Hydraulic breakers are among the most popular type of machine attachment. With applications in quarrying, demolition and both above- and below-ground rock excavation, they are versatile tools.
Peter Jowett, director of JCB attachments, said breakers are growing in popularity at a time when sales of earthmoving machines have been flat or falling around the world.
He said, “The market for breakers grew across the world in 2014 and it is growing in 2015, with the US and the UK in particular doing well. The rental sectors in construction and quarrying have also been good markets, with breakers used with larger and mini-excavators and backhoe loaders.
“The core lines that we have been focusing on have been the midi excavators and models of 20 tonnes. We have found that it is this kind of equipment that is often used by owner-operators for clearing work, new infrastructure and also for quarrying. It is important we make sure that we find the right machine for our customers.”
The company has a 16-strong line-up of JCB Hammermaster breakers to suit both JCB and competitor machines from 0.5 tonnes to 55 tonnes.
Its range that has been specifically designed to match JCB’s own machines’ requirements including all excavators, skid steer and backhoe loaders. However, its larger breakers can also be supplied with a ‘universal’ fitment, without a hanger bracket, enabling them to be fitted on any machines using quick hitch systems.
Meanwhile, Sandvik has introduced four new Rammer branded breakers - three new small units and the 5011 heavy duty hammer.
The new small breakers are the 255, 355 and 455 that plug a gap in the company’s line up and are intended for carriers from 1.2 tonnes to 5.2 tonnes. A key feature is the constant blow energy operating principle, which Sandvik says maximises productivity and profitability.
Meanwhile UK-based demolition company AR Demolition used a new 5011 for to clear the site of the former Northampton Chronicle newspaper offices. The hammer was mounted on a Volvo EC460L excavator, delivering a high power/low impact rate for the application of concrete breaking.
AR Demolition’s managing director, Richard Dolman, described the site as a “potential nightmare” in terms of the challenge of clearing heavily-concreted areas. He said, “We are clearing the site in advance of the construction of a new store for a major supermarket chain and we cannot afford delays. So we chose a breaker that was as reliable as it is powerful.”
Sandvik also markets breakers under the Bretec brand, which is designed to be a mid-level product. The latest additions to the C-series range are the M17C and L20C, which incorporate a number of new features and updates over the M17 and L20 models they replace.
Designed for carriers in the 15 tonne to 23 tonnes and 20 tonnes to 29 tonnes weight classes, the M17C and L20C models boast operating weights of 1.2 tonnes and 1.6 tonnes respectively.
Impact rates range from 280 to 760 blows per minute on the M17C, and from 390 to 700 blows per minute on the L20C.
Minimising the number of moving parts in the latest compact breaker models is another major trend – fewer moving parts should mean less maintenance and break-downs.
Among those taking a lead on this front is Caterpillar, which says its new E Series line of breakers features -47% fewer parts than the D-Series they replace. The company said the idea behind this change was to provide quicker and easier servicing.
Last summer it added four new breakers to its E Series line, intended for customers using mini excavators, skid steers and backhoes in North and South America. The new breakers are the H35E, H45E, H55E and H65E, designed for carriers weighing 1 tonne to 9 tonnes.
All four models are available in either standard or silent configurations, with the latter breakers carrying an additional ‘s’ designation at the end of the model number. The silenced versions have fully enclosed housings to suppress noise, while the suspension system includes buffers at the top and bottom to adsorb reflective forces and isolate the breaker from the carrier.
A suspension jack is also said to help in dampening vibration and sound during operation. In addition, the H45E and H55E are available as pin-on and flat-top units. The flat top models can be used on Caterpillar machines and those from other OEMs, while the pin-on models are used on dedicated hammer-equipped Cat carriers.
Atlas Copco offers the MB and HB range of breakers, which include an advanced energy recovery system that captures piston recoil energy to increase performance, without additional hydraulic input.
The two series also feature the company’s Integrated StartSelect valve, which allows the operator to adjust the hydraulic breaker start-up behaviour according to the operating condition in a few simple steps. Meanwhile, the built-in PowerAdapt overload protection valve shuts off the breaker when operating pressure is not in line with specifications, protecting it from breakdowns.
Last year, the company also released its HB 4100 hydraulic breaker, which is a 4.1 tonne unit for 40 tonne to 70 tonnes carriers. It features a Vibrosilenced system that is designed to protect operators against noise and vibrations.
Its equipment has also proved popular within the rental market, with businesses such as German fleet sales and hire company M&V Veit Baumaschinen. It has bought 15 new SB series hydraulic breakers from the company to add to its fleet of 500 machines, of which 60 are breakers.
Meanwhile, Volvo has released a series of breakers targeting the compact market. The seven-model HB range is now available across global markets and is designed for carriers from 1 tonnes to 10 tonnes.
The breakers are equipped with a cushion damper to reduce noise and vibration through the machine, while the HB08 can be adapted to suit the application using dual-speed control, and the HB07 and HB08 have anti-blank firing to prevent them from continuing to strike once the material has been broken.
The company has now expanded its range to include breakers for crawler and wheeled excavators. Jonas Staaf, director of attachments for Volvo in the Europe, Africa & Middle East (EAME) region, said, “Volvo breakers come with a good level of standard features, such as anti-blank firing, auto-lubrication, low noise hosing, and variable speed. But at a high level most breakers are quite similar. We have focused on building a productive and reliable breaker with good uptime that can also be considered cost effective globally.”
For its part, Montabert, has introduced a new mid-sized breaker for use on backhoe loaders and excavators weighing between 8 tonnes and 18 tonnes. The 501 Next Generation (NG) was introduced to commemorate the launch of the company’s first fully hydraulic concrete breaker more than 45 years ago.
The model is said to be 30% lighter than its predecessor, but 75% more powerful. This improved power-to-weight ratio has been developed to boost efficiency for aggregates producers, as well as construction and demolition contractors.
The breaker delivers up to 870 blows per minute and boasts performance-improving features including an energy recovery system that captures and recycles recoil energy from the piston to increase strike power, as well as a blank-fire protection system.
In addition, the 501 NG hydraulic breaker features an upper and lower suspension system that has been designed to extend the carrier’s work life by absorbing harmful vibrations and stress waves.
Optional features include an air pressurisation kit for underwater applications, as well as an automatic, cradle-mounted grease station that delivers continuous oil flow, reducing bushing and tool wear.
The company has also opened a remanufacturing facility in Lake City, Georgia, US, to address what it said is growing demand for remanufactured hydraulic breakers.
“Our new facility in Lake City provides us with greater capacity and control over the remanufacturing process,” said Gaetan Julien, product support manager for Montabert North America. “Customers now have the option to purchase like-new equipment – or send their equipment for repair – at a significantly lower cost.”
At the larger end of the breaker scale, the latest unit from Dehaco’s Ibex range is for excavators weighing up to 46 tonnes. A key feature is the advanced hydraulic circuit on the range, which provides increased flow to the valve and piston, resulting in faster cycle times, increased penetration and more productivity than previous models.
All this shows that while hydraulic breakers have been around for 50 years or more, there is plenty of development going on into new models which are simpler to maintain, more reliable in operation, and in some cases which have better performance through the capture of waste energy.