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LeTourneau Technologies

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LeTourneau Technologies is the kind of company that thinks big when it comes to earthmoving machines. Not only is the company the manufacturer of the world’s largest wheel loader, the L-2350, it also occupies a rather large and diverse business portfolio. The company is involved in manufacturing, design, and the implementation of systems and machinery used in a cross section of industries that include forestry, mining, oil and gas drilling, power applications, and steel manufacturing.

Contents

[edit] Drilling and Offshore

In 1994, the company became a wholly owned subsidiary of Rowan Companies, a provider of international and domestic contract drilling services. LeTourneau Technologies serves as Rowan’s manufacturing arm for drilling. In fact, LeTourneau has a history steeped in the development of offshore drilling rigs, having introduced the world's first-ever mobile offshore jack-up drilling rig named Scorpion in 1954. [1]To date, LeTourneau Technologies has designed and delivered over 200 rigs including 21 in the Rowan fleet and an additional nine currently under construction. [2]The company’s range of drilling products includes jack-up rigs, rig kits and component packages, drilling equipment such as mud pumps, drawworks, top drives, and rotary tables, and various electrical components.

[edit] Forestry

Since the 1950s, LeTourneau has been developing and delivering two primary products, jib cranes and log stackers, to the forestry sector. The company manufactured its first log stacker in 1955.

[edit] Mining

LeTourneau develops wheel loaders and wheel dozers used in large-scale surface mining operations of coal, iron ore, and other hard rock applications. Substantial milestones in product development for dozers and loaders date back to 1944 when the company introduced its first rubber-tired dozer. In 1966, the company introduced the largest earthmoving machine mounted on rubber tires. Other developmental milestones followed with the company’s first electric hydraulic loader introduced in 1967 and the world’s biggest loader the L-2350 in 2000. Today, the company’s dozers and loaders range in horsepower from 1,050 to 2,300 with bucket capacities of 18 to 53 cubic yards (13.6 to 40 m3) and payloads varying from 54,000 lbs to 160,000 pounds (24,494 to 72,575 kg).[3]

[edit] Power Systems

This division of LeTourneau manufacturers a wide range of electrical power equipment and systems that are used in various industries from marine propulsion, oil and gas drilling, mining equipment, power pumps, and conveying equipment.

[edit] Steel

LeTourneau is a manufacturer of speciality steel plates.

[edit] History

The story behind LeTourneau Technologies, the company, is more about the man than the machine. Nicknamed “Mr. Earthmover,” [4] Robert Gilmore LeTourneau, as a young man, held little interest for traditional style education. Yet somehow, he managed to become a prolific academic and inventor with a number of industry “firsts” attributed to his name. During the span of his 42 year career he was awarded with close to 300 patents for inventions that included a range of equipment from bulldozers, to scrapers, dredgers, portable cranes, rollers, dump wagons, bridge spans, logging equipment, mobile sea platforms for oil exploration, and all-wheel electric drive to name a few.[5]

[edit] A Self-taught Man

R.G. LeTourneau was born on November 30, 1888 in Richford, Vermont, USA. Preferring a more hands-on learning approach, in 1902, at the age of 14, LeTourneau quit school and moved to Portland, Oregon to work as an apprentice ironmonger at the East Portland Iron Works. Here he was provided with the opportunity to learn the foundry and machinist trades. He also studied mechanics through correspondence even though he never completed assignments. Adding to his knowledge of trades, he moved to San Francisco to work for the Yerba Beuna Power Plant to learn welding and applications in electricity. In 1909 he moved to Stockton, California, continuing to work in a number of jobs that included woodcutting, farming, mining, and working as a carpenter’s laborer. In 1911 LeTourneau worked for the Superior Garage in Stockton where he acquired knowledge in vehicle mechanics and eventually became half-owner of the business. During World War I, due to permanent neck injuries, he worked as a maintenance assistant at the Mare Island Navy Yard where he received further training as an electrical machinist and improved upon his welding skills. His diverse employment background and skill base would come to form the backbone of his company.[6]

[edit] Building an Earthmoving Business

After World War I, LeTourneau returned to Stockton to discover that the garage business had folded. Needing to pay back business debts, he was hired to repair a Holt crawler tractor and level 40 acres (16 ha) of land. To his surprise, LeTourneau discovered the appeal of "moving earth." He started a business as a land-leveling contractor and purchased a plot of land in Stockton to set up an engineering workshop. His dissatisfaction with the scrapers crude leveling ability evoked him to begin building scrapers with modifications he felt would improve the machine’s functioning. Combining contracting and earthmoving equipment manufacturing proved to be a successful formula for business. During the 1920s and into the early 1930s, LeTourneau would work on a number of massive construction projects including the Boulder Highway to Hoover Dam. In 1929, he incorporated his expanding enterprise at R.G. LeTourneau Inc. and in 1933, moved away from providing contracting services to focus exclusively on the manufacturing of earthmoving equipment. In 1935 he set up a manufacturing plant in Peoria, Illinois. By 1945, LeTourneau would establish a number of manufacturing plants across the U.S. and one in Australia.[7]

[edit] Inventor of Earthmoving Machines

One of the first pieces of earthmoving equipment LeTourneau developed and received a patent for was a scraper in 1923. He was 34 at the time. His last patent was awarded to him was in 1965 at the age 77 for an intermodal crane. He has come to be regarded as one of the most influential men in earthmoving equipment manufacturing and design. His list of accomplishments during a career that spanned eight decades includes such feats as providing over 70 percent of the heavy earthmoving equipment used by the Allies during World War II and contributing over 78 different inventions in a three year period between 1942 and 1945.[8] It has been suggested that the most substantial contributions made by LeTourneau to the earthmoving business occurred well before World War II. In 1926 LeTourneau was involved in a tough contract and went about building a rooter. Now called a ripper, the rooter was attached behind a crawler tractor and was useful for ripping up hard material so it could be picked up by a scraper or dozer.[9] In 1928, LeTourneau devised a cable winch controlled by an electric motor, the first use of cable for that purpose. Cable technology virtually turned crawler tractors into an effective pushing—as opposed to just pulling—machines.

All the improvements he also made to scrapers of the time were merged together with the introduction of his Model B Carryall scraper in 1932. This included cable control, positive ejection, the apron, rubber tired and an all welded construction machine body. These new features entailed the operator, for the first time, to centrally control all scraper functions from the tractor seat. The machine’s capacity was also increased as a result of the load being fully contained and hauled completely off the ground. LeTourneau practically took the scraper from a makeshift machine with a semi-dragging scoop to an efficient, highly productive earthmoving machine.[10]

In 1932, LeTourneau made another leap in earthmoving equipment when he conceived Tournapull—an integral,articulated, wheel tractor-scraper earthmover. What was distinctly unique about this tractor was that it had a single axle and an engine that was overhung ahead of the driving wheels.Attachment to a Carryall scraper stabilized the machine. The Tournapull would set the precedent for the future of all over-hung type machines.[11] Given such crowning breakthroughs in the field, LeTourneau was always reputed for being well ahead of his time.

[edit] The Final Years

LeTourneau sold off his earthmoving equipment business in 1953 to Westinghouse Air Brake Co. and focused his energy on a philanthropic colonization project in Liberia. He also devoted time to perfecting his electric wheel drive concept. In 1958 he re-entered the business and applied his electric wheel drive concept to a number of high capacity earthmoving, transportation and material handling machines.
Ironically, near the end of his life, he also received a diploma in engineering, some 50 years after first taking the course. At age 76 he jokingly responded, “Now I’m educated.” [12] In 1966 he handed presidency of the company over to his son. LeTourneau passed away in 1969 at the age of 80.

[edit] The Company Today

In 2006, LeTourneau Inc. was renamed LeTourneau Technologies Inc. On March 31st of this year Rowan Companies announced plans to divest LeTourneau Technologies Inc. (LTI) through an initial public offering or private sale.[13] LTI comprises approximately 30 percent of Rowan’s annual revenue.[14] Reported net income for the last three months ending Dec 31, 2007 was estimated at US$138.5 million.[15]

[edit] Equipment List

[edit] References

  1. Scorpion. LeTourneau Inc. 2008-09-23.
  2. News Details. Rowan Companies. 2008-09-23.
  3. Mining Products. Letourneau Inc. 2008-09-23.
  4. History. LeTourneau. 2008-09-23.
  5. The Machines. LeTourneau Online Museum. 2008-09-23.
  6. Bio. LeTourneau Inc. 2008-09-23.
  7. Bio. LeTourneau Inc. 2008-09-23.
  8. Machines. LeTourneau Online Museum. 2008-09-23.
  9. Haycraft, William. Yellow Steel: The Story of the Earthmoving Equipment Industry. Scholarly Book Services Inc., 2002.
  10. Haycraft, William. Yellow Steel: The Story of the Earthmoving Equipment Industry. Scholarly Book Services Inc., 2002. 76.
  11. Haycraft, William. Yellow Steel: The Story of the Earthmoving Equipment Industry. Scholarly Book Services Inc., 2002.75.
  12. Bio. LeTourneau Inc. 2008-09-23.
  13. History. LeTourneau Inc. 2008-09-23.
  14. Articles. Ogpe. 2008-09-23.
  15. CNN Money. 2008-09-23.

[edit] External Links