Contractor branches out into the manufacturing arena with the new Pipe Caddy work-tool attachment. (Photo courtesy of River West Enterprises Inc.)

A general contractor located in Westlake, La., has patented a new pipe-handling attachment and is offering it to other interested contractors across the globe. According to company representatives, the new attachment saves money by increasing safety and cutting the time it takes to install pipe by 30%.

After digging trenches, contractors typically lay pipe segments by rigging them to a hydraulic excavator's bucket. But according to David Abshire, vice president of River West Enterprises Inc., a sister company of Cypress General Contractors, this method can be improved by eliminating rigging elements, thereby aiding safety and making the operator more productive.

His company's solution is the "Pipe Caddy," which premiered at the World of Concrete show held Feb. 4-7 in Las Vegas. Gavin Abshire, president, says that he sold at least 40 units to North American buyers during the show, along with prospects secured from international contractors located in such countries as Canada, Mexico, Belgium, Thailand and New Zealand.

The Pipe Caddy, as David Abshire recalls, was conceived from his company's experience in pipe handling, including some incidents of lost time on jobs. With the new device, he says that contractors can join at least 30 segments per day. Previously, his company "struggled to get 20."

Operators attach the Pipe Caddy while sitting in the excavator cab. First, the backside of the device hooks around the top portion of the bucket. This leaves two steel tines in front that slide inside the pipe like a forklift holds a palette. By tilting the bucket, the pipe also tilts, allowing the attachment to lift and place pipe without using any rigging. According to the Abshires, this configuration provides the excavator operator with the ability to work unassisted without ever needing to physically touch the pipe.

River West Enterprises has enlisted C&P Attachments, a work-tool manufacturer in Ooltewah, Tenn., to build and distribute the Pipe Caddy. Brian Brown, C&P sales manager, says his company was interested in the cooperation because his company saw nothing else like it on the market.

"The Pipe Caddy will save at least 30% on labor and equipment," David Abshire says about the device, which lists between $3,000 and $10,000, depending on the size of the excavator. He adds that the Pipe Caddy is designed to fit most machines.