Multifunctionality as a solution for expanding scopes of duties
31. January 2018
Experiences with the Holder C 270 implement carrier
Freisen, November 2017 – The Saarland municipality Freisen is situated in idyllic surroundings between the low mountain ranges Westrich and Hunsrück, at 500 metres above sea level. The region is very popular with recreational sports people and active holidaymakers. As a result, the maintenance of the municipal streets now also includes the maintenance of numerous mountain bike routes, cycling and hiking paths. And the maintenance activities in the villages and towns themselves are also increasing. To be able to fulfil the steadily increasing requirements – and with the same staffing level – was and is a big challenge for the municipal depot. The purchase of multifunctional implement carriers proved a helpful measure. With the Holder C 270 the municipality found a vehicle that can be used very efficiently throughout the year for diverse applications.
The range of tasks is ever increasing
The Freisen municipal depot undertakes various tasks in the municipality with 8,000 inhabitants – whether it is the maintenance of the municipal streets incl. winter maintenance, mowing the green areas or various repair work. "We are a little bit of a Jack of all trades", states municipal depot manager Albertus Klees. "From cutting grass to asphalt work, heating construction, building maintenance, sewer line construction, structural and civil engineering – the municipal depot is involved everywhere." On top of this is the maintenance or upkeep and repair of structures such as graveyards, hiking paths or other public squares. The municipal depot tries to do everything itself. Only the maintenance of local and main roads is awarded to external companies because this would not be feasible with the depot's own machines and 14 employees.
"Overall the situation today is that the citizens of a community simply expect more services", highlights Klees. "The personal contribution from the residents is decreasing and the profile of requirements of the tax payer with regard to the municipality, i.e. the municipal depot, is increasing. This starts with street and drain cleaning to weeding through to keeping streams clean or cutting tasks. Work that was previously carried out together with farmers is now performed by the municipal depot." As there is no budget for increasing the number of staff in the Freisen municipality, the municipal depot's machines have to be all the more efficient and diverse.
Compact multifunctional implement carrier for a variety of tasks
The fleet of the Freisen municipal depot includes Unimogs, flatbed vehicles, a cemetery excavator and two implement carriers that can be extended, all vehicles are less than 10 years old. The machines are used and purchased for specific tasks. The most recent addition was the Holder C 270. Mulchers, hedge trimmers, trench cutting machines, mowers, brushes or snowploughs can be attached to this machine. It is required for the maintenance of the municipal facilities, the various paths and streets, as well as their verges and hard shoulders. "We can't stock a single vehicle for every area. Then we would possibly have 20 vehicles and only 5 drivers. That doesn't make sense", states the municipal depot manager Albertus Klees. "We remain flexible with the multifunctionality. We have a convertible vehicle, and a skilled driver can complete the various tasks." The weight, track width, off-road capability and manoeuvrability always have to match the application. While the Unimog is primarily used on the large streets owing to its size, the new vehicle can also be used in narrower residential streets and on pavements or in graveyards as well as in the countryside outside the town. "With the narrow tyres one can easily drive on large meadow areas without leaving any tracks, and thanks to the climbing ability and the wheel load compensation of the vehicle I can also mow hillside locations without the machine tilting", reports the municipal depot employee Stefan Diebel. The articulated steering is also important. This allows the vehicle to follow the track better compared to machines without articulated steering. Or the small turning radius as well as the attachment relief. "With the latter one has certain ground clearance, the vehicle does not exert its entire weight on the ground, the vibrations in the vehicle decrease. It simply drives better."
Mainly mowing in the summer
There are 60 km of streets to maintain in the town. On top of this there are 50 km of hiking and cycling paths, dirt roads, mountain bike routes and a so-called premium trail. This is one of the routes with the German hiking quality seal, which is well-signposted and marked as safe and offers a lot of variety in nature and landscape as well as attractions along the route. Most of the hiking routes in Freisen are meadow paths and have to be mowed in the summer. "We use a flail mower, which is attached to the Holder C 270 implement carrier", reports Roland Klein, foreman of the municipal depot. "It is more hard-wearing and less sensitive than a sickle mower. A stone can sometimes get caught in between. Everything is chopped into small pieces – mulched." The chopped parts remain on the area and rot over time. The nutrients are fed back to the soil.
"Thanks to the small size, the mower is only 1.40 metres wide, and the off-road capability and manoeuvrability, we can also work areas where we couldn't even touch with other vehicles", adds his colleague Stefan Diebel. The mower can also be pushed out at the side of the vehicle and thus mow the verge, i.e. the side strips.
Safe workplace in winter
The multifunctional implement carrier is used all year round in Freisen for various maintenance tasks, also for winter maintenance. When it snows the municipal depot is on the job from 5 am and then throughout the day in a two-shift operation. The major routes according to the current area plan are cleared and gritted first. Then anywhere where there are public transport routes is swept and gritted. At schools, playschools, in the area of facilities such as gardens or public areas. "With the Holder we mainly drive on the various pavements and also use it in the graveyard", adds Roland Klein. A pointed plough is then attached. "The pointed plough offers enhanced flexibility", highlights municipal depot manager Albertus Klees. "One can set the different road or path widths and navigate around obstacles very well. And the snow can be distributed to the right, left or both sides."
The resistance and driving comfort were equally as important as the flexibility when deciding on the implement carrier. "We need a hard-wearing and insensitive device that we can work with on a permanent basis and that is not in the workshop constantly", adds Klees. The solid workmanship of the vehicle through to the design of the spacious cab, which gives the driver comfort and a safe workplace throughout the year with air conditioning, navigation system, heating and telematics, had to impress. "At the moment I don't see any other vehicle on the market that is as suitable for our work as the Holder C 270", sums up the municipal depot manager.
"Flexibility remains the most important thing by far"
The Holder C 270 has been deployed in Freisen for year-round use for over two years now. The multifunctional all-rounder was put into service following a thorough vehicle test that took place within the framework of a demonstration. The municipal depot is very satisfied with the system vehicle. For the future work of the municipal depot, Albertus Klees would love to train specialised teams who work specifically on one job of a municipality up until it is completed. "This will not be possible, however, due to the variety of the tasks", states the municipal depot manager. Many construction sites would commence, then stop again for a few days, and in many cases everything would be prolonged. "So the flexibility of the work-specific vehicles that we purchase remains the most important thing by far."
And also his second dream, a machine in the fleet with which all tasks could be completed, will probably not be fulfilled. "We will not find a Unimog that can be reduced to 1.25 metres wide and still load 10 tonnes. Now that would be the optimal vehicle." With the flexibility of the new implement carrier they are however taking a step in the right direction.
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Renting or hire purchase as increasingly popular financing options for Holder vehicles
A practice which is now more common than purchasing or leasing is renting. Rental customers are municipalities or service providers, both with large and small fleets. "The demand is strongly increasing at the moment", states Murat Pala, Sales Manager at Holder Rent. The utilisation has doubled compared to the previous year.
The benefit of renting is that the rental stock only includes relatively new vehicles, generally no more than 2 or 3 years old, which are sold afterwards as newer used vehicles on a rolling process. The machine is also available in the short term for renting. One is saved the lengthy approval process for financing. And last but not least the liquidity of the municipality is protected and the customer enjoys a full-service package. The vehicle remains registered with the manufacturer. In the event of a breakdown, repairs or a quick replacement are guaranteed via a dense service network.
With hire purchase a proportion of the rent is charged and the vehicle becomes the property of the municipality. With leasing the municipality or the company is the holder or owner of the vehicle. The customer is responsible for maintenance and repairs from the outset.