Drilling down to the details

By Steve Ducker20 April 2021

Many construction sectors have benefitted as manufacturers look to make their products more versatile and comprehensive

The Liebherr LRB 23 compact piling and drilling rig offers an engine output of 600 kW and can be transported in one piece

The importance of drilling equipment to users in Europe’s construction industry is well documented, but that has not stopped manufacturers from innovating. Product developments and launches have continued, with recent months particularly active.

Liebherr, for instance, has developed the LRB 23 compact piling and drilling rig to close the gap between the LRB 16 and the LRB 355.

The new all-rounder for deep foundation work offers an engine output of 600 kW and so delivers the necessary capacity for all common deep foundation work, such as drilling with a Kelly drill, double rotary drill, full displacement equipment and continuous flight auger, as well as soil mixing and applications with a vibrator or hydraulic hammer.

Kelly drilling options

According to Liebherr, its compact design allows for transportation of the LRB 23 in one piece, simplifying mobilisation between job sites. The remote control simplifies the loading process for transportation as well as the assembly of the machine.

The company also says the advantages of the rigid leader are proven in operation. As it can withstand high torques even Kelly drilling is possible. The BAT 300 rotary drive delivers a maximum torque of 300 kNm.

Epiroc is gearing up for the launch of the SmartROC D50 (pictured) and D55 down-the-hole surface drill rigs

Locking of the Kelly bar’s telescopic sections is made significantly easier with the aid of the Kelly visualisation system in the LRB 23. Thanks to the real time display of the Kelly bar’s locking recesses on the cabin monitor, the operator is permanently informed about the actual distance to the next locking recess. Colour indications inform when the bar can be locked. Furthermore, false positioning of the Kelly bar during the shake-off process is indicated through a warning signal.

During continuous flight auger drilling the concreting process is automated thanks to the drilling assistant. All assistance systems contribute to time savings, higher availability of the machine and a significant increase in safety during operation.

Swedish manufacturer Epiroc is gearing up to present the new generation SmartROC D50 and SmartROC D55 surface drill rigs, which it says will give users even more features and options.

“Both surface drill rigs will help our customers decrease operational costs and boost productivity”, said global product manager Mattias Hjerpe.

Down-the-hole intelligence

According to Epiroc, both these down-the-hole surface drill rigs share the intelligence and automation of the bigger SmartROC D60/D65, released last year. The SmartROC D50 and D55 are versatile and flexible drill rigs, with a feed carrying five-metre tubes.

The Klemm KR 606-3 is the smallest and lightest option is the company’s range of drilling rigs

They are described as offering D55 smart features such as automated drilling and rod handling and are also available with the new option of a radio remote control system.

“With this option, the operator works safely whilst being able to view the rig from a distance. This is a popular feature available on other rigs, but due to popular demand from our customers, Epiroc has made it available on these machines too,” said Hjerpe.

A new advanced control system – with intelligent control of compressor load and engine revolutions per minute – leads to reduced fuel consumption, while a redesigned hydraulic system is said to use hundreds of litres less hydraulic oil than previous versions of these machines.

The automation-ready platform can also be fitted with the new option Auto Feed Fold. By just performing a single action, the Auto Feed Fold enables the operator to dump the feed for tramming or position it ready for drilling.

Inside the cabin, the operator will find an updated working environment. The rig offers multifunction joysticks and adjustable tramming speed to further improve operator comfort and make trailer loading safer and easier. The cabin also includes a new touch screen-based rig control system.

Modular advantages

In Germany, Klemm Bohrtechnik, which has developed drilling rigs weighing up to 32 tons, has launched the newly developed KR 606-3 universal drilling rig for extreme drilling positions in especially confined spaces. The company says that due to the modular drilling rig concept, a range of applications can be covered such as underpinning, jet grouting, micropiling, soil nailing and anchoring. The KR 606-3 is smallest and lightest Klemm drilling rig available.

The newly developed drill rig kinematics allow the boom to rotate around the vertical axis of the drill rig. Other important features include the telescopic function of the height-adjustable boom, and the tilt and rotation function of the mast carrier, which, among other things, enables drilling positions to be set up conveniently alongside the crawler tracks. Four outriggers support the drilling rig, which, along with the asymmetrically telescopic chassis, ensure a high degree of stability.

A Junttan multi-purpose drilling rig on a project in Finland

For use within buildings and other construction works, using the remote-control unit with display, the operator can assume a safe working position close to the drilling rig.

In accordance with the requirements of EN 16228, operator safety is ensured by the high, functional safety of the control concept. A separating safety guard for moving parts during the work process is available.

Even greater flexibility is achieved through the newly developed modular system of the PP 45E and PP 55G power packs. Like the drilling rig itself, both power packs are very narrow, allowing them to pass through confined spaces. They are available either on wheeled chassis for towing, on rubber-tracked crawlers, or as a stationary unit.

The hydraulic system features include a load-sensing pump and CAN (controlled area network) bus-controlled control blocks with high precision controllability and reproducibility. Drilling operations using light hydraulic hammers can be carried out without incurring any problems.

“With this new development, we fulfil our customers’ wishes for a space-saving and highly flexible rig,” says Klemm managing director Roy Rathner.

Mobility and stability

Junttan, based in Finland, began manufacturing dedicated multi-purpose drilling machines in 2016, but its history goes back to the 1990s when the company adapted its PM model machines with JD series rotary heads for Kelly and CFA applications in the Russian market.

Aarsleff’s project at the Haga station in Gothenburg, Sweden, part of a €2 billion Euro transport programme Aarsleff’s project at the Haga station in Gothenburg, Sweden, part of a €2 billion Euro transport programme

The most recent product launch is the MPx50 multipurpose drilling rig. Showcased at Bauma 2019 with down-the-hole application, it is designed for different piling methods including continuous flight auger (CFA), full displacement piling, and driven work done with a Junttan hydraulic hammer.

Junttan says its designed, purpose-built drilling rig undercarriage ensures utmost stability for the rig, and special attention has been paid to the mobilisation and ease of transportation of the MPx50.

Also from Junttan, the MPx90 is a multipurpose drilling rig for heavy-duty working. This versatile deep foundation machine can be equipped with several working methods such as displacement, CFA or driven pile. The MPx90 is optimal with Junttan JD45 rotary head, delivering a max torque of 450 kNm.

In Gothenburg, Sweden, the Swedish Transport Administration is building a new railway station under the city centre to increase capacity and reduce travel times.

Working in close collaboration, Aarsleff Ground Engineering – a group of leading civil engineering specialists – in Sweden and Per Aarsleff in Denmark are heavily involved in the four-track Haga station. The station ends up as an underground station, though a substantial excavation pit had to be constructed to start.

A big rig for a big job

Aarsleff drilled 20 king posts, which were built as part of a temporary foundation, then predrilled (1,200mm) for the posts to some 25m to 40m below ground, through both soft and dense clay, ending 2 to 8 m into the underlying bedrock granite. It is also currently installing 30 secant piles to support the cross walls for the exterior wall of the station.

The Bauer BG 45 with a Kelly continuous flight auger, which was the choice of Ghelma Spezialtiefbau on the “Three Points” project in Switzerland

Aarsleff deployed the Bauer BG55 – the biggest rig in its fleet – and a Bauer BG45.

For some of the posts, Aarsleff had had to drill 8m into the rock to go beneath the planned level of excavation, and had to apply a broad range of drilling equipment to advance into the bedrock.

Haga station is one of four stages in the extensive West Link (Västlänken) project, part of a SEK 20 billion (€1.96 billion) project comprising three stations.

Another Bauer application has been taking place in Duebendorf, a booming suburb of the Swiss city of Zurich, where the “Three Points” project is being built on a plot covering nearly 30,000 m2. It is one of the country’s largest residential construction projects. Three apartment towers up to 114m tall will stand on bored piles with a length of 20m to 30m and a diameter of 900mm.

A Bauer BG 45 with a 31m Kelly auger was used for this foundation work.

Bauer Maschinen customer Ghelma Spezialtiefbau (GSTB), which provides planning and execution of challenging and complex construction projects in specialist foundation engineering, has successfully used the BG 45 on multiple sites in Switzerland since June 2018.

Drilling power in a compact form

The north east of England is a challenging environment for civil engineering. The ground is notoriously “bony” – a patchy matrix of sand, gravel and riverbed boulders, plus local hardstone. So, diverting multiple utility infrastructures for a new highway bridge and roundabout near the town of Hexham was a big task.

AHUS, a family-run utility service provider based in the industrial city of Newcastle upon Tyne, was called in to do the work. First, it had to collaborate with a lineup of utility companies to design, plan and programme the rerouting of telecoms, water, gas and power grids using HDD.

On the Hexham project, the newest horizontal directional drill by Vermeer really came into its own, both in performance and versatility.

One of three rigs now in the AHUS fleet, a complete rod basket and tool change can be completed in about an hour.

“It was the footprint-to-power ratio of the S3 that caught my eye,” said AHUS director Andy Hughes. “We need machinery with muscle, but it has to be compact, so we can transport it on a standard wagon and operate in tight spaces.

“We get asked to put in anything from sewers to fibreoptic cables. Any kind of terrain, any kind of subsoil. For us, it is vital that a horizontal drill can handle it all, without a prolonged idle period every time you hit a transition.”

Hughes said the company bought the S3 because “a horizontal directional drill is a big investment. With something like that, you look at the payback, not the price tag. How profitable is it going to be to use the machine? That means considering things such as reliability, ease of maintenance and running costs. We use much less drilling fluid now, for example, so our disposal costs are down. The wear pads are cheaper to change as well.”

This article first appeared in the April 2021 issue of Construction Europe magazine.

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