The Align joint venture – a team made up of Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick – has to bore 10 miles of twin tunnels under the Chilterns. The concrete tunnel lining segments are stacked after casting with wooden slats used to separate them. Removing the slats as each eight-tonne segment is lifted off the rack is traditionally a manual task, but one identified as unnecessarily risky.
Align’s Herrenknecht tunnel boring machine comes equipped with a specially commissioned Kuka robot, called Krokodyl, to eliminate this hazard and automate the removal of the wooden spacer bars.
A second feature of the robot, called the Dobydo, then places the dowels into position ready for the segment to be slotted into place. Again, by automating this process, the robot reduces risk to people and improves safety and efficiency (assuming it doesn’t break down).