Servisa and Indeco partner to demolish the Berlin Deutsche Post headquarters in record time

11 March 2021

In December 2020, Servisa completed demolition of the Deutsche Post headquarters in Berlin. The technical and logistical aspects of this project made it a tough challenge, given the site was located right in the city centre.

The time frame for the demolition also put the organisational capacities of the contractor to a hard test. Servisa’s task, in fact, was to demolish the three-storey building while operating in a confined space where impact to the surrounding area had to be kept to a minimum.
The structure had been built with high-resistance concrete (with an unconfined compressive strength over 45 MPa) and rebars reaching diameters of 50 and 80 mm in the areas of the foundation and plinths.

The project was concluded successfully with the help of Indeco attachments, which made the difference in terms of productivity and scheduling. Added to an HP 5000 hydraulic hammer, the most productive in its category on the market today, a pair of multifunctional IMP 25 Combi Cutter jaws proved effective and adaptable to the different operating situations. Thanks to the interchangeability of the tools, the attachment can be transformed into a breaker, crusher or shears according to need.

The IRP 18 X pulverizer was used to carry out the primary crushing of over 3,000 m3 of demolition waste. This attachment performed very efficiently also thanks to its geometric design, which achieves the minimum variation in pulverising force between the start (maximum opening) and finish (minimum opening). This feature increases constancy and efficacy in the crushing action and thereby reduces working times and stresses transmitted to the excavator. The IRP 18 X also delivered great productivity due to its hydraulic system with a “regeneration valve”, which enables the movable jaw to be closed more quickly under no-load conditions, allowing all available force to be applied only when the material is being crushed.

A valuable asset to the project was the IMG 2800 D multigrab jaws, whose manoeuvrability and mounting bracket compatible with other Indeco products guaranteed the highest precision when handling the different materials.

Indeco is the ideal partner for Servisa
Servisa Group is the largest demolition and environmental services contractor in the Berlin-Brandenburg area. Despite its size, it has remained a family-owned company since its founding in 1971, and is one of Germany’s major contractors in this sector. We met with CEO Sascha Hellwig on a site in Berlin’s city centre where Servisa was demolishing an eight-storey building.

How did Servisa get its start?
“We started out as demolition contractors, but our activities now extend to earthmoving and transporting waste material to disposal facilities. We also hold a license authorising us to perform all recycling activities, also for others. And over the last couple of years, we’ve entered the logistics sector, providing construction companies all services related to job site preparation.”

How do you see the developments in your sector?
“I think there’s the real possibility that demolition contractors can become subcontractors of recycling companies. This is because the problem of transporting waste to disposal sites has more and more strategic importance, and it’s the reason why we’ve decided to consolidate in both directions. Here in Berlin, for example, one thing is to send a truckload of waste material to the disposal site, and quite another to haul away 800,000 tonnes, as we did last year. In the future, it won’t just be trucks, but maybe even trains, barges and ships. In this business you have to be very creative, also when it comes to interpreting laws and regulations regarding waste and its handling. Often we’re dealing with structures from the 1970s or 80s that contain special waste, such as asbestos. For all these reasons, just having an excavator with a big hammer is no longer enough to call yourself a demolition contractor; the concept is much broader now. The important thing is to have a vision for the future so that you can keep pace with the times. I think sometimes this aspect isn’t taken into proper consideration by other companies in the sector.”

What does your fleet of equipment consist of and how did you become an Indeco customer?
“Presently, we have 23 excavators, 20 trucks, and 100 machines, including attachments. When we decided to purchase new demolition equipment, we looked around to see what the market offered and by exclusion decided to try out Indeco, which had us very convinced. Another factor was that the Indeco and Servisa technicians already knew each other; that’s not a minor consideration, as it’s very important that our people have a good relationship with our equipment suppliers. And besides the intrinsic quality and productivity of the attachments, we really liked Indeco’s whole approach — the multi-tool concept – because, I emphasise, there is an increasing demand to separate the waste material on site. And that’s a good thing, because the more the material is separated before going to the disposal facility, the more streamlined the later steps will be. I have to say that our experience with Indeco to now has been very positive from every standpoint.”

How many job sites have you got active given the building boom in Berlin?
“We’ve got a lot of sites active. They are all large-scale structures, residential and office buildings, and also malls. For the most part they are situated in the city centre, in Alexander Platz for instance, where over the next few years six skyscrapers will be going up. Right in that part of the city, our job will entail demolition and job site preparation for later construction, which also includes removing the foundations and taking care of logistical aspects. Another important area under development is at the East Side Gallery, near the old Berlin Wall, a tourist area where we have two sites active. It’s due to this enormous demand in Berlin that our efforts are concentrated in the city, but in the past we’ve worked throughout Germany, from the Bavarian Alps to all the major cities.”

How many people does Servisa employ?
“We have about 150, but before Covid, we had intended to increase that number to 200. Fortunately, we have an excellent network in the Berlin area, and have been able recruit labour, especially from Eastern Germany and Southeastern Europe. They are willing to work hard and also to take on the physical challenges of a demolition site. It’s tougher to find staff to manage the work phases, because there’s a lot of competition among the companies for hiring qualified technical personnel.”

How do you train your personnel?
“Over and above the technical aspects, we want them to become part of Servisa Group in every way. We also need staff that can handle a variety of aspects and are willing to develop their professional skills. We like working with young people because they’re so motivated. And it’s important that, aside from fulfilling their assigned goals, they have a certain degree of freedom, and that they actively contribute to the job within a less rigid, more efficient organisation where they give the best of the themselves individually and enhance the work of everyone else. This is a heavy line of work, so enthusiasm must be kept high so that productivity improves and a bond is created with the company.”

Do you see a continuing partnership with Indeco based on your developing activities?
“If we want to grow in the sense I mentioned, we have to rely on one or two partners for machines and equipment who will flank us both as regards product and assistance. The business is changing, and we see that Indeco is orienting itself in that direction. I’m convinced that a partnership between Servisa and Indeco is a win for everybody.”