With Britain facing a repeat of the long Arctic winter of 2010, according to latest forecasts from the Met Office, Econ Engineering, based in Ripon, has produced the largest and most technologically advanced gritting vehicle ever to be used on the UK’s roads.
At 32 tonnes the monster ‘super-gritter’ is the heaviest vehicle permitted on the UK’s roads and has the capacity to carry 20 per cent more salt than the largest standard gritter. The vehicle also features a technologically advanced sensor that continuously assesses air and surface temperature and moisture to ensure the optimum quantity of salt is distributed on every section of road.
About to start work on the exposed M74 motorway, which runs between Carlisle and Glasgow, the mammoth vehicle has been specially designed by Econ to cope with South West Scotland’s winters, which can feature freezing rain and treacherous black ice.
Andrew Lupton, sales director at Econ Engineering explained:
As well as snow, slush and all the other usual cold weather conditions, in this part of Scotland winters can also bring freezing rain, which makes roads and pavements exceptionally hazardous, Once freezing rain has hit a sub-zero surface and frozen on to it, it becomes effectively ‘bonded’ to the road and is virtually impossible to remove.
The new super-size gritter can carry enough salt on board to ensure that, with the help of the high-tech sensor, freezing rain can be anticipated and sufficient salt spread in exactly the right locations to prevent roads becoming icy and dangerous.
The high-tech sensor, and the fact that it uses pre-wet salt, means that absolutely no salt will be wasted, which is good for the environment and for taxpayers.
The gritter was delivered to Scotland last month and Mr Lupton said the new vehicle would play a vital role in the battle to keep roads safe and clear of ice and snow. “The gritter is ideal for the winter conditions in this part of Scotland. Because it’s so large, enough salt, brine and other de-icers can be carried on board to avoid fuel-wasting repeat trips to the depot or having multiple vehicles out on the same stretch of road – even when there is a threat of the dreaded freezing rain and black ice.
The super-gritter uses pre-wet salt, which gets to work more quickly on road surfaces to prevent ice forming. It can also be used to spread the de-icer magnesium chloride brine on roads, which is used when temperatures fall below minus seven degrees centigrade.
The £25m turnover family-owned Econ Engineering, which manufactured the super-gritter, was established in 1969 and has grown to become the UK’s leading supplier of gritting and snow plough vehicles. The company’s Ripon factory now employs over 190 staff, manufacturing 12 new road mending and clearing vehicles every week.
Econ operates the country’s largest hire fleet of gritters and snowploughs, as well as selling hundreds of road maintenance vehicles including road mending and clearing vehicles to councils and contractors every year.
Andrew Lupton added:
Our order book is growing, and we supply around half of the UK market for winter maintenance vehicles.
The new super-sized gritter we have produced for Scotland is a result of our focus on research and development and our investment in new technology. We hope it will play a part in saving lives and avoiding misery on the roads in Scotland this winter.
Our order book is healthy, and we supply around 70 per cent of the UK market for winter maintenance vehicles.
The new super-sized gritter we have produced for Scotland is a result of our focus on research and development and our investment in new technology.