MJ Church invests in Hitachi for smart motorway
Hard shoulder running lanes and variable speed limits are an increasingly common sight on our major arterial routes, and with Highways England devoting considerable funding to smart motorway projects in the years ahead that is a trend that is likely to continue.
The appeal of the concept for a government agency is obvious.
By avoiding the need to build additional lanes, they represent a cost effective solution, which both reduces construction times and environmental impact, and delivers tangible rewards in increased journey times on completion.
With an estimated 130,000 journeys made on the road daily, and that figure set to increase by 30 per cent over the coming years, the need to find solutions that can be efficiently fulfilled in the construction phase, and provide value for money for the taxpayer into the bargain, is indeed pressing.
A smoother flow of traffic, a reduction in accidents, and lower emissions are just some of the claims made for the schemes by those who champion the smart move to road construction, which is why many millions of pounds is being devoted to their realisation.
Earthworks subcontractor MJ Church is one company that has been working on a smart motorway project in England and has made a substantial investment in Hitachi construction equipment for the work.
The international infrastructure group Balfour Beatty was awarded the £129 million Highways England scheme that will increase capacity, reduce congestion and shorten journey times by up to 15 per cent between junctions 2 and 4a on the M3, which links south-west London to Southampton.
As a result a fleet of ten ZX210LC-5s, four ZX130LCN-5s and a ZX350LC-5 played a significant part in upgrading a 13.4-mile (21.6km) stretch of the M3 through the counties of Hampshire and Surrey.
MJ Church’s Zaxis-5 medium excavators started work on the verges and central reservation of the construction site in January 2015 by stripping off the topsoil and excavating the subsoil materials.
The majority of these were then transported to the site compound, ready for recycling, along with all of the sand and hard materials, such as concrete and asphalt.
A ZX210LC-5 was utilised to feed the onsite crusher in the recycling yard at the compound, where the ZX350LC-5 was loading the contrator’s fleet of trucks from the stockpiles.
Between 1,000 and 1,500 tonnes of recycled materials – “Type one” (used under the new road and concrete barrier); and “6N” (backfill for structures) – were being transported back on to the site every day at peak times.
A ZX130LCN-5 was also stockpiling a high percentage of excavated subsoils that came back to compound. It was sifting through these materials with a riddle bucket to take out the lumps and prepare them as suitable backfill around structures and drainage work.
At the busiest period during the spring, 107 MJ Church employees were working on the M3 project, supported by the Hitachi fleet.
“The 20-tonne excavators were working close together on the central reservation in teams of three: one clearing the topsoil, one carrying out the excavation work and the other putting the stone in,” explains the subcontractor’s Works Manager Vernon Creed.
“My job is to ensure that productivity is high, so from my perspective reliability is the number one strength of Hitachi excavators. We look after our machines with support from Hitachi Construction Machinery (UK) [HCMUK] who provide us with an excellent service.”
MJ Church has a long-standing relationship with HCMUK, the success of which has been based on the quality of the products as well as the strength of the support service.
“The performance of the machines is impressive and they deliver a favourable cost of ownership,” says Steve Blower, MJ Church’s Managing Director. “We are reliant on the efficiency of our equipment and team working in harmony.”
MJ Church was awarded the earthworks contract by Balfour Beatty after a tender process. Based in south-west England, the subcontractor is one of the largest civil engineering, earthworks and waste management companies in the region.
For more information visit www.hitachi.co.uk