Water companies in Hungary are benefiting from British innovation to handle pumps and other equipment in access shafts safely and economically after local handling specialist Modul Stor supplied compact cranes designed and manufactured by Penny Hydraulics in the UK. Some of the companies are using portable Davit Cranes while others have installed compact SwingLift cranes on their commercial vehicles.
Modul Stor is an established materials handling specialist that has represented Penny Hydraulics in Hungary and neighbouring countries for some years. The company identified an opportunity to supply the country’s hundred or so water companies after undertaking market research to asses their current handling provision.
At the time many water companies did not have appropriate equipment for handling pumps and small items of plant weighing up to 200kg in access shafts and manholes. Some pumping stations were equipped with fixed gantry crane pillars that had manual chains blocks or electric hoists. Many of these had been fabricated in-house or came from manufacturers who were unable to supply proper documentation. While these considerations were less important when the equipment had been installed the water companies were keen to ensure compliance once the country had joined the EU. In reality neither type of equipment was very effective because the weight of a chain block made it difficult to lift and attach to the pillars which could be up to two metres high. It was also expensive to install gantries at each site for the relatively rare occasions that access to pumps was required. Other sites had basic davit-type cranes which although designed to be portable were impractical and too heavy because they were made from steel and weighed around 50kg.
Modul Stor introduced the water companies to the portable Penny Hydraulics Davit Crane. This lightweight, robust and compact device was originally developed for the UK utility sector. The 500kg maximum working load of the standard model offered a versatile and effective solution for handling pumps and other items. A powerful electric winch mounted on the boom allows loads to be lowered as much as 9m below ground level. Power is supplied from any vehicle using jump leads or a standard electric service socket. A wander lead enables remote control so that operatives can stand clear of moving parts during lifting operations for the best possible safety. The device can also be used with standard block and tackle if preferred or when power is unavailable.
The Davit Crane is manufactured in two pieces from durable aluminium for an ideal combination of low weight and high strength. The whole crane, including winch, weighs 47kg when fully assembled. It is mounted into a simple socket adjacent to the manhole or access shaft and can be dismantled for easy transport. The largest sub-assembly weighs just 24kg which means all components can be carried within the existing manual handling regulations.
The water companies install sockets supplied by Modul Stor in all the locations where they intend to use the Davit Cranes. When access is required they simply take a crane to the site and mount it in the socket. In this way a small number of cranes can cover multiple sites and provide the companies with a highly economical and reliable solution to their handling requirements. Modul Stor has supplied over 25 of the cranes to customers in the past two years. Many of these are relatively small operations serving small areas. For these, one or two cranes and 30 or 40 sockets provides the capability to cover their entire estate economically and reliably.
Although the Davit Crane is successful and popular in Hungary some of the water companies recognised that loader cranes fitted to their vehicles would offer the ability to handle the pumps but with the added flexibility to handle all kinds of other loads on and off their vehicles. In the past some of these companies hired commercial vehicles fitted with large loader cranes whenever they needed to retrieve underground pumps to carry out maintenance work. This was uneconomical because hiring is expensive and the cranes were much larger than required to handle the pumps. When these companies looked at installing cranes on their own vehicles they realised that most manufacturers could only offer models with large maximum working loads which also made them prohibitively expensive.
Modul Stor recommended the compact and versatile Penny Hydraulics Swing Lift range and some water companies have since fitted the SwingLift FV1200. This versatile crane offers fully hydraulic performance with a maximum working load of 1200kg which makes it suitable for the majority of loads handled by the water companies. The crane is supplied with a winch which means it can handle items below ground level. Its light weight and compact dimensions mean it can be installed on 3.5t vehicles operated by the water companies which is not always possible with larger cranes from other manufacturers.
One of Modul Stor’s largest recent contracts was to supply a regional water company with a SwingLift F500 crane with 500kg maximum working load and four Davit Cranes to provide complete handling flexibility for its operations. Another water company has considered the biggest SwingLift model with 2000kg maximum working load.
Modul Stor supports its customers with a range of after sales services including routine maintenance contracts. This service also includes the annual statutory thorough inspections of all load handling equipment that are required by EU law. The company holds a small stock of spares although Penny Hydraulics can supply components for all of its products from stock by courier.