Latest News PlantworX 2019 

PlantworX Innovation Awards!

Innovation comes in many forms – from new machines to safety initiatives, and from simple solutions to the latest digital technology. The best innovations in the construction and rail equipment sectors have been celebrated with the announcement of the Plantworx Innovation Awards 2019 Winners.

The winners were announced and presented with their awards following the CEA’s (Construction Equipment Association) annual conference, during a Gala Dinner, hosted by snooker legend, Steve Davis OBE. More than 150 guests attended the presentation, which took place at the Plantworx exhibition’s new home at the East of England Arena in Peterborough on the evening of 21st March 2019.

This year there were eight categories, which between them attracted 110 individual entries from across the industry. The categories were:

• Commitment to skills and training
• Digital innovation
• Efficiency
• Environment
• Safety
• Security
• Engineering
• Non-operated plant and support products

The entries were judged by a panel of experts with knowledge and understanding of the construction and rail industries and of the importance of innovation in today’s market. They were:

Graham Black – Editor, Earthmovers
Nick Boyle – Technical Innovation Director, Balfour Beatty
Ian Elliott – UK Group Head of Security, Clancy Docwra
Patrick Flannery – Managing Director, Flannery Plant Hire
Dr Susan Scurlock MBE – Chief Executive and Founder, Primary Engineer
David Shipman – Innovations Engineering Manager in IP Signalling, Network Rail
Margo Cole – Construction Journalist

The judges awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze awards to the best innovations in each category, and all of the innovations will be prominently displayed during Plantworx and Railworx from 11-13 June 2019 at the East of England Showground.

The number and quality of entries in the Commitment to Skills and Training category clearly demonstrate how significant this issue is for the industry. Entries came from a cross section of manufacturers, suppliers and the hire sector, all offering a wide range of initiatives and programmes.

The judges wanted to applaud Webtec for donating profits from its Introduction to Practical Hydraulic System Maintenance to support STEM programmes. But the Bronze Award went to machine manufacturer Mecalec for its vision to get more young construction professionals to enter the sector, and its joined-up approach to plugging the skills gap. The judges were impressed by the company’s holistic approach to skills training, which encompasses every stage of education from primary school to university, as well as training modules for employees to learn new skills.

Silver went to A-Plant, which has continued to invest in training since being recognised in this category two years ago. The company committed £2.5 million last year in apprentices, and took on 80 new recruits to the programme. The judges were impressed that A-Plant’s apprentice scheme has an 88% completion rate, and that 14% of its apprentices are female.

The Gold Award went to Nylacast, which has invested in an engineering training academy that allows the firm to nurture talent and realise the potential of its workforce. The academy offers a wide variety of programmes and courses for upskilling existing staff, including leadership and management apprenticeships.

Nylacast is also using its Academy to offer mental, physical health and well-being courses.

The company champions engineering for all age groups, and has forged strong links with schools, colleges and universities.

The inaugural Digital Innovation Award attracted a wide variety of entries, from simulation-based training to plant-hire solutions, but the judges felt that two innovations deserved awards for tackling genuine on-site issues.

Silver went to water treatment specialist Siltbuster, for its online, real-time water quality monitoring and reporting system Clarity. It has been designed to eliminates the chance of a company inadvertently releasing polluting water into the environment, reducing the chance of prosecution and fines. It also provides real time assurance for managers who are responsible for the environmental performance of their business.

The system can be set up to monitor and report on different water quality measures to ensure that an on-site Siltbuster treatment system is within consent at all times. The judges liked the simple customer interface, which uses a traffic light system to give site managers useful information on water quality.

The Gold Award went to BOMAG GB for its BOMAP app, which simplifies measurement and documentation control for soil and asphalt compaction. The app is compatible with standard smartphones and tablets, so operators can plug their own device into the cab rather than having to use special hardware.

The judges felt this “bring-your-own-device” approach should make operators feel comfortable using dynamic compaction control systems, making adoption of the technology much easier.

With the BOMAP approach, customers can choose how far down the automation route they want to go – from simple roller pass-counting to completely integrated solution that track and document multiple construction jobs, machines and operators.

The judges praised BOMAG’s open approach in developing a solution that works on compaction equipment made by any manufacturer.

The Efficiency Innovation category attracted a high number of entries, demonstrating how hard the industry is working to make construction operations more efficient.

Bronze went to Caterpillar for its Next Generation mini excavators. These new 1-to-2-tonne class machines have joystick steering, which the judges felt made a significant contribution not only to the comfort of the operator, but also to the efficiency of the machine.

Silver went to Young Black for the RB441T/CE TwinTier – a re-bar tying tool that has already proved popular with some of the UK’s leading construction and concreting specialists since its launch in 2018. Re-bar tying tools are not new to the industry, but the judges felt that Young Black’s new model marks a step change in development that gives serious efficiency and health & safety benefits.

The Gold winner in this category is another tool designed for a specific purpose – in this case for the safe and efficient removal of the clips that are used to fasten rails to railway sleepers. The e-Clip EDC15-01 De-clipper from Thomson Engineering is a heavy-duty road-rail vehicle attachment that enables these clips to be removed quickly and safely when tracks are being replaced.

Most track replacement is done during short overnight possessions when time is really tight, so the more efficiently this can be achieved, the less time the network is down and the more cost effective the work becomes. Removing clips has traditionally been a labour intensive and potentially dangerous task, involving workers standing on the track and using large hammers. Thomson Engineering’s new De-Clipper has enormous potential for improving the efficiency of this frequent task.

The Engineering Innovation Award category attracted a very large field of entrants, including major manufacturers like Goldhofer, Mecalac and Bobcat.

Bronze went to a UK manufacturing company that specialises in equipment at the smaller end of the market. It is Tufftruk’s new TRUXTA EV, a small, battery-powered dumper with an 8-hour duty cycle, specifically designed for no emission, no noise environments.

The judges particularly liked the fail-safe dead-man brake system, and also felt it would cope well with tough environments and heavy materials.

Silver went to another piece of equipment designed for low noise and emission situations: Atlas Copco’s E-Air electric-powered compressor, which is part of the company’s new Power Technique range.

The E-Air provides up to 40% greater flow for the same power consumption as conventional portable compressors while weighing less and having a 15% smaller footprint than comparable models.

The Gold winner is not a product but a process – and one that could have a big impact on the quality and longevity of products used throughout construction and rail. British Steel has moved traditional technology onto a higher level to develop a new way of removing oxide deposits that form on the metal surface during heat treatment processes.

This process – known as descaling – involves applying water at high pressure to hot steel, but quality is often compromised by not being able to get the water nozzles close enough to the product. With British Steel’s new descaling system, water sprays are dynamically positioned so that every product has the optimum spraying distance.

The result is an automotive level of surface finish on products like track shoes, cutting edges and forks.

Most of the entries in the Security category focused on combating plant and tool theft, and the judges felt that two of them really stood out.

Silver went to the ToolDefend alarm system from Amber Valley, designed to prevent thefts from vans. It works by protecting the side and rear doors with ultrasonic, sound wave detecting sensors. Any attempt to breach them will result in an alarm being triggered and a loud siren sounding. There is also an option for the system to send a text message to alert the owner that someone has tried to break into their van.

The judges liked its simplicity, and also applauded the company for offering an effective solution that is affordable both for self-employed workers and for large companies to fit on their entire van fleet.

The Gold award went to another innovation designed to prevent theft of tools and equipment – or at least to help you get them back if they are stolen. It is CanTrack Global’s CanTrack Protect asset tracking device. This purpose designed tracker has been designed to combat the techniques thieves use to locate and remove other tracking devices by detecting when the signal is being jammed and automatically switching to an alternative location technology.

The company also employs ex-Police investigators to locate and retrieve stolen assets, so the tracking genuinely does lead to assets being recovered.

Although tracking devices are not new, the judges felt that CanTrack has taken the industry forward by offering a device that is suitable for a huge range of tools and equipment at an affordable price. And it delivers results.

The Environmental Innovation category attracted a very high number of entries, proving that environmental considerations are high on the agenda of the entire industry. Many were focused on alternative fuels and energy reduction.

Bronze went to Certas Energy UK for a project it has been running with Jackson Civil Engineering and the Environment Agency to use Shell’s GTL fuel on the Perry Barr and Witton flood risk management scheme in Birmingham. This paraffinic fuel has been designed as an alternative to conventional diesel, and the project presented a unique opportunity to trial the fuel in construction plant and generators on a major construction scheme.

The judges wanted to commend Certas and its project partners for undertaking a full-scale trial of this alternative fuel and said the results will benefit the entire industry.

Silver went to AJC EasyCabin for its EcoSmart ZERO welfare unit. The unit is powered by a combination of a hydrogen gas-powered fuel cell and a solar power system, so has zero emissions. Power for the heating, sockets, kettle and microwave comes instantly from the battery bank, which is constantly fed by the built-in hydrogen fuel cell and solar panels.

The Gold winner is also targeting the zero emissions market – it is Wacker Neuson’s DW15e all-wheel drive electric site dumper. Power is provided by a maintenance-free Absorbent Glass Mat battery, and the machine will operate for a whole day on one charge.

It produces the same performance as the company’s equivalent diesel-powered dumper, with zero emissions and reduced noise levels. And the drive system features an energy recovery system when braking or descending a hill.

The Non-Operated Plant & Support Products category produced a fascinating range of entries, including the fuel-carrying equivalent of a wine box, and a portable compressor. However, the judges felt that two of the entries deserved awards, and Silver went to a product from Ground-Guards Ltd, designed to prevent kerbs being damaged during construction.

The company’s KerbGuards kerb protectors are intended for the housebuilding market, where the kerbs are often laid early in the construction process, and many are damaged by plant and equipment. KerbGuards are durable guard covers that are installed at the same time as the kerbs to protect them throughout the duration of the project. They are manufactured from recycled PVC and can be re-used many times over and recycled at end of life.

Gold in this category went to Brendon Powerwashers for its Dustec DT400 water-powered dust and odour suppression solution, which works as an attachment to the firm’s range of powerwashers. It operates by using the water to drive a fan, which generates the air flow needed to help launch fine water droplets into the atmosphere. The water is then returned to the powerwasher to be recycled or pumped to waste, ensuring a controlled amount of water is delivered for suppression.

The judges felt that the DT400 makes clever use of an existing technology to solve a problem that is prevalent on most construction and demolition sites. This innovative thinking means a powerwasher can easily be converted to provide dust suppression without the need for expensive specialist equipment.

The Safety category attracted a high number of entries across a wide range of areas.

Bronze went to GKD for its SensorHeight&Slew, which combines height and slew systems into one lightweight display. The system dynamically measures the real time movement of an excavator, including the boom and slew positions, to ensure it stays within pre-set limits, and also slows the machine when it gets close to the limits. The judges were particularly impressed with its simplicity of use in comparison to alternative systems on the market.

Silver went to an innovative new railway interlocking system that has been designed to keep track workers safe. Interlocking systems are designed to prevent conflicting train movements through junctions and crossings, but Dual Inventive and Movares have developed an interlocking system that is not just focused on the safe movement of trains but also on protecting workers on the tracks.

The companies have integrated their Eurolocking interlocking system and MTinfo 3000 cloud platform to use train position data received from the interlocking to warn trackworkers of approaching trains. This means they always have adequate time to reach a position of safety.

The Gold award went to Wacker Neuson for its Dual View Truck, which the judges described as a game-changing solution to the problem of site dumper safety. As the name suggests, the Dual View Truck means the operator has full visibility both during loading and unloading and when driving.

This is achieved by having an operator’s station that can rotate through 180 degrees. When loading and unloading the operator looks in the direction of the skip; before driving they turn the seat through 180 degrees to give an unobstructed view in the main driving direction with the skip behind.

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