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QF&E: Safety and sustainability paramount

Quality Fabrication and Engineering’s Road Ant represents the latest in forward moving aggregate spreader technology. Image: Quality Fabrication and Engineering.

Quality Fabrication and Engineering’s Road Ant, a forward-moving aggregate spreader, is supporting greater safety and sustainability. 

Since its initial launch, Quality Fabrication and Engineering’s Road Ant has steadily gained traction, embodying a commitment to long-term sustainability and safety. Glenn Hardiman, General Manager of Quality Fabrication and Engineering, emphasises the enduring performance and resilience not only of the Road Ant but also of the company’s broader product range.

“With 22 units currently in operation across Victoria and deployed by major road-focused companies, along with usage in NSW and South Australia, the Road Ant exemplifies our dedication to sustainable solutions,” he says. “Our design prioritises longevity and ease of maintenance, ensuring that the Road Ant remains a dependable asset for years to come. 

“By ensuring 365 year round usage, that would otherwise necessitate multiple vehicles, the Road Ant emerges as a sustainable choice, maximising the ROI on capital outlays and optimising resource consumption over its extended lifespan.”

Highlighting the company’s track record of longevity, Hardiman adds, “our initial powered road brooms, delivered over two decades ago and continue to operate efficiently to this day.” 

A pivotal aspect of the Road Ant’s appeal lies in its safety features, a cornerstone of its inception and ongoing development. This emphasis on safety underscores Quality Fabrication and Engineering’s commitment to the well-being of users and pedestrian workers on site. 

The Victorian Department of Transport’s mandate of the use of forward-moving aggregate spreaders on its spray seal sites was introduced in July 2022 to modernise and increase the safety of these operations.

“Since day one, safety has always been a high priority and reason why we’ve put so much time and effort in developing a dual-control aggregate spreader,” Hardiman says.

“Tragically – in December 2023 – a road worker was killed  by a reversing truck on a spray seal work site, highlighting why safety needs to be a priority. While the risk can never be removed, it’s paramount that we make the process as safe as we possibly can.”

The Road Ant features both a front and rear cabin with full operation of the truck, spreader and safety controls from either end, eliminating the need to spread in ‘reverse’. The rear cabin is also dual control, enabling operation from either the left or right hand side of the cabin for a clear view of the spread line.


 

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“A clear line of sight for the operator while spreading is really important as roadworks can often be very busy, hectic workspaces, with a lot of personnel on the ground and other machines such as bitumen sprayers and rollers,” Hardiman says

To ensure that the machine could satisfy and exceed safety standards, Quality Fabrication and Engineering undertook a thorough accreditation and testing phase.

“We had to make sure our unit could satisfy National Heavy Vehicle Regulations, we achieved that accreditation with the terrific assistance of Transport Certification Services,” Hardiman says.

“We reached out to a local company that developed a reverse safety system, where the brakes are automatically applied when the unit is reversing and a pedestrian or other object comes within close proximity of the unit, greatly reducing the risk there.”

2024 Efficiency Upgrades

In addition to its longevity and safety features, the Road Ant champions efficiency in throughput, thanks to ongoing innovations spearheaded by Quality Fabrication and Engineering’s team. 

Design Engineer David Taylor says the smart spread system streamlines operations by automating adjustments based on road speed, minimising the need for manual intervention by operators. 

“This empowers operators to focus solely on their line of sight and vehicle positioning. It’s a great safety initiative that we have developed,” he says.

Beyond operational enhancements, the incoming system aligns with sustainability objectives. Hardiman elaborates. “The precision of the smart spread function minimises stone wastage, translating into substantial annual savings. Moreover, the Road Ant’s compatibility with alternative materials, including recycled ones, highlights our commitment to sustainability.”

David Taylor says this approach underscores the ongoing pursuit of simplicity and efficiency, “our team has been diligently working on software enhancements to the user interface. These updates, due shortly, will offer improved graphics, a more intuitive driver experience, and more streamlined operations, based on feedback.”

As Quality Fabrication and Engineering continues to evolve, the Road Ant stands as a testament to innovation, efficiency, and sustainability in construction equipment. 

This article was originally published in the April edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.

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