An Australian innovation is about to enter world markets to automate the hazardous, costly and never-ending task of slashing roadside grass around millions of poles, fences, safety barriers and signposts lining highways and byways.
Instead of whole teams of roadside workers laboriously manually trimming vegetation around the multitude of safety fence poles and advisory signs involved, the new SlasherTeck innovation uses one man on a tractor to do the job in a fraction of the time. It is also environmentally harmonious, because it drastically reduces the need for chemical spraying of grass and instead delivers a recyclable mulch.
“Not only does this make roadside work safer, but also cuts out a huge part of the hazard for passing traffic that currently has to suddenly slow down for men at work. The job is done much sooner and the hazard is removed much quicker,” says Nathan Boyle of SlasherTeck, which is marketing the machine throughout Australia during the first stage of its world launch.
The patented secret of the SlasherTeck innovation is a rotating triple-bladed mulching unit that can slash around posts. The strong and durable unit, incorporating a single slot to accommodate posts of different sizes, works by being located with a post at its centre and then rotated completely around the post using a hydraulically driven motor and 12 mulching blades.
“The slasher cuts the rest of the verge as per normal, then once it approaches a post, the operator engages the post-slashing process, which rotates the blades a full 180 degrees in approximately 10 seconds,” says Mr Boyle.
The clever cutter, linked with the recently patented slasher operation and asset management system (SOAMS) has the ability to remember the work it has done, using GPS and Cloud-based technology, so that when the grass grows back it knows where the posts are on a particular stretch of road and can repeat the job it did previously. This asset management programme saves further time and cost and further enhances road safety.
SlasherTeck’s innovation is the result of some radically different thinking from its developers Down Under, a consortium of practical-minded businessmen, manufacturing from the Hunter Valley region of NSW.
In their search for a better way to do the job, as requested by local authorities and governments, they turned conventional thinking inside out: instead of their machine nibbling at the verges from the outside edges towards the centre of the post, they placed the post at the centre of the cutting action and revolved the cutters around the axis of the post.
“It is literally a revolutionary approach,” says consortium member Tom Woods, who with his brother Glenn directs TW Woods Construction, a national metal engineering company which has transformed the SlasherTeck from concept to manufactured reality.
The SlasherTeck Consortium – including New Holland tractors and McConnel equipment – has conducted extensive trials to ensure the concept works before stepping out into national and world markets. The new machine is built to the same virtually bulletproof standards that go into TW Woods’ giant multi-storey train loaders and coal materials handling equipment that the company produces for world leaders in the demanding resources sector.
“We make all our products tough because our markets demand the reliability and credibility of world-class producers. Local and State authorities also deal in big projects and large asset bases where time is money, so they need to know the product is as tough as they come,” says Mr Woods.
SlasherTeck products seamlessly integrate with their own asset management system, slasher operation and asset management system (SOAMS), a GPS based operation and asset management system that has been designed to accumulate valuable data from each maintenance run.
SOAMS uses a combination of the slasher location, point of engagement, some additional hardware and a custom-built cloud-based app to provide a work-as-executed profile and asset location, type and condition data set.
Reach arm mower head: For long strips of roadside barriers, SlasherTeck has a reach arm mower head that attaches onto a reach arm for the clearing of vegetation around and underneath the barriers, which can stretch on for kilometres at a time. The cutting width is 900mm and the slasher head has three sets of cutting and mulching blades that are driven by high quality hydraulic motors.
Front mounted slasher: The front-mounted slasher is the workhorse of the line-up, comprising of two models with cutting widths of 1200 and 1800mm. This slasher is primarily used for the majority of accessible applications with the ability to clear the vegetation around posts in the same pass. This slasher has three sets of cutting and mulching blades that are driven by high quality hydraulic motors.
Side shift tilt hitch: This unit maximises the effectiveness of the Front Mounted Slasher. It is positioned between the tractor and the Front Mounted Slasher and allows the slasher to be shifted up to 900mm to the off-side and rotates up to a 15 degree angle to meet the ground profile.