Cutting-edge roadside maintenance

SlasherTeck, an innovative new roadside vegetation management system, is revolutionising roadside maintenance.During his time working in roadside construction, Nathan Boyle saw a noticeable deficiency in how roadside vegetation maintenance work was undertaken.

He observed that, following regular maintenance works and roadside slashing, vegetation often remains around reflectors, signs and traffic management posts. Local governments and authorities often have to use harsh chemical sprays to curb regrowth. Hand-held whipper snippers are commonly used, but can prove inefficient.

Mr. Boyle’s problem-solving mind saw an alternative solution to these conventional methods.

The idea was to create a slasher that could be attached to the front of a tractor that can cut around the posts.

Norman Boyle, SlasherTeck’s Corporate Consultant, explains how this simple idea led to its game-changing technology, which is opening up a range of possibilities for how local government and authorities manage their roadside maintenance.

Using his expertise and background in mechanical engineering, Mr. Boyle, Nathan and the SlasherTeck team came up with a triple-bladed slasher that can perform as a high-end slasher, while effortlessly removing remove vegetation from around roadside posts and signs without damaging them.

The SlasherTeck technology is built around a stationary frame, providing a strong and durable unit. It has the added ability to rotate cutting and mulching blades completely around the post.

“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.

The SlasherTeck team lodged the patent for the technology under the international Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in December 2014, which was approved in January 2015.

Mr. Boyle says the brilliance of the technology, however, is through its integration with the SlasherTeck Operations and Asset Management System (SOAMS), another recently patented innovation from the company.

SOAMS is a real-time global position asset management system that gives the councils some distinct advantages in managing their roadside posts and signs.

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. The photos are taken through both front and rear-mounted cameras, which show the maintenance work as it happens.

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.” Any asset needing specific attention can be flagged for reference using the SOAMS system.

Roadside asset owners can, in theory, accurately estimate when and where assets will need to undergo maintenance works based on the data SOAMS has recorded.

The real-time GPS tracking of the SlasherTeck unit through the SOAMS operator tablet allows councils and supervisors to see exactly where the unit is on a map and who is operating it. SOAMS also creates a record of each maintenance run, which can provide useful information for future statistical analysis and budgeting forecasts.

In January 2015, SlasherTeck took its product to the Australian Small Scale Offering Board. This gave investors the opportunity to take up shares parcels of $25,000, the funding of which went towards producing a prototype.

The SlasherTeck technology was showcased at Agfest Field Days Tasmania in April 2015 and then at Civenex in May, run by the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia, where it won the 2015 IPWEA Best Innovation Award.

“Since then we’ve produced the full production unit and we’ve produced a prototype reach arm,” says Mr. Boyle. The reach arm employs a similar concept to the front-mounted slasher except that it is deployed to the side of the unit and cuts underneath roadside guardrails and moves from side to side.

“We took that entire product to the New South Wales Shire Council Conference in October and we showed 152 councils,” he says. “Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) had a look at what we were doing and decided that this was the type of product they were looking for,” he adds.

Sparking the interest of RMS resulted in the road authority trialling the SlasherTeck unit in December last year. That trial has, in part, led to SlasherTeck producing the full unit package for market, which includes SOAMS and the new reach arm.

The company has gone from strength to strength, with its technology continuing to develop. Its board of directors has added the likes of Andrew Stoner, former New South Wales Deputy Premier, and international businesswoman Caroline Hong to its ranks.

SlasherTeck has begun to gain a steady footing in New South Wales and is continuing to grow its market across
the country.

The technology will next be showcased at the inaugural Roads & Civil Works Expo, held in conjunction with the 2016 International Truck, Trailer & Equipment Show (ITTES) and Waste Management in Action. The show will take over the Melbourne Showgrounds from 5 to 7 May and is anticipated to draw attendees from every facet of the industry.

Mr. Boyle sees the expo as a great opportunity to reach out to the wider Australian market. “We’re now looking for venues such as the Roads & Civil Works Expo to show all the local councils what the SlasherTeck technology can do,” he says.

Mr. Boyle hints at new add-ons and technological breakthroughs currently in development that will further establish SlasherTeck as a leading product in the Australian market.

This story has appeared in the Roads & Civil Works February/March 2016 edition – get your copy here today!

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