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The right robot

Five key components in a hydrodemolition machine.


April 19, 2021
By Keith Armishaw

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Hydrodemolition offers contractors a number of benefits. From productivity to peace of mind, concrete demolition contractors have found great success with this robotic method. 

However, not all hydrodemolition machines are created equal, and maximizing safety and efficiency means taking a look under the hood, so to speak.  

There are five key components that your customers need to consider when selecting a hydrodemolition robot.

Equal distance control Maintaining a close and constant working distance between the nozzle and concrete maximizes efficiency. With a standard system, operators can experience as much as 10 inches of variance as the water jet moves to the extreme left and right across the work surface. This variance leads to a loss of as much as 20 percent of the power before the water hits the concrete, greatly reducing productivity and increasing waste. Hydrodemolition robots with advanced systems are able to maintain a preset distance from the nozzle to the concrete surface, regardless of the attack angle of the water jet, allowing for precise, controlled concrete removal over the entire work surface. This saves energy and removes concrete more efficiently both above and below the rebar. Overall, this advanced system allows operators to effectively remove 20 percent more concrete per pump hour compared to standard systems. 

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Ceramic nozzles Inefficient nozzles waste time and increase operating costs. Steel might be stronger than ceramic in some situations, but not when it comes to nozzles for hydrodemolition applications. Depending on water quality, ceramic nozzles from innovative manufacturers can last more than 350 hours, compared to less than 50 hours with standard steel nozzles. Using steel, a contractor would need to replace a single nozzle more than 10 times during the lifetime of one ceramic nozzle. And while steel nozzles are readily available at a lower cost than ceramic, more frequent changeouts mean contractors end up spending $300 to $1,000 on steel nozzles before replacing one ceramic nozzle. This results in thousands of dollars over the course of the hydrodemolition robot’s lifetime.

Computerized robotic management Control is necessary to be efficient, and efficiency leads to profitability. Hydrodemolition robots with an advanced-but-intuitive robotic control system give operators futuristic levels of precision. Using cutting-edge technology, these systems allow operation at different depths in the same pass. A state-of-the-art display panel uses clear and simple symbols combined with multi-language text, making it very easy to program the most advanced operations, including geometrical figures such as circles, triangles, squares and rhombuses.

Versatility Accessories are vital to maximizing a hydrodemolition robot’s value. Accessories increase the robot’s capabilities, helping contractors complete challenging projects in tough-to-reach areas or hazardous conditions. Look for hydrodemolition robots with a full suite of attachments for maximum versatility. This can include extension kits and spines to extend the robot’s reach. Depending on an operation’s service offerings, though, it might also include rotolances for surface preparation or circular attachments for concreate removal around pillars and columns. Some manufacturers also offer kits especially designed for applications in pipes and tunnels.

Hassle-free transport Trailers add additional purchase and maintenance costs. Some manufacturers offer a unique solution with a self-contained high-pressure pump and engine system. Housed within a 20-foot container, these compact units provide ample space for transporting the robot and accessories, eliminating the need for a transport trailer altogether. On the jobsite these units can provide a secure work area, with amenities such as a built-in workbench with a vise that provide contractors a space for jobsite maintenance and a place to store spare parts. Advanced silent-running units are also available that further decrease overall costs. These units can reduce idle time by as much as 50 percent, while operating as high as 3,000 bar.

Like any piece of equipment, the safety and productivity of hydrodemolition robots depends on available features. For maximum efficiency, look to partner with innovative manufacturers for the most advanced machines.  


By Keith Armishaw, business development manager for Aquajet’s North American subsidiary