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Jet Demolition hones its controlled implosion and precision blasting skills
20 May 2019
Jet Demolition hones its controlled implosion and precision blasting skills

From the 14-storey HG de Witt Building in Pretoria to the 44-m-high Taman Sari Water Tower damaged in the 2004 tsunami in Banda Aceh in Indonesia, Jet Demolition has extensive experience and expertise in controlled implosion and precision blasting projects. It has also undertaken controlled implosions and precision blasting of large structures under the most demanding conditions, including up to within 1.5 m of operating explosive plants.

Controlled implosions generally refer to the precision blasting of a structure, with the intention of having it collapse in and upon itself. Precision blasting, while a function of controlled implosions, may also refer to the strategic placement and timing of detonators to ensure a directional drop biased in a specific direction or sequence, not necessarily within its own footprint.

Both terms refer to placement of charges and execution of the blast in such a manner so as to minimise any secondary damage to nearby structures. Precision blasting also refers to jobs where sectional blasting is required, such as in dam walls, where it is often necessary to remove a section of the wall without damaging the rest of the structure.

Implosions and precision blasting both require extensive preparation, and careful planning and design by the blasting engineer. It is a common misnomer that an implosion is over within a few seconds after the push of a button. Major structures often require months of preparation prior to the blast, and for clean-up operations afterwards.

Implosions and precision blasting can essentially be applied to a multitude of structures, but it is rarely applied, as there are advanced mechanical methods available that are usually quicker and less disruptive to execute. Jet Demolition has applied precision blasting and implosions to high-rise structures (both concrete and steel), redundant gas holders, concrete and steel bridges, and ships and vessels, etc.

“Advances in mechanical demolition technology now mean that we are able to safely demolish complicated structures within very confined spaces, as opposed to blasting, which will inevitably require a large exclusion zone leading up to the blast itself,” Jet Demolition Contracts Manager Kate Bester (N. Dip. Civil Engineering) explains.

A flagship implosion project was the 14-storey HG de Witt Building in Pretoria, which earned Jet Demolition the Explosive Demolition Award at the 2017 World Demolition Awards. The project called for extensive, out-of-the-box thinking, with new techniques developed to ensure the safe execution of the works.

“This project is a prime example of the precision required to execute an implosion well, as the building was situated within a very busy city centre, with a heritage structure mere meters away,” Bester notes.

Elsewhere, Jet Demolition also carried out the explosive demolition of the 44-m-high Taman Sari Water Tower damaged in the 2004 tsunami in Banda Aceh, Indonesia for the United Nations Development Programme. “Although we are requested to undertake explosive demolition works abroad, it is usually quicker, and more affordable, to offer clients a mechanical approach instead,” Bester stresses.

Jet Demolition Director Joe Brinkmann (Pr. Eng.) is the company’s blasting engineer, and designs the vast majority of the methods and strategies required for its explosive demolition projects. As precision blasting and implosions are few and far between, Brinkmann often reaches out to a network of experienced blasting professionals across the world, ensuring that the technique and approach decided upon is the optimal approach for the project. Similarly, he assists other professionals when faced with challenging projects, embracing the concept of a global community.

Hybrid methodologies have been devised, based on the technical and on-site conditions and constraints. Most commonly, a thorough understanding of the as-built structure is required, as well as its condition and history. Once a structure has been exposed to unforeseen external factors, such as a fire within a building or a severe earthquake, the integrity and behaviour of the structure changes.

Other factors include proximity to other structures, subsurface conditions and services, vibration criteria, the direction and impact of fall, the timing of the project, and how the structure is anticipated to react. “There is no ‘one-stop’ solution that can predict exactly how a structure will react, but advances in modelling and a lifetime of experience enhance the probability of a technically-challenging project going to plan,” Brinkmann highlights.

The health and safety risks for implosions and precision blasting projects are very much in line with any regular demolition project. However, the main differences include the possibility of a much greater degree of interaction with the general public.

This includes the evacuation of common spaces, evacuation of neighbouring buildings, and the closing off of streets within the exclusion zone, etc. During the preparatory phases, more often than not, detailed dilapidation studies are carried out to monitor neighbouring structures’ reaction to the blast.

Jet Demolition has over 30 years’ experience in applied research and development of explosive blasting and controlled implosion techniques for large and heavy industrials applications. Its in-house blasting designs and project execution using its range of specialised charges ensures reliable results under the most demanding of conditions. All controlled implosions and precision blasting projects adhere to all legislative and regulatory requirements, and are fully managed by a certified and experienced explosives engineer.

“Every demolition project brings with it innovation and forward-thinking.  Advances in the explosive and implosive fields are being made with just about any large project undertaken, as the strategy and method is adapted to suit the specific requirements of the project at hand. Currently, there is a large focus on modelling software that could help to project a structures’ reaction, but nothing will replace experience wholly,” Brinkmann concludes.

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