British manufacturer JCB has launched a new vehicle that’s specifically designed to eradicate potholes from our roads in record time.
Called the PotholePro, the heavy-duty machine has been revealed ahead of National Pothole Day on Friday, though it has already been undergoing trials in England for months.
JCB says it is the most efficient vehicle of its type, providing the repair capability usually required from three separate machines. That means it not only cuts down on pothole filling costs and time but also reduces the emissions impact usually involved to fix them and – at a price of £165,000 or £600 per week to lease it – is more affordable for local authorities and road operators.
The PotholePro has already been used in a trial in Stoke-on-Trent, where it has been able to fill a road crater in less than eight minutes, accelerating repair times by 700 per cent.
The British digger manufacturer says the machine halves the cost of current pothole fixing used by councils and highways agencies across the country,
Its development has been led by JCB chairman, Lord Bamford, who described potholes as the ‘scourge of our nation’ and that he is ‘personally’fixated on finding a solution’ to eradicate them.
‘We simply cannot allow our road network to continue to be blighted by potholes,’ he explained.
‘JCB’s solution is simple and cost effective and fixes potholes permanently, first time. Once the machine has done its job all the contractor then needs to do is just add tar.’
The wheelbase of the £165,000 vehicle is compact enough for it to easily operate in a single carriageway, and, due to the high operator position, the individual operating the machine can see all four wheels – this reduces the risk to passing pedestrians or other highways workers.
The first part of the process uses the 600mm-wide ‘planer’, which is made-up of rotating teeth that mill away the ground to a depth set by the operator. This creates a level cut that gives the pothole structure. Without this, if you were to try to put tar straight in the hole, the repair would not last a month, say road maintenance experts.
The PotholePro’s multi-tool also includes both the sweeper and cropping tool. It can rotate in any direction which makes it perfect to work around ironworks.
The 360-degree cropping tool squares off the edges of the pothole. Normally, this process is done by a jack hammer or circular saw and in is linked to causing Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome among those who operate them. With the JCB PotholePro, it completely eliminates this risk.
The next phase utilises the ‘sweeper’, which can either rotate and collect the material or the brush lifts up out of the way to leave a bucket to scoop large volumes of chippings at once.
All the material collected can then easily be dumped into a support truck for recycling.
Tests with local authorities and contractors have already shown that the JCB PotholePro can complete a pothole repair in less than eight minutes – the equivalent of fixing 700 potholes a month.
It also has a 25mph top speed, meaning the vehicle can travel up and down roads under its own power, also reducing transport costs for operators.
The machine has been used in trials on roads in Stoke-on-Trent for months and the city council has worked with JCB over the last 12 months as innovation partners to develop the PotholePro.
In initial testing, the machine completed 51 road repair jobs in 20 days, which would have taken a team of up to six operatives 63 days to complete normally.
Councillor Daniel Jellyman, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for infrastructure, regeneration and heritage, said he had seen a 700 per cent increase in productivity.
He said: ‘Potholes are a nuisance to motorists up and down the country and we’ve worked closely with JCB to come up with a solution to what is a national problem.
‘In a time when every penny and pound counts for local authorities, we’re delighted to be at the forefront of developing and trialling new technologies and ways of working, especially ones which could save residents money.’
The vehicle’s release follows a vow from Chancellor Rishi Sunak last November to invest £1.6billion to fix potholes in Britain and ‘level-up’ uneven roads.
Experts have warned that the cost to repair every pothole on our streets will cost far more than that.
Commenting on the Chancellor’s Autumn 2020 Spending Review, the Asphalt Industry Alliance said an additional £15billion funding was required over the next decade to repair all potholes on local roads alone.
Rick Green, chair of the AIA, said: ‘While these spending commitments are welcome in these challenging times, we are aware that the sums outlined will not be enough to plug the existing multi-billion pound backlog in road maintenance funding and so our ageing network will continue to decline.
‘What’s needed going forward is an additional investment of £1.5 billion a year for 10 years, to improve the experience of all road users, support recovery and deliver a much-needed boost to the economy.’
Councils have been estimated to receive a request to fix a pothole every 46 seconds and more than £8.1 million was paid out in compensation to drivers last year for vehicle damage caused by potholes.
AA President Edmund King OBE said: ‘The toll of pothole damage on cars is already breathtaking. However, as more people take up cycling due to avoiding public transport in the pandemic and if e-scooters are legalised, then sorting our poor road surfaces becomes more important than ever.
‘JCB has taken the initiative to fix these problems, and we’re excited to see its new PotholePro take to the streets.’
News Source: Daily Mail