Swedish machine operator Patrik Ketti was left paralysed from the chest down as a result of a terrible accident in 2011. He was understandably concerned for his future as an excavator operator and had doubts about how - even if - he would work again. Accessing and working his machine was practically impossible.
Ketti operated a forestry machine before the incident. But forestry work is notoriously difficult with a rough, bumpy and often boggy terrain, which makes the ground challenging to navigate for even the most able-bodied operator.
Following Ketti’s sick-leave, he had a meeting with an employment service, who offered him a position as a receptionist. He thought this was hilarious: “I’m probably not socially adapted to, or would be comfortable with, reception work.”
Ketti’s brother is also a machine operator. With his support, Ketti – along with plenty of his own grit, determination and perseverance - is once again looking ahead to a bright future on the ‘sticks’, as they say. The key was accessing financial support in order to adapt an excavator machine to suit his disability.
But this was going to take some time, acknowledged Ketti. "When I changed to my current Hyundai, it went much smoother with financing and everything, then the process only took a few months and we had refined the solutions even more.”
Ketti contacted Magnus Bruce, sales manager at his local Hyundai CE dealer Orsa Maskin, near the town of Orsa in southern Sweden, and explained the situation and his disability. The challenge, he said, was whether the dealer could mount a special lift on a 24-tonne Hyundai HX235 LCR crawler excavator.
"This was a question we had never been asked before,” said Bruce. “However, we were very keen to help Patrik and we immediately started thinking about how such an excavator lift could work.”
But a quick search online showed that there was very little, if any, information on such a project. “So we decided to sketch and design a solution ourselves,” said Bruce. “We hired a company that realised our ideas into a 3D format. This CAD – computer-aided design - step was instrumental in visualising our ideas and identifying potential problem areas early on. We were able to adapt and alter to suit as the project moved forward."
From the initial drawings, Orsa Maskin designed and built an electric lift to help Ketti access his new machine. The pedals were removed from the cab and were replaced with a control system from Engcon, a global Swedish manufacturer of tiltrotators.
For someone in Ketti’s condition, the cabin seat takes on added importance. “One of the most important things, when you are paralysed, is to have a good seat,” he said. “There is otherwise a risk of pressure injury when you have lost sensation and the ability to feel.”
The seat was also equipped with a four-point belt so when the machine is tilted, which is common when working on uneven ground, Ketti remains safely secured. External connections and other aspects of the machine were also adapted for easier access and also to make attachment changes simple.
In addition, and very importantly, sprinklers were installed inside the cabin which would give Ketti those life-saving few moments to safely exit the machine.
"Orsa Maskin really helped me to get back on - and off - the road and back into my cab doing the job I love,” said Ketti. “I think there must be more operators in similar circumstances to me who would want to keep driving, and they could if they knew solutions like this were possible.”
"When I started working on this project, I was surprised how little information I could find,” noted Bruce. “I'm sure there must be more operators like Patrik who could benefit from what we have achieved. I am glad we were able to help him back into his machine and doing the job he loves."
*Hyundai would like to thank Gunilla Hellstrom, marketing coordinator at EMSG Sverige, for flagging up this story: the most successful people see adversity not as a stumbling block, but as a stepping-stone to greatness. Companies within the Emsg Sverige group, founded in 2010, are involved in the wholesale distribution of construction machinery, mining cranes and excavating equipment.