East Midlands Airport took delivery of its first Multihog multi-purpose implement carrier in November 2012, quickly followed by a second machine which was put into operation in the spring of this year. Kitted out with a variety of winter resilience attachments, the Multihogs have replaced an ageing fleet of snow clearance and de-icing vehicles in the apron area, enabling the airport to deal more effectively with the effects of bad weather.
Two self propelled snow blowers and tractors fitted with front mounted snow clearing brushes had been part of the snow fleet for over a decade. The self propelled snow blowers had seldom been used due several mild winters and limited accumulations of snow. The onset of harsher winters over the last few years prompted East Midlands to look into refurbishment and possible replacement for these. It soon became apparent that the all round abilities that the Multihog offers, plus a range of specialist attachments would be less costly than overhauling existing equipment.
Attachments for the first Multihog MH90 base unit were a front mounted snow plough and brush combo and a snow blower. The original system in place was for it to clear the apron and gate areas followed by a separate vehicle which carried out de-icing. Glen Wilson, General Manager of Terminal and Cargo Operations quickly realised the benefits of fitting a rear mounted de-icer to the Multihog: “Rather than using two vehicles and two personnel to carry out two separate jobs, we could see that the combination of front and rear attachments fitted to one machine for simultaneous operation would be quicker and more efficient, making better use of equipment and labour.”
Funding was brought forward to acquire a second Multihog, fitted with a snow plough and a 1,200Ltr de-icing tank with variable spray widths of up to 10m. The compact dimensions and the articulated design of the Multihogs mean that both machines are much more manoeuvrable than the old vehicles for accessing the areas around and under parked aircraft for quicker procedures. The addition of a lance attachment to the de-icer enables the operator to spray fluid into even the most extremely confined spaces for comprehensive clearance. A CANBUS unit with flow regulator automatically adjusts the flow rate to the vehicle speed and cuts off when it is idle, which is a great improvement on manual operation as it cuts out any wastage of the very expensive de-icer fluid.
“The drivers love the machines as they are much more comfortable, warmer and quieter than the old ones, and offer excellent all round visibility from the cab,” says Glen. “The ‘one machine one driver concept’ and the fact that we can also look at a wide range of other attachments for potential year round operation makes good sense from a procurement point of view. My first impressions when I saw the Multihog were flexibility, versatility and capability, and this has proved to be the case.”
The footage below is of the Multihog with a snow blower in action.