Minimizing the risk of injury to personnel while maintaining highly productive work environments in heavy traffic areas is a primary challenge associated with the development and maintenance of America’s roads and highways.
Becco Contractors Inc., a Tulsa-based civil construction company, focused on heavy highway projects in Northeastern Oklahoma, has invested in a method of material handling designed to increase efficiency and reduce exposure to hazards on the job.
Becco’s safety director Carl Carlson, commenting on the company’s recent acquisition of a Vacuworx HL Series Hydraulic Lifter, pointed to their experience using it on a recent mill and overlay project along a five-mile stretch of the Will Rogers Turnpike between Tulsa and Claremore.
Coupling the Vacuworx HL B1 with a Volvo PC 235 excavator, Becco utilized the system to install and remove approximately 1/2 mile of 12 ft.-long barrier walls as its crews, tasked with repairing and painting the center median of the Interstate 44-designated turnpike, were required to periodically open and close lanes.
The HL B1 is a hydraulic lifting attachment designed exclusively to handle concrete road barriers up to 12 ft. long and weighing up to 6,000 lb. It is compatible with carrier equipment such as excavators and backhoes, and operates using the hydraulic system of the host machine.
Featuring remote operation and 360° rotation, HL Series lifters are able to precisely maneuver barriers even in confined spaces. The operator has greater control of the load than when using hooks, straps or chains, so there is no need for a tagline operator to guide the barrier into position on the ground.
Becco was among the first to trial the HL Series, working closely with Vacuworx to provide feedback during the later stages of development. Over the course of the last year, the company has used the system to load or install more than 5,000 ft. of concrete barrier wall for local projects, and loaded thousands of feet more during the initial discovery period.
Carlson, comparing hydraulic lifting with the mechanical, scissor-lift type clamps Becco had used in the past, said that overall efficiency has been improved since the Vacuworx system requires only one operator and one worker on the ground to safely lift, maneuver and position concrete barrier walls.
Becco wrapped up the approximately 90-day Will Rogers Turnpike project—on time and on budget—in early August. Carlson noted that the HL B1 is used on a daily basis in Becco’s staging yard. He said that one of their major goals in relation to increasing competitiveness revolves around finding ways to shorten loading and unloading cycles, while also implementing the use of mechanisms that reduce liability by removing workers from harm’s way.
“It is more efficient to have fewer body parts around materials, moving them away from pinch points, away from the barrier when it is being lifted,” Carlson said. “When you can cut a process from three to four guys down to two, it is a considerable savings because the other two can be carrying on with other projects. The operator positions it, clamps it and goes on with it. There is really no downtime.”