Compact Kubota Minis Keep Canals Flowing
- 23 August 2007
- Company & Industry News
A barge-mounted Kubota mini excavator has overcome a serious access problem for canal dredging specialists, Blue Boar Contracts, dramatically slashing downtime.
The compact 3.25 tonne KX91-3 mini has proved so successful that the Warwickshire business has now bought a second machine.
Blue Boar Contracts, of Dunchurch, near Coventry, is one of two dredging businesses on British Waterway's roster and also works for local authorities.
Its existing fleet of barge-mounted 14 ft wide, 6.5 tonne excavators, fitted to pontoons, could not pass through the 7ft wide canal locks and tunnels or under narrow bridges commonly found in urban areas.
They had to be tracked off, the pontoons broken down into two sections and moved individually around the obstructions, which could take up a day. More time was often spent moving equipment around than dredging urban canals.
This downtime and the expense involved have been eliminated as the 7ft wide Kubota KX 91-3 can work in the narrowest of canals. An added advantage is that it can dredge narrow lock chambers, something Blue Board could not attempt before.
After removing the Kubota's tracks it bolts the machine's slew ring to the deck of a barge and remounts the excavator's superstructure.
With a digging depth of 3,180 mm, the longest capability of any machine in its class, the mini uses its 54" wide (1,500 mm) ditching bucket or an 18" wide (450 mm) digging bucket fitted with teeth to remove silt from the canal.
The silt is loaded on to a 20 ton capacity hopper in front of the barge, with the 50ft long combined unit pushed into position by tug. Clean silt is spread on agricultural land adjacent to canals with contaminated material sent to land fill.
As the machine's hydraulics are already piped up for attachments, a hammer is used for piling work with metal sheets to combat bank erosion The minis have been converted for use with bio-degradable oil for use on water.
Said Blue Boar director Simon Potter: "We wanted a compact and easy-to-use excavator that was simple to maintain. We looked at several makes and the Kubota was the most suitable. It's powerful, reliable, highly productive and has a terrific reach."
It was also the only mini he saw with a simple method of removing the cab, which is required when they have to get under a particularly low obstruction.
"It's just a question of undoing a few screws and removing the cab. With the others the wiring loom tended to be an integral part of the cab, making removal difficult if not impossible," said Mr Potter.
"Its use has resulted in huge time savings as it can work in the narrowest of locations on the canal network. The operators like it because of the simple controls and the cab's comfort. The barge it's mounted on has hydraulic legs that make it more stable when static, which can be operated from the machine's cab."
The barge had to undergo an independent stability test before it could be used and passed at the first attempt. It's currently working on the Llangollen Canal where it's dredging up to100 m a day.
Blue Boar's second KX91-3, purchased because of the success of the first, has also been mounted on a barge and is undertaking dredging duties on the Peak Forest Canal.
Both machines were supplied by Kubota dealer, Shellplant Ltd., of Earls Barton, Northamptonshire.
Said Shellplant's partner Julian Payne: "Most of the Kubotas we sell are for ground work, landscaping or plant hire. Working on a barge to dredge canals is a fairly unusual application and we are delighted to have helped Blue Boar become even more efficient."
Blue Boar also has a smaller 1.5 tonne Kubota which is used for towpath construction work.
Kubota is the world leader in mini excavators and provides the largest range of minis available from a single manufacturer. Customers can select from 18 base models, spanning the weight range from 850 kg to 8-tonnes, and including the widest choice of the increasingly popular zero tail swing machines.
With a legendary reputation for quality, performance, reliability and excellent resale values, together with unbeatable support from a nationwide network of specialist dealers, their versatility makes them the ideal tool for many different applications and end-users, from civil engineering to landscaping and plant hire companies to owner operators.
Sales of Kubota mini excavators have continued to increase significantly, further boosted by the incorporation of a unique key-based 'ANTI-THEFT' security system - the first of its kind fitted as standard equipment by an excavator manufacturer.
Further details about the market-leading Kubota mini excavators range can be obtained from Kubota (UK) Ltd - Construction Equipment Division, Dormer Road, Thame, Oxfordshire, OX9 3UN. Tel: 01844 214500 Fax: 01844 216685. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.kubota.co.uk/