LAPV Magazine - Hogs on Hire, Rolling Down the Road
Since the Multihog multi-purpose implement carrier was introduced to the market just three years ago it has made substantial inroads into the highway maintenance and winter clearance sectors due to its compact build, powerful performance and ability to access areas that larger machines cannot reach. Major UK airports, service providers and local authorities from Scotland to the South Coast are taking advantage of its versatility to work with an almost unlimited range of attachments to carry out tasks such as patch planing, verge and barrier cutting, snow ploughing, gritting and spraying.
Multihog UK Ltd has added extra MH90 base units its hire fleet and has recently been highlighting the advantages of its hire facilities through the “Hire a Hog” campaign. Company Director Nick Carter explained: “Due to the success of Multihog sales in the UK, hire wasn’t something we initially focussed on. However, we understand that every organisation has different financial needs, and the available long and short term hire options at very competitive rates provide flexible financial solutions that can be tailored to our customer's requirements.”
Nottinghamshire County Council’s two hired Multihogs are a case in point. Substantial cost savings as well as improved verge and grass cutting procedures across the 7 boroughs in its remit have been achieved since the vehicles were delivered in February 2013. Traffic management costs can be reduced by as much as £1,000 a day for the 14 days each summer when dual carriageway work is carried out, which is down to the ingenious design of Multihog’s new flail mower/cutter attachment, says Nick Carter.
Nottinghamshire County Council is the first local authority in the UK to use this side shifting and traversing front mounted attachment which can be positioned to work either side of the Multihog. This offers major benefits compared to traditional fixed rear or side mounted cutting equipment, particularly when working on dual carriageways. Project Manager of Highways Services Mick Monaghan explains: “Due to the requirement to work in the same direction as the traffic, our old tractor mounted system involved lane closures and rerouting, which obviously caused disruption as well as incurring considerable costs. Cutting either side of the Multihog whilst travelling with the traffic flow allows us to complete the work much more quickly and safely.”
Due to its large variety of attachments, Multihogs can be used all through the year
“The original plan was to start using the Multihogs for mowing activities this summer, move on to hedge cutting when the nesting season is over and then use the front snow plough and rear mounted gritter attachments from late October onwards as needed,” says Seasonal Works Manager Andy Oscroft. “However, due to the unseasonably cold weather this year – we were gritting for 22 nights throughout March - we extended the winter season and we got to try out the Multihog’s winter capabilities first. Having heard testimony from other users I was confident that the machine would do all that it promised and this proved to be the case. The Multihogs are earmarked for service in routes where there are steep hills, narrow roads and estates where larger snow clearing equipment just won’t fit. The articulated design also makes them excellent for manoeuvring around parked cars for maximum possible clearance.”
Grass cutting performance
Having used the flail arm for mowing for a few months now, Andy’s verdict is that the attachment as well as the overall performance of the Multihog has been fantastic. “The grass this summer has grown very quickly and couldn’t get much higher so the Multihogs have been cutting 4ft high swathes of grass, mixed with scrub and coarse stems. Compared with our larger tractors with 110hp they have 20hp less output but you would never know it - to be honest I am amazed that the manufacturers have packed so much power into such a compact machine. With a schedule of four cuts for each of the 23 runs in our operational area to be achieved, the road speed of 40km/h is very advantageous as drivers can get from one area to the next in good time. It is also quick and easy to swap the flail head from one side to the other. Fuel consumption is excellent – when you are working long shifts in outlying areas you need to be confident that you have enough juice to get back to the depot, and the tank easily copes with daily 10+ hour’s operation that we typically need in the summer to cope with the workload.”
Keeping drivers happy during these relatively long shifts is therefore paramount. Seasonal Works Operative Mark Wardle spends so much time in his Multihog that it can be likened to a “second home,” and a very comfortable one at that. “Compared to the tractor type vehicles with rear attachments the Multihog is very comfortable to operate as you have the attachment in front of you and are not constantly straining your neck to look over your shoulder,” he says. “As you are seated away from the engine the working environment in the cab is very quiet and smooth. Good visibility, air conditioning in the summer and heating in winter reduce risk of fatigue too. The low centre of gravity makes the machine very stable to operate even on steep gradients and I have never felt any risk of getting stuck in even the muddiest conditions as the four wheel drive has a real kick to it.”
The compact dimensions of the MH90 and the ability to fold the side arm of the attachment in front of the machine are also beneficial as the Multihog can sit on the grass or hug the kerb rather than mowing from a distance on the road. This reduces the amount of space it takes up, makes it easier for traffic to pass and makes drivers feel safer. The 4m reach of the arm enables hard to reach areas such as very steep banks to be mown without personnel having to scale them with strimmers. Using a front mounted attachment also means that grass is not flattened before it is mown resulting in a better cut.
The low centre of gravity makes the machine very stable to operate even on steep gradients and I have never felt any risk of getting stuck in even the muddiest conditions as the 4-wheel drive has a real kick to it.
Operatives such as Mark take pride in the quality of their work and he is impressed with features that enable more precise mowing as he explains: “The side shift facility on the front bar which is hydraulically operated from inside the cab enables me to easily manoeuvre the flail head around obstacles such as benches, rubbish bins, and street lamp columns for a neater job,” Says Mark.
“As the first UK council to take delivery of the flail attachment we had no previous points of reference from other customers in this country,” says Andy Oscroft. “But we have achieved everything I have wanted to and cannot fault the combination we have in place. Hiring Hogs for us was indeed a very good decision.”
Picture: Andy Oscroft, Seasonal Works Manager at Notts CC, with Seasonal Works Operative Mark Wardle (right).
This article was published in LAPV (local authority plant and vehicles) December 2013, please click here for a link to their ebook.