Attracting tunnellers to Kuala Lumpur 15 Aug 2019

Frankie Cheah, AECOM and WTC2020, and Roland Herr for TunnelTalk

Ahead of the 2020 World Tunnel Congress, which will be held 15-21 May in Kuala Lumpur, Organising Chairman Teik Aun Ooi welcomed participants to a two-day short course. The course tackled a range of topics and provided insight into the Malaysian industry, as well as into the development of digital technologies.

Presenters and young tunnellers at the short course in Kuala Lumpur
Presenters and young tunnellers at the short course in Kuala Lumpur Source: Frankie Cheah

Malaysian experiences

Teik Aun Ooi described the rise of the industry in Malaysia from the formation of the Tunnelling and Underground Space Technical Division of the IEM via several projects, such as the stormwater management and road tunnel (SMART), the design of the variable density (VD) TBM for the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT), and the foundation of the IEM Academy.

Insight into the challenging underground construction of Kuala Lumpur was given by Ng Hau Wei, Deputy Project Director at MMC Gamuda for the KVMRT line 2 project. When construction started, no master plan existed and no pre-existing underground construction corridors were allowed, due to the densely populated city area. The underground alignment and twin-bored tunnels of the Klang Valley MRT1 and MRT2 projects, at 9.5km and 13.5km, respectively, changed that, going through a variety of geological formations, including Kenny Hill clay, granite and the notorious karstic limestone formation.

Ng Hau Wei discussed the challenging underground construction of KVMRT line 2
Ng Hau Wei discussed the challenging underground construction of KVMRT line 2

Ng Hau Wei described the experiences gained from addressing the various risks and challenges presented by the projects with a focus on TBM operations and careful management of ground, programme and external risks, such as third party stakeholders. Based on experience with the SMART tunnel, the VD TBM was developed to minimise sinkholes. This machine is a combination of EPB and slurry TBM, without sacrificing productivity and the flexibility of resequencing the drive. In order to ensure safe operation, extensive ground treatment works were introduced at 138 grouting sites with shallow overburden. A comprehensive instrumentation system was also set up to monitor existing infrastructure along the KVMRT line 2 route.

Looking to the future

The second day offered insight into the digital age, particularly BIM, automation, and virtual technologies. Malaysia was an early adopter of BIM, when it was introduced by the Public Works Department (PWD) in 2007. By 2020, project developers will be required to use BIM for government projects of more than RM100 million (about US$24.13 million). At the same time, the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) is expected to establish an Industrial Revolution (IR) 4.0 roadmap by the same year.

Ronan Collins on the use of BIM on the KVMRT line 2 project
Ronan Collins on the use of BIM on the KVMRT line 2 projectSource: Frankie Cheah

In comparison, the UK Government mandated BIM level 2 for all procured projects, only after launching an official BIM level 2 website in April 2016. Since April 2017, Scottish public sector construction projects also use BIM level 2, where appropriate. In Hong Kong, there is an incremental strategy in the use of BIM in public sector projects, where it is mandatory for capital works of more than HK$30 million (about US$3.83 million). However, it is optional for the investigation, feasibility study and planning stages, unless they come under design and construction consultancy agreements.

At the end of the course, Justin Chin Jing Ho looked to the future with his presentation, In pursuit of an autonomous TBM. Autonomous boring has given TBMs unprecedented capabilities to drive themselves. A research and development exercise was carried out to introduce artificial intelligence to control various subsystems. The ultimate mission is to base all machine operators in a single command centre where multiple machines are monitored.

Preparations for the World Tunnel Congress 2020 are in full swing. Click here for more information and early bird registration.


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