JCB has launched a new pothole repair machine called the PotholePro, which could dramatically increase the productivity of local reactive repair teams.
Tests with contractors and local authorities suggest the machine can repair a pothole in less than eight minutes – four times quicker than standard methods – and at half the cost of current solutions.
The machine's development was personally led by JCB chairman Lord Bamford, who said: 'Potholes really are the scourge of our nation. Our country is quite rightly fixated on this dreadful problem and as a British manufacturer I am fixated on finding a solution.
'We simply cannot allow our road network to continue to be blighted by potholes. JCB’s solution is simple and cost effective and fixes potholes permanently, first time. Once the machine has done its job all the contractor then needs to do is just add tar.'
The PotholePro, which is available to councils and contractors now, is JCB's latest attempt to provide a single-machine solution to fixing potholes permanently, first time. Although it is designed to be used alongside another vehicle that transports the asphalt to site and can then remove waste from site or use it for recycling.
It follows the JCB 3CX Pothole Master and 3CX Compact Pothole Master.
The PotholePro can travel to site at up to 40km/h, and is equipped with a modified Simex planer, with integrated dust suppression, mounted on the machine’s rear skid steer hitch.
The planer is 600mm wide, with up to 1.3m of side-shift adjustment, which allows the operator to plane a full carriageway from the kerb, without repositioning the machine.
Hydraulic tilt and depth control provide a consistent depth for larger patches, JCB said.
Build around the JCB Hydradig unit, the machine’s TAB two-piece boom is fitted with the JCB ‘Multi-tool’, mounted on an X12 Steelwrist tilt-rotator.
The ‘Multi-tool’ comprises of two attachments, a dedicated hydraulic cropper and a sweeper/bucket.
The PotholePro can prepare up to 250 square metres of roadway in a single shift, or 5,000m3 per month increasing productivity through time savings and by cutting the defect, cropping the edges and cleaning the hole with one machine.
The 600mm cropping tool eliminates the need for floor saws or hydraulic breakers, providing a squared off, clean cut to the repair area.
This also means the gang does not have to complete the hand held cutting and breaking, eliminating the risk of hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
The operator then rotates the boom head to use a 1.2m wide sweeper/bucket to clean up the pothole area.
By mechanising these jobs, which have traditionally been done by pothole gangs, JCB predicts the machines can save councils and contractors up to 50% in daily costs.
The latest Asphalt Industry Alliance figures suggest there is a roughly £11bn repair backlog on English and Welsh roads costing £8.1m a year in road user compensation claims and creating a safety risk.
The machine has been in trials on roads in Stoke-on-Trent and the city council has worked with JCB over the last 12 months to help develop it.
In initial testing, the machine completed 51 road repair jobs in 20 days, which would have taken a team of up to six operatives 63 days to complete normally.
Daniel Jellyman, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for infrastructure, regeneration and heritage, said he had seen a 700% increase in productivity.
'We’ve worked closely with JCB to come up with a solution to what is a national problem. In a time when every penny and pound counts for local authorities, we’re delighted to be at the forefront of developing and trialling new technologies and ways of working, especially ones which could save residents money.'
AA president Edmund King OBE said: 'The toll of pothole damage on cars is already breathtaking. However, as more people take up cycling due to avoiding public transport in the pandemic and if e-scooters are legalised, then sorting our poor road surfaces becomes more important than ever.
'JCB has taken the initiative to fix these problems, and we're excited to see its new PotholePro take to the streets.'