3 Tips to Consider When Entering the High-Reach Demolition Market
There’s a saying I like — you can do a small job with a big machine, but not vice versa. Not enough contractors realize those words apply to high-reach excavators. The result: They miss out on an opportunity.
Whether you are a smaller contractor looking to get into demolition or you want to start bidding on larger demo projects, you should consider a high-reach demolition excavator. A common misconception about these machines is that they have a limited use. Yes, they are designed for high-reach projects. However, if you have the right machine, there is no reason they cannot be multi-use tools capable of working on all your jobs.
If you are a contractor considering making the leap to the high-reach demolition market, here are three tips to help you in the decision-making process.
#1 – Selecting the right boom configuration
It’s important that you choose a high-reach excavator that has boom options that will allow you to compete for the demolition jobs you want to go after and offer you the versatility to take on a variety of jobs.
For example, with commercial high-rises, like a hotel, the structure may have lighter steel at the top of the building, so you’ll want to prioritize maximum pin height over tool weight, because you may only need a mid-size tool.
For the middle of a building or a mid-sized structure, like an industrial building, you won’t need as much height, but you will need a stronger tool that can cut through that stronger material.
The strongest, thickest material is often at the bottom of a structure. You won’t need as much height, but you will need a boom configuration that can support a heavier tool. The same goes for processing material at or near ground level.
Finally, just because it’s a high-reach excavator doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to use it for digging or earth-moving. Look for a machine with a digging boom option for added versatility.
Volvo’s newest demolition excavator, the EC750E HR high-reach excavator, offers an example of what you could look for. The EC750E HR has two high-reach demolition boom sets and one digging boom set with an extension:
- High-reach boom with a 118-foot maximum pin height while carrying a tool of up to 8,000 pounds
- High-reach boom with an 85-foot maximum pin height while carrying a tool of up to 11,000 pounds
- Digging boom set with a 14.4-foot extension allows for a 59-foot pin height
#2 – Choosing factory-built vs. aftermarket customization
After you’ve determined what boom configurations you need, you’ll want to evaluate whether you should work with a third party to convert a standard excavator into a high-reach machine or if you should purchase a factory-built high-reach excavator.
Something to keep in mind with a third-party boom is that adding that to your excavator means the machine has essentially been built twice: first as a standard excavator, then with the high-reach boom added on. Now you’re dealing with two companies when it comes to repairs, warranties and other issues. I’ve seen many contractors get stuck in the middle when a problem arises, with the other two parties blaming each other. A factory-built high-reach excavator means service needs only require one call and parts can come faster.
Also, consider the performance advantages of having a machine that is designed to do high-reach demolition work. From the platform to the cab to safety features — a purpose-built machine was designed and manufactured to do the work you’re asking it to do. For example, Volvo machines have factory-fit demolition guarding kits that provide maximum protection to the machine, cab structure and operator. Replacement guard parts, if needed, are all factory supplied and available through your supporting dealer.
Factory-built also means changing out the boom and attachments is easier. For example, watch this time-lapse video of a single operator swapping out a high-reach boom for a digging boom and arm on a Volvo EC480E HR high-reach excavator in 45 minutes without assistance from another laborer.
For more information on differences between factory-fitted and aftermarket excavators, read this blog post I wrote last year.
#3 – Design differentiators
If you decide to go with a factory-built machine, know that there are design differences between brands. Some I’ve already touched on, such as the boom configurations that are offered and the ability to easily change between high-reach and digging configurations. Another is the hydraulically tilted cab on Volvo high-reach excavators, enhancing visibility and reducing operator fatigue and neck strain.
Interestingly, it’s a component that’s close to the ground — the undercarriage — where a lot of other differentiators are. Look for a high-reach excavator with an undercarriage that provides a larger footprint for added stability. A retractable undercarriage that expands can also provide additional stability when needed. Also, a hydraulic extendable undercarriage allows for a 360-degree working range, decreasing the time spent repositioning the machine. It can also be helpful if the undercarriage features easy-to-remove track frames and the ability to self-disassemble and reassemble for easier transportation.
In the end, there are a lot of considerations when picking the right high-reach demolition excavator. If your business is ready to go to the next level, contact me and we’ll help you find the right fit.