skip to main content
Morrison Plant Services: Investing in employee safety with new innovative lifting equipment

Morrison Plant Services: Investing in employee safety with new innovative lifting equipment


Morrison Plant Services (Morrison), the UK’s leading utility service provider is the latest customer to see significant improvements in productivity and employee safety thanks to the installation of a range of vehicle mounted cranes on their fleet of commercial vehicles, along with the introduction of a heavy-duty goods lift in their workshop – equipment designed, manufactured and installed by Penny Hydraulics Ltd.

Morrison work with clients in the electricity, gas, water & telecoms sectors, helping clients to renew, refurbish & maintain their infrastructure and networks. A long-standing customer of Penny Hydraulics, the company have been purchasing vehicle mounted cranes for their commercial vehicle fleet from Penny’s award-winning SwingLift crane range for many years.

With incorrect manual handling being one of the most common causes of injury at work, Manual Handling Operations Regulations state that no man should attempt to lift anything heavier than 25kg and a woman's maximum limit is less at 16kg. The regulations state that wherever reasonably practicable, manual handling should be automated and the use of mechanical aids is encouraged. Responsible employers like Morrison therefore introduce mechanical handling aids where suitable to ensure a safe operation, fulfilling their duty of care to employees.

The SwingLift F500 vehicle mounted crane from Penny Hydraulics range of over 500 cranes has traditionally been a favourite option for Morrison. The F500 assists engineers with the safe handling of plant and materials.

“The F500 is an extremely compact, 500kg capacity electric crane for pickups, dropsides and flatbeds,” said Penny Hydraulics Area Sales Manager, Steve Brackstone. “This crane model is ideally suited to the Morrison fleet vehicles since space and payload are often at a premium. Like all of our SwingLift cranes, the cranes come complete with a high-speed hoist – this is ideal for multi-drop applications and the robust construction of the equipment ensures reliability and extended duty cycles - it can easily cope with the daily tasks carried out by the engineers.”

Further SwingLift crane models used by the company include cranes installed within vans. Both the ML500 and KJ250/1 crane models can be installed beside either the rear, or side door of the van and both offer unique features.

“The ML500 is fully-demountable and can therefore be quickly and easily deployed on other vehicles when necessary and just like the F500, it will lift up to 500kg in weight,” said Brackstone. “The crane therefore enables optimum fleet flexibility - it’s proven to be great option for Morrison.”

Unlike the ML500, the KJ250/1 has a lower working capacity of 250kg, but offers the additional benefit of a knuckle jointed boom.

“Thanks to the knuckle joint feature on the crane boom, the Morrison engineers can quickly, easily and safely handle general items of plant anywhere within a two-metre radius – this helps engineers save valuable time and effort as they can position loads exactly where required, without the need for any vehicle movements or manual adjustments.”

The latest cranes supplied to Morrison are from Penny’s latest range, PH Cranes, which incorporate full hydraulic control for even the lightest units. Hydraulic control prevents the need to access the bed of the vehicle and helps ensure smooth and precise load handling with reduced risk of the sudden and unexpected movements that can cause accidents to users and bystanders. The PH150.2 has a boom length of 3010mm and is able to lift 480kg at this extension. Further manual boom extensions, taking the boom length up to 5 metres can also be added.

Also supplied for use on the company’s van fleet is the LL250 hydraulic loading platform. The LL250 offers a unique alternative to the traditional tail lift. Hydraulic operation offers a smooth lifting and lowering action and with a 250kg working capacity, the lightweight and compact lifting platform will load vans quickly and efficiently via the rear or side cargo doors. The compact design incorporates a folding platform to maximise useable floor space within the van and maintain unhindered access.

“The LL250 comes with a standard platform size of 800mm by 650mm,” said Brackstone. “The platform’s ample size means it’s suitable for a wide range of lifting applications. The addition of two fixed toes on the platform mean it’s really easy to roll wheeled items on and off too.”

Innovative safety features come as standard on all cranes and hydraulic loading platforms. Perhaps most importantly, built-in overload protection stops the operator from lifting a load higher than the stated working capacity of the equipment.

Remote controls are also key to safe operation of the lifting equipment. Two types of control are generally available. The first is attached to the crane or loading platform by a length of cable known as a wander lead, while the second is a wireless device that provides the user with complete autonomy, enabling them to stand in any position with the best all-round view of the working area.

“These are especially useful from a safety point of view because they reduce the need for operators to stand in close proximity of the load thereby increasing operator safety,” Said Brackstone.

Further enhancing operator safety, crane designs also incorporate clever design features to reduce the need for the operator to climb onto the vehicle bed to position loads.

“The SwingLift range can be operated entirely at ground level,” said Brackstone. “This ensures that Morrison are supplying their engineers with the necessary equipment to eliminate any unnecessary working at height - taking proactive steps to comply with the Work at Height Regulations 2005.”

In addition to operator safety, a consistent theme that runs across all vehicle mounted lifting equipment used by Morrison is low product weight. Thanks to an in-house team of designers, Penny Hydraulics has worked hard to remove weight from its entire product range, without compromising on performance and safety.

“Thanks to in-house advanced CAD and finite element analysis tools we’ve re-engineered our range to reduce weight through optimised design and use of alternative materials,” said Brackstone. “This means that Morrison can have cranes and hydraulic lifts installed with minimal impact on the overall vehicle weight to leave more carrying capacity for improved operational flexibility and productivity.”

Although this helps with all types of vehicle it is especially useful for those in the 3.5t and 7.5t classes where remaining within the overall weight and carrying capacity limits are always of concern to operators.

“All of our crane and hydraulic loading platform structures are high strength and durable yet lightweight - helping to keep emissions low, maximise fuel economy and maximise payload,” said Brackstone. “The F500, ML500, KJ250/1 and LL250 weigh from just 75kg, 82kg, 52kg and 100kg respectively.”

Morrison’s investment in safer working for their engineers doesn’t stop at mechanical handling aids for their commercial vehicle fleet – their latest investment is a heavy-duty goods lift to safely move items of plant between ground level and a mezzanine floor within their Stevenage depot.

To maximise usable space on site for plant storage at their Stevenage depot, Morrison invested in a mezzanine floor. Items of plant regularly needed to be quickly and safely moved from ground level up to the mezzanine floor for temporary storage and then back down again when required by engineers.

Having a close working relationship with Penny Hydraulics already thanks to their regular investment into vehicle mounted lifts, Morrison contacted Penny’s Goods Lift team to specify a goods lift for the task in hand. The specialist goods lift chosen for the application is part of Penny Hydraulics mezzanine floor lift range. The latest lift within their range, the Heavy Duty MezzLift has a huge maximum working load – it’s able to carry goods up to 1000kg in weight. The design not only offers great benefits in terms of lifting capacity, but means installation of the lift is quick and easy too.

“The innovative goods lift design means that no costly and time-consuming structural changes to the building are necessary,” said General Manager of Penny Hydraulics Goods Lift Division, Jocelyn Cole. “The lift is fully self-supporting, enclosed in a mesh shaft.”

The lift platform was sized to 1500mm x 1500mm to easily accommodate the items of plant being lifted and lowered between the different levels. Platform guarding was incorporated too - 900mm high on the non-loading edges to stop any items becoming dislodged from the platform whilst in transit.

At the entrance to the lift at both levels, 2000mm high gates with interlocks were supplied.

“This essential safety feature ensures that the gates cannot be opened unless the platform is docked at the appropriate level and prevents the lift being operated unless all gates are closed.” Said Cole.

At the lower (ground) level, a 1000mm long fixed ramp was provided to assist loading onto the 80mm deep platform. The lift was designed to be powered by a 2.2kw, 415 volt, three-phase and neutral supply, terminated in an isolator at the lower level.

Hold to run, push button controls ensure that the lift cannot be operated unless the operator has their finger firmly on the button when situated at the control station adjacent to the gates at either level - an additional key safety feature.

Thanks to UK manufacture at Penny’s newly opened £2M manufacturing plant, the Heavy Duty MezzLift was manufactured to stringent EU standards, tested and certified in just 6 weeks and comprehensive project management offered by Penny’s goods lift team, helped from the site assessment stage, through the design, manufacture and installation phases of the project.

“Morrison really are a leading light in safety – they’ve won numerous accolades to recognise their contribution to safer working in the industry,” said Penny Hydraulics Sales Director, Richard Short. “We’re therefore delighted that they continue to specify our equipment to assist with their operations. Morrison understand that often the simplest way to reduce the risk of an accident and resulting injury is to remove the potential cause and providing employees with a crane on their fleet vehicle, or a goods lift in their plant is a good place to start. We continue to play our part by adding new features and products that promote safer working.”

Subscribe to our mailing list