The demand for demolition attachments, according to many of the suppliers, does appear to be on the up after a considerable decline at the height of the economic downturn, even if demolition activity has yet to fully recover. However, the good news does appear to be patchy.
North and South America, Germany, France and the UK are reported to be showing good order levels for attachments of all types, but the woes of the Mediterranean countries, notable, Spain, Portugal and Italy, are continuing, with extremely low sales volumes being spoken of going into the area.
Nevertheless, many suppliers are optimistic that the attachments market recovery is on and not just for economic reasons. Torsten Ahr, marketing manager for Atlas Copco's Hydraulic Attachments, told D&Ri: "We see a trend that in more and more urban demolition sites it is no longer possible to use hydraulic breakers for foundation works and other tasks. Noise and vibration limits are forcing contractors to search for other options. We see an increasing number of large cutters being used to demolish foundations and other hard material that typically called for hydraulic breakers in the past. And regarding our own portfolio, we can say that our new bulk pulverisers, launched in Q4 2011, have proven a great success in Europe and in the USA."
"When it comes to cutters, crushers and pulverisers, customers are searching for powerful tools that offer a combination of high and constant crushing forces, short cycle times and high availability."
Torsten added: "The benefit is obvious: if a contractor can break material with one bite instead of two he saves money. Less machine hours, less fuel consumption and less operator hours contribute to lower cost of ownership and protect the environment."
Paulo Mantovani, of Mantovanibenne, was similarly upbeat at the recent Intermat show. He told D&Ri: "Things are definitely getting better, for us in part also because of new markets that we have begun to sell our equipment into. We have started to sell well in Germany, which is a very selective market. We have a number of dealers in the country and our products are gaining greater acceptance, particularly our rotating pulverisers and scrap shears. Our mini line with the double booster is also proving successful."
Mantovanibenne announced a Chinese joint venture company at the end of 2010, the Zhejiang Mantovani Machinery Company, and Paolo said of this: "We are actually a little ahead of schedule - we have started manufacturing and the Chinese market for attachments is growing, so we are quite pleased with progress.
Stanley LaBounty's Heinz Grope was less optimistic concerning the European market. He said that in his view, conditions in Europe were not really improving. "The only thing that has helped us in Europe has been that scrap prices are good, so scrap processors are busy but they are not exceptionally busy. There is a distinct lack of large demolition projects across Europe, although there are one or two in France, although we are doing reasonably well with our large crusher in Germany."
He went on to say that economy/tool power was a main driver for demolition attachments - the demand is for the smallest possible tool with the maximum power possible. "If a contractor can mount the tool on a 20 tonne carrier as opposed to a 25 tonner, that is what they go for."
This trend was also identified by Promove commercial director Antonio Cannaò. He told D&R: "Power, power, power! I would say demolition is definitely based on breaking power. Professionals look for tools never stopping in front of hard concrete or difficult jobs. Definitely, power is a key driver for contractors' choice. Durability is quite important as well but this can only be assessed after using the tools for a relevant period."
The European market was also identified as being in poor shape currently by Indeco's Michele Vitulano: "We cannot see an improvement in market conditions in Europe at all. We are doing well in the USE, Mexico, South America generally and Australia. With the exception of Germany, France and the UK, I do not see any prospect of an improvement in Europe any time soon."
He added: "And the political situation does not help. In recent years we were strong in the North African market but recent political events [Libya, Egypt, Syria et al] have not been good for us."
Freeing up R&D
A common theme from the attachment suppliers in recent months is that demand is down, with some markets almost stagnant, but there is one positive that they take from this fact. Put simply, before the downturn in demand, they were running at full production capacity and all their efforts were geared towards meeting demand. With the reduction in orders, time has been freed up and resources are now available for them to carry out more research and development than might have been the case in the past.
Take Trevi Benne as an example - in addition to the new MK Multi-Kit crusher shown at Intermat, the company showcased a new range of attachments designed for forestry applications. These have been developed to broaden its product offerings so that the company will be less dependent on demand from the demolition and recycling sector. Two new tools in the Wood Line were on show, the WT Series deforestation tool for tree felling and the WS Series wood clamps for size reduction of logs already on the group.
The MK tool is available with five jaw sets to allow it to be used as a pulveriser, shear, combi crusher/shear, steel rebar reducer and rail jaws for rail cropping. It makes use of a hydraulic jaw set changing mechanism that means no structural pins need to be removed, significantly speeding up changing times to minimise downtime and maximise productivity.
Atlas Copco is another that has been broadening its range. Torsten told D&Ri that the company have just introduced a full range of rig-mounted bucket crushers for on-site crushing.
He said: "The EU demands a 70% recycling quota for construction and demolition waste by 2020. That means that even on smaller demolition sites, recycling is a top target. And bucket crushers are an alternative to mobile crushers at urban worksites and in confined space."
"Rig-mounted crushers save transportation or dumpsite cost. Crushed material can be directly re-used on site or sold to third parties. Atlas Copco bucket crushers can handle all types of inert material such as asphalt, stone and concrete debris."
He went on to say that Atlas Copco will shortly launch a new lightweight cutter for light demolition jobs, indoor renovation and more that will fit to mini-excavators.
NPK has introduced a new concept designed to speed and simplify the separation of steel rebar from reinforced concrete. This new three model concrete pulveriser line features built in magnets as part of the structure of the pulveriser. The 2,130 kg (4,686) G-21EH is for use on carriers from 19 to 28 tonnes, the 3,300 kg (7,260 lb ) G-33EH is for carriers from 29 to 48 tonnes and the largest, the 4,500 kg (9,900 lb) G-45EH, is for carriers from 45 to 50 tonnes.
NPK has also added two new demolition grapples to its range, the 200 kg (440 lb) DG-4 for carriers from 2.5 to 4 tonnes and the 305 kg (671 lb) DG-6 for carriers from 4 to 6 tonnes.
Italian manufacturer Indeco has now completed its five model range of ISS shears with the addition of the 9,300 kg (20,460 lb) ISS 45/90 for excavators from 45 to 90 tonnes. They feature a number of innovations that enhance their performance, claims the company. These include a heavy duty pivot group that provides long-term cutting efficiency, keeps the jaws aligned and prevents buckling; an integrated dual guide system that can be used to adjust the alignment tolerances across the whole range of cutting strokes; and a large, powerful hydraulic cylinder with long lasting cylinder seals that provides high force levels.
Indeco has also further broadened its product line with the introduction of the IDG Series demolition sorting grabs. Six models make up the range, from the 300 kg (660 lb) IDG 300 for carriers from 3 to 7 tonnes with a jaw width of 0.6 m (2 ft), up to the 2,500 kg (5,500 lb) IDG 2500 for carriers from 26 to 45 tonnes with a jaw opening of 1.2 m (3.9 ft). Indeco's Michele said: "This product line has been developed as a direct response to requests from our dealers. The new range allows the tines to be changed on the units to allow them to be used either as demolition/sorting grabs or in a handling grab configuration."
Another supplier who has added additional demolition/scrap shears to its product offering is Demarec, who is in the process of introducing the DRS range. Six models will make up the range in three different mounting configurations when it is complete, and the range will cover carriers from 14 to 100 tonnes. The new shears feature a new jaw design that provides a wide opening and a blade locking system, a sturdy shear arm fabricated from Hardox steel with a robust and warp-resistant guiding system.
Rotar is another who has added a new scrap shear to its RSS line. Coming as the top of the range, the 8,300 kg (18,260 lb) RSS 100 designed for use with carriers from 45 to 65 tonnes. It features improved hydraulics to create maximum cutting forces, shorter cycle times, lower temperatures and less fuel consumption. The company told D&Ri that this new shear will be shortly followed by two others at either end of the range in the shape of the 2,700 kg (5,940 lb) RSS 20 and the 12,000 kg (26,400 lb) RSS 150.
Vibrating ripper tools are beginning to attract greater attention. At the recent Intermat, trailblazer Xcentric Ripper displayed the largest model it has produced to date in the shape of the 10,000 kg (22,000 lb) XR 80, designed for use on 80 to 120 tonne carriers. The company's range now consists of eight models for carriers from 2 to 120 tonnes, quite a feat considering the first of them appeared on the market just two years ago.
Another showing a vibrating ripper on its stand was GB Industries, who had its 950 kg (2,090 lb) GVR170 vibro ripper on its stand. A three model range is available, with the other two being the 1,760 kg (3,872 lb) GVR300 and the 2,910 kg (6,402 lb) GVR400. The range can be used on carriers weighing from 10 to 45 tonnes.
Italian Promove has recently introduced a new pulveriser specifically designed to offer a large breaking section rather than a wide jaw opening to deliver extra crushing capacity for secondary demolition and recycling. The CF 350 XL is a non-rotating unit for use on 30 to 50 tonne carriers makes use of a large cylinder with optimised jaw geometry and a speed valve to provide what the company claims among the greatest productivity for this type of attachments. According to Promove's Antonio, the new attachment is the result of Promove's continuous investments in research and development to provide the right tools for fast demolition and separation of concrete from rebar.
But Promove is bucking the trend in product development. Antonio continued: "Currently, Promove offers five lines of demolition attachments including hydraulic hammers, multi-processing crushers, scrap shears, rotating and non-rotating concrete pulverisers. Company efforts are now focused on constantly improving the technical features of existing models and, possibly, adding models to close some gaps in the range rather than extending range to other products."
At the other end of the tool spectrum, new crushers for smaller machines have recently made their appearance.
From Darda comes the 695 kg (1,529 lb) CC 700 S for carriers weighing from 7 to 15 tonnes. The new attachment has a maximum jaw opening of 268 mm (11.2 in) and a cycle time of just six seconds.
Demolition robot manufacturer Husqvarna has meanwhile added two new attachments designed specifically for its range, the 192 kg (422.4 lb) DCR100 and the 274 kg (602.8 lb) DCR300. The former is for the company's DXR 140 machine while the latter can be used on the DXR 250 and DXR310.