After answering the call of experienced arb contractor Eddie Warrener, Xwatch’s custom solutions go under the spotlight.

EXPERIENCED mechanised arb contractor Eddie Warrener recently faced a dilemma when a safety alert from the Forest Industry Safety Accord (FISA) and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) highlighted the fact that mechanical tree work with an excavator clearly falls under LOLER regulations and all the due processes these regulations entail.

Eddie runs a specialist Liebherr 924 material handler unit within his fleet, with a range of attachments to undertake mechanical tree dismantling. A custom telescopic extension arm would clearly come under much scrutiny through the latest industry guidance.
Considering his options, Eddie faced a clear choice between investing to make his current machine/attachment setup compliant or simply selling the base machine and attachment.

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Having made a clear plan as to his requirements, and the fact he had varying previous experiences of several RCI (rated capacity indicator) installs, a challenge was issued via social media for companies to get in touch who may be interested in supplying a custom solution.

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During this process a heads-up from a very trusted source, a director of a large national plant hire company, provided very positive feedback on how reliable Xwatch installs had been, and how operators were quite literally able to pick up the system straight away with minimal training input.

Having chosen Xwatch, an initial approach was made to see how receptive the firm may be to such a challenge. Staff very quickly arranged for an online Teams meeting with Eddie and the Xwatch engineers. Following this, a basic action plan was formed which would begin with tip testing of the base Liebherr machine, both with and without the telescopic extension arm to ascertain some initial load chart parameters to work with, and look at solutions for all the minor custom details that Eddie required.

After a site visit from Xwatch staff to complete the initial tip testing and talk through the details, a final action plan was formed.

The final specification brief provided to Xwatch was very comprehensive, and Eddie was specific that it was an all-or-nothing situation, where no aspect could be compromised on, or the project simply couldn’t go ahead.

The specification included testing and new load charts for the Liebherr 924 material handler with and without the telescopic extension and the charts must be continuous 360 duty, not over the front/side type.

A full Xwatch RCI system needed to be installed to the base machine with full height, slew, and reach envelope monitoring restriction. The system also needed to be incorporated into the telescopic extension arm, this had to be real-time information for the whole stroke of the telescopic portion.

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The base machine needed to be able to change duty charts on the RCI when the telescopic extension arm is fitted with all functions of the system working seamlessly.

The telescopic extension arm is fitted with an additional safety pin which prevents the quick hitch ever being operable once the attachment is installed. The Xwatch system needed to recognise when this pin is installed and prevent operation until it is properly fitted.

Other requirements were audible and visual warnings to indicate when the system is switched on and functioning, plus overload situation and finally a supervisor key that enables slew, height, and reach limits to be set and locked, with the operator unable to override this from the cab.

Eddie explained that as part of his plan, he had decided to allow Xwatch to install the most basic machine in his fleet, a JCB JS145 long reach unit, with a full RCI and slew, height, and reach envelope monitoring system to determine the quality of installs and the performance of the system.

Having operated the machine during a highways project on the A1, he was able to see first-hand just how intuitive to use and reliable the Xwatch system was, this was a major factor in allowing them to progress to the engineering stage.

Eddie added that if the team was successful, the icing on the cake would be to install his JCB JS370 22-metre long reach unit, which would make his entire fleet Xwatch installed.
Installation began with experts undertaking what was always going to be a challenging install, due to the fact that the Liebherr is fitted with an elevating cab and there is very little room under the panels. Just to confuse things even more the machine is fitted with an SVAB control system, plus Engcon Ec-Oil quick hitch, which would inevitably create their own issues to any work.

Eddie said he was impressed at how placings were selected for the main Xwatch components that would provide easy access and reliable service, with real attention to detail throughout, any issues during the install were discussed as to how they could be slightly improved and were immediately acted upon, and the whole final install described as “first class”.

Other staff were on hand throughout, doing specific engineering on the telescopic extension arm, and then much of the final fine-tuning aspect of the system. What impressed Eddie was how the Xwatch team worked together on site with constant remote support for the office to bring together the solution. He said: “These are highly experienced, knowledgeable and talented people with a real eye for detail and more importantly a true passion to deliver what they promise, it’s refreshing to see in this industry.”

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The Xwatch team had a deadline to deliver for a very specific project, where a number of willow trees along a ditch deemed too dangerous to climb had to be removed over a fence safely by mechanical means.

This site had many factors, firstly being an attraction open to the public that couldn’t be closed, a very tight drop zone, no ability to bring large machinery to process the material after, and much focus on all aspects of the operation being undertaken safely.
Eddie was able to provide his client with all the necessary information to produce the RAMS and lift plan in advance, and many features of the Xwatch helped tremendously in this aspect.

On the day, the machine was able to safely dismantle the trees into small sections and land them into a tight drop zone for manual processing, with the Xwatch providing Eddie real-time information on the RCI to ensure everything was kept well within safe limits.

The slew restriction feature was utilised to ensure the machine could not go beyond the tight confines, and once set, locked and checked, the supervisor’s key was handed over to ensure no override was possible of this function from the cab.

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Visual warning was provided by the purple flashing beacon that the system was functioning, and the audible alarm gave warning of any possible overload situation.

Eddie was impressed that the whole job was completed with only two activations of the overload alarm.

On both occasions it was willow limbs that had rooted themselves into the ground unseen and provided greater resistance than previously thought.

He said: “It was a great little showcase witnessed by my client’s health and safety manager that demonstrated the Xwatch was doing its job perfectly, warning both the operator and those around that limits were being approached, and the operation should cease.

“Obviously in this case the material was already on the floor and it was simple to cut it into smaller sections, then pull out the pieces that had rooted into the ground causing the issue with the greater capacity available but clearly the system was active and functional.”

Eddie added: “Certainly, the feedback from the project has been fantastic from all involved, and it really did showcase how the features of Xwatch can make the planning and execution of mechanised arb far simpler and safer for all involved.

“My JCB JS145 long reach unit is currently working on a highway safety tree clearance project, where the operator was literally able to pick up the operation of the Xwatch system straightaway with minimal instruction such is the intuitive nature of the unit. It’s quite telling that the other large machine on the project, a JCB 140X from the Tree Brothers, is also fitted with a full Xwatch system, and it’s really becoming the go-to system for the mechanised arb industry.”

So it’s a big thumbs up from Eddie Warrener for Xwatch and the safety revolution.