15 Apr

PMERail – best for safety and efficiency

GaryLast year, Network Rail introduced more stringent Adjacent Line Open (ALO) working regulations, and committed to a funded programme of movement limiting device (MLD) upgrades to support the new working standards. Prolec  is one of the suppliers for the upgrade programme. We’re providing our new rail system, which has been built on the PME platform.

Network Rail’s new standards were intended to eradicate conditions and manage the risks that have, in the past, contributed to fatal and life changing accidents for people working next to open lines. In addition, they aim to reduce the risk to trains from ALO working. While, clearly, the safety of line workers and rail passengers is of greatest importance, there is a further benefit to rail contractors.

The upgrade programme means that ALO working can be undertaken in more circumstances than previously allowed. If more working windows exist, then maintenance is completed sooner and contractors can take on more work. Everyone wins.  

But it seems that all MLDs are not created equally. We’ve been told of competitor’s product that has a ‘dead zone’ – an area where a road-rail excavator should be able to work safely, but can’t because reaction time once a motion cut is requested has to be factored in. This is obviously going to affect productivity, as the slew restrictor has to kick in early, less work can be carried out within the envelope and the excavator has to be moved more often.

pmerail aloOur products – PMERail Max for ALO, and PMERail Ultra for ALO/OLE (Overhead Line Equipment) – don’t have this issue. Our slew restrictor slows in the approach zone and has a back drive, which means the motion cut kicks in exactly when it’s needed. The vehicle can work right to the edge of its safe zone and stops reliably every time. We know this because of the extensive testing we’ve carried out. And we’re confident in our product because we have a quarter of a century’s experience in supplying safety systems to the road-rail industry to draw on.

Network Rail says their safety vision is for their workforce, passengers and members of the public to return safely home at the end of every day. We agree, and are proud that Prolec’s rail safety equipment will be playing its part.

Find more information about Network Rail’s ALO regulations here: http://www.safety.networkrail.co.uk/On-site-Solutions/OTP-Safety/Adjacent-Line-Open-Working

19 Mar

Our new website – a better resource for our customers

websiteWith websites being the main face of a company nowadays, it’s crucial they accurately reflect the products, and the ways customers can benefit from buying those products.

We’ve been aware that our old website no longer fulfilled that remit. A sustained development programme over the last three years, plus changes in web design fashion, left the Prolec website outdated and ripe for an upgrade, both in content and in design. To address the balance, we’ve developed a new website that better reflects our capabilities and, we hope, will be of much better use to our customers.

The new website design brings Prolec under the aesthetic umbrella of our parent company James Fisher and Sons plc. It also takes the information about Prolec’s revolutionary Prolec Machine Engine, previously addressed in a separate, dedicated site, and shows it for what it is – a substantial element in our core product offering. Resources for customers have also been expanded: videos, case studies, brochure and specification sheet downloads and user manuals all now feature, to help with the decision-making process, or to get support if it’s needed.

Bringing the new website to fruition has been a long process, but one that we hope will provide our customers, distributors and staff with an improved experience. We look forward to hearing what you think.

10 Mar

Prolec’s Distributor of the Year 2013

GaryAt our recent annual distributor conference, we were proud to announce our Distributor of the Year for 2013 was K & W Mechanical Services.

We first launched our distributor network at the beginning of 2013. Perhaps not the easiest move, given the prevailing economic climate, but it was a move we believed would benefit our customers by providing a local contact for buying, installation and maintenance of Prolec systems. We looked to build partnerships with companies that were technically competent, had an existing knowledge of the Prolec product range, and which were keen to develop their own businesses alongside Prolec.

During a solid two days of discussion and ideas exchange at the conference, we saw time and time again that our network comprises companies whose directors and staff believe in our machine safety and guidance products. This is excellent news as it’s a solid foundation for future growth and business development.

The Distributor of the Year award was hotly contested, and was judged on a number of criteria including: sales performance and strategy; being a champion of the Prolec brand; the implementation of appropriate advertising to promote Prolec; and, visibility through activity such as attending exhibitions.

2013 Distributor of the Year K and W for webSimon Wheat, Director at K & W Mechanical Services, said, “We’re absolutely chuffed to bits to win this award. It’s been a tough 18 months, and this is a reflection of the team effort and hard work put in by everyone at K & W to make the business a success.

“Like in any new relationship, some days are better than others. But, overall, we can sell the Prolec range of products because we know them to be the ‘right’ products, we like them and we believe in them.”

Seeing a newly established distributor like K & W take this award is a source of tremendous pride for me, and shows the efforts by Prolec’s sales team in supporting our dealers. We’re anticipating a successful year working together with our distributors, and look forward with interest to see who will take out the award for 2014.

6 Nov

Rental programme ensures Prolec guidance systems are accessible

GJTd-150x150[1]Everyone knows that today’s economic climate is a challenging one. And it’s no secret that working smarter can help improve productivity and efficiency and, by association, margins. So how do you improve all of those things if you still have the same old tools you’ve always used?

Machine guidance systems can be very expensive. And understandably so. They feature advanced technology that has been many hours in the making, particularly for specialist applications. Development, testing and certification take time and money. Investment in this sort of kit is a no-brainer for larger companies regularly undertaking work where machine guidance is required, and with cash to spare. But what about smaller companies where expenses need to be matched more closely to income? Or where a one-off job doesn’t warrant the cost of a new system?

Prolec is now offering a rental scheme for all of our machine guidance products – Digmaster, Digmaster Pro and pcX Pro. These systems range from simple to extremely complex, with a wide range of tools and machine options. They are industry leading with advanced graphics and simple operator interfaces.

The rental scheme gives you a chance to try out our systems risk-free, for the duration for which you need them. And should you decide to buy the kit down the line, we’ll return 50 percent of your rental. Or we can remove it once you’ve finished with it, at no extra cost.

Prolec rental options cover 2D and 3D guidance through to GPS set up. We have our own GPS supplier or we can work with yours as we’re set up to be compatible with 99 percent of all GPS providers worldwide. In addition, we provide training so your operators are confident in using the system, because there is no point in spending money on renting kit that isn’t used to its full capacity.

This scheme is being offered through the Prolec distributors, or through many machine rental companies, with support from their local Prolec distributor. In fact, two of our distributors – Hubbway Plant and Tool Hire in the north east and Bastable Plant Hire in the south east – offer plant hire in addition to their other services. Both have excavators from 5 tonne to 30+ tonne for hire, including long reach, fitted with Prolec machine guidance. They also stock excavators and telehandlers with the award winning PME safety systems fitted as standard.

To find out how our rental scheme could help increase your margins, contact Prolec or your local distributor.

11 Oct

Environment Agency chooses Prolec safety system

Dan LeaneyAt Prolec, we’ve been chuffed to hear some great feedback about our Prolec Machine Engine.

One recent example was for the install of a PME100 system – our PME variant that monitors height and 2D envelope.

This particular instance was an install on a new Merlo telehandler for the Environment Agency. The EA needed a safety system that monitored real time height and chose PME100, which was fitted by Prolec facilitator Dennis Barnfield Ltd.

Blog 18 - image 1For this job, PME100CZH was installed. The system was chosen as it was designed specifically for use with telehandlers and its real time height restriction was a requirement to maintain the safe operation of its telehandlers while on general handling jobs around the yard. This configuration features an angle sensor, a CAN reeling drum and motion cut valves.

The system is fit for purpose as it has a drum reel mounted on the boom to monitor the overall boom length in order to provide the real time height. If the safe working envelope is reached, the motion cut valves are activated, keeping both operator and equipment safe.Blog 18 - image 2

Stephen Bethell, Service Manager at Dennis Barnfield, said, “I think this system is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s easy to set up and calibrate, and works exactly as you would expect. It’s a well-finished, polished and professional looking piece of kit, and it’s easy to make it look factory or OEM.”

To find out more about PME100, visit our website.

23 Sep

Safety must come first

GaryNews has filtered through to the Prolec office of the unfortunate incident of a mobile crane crashing through the roof of a McDonalds restaurant in County Durham last Friday.

Given the legal requirements for all cranes in the UK to have a rated capacity indicator fitted, I’m at a loss to see how this could have happened. Thankfully, that’s for the Health and Safety Executive and local council to investigate, and I won’t cast judgement while those investigations are under way.

This accident does, however, serve as a reminder that safety is paramount wherever any heavy plant equipment is being used. It is necessary to be vigilant, regardless of the circumstances because, as these contractors have found out, mistakes can be costly. Luckily nobody was injured in this episode, especially as the restaurant was open for business and staff and customers were inside, but damage to the equipment and building will need to be paid for. It is also likely that the restaurant will lose business as it undergoes repairs.

At Prolec, safety has always come first. We are proud to be a leader in the provision of plant safety and control systems. All of our kit is designed and engineered to European standard safety integrity level 2 (SIL 2) and is safety and CE certified. This demands a strict testing regime that results in a resilient product that can be relied on to perform in the field.

Prolec’s revolutionary PME forms the basis of our safety suite of products. Variations are available for height control, 2D or 3D envelope monitor, rated capacity indicator and controller, slew control, a control system for road-rail excavators and demolition stability monitor. As PME is a modular system, upgrades are easy to effect via simple software upgrades.

There’s a lesson to be learnt here. And it’s that safety is the most important factor when planning and implementing a job of this sort. Because if not, next time someone could be seriously hurt or even killed.

13 Sep

Out and about in Europe

Jurgen Reineke, Sales Manager Scandinavia, Central and Eastern EuropeBy Jurgen Reineke, Sales Manager for Scandinavia, Central and Eastern Europe

September is proving a busy month for Prolec and our distributors. The Autumn show season is in full swing, and we’re enjoying being out and about meeting our customers.

Last week we were at Maxpo in Finland, with our distributor Geopower KY. We demonstrated Prolec’s machine guidance and safety products on one excavator, alongside the web-based data transfer KUURA, as developed by Hohto Labs OY.

We’re currently at Entreprenad at Knutstorp Ring in Sweden with our distributor BEWAG, and will be there until tomorrow. We’re showing our solutions for 2D and 3D GNSS machine guidance and safety products for height and slew restriction, plus overload, all on one scale model. If you’re around come and see us on stand D734. Or if you’re in Germany, you’ll be able to catch us at Nordbau with our German distributor Illig Lasersysteme. The expo is taking place in Neumünster until 17 September. Both shows represent the latest developments in the construction industry.

Later in the month, we’ll be at TRAKO 2013 in Gdańsk, Poland. We’ll be demonstrating Liftwatch Rail, our premier safety control product for the road-rail industry. We’re particularly looking forward to this one as it’ll be our first time exhibiting in Poland. We’ll be on stand A38 if you’d like to come and see us.

Finally, we’ll be at Nordic Rail in October in Jönköping, Sweden. As it’s the only rail expo in Scandinavia, we hope to meet with many of our customers there. We’ll be exhibiting with CeDe Group, Swecon and Steelwrist.

While we’re enjoying meeting or catching up with our customers at these shows, we realise that it might not be possible for everyone to attend. If you want to chat with us about our systems, and how they could work for you, please feel free to contact the Prolec office, or visit our website for more information.

24 Jul

Innovation. Discuss.

GaryIf you’ll forgive the irony of posting a copy of a talk counting as innovation, this talk tweaked my interest around “Innovation”.  If you have ten minutes it will time well spent watching.

Innovation is only useful if your customers want the innovation.  The phrase “no science projects” is one I use often (engineering might say too often!).  We do our damndest to understand our markets and our customer’s needs and translate that into really useful products!  It’s no bed of roses especially as we seem to be getting lots of “flattery” from our competition as they copy our innovations (not as well and with less style but they copy anyway).

First up, innovation is hard.  Doing something in a way that no-one else has considered is, by definition, challenging an established line of thought and accepted practice.  In this regard Prolec well and truly punches above our weight.  Thanks engineering team – we in sales owe you.

Second being first with an idea can lead to problems for any business as you push into markets that maybe didn’t know they needed your solution.  It kind of turns conventional market approaches on their head.  We kind of “find out what the customer needs but doesn’t know they want and give them loads of it!”.  That is if we’re innovating right.

So how come I, on behalf of Prolec, can talk over innovation?  First CAN based sensors; first graphical RCI; first graphical depth monitor for excavators; first real time RTK-GPS guidance system.  To name a few.  In short, we’ve proved we can deliver innovation.

There is a reason I’m going on about this and that is we’re in another phase of innovation with our new PME product.  Like lots of products that are new we’re still figuring out just how to apply to unique technology around machine measurement.   Ditto we’re still ironing out some issues that will always crop up when you do something for the first time – and thanks to our installation and support teams for your patience!  What I do know however is we’ve got a great product with huge potential to make the customer and installers life easier.  Install this solution and you can run pretty much any application you need in future without upgrade.  Think like a Smartphone with numerous “apps” and you’ll be close.

Like any innovation we’ve got a way to go and no doubt we’ll find some more challenges as we develop our “apps” but I’m mighty proud of what we’ve achieved and I’m excited by the product’s potential.  I know when you install and use it you will be too.

20 Jun

PME500 safety and control system launched

GaryBy Gary Tuffy, Director of Sales and Marketing

Last year, Prolec launched PME – our modular, integrated system that can manage both safety and functions in one unit. At that launch, we made a promise that the platform would gradually form the basis of our entire range of products as more development took place.

Now we’re proud to announce the PME500 – our all-in-one safety and control system – is available. So what does that mean for our customers?

PME500 rounds out our offering of safety products on the PME platform. The underlying product, PME, is the key to the product’s success especially as you can get a “no hardware” upgrade allowing changes just like you’d add an app to your phone.

PME500 offers a full range of control and safety functions, controlling load and a full 3D machine envelope. All functions of the Prolec control and safety range are combined in this unit, which is available as a stand-alone system, or as a simple upgrade to existing PME systems.

PME500 combines real time load and positioning, so an operator can maintain a safe load while staying within a defined envelope in both the horizontal and vertical planes. Our graphical interface is easy to use and displays the carried load in real time at the same time as it shows the limits for height and slew. Both can be set to suit the operational or environmental requirements of the equipment. A warning sounds on approach to the maximum safe working load, and motion cuts are available as an optional extra. It is set up for hydraulic control on all motions and, when combined with hydraulic motion cut valves, will limit travel in any plane to the defined envelopes.

PME500 is fully compliant with EN and UK LOLER requirements for safe load indicators and is type approved for operation in all EU countries. It is fully engineered for compatibility with all major manufacturers of construction equipment, and is ideally suited for use on excavators, mobile cranes, truck-mounted cranes, agricultural machinery and special purpose machines.

To find out more about PME500, please contact us.

14 Jun

Prolec Safety System used in Norwegian Rail Solution

Jurgen Reineke, Sales Manager Scandinavia, Central and Eastern EuropeBy Jurgen Reineke, Sales Manager, Scandinavia, Central and Eastern Europe

Anyone involved in the operation of plant on a rail maintenance site will be aware that comprehensive safety considerations are vital. One small mistake could cause serious injury to the operator, his colleagues or to the railway’s travelling customers, and be the cause of protracted legal action against the company involved.

Clearly, these circumstances demand the maximum possible safety precautions. Those safety levels are often dictated by legislation. When that legislation changes, operators must follow, and that is what has happened in Norway. Norwegian Rail standards were tightened in February 2012 and an additional requirement for the monitoring of safe load functionality was added.

Prolec has been working together with Volvo CE to meet these new standards for one of its rail customers, Mellerud AS, which leases its machines to Norwegian National Rail. Volvo has been developing its product range in railway equipment and recently launched its brand new excavator, the ECR 145. This machine has been converted to incorporate a rail chassis with functionality and brakes on all four wheels. This is a departure for Volvo, as it previously only offered wheeled machines converted to rail specs in this size. By contrast, the ECR 145 comes as a tracked machine with rubber belts in addition to the rolling wheels. This is useful as it enables operators to get off the tracks and into the ditch, particularly in underdeveloped areas, according to Volvo sales manager Knut Grepperud.

The ECR 145 delivered to Mellerud AS features a customised version of Prolec’s Liftwatch Rail rated capacity indicator (RCI) and envelope monitoring technology, which provides simultaneous height and slew restriction. This customised solution was a collaboration between Prolec, Volvo Maskin and Swedish CeDe Group AB. Liftwatch Rail was chosen as the base product for this solution as it meets all necessary EN regulations and machinery directives.

CeDe Group AB was in charge of the rail alignment build for Volvo as part of a recently signed partnership agreement between Cede Group and Volvo Construction Equipment Europe. The converted ECR 145 features a number of innovative solutions. These include:

  • All four wheels have hydraulic motor operation with a top speed of 20 km/h
  • Stiff shafts with longitudinal mode increases stability
  • The front and rear rail wheel size has been increased to 700mm

According to CEDE Group, these features mean the base can be utilised to full lifting capacity without RCI when the point load is 20 tonne. The quickfit with hook-on fixing used also allow the rail solution to be easily removed so the machine can be subsequently used in traditional construction.

Knut Grepperud believes that rail will be an important market in the future for Volvo Maskin as rail transport in the country has been neglected up until now, and is confident that the new ECR 145 provides all the functionality an operator would need, thanks to the Prolec systems on board.

This has been a very exciting project for Prolec to be involved with, not only as it marks a new level of safety in the Norwegian rail industry – something we strongly believe in – but also proves that Prolec’s rail safety systems hold up against the best of the rest, and that we are at the forefront of safety system developments.