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Title:
A DEVICE, ARRANGEMENT AND METHOD FOR CUTTING PILES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/016588
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A device for cutting piles (10) has a main frame (12). First and second clamps (22a, 22b) are supported on the main frame in-line along a common axis X for clamping a pile (24) to the device. A cutting assembly (40) is supported on the main frame between said first and second clamps. The cutting assembly carries a pile cutting blade and is moveable between a retracted position and an advanced position. The device (10) has a mounting assembly (60) for attachment to a vehicle. In one aspect, the main frame (12) is rotatable relative to the mounting assembly (60). In another aspect, the first and second clamps (22a, 22b) apply a pre-load to a pile clamped between them tending to bend the pile so as to prevent the blade being nipped.

Inventors:
BINGHAM MARK G (GB)
Application Number:
PCT/GB2019/052013
Publication Date:
January 23, 2020
Filing Date:
July 18, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
CREATIVE CRUSHERS LTD (GB)
International Classes:
E02D9/00; B28D1/22
Foreign References:
KR101516529B12015-05-04
KR20100051328A2010-05-17
US20180155894A12018-06-07
US20180155894A12018-06-07
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WILSON GUNN (BIRMINGHAM) (GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A device for cutting piles, the device being mountable to a vehicle and comprising: a main frame;

first and second clamps supported on the main frame, the first and second clamps being arranged substantially in-line along a common axis and spaced apart from one another, each clamp being independently operable in use to clamp about a pile extending longitudinally through the first and second clamps; a cutting assembly between said first and second clamps, the cutting assembly carrying a blade for cutting a pile, the cutting assembly being mounted for movement relative to the main frame in a first direction between a retracted position and an advanced position;

a mounting assembly for attachment to a vehicle, the mounting assembly and the main frame being rotatably connected for rotation of the main frame relative to the mounting assembly about a second axis, the device having an actuator mechanism for controlling the rotary position of the main frame relative to the mounting assembly.

2. A device for cutting piles as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the actuator mechanism for controlling the rotary position of the main frame relative to the mounting assembly about said second axis comprises at least one actuator operatively connected between the main frame and the mounting assembly.

3. A device for cutting piles as claimed in claim 2, wherein the at least one actuator is a hydraulic actuator or an electronic actuator.

4. A device for cutting piles as claimed in claim 2 or claim 3, wherein the mounting assembly comprises a rotor mounted to the main frame for rotation about said second axis and a vehicle attachment bracket removably mounted to the rotor.

5. A device for cutting piles as claimed in claim 4, wherein the actuator mechanism for controlling the rotary position of the main frame relative to the mounting assembly is operatively connected between the rotor and the main frame. 6 A device for cutting piles as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the device is configured such that, in use, when the cutting assembly is in the retracted position the blade is clear of a pile clamped in the first and second clamps and when the cutting assembly is moved in said first direction from the retracted position toward the advanced position, the blade is brought into contact with a pile clamped in the first and second clamps so as to cut the pile.

7. A device for cutting piles as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein the first and second clamps are configured to apply a pre-tension to a pile when clamped in both the first and second clamps prior to cutting, the pre-tension tending to bend the pile so that regions of the pile either side of the position of the cutting blade are displaced in said first direction of movement of the cutting assembly.

8 A device for cutting piles as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein each of the first and second clamps comprises a clamp arm pivotally mounted to the main frame for movement between open and clamped positions and a fixed backstop, the device having an independently operable actuator mechanism for moving each clamp arm between said open and clamped positions, the arrangement configured such that, in use, each clamp arm is operative to clamp a pile against the respective fixed backstop when in the clamped position, the device configured such that a single continuous pile can be clamped in both the first and second clamps simultaneously.

9. A device for cutting piles as claimed in claim 8 when dependent on claim 7, wherein at least regions of the backstops of the first and second clamps are angled relative to one another to produce said pre-tension.

10 A device for cutting piles as claimed in claim 9, wherein the cutting assembly moves in said first direction from a rear of the main frame towards a front of the main frame when moving from the retracted position toward the advanced position, the fixed backstop of each clamp comprising a forward facing rear backstop surface against which a pile to be cut is clamped in use, and wherein the rear backstop surfaces of the first and second clamps are angled relative to one another. 11 A device for cutting piles as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the device has a liquid delivery system for applying liquid to the blade in use, the liquid delivery system configured to deliver a liquid to the blade in the form of a mist or a flood.

12. A device for cutting piles as claimed in claim 11, wherein the liquid delivery system comprises a liquid tank on the device for holding a quantity of liquid, a pump for delivering liquid from the tank to an outlet and an air compressor operably connected with the liquid delivery system to introduce pressurised air into the liquid such that the system delivers a mixture of liquid and compressed air as a mist.

13. A device for cutting piles as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the blade is a disc blade.

14. A device for cutting piles as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 12, wherein the blade comprises a movable band.

15. A device for cutting piles as claimed in claim 14, wherein the band has a cutting section extending in a plane perpendicular to the common axis.

16. A device for cutting piles as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the cutting assembly is configured to move linearly between the retracted and extended positions.

17. A device for cutting piles as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the second axis is perpendicular to the direction of movement of the cutting assembly between retracted and extended positions.

18. An arrangement for cutting piles comprising a device for cutting piles mounted to a vehicle, the device having:

a main frame;

first and second clamps supported on the main frame, the first and second clamps being arranged substantially in-line along a common axis and spaced apart from one another, each clamp being independently operable in use to clamp about a pile extending longitudinally through the first and second clamps; and a cutting assembly between said first and second clamps, the cutting assembly carrying a blade for cutting a pile, the cutting assembly being mounted for movement relative to the main frame in a first direction between a retracted position and an advanced position;

the device being mounted to a part of the vehicle by means of a mounting assembly, wherein the mounting assembly includes a rotatable connection enabling rotation of the main frame relative to the part of the vehicle about a second axis substantially perpendicular to said common axis, the arrangement having an actuator mechanism for controlling the rotary position of the main frame about said second axis.

A device for cutting piles comprising: a main frame; first and second clamps supported on the main frame, the first and second clamps being arranged substantially in-line along a common axis and spaced apart from one another, each clamp being independently operable in use to clamp about a pile extending longitudinally through the first and second clamps; a cutting assembly movably supported on the main frame between said first and second clamps, the cutting assembly having a blade for cutting a pile and being moveable between a retracted position and an advanced position, said assembly moving in a first direction from the retracted position to the advanced position; wherein the first and second clamps are configured to apply a pre-tension to a pile when clamped in both clamps prior to cutting, the pre-tension tending to bend the pile so that regions of the pile either side of the position of the cutting blade are displaced in said first direction of movement of the cutting assembly.

A device for cutting piles as claimed in claim 19 wherein each of the first and second clamps comprises a clamp arm pivotally mounted to the main frame for movement between open and clamped positions and a fixed backstop, the device having an independently operable actuator mechanism for moving each clamp arm between said open and clamped positions, the arrangement configured such that in use each clamp arm is operative to clamp a pile against the respective fixed backstop when in the clamped position, the device configured such that a single continuous pile can be clamped in both the first and second clamps simultaneously; and wherein at least regions of the backstops of the first and second clamps are angled relative to one another to produce said pre-tension on a pile clamped in the two clamps.

21. A device for cutting piles claimed in claim 20, wherein the cutting assembly moves in said first direction from a rear of the main frame towards the front of the main frame when moving from the retracted position toward the advanced position, the fixed backstop of each clamp comprising a forward facing rear backstop surface against which a pile to be cut is clamped in use, and wherein the rear backstop surfaces of the first and second claims are angled relative to one another.

Description:
A Device, Arrangement and Method for Cutting Piles

Technical Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a device, arrangement and method for cutting piles and the like, especially but not exclusively steel piles.

Background to the Invention

It is well known in the construction industry to use steel piles driven into the ground to form a foundation. Once a pile has been driven to a required depth, it is cut off or‘cropped’ at a set height. One known method for cutting steel piles is to clamp the pile above the height of the cut to a mechanical arm on a vehicle and to use a hand- held cutter. The upper part of the pile is then handled using the vehicle arm after the cut is made. This known method is labour-intensive and raises safety issues requiring an operative to manually handle the cutter.

Various attempts have been made to produce pile cutting devices which are mountable on a vehicle to semi-automate pile cutting. For example, published US patent Application US20l8/0l55894Al discloses a pile cutting device comprising main frame mountable to an articulated arm on a work vehicle. The main frame supports a first clamp which is clamped about the pile for fixing the frame relative to the pile. A cutting assembly on the main frame includes a saw blade supported on a cutter linkage to move the blade about the pile and cut a pile section from the pile when the remaining lower portion of the pile remains secured within the lower clamp. A second clamp on the frame is clamped about the cut pile section above the intended position of the cut before cutting. The first clamp is opened after cutting so that the cut pile section within the second clamp can be moved away from the remaining lower portion of the pile together with work vehicle subsequent to cutting.

Whilst the pile cutting device in US2018/0155894A1 addresses a number of issues in comparison to the known methods using a hand-held cutter, it is complicated and has limited flexibility in terms positioning the device about a pile and in handling of the cut pile section.

There is need for an alternative device for cutting piles and the like which overcomes, or at least mitigates, some or all of the drawbacks of the known devices. Summary of the Invention

According to a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a device for cutting piles or the like, the device being mountable to a vehicle and comprising:

a main frame;

first and second clamps supported on the main frame, the first and second clamps being arranged substantially in-line along a common axis and spaced apart from one another, each clamp being independently operable in use to clamp about a pile extending longitudinally through the first and second clamps; a cutting assembly between said first and second clamps, the cutting assembly carrying a blade for cutting a pile or the like, the cutting assembly being mounted for movement relative to the main frame in a first direction between a retracted position and an advanced position;

a mounting assembly for attachment to a vehicle, the mounting assembly and the main frame being rotatably connected for rotation of the main frame relative to the mounting assembly about a second axis, the device having an actuator mechanism for controlling the rotary position of the main frame relative to the mounting assembly.

The ability to rotate the main frame about the second axis provides greater flexibility in positioning the device about a pile prior to cutting and enables the device to be used as a materials handling device for positioning the cut section of the pile after cutting. In use, one of the clamps locates about the pile below the intended position of the cut and one above. After cutting, the lower clamp is opened to release the device from the pile whilst the upper clamp remains closed so as to hold the cut section of pile. The vehicle, or at least an articulated arm of the vehicle to which the device is attached, can then be manoeuvred to place the cut section of the pile in a desired location, with the main frame being rotated to move the cut section from a vertical orientation to a horizontal orientation if desired. In this way, the device can be used to place the cut section of the pile on the ground or on the bed of a lorry or trailer in a safe manner.

The second axis may be substantially perpendicular to a plane including the common axis. The actuator mechanism for controlling the rotary position of the main frame relative to the mounting assembly about said second axis may comprise at least one actuator operatively connected between the main frame and the mounting assembly. The at least one actuator may be a hydraulic actuator or an electronic actuator.

In an embodiment, the mounting assembly comprises a rotor mounted to the main frame for rotation about said second axis and a vehicle attachment bracket removably mounted to the rotor. In this embodiment, the actuator mechanism for controlling the rotary position of the main frame relative to the mounting assembly may be operatively connected between the rotor and the main frame.

The device may be configured such that, in use, when the cutting assembly is in the retracted position the blade is clear of a pile clamped in the first and second clamps and when the cutting assembly is moved in said first direction from the retracted position toward the advanced position, the blade is brought into contact with a pile clamped in the first and second clamps so as to cut the pile.

The first and second clamps may be configured to apply a pre-tension to a pile when clamped in the two clamps prior to cutting, the pre-tension tending to bend the pile so that regions of the pile either side of the position of the cutting blade are displaced in said first direction of movement of the cutting assembly. In other words, the clamps are configured to bend the pile so that regions of the pile above and below the cutting blade are displaced so as to open the cut formed by the blade as the cutting assembly is moved towards the advanced position.

In an embodiment, each of the first and second clamps comprises a clamp arm pivotally mounted to the main frame for movement between open and clamped positions and a fixed backstop, the device having an independently operable actuator mechanism for moving each clamp arm between said open and clamped positions, the arrangement configured such that, in use, each clamp arm is operative to clamp a pile against the respective fixed backstop when in the clamped position, the device configured such that a single continuous pile can be clamped in both the first and second clamps simultaneously. Where the first and second clamps are configured to apply a pre-tension to a pile when clamped in the two clamps prior to cutting, at least regions of the backstops of the first and second clamps may be angled relative to one another to produce said pre-tension. In an embodiment, the cutting assembly moves in said first direction from a rear of the main frame towards a front of the main frame when moving from the retracted position toward the advanced position, the fixed backstop of each clamp comprising a forward facing rear backstop surface against which a pile to be cut is clamped in use, and wherein the rear backstop surfaces of the first and second claims are angled relative to one another to bend the pile. The backstops may each also comprise an inwardly facing side backstop surface which extends forwardly adjacent an outer edge of the rear backstop surface in opposition to the respective clamp arm. The clamp arm in this case being designed to clamp a pile onto both the rear and side backstop surfaces. The side backstop surface may be angled outwardly in a direction from the rear to the front. This makes it easier for a pile to be engaged between the backstops and the clamp arms in use.

The device may have a liquid delivery system for applying liquid to the blade in use. The liquid delivery system may be configured to deliver a liquid to the blade in the form of a mist or a flood. The liquid may be a coolant and/or a lubricant. The liquid may be non-inflammable and/or may be environmentally friendly. The liquid may be a bio-degradable cutting oil. The liquid delivery system may comprise a liquid tank on the device for holding a quantity of the liquid, a pump for delivering liquid from the tank to an outlet and an air compressor operably connected with the liquid delivery system to introduce pressurised air into the liquid such that the system delivers a mixture of liquid and compressed air as a mist. The liquid delivery system may also comprise an air reservoir for holding a quantity of pressurised air.

The blade may be a disc blade, which may be rotatable about an axis parallel with the common axis. Alternatively, the blade may be a movable band such as a saw band. In this case, the band may have a cutting region which extends in a plane perpendicular to the common axis. The blade may be made of or may be coated with a cermet material. The blade may be a saw blade. The cutting assembly may be configured to move exclusively linearly between the retracted and extended positions.

The second axis may extend in a direction perpendicular to the direction of movement of the cutting assembly between retracted and extended positions. In an embodiment, the first and second clamps are located at a front region of the device and the cutting assembly at a rear region when in the retracted position and movable in a forward direction from the retracted position to the advanced position, the mounting arrangement being attached to a first side of the main frame. In an embodiment where the first and second clamps have inwardly facing side backstop surfaces, the mounting arrangement is attached to a side of the main from opposite from inwardly facing side backstop surfaces.

In accordance with a second aspect of the invention, there is provided an arrangement for cutting piles comprising a device for cutting piles mounted to a vehicle, the device having: a main frame; first and second clamps supported on the main frame, the first and second clamps being arranged substantially in-line along a common axis and spaced apart from one another, each clamp being independently operable in use to clamp about a pile extending longitudinally through the first and second clamps; and a cutting assembly between said first and second clamps, the cutting assembly carrying a blade for cutting a pile, the cutting assembly being mounted for movement relative to the main frame in a first direction between a retracted position and an advanced position; the device being mounted to a part of the vehicle by means of a mounting assembly, wherein the mounting assembly includes a rotatable connection enabling rotation of the main frame relative to the part of the vehicle about a second axis substantially perpendicular to said common axis, the arrangement having an actuator mechanism for controlling the rotary position of the main frame about said second axis. The vehicle may have an articulated arm and the device may be mounted to the arm. The vehicle may be an excavator.

The device for cutting piles in the arrangement according to the second aspect of the invention may comprises any of the features of the device for cutting piles according to the first aspect of the invention.

In accordance with a third aspect of the invention, there is provided a device for cutting piles comprising: a main frame; first and second clamps supported on the main frame, the first and second clamps being arranged substantially in-line along a common axis and spaced apart from one another, each clamp being independently operable in use to clamp about a pile extending longitudinally through the first and second clamps; a cutting assembly movably supported on the main frame between said first and second clamps, the cutting assembly having a blade for cutting a pile and being moveable between a retracted position and an advanced position, said assembly moving in a first direction from the retracted position to the advanced position; wherein the first and second clamps are configured to apply a pre-tension to a pile when clamped in both clamps prior to cutting, the pre-tension tending to bend the pile so that regions of the pile either side of the position of the cutting blade are displaced in said first direction of movement of the cutting assembly.

In an embodiment, each of the first and second clamps comprises a clamp arm pivotally mounted to the main frame for movement between open and clamped positions and a fixed backstop, the device having an independently operable actuator mechanism for moving each clamp arm between said open and clamped positions, the arrangement configured such that in use each clamp arm is operative to clamp a pile against the respective fixed backstop when in the clamped position, the device configured such that a single continuous pile can be clamped in both the first and second clamps simultaneously; and wherein at least regions of the backstops of the first and second clamps are angled relative to one another to produce said pre-tension on a pile clamped in the two clamps. In an embodiment, the cutting assembly moves in said first direction from a rear of the main frame towards a front of the main frame when moving from the retracted position toward the advanced position, the fixed backstop of each clamp comprising a forward facing rear backstop surface against which a pile to be cut is clamped in use, and wherein the rear backstop surfaces of the first and second claims are angled relative to one another. The backstops may each also comprise an inwardly facing side backstop surface which extends forwardly adjacent an outer edge of the rear backstop surface in opposition to the respective clamp arm. The clamp arm in this case being designed to clamp a pile onto both the rear and side backstop surfaces. The side backstop surface may be angled outwardly in a direction from the rear to the front. This makes it easier for a pile to be engaged between the backstops and the clamp arms in use.

The device for cutting piles according to the third aspect of the invention may have any of the features of the device for cutting piles according to the first aspect of the invention.

The device for cutting piles according to the first and third aspects of the invention and the arrangement for cutting piles in accordance with the second aspect of the invention are not exclusively limited for use in cutting piles but can also be used for cutting similar elongate members, especially tubular members that may be filled or hollow.

In accordance with a fourth aspect of the invention, there is provided a method of cutting a pile or similar elongate member, the method comprising clamping a pile or the like to be cut in a pair of clamps spaced apart along the longitudinal axis of the pile or the like and cutting the pile or the like at a position between the first and second clamps by moving a saw blade towards and through the pile or the like in a first direction, the method comprising applying a pre-load to the pile or the like prior to and during cutting, the pre-load tending to bend the pile or the like so that regions of the pile or the like either side of the position of the cutting blade are displaced in said first direction of movement of the saw blade.

The method according to the fourth aspect of the invention may comprise configuring the first and second clamps to pull the pile or the like into said bend when clamped between them. The method according to the fourth aspect of the invention may be carried out using a device according to the third aspect of the invention.

Detailed Description of the Invention

In order that the invention may be more clearly understood an embodiment thereof will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, of which:

Figure 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a device for cutting piles in accordance with an aspect of the invention taken from the front and to one side; Figure 2 is a further perspective view of the device of figure 1 taken from the rear and the side;

Figure 3 is a still further perspective view of the device of figure 1 taken from below;

Figure 4 is a perspective view similar to that of figure 1 but showing a pile clamped in the device and being cut;

Figure 5 is a further perspective view of the device of figures 1 to 4 showing a pile clamped in the device and illustrating how the device applies a pre- load to slightly bend the pile, the degree of bend shown being exaggerated for clarity; Figure 6 is a perspective view illustrating use of a band saw to cut a pile for use in a device in accordance with the invention;

Figure 7 is a perspective view of a further embodiment of a device for cutting piles in accordance with an aspect of the invention taken from the front and to one side; Figure 8 is a further perspective view of the device of figure 7 but taken from the rear and the opposite side;

Figure 9 is a view similar to that of figure 8 but with casing panels forming part of a main frame of the device omitted to show internal detail; Figure 10 is a view similar to that of figure 7 but taken from the rear and said one side and with casing panels forming part of a main frame of the device omitted to show internal detail;

Figure 11 is a view similar to that of figure 8 but with a mounting assembly forming part of the device omitted; and

Figure 12 is a perspective view of a cutting assembly forming part of the device of figures 7 to 11.

A device 10 for cutting piles and the like in accordance with an embodiment of the invention is intended for mounting to a vehicle (not shown) such as an excavator, wheel loader, skid steer, crane, multi-tool carrier or the like or a specially developed carrier vehicle. Typically the vehicle will have an articulated arm or the like to which the device 10 is mounted so that the device 10 can be positioned about a pile and remotely operated from on-board the vehicle.

The device 10 has a main frame 12 which can be considered to define main body region l2a having a rear 14, a front 16 and opposed sides 18, 20. The main frame supports a first clamp 22a and a second clamp 22b at the front. The first and second clamps 22a, 22b are arranged in-line along a common axis (indicated generally at X), so that a pile 24 or other similar elongate member can be clamped in the first and second clamps 22a, 22b simultaneously when extending longitudinally between and through the clamps, with the longitudinal axis of the pile aligned generally parallel with, and possibly in-line with, the common axis X as illustrated in figure 4.

The first clamp 22a can be considered a lower clamp and the second clamp 22b an upper clamp as these are the relative positions of the two clamps when the device is attached to a vertical pile 24 which is to be cut. However, the device can be used in other orientations and use of these terms is not intended to be limiting. Each of the clamps 22a, 22b comprises a fixed backstop 26a, 26b and a movable clamp arm 28a, 28b. The clamp arms 28a, 28b are each pivotally mounted to the main frame 12 for movement between clamped and open positions. The clamp arms 28a, 28b and the backstops 26a, 26b are dimensioned and shaped so that when the clamp arms 28a, 28b are in their open positions and the common axis X aligned generally with the longitudinal axis of a pile to be cut, the device can be positioned so that the pile is received between the backstops 26a, 26b and the clamp arms 28a, 28b. The clamp arms 28a, 28b are then moved to the clamped position to firmly clamp the pile 24 between the clamp arms and their respective fixed backstop 26a, 26b.

The clamp arms 28a, 28b are each mounted to the main frame by means of one or more bearings for pivotal movement abut an axis aligned generally parallel with the common axis X, and hence with the longitudinal axis of a pile 24 received in the clamps. Movement of each of the clamp arms 28a, 28b is independently controlled by a respective actuator 30a, 30b operatively connected between the clamp arm and the main frame 12. In the present embodiment, the clamp arm actuators 30a, 30b are hydraulic rams fluidly connected with a hydraulic system on the device (indicated generally at 32) which includes hydraulic control valves 33. In use, the hydraulic system 32 on the device 10 will usually be fluidly connected with a hydraulic source on a vehicle to which the device 10 is attached. However, other sources of hydraulic power can be used.

Each of the fixed backstops is generally L shaped, comprising a forward facing rear backstop surface 34a, 34b and an inwardly facing side backstop surface 36a, 36b which opposes the respective clamp arm. The side backstop surfaces 36a, 36b are angled outwardly in a direction from the rear to the front to make it easier for a pile to be engaged between the backstops and the clamp arms in use. As illustrated in figure 4, the clamp arms hold the pile in contact with both the rear and side backstop surfaces in use. The clamp arms 28a, 28b and their respective backstops can be said to define a pile receiving area at the front of the device in which a pile to be cut is received in use. The clamp arms 28a, 28b are made from suitable materials which may be metallic materials such as steel or aluminium. Inserts 28c of nylon or other material may incorporated into gripping surfaces of the clamp arms but this is not essential.

A cutting assembly 40 is mounted to the main frame 12 between the first and second clamps 22a, 22b. The cutting assembly 40 includes a circular saw blade 42 mounted for rotation in the direction of arrow Y about an axis which is substantially parallel to the common axis X and a drive means 44 for rotating the saw blade. The drive means 44 may be a low speed high torque electric or hydraulic motor which may drive the saw blade 42 directly or through a gearbox. In an embodiment, the drive means is configured to rotate the blade at speeds in the range of 40 to 120 RPM depending on the type of blade and its diameter. However, speeds outside of this range may also be used. The drive means may include a control system to enable the speed of rotation of the blade to be set as required. The blade 42 may be a cermet blade.

It will be appreciated that the device 10, and especially the clamps, is suitably dimensioned depending on the size of the pile to be cut. The device 10 according to an embodiment is configured to cut piles in a range of sizes. In one embodiment, the device 10 is dimensioned to handle piles which range in size from 80mm to 200mm diameter by using blades 42 of different sizes. However, the device 10 can be modified in size to cope with piles outside of this size range and a range of devices 10 of different sizes may be produced for use with differently sized piles, with each size of device 10 being suitable for use with piles falling in a particular size range.

The cutting assembly 40 is mounted to the main frame 12 for linear movement between a retracted position and an advanced position. In the retracted position, the cutting assembly is located towards the rear of the main frame so that the saw blade 42 does not encroach into the pile receiving area and so is clear of any pile 24 clamped in the first and second clamps. In use for cutting a pile 24 clamped in the device, the cutting assembly is moved in a first, forward direction towards the advanced position whilst the saw blade is rotated. This advances the blade 42 towards and through the pile. After cutting, the cutting assembly is moved back in the opposite direction to the retracted position.

As can be seen best in figure 1, the cutting assembly 40 in this embodiment includes a slide member 45 slidably mounted to a track member 46 on the main frame for linear movement between retreated and advanced positions. The slide member 45 and the track member assembly may be slidably connected in the manner of a dovetail slide. Other slide mounting arrangements can be used such as the tubular mounting arrangement described below in reference to a further embodiment of the device 110. The drive motor 44 is mounted to the slide member 45 on one side of the track member 46 with the saw blade located on the other side. The track member 46 has an elongate slot 48 through which a drive connection between the motor 44 and the saw blade 42 extends. In use when cutting a vertical pile, the side of the track member 46 on which the drive motor 44 is supported is uppermost. The saw blade 42 is supported for rotation in a plane perpendicular to the common axis X and hence the longitudinal axis of a pile 24 clamped in the device.

Movement of the cutting assembly 40 is effected by means of at least one actuator 48 operative between the cutting assembly slide member 45 and the main frame 20. The cutting assembly actuator in this embodiment is a hydraulic ram which is fluidly connected with the hydraulic system 32 on the device. However, other types of actuator could be used such as an electrically powered linear actuator.

A part circular guard 50 is mounted to the rear face of the main frame 12 to enclose part of the saw blade 42, at least when the cutting assembly 40 is in the retracted position. Indeed, the device 10 is designed so that the blade 42 remains enclosed within the main frame 12 or parts mounted thereto at all times for additional safety. The saw blade 42 is replaceable and can be interchanged with different blade types for cutting different materials.

The device 10 is provided with a system 52 for delivering a cooling or lubricating liquid to the saw blade whilst cutting. The system includes a tank 54 on board the device for holding the liquid and a liquid delivery system which includes a liquid pump 56, an air compressor 58 and air reservoir for holding a quantity of pressurised air (that is to say air above atmospheric pressure) and one or more nozzles 59 for delivering the liquid as a mist comprising a mixture of liquid and compressed air. This minimises the amount of liquid required for effective lubrication. However, the liquid delivery system 52 could be arranged to deliver the liquid in a flood. In the present embodiment, the nozzle 59 is U-shaped and locates about an edge of the blade 42, at least when the blade is advanced for cutting a pile, so as to deliver the liquid directly to the blade minimising airborne misting. The U-Shaped nozzle has one or more outlets in each arm of the U to deliver liquid to both sides of the blade. Advantageously, the liquid is a non-flammable, environmentally friendly liquid such as a biodegradable cutting oil. Delivery of the liquid as a mist is particularly advantageous where the blade is a cermet blade and where a minimal about of liquid delivered as a mist is required as a lubricant during cutting. With this arrangement, a liquid tank having a capacity in region of 1.5 litres is sufficient for use in cutting 50 to 75 piles.

The device has a mounting assembly 60 for attachment to a vehicle, such as an excavator arm. The mounting assembly 60 comprises a rotor 62 and a vehicle attachment bracket 64 removably mounted to the rotor. The rotor 62 is attached to the main frame 12 by means of a bearing 66 which engages about a shaft 68 on the main frame for rotational movement of the main frame relative to rotor about a second axis Z, perpendicular to a plane including the common axis X. The mounting arrangement is configured such that rotation of the main frame 12 about the second axis Z enables the common axis X to be moved from a vertical alignment to a horizontal alignment with the clamps facing downwardly. The bracket 64 is adapted for use with a particular type of vehicle and/or vehicle arm and a range of different brackets suitable for mounting to different vehicles/arms can be provided so that a suitable bracket 64 is mounted to the rotor 62 for use with any particular vehicle/arm.

An actuator 70 in the form of a hydraulic ram is operative between the main frame 12 and the rotor 62 to control the rotary position of the main frame 12 relative to the rotor 62 and hence the bracket 64. The rotor hydraulic ram 70 is operatively connected with the hydraulic system 32 on the device.

The mounting assembly 60 is mounted on a side surface 18 of the main frame 12 to allow for greater visibility of the front of the device including the clamps by an operator on-board a vehicle to which the device is mounted. However, the mounting assembly 60 could alternatively be mounted to the rear of the main frame 12.

The device 10 includes a remotely positionable control unit (illustrated schematically at 72 in Figure 2). The control unit 72 includes user input means which may be the form of switches 74 for independently controlling the various actuators for opening and closing the first and second clamps, advancing and retracting the cutting assembly 40 and controlling the rotational position of the main frame about the second axis. The control unit 72 may have separate input means for controlling operation of the blade 42 and the liquid delivery system 52 or these may be activated automatically when the cutting assembly is advanced from the retracted position. The control unit 72 may be hardwired to the device 10 by means of flexible cabling 76 or it may be connected to the device wirelessly. In use, the control unit 72 is located in the cab of a vehicle to which the device 10 is attached to enable the device to be operated remotely from the cab.

Use of the device 10 to cut a steel pile 24 embedded in the ground will now be described.

The device 10 is attached to a suitable vehicle arm using the bracket 64. Typically the vehicle will be an excavator or the like having an articulated arm and the device connected to the articulated arm. The hydraulic system 32 on the device 10 is operatively connected to a hydraulic system of the vehicle and the control unit 72 positioned within the cab or in another suitable position on the vehicle and connected to the device 10. The connection between the control unit 72 and the device may also serve to provide an electrical supply from the vehicle to the device.

The device 10 arranged so that the common axis X is aligned generally parallel with the longitudinal axis of a pile 24 to be cut. This may involve rotation of the main frame 12 relative to the mounting assembly 60 using the rotor hydraulic ram 70 and/or manipulation of the vehicle/vehicle arm as required. With the clamp arms 28a, 28b in their open positions and the cutting assembly 40 retracted, the device 10 is further manipulated using the vehicle/vehicle arm to position the pile 24 between the clamp arms 28a, 28b and the fixed backstops 26a, 26b and with the blade 42 at the desired height for cutting the pile. A line may be marked on the pile to assist the operator in positioning the device at the correct height. Alternatively, a stop may be affixed to the pile against which a part of the device 10 is engaged to set the device at the correct height. The stop could take the form of a ring clamped to the pile, for example. The clamp arms 28a, 28b are then closed to clamp the pile 24 to the fixed backstops.

The first, lower clamp 22a is provided to fix the main frame to the pile 24 whilst it is cut. The second, upper clamp 22b is a material handling clamp which secures the part 24a of the pile that is being removed to the main frame 12, both during cutting and afterwards. The first clamp 22a is relatively narrow (measured in the direction of the common axis X). This is advantageous in being able to position the blade 42 as close to the ground as possible. On the other hand, the second, upper clamp 22b is much broader, providing greater control in handling the removed section 24a of the pile after cutting.

As illustrated in figure 5, the clamps 22a, 22b are configured to apply a pre-load to a pile 24 when clamped prior to cutting. The fixed backstops 26a, 26b, and in particular the forward facing rear backstop surfaces 34a, 34b, are angled slightly relative to one another so as to cause the pile to bend, with regions of the pile above and below the saw blade 42 being deflected forwardly away from the blade (that is to say in the first direction of travel of the cutting assembly 20). This has the advantage that the pile 24 is less likely to nip the blade 42 during cutting as the pre-load tends to open up the cut produced by the saw blade. The degree of bend applied to the pile 24 is exaggerated in figure 5. In practice, the forward facing rear backstop surfaces 34a, 34b are typically angled by about 1 to 2.5 degrees relative to one another. However, the angle may be smaller or larger than this if desired. In this embodiment, the forward facing rear backstop surface 34a of the lower clamp 22a is inclined forwardly in a direction from the top to the bottom whilst the forward facing rear backstop surface 34b of the upper clamp 22b is inclined forwardly in a direction from the bottom to the top. Reference to top and bottom here should be understood as referring to the relative positions when the device 10 is oriented as shown in figure 1 for cutting a vertical pile with the common axis X generally upright.

Other arrangements for pulling a convex or concave bias into a pile to relieve the blade during cutting may be adopted.

With the pile 24 clamped in the first and second clamps 22a, 22b, cutting can begin. The saw blade 42 is rotated up to speed and the cutting assembly 40 moved forward toward the advanced position to bring the saw blade towards and into contact with the pile. At least when the saw blade 42 starts cutting the pile, cooling/lubricating fluid is delivered to the blade as it cuts. The cutting assembly 40 is advanced until the pile 24 is cut all the way through. The cutting assembly 40 is then retracted and the blade 42 is stopped from rotating.

Once the cutting assembly 40 is retracted, the first, lower clamp 22a is opened to release the device 10 from the cropped pile 24, whilst the second clamp 22b continues to hold the cut section 24a of the pile. The cut section 24a of the pile can then be removed using the vehicle arm and/or the vehicle as a whole and placed in a desired location. As part of this material handling process, the main frame 12 can be rotated relative to the mounting assembly 60 using the rotor hydraulic ram 70. Typically when cutting a vertical pile the main frame 12 is rotated to move the cut section 24a of the pile from a vertical orientation to a horizontal orientation and the vehicle arm used to incline the front of the device 10 downwardly so that the second clamp 22b can be opened to allow the cut section of pile to be placed on the ground or onto a trailer, lorry bed or other suitable surface.

The ability to rotate the main frame 12 relative to the mounting assembly 60 considerably increases the flexibility of the device 10 in terms of its ability to manipulate the cut section of a pile and also increases the flexibility of the device 10 and ease of aligning the device with a pile prior to cutting or for use in cutting elongate members that are not vertical.

Figure 6 illustrates an alternative blade arrangement for use in a device 10 in accordance with the invention. As shown in figure 6, rather than using a rotating disc blade 42, a band saw blade 42’ can be used to cut a pile 24 or the like in a device in accordance with an aspect of the invention. The band saw blade 42’ is mounted on a set of rollers (not shown) which guide it along a suitable path about which the band circulates in a suitable direction for cutting as indicated by arrows 80. At least some of the rollers may be driven so as to cause the blade to circulate when activated. For use of the band saw blade 42’ in a device 10 in accordance with the invention, the band saw blade 42’ and its mounting and drive system are located on the movable cutting assembly 40 for movement between retracted and advanced positions in a manner similar to the disc blade as previously described. At least part 94 of the band saw blade 42’ forms a cutting section which extends in a plane perpendicular to the common plane X of the device and is arranged to contact and cut a pile clamped in the device when the cutting assembly is advanced from the retracted position to the advanced but is clear of the pile when in the retracted position. Use of a band saw blade 42’ in this manner is advantageous as the blade occupies less cross-sectional area within the device than an equivalent disc blade 42. Figures 7 to 12 illustrate a further embodiment of a device 110 for cutting piles and the like in accordance with an aspect of the invention. The device 110 according to this further embodiment is similar to that of the first embodiment 10 and so only those aspects of the device 110 which differ significantly from those of the first embodiment 10 will be described in detail.

The same reference numerals but increased by 100 are used to denote features of the device 110 which are the same as, or which perform the same function as, the corresponding features in the first embodiment 10 described above.

A with the previous embodiment, the device 110 comprises a main frame 112 to which the first and second clamps l22a, l22b and the cutting assembly 140 are mounted. In this embodiment, the main frame includes outer casing panels 184 on the rear, side, upper and lower faces of the main body region 112a which enclose the majority of the components, such as the hydraulic control valves 133. Removable access panels are provided in some of the casing panels 184 to enable access to the interior for repair and maintenance. In figures 9 and 10, the casing panels are omitted to show interior detail.

In the device 110, the mounting assembly 160 for attaching the device to a vehicle is located above the main body portion H2a of the main frame. A mounting plate 186 forming part of the main frame extends vertically upwardly along one side of the main frame 112 beyond the upper surface of the main body portion 1 l2a. The rotor 162 comprises a main rotor body l62a located adjacent an inner side of the mounting plate 186 and an actuator arm l62b which is located adjacent the outer side of the mounting plate 186. As shown in figure 11, in which the rotor 162 is omitted, the mounting plate 186 has a circular aperture 188 in which a bearing locates for rotatably supporting the rotor 162 on the mounting plate. The main rotor body l62a and the actuator arm l62b are bolted together through the aperture 188 in the mounting plate and bearing. The actuator arm l62b is teardrop shaped and a hydraulic actuator 170 for rotating the rotor 162 relative to the main frame 112 is attached at one end to an apex of the actuator arm and at the other to the main frame 112. The vehicle attachment bracket 164 is removably mounted to the main rotor body so that it locates above the main body of the device. As with the first embodiment, the axis of rotation Z of the rotor is perpendicular to a plane including the common axis X so that the main frame can be rotated about the second axis to enable the common axis to be moved between vertical and horizontal alignments. In practice the range of movement of the main frame about the z axis may be greater than 90 degrees. Attaching the main frame to the vehicle arm from one side, with the second axis Z extending in a direction perpendicular to the direction of movement of the cutting assembly, is advantageous as the front of the device where the clamps l22a, l22b are located can be easily seen making it easier to guide the device onto a pile in use. However, as with the previous embodiment, the main frame could be attached to the vehicle arm from the rear or at a position between the two.

In the device 110, the cutting assembly 140 includes a slide member 145 which is slidably mounted to a pair of tubular slides 190 attached to the main frame 112. Two hydraulic actuators 148, one ether side, are provided to move the slide member 145 along the tubular slides 190 between the advanced and retracted position, can be easily seen from a vehicle to which the device is mounted. The cutting assembly 410 includes a circular saw blade 142 and a drive means 144 for the blade mounted to the slide member 145. The device 110 according to this second embodiment could alternatively be modified to incorporate a band saw blade 42’ as illustrated in figure 6 and described above.

In other respects, the device 110 is constructed and operated in the same manner as the device 10 according to the first embodiment as described above, to which the reader should refer for further details.

The device 10, 1 10 as described and claimed is particularly suitable for cutting steel piles which are usually tubular and may be hollow or filled with concrete or the like. However, the device 10, 110 can be adapted to cut piles made of other materials and/or adapted to cut other types of elongate member, such as beams and other tubes and the like. Since the main frame 12, 112 can be rotated at any desired angle relative to the vehicle mounting, it is not limited to use in cutting vertically aligned elongate members but could be used to cut elongate members arranged in different orientations. For example, the device could be used to cut an end from a horizontal beam. Accordingly, the device 10, 110 in accordance with the claimed invention should not be considered as exclusively intended for use in cutting piles.

The above embodiments are described by way of example only. Many variations are possible without departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims. For example, whilst the embodiments of the device 10, 110 described use hydraulic actuators to move various components, such as the clamp arms, the cutting assembly, and to control rotation of the main frame, other types of actuator could be used, including electronic actuators. Furthermore, whilst it is advantageous to incorporate the rotary mounting assembly as part of the device, in an alternative arrangement, the device may have a mounting bracket which is fixed relative to the main frame and to provide a rotatable coupling on the vehicle to which the bracket is attached. In this embodiment, rotation of the main frame about the second axis is controlled using the rotary coupling on the vehicle.




 
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