Automating roadside maintenance

SlasherTeck is evolving its original roadside vegetation management technology to incorporate roadside rubbish and autonomous traffic management systems.When it launched an innovative alternative to how traditional roadside vegetation maintenance is undertaken, SlasherTeck was catapulted into the limelight – its unique solution was something very new to the Australian market.

Born from a simple observation that there was a deficiency in how roadside vegetation maintenance was done, the core SlasherTeck technology comprises a triple-bladed slasher that can be attached to the front of a tractor and cut around roadside posts and signs.

The unit can perform as a high-end slasher, while effortlessly removing vegetation from around these assets without damaging them.

Norman Boyle, SlasherTeck’s Corporate Consultant, says the technology proved an ideal alternative to traditional asset management methods used by many rural councils.

“It eliminates the use of huge volumes of chemical spray around posts and manual whipper snippers, as the tractor operator is able to do the maintenance work in one pass,” he says.

Since launching its patented SlasherTeck technology nearly two years ago, the company has continued to develop its core product, introducing GPS-based asset management technology – the SlasherTeck Operations and Asset Management System (or SOAMS).

When the SOAMS system is run in a specific mode, each roadside post that is slashed is recorded and labelled on a map. A photograph of the asset is also taken at the time of slashing, which can be stored for reference.

Once that data is entered into the system, SOAMS provides an analysis option, where each asset photo is recorded for type, condition and valuation at the time of entry. The system can identify 315 different variations of roadside assets.

“Local governments don’t have specific records of where those assets are and what kind of state they are in,” explains Mr. Boyle. “SOAMS tells them exactly where that post is and what condition it is in. It can record and send back to base a record of what work’s been done and where.”

Mr. Boyle says that the success of the original SlasherTeck technology set the Australian business on a new path where it would continually evolve and branch out its offerings to the Australian market.

Besides roadside vegetation and asset management, the company has expanded into roadside rubbish management and traffic management. Its most recent additions to its range are an innovative roadside rubbish collection unit and a traffic management system utilising drone technology.

The RoboCollect machinery is designed to address the issue of roadside rubbish along long stretches of road. The unit comprises two robotic arms, a transfer conveyor belt and a detachable rubbish compactor, which can be fitted to a high ground clearance tractor.

“Traditionally, roadside rubbish collection is manually collected by groups of two or three people walking the roadways,” explains Mr. Boyle.

“This is an incredibly slow and labour intensive process and it endangers worker safety.”

He says that the RoboCollect aims to overcome efficiency and health and safety issues by providing a solution that is operated by a single operator from the safety of a tractor cabin.

The company’s patent-pending autonomous traffic management drones are digital signage units that, likewise, aim to remove the operator from the danger zone.

The digital, solar-powered drones can operate in remote controlled and autonomous modes.

In remote control mode, the drone can be positioned via a remote control unit and show various static traffic management signage.

The units can be positioned at various points along a roadside worksite, but the autonomous traffic management technology is ideally operated around a ‘mothership’ principle using other SlasherTeck technology.

For instance, the drones can be programmed to follow the same (or offset) path as a tractor fitted with the original SlasherTeck slashing technology during operation, while keeping a pre-set distance from the ‘mothership’ as set by the operator.

The drone’s LED display can then signal to traffic passing by the kind of work being undertaken using any pre-programmed traffic management symbols or messages, such as speed limits, Keep Left, Slow Down and Road Works.

SlasherTeck will talk about its latest market offerings at the inaugural IPWEA NSW Emerging Technologies in Public Infrastructure Conference, taking place 15-16 June in Sydney.

Interesting? Share this article