Hydraulic breakers: Keeping all options open
By Helen Wright05 March 2012
The basic technology underlying today's breakers is well established, and any new developments in recent years have been refinements rather than complete product overhauls.
Regulations governing sound, vibration and dust - particularly on urban demolition sites in the world's mature markets - are shaping the latest launches, with silenced breakers now the norm for Europe at least.
However, low cost of ownership is also a key focus point and has been at the forefront of the latest developments, with manufacturers focussing on hydraulic efficiency and power-to-weight ratios.
Torsten Ahr, Atlas Copco marketing manager for hydraulic attachments said the mantra, "Less weight, more power," was at the centre of the company's thinking when it developed its new generation of medium and heavy duty hydraulic breakers.
Atlas Copco will be adding to its heavy breaker line with the HB 4100, designed for use on carriers weighing from 40 to 70 tonnes, at this year's Intermat show in Paris in April.
As its designation suggests, the new breaker weighs in at 4100 kg and will be available with all the usual Atlas Copco features, such as VibroSlienced, PowerAdapt, AutoControl and Contilube.
"The new four tonne breaker weighs 130 kg less than its predecessor, but producers between +10% and +15% more performance," Mr Ahr said.
"The lower weight and higher efficiency means that less hydraulic input is required from the carrier, reducing fuel consumption and allowing smaller carriers to be used. We have had a very positive response from customers - the overall cost of ownership has dropped significantly for them," he added.
JCB has also updated the design of its larger HM870Q, HM1270Q and HM1570Q breaker models, which are designed to work with carriers from 10 to 28 tonnes. A new Power Control Valve has been added, which provides more adaptive performance from the breaker, varying blow frequency while maintaining impact energy to match the conditions.
These models are now said to offer an improved performance of up to +31% and up to +15% increased hydraulic efficiency - the HM870Q for instance offers an increase of performance from 17.4 kW to 19 kW, a reduction of 50 kg weight to 800 kg and a hydraulic efficiency gain of +56%.
In addition, new housing has contributed to a reduction in noise levels for the modified large breakers of up to 5 dB(A).
JCB also updated two breakers in its medium line, which are designed to work with midi excavators, backhoe loaders and skid steer loaders. The HM166Q and HM266Q models have been enhanced - for instance the HM166Q now boasts an increase in performance from 3.8 kW to 7.4 kW and a +27.8% efficiency increase, while noise levels have dropped from 124 dB(A) to
All JCB's breakers are also supplied ready-to-go, with hangar brackets, hoses and charging kits.
Designing robust and durable housings is another area of research for breaker manufacturers, and there have been some interest developments on new launches.
Caterpillar's latest breakers feature an innovative new casing which has been designed with a prolonged working life in mind. The housing is symmetrical, which allows it to be turned by 180° to compensate for wear. A curved front/back profile is also said to eliminate stress points and transfer forces to the hammer's bottom.
The new E Series range of hammers - the H110Es, H115Es, H120Es and H130Es - were designed for use on the company's 321 to 329 (21 to 29 tonne) excavators and the 450E backhoe loader, initially for the North American market.
The new models also incorporate several features from the D Series, such as an anti-blank firing system and an external control to adjust operating pressure for easy service. Noise suppression is a standard feature.
Caterpillar also introduced the H25D hydraulic breaker into the Europe, Africa and Middle East (EAME) market segment. Designed for use on carriers weighing from 800 to 1100 kg, this breaker has been optimised for demolition and recycling applications.
Weighing in at just 70 kg (154 lb), the H25D has a blow rate of up to 1900 bpm and operates at a pressure of 100 to 120 bar.
According to Caterpillar, the new breaker was designed for reliability and ease of serviceability. It features a simplified design with a streamlined shape that allows it to be used in confined spaces. It also features just two moving parts to minimise maintenance, with no tie rods, an integrated accumulator and integrated lower tool bushing.
Meanwhile, other manufacturers are also focussing their attention on re-engineering their breakers to reduce the number of moving parts. CE Attachment's latest range, which has been developed for skid steer loaders and compact excavators, is no exception.
The manufacturer's new Edge breaker attachments range has been re-engineered to have no through-bolts and feature only two moving parts, which it claims simplifies hammer operation and reduces downtime.
These new breakers feature a nitrogen-charged backhead that is said to increase impact energy, as well as an advanced hydraulic circuit which increases flow to the valve and piston for faster cycle times.
Optional equipment such as a nitrogen gas charge kit is offered for the skid steer models and an auto-lubrication system and underwater kit is available for the compact excavator models.
Doosan Infracore has also focussed on keeping the design of its latest breakers simple and robust in order to provide both economical and reliable performance and low maintenance costs.
It has launched three new hydraulic breakers - the DXB100H, DXB170H and DXB260H models - for use on Doosan excavators from 14 to 38 tonnes.
With operating weights from 900 kg to 1450 kg, the new breakers offer an energy recovery system and a patented valve system, which is said to increase overall performance, while an advanced dampening system protects the breakers against blank firing.
Bobcat, Doosan's compact equipment subsidiary, has introduced nine new models for its HB Series. Designed for use on the company's compact loaders and mini- and midi-excavators on trenching, concrete demolition and general excavation jobs, they are said to offer "greatly reduced maintenance."
The HB frame is cylindrical to improve access to confined areas such as inside structures or holes, and features include an automatic pressure-regulator that ensures the breaker works at its optimum operating pressure on all approved carriers. Both the Bobcat and Doosan breakers are sourced from Montabert, Doosan's specialist breaker subsidiary.
Premium and value
Meanwhile, Montabert itself is continuing the growing trend of offering customers a choice between both a premium and a value range. The company will be showing three new breakers at Intermat - a new two-speed unit for heavy carriers and two new Blue Line models.
The new V3500 heavy breaker fills out the existing product line and is for carriers from 35 to 60 tonnes. The company says that it is ideal for high productivity work on homogeneous rock surfaces, while the no-frills Blue Line hammers are said to be more suited to demolition, road building, utilities and trenching.
The 900 kg XL1000 is for carriers between 11 and 17 tonnes, with the 1250 kg XL1300 being for carriers between 15 and 22 tonnes. Montabert said these Blue Line units were designed as an entry level range of quality breakers with a simple, cost effective design for customers for whom price is the major concern.
Another major trend has seen manufacturers try to fill all the gaps in terms of weight options. Ramtex, for instance, will be launching three new ranges of Robi branded breakers at the Intermat exhibition.
The three model (MH7, MH11 and MH15) Mini MH series is for carriers from 0.8 to 4 tonnes, the four model (EH100, EH140, EH170 and EH240) Excavator EH series is for carriers from 12 to 40 tonnes and the three model (BH30, BH50 and BH80) Backhoe BH series is for backhoes from 3 to 15 tonnes.
Korean manufacturer Daemo also producers breakers for a very wide range of carriers - the updated Alicon series now covers 17 models for carriers from 1.2 to 100 tonnes. All the models feature an anti-blank firing system, auto lubrication, energy regeneration valve and a selector for two different blow frequencies.
With such a wide range, Daemo is optimistic for sales prospects this year - it said it expected to see its new breaker sales rise by more than +20% in 2012, after selling 1670 Alicon breakers around the world in 2011.
Promove, too, is introducing new weight options - the Intermat show will see the manufacturer present its new, 2 tonne XP2000 hydraulic breaker, specifically designed to fit excavators in the 22 to 32 tonne class, filling the gap between its XP1700 and XP2400 models.
The new model is also designed to be a lighter alternative for 28 to 30 tonne excavators and is said to be particularly useful in tunnelling applications. And despite sporting a range of advanced technology including an anti-blank firing system and auto greasing, the breaker is also said to have low maintenance requirements.
Maintenance and spare parts are also a key thinking point for Italian manufacturer Idromeccania, which has brought a new M Series of breakers to the market.
Covering a comprehensive weight range from 85 to 3000 kg, the M Series are suitable to be carried by excavators from 1 to 50 tonnes. The latest additions to the series include the IMI 9M, which at 85 kg is the smallest model, and is suitable for machines weighing from 0.7 to 2 tonnes.
The manufacturer has also reported a recent increase in demand for spare parts as customers increasingly invest in repairing old breakers rather than investing in a brand new model.
Idromeccanica stocks over 1500 spare parts and can supply its M Series breakers in underwater or silenced versions as well as equipped with automatic lubricating devices.
Meanwhile, Volvo will also be adding to its HB-branded hydraulic breaker line in 2012 with 13 new introductions ranging from the 140 kg HB02 to the 7000 kg HB70. Available globally by the end of 2012, the breakers will feature dual speed control, noise reduction, anti-blank firing and auto stop technology.
Atlas Copco's Mr Ahr summed up the way he saw customer attitudes in the breaker market, "The breaker today is a commodity product for some. There is a big difference between a high performance, 24/7 breaker for a professional user and a lower-tech model for the customer that uses a breaker once a week or less. It is right that there are some customers that are just looking at price."
Regulations will continue to play a big role - most manufacturers now only offer silenced breakers to the European market, fitted with insulated breaker box systems, while non-silence version are sold in Asia and Middle Eastern markets where the regulation is not so high.
However, Mr Ahr highlighted one issue that is likely to increasingly haunt the breaker market in Europe and the US in the coming years - the problem of non-compliant breakers being sold in mature markets, in breach of sound and vibration legislation and undermining the local market that has to comply with the country's regulations. He called for increased scrutiny from regulators. "Market surveillance is a growing problem. For instance, some Asian manufacturers come to Europe and sell products that don't adhere to the legislation - where is the surveillance?" he concluded.