Demolition, like every industry, is constantly evolving. To keep ahead of the curve, contractors seek machines and methods that increase productivity while decreasing the physical toll on workers.
Concrete sawing is a viable option for fast, effective removal. However, savvy contractors are finding that adding remote-control demolition robots to their sawing operation not only increases safety and versatility, but also allows them to reduce bid prices and maximize profits. Here’s how.
Complete Jobs Faster
Take a wall sawing job, for example. Removing a 10-by-3-m (32.8-by-9.8 ft.) wall in a confined space with a saw requires, on average, 25 cuts. Depending on depth, this might take several passes. Once cut, the concrete blocks need to be broken down for easier removal. The whole process would take at least four days with two saws and require a crew of at least three—two to run the saws and at least one more to handle removal.
Using a remote-control demolition robot can cut the time in half. Rates vary based on machine, material and depth, but demolition robots are capable of extraordinary productivity—up to 5 cubic meters (176.6 cu. ft.) per hour in some cases. Duke Long, founder and president of Interstate Sawing & Demolition, explains, “Old school laborers were down on their hands and knees, drilling, breaking and manually lifting concrete slabs. And, when you’re cutting them to lift them yourself, the concrete needs to be cut into smaller sections. In contrast, demolition robots cut through the old concrete and easily lift a six-by-six slab of concrete without requiring any manual labor.”
To remove the earlier-mentioned 10-by-3-m wall, the contractor still requires perimeter cuts to avoid transferring vibration to surrounding structures. After that, the demolition robot and a single operator can quickly break up the concrete into more manageable pieces.
Heavily reinforced concrete removal applications such as bank vaults are another area where a demolition robot can reduce removal time by more than half. The robot works its way across the surface, breaking concrete and exposing the rebar for cutting with a torch. This method greatly reduces diamond costs from standard methods such as core drilling, wire sawing and wall sawing.
Additionally, demolition robots reduce the need for scaffolding on larger vertical demolition projects since some models can reach up to 5 m (16.4 ft.). This can save up to a week before and after the project, shortening the length of the job and freeing up crews for additional revenue-producing work.
Keep Operators Out of Harm’s Way
Machine reach, paired with a 300-m. (984-ft.) remote operating distance, also keeps workers away from jobsite dangers such as falling objects, flying debris, weak floors, ledges and silica dust.
However, limiting the human element in the more manual aspects of concrete cutting is perhaps the biggest safety advantage. Using a demolition robot minimizes the need for handheld saws, coring equipment or pneumatic breakers. Handheld pneumatic equipment—some of which can weigh 40 lbs. (18 kilograms) or more—can easily fatigue workers and lead to long-term vibration-related injuries. Robotic demolition also creates smaller rubble that is more easily lifted and removed, further reducing strain on workers.
Long found that his Experience Modifier Rate (EMR) trended downward once he started using remote-controlled demolition robots. Insurance companies calculate the EMR by looking at a company’s safety record and using it to gauge future chances of risk. The higher the EMR, the costlier the insurance premiums. Between 2015 and 2020, Long’s business’s EMR reached the lowest achievable rate in the industry at 0.073. He’s found that large companies won’t consider contractors if they have a high modification rate. So, the lower the modification rate, the easier it is to win bids on projects.
Versatility With A Range Of Attachments
Attachments can further increase jobsite versatility. A crusher attachment, for example, is quieter than a saw or handheld pneumatic breakers. This opens up new opportunities in areas where saws would be too noisy, such as near hospitals or schools.
A demolition robot with the right array of attachments not only increases productivity, but also limits the need for additional support equipment on congested jobsites. Crusher attachments allow for the breaking up and disposal of concrete and rebar on site. Vacuum lifting attachments increase productivity while moving concrete slabs.
“Our demolition robots break, crush, cut and lift,” Long explains. “We have a multitude of attachments for our machines to increase their versatility on a concrete cutting jobsite, including buckets, crushers, breakers, rock drills, shears and plungers. Really, the limit of these robots is your imagination.”
Concrete sawing contractors like Long at Interstate Sawing & Demolition, who supplement their operation with remote-control demolition robots can do jobs faster, safer and with less overhead. It’s that simple. What used to take a week with a large crew can now be done in just a few days with a small crew and a single machine. Once the first job is done, they can quickly move on to the next, doubling productivity. Labor and diamond savings add up, as does the profit margin with each extra job they can take on. Additionally, they benefit from a healthy, happy workforce.
Demolition robots won’t replace concrete sawing, but, as part of a versatile operation, it can easily open up doors—or bank vaults—to increased profits.