Handling tunnel segments

From production to construction, we offer a customised lifting solution. For handling tunnel segments, we design lifting solutions which are used in production factories, for transhipment and TBM equipment for in the tunnel boring machines itself. The unique features of vacuum handling are highly suitable to handle concrete products, such as tunnel segments.

Benefits vacuum handling

Compared to alternative lifting methods, vacuum handling offers many interesting advantages for concrete products:

  • Demoulding after 8 till 10 hours;
  • All movements by one lifting device;
  • No damage or deformation to the tunnel segment;
  • No lifting points required which need to be installed in the concrete, saving time, manpower and investment;
  • Reuse of the same mould;
  • Very safe due to the high safety standards of vacuum handling.

Lifting solutions in your production facility

The tunnel segments are produced extrados, with the convex arch facing upwards. However, the tunnel segments are placed intrados at the storage facility and also are delivered to the TBM with the convex arch facing down. This means, the tunnel segments need to be turned 180 degrees after demoulding. Specially for this purpose we designed two lifting solutions. The first is a vacuum lifter which is able to demould, lift and turn 180 degrees in one movement. We also designed a standalone turner. Demoulding, lifting and internal transport to and from the standalone turner is done by a vacuum lifter. The vacuum lifer is provided with an adjustable suction pad suspension. Enabling the lifter to lift the tunnel segments both extrados and intrados.

Demoulding after 8 till 10 hours

The unique properties of vacuum lifting technology enable demoulding after 8 till 10 hours. If you handle by embeds the curing time of the concrete elements need to be at least 24 hours! This is possible due to the divided surface pressure of a suction pad. Moreover, Aerolift offers a machine to shorten the curing time even further: the low-pressure steam generator.

TBM equipment

The Aerolift TBM equipment for inside the tunnel boring machine consists of two vacuum lifting devices. In combination the lifters take care of the entire handling process of tunnel segments inside the TBM. After a stack of tunnel segments is lowered into the tunnel shaft, they are transported to the TBM by a trolley rail. The first vacuum lifting device picks up and transports the tunnel segments one by one to the erector. To meet the erector’s position the lifting device rotates the tunnel element 90 degrees. A second vacuum lifting device, which operate as part of the erector, picks up the tunnel segment. The vacuum segment erector is able to turn 360° to position the tunnel segment inside tunnel wall. All tunnel segments are fixed manually with bolts. In order to gain access to the bolt holes of a keystone, the central suction pad is able retract and extend.

Curious for more information about handling tunnel segments by vacuum technology?

Over the years we provided many lifting solutions for the TBM industry. If you like more information about handling tunnel segments in your specific situation, contact our team of experts.