EQOS Energie controls concrete mixing plants for the construction of the world’s largest immersed tunnel

9. May 2022
  • Concrete production for the tunnel elements of the Fehmarn Belt tunnel starts in Denmark
  • BM Mineral Processing GmbH awarded commission worth EUR 1 million to EQOS Energie
  • EQOS Energie to be in charge of the entire electronics of the concrete mixing plants
  • ive plants will produce three million cubic metres of reinforced concrete for Baltic Sea tunnel

The largest infrastructure project in Northern Europe – the so-called Fehmarn Belt tunnel – garners worldwide attention. Construction work on the 18-kilometre underwater tunnel between the German island of Fehmarn and the Danish island of Lolland has been fully under way since last year. To this end, a ditch is being excavated from the seabed at a depth of 12 metres into which the world’s longest immersed tunnel will be embedded. The reinforced concrete elements used for the tunnel tube will be generated in a specially constructed factory in the Danish town of Rødbyhavn on Lolland island. Each of the 89 tunnel elements is 217 metres in length and weighs about 73,000 metric tonnes. They will be installed and connected under water.

The production of these tunnel elements requires 3 million cubic metres of concrete, which will be manufactured in fully automated concrete mixing plants by Upper Austrian company SBM Mineral Processing GmbH. For the plants’ electronic equipment, SBM got EQOS Energie Österreich GmbH on board. This area, which is still fairly new at EQOS Energie, has made great strides in establishing itself with manufacturing automation in industrial plants at the Koppl location near Salzburg.

Dependable partner with international experience and handshake quality

The project volume for EQOS Energie is about EUR 1 million. It includes the complete electrotechnical equipment for five fully automated concrete mixing plants. “Our services range from the planning of the electrical circuit diagrams, the basic design and manufacture of the control cabinets, dimensioning, pre-assembly and final assembly in Denmark to the preparation of safety concepts and the joint commissioning of the systems with the client on site,” Uwe Trampnau, Managing Director and Head of the Energy Technology business unit at EQOS Energie, described the project in detail. “We are very pleased to have prevailed against three competitors and to be able to apply our automation expertise to such an important international infrastructure project.”

The client company, SBM, said they decided in favour of EQOS Energie because of the team’s international experience. This team has been working in the automotive industry with projects in standardisation and in the area of Industry 4.0 and, thanks to its global network, can put together a dependable international team of fitters in a very short time. “This was the largest commission in electronics we have ever awarded, so it was extremely important that we find the right partner,” said Christoph Schobesberger, internal project manager at SBM. “With EQOS Energie, we have found an extremely competent, reliable and flexible partner who provides project management in handshake quality. We are aiming at a long-term business relationship.”

Challenging mega project and a milestone in traffic infrastructure

Despite comprehensive expertise and many years of electrotechnical experience, the Fehmarn Belt tunnel project is particularly demanding for the EQOS project team, but it is also very exciting. “The dimensions in which we are moving here are unimaginable,” says Manfred Resch, head of the EVU/Automation Österreich profit centre at EQOS Energie. “The size of the mixing plants is enormous. The Linemix systems are up to 30 metres high and the finished tunnel elements weigh around 73,000 metric tonnes each. You have to have seen it. This has nothing whatsoever to do with home electronics installations, so this is where proven specialists from the field of automation technology are in demand. And our 30 years of experience in international automotive supply means that we have a network of real specialists we can recruit for our teams of fitters.” On-site conditions also pose an enormous challenge for the team. “The factory in which the machines are to be set up is in the middle of nowhere. There is no infrastructure around and extreme weather conditions such as cold and hurricane-like storms also take some getting used to for us Central Europeans,” the head of the profit centre added.
The pre-assembly of the individual mechanical machine components, such as mixers, pumps or conveyor belts, has already been completed. Two Linemix mixing plants are already located on the Danish side of the project and have started trial production operations. The control cabinets for the remaining three plants have also been manufactured and are awaiting delivery for pre-assembly.

EQOS Energie rises in the Champions League of industrial automation

“The SBM contract gives us the opportunity to massively strengthen EQOS Energie’s competence and competitiveness in the field of manufacturing automation. With this project, we are definitely playing in the Champions League of industrial automation, because we are facing enormous demands, and – in certain areas – this also represents a premiere for us,” Trampnau said. Up to three plants must be installed simultaneously. “The tight schedule to which we must adhere and the volatile situation for deliveries of raw materials – all of these are requirements that demand a lot from everybody involved. But we work in an anticipatory manner and will be able to soften any blows. Flexibility and creativity are in demand, also in the area of technology,” Resch concluded.

The concrete processing work will take about five to six years. The finished Fehmarn Belt tunnel will have room for a four-lane motorway and a double-track electrified railway line. The tunnel will spare the transit traffic between Hamburg and Copenhagen a 160-kilometre detour, which will save not only time but also fuel and CO2 emissions.

Photo: SBM

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