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Acquires 200th Hitachi Excavator and Embraces Cutting-Edge engcon Tiltrotator Technology

Redditch based Shannonside Civil Engineering have recently purchased their 200th Hitachi excavator. And to mark this special occasion, Managing Director and company founder, Brendan Carty has also added his first engcon tiltrotator to the fleet.

Shannonside have been undertaking civil engineering works for the UK housebuilding industry almost 20 years and has grown from a single site operation with six men to a multiple site operation with a workforce of close to 500. During this time, Brendan and his team have built an enviable reputation for delivering projects to a consistently high standard and to the total satisfaction of their Blue-Chip clientele.

Over the past two decades the company has kept up with changing ways within the construction industry, constantly looking at ways of streamlining their workflow on site. One of the most recent changes has been with the addition of tiltrotators into the fleet. “We have looked at them for several years but have only recently taken the leap into adding them, at first to a pair of 14 tonne excavators.” Brendan commented.

The latest addition a Zaxis 225-7USRLC to the Shannonside fleet has been sourced from Brendan’s regular supplier, Hitachi Construction Machinery and has come fully kitted out with Leica MC1 machine control and an engcon EC226 tiltrotator with integrated gripper and EC-Oil hitch. “We have had a long relationship with Hitachi, purchasing excavators from them since we started the business.” He commented.

“They are a very well-made product, reliable and we know we are going to get good residuals from them. For our latest addition to the fleet, we realised that having the excavator fitted with a tiltrotator will further the machine’s versatility and chose to purchase the engcon system as it allowed us to seamlessly integrate it with our Leica machine control.”

The entire package was supplied through Hitachi Connected Technology’s facility based at Hebburn, where engcon has entered into a supply partnership allowing the dealer to specify and fit the full range of engcon tiltrotators and hitches to their machines prior to them being delivered to the customer, ready to go straight to work.

Tilt & Rotate met up with Tim Philpotts, the experienced operator entrusted with the keys for the new machine. Tim has been working for Shannonside for over 8 years and says they are ‘a great company to work for’. One of the first projects Tim and his new machine were sent to was a new housing development on the outskirts of Ledbury in Herefordshire. “This is my third Hitachi Zaxis 225 and second Dash 7 model.” Tim commented. “I’ve had the Leica MC1 on the previous machine but having it all integrated into the new engcon has opened up so many new opportunities for what I can achieve on a daily basis.”

Tim’s first job of the day was to stack some concrete gulley pots which he had unloaded. Prior to the arrival of the engcon, this job would have been a time-consuming project involving putting an operative on the trailer and using a sling to lift each pot. Tim showed just how easy it was to do this safely on his own using the integrated gripper unit by carefully picking up each unit and stacking them safely for use later on in the project. “Until you have the option of using the gripper, you don’t realise just how useful it is!” Tim exclaimed. “Handling the pots, pipes, buckets, anything to be honest, is just made so much easier and safer. The gripper is a powerful tool too, so I do have to be careful when handling some items although the precision you get through the joysticks is unbelievable.”

Whilst the gripper has been a revelation for Tim, he says the addition of EC-Oil allowing him to remove the tiltrotator without having to get out of the cab will be very useful when it comes to working inside a trench box. “Most of our work allows me to keep the tiltrotator on, but there will be occasions where I need to reduce the width to work inside a narrow trench and having the opportunity to quickly remove it, will remove the possibility of causing any damage to it.” He commented. “We currently don’t have any hydraulic attachments to run under the EC-Oil hitch, but I would like to try a compactor plate to see how it compares with our trench roller we use.”

At the time of our visit, Tim was engaged on site stripping works ahead of constructing a new spine road into the site. Working from the edge of the previously completed roundabout, Tim showed off the engcon’s versatility immediately to build up the levels and compact material around existing drainage pipes. Sitting in one spot he was able to infill the area with material spreading it carefully around the markers for the pipe ends and profile the sides of the excavation without having to turn a track. “As this is my first tiltrotator, it does take some getting used to.” He commented. “I did have a tilt bucket on my last machine which has given me a little head start! What is good about the engcon DC2 operating system is that we were able to swap the tilt and rotate functions over on the joysticks to match my old set-up very easily.”

Whilst not only offering Tim the ability to undertake a wider variety of tasks, the addition of the engcon has offered the company significant time savings undertaking certain operations. “On certain jobs where material needs to be placed accurately, we would have turned the bucket around. Whilst this would only take a few seconds to do, doing this several times per hour can certainly add up. The engcon does away with that.” He comments. “Just the time taken in repositioning the excavator to undertake certain tasks has been massively reduced thanks to having the tiltrotator on. When linked to the MC1 system, just advances things to another level having no need for surveyors installing pegs and profile boards. It just allows me the ability to undertake a multitude of jobs single-handedly. It is surprising how quickly you get used to using the tiltrotator. I for one wouldn’t want to go back to not having it on my machine!”

On a personal note, the 200th Hitachi to be purchased by the company also carries a special livery with the counterweight of the machine is adorned with the logo of the Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity. Tim’s son Jack, who is now six, was diagnosed with a brain tumour at just 6 months of age and whilst treatment has removed the tumour, the side effects such as hydrocephalus has meant Tim and his family have spent many hours under the expert care of the Children’s Hospital as Jack receives treatment. “The entire team at Shannonside have been amazing with us throughout Jack’s treatment and when Brendan said he wanted to do something special for my machine, I didn’t expect this.” Tim said. “Brendan kindly donated to the hospital’s charity that has helped Jack and many other families throughout their treatment and for that we thank them sincerely. The company have been amazing with me when I have needed time off, sometimes at short notice and to have them hand me this machine with the charity’s logo on, was something very special.”

« We chose to purchase the engcon system as it allowed us to seamlessly integrate it with our Leica machine control. »

Brendan Carty
Shannonside Civil Engineering

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