The Pipe Handler, a joint venture with National Grid Gas, has undergone extensive field trials across the network, and following successful results a total of 8 units have been allocated across the alliances and coalitions.
The equipment is attached to the quick hitch or bucket pins of the digger/excavator. The operator is then able, from the safety of the cab, to grip the PE, position it in the excavation and insert the pipe in one straightforward, efficient operation.
Currently, PE is often inserted into redundant mains using an excavator bucket and sling but this process presents a risk hazard due to the operator having to work in the trench and the tendency of the pipe to ‘spring’. In avoiding operators having to handle the pipe, The Pipe Handler significantly reduces the risk of injury.
Once attached to the excavator, The Pipe Handler’s swivel head allows the excavator operator to grasp the pipe in its jaws and manoeuvre it into position. If required, the operator can then push the PE into a carrier or host pipe using the hydraulic power of the excavator. There is just one-set up operation for the entire insertion procedure and all actions are safely handled from the cab.
Insertion speeds of ten metres per minute are typical and long lengths of pipe can be inserted in one operation. The design of the gripping jaws prevents damage to PE pipe and there are built-in pilot check valves for hydraulic safety.
The model currently available handles pipe diameters of 250mm up to 355mm, for use with a typical backhoe excavator. Lightweight aluminium shell inserts are available to suit all pipe sizes.
Larger and smaller diameter models will be available in the future.