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2022 / 2023 Edition

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Volvo machine ‘dream come true’ for demolition expert

Wesley Princen

Belgian contractor Wesley Princen becomes first recipient of Volvo’s largest demo-spec excavator 

WESLEY Princen knows a thing or two about excavators. The Belgian contractor grew up around machinery on his parents' farm in Gingelom, west of Brussels, and operated his first excavator at the age of 16. By 18 years old, he had started his own earthmoving company, Aannemingsbedrijf Princen NV, alongside his engineering studies.

The business took off after he completed an underground cabling contract for Belgian grid operator Elia 20 years ago and today, he is widely considered among the best in the world at high-voltage demolition and is even moving into nuclear demolition.

Mr Princen is expected to use the latest addition to his machinery fleet, the Volvo EC750E HR demolition excavator, to take down part of a decommissioned power plant and a nuclear fuel factory. The heaviest excavator in the Volvo range, the EC750E HR, is also among the industry’s largest high-reach demolition excavators available to work in the Stage IV/Tier 4 Final regulated markets of Europe and North America.

Mr Princen bought his first high-reach Volvo excavator, an EC480D HR model, around five years ago. Since then his company has been carrying out increasingly more heavy industrial demolition work, with a need for a machine that can reach higher and use heavier tools. Enter the Volvo EC750E HR, which can reach up to 36m (above ground) using a 3.6-tonne demolition tool or 26m with a 5-tonne tool. 

The idea for the Volvo EC750E HR was conceived two years ago with Mr Princen involved right from the start. ‘We were already in contact with the factory and David Arnoldsson and Peter Lam [Volvo's respective global and regional demolition product specialists], and we started talking,’ he commented. ‘They were also interested in having a successor to the EC700C HR and needed feedback from customers to help make a better machine.’

Following talks, Mr Princen placed an order for the EC750E HR without even having seen the final machine. ‘We had no idea on the end result at the time, but we were so satisfied with our first high-reach demolition excavator from Volvo we trusted that it would be good,’ he added.

Today, Mr Princen has a total of 25 excavators across his fleet and the last six units purchased have been Volvos. The Scandinavian company’s focus on safety and maximizing uptime has been a major contributing factor in Mr Princen’s decision to stay loyal to the Volvo CE brand.  

When faced with a dangerous job such as demolishing an electrical substation or a nuclear fuel plant, Volvo's dedication to safety is particularly appealing for Mr Princen and his operators. He said: ‘We also need good service and we have exceptionally good relations with local dealers SMT Belgium and Danny Verheyen [account manager]. If ever there is a problem, everything is resolved.’ 

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