David Pyper is simply glad he didn’t have to learn his safety lesson the hard way.
“It was six or seven years ago in one of our aggregate pits, where our 966 loader was finishing a load for a customer,” he recalls. “Another landscaper, who was waiting for the next load, pulled his truck up beside the machine and got out and walked right into the loader’s blind spot. The loader came very close to the driver, who had his back to the loader, when the other truck driver honked his horn.”
The close call was enough for Pyper to immediately order backup safety cameras for all of his loading equipment.
Heavy-duty Safety Solution
Greely Sand & Gravel (Greely S&G) is one of Ottawa’s largest suppliers of mulch, sand, soil and stone. It has been a family-run business since its inception in 1982. For the past 30 years, Greely S&G has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the best landscape suppliers in Eastern Ontario. This achievement could not have been accomplished without safety and awareness to employees and the public. Maintenance and daily inspections enable its heavy equipment to sustain the company's drive for safety.
Greely S&G services everyone from homeowners to large construction companies. It has commercial pits for customers of soils, sand, gravel, and compost, plus two landscape depots where customers pick up garden soils, river rock, and mulch.
The challenge, Pyper notes, is that not everyone visiting his locations is well practiced at self preservation around heavy equipment.
“We put cameras on every one of our loaders, from our 972 down to the 930s at our landscape depots,” Pyper reports. “They work a lot around the general population, so safety in the yard is always a concern.”
He had remembered seeing TRACK-VISION camera systems at a trade show in Las Vegas, and so he contacted the local dealer who represented the line for RMT Equipment, the North American distributor.
Pyper had already experimented briefly with an aftermarket camera, but quickly learned that the typical surveillance-style camera can’t stand up to jobsite vibrations and impacts. He recognized what was required was a backup camera system designed specifically for the equipment industry that could withstand the harsh environment and rugged use that it would be subjected to – a true heavy-duty, day and night, all-season system.
Added Benefits of Improved Rear Vision
While safety was the main reason for installing the cameras, Greely S&G's equipment operators quickly discovered additional benefits to a rear camera view, whether they are loading trucks in the yard or clearing snow from parking lots through the winter.
“Our operators are very happy with these cameras,” says Pyper. “The image is sharp and crystal clear. We get tons of salt on the roads here, but we just give the lens a wipe and we’ve got full eyes again.”
TRACK-VISION’s wide-angle lens provides a 115° field of view. The camera is housed in a waterproof casing, with built-in heating to keep the lens clear of snow, frost and condensation. Greely S&G loaders are all pressure-washed once a week, but the TRACK-VISION cameras have had no problem facing the 2,000-psi spray.
With a sharp rear-view display on a 7” dashboard monitor, Greely S&G operators now run their machines more efficiently with a greater sense of confidence. They can line up better with the shovel, and they save time hooking up to other equipment without leaving the cab to check their positioning.
“You just back up to the pintle hitch, drop your pin and away you go - without ramming into the hitch either,” says Pyper.
When the loaders are on snow, the add-on lighting with the TRACK-VISION system allows the operators to feel safer and more efficient.
The Proof is in the Camera
More recently, Greely S&G installed a digital recording system that captures up to 72 hours of video from the backup camera.
“We had another instance where a customer’s truck snuck in behind the loader at the last minute and they came in contact," Pyper explains. "We felt the truck was at fault, but we had no visual proof. With the TRACK-VISION recorder, that won’t happen again.”
The recorder saves video segments to a standard 32-GB Compact Flash card in 75-minute blocks. RMT Equipment supplies it with a card reader to play back the video on any Windows MPEG2-compatible player with a USB 2.0 input.
“When we play it back on a 20” monitor, it is perfectly clear,” says Pyper. At Greely S&G’s main aggregates location, only the 972 loader is assigned to loading customers’ trucks. “With the recorder running, we don’t have to worry about arguing over who did what if there’s an incident. All the evidence is right there for everyone to see. It keeps things simple if there’s another incident.”
With 10 TRACK-VISION equipped loaders in his fleet, and several years of service behind him, Pyper believes he found the right safety solution for his equipment and customers. “[The local dealer is] very detailed with their installation, so you get a good setup for the specific machine," he states. "We only ever had one issue where it turned out a cable was pinched, but they came right out and rewired it. They give us great service at very reasonable rates.”