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Switching from excavators to material handlers nets revenue for Adamo Demolition

Sennebogen 840 M Material Handler at work in a junkyard next to a river

Richard Adamo and his team still feel a little irked that they did not bring purpose-built material handlers into their demolition business sooner than they did.  

Adamo is the third-generation president of one of the nation's most respected demolition contractors. The Detroit-based Adamo Group has been a leader in the demolition industry for over 50 years, taking on large decommissioning projects throughout the United States and Canada. But he still shakes his head ruefully at the days before he began building his fleet of SENNEBOGEN material handlers to extract scrap metal from demolition debris and to load the material into trucks and barges.

With the new equipment, Adamo has created a valuable new revenue stream, increased loading and logistics efficiency and even improved relations with landfill operators.

Unrealized revenue

Like most demolition contractors, Adamo was accustomed to using specially-equipped long-reach excavators to tear down structures and then machines with a grapple followed up to pick through and load the debris for disposal. It was in 2004 that the firm first experimented with attaching a magnet to an excavator to pull out rebar and other ferrous scrap from the piles of rubble.

"We were floored by the amount of scrap we were recovering," Adamo recalls. At the time, he had a team working on an automotive factory project, with a large volume of metal in the structures. "Look at the recovery we can get - all this material we've been sending to the landfill, picked as clean as you can get it." In one job, metal recovery added significantly in revenue to Adamo's bottom line.

A new way of "maging"

A short time later, Adamo took advantage of an opportunity to acquire a used material handler and decided to "give it a shot at maging the site." Maintaining that machine proved to be problematic. However, it demonstrated the advantages of replacing excavators with purpose-built material handlers. It was just a question of finding the right material handler for this application.

This is when Alta Equipment, an equipment dealer in Michigan, connected Adamo with its SENNEBOGEN line-up of material handlers. "I attended an open house at Alta and I saw an 821 M on their lot. I thought ‘That's really cool. I'm really interested in that machine. It's a good little unit; very mobile; it could suit a specific need."

"Through the roof" support

Adamo had two priorities in mind when he saw the 821: mobility and dealer support. With projects scattered across the country, the ability to transport equipment efficiently is a key point in planning. Larger sites also call for machines that travel quickly between work zones under their own power. And, as in any major project, reliability through long operating shifts is essential to meet deadlines.  

"SENNEBOGEN made a great decision when they partnered up with Alta," says Adamo. "The dealer support is through the roof. We have had no issues with downtime or parts availability. We rely on factory-certified technicians for all our equipment service. Alta works well with our dealers in other regions to give us a strong support network. We used to have our own certified mechanics on our staff but they could only take it so far before they had to call the dealer. Now Alta supplies the techs as we need them through an "onsite" labor agreement."

Mobile and productive

Adamo is just as pleased with the other machines that Alta has supplied. He purchased an 825 M soon after seeing his first 821, then larger 830 M models were added for new projects. "I'm pretty critical of equipment," he says. "Our excavators were challenging at times to move. The 825 is night and day better." Each of these models, up to the 830, can simply drive themselves on and off a lowboy to transport with greater ease. 

The firm was recognized by the NDA for its work in Detroit to clear its blight of abandoned homes. At the peak of the program, Adamo took down over 1400 homes in less than three months. Adamo describes that program as a unique project. "Each house is a job. It calls for significant resources for continual management. We had to move quickly and we able to get it done with no complaints from the neighbours." 

One 830 spent over three years on a major industrial project in Muskingum, OH. "We had no problems in all that time - we learned something from that! Reliability is very high with SENNEBOGEN."

"The effortless way the wheeled material handler works running on solid tires are certainly less troublesome than tracks to maintain. We leave the magnet on it rather than using an orange-peel grapple. This way, we avoid contaminating the various types of ferrous scrap in each load. Our biggest maintenance items, in fact, are the magnets! The way we use them, to sweep through piles means the "whips" get frayed and need repairs. But there have been no major issues with our SENNEBOGEN, just routine preventative maintenance at the regular intervals."

Bigger machines for bigger jobs

The fleet was expanded recently to include even larger material handlers. A SENNEBOGEN 840 M was acquired for a power plant project in Ohio, where barge loading operations required a heavier machine with longer reach. The laydown area is located near the barge facility, a considerable distance from the demolished structures on the site. Using a 67" lifting magnet, the 840 loads off-road trucks with the recovered material, which delivers the scrap to the laydown area. Once enough material is accumulated, the 840 is driven to the river to fill the barge. 

When it's not loading trucks, the 840 continues maging out the debris piles. According to Adamo, thanks to SENNEBOGEN's elevating Maxcab his operators also appreciate the visibility they get, looking into the barges. "I always get good feedback from the operators; they just raise the cab and go to work. The machine doesn't stop." 

Unexpected rewards

The maging application gets unexpected kudos from landfill operators as well. As Adamo explains, the concrete material from their projects is commonly used as "hard fill" to cover the service roads in landfill sites. However, scrap metals mixed into the waste frequently takes a toll in flat tires for trucks on those roadways. Since Adamo began cleaning metals from the debris it ships out, complaints about flats have gone down appreciably. 

"Our biggest accomplishment, really, is segregating the metal to recycle," says Adamo. "We were among the first to use the magnets for sweeping and cleaning the piles. We are now getting paid for material that otherwise would have been a cost for tipping fees at the dump."

"We have been engaged with SENNEBOGEN and Alta now, for eight years and the experience has been great. Constantino Lannes (President of SENNEBOGEN LLC) came to town a while ago and I was happy to tell him that SENNEBOGEN is hands-down the best material handler in the market. They are all outstanding units: durable, reliable; the dealer support is remarkable. As we grow our business and our fleet, we won't go anywhere else."

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