Ripper tears through rock with ease
By Robert J. Holt
Up in the mountains surrounding Harrison Lake, just a few kilometres north of Chilliwack, B.C., a logging road slowly winds its way up along the mountainside. The road comes to a sudden end, facing a wall of sheer rock which blocks the path.
Carly Wethersett, marketing director at ShearForce Equipment, stands near that rock wall and watches as a small crew fits an excavator with one of her company's latest products. It will be a real-world test of what the product can do in Canada's mountainous terrain.
That product is the XR40, a mid-size model of the Xcentric Ripper. Back in March of 2011, the excavator attachment caught the eye of ShearForce's president and general manager, Brad Dewit, at ConExpo in Las Vegas. Within weeks of seeing the Ripper on the tradeshow floor, Dewit signed on for his company to be the exclusive Canadian dealer for all Xcentric Ripper models. Not three months later, ShearForce made their first sale of the XR30, and it's been a part of their product line ever since.
Back up on the mountain, the Ripper is all rigged up, and the operator makes his first few passes at the rock face. Wethersett watches on as the Ripper makes quick work of the rock wall, tearing it away. The operator looks over and tells her, "I can't believe how fast this thing is going. It cuts through like it was butter."
If the results sound extraordinary, that's because the Ripper is no ordinary hammer. Initially designed to tackle excavation and trenching projects in the north of Spain, the Ripper boasts some impressive key stats. In half of all job applications, it's been proven to be two to five times more effective than any other hydraulic breaker available on the market.
The secret, as Wethersett says from her office in Abbotsford, B.C., is in the attachment's patented "Impact Energy Accumulation Technology."
"The technology it uses is twofold," she explained, "It's impaction, like a typical hydraulic hammer would use, but it also uses vibration... the vibration works into cracks and fractures, increasing them and splitting the rock apart. It's accelerating the rate of demolition by working with those natural fractures."
That twofold attack – and the boost it gives to overall productivity – is just one of the benefits of the Xcentric Ripper. The attachment is entirely self-contained in an airtight enclosure, which means less noise than the average hydraulic breaker (it's operating noise level is about on-par with a standard bucket). The enclosure also protects against dust, dirt, earth and moisture, making the Ripper virtually maintenance-free.
Although the Ripper can be found on job sites worldwide, you won't find it anywhere in Canada unless you go to ShearForce Equipment. ShearForce is a recently-formed division of West Coast Machinery, which has been owned and operated by the Dewit family since Brad's grandfather founded the company in 1973. Until recently, all of their products were marketed under the West Coast name. However, with changing times come changing business.
As Wethersett explained, "The desire to change [the name] to Shearforce was the need to show that we're ready to move across Canada. We are no longer just West Coast Machinery, we're encompassing much more than that. So [the name change] was a move to reflect our changing customer base."
If the Ripper is any indication, ShearForce is already well-equipped to deliver work-site solutions across the country. The attachment's method – using impaction and vibration – is a huge advantage in a wide range of locations, from the coastal granite and clay slate of British Columbia, to limestone of the prairies, to the permafrost of the north. Being fully enclosed, the Ripper is even suitable for underwater work, and can be submerged up to 50 metres deep. Excavation, trenching, demolition and dredging – the Ripper can handle them all.
Of course, the technology has some limitations. The Ripper works best where the earth has natural fracture and faults which can be worked into. In rock formations with fewer naturally-occurring fractures, the Ripper may not be the right tool for the job.
"In cases like that," Wethersett said, "even a hammer might not necessarily be the best thing. You may still have to consider drilling and blasting."
Even so, with possible applications across the country, especially in the north and along the West Coast, the Xcentric Ripper is one of the most exciting new excavation products available in the Canadian marketplace. The success of one product alone isn't enough for the team at ShearForce, though. They're always on the lookout for new products; in fact, as this article is being written, company president Brad Dewit and vice president Rob Beukema are in Europe, searching for the next big thing to bring to their customers.
Back in Abbotsford, Wethersett is optimistic about what the future holds for the company, and the Xcentric Ripper.
"There's still lots to be done here. There's so much potential out there, this is such a new product and there are so many industries we can provide our services to. It almost makes you wonder, 'Where do we even start?'"
She added, with a laugh, "It's a good problem to have."
A version of this article was originally printed in the Quarter 2 2013 edition of Piling Canada magazine. To view the entire edition, visit www.pilingcanada.ca.