BarrelMover 5000

Barrel Mover 5000Kentucky native Kyle Ruby invented the BarrelMover 5000 to keep highway crews safe in work zones.

By Janice Hoppe-Spiers

In its most recent report, the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration estimates there were 96,626 crashes in work zones in 2015. On average, a work zone crash occurred once every 5.4 minutes. Seventy work zone crashes occurred every day that resulted in at least one injury and 12 work zone crashes happened every week that resulted in at least one fatality. 

Working on the highway from 2009 to 2016 for a private company in Kentucky, Kyle Ruby saw firsthand how dangerous the work zones were and sought ways to eliminate the risk for himself and his coworkers. His shift with the asphalt pavement milling crew ran from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on an interstate highway.BarrelMover 5000 box

“At the end of the shift, we had to move the barrels back off the road and it would take an hour and ten minutes to move all the barrels,” Ruby remembers. “We were only allowed 30 minutes so we tried every way possible to get them moved quicker. I would drop three guys off to pick up the barrels and come back to pick them up. A driver saw the third guy moving the barrel one day and thought the lane was open, and he about hit my guy.”

Witnessing that firsthand and hearing about the tragedies that had occurred on the highway, Ruby wanted to do something to change those statistics and help his crew. In 2015 he started to build the BarrelMover 5000. “My dad works for a fabrication shop and I told him what I needed and how long the steel needed to be,” Ruby remembers. “We forklifted it, put it on his truck and drove it out here to our small metal shop at my house. I put it together the weekend of Good Friday. I took five steps forward and 10 steps backwards – it was a pain in my ass every time, but I built five of them.”

BarrelMover 5000

The BarrelMover 5000 easily mounts to any Ford, Chevrolet or Dodge truck by removing existing tow hooks and replacing them with mounting brackets. It can also be customized to fit other trucks to move safety barrels at the beginning and end of each shift.

BarrelMover 5000 is able to shift barrels or cones up to two lanes from the left or the right shoulder and is easily assembled in three steps and in less than 10 minutes. The main frame can be offset from the center to the left or right, allowing the vehicle to operate further from moving traffic or other obstacles and increase crew safety. The BarrelMover 5000 is equipped with a specially designed hook attachment that instantly contains and directs the moving barrel away from traffic. 

The unique design reduces impact to the barrel and the main frame is spring-loaded with a shock absorber that is designed to work with the hook attachment to further reduce the impact on the barrel. BarrelMover 5000 is equipped with LED illuminated guide poles, LED amber lights, reflectors and a magnetically mounted camera, which is all designed to increase safety and further assist the operator. 

Once at the work site, the work truck driver lowers the BarrelMover 5000 arm into place. As the truck moves forward, the arm “captures” the barrel and the barrel glides along the wheels and rollers of the arm. The barrel comes to a stop when it reaches the end of the arm.

When Ruby first tested the BarrelMover 5000 with his highway crew, he reduced the number of workers from three to one and the pickup time from one-hour-and-ten-minutes to 12 minutes. 

“By using the BarrelMover 5000 we can shave one day off for every seven days worked,” Ruby says. “My superintendent told me I had to take the BarrelMover 5000 home and get it patented because it’s making such a difference. It sped us up 25 percent, so by the fourth year you can gain a year’s worth of profit.

“If my superintendent hadn’t encourage me to patent it, I wouldn’t be here now,” he continues. “He was the one pushing me because it’s safe and efficient equipment.”

Monty Richmond, director of human resources and safety at Brooks Construction Company Inc. in Fort Wayne, Ind., bought the first BarrelMover 5000 in April 2016. “He didn’t start using it until summer 2016 and I called him this past June to see how it was doing,” Ruby says. “He told me that it has been a little under nine months and he has accumulated almost $1 million with it because of increased productivity.” 

Gaining Momentum

Twenty-Two BarrelMover 5000 units are running today from Portland, Ore., to the Carolinas and up to Ohio. “The best thing I ever did was video the BarrelMover 5000 while we were using it because everyone is tickled to death and can’t believe what they see,” Ruby notes. “The safety factor is huge. It’s going to take a while for people to understand  what it does and exactly what it makes up for in time and money. In five to six years, after all the subs working on federal highways get it, the government is going to win and get the job done cheaper.”

When a subcontractor becomes the first in the area to buy the BarrelMover 5000, that sub is likely to win the job because he can bid lower. “Top contractors are usually within $100,000 of each other’s bid on a project, but by using the BarrelMover they can leave over $1 million off a $5 million job, for example,” Ruby says. “Once word gets out about how the subcontractor is saving money with the BarrelMover 5000, the second guy will buy one and bring them back to the playing field and even the odds.” Ruby’s hope: “In 30 years, everyone will have one.” 

To continue to increase awareness about the BarrelMover 5000, Ruby plans to attend trade shows and visit the International Road Federation in Washington, D.C. “When I left the ATSSA Traffic Expo in New Orleans in February 2016, I thought it was going to be an overnight success,” Ruby remembers. “I sold a few, but it never took off. The only people who appreciate it are the ones who have them.”

In addition to attending trade shows, Ruby is committed to selling the first 50 BarrelMovers at the current price of $15,999 each. These early adopters will be the pioneers of new traffic control. To learn more about Ruby and the BarrelMover 5000, visit www.barrelmover5000.com.

If demand significantly increases for the BarrelMover 5000, Ruby says he will be able to maintain an adequate supply for the time being. “The associations are worried about whether I can produce them fast enough for the supply,” Ruby says. “I can build five in one day.”

Safe and Efficient

Ruby has worked in the field for so many years that his mission is to invent safe and efficient equipment for crews out on the highway. “Like two weeks ago in Louisville, Ky., which is about 45 minutes from my house, a car came through the barrels and ran a guy over and killed him,” Ruby says. “I’ve been doing this since ’97 and there are more people driving now, traffic is thicker and there is more rage. The BarrelMover 5000 just makes sense because the simple fact is it reduces the number of workers on the road and the amount of time the worker spends on the road.”

Ruby says he has at least two to three ideas in his head at any time that is simple but effective. “I grew up on a farm with 70 cows and worked that and an excavating company on the nights and weekends,” Ruby says. “I always had a job and worked 19 hours a day. You take all that time and knowledge into something, you get better and smarter at it. 

“The guys out there on the highway deserve the safest and most effective equipment available,” he continues. “How can you put a dollar amount on someone’s life? That job in Louisville could have used the BarrelMover 5000.”

Moving forward, Ruby says he will continue to explain the benefits of the BarrelMover 5000 to companies because it can save lives and prevent serious accidents.  “There isn’t anything else out there like it that moves barrels,” Ruby notes. “All I can say is at the end of the day I’m not a salesman and that this thing is the real deal. It could always be better and safer for the crews out working on the highway.” 

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