Processing at arm’s length

Features - Equipment Focus | Excavator Attachments

Advancements in attachment coupling technology combined with new products mean materials processing can increasingly take place at the end of an excavator arm.

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November 5, 2020

Excavators and hydraulic material handler attachments used by demolition contractors and recyclers have always had a variety of functions, but this century has witnessed an increase in attachments that can serve as “mini” processing plants.

At the 2020 ConExpo-Con/Agg event held in Las Vegas in March, several existing and newly introduced attachments with processing capabilities were on display.

Several exhibiting companies also focused on product features designed to help hydraulic material handler users change out their attachments more easily, or upgrade the hydraulic systems that provide power to processing and cutting attachments.

As project managers and contractors consider how to cost-effectively crush, grind, screen and chew through material on-site, they increasingly have options that allow them to do so using only an excavator, its operator and a custom-designed processing attachment.

Attention, very much wanted

At ConExpo 2020, Engcon, a Swedish company with American headquarters in North Haven, Connecticut, said the display of its tiltrotator technology for excavator attachments attracted some 10,000 visitors.

The company says its tiltrotator is a component often described as a flexible wrist between the arm of the excavator and its attachments, enabling an excavator to rotate a bucket or other attachment 360 degrees and tilt it up to 45 degrees.

The Engcon technology also was featured at other OEM booths, including those of Doosan, Hyundai, John Deere and Kobelco. The tiltrotator was attached to a variety of excavation equipment, enabling attendees to see the technology live in action or demo it themselves at the Engcon exhibit area.

“Thousands of ConExpo attendees were able to demo the Engcon tiltrotator,” says Krister Blomgren, CEO of Engcon. “We have received a lot of praise for letting customers test drive an excavator with our tiltrotator technology—a fun element for the visitors and a great way to get a deeper understanding of how the tiltrotator is changing the world of digging.”

In addition to digging with buckets, the Engcon tiltrotator also can be outfitted with grapples, rippers, asphalt cutters, pallet forks and sweeping brooms, says the company.

McDonough, Georgia-based HydrauliCircuit Technology (HCT) is focusing on the hydraulic power needed to efficiently operate the world’s growing fleet of attachments.

Greg Hickman of HCT says the company manufactures extreme-duty auxiliary hydraulic kits (also known as “wet kits”) to operate virtually any attachment on excavators ranging between 8 to 120 metric tons in size.

Hickman cites shears and multi-function processors (with or without rotate motors), including crushers and breakers, as the types of attachments that can see operating benefits with a wet kit. “Other attachments may include grapples (with or without rotate motors), thumbs and quick couplers,” he comments.

HCT technology is based on the company’s modular design. Hickman adds, “We can add or subtract certain kit functions that the customer may or may not be interested in.”

He continues, “HCT consults with the excavator and attachment manufacturers and distributors on a regular basis to keep up with the many excavator models and machine series [on the market]. Our measure of success is providing our customers with well-fitted kits that are easy to install, and where the customer gets the maximum allowable performance that the machine and attachment was designed [for].”

Wet kits from HCT are designed to make field installation not only possible, but seamless, says Hickman. He says, “Most HCT kits are based on actual in-house installations performed at our 35,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in McDonough.” Hickman adds that “HCT has professionally trained product support technicians that provide best-in-class after-sale support to our customers who are installing or servicing our kits.”

Atlanta-based Geith is another manufacturer of excavator and material handler attachments that focused on coupler technology at ConExpo 2020, where it debuted its G4 quick coupler.

“Geith’s design and manufacturing teams produce couplers that work extremely well with excavators,” says Adrian Kelly, sales manager for Geith. “We brought 60 years of experience and expertise to this new coupler, and the result is one of the safest, most productive couplers on the market, with superior durability.”

The G4 includes a variable pin center design created to allow operators to easily pick up and swap a wide range of OEM attachments. Additionally, the coupler can reverse buckets to allow the operator to excavate against walls and under pipes.

Geith says the G4’s multi-pin pickup system has been designed to provide easy pickup of attachments with different pin diameters, creating efficiencies when changing attachments. The configuration also allows operators to change attachments without leaving their cabs.

“As always, we’re focused on safety,” says Kelly. “As we design new products, we look for ways Geith attachments can make a job site safer. The G4 continues that tradition.”

Versatility on display

Among the processing attachments new or emerging in 2020 are bucket crushers from Sweden-based Epiroc, which has a U.S. office in Broomfield, Colorado.

The company says its bucket crushers “combine low maintenance and high performance while processing a wide range of materials, including aggregate, asphalt and concrete.” Bucket crushers allow contractors to increase the versatility of carriers, especially on demolition, recycling and road construction applications, according to Epiroc.

“The attachments feature powerful components that allow carrier operators to crush as much as 110 tons of material per hour,” states the firm, pointing to a drive system that contains two hydraulic motors and a timing belt designed to “generate the high torque needed for powering the crushing jaw.”

Epiroc also says its internally mounted drive system eliminates protruding components to minimize the risk of dust entering the hydraulic system and to protect key components from flying debris. “Additionally, operators can control the diameter of the crushed materials by easily adjusting the jaw outlet without any special tools,” states the firm.

Another Sweden-based firm focusing on versatility is Brokk Inc., which has a North American office in Monroe, Washington. Brokk, which manufactures remote-controlled demolition machines, also has introduced the BCP planer attachment for what it calls “controlled material removal on walls, floors and ceilings for cleaning, renovation and restoration applications.”

The three models in the BCP series are designed to work with the company’s remote-control demolition machines “and offer up to seven times the speed of handheld options while providing greater precision and safety for grinding, brushing or removing concrete, glue, carpet, tile and other materials,” Brokk says.

“With the BCP planer, our customers can tackle more jobs in more industries with confidence,” says Lars Lindgren, president of Brokk. “The attachment streamlines removal applications by eliminating the need for bulky scaffolding and additional manpower and offers a degree of precision that handheld options just can’t match.”

The Finland-based Allu Group, which has a North American office in East Brunswick, New Jersey, displayed its new Transformer line of screener crusher attachments, which feature the company’s new TS blade structure designed to “transform unusable dirt, construction waste and green waste into valuable material, ultimately transforming the way contractors and producers work.”

According to Allu, the TS blades inside an Allu TS drum “spin between screening combs.” The resulting end product size is defined by the space between those combs, says the company, “and now an updated Allu TS blade structure has been developed that delivers increased levels of versatility, efficiency and productivity.”

The new TS assembly enables a greater number of fragment sizes from the same unit, says the company. “The single-blade setup positions two or three blades in a single position, with a screening comb between every blade. Operators can now double or even triple the blades and combs, allowing up to three times more fragment size variations from 8 millimeters up to 105 millimeters.”

Allu says its Transformer line of attachments works with wheel loaders, excavators, skid steers and backhoes “to screen, crush, pulverize, aerate, blend, mix, separate, feed and load materials all in one stage—increasing an operation’s efficiency and profitability.”

The number of companies devoting research and investment into making attachments more productive is likely to convince demo contractors and materials recyclers that their industry is gaining the right kind of attention.

The author is a senior editor with the Recycling Today Media Group and can be contacted at btaylor@gie.net.