Mastenbroek Environmental has supplied the UK's first Conver silt-pusher, marking a step-change in watercourse management where organic sediments need to be removed efficiently within increasingly demanding environmental constraints.
Drainage Board representatives and others were among those treated to their first glimpse of the sediment-clearing boat - dubbed the 'floating bulldozer' - at Pode Hole pumping station for Welland and Deepings IDB as it worked on a stretch of waterway.
Built by Dutch firm Conver and supplied by Mastenbroek of Boston, Lincolnshire, the machine is the newest acquisition of ADC (East Anglia) Limited, which sees a big market for it on watercourses managed by the Environment Agency, IDBs and other operators.
The fully self-contained boat has a bow-mounted, three-piece articulated blade capable of collecting up to 10m3 of material in a single push. Weighing in at 2.8 tonnes, measuring 4m long and with a beam of 1.55m, the silt-pusher has a draught of just 450mm, making it capable of navigating some of the shallowest and most inaccessible inland waterways.
The unit is 'steered' by a pair of fore and aft-attached cables, anchored to the bank, which are controlled using auto-spooling winches. In this way the machine may be accurately positioned for maximum engagement with the silt, an operation that is controlled directly from the operator compartment.
The Conver is presently the only one of its kind in the UK, but similar units are a familiar sight in watercourse maintenance in mainland Europe, particularly in Conver's native Holland, Germany and France. It is the smaller of two silt-pushers in the C86-series currently being offered for sale in the UK by Mastenbroek. In addition to the three-piece dozer blade at the front, each features an adjustable stern-mounted, tailpiece and removable scraper blade for more intricate work.
The [pictured] C86xs silt-pusher's 25kW water-cooled Yanmar industrial diesel engine drives two hydraulic pumps which deliver power for all of the unit's functions, ensuring efficient operation even at low engine speeds and contributing significantly to fuel economy, reduced noise and exhaust emissions, and overall durability.
The unit is capable of working at widths of between 1m and 4.5m and at a maximum depth of 1.2m, though Mastenbroek also offers a larger Conver - the C86S - capable, with the addition of side pontoons, of working at widths up to and exceeding 8.2m where necessary. The unit has an adjustable triple section front blade and therefore is capable of working in small water courses. Both machines can be fitted with side pontoons for added stability to enable safe working at the maximum widths.
The boat may be moved on the UK's highways without difficulty. With a transportable width of 1.55m (or 1.95m with the blades folded backwards), length of 8.4m (6.15m) and height rising to an easily accommodated 1.6m, the unit comes with its own wheels.
Director of ADC (East Anglia) Ltd, Mike Reeve, says the market for the unit is potentially huge, and a great deal of interest has already been shown. "The turnout on the day by our clients, who came from all parts of England, was terrific." He says the Conver complements his company's watercourse maintenance fleet and will enhance the service that they already offer to IDBs, the EA and other clients and maintain the efficient and fast response they need while complying with tougher environmental requirements. "Together with our mobile dewatering fleet it makes perfect sense.
We can offer clients a full on-site service. The Conver positions the silt for removal by pumping. The sludge is dewatered on site, and the recycled water returned to the waterway allowing the dried material to be taken to landfill, where it can be used for capping material. There is no transport of wet material involved."
The Conver comes into its own, says Reeve, when access is restricted. "Sometimes it's difficult to gain access to a watercourse to extract the silt - particularly in urban locations or where there are road bridges. Excavators cannot get anywhere near, or are unable to due to safety issues. The only means of safe access is from the watercourse itself.
"What's more", says Reeve, "the boat can be applied to different types of water location. For example, there is work in the private sector, in lagoons and balancing ponds and elsewhere, allowing work to be carried out all year round. We expect our diverse client base will create opportunities for us to use the boat and give us a respectable return on our investment."
North Level IDB's Paul Sharman was one of those present at the Lincolnshire demonstration who was impressed by the Conver's capabilities. "I can see a lot of applications for the boat. Inaccessible lengths of channel are a good example, and where gardens might reach the water's edge and it's difficult to get a [excavating] machine in. Under bridges and in box culverts are further examples. The on-site dewatering solution also solves the problem of transporting liquid waste. I can certainly see we'll have some work for the machine." Following this response Mike Reeve said, "We expect to be back in Holland talking to Conver very soon about further acquisitions."
Mr Paul Clayton, Sales Engineer,
Lincs., PE21 7JG,
T. +44 (0) 1205 311313
F. +44 (0) 1205 310016