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The hydraulic breaker is now 50 years old

First publishedin Aggregates Business Europe
2013 November December
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hydraulic breaker Krupp HM 400
The hydraulic breaker is now 50 years old, with Krupp having unveiled its HM 400 at the Hannover Fair in 1967
It is now 50 years since the first hydraulic breakers were manufactured. Atlas Copco Construction Tools, based at Essen in Germany, is celebrating the 50th anniversary since it launched its very first hydraulic breaker. Meanwhile similar celebrations are being held in France by Montabert, writes Mike Woof.

Atlas Copco bought the Krupp Berco Bautechnik business that developed the hydraulic breaker range in 2002 and along with Montabert, both firms claim to have developed the first hydraulic breaker. Exactly which company was first is open to debate, but it is fair to say that both pioneered the concept, which was then taken up by other firms later.

Krupp Berco Bautechnik’s rig-mounted hydraulic breaker, the HM 400, attracted huge interest when it was shown at the Hannover fair in 1967 and more than 2,000 units were sold. Meanwhile Montabert’s breakers also attracted strong sales, initially in France and then wider afield. Both companies developed their breakers using hydraulic rockdrill technology. Hydraulic power was used to transfer energy to the work piece, providing a powerful tool for breaking rock and these units were soon taken up by quarry firms wanting to break up over-sized material or unblock the feeders for crushing plant.

These early hydraulic hammers had their shortcomings however. Rockdrills have the drill bit in constant contact with the rock, but this is not always feasible with a hydraulic breaker. As a result, early generation hydraulic breakers were prone to failure if the tool was not in contact with material to be broken and blank-firing for even a short period.

While Krupp and Montabert pioneered the breaker, other firms soon joined the market as well, such as Indeco in Italy, NPK in Japan and Rammer in Finland. NPK further pushed the boundaries by developing an enormous 11tonne unit in the late 1980s, although this proved to be ahead of the available technology for hydraulic seals and only a small number of units were manufactured. Rammer’s G120 breaker was also introduced in the late 1980s and though somewhat smaller than the NPK unit, soon proved the viability of large hammers, which the other leading firms soon began producing as well.

Since that time the technology has continued to improve. The science involved in determining how energy is transferred within the breaker, how heat, noise and hydraulic forces behave, is extremely complex. But these units have become ever more popular and taken their place amongst the most widely used hydraulic attachments in the construction and quarrying markets.

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