Powerflex starts life as a little tractor unit. It’s basically a chassis to which various tools can be added. We have it set up as a suction sweeper, but in a couple of minutes it could be grass cutting, or carting, or spraying, or weed ripping, or even snow clearing and gritting.
The tractor unit is solidly built. It has all the power needed to do these different jobs comfortably. It also has permanent four-wheel drive, giving it good kerb-climbing ability and sure-footedness for winter work. Wide tyres reduce ground pressure for driving on lawns.
The 20.9hp diesel engine is mounted at the rear, under a protective cover, and the drive system is hydrostatic. The engine is from the Kubota stable and it’s a quiet runner.
And Euromec clearly thinks size matters. The whole machine measures just one metre wide, so it should access most sites with room to spare. It’s small enough to work on pavements, yet big enough to use in a car park. Articulated steering feels unusual at first, but it’s great for manoeuvrability. As a safety feature, the Powerflex will not start unless the brake is on.
“I’m getting used to the articulation. It’s okay, because the machine is hydrostatic on forward and reverse,” says our tester. “The four-wheel drive keeps pushing it along — up kerbs and down again, no problem.”
The sweeping attachment — mounted on an A-frame — has two brushes plus an optional, extending brush for the gulley. The rotary action of the brushes channels the debris into a central path from where it is swept in towards the suction box, up the hose and into the 0.5cu m rear hopper. For awkward areas, like sucking leaves out of flowerbeds and emptying litter bins, there is a wander hose with 360? rotation.
The Powerflex is not only a smart machine. It is also a clean machine. It’s a high tipper, so there is no need to handle the dirt — just empty it straight into a skip. A 100-litre water tank supplies moisture to the brushes for dust suppression and a jet spray ensures the area around the fan is kept clean — there’s no filter to clean. The hopper is also clean. The cleanliness of the unit may well be one of its biggest selling points if your prime concern is street cleaning. From the maintenance point of view — all essentials, including dip sticks, fillers and hydraulic pipes — are easy to access.
But operators are probably more interested in cab design than maintenance reduction. Fully heated and vented, with a sun roof for the summer, the layout of the cab has been kept simple. The seat is comfortable and all controls are self-explanatory.
There is a hand throttle, footbrake, hydrostatic pedal and hydraulic levers for the brush rotation, hopper raise/lower and control of the suction fan. Lights, wiper and beacon on/off are on the console above the operator’s head.
A really important point if you are spending hours in the machine is that the acoustics in the cab are excellent. Sweeping noise is greatly reduced, so you can sit back and enjoy the CD/radio.
Pine needles are one of the most difficult things for any sweeper to pick up, which means we are really putting the Powerflex through its paces today.
Brookwood cemetery has a good carpet of pine needles — but it’s not a problem for this machine.
“It’s doing a good job, considering the dew and the fact that the leaves and needles are so wet,” notes one tester.
“Look — it is even taking the moss off the edge of the kerb,” he adds.
Acorns, pine cones, conkers and even soft-drinks cans disappear between the brushes and into the hopper. The wander hose sucks up mud, soil and take-away food wrappers.
Our team reckons the unit is expensive just for cleaning the paths around the cemetery. But this unit doesn’t just clean paths. When there is nothing to sweep, this unit can be matched to any of 21 attachments. Choose from rotary mower, mulch mower or flail mower; dozer blade, snow blade or gritter; tipping shovel, rake or even lawn edger.
Among the attachments we look at is a dedicated leaf collector, ideal for working on lawns, plus a tipping trailer with its own wheels that increases carrying capacity to a really useful one tonne for shifting soils, sands and composts. The back and sides of the trailer fold down for easy emptying, while bulk loads can be tipped.
We also try out the rotary mower and a sprayer with 200-litre tank, 10m hose and boom. “It’s a very versatile machine,” says another tester. But surely changing attachments will be time consuming? No. It couldn’t be simpler. It’s a clear 10 out of 10 to Euromec designers.
Initially, we have the Powerflex set up as a sweeper. Removing the kit involves unclipping two hydraulic hoses on each side and driving the tractor unit out of the A-frame attachment. At the rear, a pin is removed and a trolley — like a supermarket trolley but without the basket — is positioned underneath the sweeper hopper so that the hopper can be lowered and pushed away.
“That’s unreal,” enthuses a tester. The machine is ready to accept the mower. Jackson notes: “You can’t get the hydraulic pipes mixed up — they are of different sizes. A lot of thought has gone into this.”
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