Construction Equipment Great Britain

Cutting out the element of risk

Morrison Utility Services (MUS) has added a further 60 Volvo EC18Ds and 3 ECR50Ds to its mobile plant fleet, all of which have been fitted with unique safety features to prevent the inadvertent operation of controls, thus significantly cutting out large elements of risk.


Already a significant user of Volvo utility equipment MUS has been adding EC17s and EC18s to its mobile plant fleet since 2000 and, in the process, has developed a strong relationship with Leeds based Chippindale Plant - Volvo’s utility dealer covering Yorkshire and the north east of England.

This latest batch of sixty Volvo EC18Ds and three ECR50Ds has been equipped with unique, factory fitted safety features to satisfy MUS’ requirements. “Our aim is always to significantly reduce and preferably eliminate elements of risk in all areas of our operations,” explains Jeremy Harrison, MUS Director of Plant and Fleet Services. “One major area of concern is the inadvertent operation of machine controls by our operatives working on site. This could be the accidental use of machine controls such as clothing brushing against servo levers or even a deliberate shortcut. We therefore challenged Chippindale Plant and Volvo Construction Equipment to devise a system that eliminated these scenarios,” he continued.

With this remit in mind Volvo’s compact excavator design engineers came up with a unique solution which has been fitted to all of the latest 63 machines. The net result is a system whereby the operator must be seated and, having lowered the left hand control console (which normally activates the hydraulic system), must then activate a separate switch on the dashboard to make the system live.

Each time an operative lifts the left hand console or leaves the seat, the switch must be depressed again to re-activate the system. It means, for example, if the operator stands up to look into the trench bring dug, an accidental, uncontrolled movement of the machine cannot occur when the operative sits back down.

An additional requirement was to facilitate the safe use of hydraulically operated hand-held tools. All sixty EC18Ds have been fitted with additional service lines and a similar unique safety feature requiring a second switch on the dash board to be depressed to activate the hydraulics.

Once depressed this isolates all other hydraulic functions of the machine. Aside from the hand held tool operation, no other accidental or unauthorised use of the machine can therefore take place. Conversely, once the machine is being operated in the normal way, the hand held tool line is isolated.

“We see these safety features as a significant improvement towards the safety of our operatives and the safety of other personnel on site,” says Jeremy Harrison. “Having these features on this latest batch of machines has already proved very positive with our major contracts. Both Chippindale and Volvo have designed a unique solution which is now a factory fitted option to the point the modus operandi for the operator is included in the operator’s manual,” he continues.

Further enhancements include the addition of a key pad ‘E touch’ security system, Enigma telematics to track them and Cesar identification. All machines have also been painted in the distinctive MUS red and white livery.
A dozer blade ground protector has also been added by MUS which can be easily attached to protect pavements and other vulnerable surfaces, avoiding unnecessary reinstatement costs.

Another important area for machine safety is transportation from site to site and once again MUS is at the forefront in this regard having collaborated with Daventry based Brian James Trailers who has supplied their ‘Digadoc’ trailers. Once loaded, the EC18D is driven up onto the trailer floor and under an adjustable cowl which effectively locks the machine in place, whilst the hitch and bucket at the end of the dipper arm are locked onto a bespoke pillar.

MUS has requested enhancements, such as LED lighting and a neat frame arrangement that, when lowered, provides greater security of the three buckets and small hydraulic hammer. The trailer features good stepping access for the operator and, again, as part of an anti-theft measure, the MUS name is laser cut on the trailer frame.

“This is yet another example of safe operation, negating the need to use straps, which again reduces the element of risk of failure or incorrect or poor positioning,” says Jeremy Harrison. “We’ve worked in a similar fashion with the trailer manufacturer to come up with a design which allows us to transport the 1.8 tonne machine with its requisite attachments in a safe and legal manner with the absolute minimum of risk to our operatives.”

“In summary, we are very pleased with the outcome,” continues Jeremy. “Chippindale Plant and Volvo have stepped up to the mark in helping us achieve our goals. We rate the Volvo product very highly in terms of its reliability, quality of build, operator acceptance and not least residual value. In addition, we appreciate Volvo’s ability to provide parts and service support from the north of Scotland to the far south west of England.”

Morrison Utility Services is passionate about taking positive steps to eliminating risk and is an advocate for sharing best practice within the utilities sector of the industry.

“Going forward, we will insist on having safety features to avoid the inadvertent operation of controls on plant we purchase and will only work with hire suppliers who strive to do the same,” says Jeremy Harrison. “We are therefore very proactive in trying to establish a code of practice within our sector using HSE guidance notes for this subject as a working platform.”

Morrison Utility Services is one of the U.K.’s leading utility services providers working with clients in the electricity, gas, water and telecommunications sectors. The company’s business is centred on the provision, replacement, repair and maintenance of the utilities network infrastructure and has locations and depots strategically covering the whole of the U.K.

Chippindale Plant Ltd of Leeds is the dealer for Volvo utility equipment including compact excavators and compact loaders covering Yorkshire and the north east of England. The company, established in 1949, currently provides a hire and sales service for Volvo utility equipment and complementary products such as site dumpers, rollers and tele-handlers.

Volvo Construction Equipment markets wheeled loaders, articulated haulers, hydraulic excavators, Volvo utility equipment and Volvo road equipment products in Great Britain. There are eight strategically placed customer support centres and a network of utility equipment dealers to ensure high quality customer support is maintained throughout the country.


For further information, please contact: -
Amy Metcalfe, Marketing Manager
Telephone: 01223 836636