TBM giants dominate bauma awards 20 Mar 2013
Peter Kenyon, TunnelTalk
For the first time in the history of the bauma construction equipment trade fair, two tunnel related innovations have made the final shortlist for the coveted Machine Innovation Award.
bauma logo
In all there are five categories, each with three finalists from more than 150 nominations received. In the showcase Machinery category, German TBM manufacturer Aker Wirth, with its Mobile Tunnel Miner for the mining industry, is competing against rival German company Herrenknecht, with its semi-trenchless Pipe Express® system that utilises TBM technology for installation of near-surface pipelines up to 1,500mm diameter.
Pipe Express
Herrenknecht Pipe Express®, a project part-subsidised by the German Environment Ministry, is a new mechanised method for the near-surface (50cm-2,500cm) installation of pipelines of up to 1,000m in length, and with diameters of 800mm-1,500mm, using the half-open construction method.
Demonstrating the possibilities of Pipe Express®
A TBM loosens the soil which is then conveyed above ground using an integrated milling unit. The pipeline is simultaneously installed underground using a pipe thruster. Since earthwork is reduced to a minimum, and no groundwater lowering along the route is necessary, Pipe Express® has very little impact on the environment. This method is unique so far: for the installation of pipelines with a diameter of up to 1,500mm the soil is directly removed and not pushed aside as in open cut constructions. Pipe Express® is ideal, for example, for projects in which the groundwater level is only a few centimetres below the surface, in swampy terrain, or when nature conservation is of special importance.
"Pipe Express has exceeded all expectations," said Herrenknecht Project Manager Andreas Diedrich. "The machine works with a tunnelling speed of up to 1m/min, which means that 500m of pipeline were installed in three days." Construction company Visser & Smit Hanab is currently building a new high pressure gas line between Odiliapeel and Melick, and on a section of this line the Herrenknecht innovation was put to use. Visser & Smit Hanab Managing Director Wilko Koop said: "I am very enthusiastic, everything worked extremely well." A full-scale commercial test is now expected to be completed on a Dutch project.
With global demand estimated at 25,000km of new pipeline a year from across the gas and oil, water and cable/power utlility fields, Herrenknecht's latest innovation puts it in prime position to enter this expanding and lucrative market.
Mobile Tunnel Miner
Developed by Aker Wirth as part of a 'Mine of the Future' partnership with mining company Rio Tinto, the Mobile Tunnel Miner (MTM6) is designed to combine the flexibility of a roadheader with the robustness of a TBM. The self-propelled machine excavates rock with six hydraulically actuated arms, each fitted with disc cutters.
The machine is currently being tested at the Rio Tinto copper and gold mine at Northparkes, Australia, following launch on February 25 (2013). In comparison to the more usual drill + blast techniques preferred by the mining industry, the MTM is designed to advance through hard rock of up to 300 MPa at more than twice the rate of traditional methods: up to 10m/day.
Aker Wirth Mobile Tunnel Miner is being tested in Australia

Aker Wirth Mobile Tunnel Miner is being tested in Australia

The considerably lower tensile strength of the rock when compared to compressive strength is exploited in this respect. The roller cutters are positioned at a slight angle to the cutter arms, thus undercutting the rock and removing pieces about the size of the palm of a hand. Aker Wirth says the energy required for undercutting is about half that used for conventional disc cutters on traditional TBMs.
The MTM6 is also able to excavate rectangular or horseshoe-shaped cross-sections in addition to circular tunnel profiles, with a flexible bore diameter of up to 6m. The lower part of a round cross-section usually needs to be backfilled where a conventional TBM is used. Additionally, thanks to several swivel joints, the turning radius of the 75m-long machine is only 30m. According to Aker Wirth it can master considerably tighter curves than a classic TBM which has a turning radius of approximately 500m under comparable conditions of use.
Northparkes Mines Managing Director Stefanie Loader said at the launch of testing in Australia: "The MTM6 provides an opportunity to introduce fundamentally safer processes into the underground mining industry." The trial phase, which involves excavation of a 1,400m tunnel, is expected to be complete in July this year (2013).
bauma Innovation Award facts and figures
The bauma Innovation Award is a joint project of the VDMA (German Engineering Federation), HDB (Main Federation of the German Construction Industries), ZDB (Central Federation of the German Construction Industries), and BBS (German Federation of Construction Materials).
This will be the tenth time the Innovation Award has been held. In all there are five categories: Machinery; Machinery Components; Construction Process/Construction Work; Research and Design.
The selection criteria used by the jury of experts in drawing up the final shortlist, and eventual winner in each category, include the following: sustainability, practical use, contribution towards environmental protection and humanisation of the workplace, economic benefit and performance capability combined with energy- and cost-efficiency, and the contribution towards enhancing the image of the construction, building-materials and mining industries, or the sector as a whole.
Winners will be announced on the eve of the show opening, on April 14, at an awards ceremony to be held in the Allerheiligen-Hofkirche (Court Church of All Saints) in the Residenz Palace, Munich.
Behind the scenes at bauma - TunnelTalk, March 2013
Navigating a successful bauma visit - TunnelTalk, March 2013
Reaching out for global markets in Munich - TunnelTalk, March 2013
BAUMA prepares to break all records - TunnelTalk, February 2013

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