OCU advance operations with UK-first excavator installation

Utilities contractor OCU Group (OCU) has added two pioneering Cat® 320 machines to its fleet to bring an additional level of safety and efficiency to projects.

With the support of Finning UK & Ireland, the world’s largest dealer of Cat machines and equipment, OCU has paired the next-generation Cat excavators, which include enhanced features such as 360-degree cameras, with the specialist TONGHAND attachment from LaValley that allows for safer working practices on horizontal directional drilling jobs. 

OCU has chosen to use the attachment with the Cat 320 – the first configuration of its kind in the UK – due to the machine’s performance from both a safety and sustainability perspective, with Finning managing the project to ensure the correct fitting and integration of the drilling tool.  

The new generation Cat 320 has been engineered to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions by 25% and deliver 45% more operational efficiency through the integrated technology.  

The 20-tonne Cat 320 will enable the technology to be used on smaller sites where accessibility may be an issue and the specialist TONGHAND attachment will allow horizontal drilling rods to be unthreaded, sorted and stacked by the cab operator – meaning contractors do not have to manually unscrew and move the rods. 

Mike McNulty, HDD Director at OCU, said: 

“TONGHAND delivers unparalleled speed, precision, and performance. We have already seen these benefits with our large attachment that was added to the fleet more than five years ago. Investing in a further two attachments of a smaller size, will allow us the flexibility to use them on other equipment, increase productivity, and our capacity. This is down to the speed the device completes work at.”

“The tech-led efficiencies of the Cat 320 will support a more sustainable approach to construction and engineering in line with our goal to cut carbon emissions where possible. Fundamentally this investment will improve safety massively as it will take people away from a potentially risky environment due to the fully automated capabilities.”

The operational efficiency of the machines will be supported by a full warranty and maintenance package from Finning, lasting five years or 5,000 hours, and which will see the machines inspected every 500 hours.

Finning Account Manager Chris McGee adds: 

“This will be the first example of the attachment going on to a 20-tonne machine in the UK. While previously the job would have required the area to be cleared to minimise the safety risks around the movement of the large drilling rods, this can now be completed from the safety of the cab. These machines and the specialist attachment will keep employees and contractors out of harm’s way.”

“Ultimately the aim is to make the site as safe as possible and combining the attachment with the Cat 320 is an ideal pairing that ensures the added functionality is backed by the latest in-cab technology to protect everyone on site – and work as efficiently as possible.”

OCU unveiled the new equipment at a ceremony at the OCU Utility Services depot in Levenshulme attended by the following contractors Finnings, SiteTec, TA Drilling and LaValleys who have all played an important role in the installation.

Craig Larson, HDD product specialist at LaValley Industries, said: 

“Around 15 years ago, LaValley had a vision to revolutionise the exit side of the directional drilling market, improving safety and productivity. Traditional wrenches have been the way forward for many years, and while they work well, there is always an inherent safety risk that needs to be mitigated constantly.”

“The TONGHAND has taken workers out of the danger zone, with total pipe control done by the operator from the safety of the cabin. As well as safety benefits of the asset itself, we’ll also be providing training and troubleshooting tips to OCU Group this week, to help streamline new processes and ensure they have all the tools to successfully implement the new equipment.”