HomeBusinessJCB's £165k pothole killer fills 3 years' worth of craters in 4...

JCB’s £165k pothole killer fills 3 years’ worth of craters in 4 months


JCB’s specialist pothole-filling vehicle has been on road-repairing onslaught in the company’s home city of Stoke-on-Trent, repairing three years’ worth of craters in just over four months.

The PotholePro machine, which was first unveiled a year ago, fixed a staggering 10,000 square metres of tarmac – an area equivalent to eight Olympic-sized swimming pools – in just 130 days, which, if using traditional pothole-repairing methods, would have taken a staggering 1,040 days to complete.

The digger-maker’s pothole killer can fix one in under eight minutes, accelerating road repair times by 700 per cent, the manufacturer claims.

Other authorities across the country have now been urged to call in the unique vehicle to repair their own pothole-riddled routes as various reports have raised concerns about the nation’s crumbling roads.

Three years’ worth of potholes repaired in four months: The JCB PotholePro machine has been on a road-fixing assault in Stoke-on-Trent – and now more authorities have been told to call in the crater-ridding machine

Stoke-on-Trent City Council was unsurprisingly – given that JCB is located in the city – the first in the UK to invest in the PotholePro last year, which isn’t cheap.

Priced at £165,000, a number of other authorities have considered purchasing their own machine, though most will likely lease it at a cost of around £600 per week. 

JCB says it is the most efficient vehicle of its kind anywhere in the world and provides the repair capability usually required from three separate machines. 

That means it not only cuts down on pothole filling costs and time but also reduces the emissions impact usually involved to fix them.

The British digger manufacturer says the machine halves the cost of current pothole fixing used by councils and highways agencies across the country. 

Stoke-on-Trent City Councillor, Daniel Jellyman, has lauded the impact of the PotholePro, saying: ‘To have competed almost three years of work in just over four months is astounding and speaks volumes for this solution over traditional methods. 

‘It’s proving so effective across the city that councillors and residents are actively asking for the PotholePro when a highway network issue arises. 

‘Put simply, the JCB PotholePro delivers a consistent and permanent repair in a fraction of the time. We are also able to deploy it on a multitude of other tasks and this delivers huge rewards in terms of time saved.’

The digger-maker's pothole killer can fix each one in under eight minutes, accelerating road repair times by 700%

The digger-maker’s pothole killer can fix each one in under eight minutes, accelerating road repair times by 700%

JCB says it is the most efficient vehicle of its kind anywhere in the world and provides the repair capability usually required from three separate machines

JCB says it is the most efficient vehicle of its kind anywhere in the world and provides the repair capability usually required from three separate machines

PotholePro has fixed 10,000 square metres of tarmac in just 130 days in Stoke. That's equivalent to eight Olympic sized swimming pools which, using traditional pothole-repairing methods, would have taken a staggering 1,040 days to complete

PotholePro has fixed 10,000 square metres of tarmac in just 130 days in Stoke. That’s equivalent to eight Olympic sized swimming pools which, using traditional pothole-repairing methods, would have taken a staggering 1,040 days to complete

Motorists have been calling for their authorities to call in the help of the PotholePro since it was first unveiled in January 2021, with Newcastle City Council among those recently suggesting they could request the vehicle’s services – loaning a PotholePro from neighbouring Northumberland County Council – to fix the 15,000 potholes found in the city last year. 

The development of the PotholePro has been personally led by JCB Chairman Lord Bamford. 

He said: ‘Potholes really are a blight on our nation and the solution we have developed with the JCB PotholePro offers a quick and permanent fix. 

‘Changing the long-established ways local authorities repair roads takes time, but I’m pleased that councils across the UK are now starting to see the real benefits of the JCB PotholePro, which is exceeding expectations with its speed and productivity.’

The machine’s success comes as pothole-related breakdowns are on the rise, road user complaints are peaking and council budgets for maintaining their routes are being slashed.

The RAC said last month that it attended 10 per cent more pothole-related callouts in 2021 compared to 2019 – when traffic levels were higher before the pandemic struck.

A record number of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians in the last 12 month have also been using a dedicated pothole-reporting website to inform authorities where the worst craters are in their areas – with Cumbria receiving the most complaints.

Cumbria received the most complaints about cratered roads: A total of 448 potholes were registered on FillThatHole.org.uk in 2021 - more than any other county in England

Cumbria received the most complaints about cratered roads: A total of 448 potholes were registered on FillThatHole.org.uk in 2021 – more than any other county in England

The PotholePro has been used in trials across Stoke-On-Trent for months and found to rapidly speed-up the process of fixing cratered roads. JCB says it will cost around £600-a-week for authorities to lease

The PotholePro has been used in trials across Stoke-On-Trent for months and found to rapidly speed-up the process of fixing cratered roads. JCB says it will cost around £600-a-week for authorities to lease

Yet Government funding has been cut back in recent months, with funding for more than 9.5 million pothole repairs hauled out of council budgets, according to analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) last year.

Financial backing from the Department for Transport to councils in England for local road maintenance in 2021/22 is £1.39billion, which is down from £1.78billion for the previous year.

That £399million reduction – which works out at £1.2million per council – could have paid for tens of thousands of potholes to be fixed in every local council area, based on repairs costing an average of nearly £42, the LGA calculated.

How does the JCB PotholePro work?

The first part of the process uses the 600mm-wide ‘planer’, which is made-up of rotating teeth that mill away the ground to a depth set by the operator. This creates a level cut that gives the pothole structure. Without this, if you were to try to put tar straight in the hole, the repair would not last a month, say road maintenance experts.

The PotholePro’s multi-tool also includes both the sweeper and cropping tool. It can rotate in any direction which makes it perfect to work around ironworks.

Step one: The 'planer' is the first process in the repair. Rotating teeth mill away the ground to a depth set by the operator. It creates a level cut that gives the pothole structure

Step one: The ‘planer’ is the first process in the repair. Rotating teeth mill away the ground to a depth set by the operator. It creates a level cut that gives the pothole structure

The 360-degree cropping tool squares off the edges of the pothole. 

Normally, this process is done by a jack hammer or circular saw and in is linked to causing Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome among those who operate them. 

With the JCB PotholePro, it completely eliminates this risk.

Step two: The 360-degree cropping tool squares off the edges of the pothole. Normally, this process is done by a jack hammer or circular saw and this is linked to causing Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome among those who operate them. With the JCB PotholePro, it completely eliminates this risk

Step two: The 360-degree cropping tool squares off the edges of the pothole. Normally, this process is done by a jack hammer or circular saw and this is linked to causing Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome among those who operate them. With the JCB PotholePro, it completely eliminates this risk

The next phase utilises the ‘sweeper’, which can either rotate and collect the material or the brush lifts up out of the way to leave a bucket to scoop large volumes of chippings at once.  

All the material collected can then easily be dumped into a support truck for recycling.  

Step three: The next phase utilises the 'sweeper', which can either rotate and collect the material, or the brush lifts it up out of the way, to leave a bucket to scoop large volumes of chippings at once. All the material collected can then easily be dumped into a support truck for recycling

Step three: The next phase utilises the ‘sweeper’, which can either rotate and collect the material, or the brush lifts it up out of the way, to leave a bucket to scoop large volumes of chippings at once. All the material collected can then easily be dumped into a support truck for recycling

Step four: Once the machine has done its job all the contractor then needs to do is just add tar to remove the sign of there ever being a pothole

Step four: Once the machine has done its job all the contractor then needs to do is just add tar to remove the sign of there ever being a pothole

Tests with local authorities and contractors have already shown that the JCB PotholePro can complete a pothole repair in less than eight minutes – the equivalent of fixing 700 potholes a month. 

It also has a 25mph top speed, meaning the vehicle can travel up and down roads under its own power, also reducing transport costs for operators.

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