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Market Report: Compact Plant : 2020 forward vision
Thwaites is anticipating a busy year ahead as it enhances its dumper line-up. Alan Guthrie reports from the manufacturer’s Leamington Spa headquarters.
Thwaites operates from the same site in Leamington where it has been based since 1937, making forage harvesters and other agricultural equipment. Its first dumper, a 15cwt three-wheel model, was produced in 1951, and four years later the business decided to focus on construction machinery. Today, Thwaites specialises in site dumpers and offers front tip, powered swivel, hi-swivel, hi-tip and cabbed models.
The factory now covers some 60 acres, employs 250 people and continues to expand. MD Ian Brown says, “Some people might be looking over their shoulders and wondering about the political background, but we still see strong demand. Contractors need machinery for ground works and to dig footings, and homeowners are upgrading their homes and building extensions. We continue to develop our machines and to invest in our manufacturing facilities.”
Part of this investment follows Thwaites’ Mission Emission Agenda for reducing energy consumption and environmental impact, while retaining production output and quality control. Enhancements include the commissioning of an £80,000 Bystronic Xpert 40 machine press - the company’s eighth - to improve process times, particularly for intricate components. Production Manager, Andrew Mann, says this will achieve 10% less waste steel, a 30% reduction in power consumption and the ability to convert a drawing into a 3D model for efficiency.
Reduced energy consumption
A £75,000 investment has also been made in new LPG baking ovens to reduce finishing times and increase skip production. Together with a recent upgrade of paint spraying booths, lines and guns, this has allowed the use of reduced-solvent paints that require less cleaning and reduce energy consumption.
Andrew Mann said, “The due diligence during the testing period considered the impact of the new reduced solvent paint when introduced to differing weather elements encountered across our
four seasons. The effect of factors like salt, high and medium impacts to the skip, and corrosion testing in addition to exposure to the typical conditions a dumper encounters on site, were also thoroughly tested.”
Next year, Thwaites will introduce enhancements to its dumper line-up, with its 2020 Models initiative. This will see a spring-activated hydraulic handbrake fitted to machines from 2 tonnes to 9 tonnes for greater resistance to abuse, while dumpers from 6 tonnes upwards will have dashboard-mounted monitors. A lower front step will be fitted for easier ingress and egress, and a speedometer will be available as an option. LED lamps will be fitted to give greater illumination with reduced power consumption, and green warning beacons will be incorporated as standard to show that the user is wearing the seatbelt.
Dumpers of 6 tonnes and over will have Stage V engines to reduce emissions in line with European regulations. These will incorporate diesel particulate filters (DPFs) to capture elements of combustion, and should be self-cleaning during normal operation.
Earlier this year, Thwaites introduced the ‘Super Seven’ 7-tonne capacity dumper, which has been derived from its 6-tonne model. The skip has a lower front edge for clear forward vision, and a
180° camera gives a view of the front blind spot for low-speed manoeuvring. It has the same axles as the company’s 9-tonner for stability, and the inclusion of day-glow yellow steps, grab rails and a roll bar highlights the important three points of contact for user safety.
As we reported in our September issue, Thwaites has introduced telematics capabilities into 300 dumpers bought by Ardent Hire. This system integrates with the hirer’s own programme to give information on usage and operational data. Thwaites is now developing this system in association with Trackunit so that it can be adopted by other hirers.
Thwaites’ UK Sales Manager, Andy Sabin, says that this will enable site managers and hirers to monitor operatives to see if they are complying with Health & Safety requirements. These include the wearing of seatbelts, as well as parameters like engine speed, idling time, fuel consumption and service intervals.
Another new development is that Thwaites machines will have QR codes which can be scanned by a smartphone to access information on operation and maintenance. These codes will be placed close to the relevant components and will link to instructional PDFs and videos that the company is developing. Hirers will be able to see these, and the other Thwaites 2020 Model enhancements, at the Executive Hire Show in February. •