TBM RECORDER Presidential TBM visit in Georgia Jun 2012
Desiree Willis, Technical Writer, The Robbins Company
It was a project visit with a difference when the President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, travelled high into the mountains of Kazbegi to tour the site of the Stepantsminda hydropower project and travel underground to watch a Robbins TBM in action and take a turn at the operating controls.
Stepandsminda project site high up the Kazbegi mountains

Stepandsminda project site high up the Kazbegi mountains

Components of the 5.3m diameter main beam TBM were trucked 160km from the Georgia capital Tbilisi up one-lane, sometimes unpaved mountain roads for Onsite First Time Assembly (OFTA) at the remote, snowy jobsite some 1,700m above sea level. The TBM was assembled in about 40 days with the personnel from Robbins and the Georgian contractor Peri LLC enduring winter temperatures that dipped to minus 40°C with the wind chill factor. "The assembly team could only work an hour and a half to two hours at a time at the site, and then we had to go back into the shelter to warm up," said Gene Lockhart, Robbins Special Projects Manager, who headed up the project team.
A complete TBM operation supply contract by Robbins includes continuous conveyors, cutters, spare parts, field service, and project management. "We jointly worked with the Robbins field service team from the very beginning," said Nana Gvazava of Peri LLC. "We relied on their experience and training of our staff on operation, assembly and maintenance."
  • Onsite First Time Assembly of the 5.3m machine

    Onsite First Time Assembly of the 5.3m machine

  • The TBM is more than 500m into the drive

    The TBM is more than 500m into the drive

After refurbishment of the machine components at the Robbins facility in Solon, USA and at the Peri workshops in Tbilisi, the assembled machine was ready for launch in February 2012. As of early May, the heading was more than 500m into the 5.5km headrace tunnel drive, working through slate, sandstone, and malm, and with the continuous conveyors operating at high availability.
Georgia's President Saakashvili at the controls

Georgia's President Saakashvili at the controls

The Stepantsminda hydro project, with support from the government-owned Georgian Energy Development Fund, Peri LLC, and Robbins, is part of a massive scheme to develop the country's largely untapped hydropower reserves. The mountainous country has the potential to provide enough power for nearly 3 million homes per year. Only 25% of these resources have been developed.
Once operational in 2016, the plant will draw water from the Tergi River near the Georgian-Russian border to operate the installed 68 MW capacity. Electricity from the plant will be sold within Georgia as well as to neighboring countries including Turkey.
Onsite First Time Assembly (OFTA) at Sleemanabad - TunnelTalk, May 2011

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