The company has developed a device which can cut granite kerb stones in situ to an angle to allow easy access by cars, bicycles and other vehicles.
D-Kerb – devised by D-Drill managing director Julie White and her father and former owner of the business, Peter – means that kerbstones which until now would have to be replaced involving road closures, excavating and disposal in landfill, can simply be cut and remain in place.
The Whites devised the machine when the company was approached to see if it could angle-cut a kerb by a contractor creating a Cycle Super Highway – an initiative of London mayor Boris Johnson.
D-Drill explored the UK and international markets for a machine to do the job but found there was nothing available. Instead of turning down the work, Julie and Peter put their heads together and with decades of experience in the industry, came up with D-Kerb.
The patented machine’s first job was to cut 20 metres of granite kerb just off Piccadilly Circus, Central London, on behalf of Westminster City Council to avoid closing off the road.
The angled kerb was required because it was a popular drop-off point for hotels, restaurants and boutique stores in Denman Street and the existing kerb was resulting in damage to the range of high-class vehicles including Bentleys, Rolls-Royces and Jaguars that frequently pulled up there.
Not only did D-Kerb produce the desired effect, D-Drill introduced a new concept vapour-blast machine, to provide an identical finish and texture in-keeping with the rest of the street.
Julie said that success had proved the capability of the new machines and has led to discussion over its possible use on the Cycle Super Highway programme through the centre of London. She said:
“When we were originally approached, I presumed there would be a machine on the market. When I explored the UK and found nothing, I tapped into my contacts in the USA and elsewhere in the world and everyone was drawing a blank.
“I didn’t want to turn down the opportunity and got talking to my father about it and I could see a sparkle in his eye as soon as soon as I started to tell him.
“Within a couple of months, we’d got a working prototype and then the first ever Cyclpath which we have patented.
“The job in Denman Street was the perfect example of how it can work because the 90 degree kerb was causing all sorts of difficulties for the high-class cars that were dropping off there. They were getting dents and scrapes and it needed angling to 45 degrees to prevent it.
“But the last thing the council wanted was to have to close that part of the road off – nor did they want the problem of having to dispose of 20 metres’ worth of expensive granite kerb to then replace it again at a considerable cost.
“So by utilising the Cyclpath, our team could get the kerb cut in just a matter of hours and solve the problem. We cut the kerb while shoppers and tourists were able to go about their business uninterrupted, which makes a huge economic difference as opposed to closing off the area.
“We are really excited by what this new machine could lead to because it is perfect for cutting angled kerbs for cycle paths – that was, in fact, what the original enquiry was about – and there is really healthy interest from councils and highway teams around the UK.
“We have proved that it works and we have proved the financial and environmental benefits. The potential both at home and abroad for these technologies is limitless.”
D-Kerb has also been demonstrated to Coventry City Council, who may now trial it in the city.
“I was really pleased to see what this bit of kit can do. New innovations like this are always interesting and the fact that it’s been developed by a local company is great news.
“Making any kind of change to kerbs while they are in place has always proved difficult or expensive, or both. I was very impressed and now I hope we can arrange a trial on a road in the city so we can see how it works on a kerb that’s been in place for some time.
“Sometimes people can think that roads and highways work follows traditional methods of working with very little change. But actually it’s an area where technology is constantly changing and improving the way things are done.”