Called VibroSafe, the device was conceived following a number of incidents in which quick-hitch coupler adapters had failed, causing serious injury or significant near-misses.
“Previous attempts to devise safe methods of fitting hammers with quick hitch coupler adapters have mostly been fairly Heath Robinson affairs,” said Piletec director Bill Gorton. “They appear not to have been properly developed or tested and many of them can easily cause damage to the piling hammer and result in a serious risk to health and safety.”
Piletec collaborated with Miller UK, manufacturer of quick-hitch couplers, to design a solution that is both CE-marked and approved by hammer manufacturers.
“We spoke to Miller UK – who supply the majority of quick-hitches worldwide – and they came up with a basic design which we then developed together into what is now the VibroSafe,” said Mr Gorton.
Piletec wanted adapter that would eliminate the risk of human error by removing the need for the operator to insert locking pins or bolts manually after attaching the device to the quick-hitch. The adapter was also designed to comply with manufacturers’ recommendations, eliminate the risk of damage to the hammer’s swivel assembly and be compatible with both semi-automatic and fully automatic hitches.
“We also wanted to avoid the need for quick-hitch removal, which at the time was the only fool-proof method of attaching a vibrating hammer to the excavator safely,” said Mr Gorton.
The new device allows the safe use of vibrators on both semi-automatic and fully automatic quick hitches without the need for manual intervention. It is CE Marked, strain tested and approved by leading hammer manufacturers
The VibroSafe can be locked onto fully automatic quick hitches while attached to the hammer. The fully-locked two-pin connection ensures minimal risk but allows the operator to switch from bucket to hammer in less than 10 minutes. “Previously, we would need to remove the quick-hitch before fitting the hammer – and that could take four or five hours.” Mr Gorton said.
Made by Miller UK exclusively for Piletec, the VibroSafe is now officially available for sale, having been trialled on site by a number of contractors who collaborated with Piletec during the development of the design.
“As well as improving safety, the VibroSafe also transforms productivity,” Mr Gorton claims. “It’s quick to use and contractors no longer have to supply a dedicated excavator for vibrator use.”
Contractors using Vibrosafe currently include McGee’s, John Reilly, KMI and JN Bentley. Mr Gorton says that Balfour Beatty USL has also approved the device and placed an order for six, for use on a renewable energy site in Scotland.