This has given rise to a number of firms specializing in remediation and historic renovation and rehabilitation. Old buildings are rife with asbestos, lead and other hazardous materials. Additionally, previous construction wasn’t designed to handle the weight of today’s large equipment.
So, modern contractors – like ADEP Group, a rapidly growing minority business enterprise (MBE) – must find ways to keep employees safe while juggling limited floor loads and restricted machine access. These aren’t the founding father’s contractors. Instead, the next generation successfully combines experience, education and cutting-edge technology to tackle remediation and interior demolition.
Faced with a full-scale interior demolition on a tight timeline, ADEP partnered with Brokk to provide a robotic solution to one of the more challenging aspects. During the renovation of a 120-year-old YMCA facility in Beverly, Massachusetts, ADEP needed to remove a 36-inch-deep concrete pool in the basement of the building. With a Brokk 200, ADEP was able to reduce crew size in the confined space while increasing productivity 50 percent over alternative methods, allowing them to proceed to subsequent phases quickly for an on-time project delivery.
“New England has a rich architectural history – many buildings from the late 1800s and early 1900s are still in use,” Severino said. “They were well-built. But contractors have learned a lot over the years, and some of the materials used aren’t considered safe anymore, like asbestos and lead paint. New England Developers like to make use of the rich history and attributes that these historic buildings have, so renovation and restoration have become very popular. Usually this involves a full interior demolition then rebuilding within the shell of the existing structure.”
Unfortunately, with this process, clients are often forced to hire multiple firms since most contractors offer remediation or demolition services, not both. To ADEP, this adds unnecessary complexity to projects. So, by cultivating crews with extensive experience in both industries, ADEP was able to provide turnkey solutions in environmental remediation and demolition for customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York.
“We saw what everyone else was doing, and we knew we could offer clients more,” Severino said. “We’re here to challenge the status quo and go above and beyond what people have come to expect from the industry. Our culture is shaped around what we call ‘The ADEP Way’ and going above and beyond the call of duty is a part of that.”
To do that, ADEP looks for innovative solutions that allow them to provide quality results on time and within the budget.
“Safety and efficiency are primary factors in our continued growth,” Severino said. “We’re always evaluating ways to streamline our process and increase safety, which is an integral part of our culture. The demolition side of our operation was seeing steady growth, so robotic demolition was something that was on our radar. We just needed the right job to justify making the leap.”
Access presented the key challenge. ADEP needed a mechanical demolition method capable of tackling the pool’s 36-inch thick concrete that was also compact enough to fit through a standard door. Additionally, the small room made for cramped working conditions. ADEP needed to limit crew size to maintain COVID-related social distancing, as well as limit confined-space liabilities.
No matter how ADEP looked at it, traditional methods couldn’t tick all the boxes for safe, efficient demolition. The only equipment small enough to access the jobsite was the company’s Volvo ECR28 Mini Excavator, which wouldn’t be enough to handle 4,000 cubic feet of concrete within the timeframe. Larger crews with handheld equipment were another option, but filling the small room with 10 to 12 employees during a pandemic risked crew safety and jobsite shutdown. Not to mention ADEP estimated this method would take at least two weeks for demolition and at least one additional week for material removal. Management knew robotic demolition could provide the power and precision they needed.
“It was the perfect Brokk job – confined space, limited access, the need for lots of power in a small package,” Severino said. “Only, we didn’t have a Brokk yet.”
ADEP reached out to Brokk and Bob McCabe, the company’s Field Applications Specialist and Regional Manager – Northeast, who has more than 45 years of industry experience and has worked daily with Brokk robots for 35 years. Together they assessed the project requirements and concluded a Brokk 200 was the right tool for the current job – and a fit with ADEP’s growth goals. 2.1-ton machine pairs with a 650-pound BHB 305 hydraulic breaker to deliver 450 foot-pounds per blow. Within 48 hours, the robot, McCabe and Matt Lyons, Brokk Training and Application Specialist, were on site to provide hands-on training to the ADEP team.
“From initial contact to delivery, we were surprised how fast things went,” Severino said. “Owning a Brokk had been a dream for a while and all of a sudden it was a bright yellow reality. Working with Bob and Matt, our operator had a good grasp on the machine’s capabilities within an hour and was able to get his certification in just a few days. After a week, it was like he’d been using the Brokk for years.”
“We knew the Brokk had an excellent power to weight ratio, but when we saw it on the job, it was still incredible,” Severino said. “It cut through the concrete like butter, which was good since the concrete ended up being 36-inches deep instead of the 24-inches from initial reports. Our operator was able to power through while maintaining pinpoint accuracy to work around footings and columns.”
A 7-by-11-foot breach in an exterior wall provided easy access for material removal. Once the Brokk broke apart the concrete, the mini excavator passed it through the hole to a Volvo 250 DL Excavator positioned outside.
ADEP completed demolition in just eight days with a crew of four – well ahead of schedule and 25 percent under their original budget. Severino estimates the Brokk saved 456 hours of labor on the job. Additionally, there were no complaints from tenants or neighbors.
“Cost was really the biggest hurdle to jumping into remote-controlled demolition,” Severino said. “But now that we have the Brokk 200, it’s opened up a number of new opportunities for us.”
In addition to the BHB breaker, ADEP can use a bucket attachment with the Brokk 200 for digging tasks in tight spaces. Management is also exploring how the demolition robot can be integrated into the company’s other services, such as emergency response. Severino and his team are confident the Brokk will quickly pay for itself, and they’re already looking to expand the fleet.
“As a company, ADEP is always looking ahead,” Severino said. “Small, strategic crews keep our employees safe, most importantly, but they also reduce labor costs and liabilities so our business can continue to grow. Brokk demolition robots, combined with our experience, professionalism, and drive, give us the edge we need to keep moving forward.”
Photos courtesy of ADEP Group.