Feature: demoliton giants
By Chris Sleight10 November 2010
The tough economic conditions of the last year have meant there have been fewer new construction machines launched than usual as manufacturers have scaled-back manufacturing, sold-off inventory and conserved cash. However, it seems as if the reverse is true in the demolition sector, where there are not only new machines, but there are machines that are bigger, more powerful (and more expensive!) than ever before.
High-reach machines are certainly the most attention-grabbing tools in the demolition industry, and they are also one of the areas of greatest research and development.
One of the leaders in high-reach field is Holland's Rusch Krantekniek, which pushed the science of high-level demolition to new heights last year with a 90 m reach machine for Dutch contractor Euro Demolition.
But it is not just about height and reach. There is growing demand for machines that can handle very large demolition attachments at more moderate heights. A prime example again comes from Rusch, which this year modified a Caterpillar 5130 mining shovel sporting a 34 m boom designed to carry a 25 tonne shear attachment. Quite a departure from the 2 to 4 tonne tools that are normally found at the end of high-reach booms.
Besides specialist modifiers like Rusch, many of the mainstream manufacturers are active in this area, despite the relatively small size of the niche. The start of 2009 saw Liebherr launch a new model in the form of the R954 C VH-HD Litronic that provides a reach of 28 m and weighs in at 73 tonnes. It has a full 360°operating radius without any limit in stability or reach, which is helped by its hydraulic extending undercarriage. A 30° tilting cab is standard.
Also new in the last 12 months is Liebherr's 131 tonne R974 VH-HD, which offers a 41 m reach. Beyond these standard machines, the company has developed a 65 m reach machine in co-operation with UK modification specialist Kocurek. Like Rusch's largest machines, this monster features a telescopic boom.
Despite the growing physical size of the machines, manufacturers are also paying more attention to the specific needs of the demolition sector. Today's high-reach machines comprise an awful lot more than just a long boom on a standard excavator.
This is perhaps best illustrated by Volvo, which took the Innovation Award at November's inaugural Demolition Awards in Amsterdam, the Netherlands for its range of dedicated demolition machines. The event was organised by iC's sister magazine, Demolition & Recycling International (D&Ri)
The six machines, based on Volvo's standard 21 to 70 tonne standard excavators feature a wide undercarriage with long tracks for stability, and these have full-length track guards. The track frame has heavy duty plating on the underside to protect against sharp debris. Other protective measures include an additional steel jacket around the slew ring to prevent wire, cable and rebar damaging this crucial area.
Upgrades to the superstructures include side impact protection systems to guard against damage during slewing. There are also reinforced, double thickness door panels and a falling object guard (FOG) around the cab that protects the operator without obscuring the view to the demolition attachment. This guard can be tilted up to allow the windscreen to be cleaned, and the windscreen itself is made from shatter-resistant glass.
Further up the machines, cylinders and hoses are protected by guards and the excavators also feature the extra hydraulic circuits and piping required to run a wide range of attachments.
Caterpillar has also had a re-think of the machines it offers for demolition applications, but its solution has been to bring in other partners rather than develop dedicated high-reach machines in-house.
It has teamed up with French hydraulics and boom specialist Vensys Group, which has set up a new subsidiary, Demlone, to produce demolition excavators exclusively for Caterpillar based on Caterpillar excavators for the Africa, Europe and Middle East regions. These machines will not be available in North America, but iC understands that a similar arrangement with other partners may be instigated for that market.
According to Caterpillar's Richard Bliss, the new range will comprise three basic models that offer a lot of flexibility in their options.
"After detailed examination, we determined that we could meet most market requirements using three carriers as a base by offering flexibility in terms of working heights on these three carriers. A lot of the features and the benefits they offer were entirely driven by customer and dealer input as well as by input from Demlone," he said.
Three high reach machines will come to the market during the course of 2010. The 50 tonne DEM 50 shown at Bauma offers three working heights of 18, 21 and 23 m and can carry a 3 tonne tool (including coupler).
This will be followed by the 70 tonne DEM 70 in the summer. This will also provide three working heights of 28, 31 and 33 m and also offer a tool capacity of 3 tonnes.
The final machine, which will arrive towards the end of the year, will be based on Caterpillar's 85 tonne class 385 C excavator and will carry the DEM 100 designation. It will offer working heights of 38, 41 and 43.
Many of the latest innovations in the demolition sector were on display at last month's Bauma exhibition in Munich. Besides the DEM 50, these included a 18.3 m high-reach excavator from Komatsu based on its PC290LC excavator. The 40 tonne machine comes with a boom quick coupler and can carry a 3 tonne tool.
Another new machine of note was the R520LC-9 DM from Hyundai, based on the company's new 52 tonne 9-series excavator. The high-reach model can carry a 2.5 tonne tool to a height of 26 m on the three-piece boom.
Not new as such, but now in full production is Case's CX470 HRD from its new Special Excavator unit in Zeebrugge, Belgium. Weighing in at 62 tonnes, this machine has a reach of 27.1 m (88.8 ft).
Far more numerous at Bauma were launches of new attachments for the demolition industry. A big growth area in recent years has been crusher buckets
The show saw Montabert launch a range of four such attachments for 10 to 35 tonne excavators. The units only need one-way auxiliary hydraulic circuits to operate, and can be adjusted to produce different sized end products from waste streams ranging from concrete, bricks, blocks, asphalt and aggregates. The two larger models, the CRB751 and CRB951 are also available as heavy-duty versions.
Tabe's new offerings in this area were the 2,650 kg GT-25 V2 and the 3,900 kg GT-35 V2, both of which are designed for processing demolition waste.
MB Crusher meanwhile, a specialist in the crusher bucket sector, unveiled universal quick coupler to more efficiently connect its crushing bucket range to carrier excavators. The key design feature is a reduction in distance between the excavator arm and the crusher bucket which puts less strain on the carrier. The coupler weighs 80 kg - just half the weight of its predecessor.
In a similar vein Allu showed its complete D-series range of material processing attachments. Designed for the smallest skid steer loaders up to 45 tonne excavators and 30 tonne wheeled loaders the attachments can be used for processing, fine screening, crushing and blending. The screen crushers can also be used for soil remediation and stabilisation.
On the pure demolition side, Atlas Copco unveiled its 6.5 tonne CC 6000 combi cutter, designed for use with 58 to 85 tonne excavators. The unit is available with interchangeable universal or steel cutting jaws, and offers a cutting force of 650 tonnes.
Further down the scale was the 630 kg CC 650, which replaces the CC 550. The unit is designed for use with 6 to 12 tonne excavators, and features 360° rotation for quick and easy positioning and offers a cutting force of 45 tonnes.
Indeco meanwhile stepped into a new sector with the launch of its ISS scrap shears. The model on display was the ISS 44/60, a product designation that illustrates it can be mounted on excavators in two different ways.
The shear can be mounted direct to an excavator boom in place of the stick on machines weighing 44 tonnes or more. Alternatively, it can be mounted in the more conventional manner on the end of the stick, but this will require an excavator weighing at least 60 tonnes.
The unit itself weighs 6.65 tonnes without a mounting bracket and offers a jaw opening of 860 mm. The maximum clamping force is 850 tonnes and the shear requires an oil flow of 400 l/min.
Indeco says this first model was designed for the US market, where there is a preference for larger attachments. However, it plans to launch additions to the ISS line in future.
In addition to theses specialist demolition tools, Bauma was awash with new hydraulic breakers.
Launches from the big names in the sector included the first of Montabert's Blue Line 'entry level' breakers in the form of the 1.7 tonne XL1700. Sandvik meanwhile showed three new models form the light end of its range - the BR111, BR222 and BR333 for 0.8 to 4.0 tonne carriers.
Atlas Copco's latest breaker is the 3.1 tonne HB 3100 for 45 to 70 tonne excavators, while Tabe unveiled the 4.85 tonne AGB-40 at Bauma. An interesting feature of this unit is that it has two speed settings for either high energy, less frequent blows - suitable for breaking hard materials - or more, but less powerful impacts for relatively soft objects.
Like the carriers themselves, there is a clear trend in the breaker market for bigger and bigger units. A prime example at Bauma was D&A Heavy Industries' 750V, which weighs in at 7 tonnes.
Designed for use on carriers from 60 to 100 tonnes, the new model and others like it on the market are designed for applications like high-volume rock excavation. However, it is certainly conceivable that they would be useful in heavy-duty demolition applications.
It all goes to show that in the demolition market, big is definitely beautiful.