Improving productivity in a variety of tasks

Sept. 17, 2009

The West Virginia Department of Highways is responsible for maintaining and repairing thousands of miles of public roads and state highways to support the environment and communities in West Virginia. The department needed a durable tilt attachment that could withstand the use and abuse of digging in rocky soil. It also wanted a tool that would reduce its reliance on manual labor to perform a variety of tasks, such as cleaning ditches, laying and repairing pipe and removing asphalt.

The West Virginia Department of Highways is responsible for maintaining and repairing thousands of miles of public roads and state highways to support the environment and communities in West Virginia. The department needed a durable tilt attachment that could withstand the use and abuse of digging in rocky soil. It also wanted a tool that would reduce its reliance on manual labor to perform a variety of tasks, such as cleaning ditches, laying and repairing pipe and removing asphalt.

After adding PowerTilt to its backhoes, the department found a tilt attachment that outlasted its previous backhoe without needing any repairs. Productivity increased between 30 to 75% depending on the task performed.

Before the tilt attachment, installing pipe in landscaped areas in West Virginia required time-intensive manual labor and finish work to clean up the jobsite. Since the machine couldn’t always be leveled to obtain the required level bottom in the ditch, West Virginia Department of Highways used the tilt attachment to dig the trench to the appropriate depth and width for pipe installation. With PowerTilt , operators could tilt the bucket to level and make the bed for the open top drain or the drop inlet level.

Since backfill couldn’t be allowed into either the open top drains or the drop inlets, operators previously had to dump backfill on the side of the ditch and shovel it in by hand. With the tilt attachment, they simply position the bucket 45 degrees and drop the fill rock out of the corner.

Backfilling was also a backbreaking manual task accomplished with shovels. But installing the pipe and backfilling the trench with the attachment is a breeze. Workers can tilt the bucket to 90 degrees and use the edge of the bucket just like a rake. Excess dirt can be pulled off the grass or concrete. The department often makes minor adjustments to the angle of the bucket to follow the contours of the land.

The department spends a fair amount of time using a tilt attachment for pipe repair projects. These projects start with digging around both sides of the pipe. Then the bucket is a tilted and a tooth is used to loosen the soil around the sides of pipe.

If the pipe just needs straightening, the department can tilt the bucket, use a tooth to hook the lip at the end of the pipe and then lift to straighten the pipe. When the end needs to be cut off, the department uses the attachment to tilt the bucket 90 degrees and dig under the pipe so they can get all the way around it with a cut-off saw. Because of this, the department saves on manual labor and the job takes about 35% less time, said Wyatt Reed, backhoe operator for the West Virginia Department of Highways.

With the attachment, the department can also easily dig the required V-shaped ditches. The attachment’s180 degrees of side-to-side swing rotation allows workers to get down into the ditch with just the right angle for a perfect finish. Previously, the ditches ended up with a "U" profile.

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