During the National Demolition Association’s Live Demolition event at Demolition Rockies 2019 in Aurora, Colorado, dozens of people had an opportunity to operate Liebherr’s R 950 high-reach demolition excavator, among other equipment.
The Switzerland-based Liebherr Group says the entire R 950 excavator, fully manufactured in-house, is designed for selective deconstruction of large industrial buildings.
Liebherr machines have found homes in facilities across North America, including at the Toronto-based GFL Infrastructure Group.
GFL Infrastructure Group, part of the Toronto-based GFL Environmental family of companies, provides demolition and hazardous materials abatement services through its demolition division, which employs about 150 people. The company has decades of experience in the industrial and commercial sectors and a full range of specialized equipment.
Based in Toronto, GFL has several Liebherr high-reach demolition machines.
“They never let you down,” says Travis Willison, the vice president of GFL’s demolition division. “The automatic lube systems on them are fantastic. The hydraulic systems are amazing. One of the major benefits of the machine is it’s a single float, so anytime you need to pick it up to go somewhere, it’s quite easy.”
Liebherr says its high-reach excavator can eliminate the need of having another piece of equipment on site to take down structures below 15 feet. The machine can work in a 360-degree radius, which is important on tight job sites and makes installing demolition attachments easier.
“The industry has changed in Toronto a lot,” Willison says. “Everything is getting tighter. There’s no space, no room to get at things. To be able to put a machine in that can hit, quite easily, 70 or 80 feet and do work safely and efficiently in a tight spot is a bonus.”
With a reach of 83 feet and the capacity to handle a 7,720-pound tool, the R 950 is large enough for major jobs. Despite its size, Liebherr says the R 950 is also easy to transport because of its hydraulically expandable undercarriage. This undercarriage makes the machine easier to move to and from job sites because it retracts the undercarriage width. It also can expand to create a wider footprint, which enhances stability.
GFL works with clients to implement job-specific, environmentally sustainable waste management, disposal and erosion control methods. “We’re really busy,” Willison says, adding that the Liebherr R 950 “will help us build and grow our company to the next level. We’ve got the right equipment for the work.”
Liebherr high-reach excavators also have a plug-in boom section where the attachment is mounted, allowing the machine to be used for multiple tasks. A camera provides visibility to the operator when tools are placed inside structures, and Liebherr says it always gives the operator a better view when the end of the tool is out of sight.
High-reach machines “have eliminated the wrecking ball,” says Willison, who has nearly 20 years of experience in the industry. “The wrecking ball was a great invention for its time. It was used on conventional cranes. There wasn’t a whole lot of hydraulics involved with it. It was a great concept, but engineers have come a long way with these designs.”
Modern demolition machines, on the other hand, “are much safer, much neater, much quicker,” Willison adds. “You can organize your material properly. The operator is a safe distance away from the building when he’s working. It’s the way of the future.”