unplanned downtime, the Hephner’s crew averaged about 12 squares per day (ranging from six to 20 on another).
This mobility is also useful for meeting high value needs, such as an airport runway.
On the one hand, Shane Webb the director of avionics construction at Avionics Limited, an Australian-based contractor who specializes in installing lights that we see on the runway. Webb used the saw for work at Melbourne Airport for a lighting system upgrade to replace all on-site airfield ground lighting to meet Australian standards.
This involved 3,000 light fixture locations and 35,000m of groove cutting, ranging from 15mm by 30mm to 35mm by 30mm, explains Webb. By learning about the history of the Hephners, he recognized Cuts Inc.’s understanding of “the complexities of sawing and was able to incorporate that understanding into their design.” So far, Webb adds, the attachment has exceeded their expectations. The saw has also caught the attention of the U.S. military, which is currently reviewing the slip-steering saw for quick repair of damaged tracks. This evaluation is still ongoing.
Designed by cutters with decades of experience, every goal of every feature of the Sliding Steering Saw is evident as care and craftsmanship has gone into the design. Cuts Inc. puts extra safety front and center. By placing heavy work on heavy machinery, the attachment removes tension from the back of the frame let alone putting the worker behind the skid steer loader safety windows. It is this safety that allows the machine to perform tasks that would normally be more difficult. For example, contractors for places like nuclear power plants may require a low EMR rating.
“As a concrete cutter, [safety is] something that is very important to us, “says Matt Hephner.” We are always doing what we can in terms of safety training and safety products here and finding new and safer methods of doing what is normal is a pretty hard work.