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Data recorders in utility tunnel boring for Southern Water, UK

Fault-free recording despite continuous exposure to high temperatures, humidity, vibration and chalk dust

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By collecting and analysing the data, it was possible to identify abnormalities in the various parameters recorded and carry out the necessary steps to improve them.

Constructing a tunnel to carry foul and treated water pipes

When Southern Water utility needed to carry foul and treated water pipes under residential areas and roads in Margate city, open cut work would be unfeasible. Therefore a tunnel boring machine (TBM) was used to construct a 1400 metre tunnel, as part of a project undertaken by Costain Ltd.

Mining through chalk 30 metres underground created most arduous operating conditions possible.

Main facts

Industry Roads and tunnels infrastructure
Customer

Costain Ltd for Southern Water

Country United Kingdom
 Solution  Videographic recorders

Recording TBM’s behaviour to avoid undue stressing

The ABB SM3000 videographic data recorder was initially ordered by Costain’s chartered electrical engineer, Martin Godfree, to record data from pressure and other transducers in the TBM’s hydraulic propulsion and articulation rams.

“Driving the TBM with the information that the SM3000 provided on the screen enhanced the driver’s ability to avoid undue stressing of the main bearing. A failed bearing costs many thousands of pounds to replace and could have taken twelve or more weeks to fit,” said Godfree. 

“To carry out these repairs would have meant bringing the TBM to the surface either by dismantling it and withdrawing the parts through the constructed tunnel or by sinking a shaft in front of the TBM and lifting it out. Either option was no small task. We therefore decided to install the SM3000 to provide the driver with enhanced information and to record the TBM’s behaviour.”

By collecting and analysing the data, it was possible to identify abnormalities in the various parameters recorded and carry out the necessary steps to improve them.

"A failed bearing costs many thousands of pounds to replace and could have taken twelve or more weeks to fit"

Transmitting real-time data on TBM progress and course

With 36 recording channels, the SM3000 also allowed data to be collected from the TBM’s laser distance finder, its r.p.m. indicator and steering transducers. All the information was relayed to the site workshop on the surface via a UTP cable from the SM3000’s built-in Ethernet connection. The SM3000 transmitted real-time data on the TBM’s progress and course via the cable which was dispensed from a drum at the TBM axial speed of up to 4mm per second whilst mining.

“We previously assessed progress by counting the concrete rings installed and noting the time taken,” said Godfree. “With the SM3000’s Ethernet connection, we were able to have an at-a-glance overview of the machine’s progress as it happened.”

ABB's SM3000 videographic data recorder offered a faultless performance in a tunneling project, despite being subjected to some of the most arduous operating conditions possible.

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Product information
Videographic recorders