Why is it that owner/operators like Danny Russell of DKR Plant are increasingly turning to tiltrotators? Construction Plant News visits a complex groundworks job in Warwickshire to find out.
It is fitting that on a build that will ultimately feature an audacious design, together with the latest in renewable energy innovations, it is state of the art attachment technology that is tasked with undertaking the groundworks. “The owners of the property want to make use of a water source heat pump so we’ve dug out a substantial pond for that purpose,” explains Danny Russell of DKR Plant, as he takes a break from his 8 tonne CAT 308, with its EC209 Engcon Tiltrotator.
“It’s 2.5 metres deep, and the base, which is actually square, is 285 square metres so it’s quite a significant excavation.” Where water meets ground, what should with due reference to its size be described as an artificial lake rather than a pond, has been shaped into a sweeping landscaped oval. “The ability to sculpt the earth with a bucket without having to reposition the machine is where the Engcon really comes into its own,” enthuses Danny, “and that’s one of the big benefits. You can achieve so much more from a single position, saving not only time but unnecessary wear and tear on the machine.”
Whilst many plant managers in the UK have yet to be converted to the tiltrotator concept it is the humble concerns – the one man and his machine owner/operator – that have emerged as their champions. In the hands of a driver of some 23 years’ experience they can become an invaluable tool that can cut many man hours from a whole range of earth and materials moving operations, as Danny reveals. “On this job, the condition of planning was that no more than 1.9 metres of the house could be showing from original ground level, which has necessitated that a substantial part of what will be quite a property will be sunken into the ground,”
Danny continues. “This will be complemented by a living roof, further camouflaging the building. Originally the architect had specified concrete raft foundations but I was able to install a drainage system in a loop right around the grounds of the property that will keep the lower floor dry. It’s actually saved them quite a bit of money and that’s where my expertise really lies – in groundworks, drainage and landscaping. I’ll also be installing tanks for rainwater collection and for the irrigation of the green roof.”
DKR Plant has been a going concern for eighteen months now, but Danny has been an advocate for tiltrotators for more than a decade. “I was working for an earth moving company as a contract supervisor and we were doing a lot for the big quarry operators. There was a lot of reinstatement work going on, where the ground was very soft, and repositioning was tough on the machine as a consequence, so I could see the benefits of using one then. Of course,
tiltrotators are a relatively rare piece of kit now, let alone ten years ago, and the company couldn’t be convinced of the potential productivity gains, but as soon as I went out on my own I knew it was the direction I wanted to go in. They are very much the future for me and I’ve been very happy with the investment I’ve made.
Owner/operators are uniquely placed to see the advantages and if you gave an experienced digger driver one after a couple of weeks they wouldn’t want to use anything else. If you’re the owner of your own machine it will reduce things like track wear, and fuel consumption and the savings I’m making mean it will pay for itself. I’ve actually found that I’ve been turning the revs down when I’m grading because I don’t need as much power and there’s a saving in diesel there as well.” Engcon is now pioneering Tiltrotator take up with the first national training and certification scheme, launched in collaboration with the National Plant Operators Registration Scheme (NPORS), but for a seasoned professional at the controls like Danny a couple of days was all that was required to master the new working techniques.
Danny’s EC209 was originally direct mount but after a few months of having to take it off to use a hydraulic breaker he opted for one of Engcon’s QS45 quick hitches. In fact, the proprietor of DKR Plant was the first to have that combined arrangement on an excavator, and he now owns a considerable arsenal of attachments, including six buckets, a land rake, breaker, and grading beam, whilst he is also looking to invest in a tree shear. “Because I have the Tiltrotator, I won’t need to invest in a rotator on the shear, so again there is a saving to be made on the spec of future attachments.” The EC209 is suitable for machines in the 6-9 tonne weight class and is supplied with a choice of control systems to suit the characteristics of individual excavators. The QS45 quick hitch sits in the 6-12 tonne class and features the manufacturer’s Q-Safe hydraulic locking system. With Q-Safe there are effectively three levels of safety. Electronic surveillance detects when both axles are in contact. A non-return valve prevents the hydraulic cylinder from opening even if a hose ruptures or there is a pressure drop and powerful, exterior springs keep the hitch locked even if the electronics and hydraulics fail.
For further information on the Engcon range of Tiltrotators click here
To get in touch with Danny Russell of DKR Plant email email@example.com or call 07821 646063