Cat Shear Force Speeds Demolition at Steel Foundry

Wed November 06, 2002 - Northeast Edition

The demolition crew of R. St-Pierre Excavation required only seven weeks to take down a 250,00-sq.-ft. (23,225 sq m) structure — the Canadian Steel Wheel foundry in Montreal, Quebec. In that same span, crews cut up 4,500 tons (4,050 t) of scrap steel and trucked it 50 mi. (80 km) to operating foundries where the scrap was reborn as new structural steel H-beams.

The old foundry, constructed in the 1920s, manufactured rail and wheels to supply the railroad industry. Its demolition was considered a small job by R. St-Pierre managers.

“We have a fleet of 22 Caterpillar excavators,” said Rene St-Pierre, founder and president of Groupe St. Pierre, the parent of R. St-Pierre Excavation — the excavating and demolition branch of the Sherbrooke, Quebec-based company. “We usually operate three jobs at a time. We now have another demolition job for the Port of Montreal that requires removing 60,000 tons of concrete and 7,500 tons of steel.”

The company has maintained an all-Caterpillar fleet since St-Pierre Excavation incorporated in 1969. The parent group was founded in 1968 and offers a range of services including small- and large-scale excavation work, mine site restoration and environmental remediation — as well as demolition.

The addition of new Cat Work Tools accelerated metal processing on the foundry demolition job. Specifically, R. St-Pierre purchased Caterpillar S365 and S390 mobile scrap and demolition shears from the regional Caterpillar dealer, Hewitt Equipment Ltd. The new shears offer 360-degree left and right rotation, which reduces the need for the excavator/carrier to reposition when cutting steel beams and other scrap steel. The rotating system torque and strength are designed to handle the heaviest loads the excavator can handle.

R. St-Pierre mounted the S390 on a Caterpillar 350 L hydraulic excavator. The shear — the largest of six 360-degree rotation models offered by Cat — weighs 21,389 lbs. (9,702 kg) and has a jaw opening of 33.9 in. (86.1 cm). The S365 weighs 14,333 lbs. (6,501 kg) and has a jaw opening of 29.1 in. (73.9 cm). It is mounted on a Cat 235 hydraulic excavator.

Gilles Hebert, general foreman and project manager of R. St-Pierre. has calculated that the new Cat Work Tools are paying off. Based on working five, 10-hour shifts per week, the S365 shear can produce the equivalent of one day of additional work when compared with another manufacturer’s shear on site. In addition to 360-degree rotation, increased jaw force and fast jaw cycle times boost productivity.

Hebert pays close attention to maintenance requirements, too — as shown by a Caterpillar 245 excavator still going strong with 277,000-plus hours displayed on the meter. Knife maintenance on the Caterpillar shears is much reduced when compared with another brand of shears on the same site. Cat shears have replaceable knives made of long-wearing alloy steel. All four cutting edges of each knife, except for the side cutter, can be used before the knife is discarded.

The St-Pierre crew has turned the knives on the S365 only once, and the S390 has not required any knife changes. Hebert estimates the maintenance time for the Cat shears is one hour per week, versus half an hour per day on the competitive shears.

Although older excavators require some hydraulics updates to accommodate new work tools, R. St-Pierre soon will add two more new Caterpillar work tools. A Caterpillar MP40 multi-processor equipped with crusher jaws will see its first action on a bridge demolition job, and a Cat G300 scrap and demolition grapple will be used for sorting.