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PH Cranes: Helping Thames Water to maintain the UK’s water and wastewater network

PH Cranes: Helping Thames Water to maintain the UK’s water and wastewater network


Thames Water has set the bar high when it comes to utility engineers’ safety, by ordering a fleet of crane-equipped commercial vehicles for water maintenance duties. The company invested in new dropside vehicles fitted with high capacity, hydraulically powered cranes by Penny Hydraulics, as part of a conversion project managed by Bri-Stor Systems Ltd.

The UK's largest water and wastewater services company, Thames Water have over 15 million customers. The organisation is responsible for the public water supply and waste water treatment in large parts of southern England. In addition to supplying 2.6 billion litres of drinking water per day, the company also treat 4.4 billion litres of wastewater per day.

Thames Water invest around £1bn each year on improving their water and wastewater network and therefore have a dedicated workforce of specialist engineers and a fleet of maintenance vehicles to support this work. Having made the decision to invest in a new fleet of commercial vehicles, Thames Water enlisted the services of Bri-Stor Systems Ltd, to manage important enhancements to their dropside vehicles, making them suitable for the maintenance tasks required. Bri-Stor Systems Ltd, part of the Bri-Stor Group, manufacture and install a wide range of products for commercial vehicles, including modular and bespoke van conversions, interior van racking, van roof equipment, including the worldwide patented and best-selling Easi-Load ground loading roof rack system making Bri-Stor one of the UK’s largest manufacturer of light commercial vehicle conversions and van storage.

When Thames Water outlined that they required load handling equipment on their fleet, to lift and lower pumps and items of plant on and off their vehicles, they turned to award-winning lifting equipment manufacturer Penny Hydraulics, to help specify and supply the right loader cranes for the job through Bri-Stor, who would manage the crane installations as part of the full vehicle conversion.

This new project forms part of a long-standing relationship between the three companies. Thames Water have been users of Penny Hydraulics well-known ‘SwingLift’ electric crane range for many years and Bri-Stor and Penny Hydraulics already partner on multiple prestigious UK fleet contracts, where Penny Hydraulics supply lifting equipment to Bri-Stor as part of a larger conversion project.

Following close consultation and collaboration between the three companies, two models of hydraulically powered crane from Penny Hydraulics PH Crane range were specified, the PH180 and PH230. The PH180 is a lightweight crane that packs a heavy-weight punch! It has a low self-weight, yet offers a huge boom outreach of 5 metres. The PH230, when fully rated can lift in excess of 1800kg. Versatile & easy to operate, both cranes are designed to be handled by a single operator and both were ordered with high speed hoists for essential down hole handling work.

The cranes incorporate full hydraulic control via proportional controls, preventing the need to access the bed of the vehicle and therefore ruling out any unnecessary and potentially dangerous working from height. This type of control also helps to ensure smooth and precise load handling, offering reduced risk of any sudden and unexpected movements that could potentially cause accidents to users and bystanders.

Thanks to the advanced crane design, Thames Water can have the lifting equipment installed with minimal impact on the overall vehicle weight, to leave more carrying capacity for maximised operational flexibility and productivity. The light crane structures being so light, means fleet vehicle emissions will be kept to a minimum.

A sound investment, the hydraulic cranes eliminate the need for the Thames Water engineers to use excessive time and resource, resort to manual labour, or rental services to carry out their work too. A further key benefit achieved by having loader cranes installed, is an increased level of safety at work for the engineers. Mechanical handling devices reduce manual handling and therefore greatly reduce the risk of accidents and resulting injuries. By providing employees with a crane on their vehicles, Thames Water are demonstrating duty of care to their most valuable asset: their staff.

“We’re delighted that Thames Water have once again chosen Penny Hydraulics cranes for their fleet,” says Richard Short, Penny Hydraulics Sales Director. “The PH180 and PH270 models form part of our latest crane range…we’ve used in-house advanced CAD and finite element analysis tools to re-engineer the range. Our crane structures are stronger, more durable and lighter than ever before. This, combined with new features that promote even greater operator safety, mean that PH Cranes are the perfect choice for Thames Water and will offer increased productivity and improved safety for their employees.”

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