Power to hand - the latest demolition hand tools
By Lindsay Gale01 April 2009
There may be a continuing effort in the industry to make ever-greater use of machine-mounted attachments, but there will always be some situations where only hand carried tools will do the job. D&Ri reports on some of the latest power tools to come onto the market
While machine-mounted tools may be king in the demolition role outside buildings, and are frequently to be seen being worked indoors, there is no question that there is still considerable scope for the use of hand-held tools, both powered and non-powered. It may be that the work area does not allow for machine access - space constraints, floor loading limits and access points all have a part to play.
As a result, considerable work is carried out by hand on most sites, and tool suppliers are working hard to develop products that provide the desired productivity with minimal adverse impact on their users.
Legislation emanating from the major legislative bodies around the world is currently focussing on one area in particular - vibration effects.
In Europe, the European Commission has implemented Directives that impact both manufacturers and employers alike - machines and equipment must conform to laid down exposure limits in use and employers have a duty of care to ensure that the working practises and equipment their personnel use in their daily work conform to standards and limits on the exposure to vibration.
Like any legislation of this type, what is currently in place is under almost continuous review and the only thing that can be said with any certainty is that it will become more rigorous and demanding over time.
In the USA, meantime, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is currently engaged in a study, due for completion by 2012, that is examining the impact of vibration effects to provide a more comprehensive understanding of hand transmitted vibration, vibration-induced physical responses of the hand and arm, and hand-arm vibration syndrome.
Its results are expected to lead to the creation of new theories on vibration exposure and vibration transmission mechanisms, evaluations of exposure-effect relationships and the establishment of more effective methodologies for assessing exposures and approaches to HTV mitigation.
The programme will also generate improved methodologies and new devices for detecting and evaluating acute health effects and for measuring hand forces and vibration power in field and laboratory studies.
The research products and experimental data generated through this research programme will likely serve as the basis for future recommendations, criteria, guidelines and standards relating to HTV exposures and their consequences.
Given the above, hand tool providers will be looking carefully at their ranges over the coming years and introducing new equipment of all types that meet these ever more challenging demands for ergonomic perfection without adversely affecting efficiency and productivity - R&D will likely demand an increasing share of available financial resources.
D&Ri now takes a snapshot of some of the more recent launches of hand tools onto the market over recent months.
In what almost seems like a contradiction in terms, Chicago Pneumatic has introduced a line of hydraulic hand-held tools. The company has been well know for its pneumatic tools but it believes that hydraulic hand held tools are a perfect choice where small, quick jobs are concerned.
The new range features petrol and diesel driven power packs, a 12 kg (26.4 lb) pick hammer, a range of breakers from 18-33 kg (39.6-72.6 lb), two cut off saws, two sizes of core drill and two submersible pumps. The breaker line is made up of four models (the BRK 40, BRK 55, BRK 70 and BRK95).
These new tools are easy to transport, says the company - a power pack together with a breaker or another tool depending on the application will fit in the back of a van. Another advantage is the fact that hydraulic tools work in a closed circuit, preventing dust and dirt from entering the tools, and they are always lubricated, leading to very low maintenance requirements.
Meanwhile, Hilti has added four new combi-hammers to its range in the shape of the TE 50, TE 60, TE 70 and TE80.
The TE 50 is light and easily handled says the company, and has been designed to work in the 14-25 mm (0.55-1 in) range in concrete, masonry and natural stone. The TE 60 has been designed to work in the 18-30 mm (0.7-1.2 in), again working with concrete, masonry and natural stone, but also for chiselling.
The TE 70 covers a wide range of applications such as heavy hammer drilling in the 22-40 mm (0.9-1.6 in) range, socket cutting in sizes up to 150 mm (6 in) and drilling through-holes for pipes using breach bits up to 80 mm (3.2 in) diameter. The largest new combi, the TE 80, has a powerful 1700 W motor and its design keeps vibration to a low level.
It features a unique grip that is decoupled from the housing in all three dimensions, ensuring additional adsorption of torsional vibration that is usually present in conventional tools. It has been designed for continuous use in hammer drilling in the 22-40 mm range in concrete, masonry and natural stone.
Hilti has been active over recent years in addressing the health issues arising from hand tool vibration, and the two larger new hammers, the TE 60 and TE 80 both sport the company's Active Vibration Reduction system. This has been tuned for maximum efficiency with the tools and reduces vibration by up to two-thirds, claims the company.
A counter-balancing weight absorbs vibration from the entire tool. Since this considerably improves working comfort, it also raises productivity significantly, as well as protecting users from the long-term health risks associated with exposure to vibration.
Netherlands-based Holmatro has added two new cutters to its product line-up. The first, the ICU 05, is the smallest and lightest mobile hydraulic cutter for heavy applications. Manufactured from high-grade aluminium, for safety it features a dead man function, shielded moving parts and must be used using both hands.
The blade design is such that the blades are kept straight relative to each other and cannot become distorted or separated. The cable blades also feature a special protective coating that prevents the material being cut sticking to the blades to provide maximum cutting force and service life.
Cutter blades are interchangeable, allowing the cutter to be used in a wide range of applications, such as cutting steel plate, tubes, pipes and timber.
For those hard to reach places that require hand cutting, Holmatro has combined with the Dutch Institute of Technology to product the ICU 02 A 40. Using the new cutter can minimise the stresses on the human body that can result from working in unusual positions, physical exertion and the constant need to change tools during the work.
The ICU 02 is especially suitable for cutting wiring, cables and piping in hard to reach locations and is a good alternative to traditional hand cutters.
While perhaps only scratching the surface of new hand tools, from the above it is clear that manufacturers are playing their part in developing hand tools that provide the optimum of ergonomic design with efficiency.
It is down to users to ensure that these and other products are used in the appropriate manner to avoid falling foul of increasingly demanding legislation concerning health and safety in the workplace.