Contractor renovates flow control structures using a Kemroc drum cutter

Published 10/5, 2021 at 11:57

The flow control barrage at the village of Viereth am Main (Germany) went through major renovation work with the pillars to the side of the weir having to be modified to fit the design of the new weir gates. To do this, specialist contractor Johann Bunte Bauunternehmung GmbH & Co. KG, used a Kemroc KR 120 drum cutter attachment mounted on a 35t excavator to carry out the work.

Dating back to 1925, the first barrage built on the river Main was at Viereth, being made up of three main components comprising of a lock for shipping to pass through, a hydro-electric power station and gated weirs. Combined, these components constitute a barrage whose main purpose is to control the flow of the river and maintain a constant water level.  

Through regular use over the years, several components such as toothed racks, rims, and wheels became corroded and worn with other mechanical and electrical components needing modernising. Because breakdowns at the Viereth Barrage were becoming more frequent, a major, wide ranging modernisation project was started in 2014. To minimise disruption to marine transport and maintain a degree of control over the flow in the river, it was decided to renovate the two weir sections, one after the other. 

The contracting company, Johann Bunte Bauunternehmung GmbH & Co. KG, played a major role on the project. Bunte, as the general contracting partner, in cooperation with a steel company, started work on the concrete sections located at the heart of the Viereth gated weir. These comprise of three 17m high pillars, between which are the weir gates with the lifting mechanisms attached to the sides of the pillars. These adjust the height of the gates to manage the flow and regulate the depth of water. The gates and adjusting mechanism had to be replaced as part of the renovation work. Due to the design of the new lifting mechanism, the concrete pillars had to be modified before the new mechanisms could be concreted in place. For the removal of the concrete it was decided that a Kemroc KR 120 rotary drum cutter mounted on a 35t excavator would be the ideal combination. It met the contractual specifications while promising to meet financial requirements.


Fast with low vibration

Drum cutters in the KR range from Kemroc are often used in demolition and tunnelling applications. They are also used in concrete renovation and profiling, trenching and pipe laying, quarrying and underwater construction applications. The attachments are built for demanding applications and are fitted with high torque motors to develop extreme cutting forces. For the profiling work on the pillars at Viereth, the low vibration characteristics of the KR drum cutters was critically important. 

Built in the 1920s, the pillars are made from a relatively fragile, mostly non reinforced concrete. In 1994 the surface layer had been removed and replaced with a mixture of sprayed concrete and mortar. According to the contractual requirements, the concrete removal process had to be carried out as carefully as possible to avoid any damage to the rest of the concrete structure. In addition, all necessary precautions had to be taken to prevent unintentional removal of concrete which could result in disruption to the shipping lanes. Therefore the use of blasting, hammers or chisels for the demolition work were not allowed. The only options allowed for the removal of the surface layer of concrete were grinding or high pressure water jets.

“We decided to go with the drum cutter and excavator option, because the use of high pressure water jets would have been considerably more expensive and would have required extensive protection from flying material. In addition, we were able to carry out more work further down in the base of the pier with the drum cutter and progress promised to be quicker,” explained Christoph Karsch, Bunte’s site manager.


Gentle and precise concrete removal

The milling work was carried from the 6 to 29 April 2020. At the centre of activities was the KR 120 drum cutter attachment mounted on the company’s own 35t excavator. Christoph Karsch chose this combination after consultation with the Bunte mechanical engineering department. In 2019, Bunte had experience of using a smaller drum cutter on one of its 25t excavators on the other weir section, and this proved to be a little too small and underpowered for the conditions. According to the site manager, the performance of the larger drum cutter was much better: “The drum cutter was perfect in terms of performance, precision and gentle cutting action. It ran smoothly from start to finish.” 

A total of 270m3 of concrete was removed from the two piers at an average rate of 10m3/h hour with all concrete and steel construction work being completed on time. “Pick consumption was within acceptable limits and the cutter met little resistance in the plain concrete. We only saw any significant wear in some lightly reinforced areas and on the granite pillar bases,” added Christoph Karsch.

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