Training demolition contractors on remote-controlled equipment
Image courtesy of Brokk

Training demolition contractors on remote-controlled equipment

Brokk Inc. uses a personalized approach when creating training courses for its remote-controlled demolition machines.

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March 3, 2021

Since the company’s start in 1976, Sweden-based Brokk Inc., with U.S. headquarters in Monroe, Washington, has strived to push the limits for what is possible in remote-controlled demolition.

Beginning with the release of its first mass-produced remote-controlled demolition robot in 1981, Brokk says it has always sought to provide more efficient, profit-enhancing and safer means of demolition. Today, with thousands of remote-controlled Brokk demolition robots being used in projects worldwide, the company is still growing with new machines, new technologies and new services. As the adoption of remote-controlled machines grows, so to does the need for more advanced training, the company says.

To help Brokk customers master the company’s evolving portfolio, Brokk announced a new training program in June 2020. Better known as Brokk Academy, the specialized on-demand training courses are designed to maximize productivity and help operators learn safe, smart ways to work with the company’s demolition robots.

The offerings allow contractors to provide crews with operational or mechanical training from a Brokk technician on-site or through Brokk’s Demonstration and Service Center in St. Joseph, Missouri, the company says.

“To help our customers ensure they are using their Brokk machines in the safest, most efficient way possible, our technicians provide in-depth, hands-on training on all new and used machine purchases as well as rental machine startups,” Brokk President Lars Lindgren says in a press release. “And as we expand our presence in North America, we’ve been able to go a step further and offer continued training options. Maybe that means coming to the job site for an operational refresher course with new hires or a one-on-one mechanical course at our St. Joseph facility. The enhanced training options allow contractors to design a curriculum that maximizes their Brokk experience.”

KEEPING IT PERSONAL

According to August Scalici, field sales application expert and technician for Brokk, the inspiration for more personalized training came after the company saw a need to further educate end users on how to better understand Brokk and its attachments.

“We knew by going the extra step to teach them more, that the customer would benefit and so would Brokk,” says Scalici. “It’s really a win-win for both sides. I always try to think of the customer more so because they’re the person making the investment. So, when we do more personalized training, they get a lot more out of it. [It helps them] understand totally what they own.”

Complimentary with any rental or purchase of Brokk equipment, customers can tailor the training to focus on either machine operation or mechanics, depending on their needs and applications.

“There is always one day [of training] that’s given, and if it’s a special deal—maybe they purchased a lot of things—they may customize the training a little. But it’s typical to get one day of training whether you rent the machine or you purchase the machine,” says Scalici.

All curriculum includes a combination of hands-on and classroom training by one of six Brokk technicians. These team members have years of experience using Brokk machines in a variety of applications and are assigned based on their specialties, including concrete cutting, process and foundry, demolition or service and repair.

“A lot of our trainers have a lot of experience. … I’ve been around these machines since 1983, and a lot of us [have] 20 or 30 years of experience,” Scalici says.

Although demolition is the primary job of these robots, they can be used for a wide range of tasks by adding a new attachment and incorporating the right training, the company says. Included in the company’s training are courses on how to use Brokk’s breakers, concrete crushers, metal shears, combi shears, buckets, grapples and more.

With Brokk’s customers spanning across the construction, tunneling, mining, metals processing, cement, nuclear, and security and rescue industries, training is customized to the specific type of work each client needs to perform.

“Depending on what they do, we’re going to cater to that,” Scalici says. “If they’re in a specific industry, for example they [work with] linings and tanks, that’s a different type of training because you don’t want to go through the tank. You have to be very careful you don’t bring the material onto you and the machine, because you’ll end up seriously hurt.”

He adds, “We want to know exactly what they do … so when they go to work, you’re not teaching them how to sever a beam for example, you’re [teaching them] how to take the lining out of a tank [if that’s their core objective]. … [The personalized training] helps a lot because you’re focusing your time on what they really do.”

Kadmy | Adobe Stock

A CONTINUOUS PROCESS

Although the training curriculum will vary based on customer applications and crew requirements, a refresher course that covers key systems and components and touches on general job site procedures—such as daily inspections and control box protocols to maximize machine control and operator comfort—will be included in most customized courses.

“[Hands-on] training is the best way to understand Brokk equipment and all its functions because the control box itself has a lot going on,” says Scalici. “When an operator completes training, the first thing we’re looking for and observing is that they’re comfortable and confident [with the machine], so when we leave, the individual is not going to go, ‘Uh-oh, how does this start?’”

Additional training in areas such as troubleshooting and error code analysis, as well as operational tips to increase production and reduce stress on the machine, are also incorporated to help operators integrate Brokk equipment into their applications and improve productivity, Brokk says.

According to Scalici, Brokk customers have seen increased efficiency with their equipment post-training because the operators have a better understanding of how to apply the machine. Through teaching personnel how to perform day-to-day tasks more seamlessly, Brokk operators become more comfortable in their ability to use the equipment, he says.

“When we’re doing the training, the customer is actually doing their [assigned] task. So, right away, the operator gets more comfortable and knows exactly what to do, especially when we’re gone,” he says. “They know how to set the machine up and they know how to get started right from the beginning, because they’ve learned the first steps.”

“Whether a contractor is new to Brokk or has been using a remote-controlled demolition machine for years, training is a continuous process,” Lindgren says. “Our machines have gone through numerous evolutions over more than 40 years. Training helps operators best use these innovations to improve their productivity and safety. … For management, it provides an opportunity to better understand the equipment and recognize operator potential to maximize efficiency.”

This article originally appeared in the Jan. Feb. issue of Construction & Demolition Recycling magazine. The author is the assistant editor for Construction & Demolition Recycling magazine and can be reached at hrischar@gie.net.