FM Conway invest in a 100 tonne Sennebogen 865E Fully Electric Hybrid recovery tracked material handler.

FM Conway is a familiar sight across London and beyond. Their fleet of modern tippers are a regular sight across the City’s roads as are their utilities, civil engineering, and surfacing gangs.

Whilst many people see their outward facing persona, behind the scenes, the business is a self-sufficient, forward-thinking contractor with an entire supply chain established to streamline their business.

Established in 1961 by Francis (Frank) Michael Conway, the business originally commenced operations when Frank traded his family car for a tipper truck! Frank’s single-minded determination prevailed to establish a great company with a great ethos and a passion for people. A sentiment continued by Frank’s son, Michael Conway MBE, who took over the company in 1981. Michael’s commitment to succeed was palpable, increasing company turnover to £1,000,000 in just four years. Michael’s forward-thinking views on the industry helped to change attitudes and deliver growth. His self-delivery philosophy was unique and his creativity for using recycled materials was unprecedented within the industry at this time. It is these visions that have developed and driven the company forward, whilst maintaining a striving family business.

As the business developed and subsequently expanded, the company opened depots as far north as Coventry and as far west as Hampshire along with a huge coverage across London and towards the south coast. This expansion saw the development of a

state-of-the-art asphalt plant on the side of the Thames at Erith. Not only did this plant allow the company to manufacture their own asphalt, but it also took a huge step in allowing the company to self-deliver projects instead of relying on outside suppliers. Along with the development of the plant, the location of the site also gave the company access to a dedicated wharf allowing them to import material in bulk. The drive towards a self-sustainable business also saw the company develop and bring online their own bitumen plant just a few miles down the river at Gravesend. Area Manager Jim Gibb takes up the story, “We have long held the belief that being a master of your own destiny is by far the best for the business. We can keep our material stocks high which allows us to produce material 24-7, without any reliance on road transport putting pressure on our increasingly busy road network. Over the course of seven days, we will receive five vessels ranging in capacity from 1500t barges to 5000t coasters carrying a variety of material covering 6mm, 10mm, 14mm, 16mm and 20mm stone.”

To transfer this material from the vessels into the huge stockpile building adjacent to the asphalt plant FM Conway has installed a conveyor system to gradually fill each bay. Covered by a CCTV system, the team on the wharf can move the discharge conveyor as each stockpile gets towards its limit to ensure the discharge of each vessel runs smoothly and quickly.

The latest addition to the FM Conway fleet of equipment is a 100 tonne Sennebogen 865E Fully Electric Hybrid recovery tracked material handler. Painted in the FM Conway colour scheme, the huge material handler sits on a sturdy jetty built to allow vessels to be unloaded at any height of the Thames tide

Manufactured at the Sennebogen factory at Straubing in Bavaria, the material handler was supplied by the UK dealer, Molson Green and built up on site before being tracked onto the wharf. The 865E is the first of its kind to come to the UK and has allowed FM Conway to further reduce their carbon impact as the Sennebogen is one of the manufacturer’s fully electric models. “We had very successfully used a similar sized Sennebogen for almost 13 years and with a need to change the machine, we met with the Molson team to explore all possibilities for a fully electric option designed to meet our operational needs and reduce our running costs.” Head of Major Projects Mark Whelehan explained. “Following lengthy discussions, we settled on the machine we have now and following 6 months of almost daily use, we know we have made the right choice as the Sennebogen has been flawless in use and has massively increased our productivity in the short time it has been here. On the rare occasions we have had to speak with the Molson team, their response has been second to none.”

Already having a substantial electric supply powering the asphalt plant, the installation of a suitable service for the 865E, although costly, was not as difficult as starting from scratch. The T-shaped jetty on which the machine sits was fitted with several intermediate sockets allowing the 865E to travel to its final working point with ease. Once on the 150m long jetty, a fixed cable was fitted to the material handler’s self-adjusting cable reel allowing the Sennebogen to travel freely up and down the entire length of the structure.

The Sennebogen uses a dedicated 250kW electric motor to power the standard hydraulic system. Not only does this reduce any requirement for refuelling and the potential hazards this incurs, but it dramatically reduces the maintenance required on the machine as there are fewer moving parts to worry about. Even though the machine is based in an industrial area, prevailing winds can easily distribute engine noises down the river to nearby residential properties. The electric Sennebogen almost reduces noise levels to zero with just the traditional noise from the hydraulic system being heard from this model.

Sitting on a mechanically extendible undercarriage, the 865E sits snugly within the sturdy edge protection to the sides of the jetty. The large upper structure sits high enough to slew freely over the handrails to both sides of the jetty with ample walkways and handrails ensuring safe and simple access to the components situated within. The elevating Maxcab Industry is the medium sized cab available for the larger models and gives the multiple operators ample working space and excellent vision from the seat. As part of the package a stick mounted camera gives an unimpeded view into the holds of the vessels ensuring every last bit of material is removed. This screen along with the machine’s 360° camera screen and Xwatch XW4 height and slew restrictor screen still allow for a relatively uncluttered cab.

The 865E has a choice of boom and stick options with FM Conway choosing a B24 Port set up giving a potential ground level reach of almost 26m. “This was the ideal set up for us and allows us to safely service the variety of vessels we handle on a daily basis.” Mark commented. “We have chosen to fit a 3m3 Exstel clamshell which is proving to be an excellent choice for its reliability and durability.”

At the time of our visit, the wharf team were busy unloading the smallest vessel they receive, a 1500t capacity barge which was loaded just along the coastline at Northfleet with the larger coasters ferrying material from Northern Ireland. “We can empty this vessel in around 6-8 hours depending on the tides.” Site operations team commented. “This will increase to between 13 and 16 hours for the larger vessels.” The material is deposited into a large hopper situated over the conveyor which can be remotely controlled to move up and down the line allowing the 865E to reach it with ease from any operating position. “We have managed to increase our hourly output to around 420 tonnes per hour which has given us an increase in over 100,000 tonnes per annum compared to our older machine.” Darren commented.

Jo Barker-Collins is FM Conway’s Marine and Rail Replenishment Manager and commented, “Working closely with our material providers we have built up a system which has allowed us to increase productivity whilst managing costs. Running vessels into the site, even from Northfleet and Tilbury has significantly improved operational efficiencies for supplying material to the site, reduced our overall carbon footprint and together with an increase in the use of recycled base and topping material, has allowed us to reduce the quantity of virgin material needed at the site.”

The arrival of the Sennebogen has not revolutionised the plant, but it has allowed it to maximise its potential of self-sustainability in which FM Conway is building its future on.

Associated Businesses

  • Molson Group are the UK’s largest independent new and used equipment dealer. With a customer focused approach, we are able to provide clients of all sizes a single source supply option of market leading products, backed up by a tea...