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Ezy-Guard 4: A superior system

rcw-news-Ingalcivilbarriers-medIngal Civil Products strives to lead the charge in developing the latest safety barrier technology for the Australian market. Its latest system – the Ezy-Guard 4 – is the fruit of those labours.

The company’s extensive research and development processes have been core components in producing this latest product, which is an evolution of the existing barriers in Ingal Civil Products’ range.

Luke Gallagher, Product Manager at Ingal Civil Products, says the story of the Ezy-Guard 4 dates back to the revision of the American crash testing standard – the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) – which was published in 2009.

The basic and perhaps most common guardrail around – the G4 W-Beam Guardrail Crash barrier, which has been available in the Australian market for a number of years – is deemed to comply to the old crash testing standard, NCHRP-350. With the Australian Standard for highway safety barriers using the American standards as a basis, Ingal Civil Products saw the opportunity to modernise its existing guardrail product and introduce a MASH compliant product.

MASH placed more emphasis on the barrier design with more stringent acceptance criteria on the crash test results, increased vehicle sizes to better represent the modern fleet and a strong focus on vehicle occupant outcomes.

As such, Ingal Civil Products’ evolution of the G4 W-Beam barrier – the Ezy-Guard Smart – became the first system compliant with MASH TL3 in Australia.

While the Ezy-Guard Smart barrier has been a well-received addition to the Australian market, Mr. Gallagher says Ingal Civil Products is always looking for more ways to improve and update its safety barrier technology.

“In late 2014 we started to look at how we could increase the vehicle containment level of that product. That’s when we came up with Ezy-Guard 4, which is the fourth iteration of the Ezy-Guard product,” he says.

The next generation steel guardrail barrier has been crash tested to MASH TL3 and NCHRP-350 TL4 containment, which is equal to a 2270-kilogram utility hitting the barrier at 100 kilometres per hour and an 8000-kilogram truck impacting on the rail at 80 kilometres per hour – an increase on the Ezy-Guard Smart’s containment level.

It is the first W-Beam system in Australia to be approved to these levels.

“We were looking at how we could improve the level of containment from a large passenger vehicle to a small truck, which is a big increase in vehicle mass and geometry,” says Mr. Gallagher.

The system offers superior protection and has low occupant risk values due to its unique design.

When a vehicle hits the barrier, the impact energy is dissipated through the posts and tensile forces put on the W-beam. The Z-posts provide a forgiving impact, helping to reduce ride-down deceleration forces and minimise risks to occupants.

The Ezy-Guard 4 was approved for use on Australian roads just over six months ago, and Mr. Gallagher anticipates its traction in overseas markets, particularly in New Zealand, Mexico and United Arab Emirates, will be repeated here in Australia.

It has been used extensively in the New Zealand market, for instance, even proving an integral component on one of the country’s most significant road infrastructure projects in recent years.

“The Ezy-Guard 4 was used on the nation’s biggest infrastructure project in 2015/16 – the Cambridge section of the Waikato Expressway, which also combined a number of our other products,” says Mr. Gallagher.

He says there is always demand for a barrier product that can offer better safety outcomes, particularly in light of the stronger push towards a Safe Systems approach.

Accordingly, the team at Ingal Civil Products wanted to develop a higher level of vehicle containment, which they achieved on the Ezy-Guard 4.

Mr. Gallagher says the Ezy-Guard 4 is an ideal barrier setup for rural networks, especially with a width of just 200 millimetres.

“It’s ideal for any road requiring run-off-road protection, and it provides some real advantages because of its narrow footprint,” he says. “It can also be used in a back-to-back configuration for narrow medians.”

Thanks to its superior design and fewer parts, the barrier system has a quick and simple installation process requiring 875 millimetres of post driven into the ground and no concrete required.

Through its technical capabilities, the Ezy-Guard 4 offers superior protection and low occupant risk values with better passenger outcomes.

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