Experience leads to better design

Eighteen years witnessing problems associated with road maintenance led truck driver, Peter Maxwell from Tasmania's Waratah Wynyard Council, to develop an idea that has revolutionised the process of road repair.

Noting the number of employees who suffered injuries due to manual handling of hotmix and the difficulty of obtaining a smooth finish, Peter was determined to find a better way.

Unaware of existing drag spreaders which were largely expensive, bulky, awkward and difficult to transport, he designed a spreader which can be dismantled for easy mobility. It incorporates two flexible linkages allowing good control over the spread of mix and is easily towed to other sites.

Using Peter's design Waratah Wynyard's mobile hotmix drag spreader was built at Council's workshop for a small cost. Jack Riddiford, Director of Engineering at Waratah Wynyard, said the design is particularly advantageous for Councils which cannot afford the expensive equipment used by large construction companies.

"The use of Peter's drag spreader has seen huge improvements in productivity and cost saving in placing of hotmix." Jack said. "In one example, the drag spreader increased the quantity of hotmix placed daily from 10 tonnes to 26 tonnes and reduced costs per tonne."

"A further plus is that the finished surface is superior to that produced under the manual procedure and can be maintained at a more efficient and quicker rate."

Jack said the redesign of the drag spreader concept has brought multiple benefits to Council.

"Our output has increased with reduced costs, staff morale is higher and workers' compensation claims are down," he said. "In addition, we use less material, less manpower and get equivalent quality to that produced by large expensive machines.

"Peter's attitude that 'there has to be a better way of doing this', has been proved correct."

His clever idea won the Technical/Practice Innovation Category at the 1998 Tasmanian Local Government Excellence Awards.

For further information contact Jack Riddiford, telephone (03) 6442 0333.