Epiroc’s water spraying systems for its range of hydraulic attachments offer a variety of efficiency and productivity benefits. But, as Glenn Illingworth tells EEM, the most crucial outcome is the improved air quality they afford operators and tradespeople.
With a history stretching all the way back to 1873, and a presence in Australia since 1950, Epiroc has been a force of innovation in the construction, mining, and quarrying industries for generations.
Well known in earthmoving circles for its range of excavator attachments, including hydraulic breakers, hydraulic pulverisers, grapples, and cutters; Epiroc has always aimed not only to keep in step with trends, but be innovators for the industries it serves.
According to Epiroc Business Development Manager Glenn Illingworth, this means keeping ears to the ground, listening to customers, and understanding how businesses and best practices evolve over time. Recently, he says, the topic of dust suppression has been hot on everyone’s tongue, and it’s a topic Epiroc has taken very seriously.
“We’ve listened to our customers and recognised a need for a factory-designed dust suppression system for our attachments,” Glenn says.
“For several years now, we have designed and produced our own water spraying systems as an alternative to some of the other inefficient ad hoc solutions out there.
“In some cases, we’ve even seen customers have one of their staff stand near the operator with a hose, spraying down the work area to meet local dust restrictions, which are especially strict in built up areas.
“Obviously, this kind of solution is inefficient and costly, not to mention a safety concern. So, by using our water spraying system, the water is focused exactly where it needs to be, and frees up that additional worker to be better utilised for more cost-effective tasks.”
While efficiency – and in certain regions, conservation of water – is of the utmost importance to any business, Glenn says the stakes are getting higher on a much more critical axis: worker health.
With each passing year, the dangers of inhaling microscopic dust particles are coming into clearer focus – particularly for those exposed over the course of an entire career working in harsh conditions.
A 2022 report published by Curtin University shed light on some sobering figures, predicting more than 10,000 Australians are likely to develop lung cancer as a direct result of exposure to crystalline silica dust.
Glenn says that for those in the rockbreaking and earthmoving game, reducing exposure to harmful dusts can be a very simple matter – it’s just a matter of using the right tools.
“While Epiroc has had these spray systems available for several years now, in recent times we have seen the demand increase as addressing the risks of silicosis becomes a real focus on construction sites, demolition sites, and in quarry applications,” he says.
It’s also nothing new for Epiroc – Glenn says the manufacturer has been refining its water spraying systems over the years, so the technology is well established.
“Of course, tunnelling operations have always had a strong need for dust suppression, given the confined spaces,” he says. “Epiroc’s SB range of hydraulic breakers have had the option to fit spray nozzles in the base of the breakers from their inception 20 years ago.”
Epiroc’s SB series of hydraulic breakers, from the SB 152 up to the SB 1102, features an integrated channel for water spraying. Included as standard, this system is designed to offer simple and effective dust suppression for a range of applications, from construction sites to demolition projects.
“SB breakers have a hose connection port also built into the breaker, adjacent to the hydraulic supply line connection,” Glenn says. “Then there’s a dedicated internal channel that feeds the water down to the nozzles.”
“For our silent demolition range and medium and heavy hydraulic breaker range we offer retrofit kits featuring an intermediate plate that fits between the attachment and the mounting plate. These plates, which are designed and supplied by our Epiroc factory in Essen, Germany, offer the flexibility to vary the spray nozzle configuration, with eight ports and three types of nozzle options provided in the kit.”
But it doesn’t end with hydraulic breakers. Epiroc also offers water spraying systems for the Erkat range of drum cutters.
“These are designed and produced through our Erkat factory in Dermbach, Germany,” Glenn says. “They are specially designed for our drum cutters, and comprise two water distributors with four spray nozzles in each. These fit neatly underneath the drum cutter’s flange for the mounting plate, which keeps them protected.
“Both our breakers and drum cutters are typically used for tunnel cross passages: the breakers for the breaking out, and the drum cutters for the trimming to reduce the need for excessive concrete spraying to stabilise the cross passage. So, as is the case for our SB hydraulic breaker tunnel versions, which come with spray nozzles as standard, we also saw the need to provide a spray system for our drum cutters.”
For more on Epiroc’s attachment range, and its water spraying systems, visit: www.epiroc.com/en-au/