• Andy Kibblewhite, Technical Trainer

PICOTE THE DAY WITH ANDY K. Testing? Yes, I can be very testing...

It’s been nearly two years since I started working as a globetrotting Technical Trainer at Picote, so I thought I would share some of my observations and experiences so far. For those of you of a certain age, it’s a Diary of Andy K aged 13 and ¾ (ish). Here are a few cautionary tales about product testing...

Strange noises from our Miller (it wasn’t me, it was him - honest)

A couple of hours in the workshop with Richard, two trained professionals, what could go wrong? We needed to carry out a service on one of our Power+ units, which we stock for demonstrating their awesome power. With a quiet spot in the afternoon and both of us being about, we decided the shaft on unit number one needed checking and lubricating. I’m sure you’ve seen the videos of how to lube up the shaft and care for your machines, the only difference with the Power+ is it’s an 18mm shaft and it’s heavy!

The shaft was all pulled off and lubricated as we show you in our courses and videos, but here’s a word of caution - try and get as big a space to do this as possible because the shaft needs to be in a big loop; it’s not so easy when it goes out the door then wound around your car, under the neighbour’s car and back in to the unit - we all learn by trial and error don’t we? By the time we had finished pushing it through there we two very red, rosy-cheeked and out-of-breath Picote employees.

Next to refit to the frame and replace the hand guard, something we’ve done a million times with the smaller machines, it’s just a little harder and takes a bit more time with the mighty Power+. Job done – phew! Let’s power it up shall we and check it’s all okay before sticking it back on the shelf - great let’s go. Ah, no 3-phase power in the unit, hmm, that’s okay we can use the Picote Generator we supply for this very situation!

All plugged in, the Power+ outside the open workshop doors, switch on the generator for a minute just to check the unit is operating correctly and woohoo! It all works great, less friction in the shaft, no vibration, brilliant, run through the speeds, great. Hang on - it doesn’t usually make that noise? A loud wailing siren kind of noise, what on earth… Oh “bleep, bleep” that’s the fire alarm, we’ve only gone and set it off. It’s about to get worse, not just our alarm but the whole estate’s fire alarms! Lots of concerned faces start to appear from outside of the various buildings, and a few guys say ‘it’s okay it’s happened before, if you’re sure there’s no fire just reset it at the panel’, great news...Anyone know the code then?

So just to say always know your fire procedures your alarm panel reset codes, and don’t run your generator near a smoke alarm - and best of all make sure Richard’s around so you can blame him!

The 200m extension lead

A question from a customer around the Power+ led to a call to Lauri in Finland (where Picote’s now famous R&D, Production, Manufacturing and Service Crews are based). “So Lauri, how many metres of extension lead should we recommend on the 400v 3 phase Power Plus?”. It’s an awesome machine and a customer wanted to fit out a van so he could specialise in concrete cutting and liner removal for his client who was a Water Authority.

The famous Lauri

“Two ten metre extensions is as much as we’ve tested it on so far, you need to account for any voltage drop, so the machine’s as powerful as we want it to be,” came the answer, “and anyway they can locate the generator unit we sell near the site, so they should be okay.”

A few weeks later, on a site getting set up to train some guys on cutting concrete in a basement of a hotel, I’m looking for the 400v power supply they confirmed they had available. Gesturing to the guys on site with the 3-phase plug in hand, someone hurried off and came back with another guy with an electrician’s tool box who then set to work (sat on the floor) with plugs, sockets and cables. I’m guessing at the length of the cable, but It would be a fair estimate of 200 metres from the Main inlet board to the building and our work site…That’s what they did and guess what, it worked!

I usually get the blame

Now I do break the odd thing, I do mislay the odd thing, but in general I don’t think I do to badly given we get new products to try and find out how they best work.

The Metal Grinder, our rebar cutter, is one such tool. Wow! It will cut a section of rebar or an earth spike out of a DN100 pipe. That’s amazing we thought. Several times I have been given this scenario by drainage contractors and usually the option for digging it up has been taken away as it’s under a new concrete floor slab or something like that. We’ve got to try this because it’s going to be amazing if it works and a fraction of the cost of a robot, and if what we’re being told by the technical guys in Finland is correct, in a lot less time too. Just a shame we have no re-bar to hand, we’ll have to get some in and try it another day - disappointed faces all round. Hang on - in my tool kit I have a bit of line with re-bar to peg it out between, ‘let’s use this’ I say.

A few minutes later a section of pipe is on our pipe clamp with a hole drilled through ready for the re-bar. The re-bar is duly inserted into the hole and the Miller’s sparked up and the Metal Grinder inside the pipe. We can see the metal being ground away and it’s working, amazingly a couple of minutes in and were nearly through! Then the moment comes, we are through, the bar’s cut but a large bang follows - what the? The loose section of re-bar from above falls into the pipe and fouls the cutter. The cutter’s stone grinding head then decided to dismantle itself into quite a few bits inside the pipe. I better call Finland then and ask for a new grinding head, oops! Or then again, I could blame Richard…

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