HS2 robot arms reduce risk to tunnellers

Grant Prior 2 years ago
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HS2 has unveiled an onboard robot that will improve safety and efficiency on the project’s first two giant tunnelling machines which are set to launch early next year.

The Align joint venture of Bouygues, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick will use the Krokodyl robot on the 10 mile long Chiltern tunnels.

It works in a similar way to robotic arms used in a car factory production line.

The robot will carry out  simple repetitive tasks, like removing wooden spacers between tunnel segments and inserting connection dowels, that people would normally do.

Each of the tunnel segments weighs up to eight tonnes and are delivered to the TBM with wooden spacers between them which are generally removed by hand.

By fully automating this process, the Krokodyl removes the need for people to work in this potentially hazardous area and helps with the installation of the 112,000 tunnel segments.

The tunnel segments are erected – as the TBM moves forward – in order to form a structural water tight ring designed to support the ground loads.

A second feature of the robot, known as the Dobydo, then places the dowels into position ready for the segment to be slotted into place. By again automating this process, the robot reduces risk to people and improve safety and efficiency.

Eddie Woods, HS2 Ltd’s Head of Tunnelling said: “Safety is a key priority for HS2 and the introduction of these innovations that essentially remove personnel from harm’s way, is an excellent example of the sort of initiatives we are pleased to see implemented on the project.

Didier Jacques, Align’s Underground Construction Director said: “A lot of work has been undertaken by all concerned that has enabled us to develop and introduce this robot, thereby reducing the risk to our personnel, operating in our state of the art TBMs.

“We are very proud of these innovations which we would be happy to share with tunnelling teams working on other projects across the world, to help reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries.”

The two 2,000 tonne TBMs – named ‘Florence’ and ‘Cecilia’ – are due to be launched early next year from a site close to the M25.

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