Construction Plant News celebrates a century of engineering expertise from E. P. Barrus
It all began in 1917 when tools shortages during the Great War prompted Ernest Prouty Barrus to set up a company that sourced US manufactured alternatives, and distributed them in the UK. Over the course of the next century, the Bicesterbased firm has developed interests in multiple and diverse sectors, with a £56 million turnover that supplies everyone from canal boat operators to the US Navy Seals, as well as the household names of construction plant.
Now synonymous with engines, the E. P. Barrus focus is very much on added value, a principle exemplified by its active R&D department, and whilst clients can request an out of the box solution the real expertise is in custom building to specific requirements, whether as a one off or for multiple units.
“Application engineering is a very important part of what Barrus does, and we will work with a customer to find a bespoke solution and subsequently ensure that the engine we’ve installed is properly tested and approved,” explains John Day, General Manager Industrial Division. “In particular, with changes to emissions standards on diesel engines coming in at regular intervals we’ve had to ensure that we can test and modify engines to suit these more stringent environmental demands. With Tier 4, Stage V and Final Tier 4 engines in particular you need some very skilled problem solving engineers on board because you’re being asked to accommodate more and more into what is effectively the same size engine housing.”
High Value Engines
“These days you have to provide exactly what a customer wants,” continues John. “Our own expectations of the products we purchase have increased exponentially over the years, and that has certainly been reflected in our business. They expect quality, speed and reliability and that’s what you have to give them.” That’s a philosophy that’s exemplified in how Barrus does business. The company is unique amongst its competitors in that it also operates its own transport service, for instance, preferring to put its faith in its own skilled staff for the door-to-door delivery of some of the high value engines that it has worked on. “That’s at least one reason why the after-market has grown considerably in importance for us,” John adds, “because supporting that product in the field is just as important as selling it. Operators of machinery are always looking at various ways to save money so repairs and repowers are an ever increasing part of the equation for us.” Growth in the Barrus rebuild program is following that trend, as customers, for example, opt to recondition 6-cylinder Yanmar marine engines and the larger industrial engines, rather than resorting to a newer more expensive unit with lower emissions values.
Overall the list of products and services supplied to the construction equipment industry is considerable and growing, with a Power Products division that now includes the Chinese-made Loncin range of petrol engines, generators and pumps. The core business remains in engines, of course, with nearly 14,000 shifted last year, and across its marine and industrial divisions Barrus is the largest distributor of Yanmar units worldwide, supplying both air and water cooled examples from a Japanese manufacturer with whom the UK company has maintained a 48 year relationship. The John Deere, Kawasaki and Toyota brands make up the remainder of the portfolio. Aside from workshops and warehousing, the considerable Barrus Oxfordshire facility includes testing facilities, with five test dynos capable of testing engines up to 750kW (1000hp), as well as a training area, where the company can provide service training to its customers.
It is that breadth of expertise and interests that draws original equipment manufacturers to Barrus because even with small air cooled engines the company can make the necessary modifications for a specific application and production line. In fact, the company is now the market leader in 3-10hp air cooled Yanmar engines, and also supply TNV-TNM water cooled units, all of which feature an excellent power to weight ratio and are typical examples of quality Japanese engineering. Simplicity is still an attribute that is highly valued by end users, particularly in servicing, and here again the Yanmar scores highly, whilst E. P Barrus offers a 3-year warranty on all Yanmar engines supplied and used in the UK and Ireland.
The John Deere power-packs tend to be specified for heavier machinery, and are, of course, best known for their presence in the agricultural sector, but with a 50-600 hp range are a solution that is suitable for a wide range of heavy industrial applications, and are increasingly being used across a much broader scope of machinery. At the other end of the spectrum Kawasaki features heavily on the lawn and garden sector whilst the most recent addition to the Barrus family is Toyota, with gas engines supplied for Material Handling and CHP applications.
The beauty of the Barrus product range is that it can offer the marketplace anything from 3-28hp on petrol and 4-600hp in diesel, and the range of equipment that these power packs can be found in is equally diverse, from generators to pumps, compaction equipment to compressors, and much, much more, whilst the industry’s most recognisable names are amongst the E.P. Barrus client list, including the likes of Altrad Belle, Combilift and Morris Site Machinery. Keeping all these engines running in the field is a spare parts division that’s seen considerable investment in storage capacity in recent years, and the numbers are impressive.
A 24 hour ordering service has access to an inventory in excess of £2 million worth of parts, from warehouse facilities at Bicester and Upper Heyford, and there are more than 62,000 part lines in stock, with next day delivery available. Whilst this side of the business might be amongst its most lucrative, the engineering expertise behind E. P. Barrus makes it greater even than the sum of its many parts. It is this tradition of finding solutions that has enabled the company to make inroads into so many sectors and will no doubt continue that journey in the next 100 years.
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