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Protection in the Line of Fire: Brokk Remote-Controlled Demolition Machines Enhance Operator Safety in Foundry Applications

Within foundries, weekly cleaning tasks such as refractory removal require operators to hold up 30-pound chipping guns and 40-pound rivet busters to remove the caked-on material inside and around the ladles. Such tasks take as long as four hours to complete, which may lead to muscle strain and an increased risk of injuries.

Fortunately, Waupaca Foundry — the world’s largest gray iron and ductile iron casting supplier, headquartered in Waupaca, Wisconsin — found a solution that lets them combat the heat and the danger with remote-controlled demolition machines. Manufactured by Brokk, a Swedish company with US headquarters outside Seattle, WA, these machines provide the needed hard-hitting power, precision and versatility to remove the thick refractory material. And, with more than a decade of experience with the remote-controlled machines, Waupaca’s Brokkologists are taking safety and productivity to a whole new level.

“Before using Brokk machines our team removed refractory material by hand, using pneumatic hand tools, leading to increased physical stress and risk of injury,” said Steve Heger, Waupaca assistant melt manager. “To overcome the physical demands, we needed something that was compact enough to maneuver around our facility, yet offered the power of the handheld tools. That’s when we turned to Brokk.”

Waupaca Foundry purchased its first Brokk machine in 2000 to increase the efficiency and safety of the foundry and to reduce injuries to employees. The team started with a 1.6-ton Brokk 150, which they used to remove the refractory lining in the 80-foot-tall cupola, effectively minimizing the use of pneumatic tools.

More than 15 years later, Waupaca Foundry now uses five electric powered Brokk machines in three of their seven foundries. Their Brokk machines weigh 1 to 3 tons each and include a Brokk 150, 180, 250 as well as two Brokk 100s.

“It’s evident how the machines reduce physical stress and injuries, and provide our team the most efficient and safe means for refractory removal applications,” said Steve Heger, Waupaca Foundry assistant melt manager. “And they allow us to offer a more predictable work schedule and get our team home injury-free every night.”

Today the Waupaca Foundry Brokkologists approach the jobsite prepared to combat the dust, debris and high temperatures. The remote-controlled equipment has not only provided hard-hitting precise power, but also versatility, enhanced productivity, and, above all, safety.

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