The world’s largest tunnel boring machine (TBM), used to bore a mega tunnel for the M-30 motorway in Madrid, has been equipped with an ALIMAK SE-450. This is the first time ever a lift has been installed in a TBM, and when the word got out, the other TBM supplier, Mitsubishi/FCM, also wanted lifts.

In the S-300 EPB Shield, the world’s largest tunnel boring machine, manufactured by Herrenknecht, everything is over the top. The TBM weights 4,364t and has an excavation diameter of 15.20m. It also possesses the highest torque ever installed in a TBM. The unique machine is being used to bore the 3.65km long north tunnel on the new M-30 urban motorway around Madrid, Spain.

A need for smooth transportation
Since the mega TBM is the world’s largest, the manufacturer knew it would draw a lot of attention, and thus a lot of visitors. They needed to install a lift, transporting people as well as materials between the floors in the TBM. Herrenknecht chose an Alimak lift.

"We are honored to be part of this truly amazing construction", says Karl-Östen Holmberg, underground construction and mining manager at Alimak AB.

The lift, installed in the rear of the TBM, is a standard ALIMAK SE-450 DOL with a capacity of 450kg and a lifting height of 9m. This is the first time a lift is ever installed in a TBM and it is yet another example of Alimak Hek’s ability to solve all kinds of vertical transportation problems.

Japanese order followed
A further proof of Alimak Heks’s unique experience and technical knowledge of extraordinary projects is yet another installation concerning the M-30. In a joint venture between Spanish manufacturer Duro Felguera and Japanese designer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, another of the world’s largest TBMs has been constructed for re-routing the M-30 motorway underground.

Since Herrenknecht had installed a lift in their TBM, the Japanese wanted to match that. They placed an order on two ALIMAK SE-300 DOL lifts, with the capacity of 300kg. One lift will be installed in the front of the TBM, behind the cutting wheel, and the other in the rear.

"The fact that we were chosen for two TBM suppliers to such a high status project shows that Alimak lifts are a competitive edge for the tunneling giants", says Karl-Östen Holmberg.

The TBMs equipped with Alimak lifts have already started working on the tunnel, which will help solve the chronic traffic jams, frequent accidents, noise and lack of greenery in the city center. It is due to open for traffic in 2008.

Expert knowledge of the tunneling segment
This is the first time a TBM has been equipped with an Alimak lift, but the company has long experience of installations on the tunneling segment. Alimak shaft access systems have been installed in ventilation shafts in a great number of road and rail tunnels over the world, for inspection, maintenance and emergency escape.

Three Alimak hoists were used for vertical transportation of men and materials during the construction of English Channel Tunnel, UK, and nine Alimak lifts are providing emergency escape at the Copenhagen metro, Denmark.
Since the mid 90’s, Alimak shaft access systems have been installed in a number of tunnels in south of Germany and Switzerland, and also in tunnel shafts in South Korea, UK, Hong Kong, Ireland etc.

Pioneers in this area, however, were the three Alimak hoist systems supplied in 1975 to James Bay hydro-electric power station, Canada, used for inspection of no less than 16 cable shafts.