Miller Pipeline has uncovered what it says is a safe and efficient alternative to handling steel plates with chains attached to a backhoe bucket. Instead, as part of a large-scale infrastructure replacement project in Concord, California, the contractor used vacuum lifting and included a safety demonstration of the technology for its Bay Area client, Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
Kevin Miller, president of Indianapolis-based Miller Pipeline, estimated that 400 holes were excavated as part of his company’s role in locating utility crossings ahead of directional drilling crews that worked to replace aging cast iron gas mains with those made of plastic.
The safety plan submitted by Miller Pipeline to PG&E included the application of a Vacuworx CM 3 Compact Modular Vacuum Lifting System attached to a John Deere 333 skid steer loader. The CM 3 is designed with a hydraulically driven vacuum pump that operates using the auxiliary hydraulics from a host machine. When activated, the system creates vacuum between the pad and object to be lifted, providing a powerful positive seal.
Miller Pipeline, an early adopter of Vacuworx for large-diameter pipe, used the new equipment to handle the daily moving of 40 steel plates required to cover areas potholed during the main installation process. Miller said that the method proved to be safe and efficient as only the operator was needed to effectively transport the plates, even while working in confined areas or near busy streets. As a result, workers were removed from harm’s way and freed to perform higher priority tasks.
“Without someone to guide the load, those chain suspended plates can be unstable, especially when moving them through a bunch of neighborhoods with narrow streets,” Miller said. “We may have 1,000 ft of ditch potholed, three or four blocks sometimes. Sometimes you have to go borrow (plates) and move plates from one end of the block to another.”
“This tool makes moving plates pretty simple, because it allows for a one-person operation,” Miller said, also eliminating the need for additional tools such as chains or magnetic handles to secure or stabilize the load. Labor savings, he noted, “is key” at the both the end and start of the workday.
“It’s still on the skid loader in the morning, reducing start-up time,” Miller said. “It’s a quick and stable way to move road plate over long distances.”
For more information on the CM 3 or any of our other innovative vacuum lifting systems, please contact [email protected] or 918-259-3050.
Editor's Note: Scranton Gillette Communications and the SGC Infrastructure Group are not liable for the accuracy, efficacy and validity of the claims made in this piece. The views expressed in this content do not reflect the position of the Roads & Bridges' Editorial Team.