Rock breakers as an alternative to drilling and blasting in road-building operations

FPInnovations recently investigated whether greater use of rock breaker technology could offer safety and productivity improvements in BC Timber Sales’ road-building operations. Rock removal is often required when building new roads or improving existing ones, and is almost always done by drilling and blasting. However, rock that is ejected from the blast site, or flyrock, poses a hazard to objects and people.

An alternative to drilling and blasting is the use of rock breaker technology such as hydraulic rippers, rock hammers, and rock splitting equipment. However, most operations don’t have such equipment as it is typically used only in rare instances such as when removing rock near sensitive habitat or structures, or where flyrock or noise from blasting is a concern.

To help decide whether purchasing rock breaker equipment is worthwhile, we surveyed manufacturers and road contractors/operators of rock breaker equipment to collect cost and productivity data. We also created an interactive map for British Columbia that shows the ranges of rock hardness expected.

You can read the results of the investigation in the report, Rock Breaker Feasibility and Application in BCTS Logging Road Construction Operations: State-of-Practice Survey, and try out the interactive map on rock type and hardness range for British Columbia.

For more information, contact the report’s authors, Matt Kurowski and Allan Bradley.

Photo courtesy of Van-Ed Equipment.