Hydraulic breakers - punching above their weight
By Helen Wright14 March 2013
A range of sophisticated technology to improve power-to-weight ratios, reduce noise and vibrations and increase automation can be found on the latest breaker models.
It is clear that manufacturers in the industry are pushing to maximise the potential of these attachments, but in a worldwide market not everyone is looking for such sophisticated technology when they come to make a purchase.
Atlas Copco markets both premium lines under its brand, and a basic range under its Chicago Pneumatic (CP) brand. But the manufacturer has also introduced a new basic range under its Atlas Copco brand specifically targeted at the Chinese market – the C Series.
This is a five-model range for carriers in the 4 to 50 tonne weight class that the company said represented an alternative to its premium line in China.
Torsten Ahr, Marketing Manager for Atlas Copco hydraulic attachments said, “China is the only construction market in the world which is dominated by the basic breaker segment, and our new C-Series is the perfect complement to our existing product portfolio in this market.”
The basic breakers in the C-Series are characterised by vibration dampening and a slim, compact box design. Like other Atlas Copco hydraulic breakers, they use an energy recovery system to optimise percussion performance by increasing the blow frequency, while noise levels are also minimised by a noise-reduction system, which also reduces vibration.
Meanwhile, Atlas Copco product line manager for power demolition tools Gordon Hambach said the company has seen a difference in the strength of sales growth around the world between its premium Atlas Copco brand line and CP brand of breakers.
“We operate worldwide with these two brands,” Mr Hambach said. “For the CP line, we target customers which have a sporadic use of the breaker, more general jobs to do with regards to the product. For the Atlas Copco line we target professionals using breakers 24 hours
“The Europeans and North Americans tend to go more for the Atlas Copco brand hydraulic breakers, rather than the CP design. But elsewhere in the world, certainly we see an increasing trend on the market for the CP breakers.”
Mr Hambach insisted that the differences between the two lines did not hinge on quality. “Both product lines follow our general quality policy, but the materials used to make the breakers differ – breakers which will be used two or three times a month are built differently to breakers that are intended for use around the clock.”
For its premium line, a key focus for Atlas Copco has been improving power to weight ratios. Mr Hambach explained that the manufacturer’s aim was to allow its customers to complete the same job using a smaller breaker.
“This means that customers can use smaller carriers, which leads to lower fuel consumption. The can decrease the input needed but still achieve the same results.”
The manufacturer plans to showcase its new SB702 breaker at the Bauma show in Munich – a 700 kg tool with a one-piece, solid body housing. It features an energy recovery system – a key part of its power-to-weight focus that aims to provide a higher percussive performance and increased hydraulic efficiency.
Mr Hambach added that next area of focus for Atlas Copco would be to look into maintenance. “The optimum would be to eliminate all maintenance, but that is not possible,” he explained.
“We aim to further reduce the intervals between maintenance and make it much easier and faster for the operator,” Mr Hambach said.
Meanwhile, Mark Talbot, Volvo Construction Equipment product marketing manager for breakers also said there was potential for growth in breaker sales in developing countries, but that competition was often fierce. In China for example he said there are 10 to 20 international breaker brands competing in a market that boasts hundreds of domestic manufactures.
“It is a buyers’ market,” he said. “As you would expect from the brand, Volvo CE offers quality hydraulic breakers in terms of model range, product features and performance and aims to meet local requirements.”
Mr Talbot said that while the main features on its breakers do not differ greatly between regions, there were some differences.
“I am not sure I would like to split it by ‘basic’ or any other term because the breakers are specified to a high standard in line with local market expectations and harmonised with what the Volvo CE brand represents,” Mr Talbot explained. “But it’s smart to give customers what they want within the limits of what they can afford.”
“The aim is not just to supply two products that can be attached to each other (i.e. breaker and carrier) but a solution to the customer,” he added. “This particular rock breaking solution is a product that is high tuned for a specific task, and the services Volvo offers apply to this component. Supplying the breaker is only one part of the puzzle.”
Mr Talbot said 2013 would be a busy year for Volvo in terms of hydraulic breakers. “February included the introduction of Volvo CE’s hydraulic breaker range for utility machines (mainly Europe). This includes four breaker models for compact excavators, two models for skid steer loaders and a breaker for backhoe loaders.”
Looking ahead, Mr Talbot said the next step in terms of breaker technology could include a focus on power and speed. “Maybe technology will raise the bar and develop on the speed controls that exist today which could see one breaker model becoming suitable for a wider range of applications. Or maybe the key is to go minimalistic, meaning fewer parts, lower breaker weight and more power to widen the carrier’s working range and therefore help to improve overall efficiency. My guess is both actually, but mostly the latter,” he said.
Meanwhile, Doosan product manager for heavy attachments Quentin d’Hérouël said a major focus for his company was making sure that a complete range of weight options were available to customers.
“The new models fill in the gaps in the weight categories so that customers have a true choice when it comes to balancing the energy of a breaker and the weight of its carrier,” Mr d’Hérouël said.
“The DXB 100 has been designed for carriers from 11 to 17 tonnes, while the DXB 170 is for carriers weighing between 18 and 28 tonnes, so we created the DXB 130 to better match the machines from 15 to 22 tonnes,” he explained.
As far as new breakers are concerned, next month will see the largest construction equipment show in the world take place – the Bauma exhibition in Munich, Germany – and visitors can of course expect to see numerous launches in the sector.
Chicago Pneumatic will launch the 2,600 kg RX38 designed for use with carriers from 29 to 46 tonnes. Suitable for medium and heavy industrial demolition, building renovation, road construction, rock excavation and mining, it features the company’s PowerControl Plus that allows the operator to adjust the operational mode of the breaker to the application.
Ramtec will introduce three new breakers under the Robi brand name at the Bauma show. Designed for backhoe loaders, the new models are the BH32, BH40 and BH52 – the BH32 will be on show on the company’s stand with a silenced housing that is for use with 3 to 6.5 tonne carriers.
Rotar is another using the show to launch a new full line of breakers. Called the RHB Series, these are suitable for use on carriers from 1 to 70 tonnes. Claimed to be among the quietest on the market, they feature a design that minimises the number of components that uses just two moving parts.
The new breakers are built as standard on hybrid technology with a power booster. A central lubrication system is available as an option on models from the RHB 140 upwards with optional Power Control that allows the breaker performance to set according to the application is also available from the RHB 260 model upwards.
Sandvik will have four new Rammer branded breakers on its stand in the shape of three new Small Range units and the 5011 in the Large Range. 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 to 5.2 tonnes. They are ideal for the rental sector, said the company, and feature the Constant Blow Energy operating principle for maximum productivity and profitability.
The 5011 model fits between the 4099 and 7013 and is for use with carriers from 43 to 80 tonnes. The new breaker has been designed around the features first seen on the smaller 3288 and 4099 breakers.
Many of these launches illustrate the need for more power in a smaller package, and that is something that applies to premium and no-frills products alike. As global markets change and evolve over the coming years, and today’s emerging markets continue to mature, it will be interesting to see what the next steps in terms of technology for both premium and more basic models will turn out to be.