OCU expands capability with major investment in cutting-edge technology

OCU Group (OCU) has invested more than £750,000 in a bid to provide clients with the latest innovative equipment designed to make complex projects more efficient and improve overall site safety.  

To build on its Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) expertise, OCU has added two LaValley Industries’ TONGHAND attachments and two 20-tonne Finnings Cat 320 excavators to its fleet.

The new generation excavators reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions by 25% and deliver 45% more operational efficiency through the integrated technology. Each of the excavators also feature 360-degree cameras allowing operators to capture the entirety of the surrounding environment, significantly improving the safety of onsite workers. The configuration is the first of its kind in the UK.

The TONGHAND attachment is operated by one sole cab driver, eliminating the need for additional labour to manually unscrew and move the heavy HDD drill rods.; enabling operators to work in a safer and more efficient way.

Mike McNulty, HDD Director at OCU, said:

“TONGHAND delivers unparalleled speed, precision and performance. We have already seen these benefits with the original Tonghand attachment that was added to the fleet more than five years ago to assist the 400 tonne crew with rod handling on the side of the project.

Investing in a further two attachments of the smaller size Tonghand XS, will allow us the flexibility to use them on our fleet of midi rigs, increase productivity, and our capacity to complete projects on time and to budget.

Fundamentally this investment will improve safety massively as it will take people away from a potentially risky environment due to the fully automated capabilities.”

OCU’s focus on investing in technology is aimed at increasing productivity and improving collaboration, benefiting the most complex of projects.

Craig Larson, HDD Product Specialist at LaValley Industries, said:

“Around 15 years ago, LaValley had a vision to revolutionise the exit side of the directional drilling market, improving safety and productivity. Traditional wrenches had been the way forward for many years, and while they work, there is always an inherent safety risk that needs to be mitigated constantly.

The TONGHAND has taken workers out of the danger zone. As well as safety benefits of the asset itself, we’ll also be providing training and troubleshooting tips to OCU Group, to help streamline new processes and ensure they have all the tools to successfully implement the new equipment.”

OCU is working with LaValley to train staff who will operate the new equipment and to upskill a member of the OCU team to become an inhouse trainer to pass on the knowledge and skills to anyone who goes on to work with the equipment in the future. To ensure the correct fitting and integration of the drilling tool, OCU has been working with specialist industrial equipment dealer, Finnings.

Finnings Account Manager Chris McGee added:

“This will be the first example of the attachment going on to a 20-tonne machine in the UK. While previously the job would have required the area to be cleared to minimise the safety risks around the movement of the large drilling rods, this can now be completed from the safety of the cab. These machines and the specialist attachment will keep employees and contractors out of harm’s way.”

OCU unveiled the new equipment at a launch event at the OCU Utility Services depot in Levenshulme, Manchester, attended by contractors including Finnings, SiteTec, TA Drilling and LaValley.    

Click the link below to see an overview video of the Launch Event: