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18 · Members In Action

D & D Autumn 08


Liebherr’s monster 120 tonne R984C has been given the Kocurek treatment to produce what currently ranks as one of the high reach demolition excavators currently operating in Europe.

Demolition and Dismantling caught up with the £1.5 million machine last month in Smethwick, West Midlands, where the machine’s owner, Coleman & Company, is demolishing a 17-storey block of 1960s flats for Sandwell MBC. Weighing in excess of 200 tonnes when equipped with its 65 metre high-reach boom and demolition attachments, the state-of-the-art machine provides Coleman with the unique capability to mechanically demolish high-rise structures up to 22-storeys above ground level. Coleman says the new machine sets a new benchmark in high- reach demolition. Mark Coleman, contracts and safety director, says it will come into its own where explosive solutions are ruled out. “Explosive engineering projects usually mean people need to be evacuated from the surrounding area. This is not always possible, especially when some residents can’t be moved due to health reasons, as we discovered some 18 months ago when we were engaged on a demolition project adjacent to a care home,” he says. “High reach

19 · Members In Action

capability would have been great in that situation.” “The new machine also has the potential to deliver improved safety performance. For a long time we have been committed to managing risks in accordance with the hierarchy of control. If site conditions enable us to use high-reach technology as an alternative to deconstruction we remove the need for operatives working at height, which is great

news.” The new machine was

developed jointly under a three- party agreement between Coleman, Liebherr and Ipswich- based Kocurek Excavators. “What makes this development so unique is the way the design and build team have co- operated from day one to deliver what really is an exceptionally high quality piece of engineered plant,” says managing director, David Coleman. “With an investment of some £1.5 million in what is new technology, my directors and I insisted on this joint stakeholder approach to the project as a way of building our confidence and spreading the development risk.” Coleman has a long working relationship with Liebherr, which

produces its own range of demolition excavators from 18 up to 41 metres reach. But, says Darren Bennet, Liebherr’s product manager for large excavators, it has not extended the range beyond that due to the limited number of such machines currently being sold globally. “It was decided that for this project we would work with Kocurek and offer them technical assistance throughout the project. Liebherr will now see how well this first machine performs and if it is successful we will work with Kocurek again in the future in this specialist sector of the demolition market. The Liebherr R984C is bigger and more powerful than its rivals in the 100 tonne plus class, being powered by a Cummins six-cylinder in-line engine developing 504 kW. Liebherr provided a number of components from its demolition range, including a complete demolition cabin, a specially designed extra-heavy counterweight, and some equipment castings. Meanwhile specialist engineering skills and fabrication of the demolition arm were undertaken by Kocurek at Ipswich. It estimates some

D & D Autumn 08

6,000 man-hours were expended on the project between delivery of the base unit in March and completion in August. Ron Callan, Kocurek’s sales manager, says the Coleman machine is the most comprehensive re-engineering project the firm has undertaken to date. “The infinitely adjustable boom gives an exceptional working envelope,” he says. The machine is provided with a choice of two dipper arm arrangements; one, for its maximum height, carries a 2 tonne demolition tool, but this could ultimately be increased to 3 tonnes. The second arm has been designed to take a 6 tonne attachment, allowing an operational height of 40 metres. Modifications to the 984 include two extra hoist rams, bringing to four the total available to lift the demolition arm into position. Of particular note is Kocurek’s solution using internal hydraulic rams for mounting and removing the rear counterweight, while the machine is equipped with hydraulically extending and retracting track frames to reduce width during transportation.

Also, the demolition arm is removed using a combination of specially engineered trestles which are adjusted hydraulically to compensate for uneven ground conditions and hydraulically retractable boom pins to speed up the rigging and de-rigging process. This reduces the weight of the machine considerably and improves site access. The attachment includes a split intermediate dipper to aid transport. “Without the split, the intermediate dipper would have made the unit too high to transport and it would then have to be dismantled it for transportation. That would have made transportation both time consuming and expensive,” says Callan. The machine is already in big demand. Upon completion of the Smethwick contract it will move on to demolish a 55 metre concrete structure, also in the West Midlands, followed by a 60 metre high reinforced concrete chimney adjacent to the main railway line into Birmingham’s busy New Street station. More tower block demolition work is earmarked for the end of the year.

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