Plantforce Rentals is a leading construction equipment rental company headquartered in Somerset, with additional depots across the West Country and the Midlands. The company owns a fleet of 93 Hyundai machines ranging from 6 tonnes up to 52 tonnes, which include loading shovels, crawler, and wheeled excavators.
Plantforce first had the idea for this new ‘super-safe’ machine following a recent conference, which was attended by representatives from Highways England and several of the suppliers to UK tier one contractors including, Hinkley Point C and the HS2 project.
One of the subjects discussed at the conference was what was currently available in the way of technological innovations and how they could be utilized to minimise the danger to highways operatives. Particularly when the operatives were working alone, and at night or during highways maintenance projects and associated tasks, which involves teams of men entering a temporary or permanent road closure, working around plant machinery.
Plantforce Rentals Operations Director Sam Mercer said, “Plantforce have an excellent working relationship with many of the contractors who work in these types of environments. We are also at the forefront of technology and innovation when it comes to operated and self-drive plant hire. We felt that we were ideally placed to embark on the innovation project and start working towards a technology-driven future for both contractors, plant machinery and operators.”
Following joint discussions with Plantforce Marketing Manager, Dale Hawkins, who also champions simulation training for the company, together they designed what they describe as a ‘lone man’ working solution for the industry.
Dale said, “With safety and efficiency an important key factor on all major contracts around the UK, we have developed this Hyundai machine, with ‘lone man’ working in mind. It offers a solution for operatives working in the highways and civil sectors – chiefly the night workers.”
Dale went on to explain, “Although this may look like a normal Hyundai wheeled loader on the outside it’s packed with new technology with the aim of reducing the number of men from the ‘work zone’, this not only promotes safety but can reduce costings on a job site with fewer machines and speed up work times.”
The Hyundai HW160W’s transformation began with the installation of an Encgon tiltrotator system fitted with grab and buckets, and a state-of-the-art twin axle tipping trailer. A top of the range Prolec height and slew restriction system was then installed, which also comes with an inbuilt combined weighing system, where a cut-out system is included to prevent the machine from toppling over if overloaded. The Prolec system will also restrict the machine from moving into live carriageways or overhead power lines.
The Hyundai is also fitted with a GPS Trimble Earthworks system, which once the site has been scanned for buried utilities with a ground penetrating radar, the GPS in the machine will give the operator a full 3D map of the site. This system reduces the need for more personnel onsite – the system does the job of a surveyor.
A 7 light FHOSS Halo Exclusion is also fitted. Once the FHOSS Halo light is installed around the vehicle, focused beams of red light will identify an exclusion zone, making workers aware not to enter the danger zone.
The Hyundai also benefits from a Site Zone proximity warning system, which alerts the operator if any personnel enters the working radius. These safety features are combined with high visibility Chapter 8 reflective chevrons and livery.
Dale said, “The Hyundai machine is highly visible, so any approaching traffic, will clearly see the machine further reducing risk. It also eliminates service strikes and overloading the machine – but most importantly collision with other site personnel.”
The wheeled excavator and trailer combination is a relatively new concept in the UK and is only usually provided as an owner-driver combination or a main contractor solution – the Plantforce solution is unique to the hire market and the company expects it to be a success.