Join experienced Robbins staff at the largest trenchless technology conference in the world, NASTT No-Dig in Minneapolis, MN. Find out more about our line of Robbins Small Boring Units (SBUs) —game changers in the trenchless industry, saving you time and money on your next hard rock or mixed ground utility tunnel.
In October 2021, the breakthrough of a Robbins Crossover XRE TBM was the cause of much celebration. A team of personnel from Kolin Construction, Turkish State Railways (TCDD), and Robbins field service gathered to watch the breakthrough of the world’s fastest TBM over 13 m (43 ft) in diameter.
The 13.77 m (45.18 ft) XRE TBM set world records three times over, beating its own records in May and June with a set of records over the summer, including a best day of 32.4 m (106 ft), a best week of 178.2 m (584.6 ft), and a best month of 721.8 m (2,368 ft). Launched in March 2021, the machine bored 3.05 km (1.90 mi) on the Esme-Salihli Railway Tunnel as part of the Ankara-İzmir High Speed Railway Project for the TCDD.
“When the strength, force and torque generated by our Crossover TBM are taken into account, we consider it to be a beast. It has performed extremely well in this tunnel,” said Onur Kansu, TBM Manager for project contractor Kolin Construction. He added “We are proud we have accomplished such high performance.”
The machine began its bore in altered gneiss, then passed through mélange consisting of gneiss, sandstone, claystone, mudstone, quartz, and silt. By the end of the bore the machine was excavating in mainly mudstone. Core drillings were taken every 200 m prior to boring so the crew felt confident with the geology—just one of several factors that contributed to the record rates. “A proper geological analysis, choosing the right TBM, a professional crew and a contractor who believes that they can break records are all key,” said Kansu. “Scheduled maintenance periods, an expert team, availability of sufficient spare parts, and good logistics also made it possible for us to reach our targeted advance rates.”
The project is particularly important for the Turkish tunneling industry, showing what is possible at larger TBM diameters. “We have disproved the idea that it is difficult to reach high advance rates while boring in EPB mode with large diameter TBMs. Crossover TBMs enable us to find quick solutions in changing ground, so we believe they will be the preference for future projects,” said Kansu.
With tunnel excavation finished, work will continue on the 508 km (316 mi) line that will connect Polatlı in Ankara Province to Izmir, the third most populous city in Turkey. Once complete, the Ankara-İzmir High Speed Railway will be the longest rail line in the country, conveying passengers at top speeds of 250 km/h (160 mph) in a railway journey of about 3.5 hours.
Join us December 21st and 22nd for the Tunnel Turkey International Tunnelling Symposium in Istanbul. Our team of international experts will be speaking on Robbins’ latest products and projects during the conference, including non-circular innovations for hard rock tunneling. Stop by Robbins’ stand 8 to find out more on our projects in Turkey, including our record-breaking project in Esme! The Esme-Salihli project has bored 32.4 m in a day, 178.2 m in a week, and 721.8 m in a month using Robbins Crossover XRE machine, making it the fastest machine over 13 m in diameter ever recorded.
Non-Circular Tunneling in Rock: A New Way Forward
Presented by Brad Grothen P.E., Robbins Technical Director
Abstract: When a flat roadbed is needed, is a circular TBM the best way to go? In this presentation, Robbins Technical Director Brad Grothen will discuss a mechanical boring machine currently being used in the mining industry for a rectangular tunnel cross section, and the potential for use of this machine in civil tunneling. Grothen will also look at emerging technology to demonstrate that by using non-circular TBMs, a flat invert can be safely and economically created in one pass.
Find out more about Robbins’ innovative solution for underground mining, the MDM5000 (standing for Mine Development Machine with dimensions of 4.5 m x 5.0 m). The MDM5000 is the world’s first successful rectangular boring machine for hard rock, and creates a flat invert as it bores for road access.
Deep underground ore bodies require a new approach: Rectangular rock boring machines create access and development drifts with flat inverts that enable immediate use of the tunnel by rubber-tired vehicles. These non-circular tunnel boring machines bore tunnels in rock up to 200 MPa UCS at twice the rate of drill & blast, and with fewer ground support requirements. Find out how to reach your ore body quicker, safer and more cost effectively in this exclusive webinar in conjunction with Mining Magazine.
In this recorded, 60-minute webinar you’ll learn about the successful use of a rectangular rock boring machine at Fresnillo silver mine in Mexico, where the equipment has advanced more than 1,700 meters at rates of up to 191 meters in one month. Listen in as Robbins President Lok Home discusses ongoing developments for underground mining, including ways to directly mine the ore body using tunnel boring machines. The presentation will conclude with a discussion on future developments in underground mining, moderated by Mining Magazine.
Join Robbins at the most important Mining exhibition in Latin America! EXPOMIN will be hosted in Santiago, Chile from October 25th to the 29th. Come learn more about the astonishing work our MDM5000 has been doing at the Fresnillo Mine–the first successful use of a rectangular rock boring machine. Our team of professionals are eager to meet and talk about a solution for your next underground mining project. Check out this map of the exposition hall and look for the Robbins R to find our stand location 3-F21. Stop by to see our latest products and projects!
Come join us in Acapulco, Guerrero at the 2021 Mineria International Convention and learn more about Robbins’ latest innovation, the MDM5000. The machine has bored more than 1,700 meters of a mine access tunnel in andesite and shale with quartz intrusions. Stop by the TOPO/Robbins booth 706-706A to see the astonishing work that has been done at Fresnillo mine in Mexico. Meet with Robbins international experts who are ready to discuss a solution for your next underground mining project.
A rectangular tunnel boring machine, known as the MDM5000, has successfully bored a hard rock tunnel with flat invert in Fresnillo, Mexico. Watch the video to find out more from Robbins personnel, mine officials, and those operating the new machine on a daily basis.
Robbins’ latest innovation is making good headway on a non-circular tunnel excavation in hard rock. The rectangular TBM, known as the MDM5000 (standing for Mine Development Machine with dimensions of 5.0 m x 4.5 m) is capable of excavating a flat tunnel invert for immediate use by rubber-tired vehicles. Employed by Mexico’s oldest silver mine, Fresnillo Plc, the MDM5000 is boring a mine access tunnel in andesite and shale with quartz intrusions that has defied earlier attempts using roadheaders. The successful operation is the result of extensive discussions between Robbins, who designed and supplied the machine, with TOPO machinery and Fresnillo Plc. View the video of the machine in action here.
“We decided to work with Robbins for their experience. A lot of people have tried to provide these kinds of machines but nobody has done it. Robbins used their experience and their skills to provide us with a rectangular profile machine,” said Fidel Morin, Projects Superintendent for Fresnillo Mine.
The technology is not only useful for the mining industry, but also for many applications in civil tunneling. While other machines have been developed for soft ground, the MDM5000 represents the first successful foray into rectangular hard rock tunneling. “We’re very pleased to add non-circular tunneling to our wheelhouse of solutions that continues to include TBMs, conveyors, cutters, and more. We see applications for the MDM wherever a rectangular profile is needed, such as train tunnels requiring a flat invert. In a traditional circular tunnel, the invert is filled or an invert segment is needed, but with the MDM 30% less rock is required to be removed from the profile,” said Robbins President Lok Home.
With more than 1,700 m of advance thus far at rates up to 52 m in one week and 191 m in one month, the MDM is significantly faster than drill & blast excavation. “We’re making history. Fresnillo is always looking for new technology, and we believe that the usage of the MDM5000 is going to be something extremely successful, not only for our company but also for the industry,” said Morin.
The MDM5000 has undergone major component enhancements during the course of its successful bore at Fresnillo mine. It was first transported to the -695 m level of the mine and underwent final assembly and launch in a cavern, where sections of the MDM were moved by crawlers and pieces were lifted by hoist. The machine is now boring a 270-degree spiral to end above the original tunnel. It will then be backed up to the original tunnel and continue driving straight ahead.
Developed for use in rock up to 200 MPa UCS, the MDM5000 utilizes disc cutter technology proven on traditional, circular TBMs. During excavation a reciprocating cutterhead and swinging cutterhead motion create a rectangular cross section tunnel.
The MDM offers a number of advantages over drill and blast. MDM tunneling has advance rates roughly twice those of a drill and blast heading, and results in smooth tunnel walls, less overbreak, and minimized ground support. The increased advance rates are partly due to the machine’s continuous progress, unlike drill and blast operations where crews must exit the tunnel during blasting for safety. In addition, simultaneous ground support installation further increases overall advance rates compared with drill and blast operations that must install ground support sequentially.
View the machine boring at Fresnillo mine: https://youtu.be/mgFopWaf220
Much like the face of a TBM, tunneling’s wheels of progress are always turning. Join us as we check in on projects across the globe—including a breakthrough in Japan, record setting progress in Canada, and a new project ramping up in Nepal.
Setting Citywide Records in Toronto
Exciting progress is being made deep below Lake Ontario. The 7.95 m (26.1 ft) Single Shield Robbins TBM boring the 3.5 km (2.2 mi) long Ashbridges Bay Outfall tunnel is seeing record setting progress for the City of Toronto, ON, Canada. The machine, operated by contractor Southland Holdings, has recently completed 30 rings in a single day, at 1.5 m (5 ft) per ring, equating to 45 m (148 ft). With this accomplishment, the machine and crew surpassed a previous best day of 21 rings at a project with similar specifications. The Ashbridges Bay Outfall is anticipated to be the largest wastewater outfall in Canada and will improve the city’s shoreline, beaches, and Lake Ontario’s water quality.
A Third Set of Records in Esme, Turkey
If two sets of records weren’t enough, the 13.77 m (45.18 ft) diameter Robbins Crossover (XRE) TBM boring Turkey’s Esme-Salihli Railway Tunnel has just set another precedent. In July and August 2021, the speedy machine outdid its previous records in the size class of 13 to 14 m (43 to 46 ft), boring 167.4 m (549.2 ft) in one week and 651.6 m (2,138 ft) in one month. The rates are the fastest ever recorded for any TBM over 13 m (43 ft) in diameter! They even surpass those set over a decade ago at the Niagara Tunnel Project by a Robbins 14.4 m (47.5 ft) diameter Main Beam TBM. Check out the records here.
Breakthrough at Tamagawa
In June, JV contractors Obayashi & Kumagai celebrated their final breakthrough at the Tamagawa HPP #2, Lot 2 project in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan. During the bore, the crew faced unpredictable soft ground conditions and other challenges. To surmount these issues, an airborne electromagnetic survey was conducted for predicting soft ground conditions ahead of the tunnel surface and tunnel face stability was improved by using forepiling. The project, completed with the use of a Robbins 4.5 m (14.7 ft) Main Beam TBM, will supply 14,600 kw of renewable power to the region.
Double Shield to Bore Second Nepalese Tunnel
A record-setting 5.09 m (16.7 ft) Robbins Double Shield TBM is currently being rebuilt to tackle its second project for Nepal. The machine, which set multiple records and finished a year early at the Bheri Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project, has been chosen to bore the 13.3 km (8.2 mi) long Sunkoshi Marin Diversion Tunnel. Upon completion, the structure will divert part of the flow of the Sunkoshi River into the Bagmati river to irrigate farmland in the Tarai district. The project has been awarded to contractor China Overseas Engineering Co (COVEC), who will be bringing their expertise and experience from the Bheri Babai tunnel to this new endeavor.
- The Latest Updates: Records in Toronto, the News from Nepal, and More
- Most Momentous: 2021 Global Project Updates
- The Next Push: Robbins TBMs on the Move Around the Globe
- On the Move: Robbins TBMs Around the World
- What it’s Like to Live at a Jobsite for a Year (or More): An Interview