Robotic, remote control demolition and construction equipment specialist Brokk has now reached a critical mass of equipment in Ireland and is setting up permanent operations here. Matt Bailey spoke to Ireland regional sales manager Ken Finn and Brokk UK company MD Nathan Sayars about their plans.

With four decades in the robotic demolition equipment business and approximately sixty machines currently operating in Ireland, Brokk has taken the decision to set up permanent operations in Laois to support its existing customers in the island of Ireland territory and expand the business in what the company sees as an increasingly important market. 

“I had been bringing over Brokk machines and demoing them in Ireland since I joined the company in 2002, showing the equipment and its benefits,” says Brokk UK MD Nathan Sayars. 

“Now we have got to the point where we need to be more proactive. Our developing business In Ireland has made it essential that we have someone on the ground so we appointed Ken Finn as regional sales manager Ireland and he has set up shop in Laois.”

Ken previously worked for a Brokk customer so he was familiar with the product range. “2022 is just the start,” he says, “the plan is to have service engineers and workshops based here working for an independent Irish Brokk company. Our main customer base is in demolition but we also have customers in drilling and cutting contractors and mining among a long list of others.” 

The majority of the Brokk machines in Ireland are electric, tethered three-phase powered machines, but there are also three diesel-powered variants in the country. “Electric-power is more sustainable of course but battery power is really not appropriate for the kinds of tools we use and their heavy duty applications,” says Ken.

“A typical battery as used in small excavators etc would be flat in no time with the high hydraulic flow rates we require for or heavy duty tools, so on-site three-phase power is by far the best option. This also means the machines themselves are emissions free and can work safely inside in enclosed spaces or in mines.”

The list of applications is impressive: demolition, construction, tunnelling, mining, steel production, cement kiln lining maintenance, nuclear plant decommissioning and Brokk has recently supplied a number of machines for defence applications.

The Brokk Group is a Sweden-based world-leader in specialised and technically advanced demolition equipment, radiation-proof electrical equipment, and equipment for kiln maintenance. The group consists of a number of market leading product companies as well as a number of sales companies around the world. It currently has two locations in the UK, a service centre in London and the UK HQ in Cumbria, just off the M6, and of course the Irish HQ in Laois.

The Brokk Group’s product companies include: Brokk – a leading manufacturer of advanced remote-controlled demolition machines, popularly called ‘demolition robots’; Brokk Bricking Solutions – A leading manufacturer of specialised kiln maintenance equipment; Darda – a leading manufacturer of compact concrete crushing and metal shear equipment, as well as hydraulic splitters; Ahlberg Camera Systems – a world-leading manufacturer of specialised radiation proof camera and lighting systems; Aquajet Systems – a leading manufacturer of hydro-demolition robots and equipment. It is a high-quality, coherent and logically connected product offering all made at the company’s HQ in Sweden.

Buying the best

“You are buying the best when you buy Brokk,” says Ken. “They really offer users a better way to do things. They are high quality, innovative, smart reliable machines with minimum componentry. We supply the best product we can bring to market and we’re always looking for the latest technology.”

In 2017 Brokk introduced SmartPower. “It is the world’s most intelligent power system,” says Ken.  “Designed specifically for heavy duty demolition, its secret lies in a system that offers increased power through a smart control and monitoring system and a hardened electrical design – maximising production while minimising downtime. This is how we manage to make the machines so powerful yet very compact and lightweight. The intelligent power management system introduces a unique electric powertrain that increases the output in any given size of power pack by 50% or more. 

The smart monitoring makes the Brokk machine well-suited to work in environments with generators or potentially unreliable power supply. The intelligent system senses if the power supply is poor or faulty, compensates for it as much as possible and then protects the components before any harm is done. This extends the lifetime of all electrical and hydraulic components.”

In March last year Brokk introduced the Brokk 900 with SmartPower – a compact but powerful machine able to work with bigger tools. “It is the world’s most powerful demolition robot,” says Ken. “The design and engineering of the machine is reinforced, the power is increased, its operation even more precise, and the new breaker is more powerful. And all this with almost no increase in size and weight.

It is a signature Brokk development. Using SmartPower technology to improve the powertrain, the Brokk 900 delivers a 25% increase in output power. It comes in two different models: the standard Brokk 900 with the heaviest and most powerful breaker, and the Brokk 900 Rotoboom with a high-precision rotating boom system. The standard Brokk 900 comes with the option of two different hydraulic breakers, both of which are more powerful than the breaker on the predecessor Brokk 800.”

At the lighter end of the range, the Brokk 70 is the perfect solution for bringing safe and efficient demolition to the most confined spaces. Introduced in 2019, the Brokk 70, compared to its predecessor, the Brokk 60, has 100% more demolition capacity. Its combination of power, small size, and light weight allow for work in places where mechanised demolition has previously been impossible. Equipped with SmartPower and a smooth hydraulic system, the Brokk 70 features enormous power in a miniature size.

“Our Brokk 70 is the smallest demolition robot on the market with power four times that of equivalent weight machines,” says Ken. “It’s probably the most efficient tool carrier pound for pound that you can buy,

“With its compact dimensions the Brokk 70 is truly a demotion robot that eliminates all need for manual demolition work. There are reckoned to be two million people in the UK alone at risk HAV  (hand arm vibration) injury and once the damage is done, it’s permanent,” warns Ken. “Claims are massive. With a Brokk robotic demolition robot, this health and safety issue is neutralised.”

All Brokk products are backed up by the Brokk Connect online platform and come with Brokk Connect as standard.

“The online platform was developed and designed to simplify control and care,” Ken tells me. “The software enables you to locate and manage the entire robot fleet, with precise information of every activity and service requirement, hour by hour.

Its allows us to perform preventative maintenance and diagnostics so we can feed all the useful information to the customer. We can let them know if there are any issues on the horizon before they turn into actual problems. All machines also come with our two year warranty and full service package though.”

Ideal for Ireland

While business has been good for some time now – four Brokk machines were used on the Dublin Port Tunnel project in the noughties for example – both Ken and Nathan see growing opportunities for robotic machines in Ireland.

“With buildings being redeveloped and re-purposed in town and city centres, Brokk machines are the ideal solution to get into these buildings and quickly and efficiently get them ready for the construction phase,” says Nathan. “We have seen this in the UK with the collapse of the High Street many buildings are being re-purposed. Our machines are ideal for these enclosed sites. Plus they are safer and more sustainable.”

As part of this profile raising Brokk machines will be on display at the CQMS’23 show in Tullamore in April next year as well as at the Bauma show at Messe München in Germany next month where the company promises to unveil something new for the first time. 

“It will actually be our third time at CQMS in Ireland,” says Ken. “It has been a great show for us – even last time at the tail end of the pandemic! It allows us to really demonstrate our focus on technology and commitment to the Irish market and that commitment has just stepped up another gear!”

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