Trailer Magazine

Safety and stability

  • From the January 2019 issue.
Safety and stability

For building material supplier Dahlsens, operator safety is a key influencer when it comes to equipment purchasing decisions. Thanks to its extensive list of sophisticated safety features, the Palfinger offering has become the company’s crane brand of choice, with 20 new units just added to the fleet.

Dahlsens has been built on family values and good old fashioned customer service. It was started by John Christian Dahlsen in 1877 in Victoria’s Gippsland region. After arriving in Australia, he headed for North Gippsland in search of gold. As the story goes, a lucky find of the precious metal funded the beginnings of his hardware business.

More than 140 years on and still family owned and operated, Dahlsens has grown into a major supplier of building materials, roof trusses and wall frames to the building sector.

Servicing the whole of Victoria, Dahlsens operates 20 trade stores, eight truss and frame manufacturing stores and a steel roofing centre. Its subsidiaries service the New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia markets.

A fleet of approximately 280 vehicles is spread across Victoria, including a combination of utes, rigids and semis, with around 60 units fitted with Palfinger cranes.

“Dahlsens has been using Palfinger cranes for about 15 years. My original decision to switch exclusively to Palfinger was based on the company’s commitment to safety. We were looking for some minimum safety features we wanted included on all of our cranes including the monitoring of stabiliser legs and remote controlled operation. This is above and beyond the minimum safety requirements and is included in every crane we purchase,” explains Andrew Kidd, Fleet and OHS Manager at Dahlsens.

The business recently ordered 20 new cranes from Palfinger including 19 new PK18002-EH models and a PK12.501SLD5 to replace existing equipment. “Dahlsens generally keeps it cranes for about seven years before they are replaced. This enables us to keep up with new technology, as improved features continue to be added as time marches on,” adds Andrew.

Though in the past Dahlsens typically fitted cranes to its rigids, the durability of the Palfinger product has led the business to trial something a little different. “What we are finding is that Palfinger’s cranes are often more reliable than the truck, so if we can separate the two, truck breakdowns become less of an issue. Two of the PK18002-EH’s have been fitted to trailers instead of trucks. I’ve been with the company for the past 20 years and for most of that time, we’ve been putting cranes on prime movers. We’ve come to the realisation that usually when there is a breakdown, it’s the truck, not the crane. If the crane is fitted to a trailer it isn’t so much of an issue, as we can hire another truck and get on with the day’s work; so we are trialling this to see whether a crane on a trailer provides a more reliable resource,” reveals Andrew. Dahlsens’ latest order of 20 cranes all feature High Performance Stability Control (HSPC), while some of the older cranes in the fleet feature the system’s predecessor, Integrated Stability Control (ISC).

“Stability control in cranes has come a long way. Once, the stability control worked in three segments, so until the stabiliser legs were deployed past the halfway point, the system wasn’t engaged. Now, the crane knows every 10mm you extend the legs. Cranes are also a little lighter for their capacity which is good because we’re trying to keep the weight off the prime mover. Generally, cranes have become lighter for their performance capability,” explains Andrew.

“Over the years there have been several incidents with cranes in the industry that have involved fatalities or serious injuries. The benefit of a stability system is that it prevents an operator from putting a crane into a situation where it may become unstable. An operator can choose not to put the legs down, but if the crane isn’t stable, it won’t extend the crane out. When you combine that with other things like the remote control, there is no reason for an operator to get into the danger zone of being between the load or under the load of the vehicle.”

He says that crane remote controls now have better refinement on them too. While in the past the operator would have to deploy the stabiliser legs via levers on the crane, it can now be done at a safer distance.

At Dahlsens, operator safety is at the core of all of its operations. “Safety has the full support of the entire board of executives. This is evidenced by the fact that when we started using Palfinger, we decided that all cranes had to be fitted with these safety features. We’ve demonstrated our commitment to safety with our chequebook by investing in additional safety systems,” says Andrew.

“Dahlsens works closely with a lot of the builders to ensure our drivers are kept safe on site. Every one of our trucks also has a tracking program that monitors whether or not a crane is in use, so if a crane is onsite and sitting idle, it alerts us, in case there is an issue. There are numerous things in place to ensure we know our drivers are kept safe.”

Fast Fact
Palfinger’s HPSC (High Performance Stability Control) system ensures maximum operator safety even in tight situations. Thanks to an intelligent calculation algorithm, the system determines the permissible working range for any slewing angle of the boom system and for any stabiliser situation, ensuring safe crane operating conditions even in densely built-up areas, flowing traffic or similar situations.

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