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The brush on the solar panel cleaning attachment is made from patented anti-scratch material.

Clean sweep

Exac-One recently showed how its specialist attachments can make compact machines more versatile and create new hire opportunities. Nick Johnson reports.

The Get Attached demonstration days organised by Exac-One always provide food for thought. And, with more new attachments on show in the fields and woods around the company’s rural headquarters in Worcestershire, this year’s event proved particularly interesting.

Proving conclusively that the description ‘mini excavator’ is something of a misnomer was the first UK appearance of a special broom to enable such a machine to clean ground-based solar panels. With the proliferation of solar farms in our countryside, such a maintenance operation should become big business. The company is now representing Italian manufacturer, U.EMME, which has developed two sizes of Mantra Solar attachments. The unit demonstrated on a 2665kg Kubota U27-4 was the 2100L that weighs 170kg (without linkage) and has a working width of 1850mm.

To prevent damaging the panels, the brush is made from a patented anti-scratch material. The cleaning system incorporates sensors which, through an in-cab control box and display panel, provide the machine operator with visual and audible warnings if the attachment itself gets too close to the surface of the panel. There is a water spray system with spray bars and nozzles to wash and rinse the surfaces,

and the host machine was fitted with a 1,000-litre capacity tank on a pallet fork clamped to its dozer blade, for self-contained operation.

Tests have shown that dirt on a solar panel can reduce efficiency by as much as 20%. A zero tail swing mini is an ideal carrier for the cleaning system as it can easily traverse the narrow aisles between the densely packed rows of panels. This combination could provide valuable new business for hire companies in rural areas.

Exac-One also imports six-way power angling dozer blades from U.EMME for use on compact tracked loaders. The company demonstrated a 2.4m-wide LTDL 2400 blade complete with a 2D Trimble laser control system from Sitech UK and Ireland on a 4.5-tonne Cat 279D High Flow XPS machine. Other blades available are the 2.1m-wide LTDL2100 and the 2.7m LTDL2700. When fitted onto a compact tracked loader with laser control, these are productive finishing tools.

Visitors could also see how compact excavators can now be easily configured to carry out many different landscaping, vegetation control and timber cutting and processing tasks. Particularly impressive was the use of an Exac-One TL250 tree lopper mounted on a 5.6-tonne Kubota KX057-4 to remove and cut up saplings, in order to thin out a wooded area. Other minis were used to cut through dense vegetation with an Osma TE120DP Mini Mower, split oversize timber with a Black Splitter attachment, and remove unwanted tree stumps with an Exac-One stump grinder.

Exac-One has also recently developed a range of Grab-N-Drive post drivers. Available in four sizes to suit excavators weighing from 1.8 to 14.0 tonne, these attachments each have a grab to pick up and position a post, and a hammer to drive it into the ground. The GD30S model on show was attached by means of a PowerTilt rotator onto a 5.6-tonne Kubota KX057-4. Amongst the tool options available are a chisel, a rock spike and a post-driving tool with a cup or spike.

The company also highlighted its unusual Mini Tiller power harrow attachment on a 1.8-tonne Kubota KX019-4. Complete with three hydraulically rotated blades, it is suitable for landscaping, seedbed preparation and weed control, and shows that there are now even more uses for the universal mini excavator. Or should that now be ‘mini tool carrier’?

• Grab-N-Drive attachments can position a post before driving it into the ground. 55 01684 593052

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