Tear it down. Strip the metal out. Pulverize the concrete. Shred it. Shear it. Dice it up and get it out of here. Bring it all down and start over.

Controlled Chaos

Tear it down. Strip the metal out. Pulverize the concrete. Shred it. Shear it. Dice it up and get it out of here. Bring it all down and start over. The idea of a total demolition job may sound haphazard and uncontrolled - but large-scale dismantling firms like North American Dismantling Corp. have moved far beyond the days of just swinging away with a wrecking ball.

Coming soon: a blank slate

In Anderson, Indiana, a General Motors (GM) factory is being completely dismantled by North American Dismantling Corp. (NADC). It's one continuous structure - nearly 2.5 million square feet - all under one roof. That's an "m" as in million - and for North American Dismantling Corp. it's really not that big at all.

It has to come down, and NADC will methodically, carefully and quickly take it down piece-by-selective-piece. Get the wrecking balls and plastic explosives out of your head. With NADC, it's like micro surgery and the surgeons wear flannel and denim. Their instruments are not scalpels - but grapples, magnets, a fleet of 50-ton Volvo EC460B excavators armed with steel beam-snipping shears and a couple ultra high demolition machines.

"When we leave the site, you won't know a factory was ever there," claimed Dan Clark, Project Manager for the Anderson GM factory job. "It will be an empty field with top soil and planted grass. GM will have a blank slate to work with." So there it is - this one will be a total demolition with complete concrete removal. Everything must go.

Like many facilities owned by a venerable, established company like GM, the Anderson facility has some history - and some years under its roof. The original structure was built in the early 1900s and subsequent additions were merely expanded outward - resulting in one, sprawling structure. The facility produced GM and Inland Fisher Guide parts, as well as machine guns during World War II. At one point the plant supplied 95 percent of all the exterior lighting (aside from headlights) used on GMC cars and light trucks.

Over the years, GM got a lot of mileage out of the facility and North American Dismantling seeks nearly as much mileage out of the demolition. "We recycle and reuse all that we can," said Dan Clark. "We'll salvage and sell all the non-ferrous metals. We sell the machinery and any reusable electrical equipment. We'll remove and crush all the concrete on site and use a majority of it for backfill and land balancing. We're using our Volvo EC460B excavators with shears to remove the steel and process it into mill-quality steel. We do most everything on site in an effort to reduce cost, time and transport. The more we recycle and resell the less waste that hits the landfill."

Much of the work is handled by the company's iron workhorse team of four Volvo EC460B excavators. The Volvo relationship started when NADC was in a bind to get a job done. Dave Sinay at Wolverine Tractor & Equipment Company gladly stepped in with Volvo. Wolverine delivered a rental EC460B to the site. NADC liked it so much they bought it. Then they bought three more - plus a halfdozen other Volvo machines.

"Wolverine rents specialized demolition machines equipped with highly specialized demolition attachments," continued Sinay. "Most dealers can't do that. North American Dismantling sees the value in that relationship and in Volvo. These machines have sophisticated auxiliary hydraulic plumbing that increases the efficiency of the tools they carry. Today, it is clearly the best in the industry. For NADC, I think they fit the bill perfectly."

Choose your attachment, and dig in
NADC uses the Volvos with shear attachments to pick apart the building piece-by-piece. "It really is a very deliberate, methodical process," added Finance Director Ivan Bain. "Our operators know right where to snip the trusses to take out the main support columns. They also need to know where not to cut. Safety is paramount." With an OSHA EMR safety rating under 0.85 each of the last five years, it's clear they practice what they preach.

The operators snip and chew their way through the building's exterior and skeleton - sorting as they work. Steel is placed over here. Roofing there. Stone has its place. Loaders and smaller excavators process and move the piles into further classifications ready for recycling, selling and waste.

Dan Clark noted that continual attachment improvements have helped make the job easier. Today's demolition attachment requires less lubrication, less maintenance and less blade replacement. They are stronger - yet lighter. "We're using LaBounty rotating steel shears, pulverizers and grapples - as well as Genesis demolition attachments," noted Clark. "The Volvos are configured to need very little modification. For extra capacity and strength, we've got the shear attached directly to the boom - not at the end of the stick."

With this configuration, the Volvos can easily cut through 24" steel beams with 1" thick webs. When you make your bread doing demolition, it's nice to cut through everything like butter.

Made for this stuff
Full-scale demolition contractors like North American Dismantling Corp. rely on tough equipment every day. This isn't constructiongrade equipment fitted with a few extra grates. Everything is battle tested for the rigors and demands of demolition. The Volvos feature higher volume, demolition-grade hydraulics and high oil cooling capacity to handle the high pressure flow.

NADC has primarily been a Cat customer, due to its reliance on Cat ultra high demolition machines. That is starting to change. "We demoed the Volvo and liked it," stated Dan Clark. "Now we're starting to hear about Volvo's offering of ultra high reach machines. We're interested to see if they perform as well as the Volvos we have now."

"Wolverine has been great at keeping us running," added Ivan Bain. "Parts and service is great. We're also impressed with the useful info we are able to download from the machine computer readouts, helping us compare and improve."

It ultimately comes down to performance for Dan Clark, but he likes the Volvo excavator for its other key values: dependability, cost of ownership - namely fuel efficiency, followed by machine cycle life. "We want the strength and performance that we expect," said Bain. "The Volvo capabilities have impressed us. And its fuel efficiency goes a long way when fuel is $4 per gallon."

NADC operators have also noticed the difference in Volvo comfort. "The Volvo machine is now preferred due to comfort," continued Bain. "We're running 10-hour shifts on this job, and we're seeing some competition for who gets to run the Volvos."

Building the business by tearing it down
North American Dismantling Corp. started out in 1984. Since then, the business owned by Rick Marcicki has grown in scope and sales to become a leading, full-scale demolition contractor. Based in Lapeer, Michigan, the company's revenue figures rose to $27 million in 2007. Services include demolition (total, controlled and selective), emergency response, critical lift/pick, tank removal, site clearing and recycling.

Specializing in heavy industrial and commercial demolition, there really is no limit to the scale of jobs NADC will take on. From factory demolitions like the one in Indiana to picking up the rubble remains in the wake of a tornado's aftermath to aiding in the search and recovery efforts following the World Trade Center collapse, NADC comes prepared.

"North American Dismantling does it all the right way - from their demolition techniques to their on-site scrap sorting to recycling," said Dave Sinay from Wolverine. "And let's face it, they are using very specialized attachments in very unique applications. Not every contractor expertly wields a 10,000 pound shear with a 360° rotating head to pick apart an enormous building. I'm proud to say Volvo helps NADC do what they do best."