Many current breakers feature dust suppression technology that keeps out dust, debris and other foreign objects. "This will prolong the life of the bushing and reduce the amount of chisel paste needed to keep it lubricated," notes Elliott.
Of course, adequate lubrication is still critical to enhancing the life of the attachment, since it reduces wear and can help prevent debris from working its way up through the hammer. Consequently, automatic lubrication systems are becoming much more prevalent as a means to save time over manual greasing.
Devices such as the ContiLube II system on Atlas Copco breakers automatically grease the tool and bushing during operation. "This [in turn] increases production because the operator does not have to stop and grease the tool and bushing on the intervals of at least every two hours," says Elliott. "It is fully adjustable to ensure that the proper amount of chisel paste is being consumed for each application."
Another feature found in many breakers is automatic power adjustment, referred to by some manufacturers as material-sensing technology, automatic variable flow, etc. The concept behind the technology focuses on increasing or decreasing the cycle of the piston based on the resistance of the intended target.
For example, if you're breaking a soft material, you may not need the full impact of the tool. "The attachment automatically changes the speed and impact energy [based on] how much energy is needed to break the material," says Elliott. This improves production, since you're not wasting impact energy on material that doesn't need the full energy the breaker can produce.
Even with the availability of automatic adjustment, Meisel stresses the importance of matching the breaker to the job and the carrier. "We work with customers to get the right size of breaker because that will give them the best efficiency," he states.
"Understand what features are on the machine and if the features of a particular breaker will increase your production and decrease your maintenance costs," adds Elliott.
Size to material and conditions
When sizing a hammer, pay attention to the applications and types of materials the hammer will encounter.
"Usually, you can mount three or four different size breakers on a carrier," Elliott notes. "If you have a 30-metric ton carrier and you're going to be breaking up a bridge deck, you may not need the biggest breaker the carrier can handle. You may be able to use a smaller size breaker to do the job or task. On the other hand, if you're using a 30-metric ton carrier for trench work in an area with extremely hard rock, then it may be necessary to get a larger sized carrier and breaker to complete the job in the time frame required."
Compact carriers with smaller breakers are typically preferred for work performed overhead or horizontally, because there is less force needed from those direct angles. However, if you're working over an embankment, you will likely need a larger breaker.
A larger model is also typically required if you're working in a trench to break apart rock. "There is dirt and other objects around what you're trying to break. They hold the energy in," Meisel explains. "If you hit a rock on top of the ground, it will split wide open. But if that same rock is surrounded by mud, it will take a lot more energy to break it because... the ground surrounding that rock is absorbing the impact energy."
Take into account the material type and condition, as well. Are you working in soft, medium or hard rock? Does the material contain cracks and crevasses, or is it solid? What is the average thickness of the material?
"Small breakers are not efficient for thick concrete, and large breakers might be 'overkill' for softer rock," Smith points out. "Also consider if the concrete has reinforcing steel in it. The thicker the concrete and more steel reinforcement, the bigger the hydraulic breaker will have to be to break it productively."
"You need to know what you're using the hammer for," agrees Meisel. "That way you won't be overpaying for a breaker that is larger than you need, nor will you have to pay to make repairs on a breaker that is too small."