Case study: Innovative JCB-Orteco combo makes guardrail work easier
A New South Wales road construction contractor has combined a JCB 527-58C telehandler and an Orteco post driver hammer to create a machine that can carry, distribute and install rail posts.
Leigh Brenton, owner of Guardrail Systems in Bulahdelah on the NSW mid north coast, installs guardrail, wire rope and safety barriers under contract to local councils and road authorities.
"When I started in this business in 2004, I had a standard tractor and a drop hammer, like a farmer uses to put up a farm fence," says Brenton, a former builder. "Two years later, I realised it just wasn’t the right way to do it."
After some research, he locked onto the idea of combining a hammer with a telehandler.
"It was effectively a one-man, one-vehicle operation and I thought this was the most efficient way of doing it so I decided to go down that route.
"There is a hammer available that is mounted on a track machine, and it’s great, but all it does is drive a post in, nothing else. So I decided to buy a hammer and a JCB telehandler that is strong enough to manage loading and carrying a pile of posts or a 1.5-tonne roll of wire, and add one to the other."
JCB Construction Equipment Australia (CEA) worked with Brenton and his team to customise the machine and install a remote control operating system.
Brenton’s telehandler can be operated like any other. In manual mode, it loads and unloads trucks and carries the posts. But when he is ready to start installing those posts, he lifts the forks and switches to the remote control.
"The remote control has two functions — one is drive/steer and one is hammer. When you’ve finished moving the telehandler into position, you switch the remote to hammer. So you hammer the post in, switch back to drive, move forward to the next spot, switch back to hammer, and hammer in the post."
Brenton says his innovation cost less than buying two machines, and is safer as well.
"We’re operating from behind so we can see ahead," he says. "If we drop the controls, it will stop. It can’t run anyone over. We have a safe machine that is purpose-built for what we need."
Brenton says JCB CEA was keen to help, and had the best machine for the project.
"That made a huge difference. We knew we would need help. Whoever was making all the modifications would need support from the original manufacturer and, with JCB, every question we asked, we got the information we needed.
"It’s a family company, and that makes a big difference, I think. The attitude seems to be that their customers become part of the family. They make a high-quality machine and they really do stand behind their products. That’s the reason we went with them."
Brenton now believes he has the perfect machine for the job he does, and he is optimistic it will give him a distinct advantage in a highly competitive industry.
"My philosophy is that if you do it right, that gives you the biggest advantage but times have changed," he says. "If we can have a price advantage as well as doing the quality of work we do, then we’re definitely ahead."
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