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Thu February 29 2024

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Robot arm eliminates hazards for HS2 tunnellers [video]

5 Nov 20 HS2 main works contractor Align plans to use robotic arms to automate hazardous processes in the handling of tunnel lining segments arriving down the tunnel.

Kuka robot on the Herrenknecht TBM places dowels in a lining segment
Kuka robot on the Herrenknecht TBM places dowels in a lining segment

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).

The video below explains all.

Didier Jacques, Align's underground construction director, said: “Safety is a key value that is shared by everyone working on HS2, including the client, Align itself and our supply chain partners. 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.”

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