An Easy ConnectionPublished 2/3, 2017 at 16:04
Using excavators efficiently means using the right tool for the job. Changing a work tool manually is time consuming and can take up to 30 minutes. That is why more and more demolition and recycling contractors around the world are switching over to smart quick coupling systems. Two of the most well known suppliers in the world, Caterpillar and OilQuick are featured in this article.
Slow tool changes means serious downtime. It’s distracting for the operators too, who with many systems have to get out of the cab to fit the new tool and check the connection. So something paramount on all demolition sites today is to switch attachments quick and easy. Quick attachment changes are a demand that has come with among other changed environmental regulations and increased recycling procedures. The key to a quick change is most of all a smart, easy and reliable hydraulic quick coupling system. There are many suppliers of these systems but rather few devoted to serve the demolition industry. But here are two good examples:
Connect with Caterpillar
Two strong players featured in this issue in terms of quick coupling systems for professional use within demolition and recycling operations are Caterpillar and OilQuick.
Caterpillar through Cat Work Tools offer in total four different quick coupling systems. Cat CW Series quick coupler for 301-390t excavators, Auto-Connect hydraulic coupler for excavators that fits all major brands, the Pin-Grabber coupler for 311-349t excavators and the Fusion coupler for wheel loaders, the Caterpillar 938, 950, 962, 966 and 972 H & K Series.
The most relevant system for this feature is the Cat Auto-Connect hydraulic quick coupler system. This system fits all major brands of excavators. Caterpillar’s Auto-Connect hydraulic coupler automates tool exchange fully, so operators can change work tools automatically from the safety and comfort of their cabs. They simply disconnect one tool and pick up the next. It’s the fastest, most efficient way to switch tools while on the job. And the integral design is typically Caterpillar, preventing ruptured hoses and oil spills and cutting out manual intervention. The new Cat Auto-Connect works on all major makes of excavator.
Auto-Connect design allows for high flows at low backpressures to ensure tools are used most effectively and to maintain optimum performance and matching. The design also ensures a perfect connection by balancing the connecting forces evenly across hoses. And the working pressure of the fluid maintains that connection even more securely. Auto-Connect automatically connects up to five hydraulic ports that typically need to be connected and disconnected by hand. That shortens the time for exchanging a hydraulic work tool from around half an hour to just a few seconds. Cutting out manual intervention also avoids potential spillage of hydraulic oil into the environment.
Auto-Connect is an integrated solution containing a host of features that ensure absolute reliability in the field. Here are five important features:
1. Two-step connection – Simply hooking up the coupler immediately activates the wedge-lock, forming a tight mechanical connection. Only then is the hydraulic connection made automatically. When disconnecting, the situation is reversed – with the hydraulic fluid connectors being the first to disengage. This unique two-step procedure keeps the connecting forces low, preventing damage to sensitive hydraulic components, as well as eliminating fluid loss. Hydro-mechanical switches are used to ensure that the procedure is correctly sequenced.
2. Full Contamination Control on both Quick Coupler and Work Tool – A sliding cover keeps any dust and debris away from the hydraulic area, protecting the fluid connectors when not in use. Seals on both the Quick Coupler and the work tool cover have been included to close the gap with the cartridges, ensuring full contamination control.
3. Fail-safe operation – Even if hydraulic pressure is lost, the wedge will remain locked by the coil springs that retract it. If the circuit needs to be disconnected, the fluid connectors can be uncoupled manually in just a few seconds.
4. Precise alignment – Robust guiding pins align the Quick Coupler and work tool before the fluid connectors are engaged. A unique secondary alignment system secures the coupling.
5. Internally routed hoses – Hydraulic hoses are routed inside the work tool housing, greatly reducing the likelihood of a hose rupture during operation. The hose routing alongside the linkage idler also helps protect against hose rupture. Together, these design features reduce both machine downtime and oil spills into the environment.
Erith Group increases productivity with OilQuick automatic coupling system
Specialist demolition contractors Erith Group have recently made a significant investment in new plant and equipment to add to their already extensive fleet, including Hitachi Zaxis excavators ranging through various models in the 30-50 ton class. Erith Group Director Dave Darsey was insistent that all the new demolition spec machines purchased were to be fitted with the OilQuick automatic quick coupler system supplied and installed by Warrington based attachment specialist ECY Haulmark.
Having made the move initially to OilQuick back in November of 2013 Erith have since been reaping the benefits the OilQuick quick hitch system has to offer, in terms of safety for the site, operators and the increased productivity by no longer having to spend time manually changing between attachments. Since spring of 2015 Erith Group now have nineteen of their machines fitted and operating with OilQuick.
25 attachment changes per day
ECY Haulmark were invited along to witness one of the new machines, an Hitachi Zaxis 470LCH fitted with OilQuick OQ80 in action, working on a six month project in Garston, Liverpool dismantling a redundant gas holder.
The complexity of the project required the need to make up to 25 attachments changes per day between steel shear, selector grab and bucket. Site Manager Matthew Balson explained exactly what was involved in dismantling the gasholder. ““With limited access around the gasholder being an issue, we designed a methodology to dismantle the holder from the inside of the structure. We firstly had to remove a section of the crown to allow access for the excavator to get inside. The central area of the chamber was made up of a series of brick pillars with a cast iron stanchion, which was supporting the crown. A selector Grab and LaBounty MSD2000R steel shear were able to simultaneously demolish through the brick pillars and steel in sections at a very quick rate, thanks to the OilQuick being fitted. We then removed the outer steel walls, which were 12.5m deep. Unfortunately due to space constraints our machine operator Paul Best could only reach to a depth of 10-11m with the shear. We overcame this by Paul lowering a man cage into the annulus with a burner working along and upwards to six metres height. This then allowed Paul to reach in with the LaBounty steel shear and remove sections at a time all around the inside of the holder. The inner brick wall is to be retained to allow the remaining annulus to be in filled. Once this section of the project is complete, granular infill will be used to create an access within the central container to allow for a telescopic crane to enter and begin dismantling the surrounding circular steel structure working to a height of around forty five metres,” Matthew added, without the ability to make the attachment changes so quickly this project would have taken much longer to complete or seen the need for more machines working inside of the chamber.
Erith Group Managing director David Darsey commented “We initially took the OilQuick system on a two month trial demonstration in 2013 on one of our Hitachi 280 excavators and then subsequently purchased the system. On that machine I’m pleased to say, since the OilQuick system has been on we have been totally satisfied with its performance to date carrying out heavy demolition activities using various attachments, not one hose has been replaced.
Since then we have purchased a further eighteen units. This is a testament to the quality of the OilQuick product, together with a great after sales back up from ECY Haulmark.”
More and more contractors turn to OilQuick to get a smart and quick tool change solution and here follows some testimonials from some of the current users.
"We recently installed OilQuick on our 30t to 38t machines and is our intention to have our full fleet fitted with OilQuick in the next 12 months,” says Connell Brothers Ltd, Managing Director Jim Connell.
J Mould Managing Director Jay Mould says that, "Although a costly outlay at the outset, OilQuick is proving to be one of the best investments we have made in the last few years. "
"Obviously the initial outlay and costs installing OilQuick do work out expensive but I can already see the overall benefits on progress of current projects/contracts and their swift turnaround, it’s definitely the way forward and we will continue to update our further fleet in time to come,” says City Demolition Managing Director Mark Doyle.
"Erith now have 22 excavators equipped with OilQuick, with the intention to upgrade the entire fleet as our renewal programme continues,” end Erith Contractors Limited Managing Director David Darsey.