After witnessing what a swing attachment and jaw bucket could do for a neighboring county’s public works department, Paul Stubbs, road supervisor for the North Latah County Highway District, proposed the acquisition of the PowerTilt swing attachment and the PowerGrip multi-purpose jaw bucket to his county commissioners. After receiving budget approval, Stubbs’ team procured two of each product for their CAT excavator fleet.
Every day poses new challenges for the highway district, and it was imperative to find attachments that could keep up with the skilled team maintaining the county’s infrastructure. Stubbs said on any given day, his team may need to widen roads, slope banks, clean ditches, replace culverts, remove brush or trim trees. The new attachments allow the highway district to move seamlessly between these tasks without skipping a beat.
“With [the attachments], we complete a variety of roadside maintenance and repair projects faster and with a better finished appearance than before,” Stubbs said.
Before using the product combination, the highway district cleared brush and trees with a cylinder-style swing coupler and thumb combination. That combination was cumbersome, lacking gripping capability when rotated and involved a significant disturbance to roadside vegetation, resulting in an untidy finished look. However, the new bucket’s jaw functionality can be used through the full range of the new swing attachment’s rotation to reduce disturbance to vegetation.
“Tree and brush removal is less invasive due to the ability of grabbing the brush at the base and pulling it out, instead of having to dig the root system out. Branches of trees can be snapped off with [the jaw bucket], leaving the tree, which has garnered positive feedback from county residents,” Stubbs said.
Equipment Operator Tom Carter agrees with Stubbs’ impressions of the attachments. “[The swing attachment] allows us to hold the [jaw bucket] at the perfect angle for sloping and ditching work without drift,” Carter said. The bucket’s multi-purpose functionality saves time, since it can seamlessly transition between grading with the smooth lip, clamming material to move it out of the way and trenching like a conventional digging bucket and functioning like a thumb or grapple.
With the product combination and an excavator, an equipment operator can handle all steps of culvert installation or replacement more efficiently and safely. The operator angles the bucket with the attachment and scarifies the road surface with the corner of the bucket. Then, the operator digs out the weakened soil or substrate to the depth of the existing culvert or to the appropriate trench dimensions for the new culvert installation.
“Previously, culverts were lifted and stood on end to clean them out with chains, which created some potential hazards,” Stubbs said. “We can now grab the culvert with [the bucket] and rotate it with [the attachment], dumping any loose material out, virtually eliminating the risk of an uncontrolled event.”