JCB remote-controlled excavator gets to work at UK station

The excavator is working 20 hours a day on the redevelopment of Birmingham New Street train station

PHOTO: The remote-controlled excavator allows the operator to work alongside it on a cherry picker while it demolishes heavy concrete beams. Credit: JCB

JCB has supplied a remotely operated excavator to a UK demolition company, purpose-designed for work at a train station redevelopment in Birmingham.

The excavator is working 20 hours a day on the redevelopment of Birmingham New Street, work that involves the removal of existing reinforced concrete floors to create a void beneath a new atrium roof.

“The remote-control machine gives Coleman & Company the option to operate in restricted and confined areas while the operator remains in a safe location. It can be used on demolition projects that are deemed too dangerous to risk an operator in the cab or in contaminated structures where human access is unsafe,” said Coleman & Company contract-support manager Malcolm Hurst.

VIDEO: JCB’s remote-controlled excavator in action

Coleman is the principal demolition contractor working on the 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, multimillion-pound atrium, a steelwork structure that must be completely protected from 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 on a mobile elevated work platform or cherry picker above the beam being demolished, allowing for close assessment of the task in hand. An integrated infrared laser-fence restricts the unit’s operation to a designated safe zone preventing it from operating too near the edge of the suspended floor.

The JCB excavator also features LED lighting for night vision, a non-biodegradable safe fuel system, TAB (triple articulated boom), range control, onboard auto firefighting equipment, onboard dust suppression and a jetski-style emergency-stop pull cord.

VIDEO: JCB’s remote-controlled excavator in action

The machine is expected to work on the project for the next nine months. It combines a JCB JS190 upper structure with a JS220LC undercarriage and rubber track pads, in order to be powerful enough to deploy a 4 tonne multi processor attachment without exceeding a gross weight of 25 tonnes.

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