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Video – Penthouse pulled…

Cat excavator downs upper floors of Cocoa Beach apartment block.

The revolution is afoot. The working man has risen up and declared war on his moneyed former master, wreaking revenge on his one-time oppressor through the destruction of that most coveted of capitalist trappings – The penthouse.

Either that, or it’s a Caterpillar excavator pulling down what remains of the Glass Bank block in Cocoa Beach:

Video – Coleman’s remote control robot goes to work…

Look ma, no hands…or operator.

Regular readers will recall that way back in June last year we brought you some exclusive footage of a new remote controlled demolition excavator that had been developed by JCB for Birmingham-based Coleman & Company. Well that machine has now gone to work and we have some more footage of the machine in action.

The 21-tonne excavator combines a JCB JS190 upper structure with a JS220LC undercarriage and rubber track pads. The result is a machine powerful enough to deploy a 4-tonne multi processor attachment without exceeding a gross weight of 25 tonnes.

The development of the groundbreaking machine has required close co-operation between Coleman Engineering Services, dealer Gunn JCB and JCB Heavy Products in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire.

The new excavator is working 20 hours a day on the highly prestigious redevelopment of Birmingham New Street Train Station. It has been purpose designed for the project at the redeveloped station and Grand Central shopping centre. Its work involves the removal of existing reinforced concrete floors to create a void beneath the new atrium roof.

Coleman is the principal demolition contractor working on the Birmingham New Street project and is now in its fifth year on site. The current phase sees the removal of 6000 tonnes of mass reinforced concrete during 2014/2015. Some beams weigh as much as 80-90 tonnes and are 2.5 wide and 1.5 metres deep. Outside, on an industrial site, these would present a significant challenge – yet this project is taking place inside, directly beneath the newly constructed, multi million pound atrium steelwork structure which must be protected from all aspects of the demolition. It is also taking place within a live construction site while 140,000 people continue to travel through the station each day.

Remote control enables the operator to work the machine while positioned in a mobile elevated work platform or cherry picker above the beam being demolished allowing for close assessment of the task in hand. The integrated infra red laser fence restricts the unit’s operation to a designated safe zone preventing it from operating too near the edge of the suspended floor.

In addition, the JCB excavator also features: LED lighting for night vision, a non-biodegradable safe fuel system, TAB (triple articulated boom), range control, on board auto fire fighting equipment, on board dust suppression and a jet ski-style emergency stop pull chord.

One of our bridges is missing…

Indiana officials left to ponder who dismantled their bridge.

It’s a sure sign that scrap metal theft has reached epic proportions when city officials receive word that one of their bridges is being systematically dismantled under their very noses.

The city of Hammond, Indiana is currently investigating the gradual disappearance of the Monon Bridge over the Grand Ralumet River.

According to local press reports, the bridge has been targeted by scrappers that have been tearing metal from the bridge. In addition to the loss of the bridge and the ensuing disruption, city officials are also concerned about the environmental implications of the bridge stripping which has seen materials dropped into the river below.

Read more here.

Comment – Recessionary fallout shows no signs of abating…

The UK recession might be officially over, but the demolition victims continue to stack up.

I vividly remember reading a headline that said the tragic events of 9/11 would continue to claim – for years and even decades to come – the lives of New Yorkers that had ingested asbestos and other carcinogens released by the fall of the Twin Towers. Whether this was based on scientific fact, media speculation, or merely an unnecessary knee-jerk gilding of the tragedy lily, I never did figure out.

But I was reminded of this headline this weekend when I was browsing the Companies House app that I had just installed on my new iPhone.

Keen to keep a finger on the beating pulse of the industry about which I spend my every waking hour writing, I spent a few tortuous hours tagging any company that I could find with the word “demolition” in its title. Hardly scientific, I grant you, yet it did throw up several hundred companies that I can now track with a simple sweep of my thumb. But the exercise threw up way more than that.

Of the near 300 companies identified by this first sweep, more than 20 currently have a red flag against them for one reason or another. Some of them are relatively innocuous, the late submission of company accounts (Action Demolition) for example. Most, however, are far more worrying and include voluntary strike off requests (A1 Bridgeline Demolition), First Gazette listings, in administration (G Fry Demolition) and full-blown liquidations (IJ Webb Demolition & Groundworks, K&R Demolition and L&G Demolition).

There are, thankfully, no major names mired in these post-recessionary struggles; at least not according to this cursory and subjective scan of Companies House records. But each of these smaller companies represents a collective of demolition workers with skills and expertise gained over years and decades of experience and training. And while each of the companies currently flying a cautionary red flag might employ just a handful each, the cumulative effect is the further erosion of the industry’s skills base.

When the recession hit the UK demolition market in 2007 and 2008, its impact claimed several high profile victims. The reduction in workload and narrowing of margins – like the aftershocks that follow a major earthquake – claimed several more. But it appears that the belated tightening of bank borrowing rules, coupled with a dog-eat-dog marketplace in which even the biggest names are struggling for survival, will be every bit as destructive and ultimately fatal as the cancerous dust cloud that billowed through Manhattan on that fateful day in 2001.

Video – Xerox building falls…

Sunday morning blast fells famed Dallas tower.

A 15-storey office building along Dallas’ Central Expressway was reduced to a pile of twisted steel and debris yesterday morning.

The former Xerox building was imploded by demolition experts shortly after 8 a.m. to make way for a new retail shopping centre just north of Haskell Avenue.

Desire to profit played role in botched blast…

Cleveland Wrecking stands accused of rushing blast to make most of scrap prices.

A demolition company’s desire to profit from favourable conditions in the scrap metal market contributed to the botched demolition of an old power plant in 2013, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. alleged last week in a lawsuit against the project’s general contractor and its parent company.

PG&E, the plant’s owner, noted the plant’s scrap was of “significant value,” and that project cost overruns and delays could have reduced the price Covina-based general contractor Cleveland Wrecking Co. might expect to get for the scrap.

The legal complaint does not specify what actions PG&E believes Cleveland Wrecking and its San Francisco-based parent, URS Corp., took to maximize their profits from scrap sales, nor does it offer a theory on what technically went wrong during the demolition. But the lawsuit does point to shortcuts the contractors allegedly took, including putting a company with no blasting experience in charge of a large implosion.

The two contractors speculate on scrap, PG&E’s lawsuit says, and “their desire to take advantage of favorable market conditions and maximize profits played a role in their actions related to the (plant’s) demolition.”

San Francisco-based PG&E filed the lawsuit, at least in part, to recover URS’s and Cleveland Wrecking’s alleged share of a recent settlement the utility paid to Jerry Wood, who suffered critical injuries when shrapnel from the early morning blast on Aug. 3, 2013 flew across Coffee Road and struck his legs. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but PG&E says it put up 93 percent of the dollar amount given Wood and his wife, and that URS and Cleveland Wrecking made up the rest.

Read more here.

Video – Not so noisy neighbours…

So close, I can almost smell it.

You probably all remember what happened the last time a demolition company came a’knocking on the portcullis at the entrance of Demolition News Towers.

Thankfully, the latest demolition visit to leafy Epsom was far more peaceable.

I opened my front door about a week ago to spy – in the distance – the distinctive boom of a Demex excavator jutting above the houses. Curious, I popped round the corner, camera in hand, and managed to capture a spot of footage of the guys at work.

Video – Bleachers buckle…

Sun Devil stadium demolition underway.

The first phase of Arizona State’s $256 million renovation of Sun Devil Stadium is underway.

This phase will pave the way for a new student section to be built in its place, but right now, the stands have been reduced to a pile of twisted metal.

Sun Devil Stadium Demolition from The State Press on Vimeo.

Birmingham icon faces the chop…

Demolition plans focus on one of city’s tallest buildings.

Developers are hoping to start work demolishing one of the tallest city centre tower blocks in Birmingham in March, planning to replace it with a brand new building.

The 1970s building, 103 Colmore Row, was once occupied by NatWest but has been empty since 2003.

New owners, developer Sterling Property Ventures and its funders Rockspring, bought the central business district’s tallest office building from British Land in November.

They are now asking Birmingham Council for permission to demolish the building. The piece-by-piece dismantling of the 22-storey concrete-panelled tower is expected to take between 10 and 12 months.

Its site, in a conservation area on the corner of Colmore Row and Newhall Street, has planning permission for a 35-storey tower. However, Sterling and Rockspring are currently revising these plans. Plans for a smaller scale development, similar in size to the existing structure, are being drawn up.

Read more here.

Video – Blast marks the end at Sparrow Point…

Poignant farewell to former steel-making stronghold.

The most visible vestige of Sparrows Point’s steelmaking past tumbled to the ground yesterday afternoon as workers from CDI imploded the property’s L Blast Furnace.

Workers have been planning for months to bring down the furnace with explosives, part of the ongoing work to demolish structures in advance of redeveloping the property.

Built in 1978, the L Blast Furnace stands 32 stories tall, weighs 11 million pounds and was a key part of the steel-making process at Sparrows Point.

Steel was made at Sparrows Point in southeastern Baltimore County for more than 100 years, mostly under the ownership of Bethlehem Steel. After a series of ownership changes, the mill closed when its then-owner, RG Steel, filed for bankruptcy. About 2,000 people lost their jobs when the mill closed.

Read more here, or view the poignant video below:

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