Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about rescue equipment in general
- Are hydraulic rescue tools equally suitable for left- and right-handed people? This depends on the type of control handle. If a tool is operated by turning a control handle the tool is usually equally suitable for left- and right-handed people. If a tool is operated by a pushing device both left- and right-handed people can still use the tool, but the direction of opening and closing differs. This may lead to confusion. Also, a tool in action usually “finds its way”. Depending on the position of the tool and control handle it may not be equally easy for a right- or left-handed person to operate a tool with pushing device.
- How can I measure the maximum cutting force in kN of a hydraulic cutter or combi tool? You can not measure it yourself as cutting force is based on a scientific theoretical calculation.
- I often find statements from manufacturers concerning the thickness of round bar or flat bar their tools cut. How do I know a tool really cuts what the manufacturer claims it can cut? The only way to find out is to ask the manufacturer to demonstrate this to you. Please note that according to the EN norm all 5 material types have to be cut 12 times with one set of blades. This means: 60 cuts with one set of blades! Only if a tool passes this test may a manufacturer claim that its cutter falls in a certain EN cutting category (A-H). Ask the manufacturer to show a certificate stating the hardness of the material and the classification of the material (has to be according to EN) the cutter is being tested with.
- In practice, what does a cutting force in kN really tell me? Cutting force is a theoretical value. Cutting performance is what really matters and this never depends on the maximum cutting force alone. Cutting performance depends on the design of the blades, on the cutting force generated over the full length of the blades, etc… To compare cutting performance, look at the performance of a cutter on all 5 types of EN material profiles. If you want to compare forces, measure the forces on those parts of the blade where you cut, with a realistic blade opening.
- Is it possible to disconnect tools without switching off the pump?
It is indeed possible to disconnect and reconnect different tools to your pump without switching off the pump. With the CORE system changing underflow is even possible. With traditional couplers systems however, it is important to remember that the tools you wish to disconnect or switch should not be selected on the pump.
- Often the specifications of cutters and combi-tools state the thickness of material profiles the tool can cut, e.g. 32 mm round bar. On what materials should these cutting values be based?
These cutting values should be established in accordance with the requirements of the EN13204 norm. This means:
- 5 different material profiles – round bar, flat bar, round tube, rectangular tube, square tube – should each be cut 12 times with 1 set of blades.
- Material specifications: material type S235JR, material hardness between 80 and 85 HRB.
A manufacturer should be able to show a certificate stating the material specifications, both type and hardness, on which the cutting values are based.
- What does CE have to do with the new European norm for hydraulic rescue equipment? CE is a safety norm, listing general safety requirements only. For detailed requirements about tool categories the CE norm refers to the European Machine Directive. CE does not discuss the performance of tools and pumps. The new European norm for hydraulic rescue tools refers to safety, testing and performance criteria for this particular type of equipment. Every rescue tool has to meet both the requirements of CE and the requirements of the new European norm.
- What international norms should I look out for when deciding on the purchase of new rescue equipment? EN, UL. and NFPA are the general European and American norms for rescue tools. UL is a renowned US test institute with its own set of requirements.
- What should I pay special attention to when comparing different brands of hydraulic spreaders? Many brochures state very high spreading forces. Spreading forces increase as spreader arms open up more. However, the most relevant spreading force is the force a spreader is able to generate with closed arms. It is this force that enables a rescuer to start the spreading operation. A high force with open arms means nothing if the initial force, with spreader arms closed, is too low to even start the spreading operation. Therefore norms like EN and NFPA state that the spreading force has to be measured with closed spreader arms, at 25mm from the tips.
- When a tool is pressurised, is it safe to put it on the ground? This very much depends on the type of control handle. Many tools come with a “turning” control handle: the tool can only be operated by turning the control handle. With this type of control handle there is no danger of unintentional opening or closing of the tool. However, there are also control handles whereby the tool is operated with a pushing device, e.g. a pin. If such a tool is put on the ground, and the pushing device ends up on a stone or other object, this stone or object may trigger opening or closing of the tool without the operator being aware of it. This can lead to very dangerous situations.
- When I buy new hydraulic rescue tools, what do I have to pay attention to regarding new car technologies?
It is important that the design of hydraulic rams and spreaders is based on the latest developments in the car industry. This means: sufficient capacity, good grip on a variety of new material types, sufficient stroke, etc… However, the performance of hydraulic cutters in particular has become crucial.
Cutters have to be able to cut both new materials that are much harder and materials that react totally differently to cutting. Examples of new materials are HSLA-steel, boron steel, micro-alloy steel, composite materials etc… Not only does the cutting force need to be sufficient at various points on the blades, but also the blade design itself becomes critical. To design cutters that are suitable for the latest car models a manufacturer needs to have in-depth knowledge of developments in the car industry.
The new car technology section on this site (see “users club”) provides more information on this topic. On request Holmatro or Holmatro® dealers can also provide you with detailed presentations on this subject.
- Why are there so many different blade types for cutters, e.g. straight blades, parrot type blades or straight blades with a curved tip?
Among the factors influencing the cutting performance of a cutter, blade design is a very important one. Every blade type has its own specific qualities and therefore makes a cutter more, or less suitable for a certain application. The Holmatro cutter range for example includes 4 different blade types.
The strengths of 3 major blade types are:
- Parrot type blade: ideal to enclose profiles. Material can not be pushed out. Very suitable for cutting of hinges, and profiles like A-, B- or C-posts of vehicles.
- Straight and toothed blade: provides good grip on material. Particularly suitable for flat sheet metal, to create openings in trains, planes, roller shutters, etc…
- Straight blade with curved tip: combines benefits of the above two blade types. General, versatile blade type.
Please note that apart from blade shape, aspects like blade opening, durability of the blade and durability of blade teeth have to be taken into account as well.
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