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Swing lift cranes from Penny Hydraulics provide safer load handling for Northamptonshire Council

The MGWSP partnership formed by May Gurney and WSP to deliver integrated highways services to Northamptonshire County Council has specified Swing Lift cranes from Penny Hydraulics to provide employees with a safe and effective way of handling tools, equipment and supplies on and off commercial vehicles. Swing Lift cranes with 250kg and 500kg capacity have been installed on all of the maintenance vehicles operated by MGWSP across the contract.

"We look to cranes to reduce manual handling and decided on day one to fit the Swing Lift to all of our vehicles because it was the right thing to do to cover the basic manual handling tasks," says Ian McGivney, Operations Manager at MGWSP.

MGWSP’s contract with Northamptonshire County Council commenced in 2008 for an initial eight years with an option for a four year extension. The partnership aims to deliver all aspects of highways maintenance and design to the county, which has one of the longest major road networks in the country, using a complete range of in-house resources to maintain service availability, quality and delivery. The business currently employs more than 250 people at three depots, including its main site in Brixworth, and an office at the council headquarters and will add resources as the contract evolves.

This was the first contract secured by MGWSP and this meant it had to recruit additional employees and procure a complete range of equipment before the starting date. The initial batch of 46 vehicles used by operatives to carry out a range of maintenance tasks included units in the 3.5 to 18t range. These carry supplies such as kerbstones and surfacing materials as well as a range of equipment including hand tools, compactors and generators that all need to be handled on and off the vehicle before and after each job. Northamptonshire was very conscious of health and safety and keen to ensure everything was done within the current legislation.

"Health and safety is more stringent but rightly so," says Ian McGivney. "We need to get everything in place to make sure every aspect of manual handling is as safe as possible and provide our workforce with the best possible products."

The MGWSP partners had experience of using vehicle mounted cranes for load handling and recognised that this was the ideal solution for its new vehicles. After assessing a number of options the business selected Penny Hydraulics as its preferred crane supplier. All of the 3.5t vehicles and two 18t lorries have been equipped with a 250kg capacity Swing Lift crane while the larger 500kg version has been fitted to all of the 7.5t vehicles.

"As part of our wider operations we aim to reduce and eliminate the potential hazards associated with manual handling," says Ian McGivney.

The procurement of the vehicles was managed by MGWSP’s leasing partner which co-ordinated delivery with the various suppliers, including Penny Hydraulics, which then supplied the cranes with detailed fitting instructions to the chosen bodybuilder. Once the vehicles had been delivered Penny Hydraulics provided certified training to all MGWSP staff who use the cranes as part of an overall induction programme. This covered areas such as a crane’s capabilities, the way it should be used and how to carry out regular weekly checks. The training course was repeated around eight months later as a refresher for the original operatives and to provide an induction to staff recruited as the contract has grown. Around 50 operatives were trained during the first year.

"With the Swing Lift it has been about changing the mindset of the operatives and showing them what the crane is for, how to set it up and how to use it," says Craig Tattersall, Plant Controller at MGWSP.

The cranes are used every day of the contract for a variety of tasks such as loading and unloading plant such as compactor plates and compressors. The lightweight and compact design of the crane means it can be set up very easily by hand whenever required but folded away when not in use to leave a clear and unobstructed access to the vehicle and load space. The versatility of the cranes means that they are also used for lifting items such as gully covers and kerb stones to provide operatives with clearer access to the working area. Cranes fitted with a winch can also handle items below ground level.

Penny Hydraulics supports MGWSP with a range of services. The cranes have been very reliable since they have been in use and only a few minor issues have arisen. For example, on one occasion a Swing Lift 250 stopped working and when the MGWSP service engineer called the Penny Hydraulics factory they were taken through three simple checks to identify the problem. The replacement part was in stock and delivered overnight so the problem was solved within a day which meant MGWSP had virtually no downtime.

The cranes are inspected and serviced regularly in line with the LOLER regulations. MGWSP’s own in-house fitter is competent to carry out day-to-day maintenance tasks but has direct access to Penny Hydraulics if he needs to check anything with the support team at the factory. Penny Hydraulics can also provide on-site support from one of its nationwide team of engineers if required.

"Backup service and technical support has been first class," says Craig Tattersall. "We’ve had very little trouble with the cranes and at the most recent LOLER check we only needed to replace the locking pins used to secure the boom when it’s in transit on one crane and the wire rope on another."

All of the vehicles currently used by MGWSP have been equipped with a crane and the organisation expects to fit them to its new vehicles in the future. So far there have been no handling related reportable accidents.

"This is the way our industry is going," says Ian McGivney. "From our point of view cranes are a must."

Penny Hydraulics (www.pennyhydraulics.com) designs, manufactures and services lifting and load handling equipment for use in a wide range of applications. Products include the Swing Lift range of medium duty cranes for use on pick-ups, drop-sides and flat-beds and the Step Lift, Load Lift and Tail Lift lifting platform ranges for use on pick-ups, drop-sides and vans. The company also manufactures the Mezz Lift for handling loads between ground floor and mezzanines and specialist equipment for handling wheels, tyres and barrels in vehicles and at customers’ premises.

May Gurney (www.maygurney.co.uk) is an infrastructure services company. We are committed to helping our clients in the public and regulated sectors deliver sustainable improvements to front-line services across the UK. We make sure that the road, utility, rail and waterways networks and public buildings are well maintained and that household waste is collected, managed and recycled.

These essential maintenance services, which are based on long-term contracts, are the ones that are visible to local communities, and make a very real difference to the quality of life. They keep the country running. Our track record in delivering great operational performance has built long-term relationships with our clients, who rely on us to support and anticipate their current needs and improve future outcomes. This focus on excellent customer service drives May Gurney. And we never forget that our clients trust us to engage with their customers – communities and individuals – on their behalf. It’s a responsibility that everyone at May Gurney takes very seriously. May Gurney. Delivering essential services for our communities.

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