Porter Press: DECC and the Space Race

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Andrea Francolini

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

When you’re deconstructing a high-rise building, you’re working in three dimensions and constantly thinking dozens of steps ahead. With all the skill in the world, clever machine tech still plays a part, as it does here with this Hyundai R320LC-9TS and its telescopic boom

 

The Hyundai R320LC-9TS with a telescopic boom

Forget the grand scale of the sorts of top tier demolition and excavation projects that DECC engages on all over the East Coast. If you’re looking at the project as a whole, you’re not seeing the nitty gritty: the stuff that really shows this company’s expertise is often at a micro, rather than a macro, level.

Because it’s the DECC team’s ability to successfully and safely deconstruct all manner of structures from within complex, often confined, workspaces where the skill really shows through.

"As multi-story urban development has increased and larger cities have seen renewed focus on the centre of town, a fair portion of our work has been CBD-based in recent years," says DECC director Frank Lombardi.

"This means that we’re often faced with large-scale jobs on, relatively speaking, small-scale sites – certainly in terms of their limited access, a large population of neighbours nearby forcing certain operational restrictions, and the ability to place the machines we need to do the job where they’re ideally suited."

You need plenty of experience to bring such structures down safely and on time.

DECC is a privately owned company with senior management holding a combined 75 years’ worth of experience in not only demolition, but site decontamination and stabilisation, all manner of civil and earthworks contracting including site retention, stormwater and road construction, and project consultation.

With a presence across New South Wales, ACT and Queensland, DECC – which was founded in 2007 by co-director Vince Di Falco – will be a familiar sight on demolition projects that span many sectors and environments: industrial plants, commercial high rise buildings, hospitals, education precincts, petrochemical storage facilities, chimneys and silos, bridges, piers and other marine structures.

But here in the middle of Sydney’s teeming city centre, hemmed in on all sides by office blocks and apartments: this is where the DECC team work to maximise their efficiency in a restrictive work zone. Bringing a building down is like a massive 3D puzzle, where Lombardi and his crew must be able to see the process from every angle.

 

Due to the strict restrictions on site, this piece of machinery provides invaluable
flexibility

 

MAN AND MACHINE

It takes real human skill. But, if you can get a helping hand to deliver a clean site for the client on deadline from some clever machinery, then all the better.

The big 33-ton Hyundai R320LC-9TS isn’t, in itself, anything out of the ordinary. Offering up the Korean manufacturer’s usual blend of comfortable cab ergonomics and outward vision, fuel efficient Cummins Tier III horsepower and gutsy digging force, the mid-size Hyundai crawler excavator – one of the extensive range distributed throughout Australia by Porter Equipment – is one of several such machines to wear the DECC livery.

"The telescopic boom on the front is a pretty unique bit of kit though," Lombardi explains.

"Because there are regulations in cities like Sydney which don’t allow us to load out spoil from the site into trucks waiting outside in the surrounding streets, we have to perform all of these operations inside the perimeter fence.

"This brings with it complications of course, because when you’re working a confined, multi-level site like this, you can’t always have the digger and the tip truck sitting side-by- side, or even on an adjacent level.

"But this telescopic boom gives the digger extra abilities underneath it in the same way a high-reach excavator is designed to maximise efficiency above it.  It’s pretty clever."

The telescopic nature of the boom allows Lombardi’s excavator operator to ‘reach down’ and precisely load out into trucks that sit beside the machine. The excavator is positioned on a toughened suspended steel structure above the site access point, meaning the truck can drive directly onto the loading platform, receive the material from above and be gone again without unnecessary manoeuvring inside the work cordon and traffic management headaches outside of it.

 

The telescopic boom’s 25m reach is invaluable on a multi-tier site like this demolition project

 

In this instance the telescopic boom (which is made by Hyundai) is paired with a toughened clamshell bucket.

The boom can reach down to a maximum of 25 metres and, thanks to the machine’s powerful hydraulics, it can telescope at speed regardless of the load weight in the bucket.

Hyundai can even specify in additional components on the excavator the telescopic boom is attached to, such as an extra camera, a vertical sensor unit and even a bottom window within the cab, allowing the driver to see down between the crawler tracks. The most unique feature of DECC’s Hyundai R320LC-9TS is its independently sliding cab. This impressive feature allows the operator to physically move out beyond the fixed footprint of the machine, aiding extra visibility to the excavation site below, and adding to the machine’s ability to almost see around corners.

Depending on the requirements of the job, the telescopic arrangement can be exchanged for a conventional boom and attachment.

"We’ve demolished an old hotel here on this site and prepped it for a new structure to be built," says Lombardi.

"The client wants to marry-in the existing basement levels with what’s being constructed above, so we need to get those spaces ready. We have to be very systematic with every project: you need to be thinking 20 steps ahead all the time.

"If we can position a big piece of kit like the 33-tonner in one central spot and have it work efficiently there, it makes other parts of the process equally efficient."

And with the DECC team in constant demand across three states, project efficiency is a big deal.

There is nothing conventional about demolition work: take a moment to ponder the engineering nous required to pull off a successful implosion or induced collapse, let alone a ‘standard’ deconstruction job like the one on these pages.

But sometimes a conventional machine, like the Hyundai R320LC-9TS, paired with an unconventional component such as the Hyundai telescopic arm, can be proof positive of thinking outside the box. Or perhaps, as is the case here, inside it.

For more details about the Hyundai equipment available through Porter Group, visit www.portergroup.com.au.

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