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Executive Report : Entry-level Engcon
Despite snowdrifts and slippery roads, Engcon’s recent Big Dig Day was very well-attended. Nick Johnson battled through the elements to see the company’s new lower-cost tiltrotator.
The amount of interest now being shown in tiltrotators was clear from the large number of stalwarts who braved all the snow and ice to attend Engcon’s Big Dig Day at the end of February. Held at the
Vally Plant Training ground at Ashchurch, near Tewkesbury, on a day when official traffic reports advised against all but essential travel,
the challenging journey proved very worthwhile.
Whilst an increasing number of UK owner/operators now fully appreciate the operational, efficiency, profitability and safety benefits that the use of tiltrotators can provide, many others have been put off
by the capital cost of the equipment. So the big highlight of the Day was the presence of a new ‘entry-level’ version with its simplified SS15 control system.
Original development work for such as a cost-effective model was carried out in this country by the technical team at Engcon UK.
At Plantworx last year, the company launched a simple SS0 system for the more sophisticated mini excavators that now come equipped with two proportional circuits as standard. Demonstrated at the exhibition on a 2,500kg Wacker Neuson ET24 mini, the system created much interest, and it exposed a latent demand from users of smaller machines with single hammer lines.
At that time,
the only Engcon solution available was one that alternated control between the tilt and rotate functions, and a number of units were, indeed, supplied with this system during the summer and autumn of last year.
It utilised a single joystick button-controlled valve to switch between tilt and rotate using a single breaker circuit. The pedal-operated breaker line (in shear mode) controlled the direction and flow of the oil and, therefore, the tilt ram and rotational motor.
However, the development team believed that the market needed something that bridged the gap between this and the fully proportional (and ultimately more expensive) DC2 control system,
so they raided their parts store and put together a more sophisticated package that could be used on a mini excavator with just a single line hydraulic breaker circuit. After proving the concept here, Engcon UK asked its parent company in Sweden to fully develop it and produce a new fully CE-marked combination.
The result is the new SS15 system, which was shown at the Big Dig Day on an 11-year old 2,540kg Kubota U25-3α. Using such an old machine was a deliberate ploy to highlight the ability of this tiltrotator to work well on well-used models.
The U25-3α was fitted with a pin-connected EC02 tiltrotator (the smallest in the nine model Engcon range), a mechanical bottom hitch and the new SS15 control system. Engcon UK’s Robert Hunt says this entry-level starter pack can allow it to supply a fully certified tiltrotator to fit a new or used mini excavator very cost-effectively.
On the elderly machine, engineers had added two control buttons to each of the joysticks to operate the EC02 tiltrotator. The buttons on the left hand joystick controlled rotation, whilst those on the right control are used for the tilt function. Significantly, the system allows both tilt and rotation to be used together.
During a test drive, I discovered that the rotary motion was nice and smooth. However, tilting the bucket was a bit jerky until I mastered controlling the oil flow better by gently ‘feathering’ the movement
of the foot pedal used to activate the breaker circuit. It is a simple system that should help to open up the tiltrotator market in the UK. •