Using Hydraulic Hammers to Break Rock
By: The Working Man
Many European quarries choose to use hydraulic hammers rather
than explosives to loosen rock in quarries, although the practice
is still rare in North America. But hydraulic hammers continue to
improve in function, size, durability, and sound management, so
more contractors may begin to use them, especially in areas that
are near residential or urban centers where the sound of blasting
may evoke many complaints.
Some positive advantages to using hammers rather than explosives
1. Easier environmental protection compliance - some areas have
noise level restriction laws, and blasting may be banned. The new
"silenced" hydraulic hammers can be operated at sound levels as
low as eighty-five dBa at thirty feet (ten meters).
2. Better quality rock is produced when quarries use hydraulic
hammers rather than blasting, since blasting may cause cracking
of the stone and a larger quantity of relatively useless fine
3. If a variety of different grades of rock are present in the
deposit, explosive blasting mixes the various types or qualities
of the stone with resulting lowering or even loss of the stone's
value. With a hydraulic hammer individual rock layers can be
4. Before a site can be blasted the area must be cleared of tools
and workers, which stops all other production at that point. With
hydraulic hammers equipment and workers can continue to work in
the surrounding area.
5. Smaller crushing and conveying equipment may be required if
hydraulic hammers are used because operators may be able to
determine the consistency and fragmentation of the rock before it
Costs and time may make using hydraulic hammers on North American
job sites a bad choice in many situations, but if the alternative
is a long public battle or if explosives are banned in the area,
hydraulic hammers should be something you consider as an option.
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