Epiroc ER 3000 drum cutter clears the (flow) path into the future

Published 20/12, 2022 at 09:46

In order to keep the Rhine navigable for freight transport despite low water levels, the shipping channels must be regularly adjusted.

The powerful yet extremely gentle Epiroc ER 3000 drum cutter proved to be the tool for the job. The company says that it performed underwater due to its high quality technology, precise performance and environmentally friendly components.


The initial situation – serious but not hopeless

Climate change and the particularly long periods of high temperatures this summer had a severe impact on the Rhine, meaning that supplies to companies along the river could only take place under difficult conditions and with restrictions. Shipping and the associated transport of goods have suffered enormously. For one of the most frequented goods transport routes, it is therefore particularly important to keep the channel navigable, to improve it, to prevent water levels falling and to secure the infrastructure for the future.


The task

Milling work must be carried out in the Middle Rhine area, between Östrich and Geisenrücken, in order to guarantee a target depth of 2.10m below GIW (equivalent water level). For this profiling of the channel, obstacles (such as crags) are removed underwater at specific points. The scaly, cracked material with a hardness of up to 100MPA requires suitable drum cutter sizes and carriers. The project – funded by the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport – proved challenging for all parties involved as the use of hydraulic breakers or blasting is not permitted due to harmful vibrations and uncontrolled sediment formation. Special conditions for working underwater also apply not least nature conservation requirements.


Implementation – first class and sustainable

The Wesel based company Hülskens Wasserbau GmbH & Co. KG. is an experienced hydraulic engineering company. It utilised two floating pontoons for the aforementioned purpose, on which the required technology is permanently installed. A Demag-H95 special excavator mounted on the front pontoon serves as the carrier. The usual tests for harmful metal (such as armaments) was undertaken with large amounts of scrap being uncovered.

The work required a powerful solution in sensitive conditions which proved to be ideal for Epiroc’s ER 3000 drum cutter, equipped with additional equipment. It was fitted with special wear protection for extreme underwater use, and also an additional suction hood installed in the first construction phase, which encloses the drum cutter over a large area. With this tried and tested technique, the excavation material produced during the milling work is extracted and transported to the rear pontoon in a controlled manner. There is also a technically sophisticated filter and separation system as well as a loading container for the excavation material.

The underwater work requires environmentally safe operation; however, the Epiroc drum cutter is not only powered by bio hydraulic oil, but also special bio oil for use as the gearbox lubricant. During operation, the ER 3000 is supplied with an oil quantity of 420l/min. All in all, the work has so far been carried out without any difficulties or damage. The low wear on the cutting tools once again underlines the high quality of the ER 3000.

Erkat’s milling technology has been part of the Epiroc Group since 2017 and as the case demonstrates, has proved to an essential tool in a combination of equipment, procedure and know how.

Join our Newsletter