Introducing The Q-FE Road Ant
Quality Fabrications and Engineering is the business behind the Q-FE Road Ant, a dual controlled forward moving aggregate spreader set to increase safety on spray sealing projects across the road network.
VicRoads manages around 23,000 kilometres of the state’s roads, valued at around $27 billion.
In a move to increase safety on VicRoads’ construction projects, the road authority announced in 2017 that by July 2022 aggregate spreading on sprayed seals will be required to be forward moving.
At the Safer Roads Conference in 2017 John Esnouf, Principal Engineer Spray Seal Technology, VicRoads – Technical Services, revealed a pedestrian worker at a VicRoads work site suffered a serious injury after
being run over by an aggregate spreader.
As a result, Mr. Esnouf said VicRoads began a journey to progressively improve the safety at its sprayed seal worksites.
One company has come up with an innovative dual controlled machine to enable contractors to spread aggregates in a forward moving direction.
Glenn Hardiman and Quality Fabrications and Engineering is the company behind the Q-FE Road Ant, a dual controlled forward moving aggregate spreader, that has been developed for use on VicRoads projects.
Glenn Hardiman formed the idea for the Road Ant over a decade ago. When Glenn joined Quality Fabrications and Engineering, the founder, Graham Laycock got onboard with the idea and together the pair developed the concept of driving a truck backwards and attaching a rear cabin and dual control to drive the truck in a forward
motion from either direction.
“Dual control allows the operator to sit at either side of the cabin and they can be looking directly over the spray seal job,” Mr. Hardiman says.
The Q-FE Road Ant is based on, but not restricted to, an Isuzu cab chassis 6×4/8×4, fitted with a Trout River asphalt compatible body and 10 gate chip spreader.
“We wanted to create a machine dedicated to aggregate spreading but, the truck can also be used conventionally.”
On the Road Ant the aggregate is conveyed from the Trout River moving floor body, underneath the cabin and into the Trout River 10 gate chip spreader.
Reaching 2.5 metres as a standard the spreader can service widths of up to 2.95 metres with extensions, making the machine suited to arterial and local roads.
“The spreader can be hydraulically moved to allow for towing, and it is possible to remove it if needed,” Mr. Hardiman says.
The Road Ant also features an array of additional safety measures such as operating cameras and monitoring screens fitted to the Road Ant and truck cabins.
“An automatic braking system is also fitted to both cabins which will apply the brakes if an object or pedestrian is detected in a work area. This is implemented with the aim of greatly reducing accidents on the
worksite,” Mr. Hardiman says.
Anti-rollaway devices are fitted to both the Road Ant and truck cabins. He says this monitors the park brake, the doors and seat occupancy, to determine if the truck is left without the park brake activated.
“The system will apply the vehicle’s brakes automatically if necessary, as well as audibly warn the driver by a voice message.”
For further safety during sprayed seal applications, brake lights, indicators and a reverse buzzer are fitted to the truck cabin, these are inactive when the truck is
Forward moving aggregate spreading is the primary function of the Road Ant but, it can be used for other construction operations.
“The truck cabin has full controls for the body and any attachments, which enables the machine to be used for asphalting, shoulder work, and conventional spreading of crushed rock,” Mr. Hardiman says.
He says the machine is compliant with VicRoads standard 408.11 to be used as a dual controlled forward moving aggregate spreader, following the submission of a proposal to VicRoads which has been approved.
This article was originally published in the September 2020 edition of Roads & Infrastructure Australia. You can view and download the PDF version here.