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Thu November 15 2018

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Bringing down the old Kodak factory

Digger Blogger | 08:00, Tue November 06 2018

Few companies have had to adapt to changing technologies more than Kodak, a name synonymous with a technology hardly anyone uses anymore.

Kodak’s first facility to open outside the USA was on a seven-acre plot in Harrow, north London. Opening in 1891, the site was originally used to develop photographs. They kept around 100 hens on site to produce the egg white required to coat the paper.

As the factory expanded, production of film rolls started, along with the manufacture of photographic paper. By the 1950s Kodak was the largest manufacturing plant in the British Commonwealth and employed around 6,000 staff.

However, production of photographic film ended in 2005, owing to the increasing popularity of digital imaging. As the demand for photographic prints also dropped, so did production at the Harrow site. Closure was announced in April 2016, and production ceased in December 2016.

Demolition of the old buildings and site remediation has been entrusted to Rye Demolition under a two-year contract.

The Kodak factory housed many heavy industrial metal structures. One challenge for Rye Demolition is the complexity of cutting up and removing the myriad of redundant turbine and lubrication systems, alternators, control panels and miles and miles of metal flue and piping which remain inside the huge building.

Before starting work on the former boiler room at Kodak, Rye Demolition managing director Simon Barlow knew that a tough hydraulic scrap shear was going to be required to tackle the project so he got in touch with ECY Haulmark.

ECY Haulmark is UK distributor for the VTN Europe brand of attachments. Sales manager Steve Parker recommended the recently remodelled CI5000R scrap shear as the perfect shear for the job. The VTN CI-R series has recently been re-designed and re-modelled specifically for heavier excavators, working in the processing of heavy duty metals and structures. The jaw type and wide mouth opening have been designed for grabbing and cutting all-sizes of materials and, thanks to a dedicated speed valve, the CI-R shears optimise cycle times. Suitable for excavators from 30-tonnes up, it is capable of cutting steel surfaces thicker than 60 mm.

Rye Demolition’s CI5000-R shear has been dipper mounted onto its new Hitachi Zaxis 490LCH excavator. It is a five-tonne shear, with a jaw opening and a depth of more than 740 mm, unleashing a cutting strength of 890 tonnes distributed among the kinematics of the jaw.

The excavator is being operated on the Kodak site by Rye Demolition’s Graham Baxter (known to colleagues as ‘Grumpy Graham’ apparently). He reports the shear to be a fantastic addition to the new Hitachi and is proving invaluable in processing the many types of metal coming out of the factory. “We do have a couple of burners on site too, helping with the bigger metal structures,” he says, “but generally the shear is coping with most of it and performing very well indeed.”