A Decade of Pipe Handlers from Steve Vick International

Steve Vick International (SVI) has been supplying innovative Pipe Handlers to the gas, water, and nuclear industries for over a decade.

It all started in 2008 when SVI worked in collaboration with National Grid Gas, now Cadent, to produce a digger mounted Pipe Handler that could handle pipe up to 355mm in diameter. The project was IFI funded and the brief was to design a Pipe Handler that could manoeuver and insert PE pipe in a faster, safer and more efficient way and could be easily attached to any digger/excavator.

After extensive and successful field trials throughout the network, eight 355 pipe handlers were allocated across the alliances and coalitions. Prior to this, PE was often inserted into redundant metallic mains using an excavator in conjunction with a sling. However, this was hazardous to the operator working in the trench as PE pipe tended to ‘spring’. A significant safety feature of the 355 pipe handler was that it significantly reduced the risk of injury and removed the need for operators to work in the trench.

Steve Vick was the obvious choice to design the Pipe Handler for National Grid Gas because prior to the development of the handler, Steve Vick International were already pioneers of pipe pushing machines. Pipe pushing machines were introduced as a safer alternative to winching and offered many advantages, including avoiding the need for stretching and exceeding tensile loading of the PE which therefore meant no waiting time for PE to relax before making connections.

It was this collaboration between National Grid Gas and SVI which opened up the market to digger mounted pipe handling equipment. SVI currently offer for hire or purchase, a range of pipe handlers to cover PE pipe from 55mm up to 900mm in diameter. The Pipe Handler’s simple and effective design has resulted in them becoming a much used piece of equipment in the UK gas and water industries. They’ve also had huge success overseas with sales to a number of different countries including Brazil, the Netherlands, Australia, USA, Denmark, and Sweden.

The development of digger mounted pipe handling equipment led to the Gas Distribution Networks’ interest in digger mounted pipe crackers. In 2012 Steve Vick International developed the MACAW pipe cracker, so called because its pipe cracking arms resemble the powerful beak of the South American bird! The MACAW range of pipe crackers are available for hire or purchase and can crack cast iron mains from 3” up to 24” in diameter.

As with all Steve Vick International’s products we are constantly innovating and evolving. Much of our innovation is based on the feedback we receive from our clients. Recent feedback from our international customer base is that they wanted a static pipe handler. SVI have therefore developed the new Perpetual Pipe Pusher which is due to be launched soon and will join our Mini, Midi and Large Pipe Handler models to offer a broad range of machines designed to insert and manoeuvre PE pipe up to 900mm.

Crock Harrison, Managing & Technical Director at Steve Vick International says:

“Steve Vick International has been involved in the process of inserting PE pipe for over 35 years. When we first brought to market the pipe pusher in the eighties it was revolutionary compared to the more traditional methods of pipe insertion but, with our inbuilt culture for innovation, we knew we could design a pipe handler that could further streamline the processes of maneuvering and inserting PE pipe. More than thirty years on, the Steve Vick Pipe Handler has enabled the Gas Distribution Networks and their contractors to change the way they work and it’s something we’re extremely proud of.”

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