We regularly get asked what we think is the best brand of hydraulic breaker. The answer is: it depends. That may come across as a way to skirt a difficult question, but that is not the intention or issue here.
The first reality to understand is that most hydraulic breakers or hammers are only minimal copies of other brand’s products. There are few manufacturers of hydraulic breakers and even fewer unique designs produced. Therefore, many brands follow the most popular model design and brand it with their own color scheme and name. There is a combination of two mindsets that has encouraged such a lack of innovation: 1) hydraulic breakers are pretty simple tools and 2) if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. The hydraulic breaker does a very specific job and the available models work well enough which makes innovation not only difficult, but not worth the financial and resource investment.
Some may also talk about brand loyalty and that they have only used Indeco or Cat or Tramac or Soosan hydraulic breakers for years on a job site. However, much of that loyalty is simply due to them buying that hammer first or buying what their dealer gave them and sticking with it either because they do not want to make the effort to find something better or because the brand is dominant in the region they work in.
The full answer for the best brand of hydraulic breaker depends on multiple factors:
- Cost of ownership
- Configuration of hammer with carrier
- Ease of service
We will examine each of these in detail and it should become clear why these choices are more complicated than many expect.
Cost of Ownership:
This is a broad catch-all factor that covers very important criteria, but boils down to the longevity of the hydraulic breaker. How well or poorly the breaker is maintained, stored and operated make a huge difference in how long it lasts before it has to be repaired, rebuilt or replaced. Repairs and rebuilds can be costly, but the one to avoid for as long as possible is replacement since a new hydraulic breaker runs in the thousands of dollars or higher.
Keeping up with regular maintenance is a well known practice, but many overlook proper storage of a hydraulic breaker and the daily operation of the tool on-site. If the hammer is stored incorrectly, it can be damaged and need to be repaired before it can be used again. That is the last thing a project or site manager wants to happen; right from the jump they are spending money and losing critical hours of usage. Having an experienced operator using the hydraulic breaker is also important: they will know not to dry fire the tool, when to pull it back right before the material it is breaking up gives way and what signs to watch for that something needs to be checked before it causes damage to the breaker.
If you are utilizing the hydraulic breaker on an excavator, another element to pay attention to is the configuration. Why? Because the breaker can cost up to 20-40% more than the carrier it is attached on. Plus efficiency is valuable on the job site; taking time doing unnecessary and avoidable things is a waste. For example, consider what size hydraulic hammer would fit best. A hammer that is too small can be damaged by the weight of the carrier or excessive hydraulic flow. Having a hammer that is too big will result in weak or slow strikes, reducing productivity.
Ease of Service:
The ease of service not only factors in the cost of replacement parts or repairs, but the availability of those things in your particular region or state. If you would need to ship the hydraulic breaker somewhere to get repaired, that adds cost and time. If replacement parts are only available in a different part of the country than your area, the same rule applies. If they are not available at all is an even bigger issue. You may have a local dealer or repair shop that can take care of your hammer, but, if they cannot get the parts, everything is dead in the water. Some brands also are better supported in aftermarket parts which is always smart to consider when selecting a hydraulic hammer.
As one can see, answering this question is not as straight forward as it sounds and multiple factors need to be identified and evaluated before an informed answer could be found. At Fel-Tech, we work with customers every day on these issues and can help you purchase a new hydraulic breaker, repair/rebuild an existing one and provide the grease, tool bits and other parts necessary for safe and efficient operation. Please contact us for more information or to have your specific questions answered.