A Chicago-based demolition contractor has locked on to the use of vacuum lifting systems, expanding its range to explore new safety concepts while pursuing maximum efficiency both during the bidding process and on worksites. Milburn Demolition & Dismantling got started in 2014, specializing in interior and selective structural work, as well as partial demolition jobs. Evolving over the past seven years, the company’s repertoire has grown to include both small- and large-scale services from specialty demolition to handling under-grade material and total building removals.
Concrete removal can be a labor-intensive, time-consuming process that is potentially hazardous to the wellbeing of equipment operators and construction laborers–both indoors and out. In certain environments, the productivity of contractors may also be hampered by noise and vibration restrictions, silica dust control standards or the inability to maneuver in confined spaces. Milburn Demolition hooked up with Vacuworx, putting the Tulsa-based manufacturer‘s line of battery-powered PS/PHD portable vacuum lifting systems into service starting in late 2019. The equipment, ideal for applications where no power source is available, is designed make it easier to handle materials in tight quarters and closer to the ground.
“We use Vacuworx for our specialty demolition work, such as slab openings in multistory buildings to add new amenities like stairs, atriums and elevators,” said James Milburn, Managing Principal of Milburn Demolition. “We made an electric stand and started with a smaller unit that goes on a skid steer for interior applications. Then we coupled with a SHERPA 100 ECO. Sometimes we use our PS 1 or PHD on a Brokk 100 robot, if that is more accessible or we don’t have much headroom.”
Milburn noted that the addition of vacuum lifting equipment has set his company up to bid more competitively. Vacuum lifting technology, compared with more conventional means, reduces physical strain on worker’s bodies, limits exposure to hazardous pinch points and often eliminates any need for re-handling materials. Less noise, less debris and diminished water usage also tend to result in cleaner, quieter and safer working environments.“
“There are obviously savings that allow us to bid more competitively,” Milburn said. “We figure it with less cutting and pulling out a piece with one machine rather than two or three guys. We‘ve beaten our estimates by quite a bit. And it is safe, eliminating back strains and finger pinch points.”
“We are being proactive,” he continued. “We bid so many jobs. This gives us a lot of opportunity to acquire work and produce. Any technology that can make us more efficient. Let’s cut this as little as possible and get them out of there without a mess. (Vacuworx Lifting Systems) come in very, very helpful for us on those scopes.”
For larger-scale applications such as disposing of footings and foundations, Milburn utilizes Vacuworx PHD units mounted on Bobcat 500 series skid steers. On those jobs, Milburn estimates, productivity has shot up by about 50 percent when incorporating Vacuworx as opposed to hand-based methods. “Before, we cut in smaller pieces, which increases saw-cutting costs, the amount of water used, the labor cost, the distance travelled to the dumpster,” Milburn said. “This reduces the amount of time and more importantly, in our opinion, the safety risks of pulling out cubes of concrete by hand.