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Investment in Brokk Improves Safety and Productivity

A serious injury on the jobsite can be an eye-opening experience for any contractor. It’s what drove Jack Kennedy, vice president of Southern Refractories Inc., a refractory contractor and distributor based in Southlake, Texas, to invest in Brokk remote-controlled demolition machines. Southern Refractories purchased its first Brokk unit after an accident severely injured two crewmembers who were tearing out refractory lining in a rotary kiln. More than 20 years later, Kennedy is still bothered when reflecting on that incident because he believes it wouldn’t have happened had they been using remote-controlled technology at the time.

Southern Refractories’ Brokk use grew over the past two decades, and the company currently owns five: a B90, B160, B180 and two B260s. He said injuries have significantly decreased with the use of the Brokk units and he has saved tens of thousands of dollars over the years in workers’ compensation claims.

For Kennedy’s team, the most common injuries prior to using Brokk machines were during refractory tear outs, when falling debris caused hand, feet and leg injuries. Now, he said, those problems have been virtually eliminated. Southern Refractories’ experience modification rate, or EMR, even dropped after the first remote-controlled machine purchase and has stayed low ever since, resulting in cheaper insurance premiums.

Productivity also improved. Kennedy said they use the machines in every application possible, including rotary kilns, coolers and feed shelves. When able, crews will even place a Brokk unit on a platform before cranking it up and into a preheat tower to tear out lining. Kennedy said his crews can complete jobs in about half the time with the Brokk machines as they would have with jackhammers and rivet busters. This is especially valuable to cement plants where some of the larger kilns can lose as much as $500,000 a day when not in operation. Plus, the jobs are cheaper to complete since fewer people are needed to run the equipment. Tear-out jobs that used to take 10 to 12 people now only require two or three. Southern Refractories has also cut pneumatic tool use by about 95 percent in those same applications, reducing the risk of associated injuries.

Kennedy estimates Southern Refractories has been able to use the ROI from the machines to pay for most of the dozen or so Brokk machines they’ve purchased over the years.

His advice to other companies? Pay attention to new technology, such as remote-controlled demolition machines, pneumatic brick rings and shotcrete developments. Though the equipment can be expensive, he said, it pays off through a boost in productivity and knowing you did all you could to keep your workers safe.

Interested in learning how Brokk machines can improve productivity and safety in your operation? Contact Brokk today by emailing or visiting the website.

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