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Tactical takedown with Volvo high-reach excavator

Long-reach Volvo EC700CHR

Minnesota-based Rachel Contracting using EC700CHR machine on major demolition project in St. Paul

ESTABLISHED in 2006, Rachel Contracting specialize in demolition, earthworks and specialty contracting. ‘We take the jobs that are unusual and the projects others don’t want,’ said Don Rachel, chief executive officer of Rachel Contracting.

When the bidding process was completed for the $150 million redevelopment of the former West Publishing facility in St. Paul, Rachel were awarded a $15 million demolition contract to remove the vacant 10-storey, seven-building complex comprising the old publishing offices (built in 1886) and the Ramsey County Adult Detention Centre (opened in 1979).

Work on the ongoing demolition project (covering 852,000 sq ft) began in November 2015 and is scheduled for completion later this year. So far, the job has covered a variety of applications, from asbestos abatement and excavation and total demolition to bluff stabilization and erecting a cast-in-place concrete retaining wall along Kellogg Boulevard, a main road in the city’s centre.

The height of the structure and location of the site has proven to be one of the most challenging demolition projects in the history of Rachel Contracting. ‘The site sits between a main downtown artery and is 9m from an active rail line on the Mississippi river-facing side,’ explained Mark Kraemer, vice-president of field operations for Rachel Contracting.

‘We knew going into the bid that we could not bring it down by explosives, so the only option was to use a high-reach demolition excavator. We looked at competing brands, but we felt more comfortable going with Volvo. The support from local dealer Nuss Truck & Equipment was also a big factor in our decision. We had a short lead time and Nuss were able to provide the machine very quickly and were on site for set-up and training our operators.’

A Volvo EC700CHR excavator was chosen for its high-reach and weight capacities. The machine has a maximum pin height of 32m (105ft) with boom extension and is fitted with a three-tonne Genesis GDT Razer shear. The matched powertrain and hydraulics supply ample power for the shear to fracture concrete and snip rebar at height, and safely lower it to the ground.

‘The high reach allows us to bring this job down in a much more controlled fashion,’ said Randy Shultz, general demolition superintendent for Rachel Contracting. ‘On a building like this, with thick concrete columns wrapped around steel I-beams, we can cut through them with the shear without jeopardizing the safety of the building, pedestrians and vehicular traffic.’

Reinforced concrete slabs have thickness sizes ranging up to 12in. The EC700CHR’s added value is its ability to convert to a standard excavator. For example, the Volvo-patented modular joint design, located in front of the boom cylinders, has a self-aligning, hydraulic push-pull pin system that makes changing the boom swift and simple.

For Rachel, the high-reach boom is converted to a standard boom every two to three days and is paired with a Genesis DemoPro 900 for concrete clean-up. Mr Kraemer commented: ‘The conversion allows the machine to work with a 5.4-tonne attachment for use at working heights from 18 to 20 metres. That height level is our ‘bread and butter’ in the Midwest. We can have it down in less than an hour with two people. Volvo did an excellent job making this machine come apart and reassemble easily.

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