From Joburg to India, Jet Demolition reveals its secret to success

A leading global demolition specialist, Jet Demolition has successfully undertaken some of the most challenging projects in the world. Its reputation was acknowledged when it was crowned ‘Best of the Best’ at the World Demolition Awards (WDA) 2020, beating top contenders from the US, Canada and Australia.

Being acknowledged as ‘best of the best’ was a career milestone for founder and director Joe Brinkmann, who undertook his first blasting course and underground blasting work in the US over 40 years ago. “It does not get better than this as far as industry recognition goes.”

However, it is not only about recognition. “What makes Jet Demolition so special is how our team inspires each other to be their very best. It is a reminder yet again that we as South Africans can achieve amazing things when we all stand together. We need to remember that and continue to be motivated by it, especially during these difficult times,” says Joe.

Jet Demolition successfully imploded the Supertech Twin Towers in Noida, Utter Pradesh near the capital New Delhi on 28 August 2022. The project was a collaboration with Edifice Engineering, a leading demolition company based in Mumbai. “What makes Apex unique is that not only is it the tallest building ever to be imploded in India, but also one of the top 15 tallest buildings to be imploded globally,” highlights Joe.

Due to the 3 516 kg of explosives required to successfully fell the structures, the impact and potential for structural damage to surrounding buildings was a significant concern. There was heightened anxiety among authorities and stakeholders that the adjacent building at a mere 9 m away, beset with structural degradation, would be further weakened and collapse from implosion-induced vibration.

Dozens of columns were strengthened, beams were back-propped, and an array of crack gauges was installed to monitor prominent structural cracks – but no movement or crack growth was induced by the implosion. Nearby buildings were draped with geotextile curtains to minimise window breakage. “Minimal superficial impact, with a small number of windows cracked and an 8 m section of brick boundary wall to contend with after the implosion was an extremely satisfying result,” says Joe.

The implosion of the Apex and Cayenne towers (103 m and 97 m respectively) follows on from the previous successful collaboration by Jet Demolition and Edifice Engineering in January 2020, when three high-rise structures were imploded within 24 hours in the Maradu region of Kochi in Kerala, India. It marked Jet Demolition’s first foray into India and the first time that a high-rise building in that country was demolished by implosion.

The three high-rise apartment buildings were the 20-storey Holy Faith H2O, the 18-storey Jains Coral Cove, and the 16-storey Golden Kayaloram. The former was imploded successfully on Saturday 11 January 2020, while the latter two were imploded successfully on Sunday 12 January 2020. All three buildings were located within a mere 1.5 km of each other.

A total of 600 kg of cartridge explosives was used, in addition to 31 000 m of detonating cord and 5 300 blast holes. Due to the tight timeframe, diamond-drill coring was not feasible. Instead, electric percussion drills were used for drilling charge holes, and was only carried out on certain sections such as the lift-shaft walls.

Back home in the central business district of Johannesburg, Jet Demolition successfully imploded its tallest-ever reinforced concrete frame building on 24 November 2019. This was the 108-m-high, 31-storey Bank of Lisbon building, one of the most complex projects ever undertaken by the demolition specialist.

A major challenge was that the main building columns tapered dramatically from bottom to top, requiring a detailed assessment of the column size and rebar strength at all points. The columns were at their widest in the basement, where they measured 1.5 m by 1.8 m. Not only did breaking up these massive columns pose a major challenge, but the debris also had to be contained to prevent damage or injury. The closest building was only 7.8 m away.

To ensure a precise implosion, the Jet Demolition team ended up blasting various structural elements on 14 floors to facilitate the explosive-induced collapse process. It was necessary that the rubble fold into the tightest, most compact form on the way down as it was deposited into the basement, where impact cushions were installed to minimise ground vibration.

A state-of-the-art electronic blast initiation system was installed so that each of the 2 363 separate charges could be individually timed and perfectly sequenced in accordance with the implosion design. A total of 914 kg of conventional mining and civil engineering explosive was used in the implosion. The charging process itself took nine days to complete.

Joe recalls that his first large demolition project in South Africa was at the Old President Brand Gold Plant in Welkom for Anglo American. “From there it was a natural progression into difficult and demanding demolition projects. A hands-on approach, mechanical interest and aptitude, and a fondness for explosives came together to fuel my drive for demolition work,” he reflects.

At the end of the day, it is also about the people at Jet Demolition: “We have a fantastic team that truly shows what can be done.” As for being acknowledged as ‘Best of the Best’, Joe concludes: We are extremely humbled and grateful for such recognition and continue in the same spirit of hard work and excellence.”

Pull quote

“What makes Jet Demolition so special is how our team inspires each other to be their very best.” – Joe Brinkmann, Director, Jet Demolition

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Jet Demolition has successfully undertaken some of the most challenging projects in the world, from Joburg to India.

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