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Bringing the house down with bespoke Volvo machine

Volvo high-reach excavator

Goody Demolition dismantle derelict three-storey office building using high-reach EC300E excavator 

GOODY Demolition are in the process of dismantling the former Colonial Mutual Life headquarters located on the waterfront in Chatham, Kent, and have brought in their demo-spec Volvo EC300E excavator to lead the job. 

The red-brick fronted three-storey building, its basement and associated car parking, is currently being redeveloped by Persimmon Homes, to provide a mix of one- to two-bedroom apartments and three- and four-bedroom homes within the Colonial Wharf waterfront development.

Site clearance and demolition is well underway and is being handled by Kent-based Goody Demolition. According to site manager and machine operator Paul Hougham, work has been far from straightforward, as the 32-week project has thrown up some interesting challenges along the way. 

‘The building is a heavily reinforced concrete structure with an outer brick skin and a steel roof,’ he commented. ‘Given the amount of steel buried within the concrete, it was probably engineered to withstand an earthquake. It is one of those buildings that was never going to fall down nor come apart easily. The job is a meticulous and methodical process of dismantling that demands the right machinery.’

The first part of the process is high-reach demolition using a Volvo EC300E excavator equipped with a Kokurek three-piece boom. With a 7.8m main boom, an intermediate 2.15m section and a 6.25m long demolition stick, the machine provides a generous working envelope with a forward reach of 12m and a working height of 21m.

The second part of the demolition process is utilizing a Volvo EC480E excavator (equipped with a hydraulic breaker) at ground level. The EC480E is tasked with dismantling wall and floor sections that have been brought down by the firm’s high-reaching EC300E. 

Goody Demolition’s first high-reach Volvo EC300E excavator features a hydraulic tilting cab and Kokurek’s modular joint system. With hydraulic locking pins and a cradle to store the high-reach front-end when not in use, it takes less than 10min to swap between the standard boom and three-piece, high-reach configuration.

Using the high-reach machine and working from the top, Mr Hougham is systematically lowering the building by weakening the floors and their supporting pillars. This lets the team lower sections of floor on a layer-by-layer basis until concrete slabs are within reach of the more powerful and heavier EC480E.

The impressive reach also lets the EC300E excavator stand back at a safe distance, keeping the machine and its operator in a safer environment. Concrete is being crushed on site and used for bunding and fill material, with steel sorted and cut ready for disposal.

With 3,500h under its belt so far, the EC300E unit has proved to be a sound investment for Goody Demolition. ‘It’s a heavy enough machine and is well-suited to this type of demolition work,’ said Mr Hougham. ‘And having a tilting cab does make long days at the controls a much more comfortable experience.’

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