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Haulage – Going the extra mile

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When you think of haulage companies you probably picture fleets of low loaders, Hiab cranes and flatbed wagons travelling the length and breadth of the country. Indeed in the rail industry, the movement of plant, equipment and materials forms the backbone of virtually all maintenance, renewals and enhancement works.

On the face of it, the vehicles from one haulage company look very much like those of any other. But, as far as RJC Low Loaders is concerned, appearances are most certainly deceptive.

One Saturday in the middle of May – a 1,000-tonne mobile crane skilfully manoeuvres an REB unit into position at Farringdon Station and is landed on a concrete base by Appointed Persons who had planned the lift from scratch.

The RJC logos on their jackets are a giveaway as to their employer. Just a haulage company?

A couple of weekends earlier on the Thameslink project, another REB is successfully skated into position in a fraction of the time the planners had anticipated. Timelapse footage of the installation is posted on YouTube by the client as a testament to the speed and efficiently of the staff whose high visibility clothing also bears the name RJC.

A picture begins to emerge that there is a great deal more to this company than meets the eye, with the actual haulage of materials only constituting a fraction of its capabilities.

Preparations are made to lift a 30-tonne PSP onto its concrete slab.

Underpinning know-how

The company was founded in 1982 by Ray and Janet Crawley and started life principally as a road haulage company with low loaders, semi-low loaders and flat trailers powered by a variety of traction units.

With Ray at the helm, the firm began to trade with several principal contractors in the rail industry and allowed RJC the scope to explore the realms of specialist lifting and skating operations, and to tailor its engineering solutions through strategic investment, training and development.

RJC now sits in pole position for a variety of operations including the installation of REBs, PSPs, contract lifting operations and challenging Hiab crane lifts on sites with restrictive access.

All this is fully supported by a dedicated team of individuals who bring ten years of railway know-how as an organisation, underpinned by over 80 years of experience within the rail and haulage industries as individuals.

Ray still dedicates every waking moment to the smooth running of the company and is as likely to be found underneath a lorry brandishing a spanner as he is in the office overseeing the operation.

Peter Mullett, Projects Director, who is also a qualified LGV driver and an Appointed Person, explains the company’s pragmatic approach:

“It’s simple really – we meet the customer, sit down and listen to their needs. If it means we have to buy new equipment or develop a specialist solution then we will always look at the bigger picture and see where we can help.”

Get your skates on

One of the innovative ways in which the company has reacted to a requirement of the industry is the bespoke jacking system it deploys to move REBs and PSPs into position. This is truly unique and capable of handling a huge variety of load shapes and sizes…including a passenger airliner!

Having transported the REB to wherever the concrete base is, it is skated into position using hydraulic jacks fitted with guide wheels that run along sections of aluminium track. When the building is sited at the correct location, it is then lowered to the ground.

“We have had great success with the lift system” Peter states.

“In the six years of using it within the rail industry we have installed over 60 REBs and PSPs, and we are doing more every weekend, which we are all very proud of.”

So much so that the company has recently established a Twitter feed and its own channel on YouTube to showcase the achievements of its staff and their customers in delivering projects on time.

Living and breathing

With organic growth of the business comes a better defined structure, an increase in documented assurance processes and a tighter control over the high risk operations. Realising that this type of work needed a rail Safety, Quality and Environmental specialist in order to make the improvements needed, RJC selected Andy Young from SQE Solutions.

The company now operates a Quality Management System fully compliant with ISO 9001:2008 and a documented Safety Management System.

“Maintaining a consistent level of quality in your work whilst ensuring the safety of your employees and those around them is key to the success of the business” explains Andy.

“RJC realises this and has an open approach to the internal development of the business as well as a desire to deliver a professional service to the end user. To this aim we are currently in the process of acquiring certification to ISO 9001:2008 through a UKAS accredited certification body and this will hopefully follow with OHSAS 18001:2007.

“We share RJC’s vision of the future and fully support them in developing sustainable, workable, realistic and achievable systems that are living, breathing entities in daily use and are fully understood by all levels of the company.”

And it doesn’t stop there. RJC is constantly looking at ways to develop and progress, whether it’s the purchase of the UK’s highest lifting capacity road-going Hiab crane capable of running within the Construction and Use Regulations (delivering 100 tonnes per metre and due in service very soon) or the new safety videos on its YouTube channel showing how to correctly wear and adjust full body harnesses. The firm is proactive in its communications with the industry as a whole.

With the positive, approachable attitude of those at the top driving improvements forward, new equipment on order and a strong track record, RJC remains firmly a favourite for specialist lifting operations.


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