Equipment Type

The Beauty of The Beast

February 22, 2011

Mark is editor of Demolition & Dismantling, the magazine of the UK’s National Federation of Demolition Contractors, and was recently appointed European Editor of the Swedish-based magazine, Professional Demolition International. Mark has been in construction journalism for 25 years, writing Contract Journal, Plant Managers Journal, International Construction, and Demolition Engineer.

Mark is the founder of the industry news aggregation website and blog, www.demolitionnews.com, and has been appointed webmaster for the National Federation of Demolition Contractors' website, www.demolition-nfdc.com.

It’s not the first and it’s not the biggest. But a new demolition excavator developed jointly by Heavy Decom International and Kocurek Excavators Limited has the ability to rewrite the high-reach rule book.   Mark Anthony met “The Beast” in the flesh.

Historically, innovation plaudits have tended to go to the pioneers and inventors that had pushed the envelope and created something totally new. But, in more recent times, that “first mover advantage”–as it’s known in technology circles–has given way to a more measured approach to innovation in which the latecomers often shine through.   Microsoft wasn’t the first company to propose simple home computing.   But as its dominance of that market testifies, their late arrival on the scene proved no hindrance. Similarly, Apple was not the first to propose an MP3 player, a smartphone or a tablet computer, and yet its iPod, iPhone and iPad are the benchmarks by which others in these highly competitive markets are judged.

So the fact that Heavy Decom International is throwing its hat into the high reach demolition excavator ring a couple of decades late may be perceived by some as poor punctuality, but it will be seen by others as a strategic masterstroke. And the fact that “The Beast” is rolling out of the Kocurek Excavators yard whilst this sector is in a period of reflection and re-evaluation following the fatal accident involving the world’s largest high-reach adds credence to the company’s design concept of less height, more power.

Tried & Tested

In some ways, The Beast sticks with the tried and the tested. The unit is built around a Hitachi EX1200 excavator, a machine that has proved a popular base for high-reach machines in the past. These modifications take the machine from its original 120 tonnes to a meaty 200 tonnes operating weight. And the modifications have been handled by Kocurek which, with 450 high reach excavators under its belt, is widely viewed as the leader in its field.

However, Hardy Worsey and Chris Hinett, the highly experienced two-man team behind Heavy Decom International (HDI) have put their own spin on a machine that, in many ways, marks it as unique.

For one thing, they have eschewed the almost universal clamour for ever higher machines. Standing on tip-toes, The Beast will reach a maximum of 38 metres, leaving it dwarfed by many other machines in the UK and Europe.

HDI has also set aside the notion that a high-reach excavator must spend a large part of its life parked in the contractor’s yard through lack of work. A variety of interchangeable front-ends means that The Beast is equally at home on below-ground mass excavation and groundworks as it is on above-ground demolition.

One of a Kind

But there are three other facets of this development that mark the HDI machine as unique.

Firstly, HDI is not a demolition contractor. Although both Worsey and Hinett have served their time with some of the best-known demolition contractors in Europe, the paid has no intention of going into competition with them.  In fact, HDI is effectively a rental-only operation, able to provide a powerful, productive high-reach excavator with an experienced and well-trained operator for any demolition company at home or overseas.

Another factor that sets the HDI machine aside is that, in order to compete in an international market, it is eminently transportable. The entire machine can be broken down into its constituent parts for transportation in a series of standard ship containers. Upon arrival on site, the machine can be reassembled in under two days (and HDI believes that this figure will fall to a single day with practice and experience).

Fearsome Productivity

The third factor that makes the HDI machine stand out–the one that has earned it the nickname of The Beast–is the punch it packs. By foregoing ludicrous levels of working height, HDI is able to arm its machine with a frightening array of big, heavy and fiercely productive tools.  

At a 26 metre working height, The Beast will happily wield a 25 tonne Genesis attachment large enough to eat buildings for breakfast and still have an appetite. At 33 metres, the machine carries a 12.8 tonne Genesis  GXP1500R. And even at its full 38 metre working height, The Beast will be waving a seven tonne tool.

The team behind The Beast readily admit that their machine is coming to market in the midst of a global recession that continues to hold the demolition market in a vice-like grip. They are mindful of the fact that their “rental-only” business model is, as yet, untried in this sector. And they know that the first-mover advantage ship has long-since sailed.

But, like the iPod, iPhone and iPad, HDI has quite clearly learned from the mistakes and accomplishments of the trailblazers that went before them. The result? This Beast is a beauty!

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