Home Masterbuilder Attachments: The Unsung Heroes

Attachments: The Unsung Heroes

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The growth of the Indian construction equipment market has also created a market for attachments. Used most commonly with excavators, attachments are not usually given the credit they deserve. In order to get a perspective of the key role performed by attachments, one just needs to think of an excavator without an attachment like a bucket crusher or a grappler. It is actually the attachment that makes the excavator or the backhoe loader the mean machine that it is in reality. The sharp rise in the market for excavators and backhoe loaders has automatically meant a significant rise in the market for attachments. While industry estimates suggest that around 24,000 backhoe loaders would be sold in 2011 in India, the corresponding figures for excavators is pegged at about 12,000 units. The market for attachments is estimated to be growing at a healthy rate of 20% -25% and is expected to double by the end of the next Five Year Plan period in 2017.

While the spurt in infrastructure and realty projects have been among the top contributory factors for the growth of the market, demolition is another area that has resulted in a variety of attachments being used along with construction equipment. For example, grapples, hydraulic breakers and grapples are now in demand, thanks to the rise in demolition projects. With realty space being sold at a premium, particularly in major cities, developers have been forced to look at pulling down old structures to come up with new buildings.

Demolition in crowded urban areas presents its own unique set of challenges, and this is where attachments have come to the rescue of contractors. Controlled demolition has also picked up because of the need for recycling debris. Since the method allows for selective demolition, it is increasingly becoming the norm rather than the exception these days. This apart, attachments meant for loading and grading of roads are also in demand with the country embarking on an ambitious road development spree.  Let us take a look at the various types of excavator attachments that are available in the Indian market and the technology behind them that makes them such an indispensable part of the construction industry.

Several new models of excavator attachments are expected to be launched during Excon 2011. Volvo India Private Limited, the Indian subsidiary of Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) will be launching two new attachments. In an interaction with The Masterbuilder, Mr.A.M.Muralidharan, Managing Director of the company said, “With Excon being one of the premier industry events in India, Volvo CE will be launching five new machines as well as new attachments. The new range of products includes L220G wheel loader, EC700 crawler excavator, DD100 asphalt compactor, EC210B and EC290B excavator along with VEP Teeth and Rock breaker.” Other leading players in the field are also expected to launch a slew of new products during the event.

With the attachment market growing by the day, let us take a look at some of the types of attachments that are being used in the country today.

Bucket Crushers

It is difficult to imagine any large infrastructure project site without the sight of bucket crushers. They have quite literally become the most important piece of attachment, being used with both excavators and backhoe loaders. It is however, important that the right size bucket is used for the job, since they are at the receiving end of huge breakout forces. Some of the leading names offering bucket crushers include MB S.p.A, JCB India, Ermotec, Bull Machines, Transmech Systems, Aura Bucket Crushers, Suretech Infrastructure, etc, to mention only some.

With project sizes increasing there has been a steady rise in the demand for buckets with load capacity of more than 1 cubic metre. The importance of choosing the right type of bucket was aptly summed up by Mr.Asger Faquih, Managing Director, Ermotec International Pvt Ltd, when he observed ,” To increase profitability, life and safety, we must select the right attachment based on the nature of work, i.e., general purpose buckets, heavy duty bucket, rock bucket, rippers and grapples, along with suitable quick couplers.”Suppliers are also focusing on offering superior hydraulics since it is perhaps the most key feature of bucket crushers. Several leading players are expected to exhibit their range of bucket crushers during Excon 2011.

Couplers

Attaching the attachments to the excavators or backhoe loaders are the couplers. Perhaps, among all the different types of attachments, the most intense competition prevails among coupler manufacturers. The competition has meant that suppliers are focusing on offering models made from abrasion resistant, high quality steel, which makes them lightweight and yet suited for tough jobs. Manufacturers have also been careful to design them in order to take on the rigors of often tough working conditions in India, where typically construction equipment such as excavators and backhoe loaders are put through more number of work cycles, as compared to the developed world.

Hydraulic Breakers

Several models of hydraulic breakers are now available in the Indian market. With the impetus given to the road sector and with the rise in highway projects, there has been particular increase in demand for rock breakers that are used for asphalt cutting and removal. With road recycling projects being encouraged asphalt cutting and reuse is an area that is growing in the country. Secondary hard rock segmentation is another area where hydraulic rock breakers are widely used.  They are also being extensively used for demolition work, especially high reach demolition jobs, , apart from applications such as concrete cutting in the country. Sandvik is considered an industry leader in offering hydraulic breakers and hammers for demolition jobs. Going into the details of the company’s products Mr. Raghavan Ramaswamy, Vice President (Construction Segment), of the company explained, “Sandvik launched its Basic Breaker line in India during Bauma 2011. Simple in design, Sandvik’s new Basic Line utilises fewer working parts for reduced maintenance, together with lower ownership and operating costs. The Basic Line Breakers includes many innovative design elements; they possess a sealed nitrogen piston type accumulator in order to protect the carrier’s hydraulic pump during operation from pressure peaks in the breakers hydraulic circuit. The design also incorporates a long and heavy piston that is aligned with a genuine Sandvik tool, there-by ensuring optimum impact energy transfer with less recoil, in order to minimize carrier wear.”The concept of recycling of debris has got a lot to do with the advent of latest demolition attachments such as hydraulic breakers. Moreover the earlier trend of using massive wrecking balls is being gradually replaced by modern day hydraulic breakers with which contractors can be more selective with regard to certain sections that need to be demolished, as compared to the earlier methods.

Rotary drum cutters

Rotary drum cutters are widely used for trenching hard stone. They have replaced traditional rock breakers and can also be used instead of bucket crushers, depending on the project.  The reasons for the rising popularity of drum cutters can be attributed to their versatility. They can be used for profiling, pile head cutting, trenching and general foundation excavation, apart from finding use in demolition jobs. Rotary cutters with power output ranging from 20 to  upwards of 200 hp and suited as attachments with excavators in the carrier weight range 2 to over 20 ton capacities are now available in India. With their ability to cut through concrete and asphalt, they have become a key attachment in the Indian market.

Pile Cutters

While earlier saws and jack hammers were used for demolishing unwanted foundation piles, they have been now replaced by the pile cutters. Pile cutters offer the best option in confined urban areas. They also offer a much quieter method of demolition, when compared to the traditional method of using jackhammers. Additionally they also eliminate the need for other types of equipment including, diamond saw cutting, cutting torches, air compressors and blasting equipment, among others.

Grapples

Grapples or grabbers have become a familiar scene across construction sites in the country. Used for removing large boulders and rubbles, they also play a crucial role in demolition. Also known as the ‘pulverizers’ they can quite literally ‘chew’ on the rubble. Rotating grapples or shears are also finding widespread application in demolition jobs. Rotating grapples ensure savings on the cost front, since there is no need to reposition the excavator.

Augers and Riddle Buckets

Used for cutting through hard rock, they play a key role in penetrating through hard rock, even sandstone in certain instances. Modern augers with features such as tungsten tipped teeth have made an entry into the Indian market and are now being increasingly used here.

Riddle buckets with their meshed rear are now finding an increasing number of takers in India. They are generally used when sand or soil is to be seeved and sorted out from rubble. A slight variation is the iron separator which as the name suggests, helps in separating iron from inert materials.

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