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Herrenknecht digs deep for sky high results

Herrenknecht’s name is synonymous with tunnelling and the company’s technology has been used on some of the largest tunnelling operations around the world.

The epitome of trenchless technology is the ability to complete works underground with little or no impact on the surface above and this is especially important when conducting operations under busy public areas. Over the course of its existence, Herrenknecht technology has successfully completed a number of challenging tunnelling missions with this goal in mind, including crossing under active airports.

For the extension of the baggage handling system at Zurich’s Kloten Airport in 2001, a 6,280 mm diameter Herrenknecht Mixshield superbly excavated a 2,400 m long tunnel under the airport grounds. In 2002, an 6,460 mm diameter EPB Shield tunnelled under the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport in the US for the newly developed 18.6 km light rail system.

In Brazil, the company’s microtunnelling prowess was displayed when an AVN1500 microtunnel boring machine (MTBM) constructed a 367 m stormwater drainage tunnel under the runway at Goiânia Airport in 2015. During the excavation of a 4,500 m metro tunnel in Barcelona, in 2018 a taxiway at El Prat Airport was crossed under over a distance of 70 m with great success.

The Herrenknecht MTBM at the Dubai International Airport.

A major traffic challenge

Dubai International Airport is the hub of air traffic in the Persian Gulf: nearly 90 million international passengers are handled here each year and as a result, the operators are constantly investing in capacity expansion.

As part of Dubai International Airport Expansion Phase 3, during ongoing flight operations, a 3,025 mm diameter Herrenknecht AVND2400AB MTBM safely and precisely excavated  610, 765 and 825 m sections for a new stormwater drainage tunnel under the taxiway.

The ability to complete safe and precise crossings under airport taxiways and runways is one of the supreme disciplines of mechanised tunnelling – especially when flight operations cannot be interrupted. Heave, settlement or other impairment of this highly sensitive infrastructure must be avoided at all costs.

Herrenknecht’s range of tunnelling machines, in the hands of skilful tunnel builders, are ideally equipped for this challenging task. The tunnelling crew from International Foundation Group, working for Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects under the project management of M.A. Kharafi & Sons, relied on Herrenknecht tunnelling technology to extend the stormwater drainage system at Dubai Airport.

Installing new infrastructure

Using the pipe jacking method, the MTBM mastered the challenge of three drives of 610, 765 and 825 m respectively under the taxiway.  The result is a new drainage tunnel with a total length of 2,200 m, increasing the airport’s drainage capacity.

The MTBM in the shaft.

At depths of 13 to 15 m, the machine crossed under the Terminal 2 taxiways while flight operations on the ground and in the air continued smoothly and safely. On the longest drive, an average of 15 m of tunnel per day was excavated through soft soils with sandstone and siltstone.

The drive remained exactly on course thanks to precise process and control technology from VMT.

The new pipelines will efficiently collect and drain away rainwater, especially during heavy downpours, so it can no longer accumulate on the surface – a crucial factor in maintaining smooth flight operations.

In March 2019, the team celebrated the successful completion of the project.

About Herrenknecht

Herrenknecht is a leading supplier of comprehensive technical solutions in mechanised tunnelling, for all diameters, in any geology and in all application areas, including railway, metro, road, utility, pipelines, hydropower, mining and exploration.

This article was featured in Fall Edition of Trenchless International. To view the magazine on your PC, Mac, tablet, or mobile device, click here.

For more information visit the Herrenknecht website. 

If you have news you would like featured in Trenchless International contact Managing Editor Chloe Jenkins at cjenkins@gs-press.com.au

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