When necessity called for safer equipment, Redmond Gary stepped up to the crease, or more accurately, up to the Elevating Work Platform, to reduce the danger for technicians working on or around live power lines, in everything from damp conditions through to torrential rain!
From a modest Southport workshop in 1963, Redmond Gary Australia Pty Ltd commenced business manufacturing high quality equipment for the mining and general engineering industries. Before long, their heavy duty hauling and winching equipment was being exported around the world.
In the late 1980’s, an emphasis shift to their own product line, saw Redmond Gary take out licence agreements with Energex to design and manufacture cable handling equipment and cable drum trailers.
In 1994 they commenced manufacturing Elevating Work Platforms or ‘EWPs’. These platforms are subject to conditions like rain, fog and dew which leave the booms damp or wet, rendering them potentially electrically unsafe.
This risk was identified in the mid 1990s by an industry safety committee and steps were taken to introduce requirements for ‘Wet Testing’ EWPs. This ‘Wet Test’ involved spraying the platform and boom arm with water, then measuring the amount of electrical current passing through the boom.
Redmond Gary Managing Director, Andrew Danks, says the company was quick to take an innovative approach to respond to the risk.
‘The new standard called for the insulation systems on EWPs to meet certain requirements with regard to wet insulation tests and safe operation near live power lines when wet’ Mr Danks explains.
‘However, at that time, manufacturers weren’t able to comply with this requirement, therefore EWPs purchased weren’t suitable for operating when wet or in the rain – basically ruling out emergency work in storms.’
‘Our research and development team solved this problem by providing two specially designed and patented wet capable insulation systems – one for operation in damp conditions and the other for operation even in pouring rain, with precipitation of up to 150mm per hour.’
‘Although nobody likes to work in these conditions, storm restoration work is often essential and this insulation system remains completely effective even in these extreme conditions.’
The secret is in the end of the boom arm, which is made completely of non-conductive material, yet is still strong enough to support the platform as well as the working crew. This boom arm is then ‘wet tested’ to a rating of 132,000 volts.
A special finish on the boom facilitates the beading of water and stops the ‘sheeting’ effect on the arm, which would normally act as a conductor and allow electricity to flow, potentially endangering the life of the crew.
Redmond Gary Australia is now an active member of the working group developing the new Australian Standard for EWPs, due to their knowledge and understanding of the developments being proposed with this product.
‘Our EWPs are the safest in the world because they fulfil all the criteria detailed in the wet test’, Mr Danks says.