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Digger Man

Digger Man Blog

by Nick Drew  |  Wed 06 Nov 2019

Enhanced Utilisation

Taking a look back at another of my Earthmovers Magazine articles, bringing it to life on the internet with alternative photos.

Based in the rural Gloucestershire countryside Galtec Ltd was founded in 1988. The groundwork and civil engineering business was the brainchild of two brothers Terry and Tony Galvin but was initially run by Terry in the early days, due to the fact that Tony already had another job as the director of Heron Homes.

Enhanced Utilisation

In 1993 Terry was joined full time by his brother Tony and it was around this time that the business really started to expand rapidly. From his time with Heron Homes Tony brought with him a lot of commercial skills and those all-important industry contacts that everybody needs to succeed and from that day on the business just went from strength to strength and continued to do so over the next two decades.

However, there were tough times ahead as sadly in early 2016 Tony passed away due to cancer, then in a double tragedy just 15 months later Terry passed away after suffering a heart attack. As one can imagine this was a terrible shock for everyone concerned with the business. By there nature such events can cause ripples with regards to customers and to all of a sudden not have a direct contact within the business can sometimes create issues.

Long term employee and former Contracts Manager and Production Director Tom Rayer, was put in charge of the day to day running of the business, and it’s a testament to Galtec that a large number of their blue-chip housing development clients stood by them and Tom during that difficult transition period, talking about those dark days Tom said, “It was tough, really tough and we faced some difficult times, but we are a strong business, with great people around us and now we continue to get stronger, going from strength to strength and are doing really well”.

The company is now run by a board of three directors one of which is Tom, but it remains a family owned and run business with the two brother’s wives being the major shareholders.

The company currently employs around 140 employees on the books with anything from 50–60 sub-contractors, so the total workforce fluctuates from around 180–200 at any one time. The work is primarily engaged with groundworks for housing developments but they will look at small civils and construction jobs as and when they arise.

Galtec Ltd pride themselves on keeping a top rate fleet of equipment and are always looking to innovate with the latest kit on the market to make themselves, not only more efficient but also safe. Tom has been looking at site dumpers with interest for the past 4 years, Tom said, “We have previously been running standard forward tipping dumpers and to be honest a lot of them are starting to get tired now. Of course, during the recession, we couldn’t invest in new, as like so many in the industry it was a case of just surviving!”

Tom continued, “Once the recession was over, we knew we would need to update some of our dumpers. The cabbed dumpers were starting to come in and we knew it was something we would need to have a look at. However, we didn’t want to dive straight in, so we started to do some research to see how they would best suit our needs, before investing a lot of money, bearing in mind we run somewhere in the region of 40 dumpers in various different size ranges, It would not be economically viable to renew the fleet”.

“So, my idea was to look at ways that could save us money by ultimately changing the way we run our dumpers on site. Looking at the running hours on our current dumpers we found that most of them were only actually running around 2-3 hours per week! We realised the reality is they are a very expensive commodity when you break it all down”.

“So, our concept idea was to invest in some cabbed dumpers and allocate them to dedicated drivers whilst thinning out the actual number of dumpers on the fleet and in effect deploy one cabbed dumper to take the place of 3 standard dumpers while utilising them more efficiently on the job, having them actually working 40 hours a week as opposed to the 2-3 hours work then sitting parked up”.

Tom had been inspired by Tony Iles the Managing Director of Wiltshire based Tonic Construction who has been a leading trailblazer for the adoption of cabbed dumpers, whom he kept a close eye on, Tom said, “I had started looking at Wacker Neuson’s BMT (Bulk Material Transporter) models that Tonic had invested in, but then they launched the Dual View models and I figured they would be an even better fit for our business, hence we have purchased our first two, which I believe are the first two sold to a groundworks company in the South West, which were supplied by our local Wacker Neuson dealer Equipment One”.

The other big factor behind Tom’s decision was of course the health and safety aspect. Accidents arising from site dumper misuse have been well documented over the years, not just from rollovers, but also from constantly jumping on and off the dumpers, a risky business at the best of times, so Tom wanted to give his staff the safest dumper solutions available.

Tom said, “Occupational health is a big issue for companies these days, so we wanted to provide our drivers with the very best working environment possible, inside a cab that is fully air conditioned, so whether its hot or cold and wet they will be well looked after”.

 

There will be many further safety benefits in the long term by reducing the number of dumpers and making better use of the Dual View models for example, it cuts down on the amount of site traffic, you can also shift heaped loads as opposed to level loads, as the driver does not need to look over the skip when driving, so more material moved with less movements.

Each DV100 has been fitted with a full telematics system and the dedicated operator has his own passcode which he enters into the immobiliser keypad, thanks to this unique code the office knows who is operating that particular dumper at any given time of day. The machines are also kitted out with Bluetooth phone kits so each gang can call on either dumper to, for example, request a 10-tonne load of type 1 stone or a load of pipe bedding, which the driver will collect and deliver to the relevant part of the site, a move that is really bringing site dumper operations into the 21st century.

Talking about their deployment onto site Tom said, “There still seems to be some confusion about whether the operators can stay in the cab while being loaded with many contractors still insisting that they get out while being loaded, so until it is all clarified I am recommending that they get out”.

As far as this author is concerned, this is where we need a massive change in thinking in the industry going forward. It must be safer for the dumper driver to remain seated in the cab, where he can be seen at all times by the excavator operator and thus avoiding the potentially hazardous climbing on and off 100’s of times a day, with the associated potential for shin scrapes at best and broken bones at worst. After all, the cab guard at the back of the skip is tested at 2.5 tonnes and there is at least 3ft of clearance from the cab behind it.

Talking about the investment and the future Tom said, “I’m being quite shrewd about it to be honest, with the telematics in place, I now want to prove that my concept is working how I expected it would, I am 99% confident that it will, but I am aware that we will need to change the mentality of the people on site, I think for the first couple of weeks they won’t like it, as each gang has become used to having a dumper with them all day, every day, but I think they will soon get used to this way of thinking and in the long term the business as a whole will reap the benefits of this style of dumper utilisation. If it all goes to plan, we will be investing in more of the Dual Views as we replace our existing dumper fleet”.

Earthmovers caught up with the first two machines on a Barratt Homes site in Gloucester, where they have been entrusted to two brothers who have been with the company for some time, Charles and Phil Messenger.

Talking about his new mount Charles said, “It’s a lovely bit of kit, we have only had them for a few weeks, but I’m very impressed so far, its going to be ideal for the winter, no more sitting out in the open during the winter exposed to the wind and rain, which will be really nice, not only that but they are safe and will save time without a doubt”.

Brother Phil echoed his sentiments, “What can I say, it’s a fine piece of machinery, I especially like the ability to turn the seat around which is a real game changer, just fantastic for visibility and ideal for all year round working”.

Galtec Excavator Fleet

Galtec Ltd run a substantial fleet of around 55 excavators ranging from 2.5 tonne mini’s up to 25 tonne mid-range excavators, with the fleet being dominated by machines from the Hitachi and Kobelco stables.

Talking about this side of the plant fleet Tom said, “When I first took over the reins and started to buy machines, I quickly realised that you are spending a lot of money, so I wanted to make sure I was buying the correct equipment. So, what I did was to trial every manufacturers machine’s that I could, I gave the demo machines to my most experienced operators who gave me genuine from the field feedback. The Hitachi’s and the Kobelco’s came out on top, so that’s why we invested in them”.

Tom continued, “We also run 4 Komatsu’s which have been good solid machines too. We don’t mind spending the extra money if the kit is right and as we still run as a family business our employees are a massive part of the equation, so we like to think we will go that extra mile for them and as such I do listen to my operators, if they say that’s a poor machine, I wouldn’t buy it, as at the end of the day a happy operator, is a productive operator so we want to keep them happy. On the other hand, we are running a business so the deal has to be right, but we will always endeavour to get the right machine for the job”.

 

 

 

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