Hammerglass: Putting Operator Safety First

Working on steep slopes, rocky terrain and virtually inaccessible areas is not only challenging for man and machine, but can also be highly dangerous, as the specialist team at Metsa Ltd know very well.  Which is why they not only utilise Menzi Muck walking excavators to take on jobs that others might shy away from, but for an extra and invaluable level of protection they’ve turned to Hammerglass.

Most of us may not have heard of Hammerglass in this part of the world before now, but since Evans Engineering Solutions took on the Scottish distributorship for the Swedish based manufacturer, its product is beginning to make an impact. So, what exactly is it? 

By employing nano technology, Hammerglass manufacture virtually unbreakable polycarbonate screens, 300 times stronger than glass for cabs on excavators and other vehicles and machines. Once an operator sees how it works to protect the cab and its driver from the unexpected, it becomes a ‘must have’ addition.

Awesome Earthmovers recently met up in the Scottish Cairngorms with some of the team from Metsa.  The group provides specialist plant services to the forestry and civil engineering sectors, working mainly across Scotland and Northern England, utilising a fleet of mainly Menzi Muck walking excavators. 

“Our primary focus is operations in challenging locations and sensitive environments.  We have worked and jointly tendered with a wide range of clients from the private landowners, Community Forests Charities, and large national and multinational contractors,” says Dave Godfrey, Metsa’s Operations Director. “Our senior leadership team comprises a mix of ex-military and civilian operatives all of whom bring extensive experience in their field. Our teams need to be able to problem solve and adapt quickly to meet operational, environmental and our clients’ changing needs when working in challenging locations or conducting complex tasking.

“All of our machines are forestry specification and come operated by a fully certified and qualified operator, with our operators having extensive experience working and operating machinery in remote locations across Scotland. All hold the relevant CITB CSCS qualifications and cards and are fully first aid trained.” 

Hammerglass screens on Menzi Mucks enable them to undertake works

in environments where standard equipment would not necessarily cope reliably

The company have invested heavily in specialist equipment, such as the Menzi Muck excavators which have been fitted with Hammerglass screens.  This enables them to undertake works in environments where standard equipment would not necessarily cope reliably. 

The contract in the Cairngorms was to support the installation of a new power cable to the Ptarmingan Station. Other contracts have included those supporting the woodland creation schemes for three large estates on the Isle of Mull where they have mounded c230ha, built 10km of access paths, ATV tracks and roads, and an extensive programme of thinning and Ash removal works for Hopetoun House Estate and Belsyde Farm. 

The company’s primary fleet includes a Menzi Master 515, a 14.5t a low ground pressure tracked excavator capable of safely operating on slopes up to 40 degrees and able to a run wide range of attachments; a Menzi Muck M340 which is an 11t walking and climbing all-wheel drive excavator, capable of accessing difficult terrain with minimal impact; and they are looking to expand their offering with a 14t Menzi Muck M545X , a larger walking and climbing all-wheel drive excavator which is also capable of accessing difficult terrain with minimal impact.

“The capability of these machines, coupled with our experienced operators, allows us to undertake works in areas where others may struggle,” says Dave.   

In the normal course of events, a forestry guard might be fitted to protect machine operators from falling objects, such as heavy branches, when working in a forest. Such guards, though, can interfere with the view from the cab. A Hammerglass screen, however, not only provides a much higher level of protection, it also enables the operator to have an uninterrupted view.

Adds Dave: “We had Hammerglass screens installed on our Menzi M515 and Menzi Muck M340 machines for both better operator safety and clearer vision, plus specification for forestry work such as mulching and vegetation management requires additional levels of protection for excavators using attachments like harvesting heads and grapple saws that generate high velocity debris which presents an obvious danger to health and safety. We also find that having the Hammerglass screens installed on the machines inspires more confidence in the operator; the screens do an excellent job.”

“We are confident when operators see the benefits,

Hammerglass screens will grow in popularity”

Comments Gareth Evans of Evans Engineering Solutions: “We took on the Hammerglass dealership about a year ago as we could see the potential of the product. We are confident when operators see the benefits, Hammerglass screens will grow in popularity. Customers who have it installed on their machines wouldn’t go back to having standard glass.”

Gareth’s first encounter with the product happened when a customer saw it at a show in Sweden and brought it back to Scotland. “When he showed it to us, we were highly impressed.” That customer has Hammerglass screens on two of his excavators.

Hammerglass, which incidentally has an online webshop at https://www.hammerglass.com/en/shop-automotive/, is situated in the small town of Förslöv, in southern Sweden, where it first started in 1993 with the mission to reduce the ongoing costs of replacing broken glass. The solution was their own unique hard coated polycarbonate, optically clear and 300 times stronger, as we mentioned, than ordinary glass. 

The screens have a layer of silicon oxide which protects against scratches and wear and tear, and the material also provides almost 100 percent UV protection, which prevents them from clouding or becoming discoloured over time – and no, Hammerglass doesn´t burn.

“Our main goal is that every machine is delivered to

the work site with unbreakable screens”

Comments Hammerglass CEO Bengt Nilsson: “Every year 1.9 million construction vehicles are produced, none is made with polycarbonate as standard. Most of them get ordinary glass installed. The forest industry offers a whole other picture, they make machines with polycarbonate solutions. Why we have this difference I honestly don’t know, but Hammerglass will not stop in our quest to make the construction business prioritise driver safety. Our main goal is that every machine is delivered to the work site with unbreakable screens, simply because there is no argument to why it shouldn’t be that way. We want drivers to come home safe after work.”

Adds Florian Lauterbach, who is the director for Hammerglass Automotive: “Hammerglass has not only a direct effect on driver safety but also a long-term economic effect that we cannot ignore any longer – less glass breakage means lower overall maintenance costs and is beneficial for the environment. Clearing up broken glass in a cab takes several days, with unnecessary downtime costs.

“Hammerglass weighs one third of ordinary glass, a capacity which makes it also suitable for ambulances and police vehicles – that strength combined with a much less total weight of the vehicle only comes with benefits. The ambulances, for example, can be loaded with more equipment, equipment that could be the difference between life and death in unique situations.” 

The screens, which can be fitted in a steel frame, are available as replacement windows for most construction machinery, with the design tailored to the cab and level of protection needed – and all are tested and certified. RABS is a collective term for tests and certifications for blast protection and stands for R43, Axe test, Blast Test and Stone test.