Demolition work is often associated with brute force. It not only requires a fair amount of experience and a proper understanding of what has to be done, the right kind of equipment can also make the difference
"Nowadays, demolition contractors have to meet increasingly stringent standards," said Aster De Meuter. "Sometimes we have to gut office buildings which are not completely vacated and must remain operational. In such cases, noise is a major handicap. That is why we often use Atlas Copco vibro-silenced hydraulic breakers, which are proven to be one of the most silent product on the market."
A multitude of factors must be taken into account if you want to do demolition jobs in a professional manner. For De Meuter, the safety of its own staff and that of third parties was particularly important. Not only that but the site's location, the condition of the building, and the disadvantages associated with noise, dust and vibrations were important to consider. Added to that was the ability to recycle most of the demolition material as another critical factor. All which called for a substantial amount of experience.
The demolition of the IPM building in the Jacqmainlaan, Brussels, which had housed the old printing shop of the La Libre Belgique newspaper, is a good example. At the time the building was constructed, the foundation for the printing presses inside the printing shop were more than 6.5 feet (2 m) thick and consisted of heavily reinforced concrete with an extraordinarily high rebar density. The demolition of this foundation required an extra powerful hydraulic breaker.
"Usually our heavy-duty Atlas Copco HB 3000, which is part of our standard machinery, should fill the bill," Aster De Meuter explained. "But the particularly durable structure of the foundations and the location of the site in the heart of Brussels required a different approach."
After a few days, the progress achieved with two four-ton hydraulic breakers was behind schedule and a different solution had to be found. The Atlas Copco HB 7000, with a service weight of 7.7 tons (7,000 kg), seemed to be a good alternative.
"With the AutoControl feature, it is exactly the breaker we needed: an automatic change-over of the number of blows controlling the impact energy to impact frequency ratio in such a way that the maximum performance is available at all times with a minimum of disturbance for the vicinity," Aster de Meuter explained.
In solid material, the AutoControl increased the impact energy and decreased the impact frequency. As soon as the reinforced concrete gave way, the impact energy was reduced and the impact frequency was increased.
Experience showed that the special combination of impact energy and impact frequency was the decisive element, boosting demolition progress and minimizing the disturbance caused by noise, vibration and dust.
A test supplied proof. After only one day, the HB 7000 already demolished more than its two smaller "brothers" did in one week.