Upgrading outdated couplers

Upgrading outdated couplers
Hill Engineering has increased production of its Auto-Loc 3 coupler, with its fully automatic dual pin capture system, to satisfy an increasing demand from UK contractors and plant hire companies wanting to upgrade now out-dated couplers on their excavator fleets.

Its decision comes in the wake of continuing safety concerns over the use of semi-automatic and single-locking automatic models and a move by a number of leading contractors to ban all but dual pin capture couplers from their sites.

This has, at a stroke, made thousands of excavators up and down the country ineligible for use on some of the major UK construction projects.

Hill claims that its Auto-Loc 3 model is the safest and most technically advanced quick coupler of its type on the market.

A ‘new-for-old' programme sees Hill remove a customer's existing coupler and replace it with an Auto-Loc 3 model and it also provides comprehensive on-site training, full installation assistance and guidance, after-sales support and advice, as well as any necessary customisation to suit individual customers' specific coupler requirements.

Ian Hill, managing director of Hill Engineering, said: "The widespread adoption of the dual pin capture technology will increase on-site safety and help prevent accidents and avoid fatalities for years to come." He also revealed that Hill has met with London-based Quattro Plant, the second largest UK railway-orientated plant hire company, to discuss how the couplers can be adapted for use in the rail industry.

Dual pin capture fully automatic couplers are a significant step forward within the coupler market, because not only do operators no longer need to leave the cab and insert a locking pin by hand, the coupler also locks onto each attachment pin independently.

This means that if the operator fails to connect the attachment properly with the back pin, the front pin will remain securely locked in place, ensuring that the attachment does not separate from the coupler.

The Auto-Loc coupler allows operators to visually confirm from within the cab that the bucket or other attachment is securely locked in position and only allows attachments to be released in a safe working position.

Although new semi-automatic couplers are no longer being supplied to the UK market as a result of a joint HSE and manufacturers' agreement, the use of existing models is still allowed.

However, more and more sites are imposing bans on semi-automatic and single-locking automatic couplers, while a number of major contractors, including Bovis, Skanska and Balfour Beatty, say that they will only now permit excavators with dual pin capture couplers on their construction projects.

Tudor Thomas, chairman of Kaill Plant Hire, based in Stockport, Manchester, believes more contractors are likely to follow suit, which made upgrading his fleet a priority. Kaill operates over 100 excavators including JCB, Terex, Takeuchi and Volvo machines, ranging from 1 to 33 tonnes, which were fitted with a mix of semi-automatic and single-locking automatic couplers. The company is now investing in Auto-Loc 3 models after signing up to Hill's ‘new-for-old' program.

Mr Thomas said: "The Auto-Loc 3 'new-for-old' programme is the best on the market and the implementation process has been very straightforward. Hill gave us the required training and provided us with on-site guidance.  "Subsequently the changeover of the couplers took just an hour, meaning less downtime for our machines. They couldn't have done more for us.

"An increasing number of contractors are insisting on dual pin capture couplers and this will continue to cascade down the industry. Such is the speed of the change that if we did nothing, 75 per cent of our machines would be obsolete in 12 months time.

"Any company that has yet to look at replacing its couplers will miss out on the major UK construction projects."

Hill Engineering Ltd
Unit 6
Carnbane Business Park
Newry
County Down
BT35 6QH
Northern Ireland

T: 028 3025 2555
F: 028 3026 4020

 
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