Aviemore, Scotlandby Ranger Kidwell-Ross
Welcome to the Coylumbridge Hilton hotel in Aviemore, Scotland! We're currently in the lobby because the legendary Scottish Highlands rain is pouring down, completely changing the complexion of the outdoor equipment show. For most of the day, however, the sun has been shining and the show has been quite enjoyable.
This particular municipal event is a local-type affair hosted by APSE, the Association for Public Service Excellence (www.apse.org.uk). Somewhat small, compared to most U.S. municipal events, the organizers told me they have 66 outdoor exhibitors and 28 indoors, all showcasing their equipment for the 85 APSE delegates attending. Most attendees are here representing their local 'council,' which is the Scottish equivalent of a municipal public works department.
Although only four sweeper companies are in attendance, I'm told they pretty much represent the scope of sweeping equipment available in the country. Johnston has the largest presence with three machines, followed by Scarab, which has two, counting their Green Machine model. Schwarze Industries of England is displaying the only sweeper it sells in this market, a 7 cu. yd. machine called the A6500, which most closely resembles the A7000 model sold in the U.S. And, finally, there is an interesting little articulated sweeper made by German-based, Hako.
I've spent several hours traversing the other municipal equipment on display, some amount of which appears to be foreign to the American municipal market. I'm not sure if this is because municipal services must be performed differently here, or simply because their methods have evolved differently over time. Occasionally, I'll recognize a feature not yet in our market, while conversely seeing something touted as 'new' that's been available in the U.S. for a number of years. That, when combined with the thick Scottish brogues of those around me, makes the whole show quite an unforgettable experience.
Before proceeding to the stories from the trade show, it seems only fair that I offer you the opportunity to capture some of the flavour (as it's spelled here) of the surrounding countryside. Malcolm was kind enough to extend our drive to Aviemore yesterday by about 4 hours in order to traverse a route that afforded sightseeing of some of the major Scottish landmarks in the vicinity.
Throughout the day, the weather alternated between mostly sunny and the very gray skies and heavy rain we encountered in the highland passes near Glencoe. Along the way, though, we passed by the major battlefield of Culloden, and the beautiful lochs (lakes) of Lomond and Ness. Of course, Malcolm insisted he caught a glimpse of Nessie just before I got out of the car. We came through the towns of Inverness, on the Black Sea, and Glasgow, where the conversational buzz reflects the fact that the city's football team, the Celtics, are in the UEFE Cup final, the second most important soccer match of Europe.
The 12-hour drive involved numerous narrow roads that wind around the various lochs and through the mountains of Glencoe, all done at relatively high speed around corners taken at what would appear to any American to be the wrong side of the road. Although Malcolm was perceptive enough to tell me a story involving how he got his license renewed some 40 years ago and that he hadn't had an accident since then, I still couldn't help flinching now and again when we'd meet another car coming at us 'round a hairpin curve.
All the Scottish people I've encountered so far are quite warm and welcoming, even though, as I mentioned, they speak English in a way that bears little relationship to the language as I know it. Sometimes I only have a vague idea of what is being said. It's somewhat disconcerting, given that I know the speaker is using my native tongue!
Okay, back to the show. Since Johnston and Green Machine sweepers are widely available in the American marketplace, and I'll be doing an article later that involves the Schwarze sweeper, I decided you'd probably be more interested in reading about the Scarab and Hako sweepers, which aren't available in the U.S.
Scarab is located in Kent, U.K., and makes several models of sweepers. Historically, all have names that begin with the letter 'M.' One of these is a chassis-mounted model that was in the development stage during the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal. Someone in the factory apparently dubbed the prototype (and I am not making this up) the 'Monica' because of its, um, "capable suction ability." When the model debuted, it was called the 'Monic.' The initial machine, I'm told, was even painted in the same color as Monica's famous dress. The photo shown here is a display picture I photographed for this article.
To learn about the Scarab Minor, the sweeper model displayed at the show, I spoke to Alistair Hendry, Scarab's area sales manager for Scotland (pictured below with Scarab).
The Minor is a 2 cubic meter (2.62 cu. yd.) capacity machine (1.6 m3 as a high dump) that is mounted on a purpose-built 4200/3500 kg chassis. The machine is powered by a 2.8 liter, turbocharged VM Motori engine. The Motori is the choice for many of the sweepers in Europe because the company was an early adopter of the European community's Euro 3 exhaust emissions requirements.
The Minor is essentially a vacuum sweeper, sporting a 550 mm (1.8 ft.) suction head with 8-inch intake tube, a transverse main broom underneath, and 3 curb-type brooms. The dual front curb brooms are located just ahead of the forward tire, and on one side of the sweeper there is another broom just ahead of the suction head. Basically, the road surface is all swept by one or the other of the machine's brooms, with the debris moved into position so the suction head can pick it up. Any or all of the brooms may be used at any time. Maximum sweeping width, will all brooms deployed, is 2170 mm (7.1 ft.)
The water system consists of nozzles on a front spray bar, the brooms, and the suction nozzle area. The water tank holds 420 liters (111 gallons). For remote area cleanup, there is a 150 mm (5.9-inch) diameter remote hose that measures 4 meters (13.1 ft.) in length.
The cab and hopper is made with stainless steel, for long life and durability. The suction fan, which is mounted in the hopper top, has a direct drive, axial piston hydraulic motor with an operating speed of 2000 rpm. The company's literature boasts an airflow of up to 6,000 cfm from the 700 mm (27.6 inch) diameter fan. Hydraulic power is provided by tandem pumps directly connected to the rear of the transmission pump. One is for the suction fan and the other is for the sweeping brushes and other equipment. All functions are cab-controlled. Since it's a single-engine machine, motive power is produced by a hydrostatic drive.
The Minor appears to have developed a good reputation as a general purpose, small roadway sweeper. Its small size makes it quite maneuverable, even though it's a rear-wheel-only drive. Because one of the curb brooms can be extended outboard, it's useful as a curb and/or sidewalk scrubber.
Hendry called the Minor "one of the most versatile machines you'll ever come across, in terms of street sweeping," and also provided us with the following information: "The Minor works purely with suction, and the material is cleaned before it goes back through the fan. The sweeper is very durable, because of the use of stainless steel on the hopper and all bodywork. It can also handle many of the tasks normally associated with larger, truck-mounted sweepers.
"You can also add different extras, including a 2200 psi high pressure washing system that is side-mounted with a retractable hose, or a street washing spray system that mounts on the front of the sweeper. This basically turns the sweeper into a flusher. The spray bar puts out 2200 psi and can be moved side-to-side and up-and-down via a joystick.
"The Minor has a full independent suspension, with shock absorbers. This keeps it from bouncing all over the road, like some competitor machines. Anything a large sweeper can do, the Minor can do, with the exception of carrying the same weight of loads. Plus, it can go many places a large sweeper can't go. The Scarab Minor is a very versatile machine, and in this marketplace is used for all types of roadway and pavement sweeping."
Next up, is a story about a very unusual looking sweeper called a Hako Citymaster 300. The machine has an articulated body and, for its hopper, uses a standard-sized plastic roller trash bin. Overall, it's one of the most innovative pieces of equipment at this show.