Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Demolition hammers

Article by Becky Schultz on 24 April 2007

It is about demolition hammers, and in particular changes that have been made to their design to reduce vibration for the users. These are a bit like a big electric drill where the bit goes in and out rather than around. The article makes some interesting points about perception, but also points out that the extra cost of avoiding vibration to the user is increased productivity.

One of the biggest marketing challenges for demolition hammer suppliers has been getting users to understand that less vibration doesn't mean less power. "There has always been this correlation, historically, that the more productive I am, the more the tool is going to vibrate," says Bernstein. Consequently, when low-vibration hammers were first introduced in the U.S., they encountered resistance. "[Users] would complain that the tool doesn't hit as hard as everyone else's only because they didn't feel that vibration back to their bodies, and they have this perception that vibration equals power," says Gallert [of Wacker Corp].

This perception is changing. "It's just within the last year or two that we're starting to get people to realize the benefits," says Gallert. "After they use the [hammer] all day, they see that the tool is working, they're getting the job done and at the end of the day, they feel much better."

Another obstacle has been cost. Vibration-dampening technology does, in some cases, increase the price of the tool. "But it's important to weigh the costs with the benefits you're getting down the road," says Cook. "On the one hand, productivity is immediately increased. And there is certainly a benefit down the road with the workers. Workers' comp incidents or claims shouldn't be as prevalent."

Ironically, when it comes to low-vibration hammer designs, productivity may prove to be the determining factor, not operator comfort.

"A lot of times the guys that are buying the tool aren't the ones using it," Bernstein points out. "What we found is these guys are really paying for productivity all day long. If the tool is more comfortable [to use] because we've taken the vibration out, then the user doesn't have to take as many breaks during the day. So a pretty interesting added benefit of the lower vibration is the added productivity that results. "That," he says, "is something the guy who's buying the tool is willing to pay for."

Andy Brazier

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