Break it right - choosing demolition attachments for maximum synergy

Understand demolition attachments for perfect pairing.
Francois Martin, general manager, Kinshofer North America
July 10, 2018
By Francois Martin, general manager, Kinshofer North America
Grapples are a good choice for lighter materials because of their mobility and the option to move material around after the initial tear-down.
Grapples are a good choice for lighter materials because of their mobility and the option to move material around after the initial tear-down.
It could be argued a good beer goes well with just about anything. After a hot summer day on a demolition job, though, a light beer with lime will probably taste more refreshing than a heavy stout. Finding that perfect malt after a long day feels great, and finding a perfect-fitting demolition attachment will get that beer served up a lot sooner.

With hundreds of sizes and styles of demolition attachments on the market — from small grapples to massive pulverizers — it’s not as easy as picking one, attaching it to an excavator and expecting top production. Like a good beer, some tools just fit better at different times.

Knock out jobs faster by refining the demolition attachment selection process. Consider the application, the carrier, the return on investment and more to determine the perfect match.

Making the perfect match
First, consider the type of work the attachment will perform. From primary to secondary demolition and from rebar-enforced concrete to wood and brick, the application should be the first factor to guide an attachment choice.

When starting to demolish a structure, multi-quick processors, shears, crushers, pulverizers and demolition grapples tend to be the top picks for primary demolition. The choice between them depends on the type of material and how it needs to be broken up.

Crusher and pulverizer attachments, for example, best tackle jobs made up of mostly concrete. Choose a crusher — or “cracker” — if the structure is composed of concrete with little or no rebar and if it’s necessary to break the concrete into chunks large enough for easy sorting and recycling. A pulverizer attachment better handles concrete that’s heavily reinforced with rebar. Unlike the crusher attachment, the pulverizer will break the concrete into small pieces and cut through the embedded rebar, allowing the concrete to fall to the ground rather than hang on to the rebar.

Pulverizers also can break concrete into manageable sizes during secondary demolition. If the demolition involves both crushing concrete and cutting steel, contractors should consider combi-crushers that incorporate both cutting edges and teeth.

If concrete isn’t part of the demolition picture but steel is, a demolition processor with shear jaws or a mobile shear attachment will work best since they cut through steel better than a tool meant for multiple types of material.

When working jobs with light materials — such as wood and brick, commonly found in residential demolition — use a demolition grapple. Besides breaking apart materials, rotating grapples work well for sorting during secondary demolition and increase versatility and productivity by allowing a wide range of movement.

For versatility across different
demolition jobs, a multi-quick processor often fits best. The attachment’s interchangeable jaws handle numerous materials. The jaw types include crushers, pulverizers, a combination of both, and steel-cutting jaws. Some manufacturers offer additional specialty options, such as jaws for cutting through timber in the forest industry; jaws for cutting steel tanks, pipes and vessels; and highly powerful jaws for heavily reinforced concrete.

While multi-quick processors may cost more than other attachments – approximately 15 to 20 per cent more than crushers for example – they more than make up for that difference in their versatility achievable through the interchangeable jaw sets.

 

Powered up
After determining the best type of attachment for the job, consider the technology powering the tool. Cylinders power demolition attachments and typically the larger the cylinder, the more powerful the tool. Because of this, contractors seeking more demolition power in the past had to buy or rent a larger excavator to handle the larger attachment. That’s no longer the case.

As manufacturers incorporate more technology into attachments, some are achieving as much as 25 per cent more power without increasing the cylinder size. To pull this off, manufacturers build additional chambers into the cylinder to allow for as much as 20 per cent more surface area. Often, this results in an attachment with the same power as a tool two sizes larger. For example, in a crusher it means that a section of concrete that may take a competitive attachment five or six “bites” to break through only takes the tool with the enhanced cylinder technology one or two.

This technology gives contractors access to higher crushing and cutting forces they previously couldn’t have had without the huge expenses of a larger tool as well as a bigger carrier to operate.

When determining the attachment best suited for the application and power rating, look for a product that is durable and easy to service. Some attachments may seem great up front, but end up being a nightmare of downtime and repair costs.

One method for choosing a low-maintenance attachment is to find a tool with no or very few protruding parts, such as hydraulic hoses. These can be easily damaged during operation, particularly in harsh demolition environments. Look for attachments with these components enclosed within the tool yet are easy to access through service openings.

Also keep wear parts in mind. Shear and crushing attachments’ cutting edges and teeth need to be replaced when worn. Exchangeable cutting edges are an industry standard, but it’s still smart to ensure they are available.

When considering multi-quick processors, pay attention to how quickly jaws can be switched out. Some manufacturers build multi-quick processors with jaws that operators can change within minutes on site, compared to the hours needed to bring many other attachments back to the shop to exchange. Workers only need to manually remove one pin from quick-exchange models during change-outs, compared to three from many other manufacturers’ processors. The rest of the jaw exchange process is done hydraulically from the safety of the cab. This system not only removes the hassle of pounding out two or three pins, but virtually eliminates the danger of the jaw falling and injuring a worker after the last pin is removed.

Just like with beer, the best tool depends on the situation. Seasoned buyers and industry newbies can all benefit from taking a careful look at their options and requirements while searching for a new attachment.

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