JCB develops remote-controlled excavator

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JCB has developed a remotely operated excavator for one of the UK’s leading demolition specialists (click here to see it in action with a supporting interview).

Birmingham, UK-based Coleman & Company has purchased the bespoke 21-tonne excavator which combines a JCB JS190 upper structure with a JS220LC undercarriage and rubber track pads. The result is a machine powerful enough to deploy a 4-tonne multiprocessor attachment without exceeding a gross weight of 25 tonnes.

The development of the groundbreaking machine has required close cooperation between Coleman Engineering Services, dealer Gunn JCB and JCB Heavy Products in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire.

The new excavator is working 20 hours per day on the redevelopment of Birmingham New Street Train Station and has been purpose designed for the project at the redeveloped station and Grand Central shopping center. Its work involves the removal of existing reinforced concrete floors to create a void beneath the new atrium roof.

Coleman is the principal demolition contractor working on the Birmingham New Street project and is now in its fifth year on site. The current phase sees the removal of 6,000 tonnes of mass reinforced concrete during 2014/2015. Some beams weigh as much as 80-90 tonnes and are 2.5 wide and 1.5m deep. Outside, on an industrial site, these would present a significant challenge – yet this project is taking place inside, directly beneath the newly constructed, multi-million -pound atrium steelwork structure which must be protected from all aspects of the demolition. It is also taking place within a live construction site while 140,000 people continue to travel through the station each day.

Coleman & Company technical manager, Chris Holland, said, “We asked JCB to design a bespoke machine that could carry out specific tasks in high-risk and technically challenging environments. Nothing was ever an issue or problem. It was more a challenge the company rose to. This was very encouraging as the stakes are very high at New Street given we’ll be operating above 12 live train lines carrying thousands of passengers per day.”

The new JCB machine is expected to work on the project for the next nine months. Once completed, it provides Coleman & Company with a unique tool for highly complex demolition tasks.

Coleman & Company contract support manager Malcolm Hurst added, “The remote control machine gives Coleman & Company the option to operate in restricted and confined areas while the operator remains in a safe location. It can be used on demolition projects that are deemed too dangerous to risk an operator in the cab, or in contaminated structures where human access is unsafe.”

Coleman had already identified the specific multiprocessor attachment as the only existing attachment that complied with the project specification when it commissioned JCB to develop a 21-tonne machine capable of operating it. The next challenge was to prepare the machine for the high-risk environment in which it will operate. It has been designed with the health and safety of operators, site personnel and the people below as the primary focus.

Remote control enables the operator to work the machine while positioned in a mobile elevated work platform or cherry-picker above the beam being demolished, allowing for close assessment of the task in hand. The integrated infrared laser fence restricts the unit’s operation to a designated safe zone, preventing it from operating too near the edge of the suspended floor.

In addition, the JCB excavator also features: LED lighting for night vision; a non-biodegradable safe fuel system; TAB (triple articulated boom); range control; onboard auto fire fighting equipment; onboard dust suppression; and a jet-ski-style emergency stop pull chord.

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Tom is editor of ivtinternational.com and iVT magazine. During his 20 year career in journalism Tom has worked for a diverse range of titles including Men's Health and Cosmopolitan. He also edits iVT's UKi Media & Events stablemate Traffic Technology International.

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