Converted ADTs propel groundworks specialist forward

GDL’s converted Hydrema 922D

A duo of Hydrema articulated dump trucks have been converted for use as binder spreaders by a Whitburn-based ground engineering contractor, which has proved a “game changer” for the business.

Ground Developments Limited (GDL) was in the market for a replacement solution for a set of propelled lime spreaders for soil distribution, having used converted forestry forwarders, as they offered very low ground pressure, well suited to working on soft ground.

“The Hydrema 922 was similar in configuration,” explained Kevin Mackenzie, managing director of GDL. “In comparison to a bigger dump truck, the height of the chassis is lower to the ground, which suits because as you drop the cement or the lime down onto the ground, the higher it’s got to fall and the more dust it tends to generate, so we were looking for something that was lower profile but very low ground pressure, so the Hydrema stood out, and it was a bit bigger than a forwarder so you could carry more product on it.”

Having self-built the convertor set-up, the firm initially looked online for used equipment that would match its requirement, but once they realised that the Hydrema was the right tool for the job, they decided to “do it properly” and contact the manufacturer directly to enquire about a bespoke solution, Kevin said.

GDL acquired two 922D ADTs for conversion, along with two other 922s in dump truck configuration during the same period.

GDL’s Hydrema 922F in dump truck configuration

Hydrema supplied the ADTs while German manufacturer Wirtgen provided the lime spreader attachment, with both companies working together to develop the best solution.

“We wanted it to be a designed piece of equipment, so the two companies liaised to create a bespoke solution,” Kevin said.

“We’ve got this concept that required both companies to do something a bit out of the norm; the Hydrema chassis on the 922D we did was actually shortened, they put in some different controls like a hand throttle, and from Wirtgen’s side, they built a custom sized lime spreader that was a bit smaller than their very biggest one they did at the time, but bigger than the smaller one – an in between size that was perfectly suited to the Hydrema.”

Kevin said the Hydrema ADTs have been a “game changer” for the firm. “We’ve got two of the bespoke lime spreader units on the 922Ds and they’ve been much higher capacity that what we had on the forestry forwarders. It’s much more reliable, it seems to do all of the things we want to do in terms of low ground pressure.

“On the dump truck side we would traditionally run a fleet of 30-tonne dump trucks with floatation tyres, so to complement that now we have two 922Ds and two 922Fs, which we just recently had delivered as normal dump trucks. Most of our work is all soft ground and ground engineering on soft soils so commonly we were finding we would have to run the big dump trucks two-thirds full anyway, so the Hydrema is doing the same job in a more compact package.”

Kevin added that the company found the 922 offered “big advantages” in terms of visibility and safety in comparison to a larger ADT when working on confined sites.

Meanwhile, Hydrema currently has its sights set on Scottish expansion with the manufacturer already taking orders for 2019.

Sandy Fairweather, regional sales manager at Hydrema told Project Plant he saw the Hydrema market in Scotland “growing constantly every six months from now”.

“We’ve had a tremendous order intake for 2018 so far,” Sandy said.  He went on to explain the market for the 922 was “really buoyant” in Scotland, with the year ahead also looking promising. “I’ve successfully taken orders for 2019 even though we’re not half way through the first year, which is great as well.”

Sandy said he has found that many owner-operators run large fleets of dump trucks because that’s what they have “predominantly” won contracts on. Now there are fewer contracts available and firms are diversifying into the 20-tonne range, which offers “more versatility” and can cater for jobs where the bigger trucks weren’t able to work.

“The biggest advantage of the Hydrema 922 is the low ground pressure; that’s predominantly why it was designed, so it doesn’t destroy the environment where it’s working,” Sandy added.

“It’s purely designed to work in an environment where there is a lot of personnel, so it’s heavily spec’d with operating lights and safety lights, which are standard on the machine, to make sure people are aware it’s operating and make sure the operator can see every angle of the machine.”

Looking ahead, Sandy said he wants to see Hydrema’s 10-tonne ADT, the 912F, become more of a tool for hire companies. “I’m looking forward to some of the major hire companies considering the 912 as part of their portfolio – the reason being that they will be asked for it and it will be the norm on a lot of sites, as opposed to the old forward tipping dumper, and I can see the market in these industries being a numbers game because these people don’t buy ones and twos, they have multiple depots.

“They’re not going to have one in one depot and none in another, so that’s the growth for me. I see the 912 business really climbing in 2019 in Scotland.”

Sandy continued, “The Scottish marketplace has always had a loyalty to dealing with people on their doorstep. They have always had that relationship in the plant industry, to deal with local supplier, local manufacturers and local support.

“Now that we’re established here with an operating depot in Blantyre, we’re actually able to use our own engineers from there to help customers out, so it means we can react on the same day.”

Hydrema has also recently taken an order for a narrow-bodied machine never before brought into the UK, to a Scottish customer. “The customer requested a special machine to specific sizes that has not been sold in the UK before and we’ve successfully met his needs,” Sandy said.

Sandy joined Hydrema earlier this year following a decade-plus tenure with another manufacturer. He said he had no regrets about making the move, adding that he was “delighted” with the way Hydrema operates, highlighting the manufacturer’s “open-mindedness” to change.

“It’s a great industry to be in if you have a product you feel totally confident with.

“For me, moving from a manufacturer after that length of time, at my age, I had to get it right and I’m absolutely delighted with coming on board…I’ve certainly had no regrets.”