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Machine telematics save £25m on HS2 central section

13 Nov 23 An HS2 earthworks package is being streamlined by digital technology that monitors efficiency.

Earthmoving for the Chipping Warden green tunnel last year
Earthmoving for the Chipping Warden green tunnel last year

Joint venture contractor EKFB has teamed up with Caterpillar dealer Finning to digitise the earthworks process and secure real-time productivity insights.

EKFB’s Digital Graphical Earthworks Reporting programme, also known as DIGGER, makes extensive use of data from 700 earthmoving machines, which are fitted with electronic weight sensors to monitor the millions of cubic metres of earth moved across the line’s 80km central section.

EKFB’s section, running between the northern edge of Chiltern Hills and the east of Leamington Spa, is engineered with a series of embankments and cuttings to blend the new railway into the landscape. It has to move 53 million cubic metres of rock and earth.

With more than 27 million cubic metres shifted to date – and a similar quantity still to be moved, the system is making a significant contribution, according to the client, HS2 Ltd.

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Finning’s Cubiq digital platform and on-machine and site technologies harvest telematic data from the 700 or so machines working on the earthworks.

If the live data fed back to EKFB’s Brackley site office shows one of the 60 excavators idling with a load because it is waiting for a dump truck to arrive, EKFB intervenes to shuffle the fleet and keep everything moving. Similarly, any pinch points on site roads that may slow down haulage operations and identified and fixed.

EKFB’s earthworks director, Mark Harrington, said: “DIGGER is a game changer for EKFB’s earthmoving operations. By providing data that enables us to identify where inefficiencies are occurring in real time, we can implement immediate improvement measures to ensure we maintain optimum efficiency across our operations. This has meant that we’ve been able to reduce costs by around £25m. A significant slice of that saving comes from reduced fuel consumption – so it’s enabled a cut in carbon emissions too.”

HS2 Ltd senior innovation manager Rob Cairns said: “Delivering HS2 remains a huge task. Most of its constituent parts are major, multi-year projects that provide both the testbed for development of innovative technology and subsequent deployment to enable benefits to be reaped. Once innovative, efficiency enhancing technology has been developed and proven on HS2, it’s ready to be deployed on future projects anywhere across the UK and abroad.”

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