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Market Report: Garden & Grounds Care

Fruits of the forest

Alan Guthrie attended a recent exhibition for professionals involved in tree care, a market representing a growing hire opportunity.

Much equipment used in grounds care and landscaping is specialised and used only occasionally, with the result that many users will consider hiring, rather than buying. Many machines displayed at the 9th Arborists’ Fair, organised by the Arboricultural Association for its professional tree care members and held recently in Cirencester, proved the point. Operators often face challenges in terms of site access or work at height, requiring specialist solutions, and legislation governing the dumping of waste and encouraging recycling means work practices are changing, with greater focus on processing felled timber in-situ to avoid landfill disposal and to recycle resources.

Timberwolf (www.timberwolf-uk.com) has seen steadily increasing demand from hirers for its woodchippers, and Sales Manager Alex Ball reports great interest in tracked machines. “We have never made so many. Hirers are realising the benefits in terms of enabling work to be undertaken far away from roadsides, within forested areas and alongside railways. Water boards, electrical contractors and other utilities often hire these for months at a time, and the tracks are exactly like those on other items in hirers’ fleets, like mini excavators and compact dumpers. They also typically suffer less damage in use.”

Easy access

Models available include the TW 150FTR which accepts material up to 150mm in diameter and has a throughput of up to 4 tonnes/hour with hydraulic feed rollers. Track width is 1300mm, but another version, the TW 150VTR has variable width tracks from 700-1100mm, enabling access through doorways. Also offered is the TW 190FTR which, like the other models, has a 35hp Kubota diesel engine, but can also be specified with a 45hp turbocharged power unit. Timber of up to 190mm diameter can be processed.

New from Stihl is the MS 192 C chainsaw, targeted at the top end of the domestic market and which was launched in May. “It is designed to be as easy to use as possible,” states Marketing Manager Richard White, “incorporating our ErgoStart system for easy starting and a no-kickback chain. It only weighs 3.3kg and is ideal for tasks like cutting 15cm-diameter logs for firewood. There has also been great interest in our BT45 two-stroke drill, which can be used in locations without a convenient power supply for installing fence posts and decking.” Stihl’s (www.stihl.co.uk) stand included a dedicated technical area where visitors could learn about the latest manufacturing techniques and their effects in lowering levels of noise, vibration and exhaust emissions.

Husqvarna (www.husqvarna.co.uk) promoted its innovative 345e TAC chainsaw, which features a triple activated chain brake that can be operated by the user’s right hand, in addition to the usual inertia mechanism and the front kickback guard. Marketing Manager Louise Calverley contends this makes the product ideal for less experienced operators. “It also encourages a more ergonomic working posture, because if the user does not bend their knees when working and, instead, bends their back, their right hand is likely to trigger the brake.” Husqvarna will offer TAC as an option on other models in the future.

Echo UK (www.echo-tools.co.uk), a division of Countax, displayed its Bear Cat product range, which it began distributing in the UK, Ireland and Benelux from 1 June. The line-up includes a PTO-driven chipper with hydraulic feed, able to process up to 20cm-diameter branches and designed for tractors of 25 to 60hp. A rotating blower enables the operator to direct the output chippings. A stand-alone 23cm-diameter model, powered by a 50hp diesel engine, was also demonstrated, together with a 10cm towable machine with manual feed. Other products include a trimming mower with push and self propelled options, and a stump grinder with a fully enclosed housing to prevent debris building up in the belts and pulley.

New to the Jo-Beau chipper range from Fletcher Stewart (www.fletcherstewart.co.uk) is the M400, a 10cm-diameter machine with an 18hp twin cylinder Briggs & Stratton engine. Its narrow 73cm width enables access through gates and doorways. It complements existing Jo-Beau models with 5cm, 7.5cm and 12.5cm diameter capacities. The company also displayed a new version of its modular guarding system that can be used to quickly enclose stump grinders, disc cutters and similar machines for protection from flying debris during operation.

Versatile stump grinder

Equipment Supply Services (www.equipmentsupply.co.uk) demonstrated the Alpine Magnum, a portable stump grinder that can also perform other tasks. When fitted with conventional carbide-tipped teeth, it can tackle stumps of up to 61cm diameter and to a similar depth. It can also accept harder teeth for cutting underground service cable trenches and for removing undergrowth. In use, the machine rests on a pivoting leg, fitted with a flat plate for work on level ground. It can be replaced by a spike for awkward or sloping sites. The grinder is operated with a plunge action that is said to give accuracy when cutting close to pipes or walls.

Several powered access equipment suppliers promoted equipment enabling tree professionals to meet obligations under the Work at Height Regulations. Planet Platforms (www.planetplatforms.co.uk) showed its innovative TP9000 mobile trailer scissor lift, which was previewed at the Executive Hire Show earlier this year and officially launched in May. Offering a maximum working height of 9m, it can be towed to site and quickly set up by one person, and the cage can accommodate two people. Power comes from a 24V battery giving up to 100 lifts per charge, and removable handrails allow the product to pass through standard double doors. A tilt sensor with an audible alarm is incorporated on the machine, and the outriggers have a load limiting device.

The Nationwide Access (www.nationwideaccess.co.uk) display included a CTE CS135 tracked machine, which has just been added to the hirer’s fleet. Weighing 1450kg, it can be used on soft ground. The machine has a closed width of 780mm, offers a 13m working height and provides outreach of up to 7m. Also shown was a T20C truck-mounted boom lift with a maximum working height of 20m and, weighing 3500kg, it can be driven by holders of a standard driving licence.

Access Platform Sales’ (www.accessplatforms.co.uk) line-up included the tracked Omme 3000, which has a maximum working height of 29.7m, up to 7m outreach and is only 1.10m wide in transport mode. The standard model has an 18hp diesel engine, and a bi-energy version is available that also has a battery for indoor use. Also displayed was the Hinowa LightLift 19.65, which is 0.8m wide and has a 19m maximum working height. Numerous safety features are incorporated and the machine can be operated via a remote control. Area Manager Shane Paver states that some hirers can achieve hire rates of £500/week for this machine, again suggesting the potential this market represents.

Executive Hire NewsArchivesAugust 2007Market Report › Fruits of the forest

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