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The best way forward with Flocon Engineering

Flocon Engineering’s forward-moving aggregate spreader.

Flocon Engineering’s forward-moving aggregate spreader was developed out of necessity. Now the machine has become one of the premier options available to the market, according to Director Rory Knight.

As Rory Knight recalls, 2017 was a year that had a lasting effect on the road construction, maintenance and rehabilitation industries.

“We were a bit shocked to be honest and surprised in the direction that the Victorian Government took. But we understood the safety aspect of the decision,” he says.

In 2017 the Victorian Government announced VicRoads Standard 408 clause 408.11, which required companies to design and manufacture forward-moving aggregate spreading machines, effectively outlawing conventional reversing aggregate spreading machinery.

From the announcement, companies had five years to prepare. Luckily Flocon Engineering already had decades of experience, as well as the support of Australian manufacturers and partners to develop a suitable machine.

As the Director and a third-generation employee of Flocon Engineering, Knight’s know-how allowed the company to tackle the challenge head on.

“We just had to move with the times and meet the demand,” he says. “We already had knowledge in designing and manufacturing machinery like our aggregate emulsion sealing units, so our approach was to keep it simple.”

“We didn’t want to overcomplicate it.”

The first prototype of the forward-moving aggregate spreader was finished in 2019.
The first prototype of the forward-moving aggregate spreader was finished in 2019.

This philosophy guided the initial development of the forward-moving spreader, with the first prototype finished in October 2019. 

“As soon as the first prototype was completed, we went out for testing straight away,” Knight says.

Flocon Engineering supplied the prototype to a long-term customer, who put the machine through its paces.

Knight says the performance of the machine through these trials were “very positive”.

“The biggest surprise for us was that after the first prototype was built and tested, the first load was actually spread perfectly on the first go,” Knight says. “We knew we were on to something.”

The forward moving aggregate spreader is cabin controlled and can spread aggregate up to 20 millimetres in size. The machine is capable of towing and has a legal payload of 10 tonnes with the current model.

When fitted with an aggregate spreader to the truck, the machine’s maximum spreading width is 2700 millimetres. This can be increased to 4900 millimetres when spreading with a self-propelled chipping spreader. And for full width spreads, two split hydraulic augers can be installed, to support the spread of material.


 

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Keeping in control

Simplicity and technology were two of the biggest focus areas for Flocon Engineering, which is why the company includes an ‘automatic control system’ as standard.

The automatic control system is similar to the unit deployed in Flocon Engineering’s other machinery, which provides insights into the hydraulic pressures, mechanical faults, temperatures and more.

Knight says the system in the forward-moving spreader performs a similar function, except with further parameters.

“The system can be set up with parameters already set, so the user can just adjust the spread ratio within millimetre increments,” Knight says. “It comes with pre-set milestones and volumes for spreading, such as 7 to 20 millimetres. All the operator has to do is adjust the spread and flow of material.”

The forward-moving aggregate spreader’s internal system allows the operator to adjust the parameters and spreading width of the material.
The forward-moving aggregate spreader’s internal system allows the operator to adjust the parameters and spreading width of the material.

“What differentiates our model is the complete control that operators can have just from the cabin. There’s no need for the operator to remove themselves from the vehicle when it’s in operation, or even on the jobsite to check settings manually,” Knight says.

The automatic control system also enables the user to influence the feed of material to the spreader box.

Knight says feedback from customers has centred around the simplicity and ease of use provided by the unit.

When it comes to quality, components designed and manufactured by Flocon Engineering are “thoroughly” checked. Therefore, ensuring the machine follows the VicRoads standard, as well as best practice available in the marketplace.

Future developments 

Despite having an international presence in nations such as New Zealand, China and the United Kingdom, Knight says the forward-moving aggregate spreader is best suited and predominantly used in the Australian market.

This hasn’t stopped Flocon Engineering from further developing the machine however, as Knight explains.

“We’re waiting to get in a new demo unit and we’re pretty close to getting that on the road. We’ve got quite a few customers waiting to do some trials on that,” he says.

“We also have more developments for the forward-moving aggregate spreader in the works, but we’re keeping those under wraps for the moment.”

The machine also comes with support from the company’s qualified service and spare parts representatives. 

“We’ve already got some on the road and we’ve got plenty more to build, which is great,” Knight says.

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

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