UK-based foundations engineering contractor Bachy Soletanche and Italian equipment manufacturer Soilmec have developed a remote control system for loading and unloading piling rigs from trailers. Bachy Soletanche said this addressed a key safety issue, and would also improve rig utilisation.

Andrew Egglesden, plant manager, at Bachy Soletanche, explained, “Unloading rigs safely has long been an area for concern for site teams up and down the UK, and indeed the wider industry. There are a number of challenges a team has to overcome, and we saw this as being a risk to our on-site teams, a risk we were keen to remove.”

“Many piling rigs have crawler bases that retract for transportation purposes, which often means that access to the cab when unloading is restricted, difficult and can pose health and safety risks. Access can be further hindered by foldable platforms provided as a safe means of access and egress when the machine is rigged up.”

Bachy Soletanche and Soilmec said they were inspired by smaller drilling rigs, which often feature radio remote control to allow the operator to stand in the best possible position for tracking and drilling, for the solution.

Andrew Carpenter, group safety, health, environment and quality director at Bachy Soletanche, said, “When the plant team witnessed one of our operators struggling to get out of the cab of a piling rig - when the crawlers were retracted and the machine was on a low loader - they believed there had to be a better way of getting the rig on and off the lorry.

"So, when we bought two new rigs from Soilmec last year, we asked its team to deliver a solution to this problem. The brief was to design a light weight, ergonomic remote control, from which our operators could start the engine, adjust the engine speed, track the machine and stop the engine – giving the operator adequate control to safely load and unload the rig. And, that is exactly what the team delivered. Our piling rig operators and maintenance staff unanimously agree that it is a big step forward for operator safety.”

In addition, the use of this technology allows better communication between rig operators and banksmen during loading and unloading, allowing safer positioning with an improved line of sight.

Bachy Soletanche said it is looking at retro fitting of radio remote controls to its existing fleet of piling rigs and is actively encouraging the wider industry to adopt this approach. Soilmec now offers a radio remote control option on any new piling rig.

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