We read through hundreds of news items each week so that you don't have to

English owner/operator Swedish approach

Thu 17 Oct 2013

English owner/operator Swedish approach

Based just South of York, Ollie works predominately in the civil engineering sector with a major blue chip company and was initially taken on by the company for a short term contract. Such is Ollie's attention to detail, work ethic and strive for customer satisfaction, he is still working with the same company! The work can be varied, tight inner city sites, deep excavations and long hours are par for the course with Ollie's job and the new machine needed to be specified to undertake all nature of tasks.  Whilst the original Komatsu was 8 years old and had 10,000 hours upon its retirement from the Kitchin fleet it was in absolutely immaculate condition which is testament to the way in which Ollie takes pride in what he does. With the decision made to change the original Komatsu, Ollie looked at other makes including Doosan and JCB but in the end plumped for another Komatsu. The decision was helped partly due to the fact that he enjoys a good relationship with the local dealer in Chester-le-Street and in particular the help and assistance from Branch Manager, Geoff Thornton. "Geoff proved to be a great help in both securing the deal and getting the specification sorted correctly." said Ollie "Apart from his input, Komatsu seem to have been very lapse with this deal considering the specification I wanted!" Whilst the decision was made to purchase a new Komatsu PW160-8, the specification was going to be one of the most arduous decisions Ollie was to make. Wanting the machine to be equipped with a tilt-rotator was the main focus, which make and model was not a cast in stone decision. With both Engcon and Steelwrist both looking to supply the tilty, Ollie made the decision to take a trip out to the Swedish MaskinExpo show with fellow Earthmovers regular, Eddie Warrener. What Ollie saw over in Sweden opened his eyes to a totally new world of the tilt rotator concept. "Every excavator seems to be fitted with them." explains Ollie "From the smallest minis, everywhere we saw an excavator, it had a tilt rotator!" On his return to the UK, the deal was struck with Engcon for what was going to be the worlds first EC219 with integral gripper. Not only was the machine to be fitted with the new tilt rotator, Ollie had decided to spec the machine as he had seen them in Sweden with every conceivable extra to make his life easier and hopefully more profitable! Whilst the decision on which make and model of tilt rotator had been made, the specification of the base machine was not as straight forward as Ollie hoped it was going to be. The order for the Komatsu was placed but the extras and additional specification proved to be a bit of a headache for all concerned. Ollie has specified the Komatsu in a similar vein to European spec'd machines with a two piece boom. This option is one that is rarely taken on UK specified machines but for the nature of Ollie's work the two piece unit has so far been a revelation. "The boom is just what I wanted it to be!" exclaims Ollie "I now have a wider working envelope, which is ideal for some tasks, but the big benefit is having an increased lifting capacity close in to the machine which can be ideal for heavy concrete rings." To aid in lifting operations, Ollie has specified the PW160 with a front mounted blade and a pair of stabilisers to the rear of the undercarriage. Check valves have also been specified to all boom and dipper rams. Unusually they have been fitted to the bucket ram as Ollie often uses a set of forks on the end of his Engcon and the fitment of the check valves just gives him a little bit of security should the hydraulic system fail. Whilst almost every conceivable extra may have been fitted to Ollie's machine, the excavator is based around the standard PW160-8. The first to be delivered to a UK customer, the PW160 sits mid-range in Komatu's five model wheeled excavator range. Manufactured in Germany the PW160 is powered by a 4 cylinder, Komatsu diesel engine that delivers a healthy 130hp at 2200rpm  Access to the Dash 8 cab is a typical duck affair with a combination of clambering up the blade and wheel aided by the large grab rail to get to the cab. Once seated on the standard air suspended and heated seat, you are in a different world! Although the steering column is as discreet as possible and can be pushed forwards to allow access into the cab, The space available for operators with overly large boots can be limiting. That said, the cab would rank amongst some of the best I have been in. The comfortable high back seat provides a more than adequate perch for a long shift and comes with climate control fitted as standard. Ollie's machine even has cruise control fitted as standard, capable of keeping the machine at a steady 35kph! One addition that Ollie has deemed necessary is the fitment of a Prolec Liftwatch system. Fitted to ensure the machine cannot lift more that it is capable of, the Prolec installation is neat and tidy with the monitor fitted just above the cab floor. When questioned about the positioning of it, Ollie stated that it is ideally located low down as he rarely lifts items high in the air and can easily see the readout without taking his eyes from the load he is lifting. The Komatsu is fitted with a built in TFT colour screen which not only provides details of the machines condition and operating parameters but is also linked in to the counterweight mounted camera. This system automatically engages when the machine is in travel mode. Ollie has also had a dipper mounted camera fitted to aid in deep excavation operations and just by the touch of a button the pin sharp view down the dipper into an excavation can be viewed. Ollie is very happy with this set up as he says there is now no need for leaning forward and trying to see down a hole, the whole digging or lifting operation is now done in comfort! Along with the requirement for the towing kit Ollie also wanted a pair of tool boxes fitting to the chassis "They are really handy for storing bits and pieces." said Ollie "We also had a chain tray fitted to the top of one of them as I can just pick them up on the hitch without having to go rummaging inside the tool boxes." Another area in which Ollie felt was in need of an upgrade was the machines lighting. Despite being fitted as standard with sufficient work lights the Komatsu has been retrofitted with enough spotlights, fifteen in total, to light up a football stadium! "I wanted to have full 360 degree lighting," said Ollie "We can work some unsocial hours and the benefits of the lighting are massive as no one is working in shadow, making the whole operation safer." The installation of the Engcon tilt rotator was undertaken by Scottish specialists, JCC. "John Craig has done a magnificent job on the installation!" said Ollie "I cannot fault any of the work, it is pure quality." Although installed by JCC, the hitch was supplied through Tiltrotators UK's, Tim Wood. Ollie is full of praise for the deal Tim put together and for the advice and help offered in the selection of the hitch. It was Tim's help and knowledge that persuaded Ollie to go for what was going to be the Worlds first Engcon EC219 unit with integral grab. Ollie wanted the integral gripper as many of his jobs require the handling of sections of steelwork, moving wooden posts and general re-handling duties and this unit has proved invaluable for such operations. The integrated GR219 grab is made from high tensile steel for strength and light weight with both hydraulic cylinders being fitted with check valves. The EC219 has been supplied with a top quick hitch enabling the whole tilt rotator assembly to be removed when the machine is used with ultra narrow trenching buckets or Ollie's Indeco hammer. Offering a full 45 degree tilt to both sides, 5 degrees more than its predecessor the EC15, the EC219 has been a revelation for Ollie and his clients. "They just love the fact that I can sit in one position and dig around obstacles!" exclaims Ollie. Whilst the Komatsu comes with joysticks capable of tilt rotator operation, JCC have replaced them with Engcon's own S-VAB L8, control system. The multi-function joysticks have been set up to control virtually every function of the machine from the operation of the tilt rotator, the dozer blade and even down to yet another UK first in the form of joystick steering. A relatively standard fit on Swedish machines, Ollie's Komatsu was the first in the UK to be fitted with this Engcon option. Whilst accelerator and brake functions are still pedal controlled, a proportional roller on the left hand joystick is used to undertake the steering at low speeds. This option was seen by Ollie as an additional safety method when working as both hands can now be kept on the joysticks enabling lifting and positioning operations to be carried out in greater safety. The "full package" tilt rotator set up was not the only Swedish idea which Ollie brought home. Many of the ducks he spotted were pulling trailers of various descriptions including hook lift options and this was something that Ollie felt would benefit both himself and his customers. Komatsu were asked to equip the PW160 for towing but trouble in sourcing the correct hitch that Ollie had specified led to friction between both parties. Once correctly sourced and fitted the towing package was completed with a hydraulic circuit to enable a tipping trailer to be used.  The next step was to find a suitable trailer. With a trailer sourced from an agricultural auction, Ollie set about refurbishing it to his high standards and has no regrets about the decision to go down the trailer route. "We use it so much these days and it saves both myself and my customers an awful lot of money." explains a delighted Olllie. "We can now carry manhole rings around site without the need for a mobile crane, move small amounts of loose materials and I can now travel to local sites under my own steam with a good compliment of attachments, saving myself both time and money waiting for outside transport.' Ollie now operates what has been called the UK's state of the art rubber duck. Not a cheap investment in any way, shape or form the base machine may not be innovative in itself as can be said for the attachments in their separate forms. But the combination of them all and a considerable amount of effort and thinking by Ollie, has not only reduced costs for himself and his clients it has also made complicated operations considerably easier and safer. I would like to thank my colleague at Earthmovers Magazine Paul Argent, and Ollie Kitchen for providing the material for this blog post.    

Loads more