Shearing time - French steel plant falls

By Lindsay Gale31 May 2011

Two techniques at work – the steel wall beams are cut by hand, with the Liebherr waiting with its sh

Two techniques at work – the steel wall beams are cut by hand, with the Liebherr waiting with its shear to push the structure over once the cuts are completed. The machine then processes the resulting

The former Arcelor Mital stainless steel slab production facility at L'Ardoise, southern France, covers a total of 4 hectares. It started production in the 1950s, and in its final life was owned and operated by Arcelor Mital to provide manufacturers of stainless steel products with high quality stainless steel slabs. Despite a reputation for high quality, its location and the transportation issues that resulted saw the plant finally close in 2006.
Since that time, it has lain idle and the decision was finally taken to demolish the buildings and associated plant to free the land up for redevelopment.

Gas release

French industrial demolition specialist Prestosid submitted a bid for the Euro 6.2 million (US$9.2 million) contract and was the resultant winner of the competitive tendering process. The company arrived on site in November 2010, expecting an 11 month period to be required to complete the work. However, work has progressed so well that the work is now expected to be completed five months ahead
of schedule.
An industrial demolition specialist, the company has considerable expertise in the use of gas cutting, in the past its primary demolition technique, but in recent years has also started to make use of modern demolition attachments such as shears and crushers. With a considerable volume of heavy steel beams to deal with on the site, Prestosid decided to upgrade its equipment for the contract and approached Stanley LaBounty with a view to acquiring one of the largest demolition shears available, the company's 20 tonne MSD 9500R. The other issue was a carrier suitable to mount the tool - Prestosid did not have a sufficiently large excavator in its fleet.
Stanley LaBounty's European sales manager Heinz Groppe, working with Philippe Rogué from French LaBountyy dealer Ardennes Tech, identified that a second-hand machine suitable for the task was available in Finland. This was duly purchased and Stanley thus supplied Prestosid with a package consisting of the shear, one of only four in Europe, and a Liebherr R974 VHHD with a 34 m (112 ft) high reach boom - the first true high reach to be owned by the company.
This equipment represents a substantial investment, but Prestosid is confident it is worthwhile - to carry out the work using its existing equipment would have meant a considerably longer period of time would have been required, with all the additional costs this would have incurred.
The high reach with its 2 tonne MSD 1000R shear was initially used to remove the roofs of the various structures, leaving the walls still standing intact, with the aim of minimising dust and noise arising from the internal demolition works impacting on the nearby village of L'Ardoise.
The cladding on the buildings was then removed by the high reach to leave the main structural beams exposed. These are now being carefully cut almost right through using hand torches and once all the main beams in a section of wall structure have been treated in this way, the Liebherr, now mounted with the
20 tonne shear on a short boom, pushes them over. The resulting debris is then processed by the Liebherr and other excavators equipped with smaller shears, to reduce the metal to a size suitable for transport.

Scrap processing

All the scrap metal, consisting of some 36,000 tonnes of debris, remains the property of Arcelor Mital. Prestosid cuts it to a size suitable for transport and it is then loaded onto lorries and transferred to other Arcelor Mital plants in France, where it is recycled during normal steel production. Despite its proximity to nearby residences, the maximum of 12 truckloads a day passing out the plant gates has not created any transport concerns. A small part of the process plant has been bought by Prestosid and then sold on.
All the concrete, 32,000 tonnes in total, is being crushed on used as fill in the numerous belowground elements in the plant. Interestingly, a mobile crusher is not being used to carry out the processing. The material resulting from secondary processing by excavators mounting crushers and pulverisers was sufficiently rapid and of sufficient quality to obviate the need for such equipment on this particular contract.
Ahead of time and on budget - that is the ideal that contractors aim to attain.

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