With a number of safety alerts already having been issued by the HSE in connection with quick hitches, and increasing concern in the construction industry, as well as with manufacturers and other organisations, it now appears certain that legislation will be tightened and new directives applied which could result in the banning of certain types of quick hitch.
The HSE's investigations have centred upon the failure, by the operator, to follow set operating procedures; more specifically the requirement to manually insert a safety pin when using semi-automatic hitches. Tragically, there have been four fatalities in the past year alone due to excavator buckets or other attachments becoming accidentally detached from quick hitch devices.
Ireland based Hill Engineering Ltd are confident that they can offer a potential solution to this problem. The advanced, market-leading design of their fully automatic 'Safety First' Auto-Loc quick hitch enables the operator to visually confirm from the excavator cab that the bucket or other attachment is securely locked in position – a vitally important and potentially life saving safety feature.
The Auto-Loc has been purpose-designed to put operator safety first and foremost, and is unique to Hill Engineering. In addition, it not only fully complies with existing safety standards but also meets imminent new European legislation – which, surprisingly, most other hitch manufacturers fall short of.
In particular the Auto-Loc conforms to the British Standard for Earthmoving Machinery Part 5, Paragraph 4.1.9 of BS EN 474.5:1996, which was a key factor in the design brief for the development of the 'Safety First' range.
This states that …”it shall be possible to verify the locked position of the attachment bracket and the attachment from the operator's position, or from the location where the locking control is operated.”
As the Hill Auto-Loc hitch is fully automatic in its operation, there is no requirement for the operator to leave the cab, to remove or insert safety pins, when changing from one attachment to another. This eliminates the risk of the safety pin being inserted incorrectly or not being inserted at all.
The Auto-Loc's innovative design goes beyond the BS Standard, in that it ensures that attachments can only be released when the boom is in a safe working position. Additional safety features include a check valve fitted to the ram and a certified lifting eye fitted as standard.
Delivering exceptional flexibility, the Auto-Loc offers the option to fit a non removable safety pin to provide an extra safety feature.
For the safety conscious operator all these built-in safety features help guarantee complete peace of mind.
Ian Hill, Managing Director of Hill Engineering said “With the Auto-Loc providing what I consider to be the safest and best engineered quick hitch on the market today, there's no need for lives to be put at risk.”
Having been enthusiastically received by the industry, more than 6,000 'Safety First' hitches are already now in regular use, with continuing excellent feedback from users.
Hill Engineering also produces a range of excavator buckets fabricated from heavy duty steel and featuring a box beam for increased strength, enabling them to provide a complete hitches and buckets package for their customers. All Hill products are ISO 9001 and CE compliant.
Originally established in 1994, Hill Engineering moved to new £4.5 million, 85,000 sq.ft, purpose-designed, state-of-the-art premises in 2006, whilst retaining its original nearby premises in Newry, Co.Down, as a dedicated research & development facility.
In this highly competitive market, where outsourcing to lower cost labour zones has become the norm, Hill have looked for alternatives so that they can more closely monitor and control the overall quality, performance and safety standards of their products and are currently investing £2 million in the robotic automation of their entire bucket production line.
And, as a forward thinking company, Hill Engineering also continues to invest heavily in research & development in order to provide top quality, highly reliable, world-class attachments.
The company's products are now sold extensively in the UK and Ireland, as well as across Europe and the USA.
Customer focused and with a flexible approach Hill can tailor their equipment to meet individual customer requirements.
This flexibility, the drive to succeed and the mutual respect of customers has seen Hill Engineering positioned at the forefront of the attachments industry.