Amey’s Multihogs provide an all-seasonal solution for snow blowing, flail and bank mowing as well as permanent patching repairs on the Scottish Trunk Road South East (STRU SE) & M8 network, doing more, for less, more effectively
The M8, M73, M74 DBFO (Design, Build, Finance and Operate) Scottish Roads Partnership (SRP) project is a £415m project that involves the design, construction, financing and operation of an infrastructure project to complete the central Scotland motorway network linking Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The operation aspect of the contact includes a diverse range of highway maintenance operations. In such situations, maximum utilisation of any asset is therefore imperative to ensure value for the client, maintaining a competitive edge, whilst optimising service delivery.
In terms of improving service at minimum cost, the veteran contractor has many machines working across the UK from North Lanarkshire to Hampshire and everywhere in between on local and strategic highways networks. When it comes to innovation, Amey is an experienced achiever with Multihog.
Based on this proven experience, two Multihog MH90 machines were hired with the intention to help reduce fleet inefficiency, maximise utilisation and decrease downtime by selecting specific areas of operation to use the same machines for different tasks.
A cut above convention
As with many high-speed networks, the steep slopes that surround areas of the Scottish Trunk Roads and M8 require maintenance in order to prevent overgrowth that can also lead to driver visibility and safety issues.
Traditionally, specialist mowing equipment was used to tackle this tough terrain, incurring costs that would invariably be built into bids. However, the Multihog’s unique low centre of gravity, articulated same track pivot steer design and advanced sure drive system, with two stage differential lock, provides the perfect platform for mowing on flat roadside surfaces, as well as steep slopes and uneven areas.
The network covers approximately 6,000,000 m² of grass cutting per year, with the Multihogs used for high and medium frequency cut areas. The machine’s excellent ergonomics allows for superior operator comfort, including the patented tilting working station with adjustable air-suspension seat allowing a 20⁰ tilt left or right. Near 360⁰ visibility increases performance and control, because all Multihog mower attachments are front mounted, creating a cleaner cut and eradicating risk of repetitive strain injury (RSI) associated with side or rear mounted attachments.
John Murphy, Prinicpal Construction Manager at Amey outlines his original aim: “Whilst we did have several operational requirements and did not wish to have several machines tasked with a limited amount of jobs, which would stand idle for the rest of the year, we needed to ensure any machine capable of tacking different duties matched, or improved upon, traditional equipment available to us. Needless to say, to achieve this the Multihog really was head and shoulders above anything else out there in terms of versatility, efficiency and productivity in all areas of application.”
In order to ensure optimum performance Amey’s Multihogs were developed to be easily transferred between dual tyres, for superior stabilised mowing, as well as general all-round continental tyres for general flail mowing, road planing and snow blowing ensuring adaptability all-year-round.
Reactive winter resilience
The quick interchangeability of attachments was key for the Amey team on the Scottish Trunk Roads as John Murphy outlines: “We are required to act as quick as a change in the weather and the Multihog really does transform from patch planing or verge mowing to winterisation within a couple of minutes. I must say changing the attachments is simple but very effective. Dedicated snow blowers are sometimes a wasted asset when rarely used but the Multihog is flat-out and the snow blower attachment shifts snow from the hard shoulder with ease.”
In severe weather the Multihog plays a pivotal role as part of a wider team of specialist winter maintenance vehicles. Larger snow ploughs clear the main carriageways, guiding snow towards the hard shoulder creating a strong snowy build-up for the robust Multihog to distribute in a safe and effective manner.
The powerful Multihog and snow blower attachment combination achieves in excess of 500 tonnes per hour, in the harshest conditions, and the hydraulically operated chute, controlled from the heated cab, enables precise and safe distribution of snow.
Like with any maintenance issue on the high speed network, reaction and completion times of short-term work is key but to achieve this, with regards to road planing, you need a tough machine to tackle the robust Scottish trunk roads.
Amey North Lanarkshire (Scottish South East Trunk Roads) achieved faster, safer and greener repairs utilising the Multihog for road planing and winter clearance but Michael Keenan, Highways Operations Manager (STRU SE), explains why he was confident in the Multihogs from day-one: “The machine is well established as one of the most productive self-propelled planing units available on the market. This was clear from success elsewhere on other Amey contracts in North Lanarkshire, Liverpool, Halton, Hampshire, Kent and Staffordshire to name but a few so the decision was an easy one. The fact we knew we could increase productivity and become more cost-effective at the same time made it a no brainer so it is no surprise this has proven to be the case.”
Michael is particularly complimentary on the speed at which the Multihog is able to excavate category 1 and 2 defects in comparison to conventional breaker methods, ensuring a “fix-first-time” approach is achieved, with any opportunity to carry out greater volume of work with the Multihog limited by hotbox capacity. The machine is also popular amongst the operations team claims Michael “with anyone who has worked with the machine on the patching squad swearing by the performance and wishing it had been around 20 years ago”.
Amey’s two machines operate across the high speed network between Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling (with the New Addition of the Forth Road Bridge Contract in June 2015) with the front mounted, side-shifting and traversing flail arm and flail deck mower attachment as well as the snow blower and patch planer with dust-suppression attachments keeping busy all-year-round.
Due to the unrivalled versatility of the Multihogs, John and Michael are working with Multihog to investigate extra applications specific to the high speed contract, which includes a harrowing attachment for the French drain system, which runs alongside the majority of road, to improve drainage and maintenance emphasising the continued potential for adding value to the asset through innovation.