More than 3,000 visitors attended the sixth triannual IUT exhibition hosted in the Hagerbach underground test gallery in Flums-Hochwiese near Sargans, Switzerland.
A welcome at the gallery entrance
A real tunnelling environment
The venue breaks into its normal live research and testing activities every three years to host the IUT event. Its various tunnels and laboratories provide live conditions for between 2,000 and 4,000 tests by clients each year, and the Hagerbach facility also welcomes between 6,000 and 10,000 visitors annually. For the sixth event in the IUT series, which took place last week, about 100 exhibitors took part, most of them representing the core of the European tunnelling industry.
"The success of the event can be attributed to its unique location," said Maximillian Wietek, VHS Project Manager in Research and Technologies. "It is staged in a real tunnel environment, not in an exhibition hall, and that gives it a special feel," he added.
In the past the Hagerbach venue has proved successful in attracting tunnel workers in addition to engineers and design and construction company CEOs as visitors to the exhibition, and IUT'11 was no exception. Exhibitors presented products ranging from personal protection safety equipment to the latest in construction machinery; design and supply of tunnelling materials; and specialised fixtures and fittings for the M&E finish of tunnel projects. Download a list of exhibitors.
Reliable Cats and a Sandvik jumbo on show
A classic Robbins TBM is on permanent display
A special exhibit this year displayed the latest in lighting technologies and reflective coatings for road tunnels and underground public spaces. "The aim was to focus on new technologies such as LED developments and new paint colours that optimise visibility in road tunnels and other underground spaces," said Volker Wetzig, Managing Director of VHS. "With the right colour and lights, you can achieve a lot of effects, but you have to combine both technologies to achieve the best results," he said.
The partner country for this year was Brazil. A lot of attention was paid to the Brazilian tunnelling market thanks to the participation of tunnelling experts from the Brazilian Tunnelling Committee as well as senior members of Brazil's design and construction companies. Experts from Brazil saw IUT'11 as an opportunity to make new contacts, obtain information about European tunnelling methods and technologies, as well as encourage investment in their home market. Brazil, which has been awarded the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, is currently in the process of undertaking several infrastructure projects designed to support economic growth. Potential projects include a number of metro lines in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janiero and Fortaleza, as well as a high-speed rail system linking Rio de Janiero and Sao Paulo.
The Cat 730EJ has 31 tonne payload
A loader in its element
Liebherr's 924 compact excavator
In addition visitors were kept updated on tunnelling developments in Switzerland. Excavation of the Gotthard Baseline rail tunnel may have been completed in March this year, but the industry is not taking a break. "Switzerland is still quite busy. There are projects on the line to connect Gotthard to both the Italian and German borders," Wetzig said. He added: "There are also some smaller rail tunnels of between 5km and 10km long that are being excavated that will connect with other towns and villages. Hydropower projects are also under way in the mountains."
This year's accompanying seminar focused primarily on tunnel maintenance and renovation and included presentations on tunnel enlargement techniques. Papers presented at the seminar, as well as at an open forum stage in the gallery, discussed safety issues, ways to be more energy efficient, and tunnel repair.
Products on display included the latest in 3D scanning machines, cement products, lighting fixtures, drainage systems, wheel loaders, excavators and TBMs.
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and comments. You share in the wider tunnelling community, so please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language professional.