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Small but strong.

As the demolition and C&D recycling industries become more sophisticated, smaller equipment, such as compact excavators and skid-steer loaders, are becoming increasingly popular on job sites. Their comparatively light weight and compact shape makes them ideal for work in tight spaces--just the kind of work demanded in controlled demolition jobs or interior refurbishment projects. And with the aresenal of attachments available to be used with compact equipment, mini-excavators and skid steers can tackle a number of tasks from loading, material handling and site clean up to actual demolition.

However, with their increased presence on demolition and C&D recycling job sites comes a number of challenges. Demolition and C&D are some of the toughest applications equipment can face, and operators must be aware of the best ways to maintain a machine in a demolition environment to keep it performing at optimum levels.


Maintenance challenges multiply when operating heavy equipment in an environment as harsh as demolition or handling C&D debris. "The nature of demo work is a harsher environment," says Kelly Moore, skid steer product manager for Mustang Manufacturing Co., Owantonna, Minn. "You have a lot of dust and dirt in the atmosphere and you're running [the machine] at different temperatures."

The demanding environment amplifies the need to keep on top of regular maintenance.

"These applications involve a great deal of airborne dust and falling, even flying, debris," says Dan Smith, brand marketing manager for New Holland, Carol Stream, III. "Important daily maintenance tasks assume an even higher priority in these situations if you are to keep the machine running optimally."

In fact, Moore recommends not only sticking to the maintenance routine provided by the equipment's manufacturer, but going above and beyond those recommendations. "Maintenance must be [performed] to the requirements in the manual, even accelerated," Moore says. "Do it earlier than recommended to be safe and ensure uptime."

Many manufacturers identified greasing as one of the daily maintenance requirements to perform early and often on compact excavators and skid steers used in demolition applications. "Greasing often prevents premature wear from accumulation of particulates in pin to bushing contact areas," Smith says. "Without a regular, even constant flow of grease from these areas, small particles can [cause] big damage and require service to repair, which is always more costly than regular maintenance when downtime is considered along with the repair costs."

Greasing is a primary maintenance consideration, says Dan Rafferty, compact product manager for JCB Inc., Pooler, Ga. "Grease is one of the cheapest items to add to a machine that will return a huge savings in repairs and bushings."

Dust can also wreak havoc on a machine's cooling system, warns Smith. "Over-heating can result when dust accumulates in cooling systems. This can happen more quickly in some systems than others," he says. Smith advocates the use of "pusher style" fans, saying the system is less likely to allow particles to accumulate between fins and inside the openings of radiator systems, reducing the surface area available for heat exchange and subsequently, their cooling efficiency. "Even so," Smith says, "all cooling systems should be regularly inspected and cleaned to remove anything which may be lodged that reduces the ability of a machine to cool itself."

Taking the time for the everyday manufacturer-recommended maintenance is essential to keeping a machine up in a demolition environment, says Art Desmarais, owner of Northwood, N.H.-based Desmarais & Son Construction, which owns two Mustang compact excavators and a Mustang model 2066 skid steer. "Taking the time to inspect booms and lifting arms for cracks, damage and leakage every day is good maintenance, along with checking the oil, air filters, etc.," he says.

In addition to keeping a strict maintenance schedule, there are other ways operators can keep their compact equipment running effectively in demolition environments.


There are several ways operators can safeguard their machines before they even get to the job sites.

"Since demolition is considered a severe-duty application, make sure that your skid-steer loader is set up for the rigors of demolition use," says Jim Hughes, product marketing manager for Case Construction Equipment, Racine, Wis. "Options like a heavy-duty rear door, lexan front door, solid tires and high flow hydraulics are ideal for demolition applications."

Moore also recommends solid tires for compact excavators and skid steers working in demolition environments. "A severe-duty or solid type tire is truly mandatory in a demolition application," Moore says.

Even with a solid tire, the environment is still going to cause some wear and tear. "It's going to vary with the operator and the environment. "If he's running continuously on concrete and rebar, it's going to seriously affect the life expectancy [of the tire]," Moore says.

Operators of machines in demolition applications should also take care to protect their equipment, and themselves, from falling objects, Smith advises. He says most compact excavators in North America include ROPS/FOPS (Rollover Protective Structures/Falling Object Protective Structures) Level II protection as standard equipment for that reason.

Smith also advises using additional protection when using a hammer for actual demolition tasks. "When using a hammer in particular, additional protection should be provided in the direction of flying debris, such as rock chips. Your local dealer can provide specific solutions to protect the operator and machine as much as possible," Smith says.

Another safety consideration is visibility, according to Jordan Opdahl of Nova Contracting, Chehalis, Wash. Opdahl owns a Case 465 skid steer and says hitting other objects on site is among his safety concerns. "If the operator doesn't have a good feel for the machine, it's easy for him to get disoriented and bump into things," he says. Good communication on the job site is the best way to prevent this. "Make sure you know where everybody is."

Compact equipment like mini-excavators and skid steers have become indispensable tools for demolition contractors and C&D recyclers--and they're likely to stay that way. With a few special maintenance considerations, operators can make sure they keep their machines running optimally in even the most demanding applications. "Take care of the machines, and they will take care of you," says Desmarais.
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Title Annotation:EQUIPMENT FOCUS; demolition machine's protective maintainence, safety measures
Author:Gubeno, Jackie
Publication:Construction & Demolition Recycling
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2006
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