Master Abrasives appointed UK representatives for RK Systems

MASTER Abrasives is now offering vibro-balancing equipment by RK Systems as their new representative in the UK.

RK Systems is a manufacturer in Poland that develops and produces measurement and data acquisition systems such as oscilloscopes, logic analyzers, universal device programmers and systems for dynamic rotor balancing. The VibroDAQ is a professional measurement system for balancing and vibration measurements which can be used in various industries involved in maintenance of mechanical equipment in different types of companies. 

The VibroDAQ portable system allows one and two plane rotor balancing. The device is equipped with an LCD touch screen display and has special sophisticated algorithms for grinding wheel balancing and control meeting the ISO1940 requirements. It's provided with USB 2.0 (high speed, full speed) and RS-232 communication interfaces.

The VibroDAQ 4 is a measurement system for multiplane balancing different kind of rotors. The system allows one, two, three and four plane rotor balancing as well as vibration measurements (including FFT).

Master Abrasives already sells a comprehensive range of machinery and equipment and the addition of balancing equipment allows the company to offer the complete package for grinding and finishing along with technical applications advice.

Ian Meredith, Applications Engineering Manager, said: “The VibroDAQ basic balancer and advanced balancer will be available for use and demonstration in our grinding and finishing showroom along with our grinding machines, coolant nozzles and abrasives. Any interested customers can arrange to visit us in the Midlands for a demonstration of our machinery and equipment.”

Planning must be properly funded if permitted development is scrapped, says FMB

IF a future Labour Government was to scrap commercial to residential permitted development it must also come forward with proposals to properly resource our chronically underfunded planning system, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Responding to an announcement by the Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, John Healey MP, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “If Labour is going to put more strain on the planning system by scrapping commercial to residential permitted development, it must also think carefully about how planning will be resourced. Small and medium-sized house builders cite the planning process as the third greatest barrier to them increasing their delivery of new homes. Planning departments are chronically underfunded and we can’t ask them to do more without providing them with additional funding.”

Berry continued: “We mustn't make permitted development synonymous with poor quality as it can have create really positive outcomes. In recent years, permitted development rules governing domestic properties have been relaxed, which has made it easier for home owners to extend their homes without having to go through the rigmarole of a full planning application. These permissions have proved popular among builders and home owners alike. The reason being is that they give even more people the opportunity to add a bit more space – eight metres for a detached house and six metres for an attached house – to their home. In short, let’s not damn all permitted development. It would also be good to see proposals from Labour regarding how we can more easily convert empty spaces above shops. There are 300,000 to 400,000 new homes which could be created by making use of empty spaces above shops on our high streets. Surely we make use of permitted development regulations in a way that utilises these spaces without bringing to market tiny uninhabitable homes. This would have the added benefit of revitalising our struggling high streets across the country.”

Berry concluded: “We do completely accept the point that we must prevent ‘rabbit hutch’ homes without windows being developed under permitted development. Tiny uninhabitable homes are not something the FMB would ever support. Small and medium-sized construction firms compete on quality and that’s at the heart of everything they do. We support Labour’s drive to reform permitted development to prevent low quality conversions and will work with them to achieve this.”

JCB Brushless Combi Drill and Impact Driver : Serious and surprising?

PART of my job is to keep up with tool news from far and wide, and recently I have noticed a trend – particularly from the USA – where ‘own brands’ sold in places like Lowes and Home Depot, have featured ever more strongly in tests and reviews, writes PETER BRETT.

Most often they score very well in the ‘value for money’ category, which can be perceived as a backhanded compliment, but increasingly, the features and performance of the tools have measured up with international brands. I have read several tests in which the ‘own brands’ have outscored the others. And just like our tradespeople, the Americans don’t like paying more without a very good reason.

I guess the above is a result of fierce competition in the power tool market, the increasing sophistication of Far East manufacturing, and a much wider knowledge of battery technologies driven by mobile phone and electric car development.

Hence, it was with quite a lot of interest that I took delivery of a load of cordless tools from JCB. The strapline on the box read ‘Serious Tools. Surprising Prices.’ And since the JCB branding stands for a lot, I clearly needed to take this strapline seriously.

What’s on offer?

What is obvious is that the new JCB range of tools is not a half-hearted attempt to launch a few tools and then ‘see how it goes’. The range of tools is fully formed and comprehensive, with a selection of JCB-branded power tool accessories to go with it.

The tools themselves are very well ‘specced’ to compare to the competition and include 5Ah lithium ion battery packs, brushless motors and a confidence-inspiring five-year guarantee for tools registered within 30 days after purchase.

I might come back to look at some of the other cordless JCB tools that were included in the very nice roller bag (recip saw, an SDS drill, 12v cordless combi, circular saw, angle grinder and portable site light) but for the moment I will focus on the handsomely L-Boxxed kit of an old staple for many trades – the combi drill and impact driver set.

The package

Tool cases are an essential part of tool organisation these days and the L-Boxx system is robust and spacious. I hate tool cases where there isn’t enough room for the inevitable accessories and the fight to stow the charger cord takes up five minutes of your packing-up time because it has to be done ‘just so’. The two handles, top and front, provide good alternative positions for carrying.

The tools themselves have a custom fitted space, as do the charger and spare battery pack, and there is plenty of room around the edges for drill and driver bits.

I started by picking up the combi drill. It is chunky and weighs in at around 1.35kg without a battery pack. It looks and feels robustly built and all the controls work as intended with no stickiness. I tried the feel of it compared to some of my other 18v combis and there doesn’t seem to be that much difference in weight and all-important ‘feel’.

Like many combis these days, users can choose a 3 or 4 Ah battery pack from the JCB range to save weight in certain working conditions.

In pretty much every respect, the combi follows the well-established layout of current drills. With push-through forward/reverse switch above the trigger, slider switch on top of the casing and torque/mode selection via collars, it literally takes seconds to feel at home with this tool. There are also all the handy extras that are needed. For me, the LED light on the base is essential but the optional left or right-handed belt clips I don’t normally use as I don’t want to risk a trouser falling down incident. There is also space for a wrist strap if needed.

When looking at the specs, users will see that they are not being short-changed. With a max torque of 65Nm, a max drilling capacity of 35mm in wood, 13mm in steel and 10mm in masonry it matches up with the competition. I tried the combi in all of these scenarios and it performed as expected.

Impact assessment

The impact driver is another robust-looking tool and has the familiar layout of such tools. The ergonomics and balance are good and there is, as above, the option to use a smaller 3 or 4 Ah battery pack to save weight.

Details like the battery charge status lights on the battery packs and robust battery sliders that work smoothly and click-on positively reinforce the professional feel of the tools. Like the combi above, there is the choice of a left or right-handed belt hook and space for a wrist strap. The LED shines right onto the nose of the tool where it is most effective.

Some tradespeople use impact drivers as default screwdrivers, even when they are clearly overpowered for the job. I hate the clatter noise, so I usually keep impact drivers for driving hard–to-drive long screws. With 180Nm on tap and an impact rate of 0-3300 bpm this driver performed very well on driving 70mm long screws into some dense oak. The hex chuck has pronounced ridges on it for easy mounting and releasing of driver bits, and it helps to keep the overall length of the tool to around 153mm – compact enough for fitting work.  

Most users will probably choose the super-fast charger that takes about 60 minutes to charge a 5Ah battery pack and will therefore ensure that there is no tool downtime due to uncharged batteries.

Surprising prices

With a body-only internet price of around £75 for the combi and £65 for the impact driver, it is clear that prices are very competitive and, indeed, tempting for end users. Since the JCB tools are part of a whole system with interchangeable 3, 4 and 5 Ah battery platforms and options like tool cases and USB charger adaptors, it means that buyers can be confident that the tools are not just ‘one-offs’. When you throw in a comprehensive guarantee and a good range of accessories, it is clear that JCB has done its homework and we can welcome another competitor into the market.

Draper Tools 165mm Plunge Saw: Keeping on track

TRACK saws have seen a quiet revolution. Initially, users had to contend with high prices for saw and track, but clearly the advantages outweighed the cost and they were widely adopted, writes PETER BRETT.

I, for one, cannot do without both my corded and cordless tracksaws, and they are regularly used – both onsite and in the workshop.

But, as often happens, when a market is established, other manufacturers look to take advantage of it and launch their own models. To the advantage of the consumers, these models are often very competitively priced and sophisticated enough not to disappoint.

Boxing clever

Draper must surely be in with a shout for the 2019 Ingenious Packaging Award that I have just invented. It would seem easy and obvious to package the guide tracks and saw separately, but Draper has designed a clever packaging that includes both saw and track in one to reinforce the idea that, unlike other saws, it is an inclusive package at a very competitive price.

Two 700mm long tracks are supplied in the package, along with a joiner bar kept in the gap under the guide slot. It takes but a few minutes to join the rails with the hex key supplied. At 700mm, the rails are just about long enough to skim a millimetre or two off the top or bottom of a door, but an investment in some rail clamps and maybe a longer rail would be advantageous. It is also handy that the rails have a similar profile to several other manufacturers, so borrowing could happen!

Draper has not skimped on the all-important rubber strips under the rail that provide enough friction to keep the rail in place on the workpiece (along with clamps – for safety reasons). These strips are about 20mm wide and quite robust, so should last a while. A sacrificial strip along the blade edge is slightly overwidth. The user will need to run the saw down this strip to give an accurate indication of where to place the blade when lining up on a real workpiece.


We have always associated Draper tools with competitive prices and sound quality and this saw really does deliver in this respect. For a retail price of around £120, this plunge saw is not lacking in the features seen on many, more expensive brands.

The build quality is good and all the controls work smoothly. For example, the base is a neat alloy casting that is rigid and strong. The bevel adjustment scales are clearly marked and made in solid black plastic/nylon material that inspires confidence of long-lasting performance.

Two nylon adjusters on the base allow users to take up any free play in the rail so that the saw can move down the cut without any sideways movement that might cause inaccuracy.

On the front of the base for freehand use, there are two marks showing the blade path for 90 and 45 degree cuts. 

The Draper Blue plastic body is also strongly made with enough grippy rubber on front and back handles for comfort and safety. By having hands firmly on these handles when using the saw, it ensures that they are well out of the way of the whirling blade. A key feature is the plunge scale. This has two markers on it – one to indicate depth when used with a rail and one for without a rail. The accuracy of these is very important because users need to be able to set depth of cut exactly when plunging into floors, for example.

Another key feature is the design of the blade guard that allows the use of the saw right up against walls. The blade is then only about 15mm away from the wall and is therefore about as flush a cut as can be achieved with this type of saw.

Safety is also built-in with the trigger start. The user needs to push up the black switch on the back of the main handle before the trigger can be pulled to start the motor. This switch also frees the plunge action ready to plunge into the workpiece. It is noticeable that the plunge mechanism spring is well calibrated. It has enough strength to lift the blade quickly, but is not so strong that plunge cuts cannot be achieved smoothly.

An electronic brake stops the motor within a few seconds when the trigger is released. For blade changing, a ribbed lever on the main handle is raised and the saw can be plunged to the point where it locks, revealing the blade clamping screw (hex key located in the front handle). A spindle lock next to the main handle is then engaged so that the blade can be unscrewed and replaced.

The all-important performance test

In any tool category there will be some users who demand a lot and some who only need enough accuracy/power etc to do the job. Happily, I can report that the Draper saw outperformed my expectations because it was easy to use and set up. I used it on timber, plywood, MDF and chipboard – the usual run of materials that it would face in a working day - and the GP blade coped well.

The controls feel smooth, instinctive and in the right place for safety and easy handling. As I have learnt the hard way, the output from a plunge saw is only as good as the input. Making accurate measurements in the first place and taking care to line up the cut lines will ensure a spot-on result - as will ensuring that the rails are not twisted (don’t drop them!) and firmly clamped in place in use.

The 1200w motor has enough power to cut solid timber worktops, but keep an eye on the TCT blade, because another thing I have learnt is that they work hard and need replacing more often than you think for consistently good results.

So, this Draper plunge saw delivers on both performance and price; you can’t argue with that formula.

Amazing achievements celebrated at hire awards ceremony

BUSINESSES in the hire industry have been advised to keep up with Brexit preparations, whatever the outcome following the extension of Article 50, to ensure that vital supplies for construction projects in the UK remain in place and to sustain the growth that the multibillion-pound equipment rental market is currently enjoying.

Speaking at the industry’s Hire Awards of Excellence 2019, held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on Saturday, 13 April, HAE EHA chairman Brian Sherlock told the packed audience that no-one should ignore the value of the construction equipment rental market, which reached an estimated £4.7billion in 2018 (AMA Research).

Giving the welcome address at the occasion to mark the amazing achievements of hire and supply companies across the UK’s plant, tool, equipment and event hire industry, Brian said that hire demand has continued to grow, benefiting from increased construction activity in infrastructure, house building, office projects, education and non-residential sectors such as manufacturing and the events sector.

Last year also saw rental companies renewing and expanding fleets again, but HAE EHA’s chairman added: “No one can predict the outcome of Brexit and the almost daily developments in Brussels and Parliament – the hire sector is affected by many different policies and restrictions. We should ensure that all businesses represented in the room have in place suitable and proportionate arrangements to support our employees and ensure ongoing supply to our customers.”

At the prestigious awards ceremony, hosted by Strictly Come Dancing star and TV presenter Anton du Beke, tribute was paid to Graham Arundell, who is stepping down after 12 years as Managing Director of HAE EHA to take on a part-time role as CEO of the Association.

Graham commented: “HAE continues to look forward, to seek solutions and to provide help and guidance to our wonderful hire industry. As a part of that aspiration we are in the process of establishing a UKAS accredited certification body. This division of Hire Association Europe will deliver the requirements of SafeHire and work with other schemes to provide assessment services aiming to help members reduce the cost of contract tender prequalification. Additionally, it will offer cost effective certification to ISO standards for members, saving costs and perhaps more importantly retaining that revenue within the industry.

“As an industry we do still have to address the likelihood of future skill shortages in our own sector. I am therefore pleased to announce that HAE has recently been awarded funding by CITB for a project valued at up to £300,000, over a 2-year programme to deliver immersive learning for our sector and beyond. And the good news continues as Hiretrain, the industry forum for training development and delivery, has once again had its funding extended - providing further real opportunity and benefit for the sector. It has also been successful in gaining significant monies from the CITB Skills & Training Fund to provide further support to members to train both new recruits and current staff.

“As retirement beckons for me and I close my last speech at these Awards I would like to reiterate my personal thanks to you all for your support, help, guidance and inspiration over the last 12 years. It is absolutely true that we are Stronger Together.”

Brian and Graham also reiterated the Associations’ commitment to promoting apprenticeships, especially to the younger generation, the promotion of more women within the hire industry, and reflected on the success of the SafeHire Certification scheme and the introduction of the Hire Industry Trusted Supplier (HITS) programme.

Brian Sherlock ended his welcome address by saying: “The awards are a celebration of everything that’s great about our industry. Whether you have won an award or not, to have been shortlisted is an achievement in itself.”

Strictly star du Beke then delighted the audience with his flamboyant personality and ensured proceedings ran like clockwork during the presentations, while rock and pop function band ‘The Heat’ provided the musical entertainment later in the evening.

It was not only hire businesses competing for these prestigious accolades: crucial recognition was also given to outstanding individuals who have consistently stood out from the crowd and achieved some of the highest standards in the industry, such as the recipient of this year’s HAE EHA Chairman’s Award, Adrian Watts. He received the award in recognition of outstanding service to the tool hire business spanning over 25 years and for his significant role introducing the successful SafeHire Certification scheme as an integral part of Association membership.

Hire Awards 2019 - recap and winners

For a more comprehensive list of all the winners and runners up from the show, see

Armorgard introduces all-new InstaGate crowd control barrier

ARMORGARD today introduced the all-new InstaGate: a multi-purpose, eye-catching modular crowd control barrier, which comes equipped with a unique latching system that makes it incredibly easy and remarkably quick to deploy in virtually any situation.

The UK's leading site safety and security products manufacturer says it is responding to increasing market demands with InstaGate readily available in volume for distributors who want to sell the item on a next day delivery basis or for hire companies who want to buy in bulk to keep plenty in stock.

"We are very excited to release this new product that will enable Armorgard to provide customers with the next generation of crowd control barrier," said Armorgard Managing Director Terry Mitchell. "Our customers want a product that is quick to order and quick to deploy. InstaGate ticks both boxes."

Made from strong, lightweight aluminium, the Armorgard mobile barrier is designed for easy movement and secure placement. With its braked wheels and a unique latching system, InstaGate can extend to any length and be opened and fixed single-handedly. Once expanded and braked, InstaGate forms a highly visible red and white barrier. Multiple units can be easily locked together.

“Armorgard has always believed quality product innovations can truly enhance everyday life, and this commitment has helped us reinvent the standard crowd control barrier,” said Terry. “Similarly, we believe customers should expect more from new products in terms of user experience. The InstaGate crowd control barrier delivers on this notion."

InstaGate, which is available in 4ft and 6ft heights, can be used with standard scaffold claps for fixing to scaffold or to turn corners. Armorgard say the product is durable, weather proof, designed for low wind resistance and very user friendly.

"Making life easier for those who use our products is at the core of our design thinking, and we are proud to use the full strength of our R&D capability to set a new standard in crowd control barriers,” said Armorgard’s Head of Product Development Matt Partridge. “When we began this project, we started with a blank sheet and asked ourselves ‘what does the customer truly need in a barrier?’ Our new system answers this question through an ergonomic design that offers the utmost in functionality, durability and security.”

Ledlenser launch portable LED area worklights

LEDLENSER, the premier name in LED torches and headlamps, stunningly deploys its world-renowned lighting expertise to develop its first series of portable rechargeable LED area worklights for industrial use.

State-of-the-art technologies are combined with premium-grade materials and precision German engineering to deliver an Optimised Lumen Advantage across the two powerful floodlights and four incredibly bright inspection lamps.

Floodlights. Ideal for when larger work areas need consistent, bight and even illumination, the 2500lm iF4R and 4500lm iF8R floodlights both have five brightness levels to suit the user's needs. They can be affixed to metallic surfaces via the integrated magnets and the ability to be placed flat on a surface or angled using the ergonomic pivoting handle. An additional ingenious feature of the iF8R floodlight is that it is Bluetooth enabled. This provides the ability for light options to be controlled via a smartphone in conjunction with the Ledlenser Pro Connect App installed on it: ideal for when you can’t reach the light to change setting but do have your smart phone handy.

Inspection Lamps. If an inspection type lamp is the preferred method of illumination, then the four in this new series stand above the crowd. Comprising the 150lm iW4R, 300lm iW5R, 600lm iW5R-FLEX and 600lm iW7R, each can be held in the hand, affixed to a metallic surface with the incorporated magnet or hung using the integral hook/clip. As well as the broad beam from the inspection lamp each light also features an additional LED which delivers a powerful spot beam thanks to the Advanced Reflector Lens Optic that is a Ledlenser speciality.

All models in this series are rechargeable meaning that they are kinder on the pocket and on the planet. Embedded battery indicators help users keep track of how much battery charge is available in use and, whilst recharging, they indicate how much of the battery has yet to be charged.

Paresh Ruparelia from Ledlenser UK said: “We’ve waited a long time for a range of Ledlenser area work lights and we think it’s been well worth the wait. As well as being seriously bright and offering numerous lighting options, our expert use of materials makes this range extremely robust and lightweight. Add to this the seven-year with registration warranty that provides complete peace of mind and you can see why this range is already proving a massive winner.”

To stock or obtain more information about this new series, please contact UK & Ireland Master Ledlenser Distributor, Ledco Limited on 01344 876 222, or email [email protected]

The NEW 37.5® Technology - Climate Control Fleeces

THESE new styles from Snickers Workwear deliver AllroundWork warmth and cooling comfort.

Not only will you stay warm with these new 37.5® Technology Fleeces, you’ll look and feel cool too. With styles for both professional tradesmen and women, they excel at ventilation and moisture transport to keep you working comfortably wherever you are on site.

The 37.5® Technology fabric in the Fleece is a very quick-drying material that captures and releases moisture vapour – like your sweat - for superior coolness and dry working comfort.

After all, keeping a balanced work temperature is not just about staying cool and in great shape, it’s a matter of your wellbeing and job safety.

So, to make sure you get the right protection, visibility, flexibility, durability and ventilation, check out the new Snickers Workwear 37.5® Technology Fleeces, to fit your workday.

The Solid Gear OCEAN Safety Shoe – precision, safety and comfort

SOLID Gear continues to modernise PPE footwear with a safety shoe that looks and feels more like a trainer.

Combining a lightweight athletic look and superb safety features, the new OCEAN safety shoe is ideal for workers who are constantly on the move.

The shoe’s midsole is made of a poured PU rather than a traditional injected PU to give a more cushioned feel underfoot, while the thick rubber outsole provides a high level of anti-slip protection and durability. 

With an eye-catching style, the shoe’s BOA comfort fastening delivers a better overall fit making it easy to take the shoe on and off.

Added to which, the shoe’s fibreglass toecap and ballistic midsole combine with the other protection features and anti-static properties to deliver S3 protection

So get to know more about the quality and innovation plus the top class safety functionality in every Solid Gear product – your feet will notice the difference.

HTL launch exciting new Bolting Equipment Catalogue

HTL GROUP have now launched their exciting new Bolting Equipment Catalogue. With over 90 pages dedicated to controlled bolting equipment and services, it’s their most comprehensive catalogue to date.  

This ’must have’ 2019 catalogue is packed with new products and innovations which have been designed and manufactured in the UK.

The catalogue features a variety of products showcasing safety innovations and other ingenious solutions for the complete bolting work-flow. Once again, focusing on safety, HTL have launched their new hydraulic torque wrench, the DSX Square Drive, with a fully retained reaction arm and a working a height connection point that prevents injuries caused by dropped objects. 

The catalogue provides valuable technical information and serves as a useful industry resource, with information on bolt and nut sizes, conversion factors and tool performance charts.

CEO, Stephen Jones commented: “This is our best catalogue to date and focuses on HTL’s complete range of in-house designed, UK manufactured equipment as well as the fantastic range of services we offer. The launch of the new catalogue continues our focus on providing first class customer service to support our comprehensive, ever growing product portfolio.”


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