Innovation Trail

Atlas Copco won the Innovation Trail at the 2017 Show with its RTEX pneumatic breaker.

Breaking development

Alan Guthrie reports on the Atlas Copco tool which was the winning product in the Innovation Trail.

The Finalists on the Innovation Trail at the Show are selected according to several key industry criteria, such as addressing Health & Safety issues, worthiness of inclusion in any hire fleet and, of course, genuine innovation. Atlas Copco's RTEX pneumatic breaker was selected as the Winner from the shortlist of ten candidates that had been chosen earlier from 36 eligible entries. The judging panel 'mystery shopped' each one during the Show and decided that the RTEX covered the broadest range of relevant criteria.

In developing the tool, Atlas Copco reviewed the fundamental mechanism used in pneumatic breakers which discharge air whenever the piston moves up or down. The RTEX is designed to only consume air on the return stroke. Air from a chamber on top of the breaker is used to push the piston down without discharging any compressed air, and this allows the piston to be longer and heavier, to improve the energy transfer from the stroke mechanism to the chisel. The manufacturer says this also reduces vibration, because the pressure on top of the acting piston is constant, removing the need for vibration damping. Atlas Copco says that, overall, these developments reduce energy consumption by 50%, as well as decreasing weight by 25%.

By moving the valve to the bottom of the breaker the operation is said to utilise minimal energy and give high impact power. Weighing only 25kg, the RTEX is claimed to offer the breaking performance of 30-35 kg models and is more compact, making it easier to work in tight areas and giving a more comfortable working position.

Stiff handles are fitted to give users control over the machine regardless of how hard they push down, and integral air cushions are incorporated to both the operator and the breaker during extreme use. The manufacturer says that this makes it easy to operate when making the first cut. A soft-start function is also included to control the slow release of energy as required.

A chisel has been specially designed for use with the tool. Designated the RHEX, it has been developed to maximise the transfer of power from the piston to the ground, and is manufactured to be lighter than conventional chisels for ease of handling. It also has a concave design to remove broken material for better performance and to reduce the risk of jamming.

The Innovation Trail judges recognised the practical significance that such technological developments represent. Since the tool is claimed to offer the capability of a 35kg breaker in a 25kg unit, hirers could stock one pneumatic breaker model instead of two. Similarly, the reduced air requirement means that a smaller compressor would be required to power the RTEX, or two breakers could be run from one machine, giving operational flexibility. Users would also appreciate the decrease in fuel consumption, giving cost savings and environmental benefits.

"We were thrilled to win the Innovation Trail," said Phil Skinner, Atlas Copco's National Accounts Manager. "As a manufacturer, we are always trying to develop new technology, and we had some good discussions about the RTEX with hirers on the stand. We used to offer two breakers, the 27kg TEX 230 PE and the 32kg TEX 280 PE, but the RTEX has superseded them both because it combines the lightweight of the former with the power of the larger tool. Hirers can achieve better utilisation, and users can reduce their operating costs."


Take the Trail

The Innovation Trail around the Show is a great opportunity to see some of the latest products being launched at the event. We preview the ten Finalists.

From 36 eligible entries received for this year's Innovation Trail, ten Finalists were selected by the judging panel of independent hirers. Entries must have been launched since the 2016 Show and be commercially available, rather than prototypes, and they were assessed in terms of how they addressed key industry issues like Health & Safety and their worthiness of inclusion in any hire fleet. Each Finalist will be highlighted by a large Innovation Trail floor tile beside the relevant supplier's stand, so you can't miss them.

After entering the Main Hall, the first Finalist will be almost right in front of you on Hire Supply Co's stand A50. Its portable Exin EX90L T4 IIB rechargeable LED light is described as the only self-contained work lamp designed for use where flammable gas and combustible dust might be present, being ATEX certificated and rated for Zone 0 applications. It can run for up to 12 hours depending on the illumination level required. Close by is Hilti (Gt. Britain) on Stand B60, whose BX 3 cordless fastening tool is described in our Exhibitor Profile on page 41. Adjacent on Stand B80 is MHM Plant, showing the MG 10000 SSK-Eco, a 10kVA diesel generator with an economical automatic start/stop mode allowing it to operate according to site demand. The company says that noise and fuel consumption can be reduced by 25-50% over a typical hire period.

Heading towards the right hand side of the Hall, you will soon reach Securi-Cabin on Stand C175. Its Smart Pick mobile welfare cabin is designed to be easily towed by 4x4 vehicles and the trailer has an individual steering system to enable accurate positioning in restricted areas on site. The cabin also extends to provide an office area, and a power management system is incorporated to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. Near the top right corner of the Main Hall is Demon International on Stand C190, whose new Tornado P2 mini bowser variant fitted with an LPG engine.

Walking directly towards the left hand side of the Hall, you will eventually see the Innovation Trail floor tile by Firefly's Stand D53. Its Timed Distribution Unit balances fluctuating on-site power demands and allows managers to avoid equipment being left to run day and night, whether using mains power, diesel generators or hybrid machines. Operated via a touch screen, it has six output channels so that different operating parameters can be set for a variety of site cabins or welfare units. Close by on Stand D37, Atlas Copco will display the RTEX pneumatic breaker, designed so that it consumes air only on the piston's return stroke. This enables the piston to be longer, increasing power and reducing vibration. It is also said to be lighter than similar models, and as less air is used, smaller compressors can be used, or several breakers can be run from one machine.

Further along towards the left side of the Main Hall, on Stand D18, Southern Plant Spares will show the Uni-tusk X1 plant bucket. It says users often ask for buckets with teeth removed to reduce the risk of injury through cable strikes, but this can greatly increase wear. The new product has a combined tooth and blade configuration to overcome the problem and to increase durability. Proceeding along the left side of the Hall, you will reach Armorgard on Stand B3. Its 400-litre Rubble Truck has an integral scoop plus an in-built tipping facility and is made of 2mm steel for durability. It is designed to be manoeuvred easily by one person and has rubber buffers to protect the sides. Maximum payload capacity is 750kg and the product can be stacked to facilitate storage.

Head back towards the centre of the Hall, you will reach Morris Site Machinery on Stand B50. Its Makinex Hose 2 Go provides a portable water supply for dust suppression during tasks like cutting concrete. It contains a rubber diaphragm that creates pressure, so there is no requirement for manual pumping, batteries or electronics. It has a 13.8-litre capacity for 30 minutes' supply and weighs just under 20kg when full.

Make sure you follow the Innovation Trail to find out more about our worthy Finalists. The judges will 'mystery shop' each one during their visit to the exhibition, and the winner will be announced on the second day of the Show.