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Hill Engineering is offering discounts on its Auto-Loc 3 coupler in exchange for customers’ old semi- and single-locking automatic couplers.

Hill Engineering has taken thousands of semi- and single-locking automatic couplers out of commission in this way.

The Northern Ireland-based company has increased production of its ultra-safe Auto-Loc 3 coupler, with its fully automatic dual-pin capture system, to satisfy an increasing demand from UK contractors and plant-hire companies wanting to upgrade now out-dated couplers on their excavator fleets.

The comes in the wake of continuing safety concerns over the use of semi-automatic and single-locking automatic models and a move by many contractors to ban all but dual-pin capture couplers from their sites.

This has at a stroke made thousands of excavators up and down the country ineligible for use on some of the major UK construction projects.

Hill claims that its Auto-Loc 3 model is the safest and most technically advanced quick coupler of its type on the market and says it has helped the company to establish itself as one the UK’s leading specialists in the field of coupler design and production.

Not only does the ‘new-for-old’ programme see Hill remove a customer’s existing coupler and replace it with an Auto-Loc 3 model, it also provides comprehensive on-site training, full installation assistance and guidance, after-sales support and advice, as well as any necessary customisation to suit individual customers’ specific coupler requirements.

‘The widespread adoption of the dual-pin capture technology will increase on-site safety and help prevent accidents and avoid fatalities for years to come,’ said Ian Hill, managing director of Hill Engineering.

He also revealed that his company has met with London-based Quattro Plant, the second largest UK railway-orientated plant hire company, to discuss how the couplers can be adapted for use in the rail industry.

The rail industry has its own specific coupler requirements due to the widespread use of specialised high-value attachments.

Many of these attachments cannot be disengaged in the normal crowded position without introducing further risks into the changeover.

Following several on-site visits to fully assess the risks involved, Hill demonstrated a solution at a meeting involving Quattro Plant and one of its major customers.

The outcome of this was an agreement by all parties and Quattro Plant is now fitting the Auto-Loc coupler to its machines.

Hill has specialised in the design and manufacture of couplers for more than 15 years and in 2005 set up an in-house research-and-development department to find a solution that would eliminate the risk while using couplers.

The result, the original Auto-Loc, went on sale in August 2006 and further refinement, made by working with key customers, has resulted in the latest Auto-Loc version.

Dual-pin capture fully automatic couplers are a significant step forward within the coupler market, because not only do operators no longer need to leave the cab and insert a locking pin by hand, the coupler also locks onto each attachment pin independently.

This means that if the operator fails to connect the attachment properly with the back pin, the front pin will remain securely locked in place, ensuring that the attachment does not separate from the coupler.

The Auto-Loc coupler allows operators to visually confirm from within the cab that the bucket or other attachment is securely locked in position and only allows attachments to be released in a safe working position.

Although new semi-automatic couplers are no longer being supplied to the UK market as a result of a joint HSE and manufacturers’ agreement, the use of existing models is still allowed.

However, more and more sites are imposing bans on semi-automatic and single-locking automatic couplers, while major contractors including Bovis, Skanska and Balfour Beatty, say that they will only now permit excavators with dual-pin capture couplers on their construction projects.

Hill Engineering

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