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VMT in Italy - press release

VMT in Italy - press release

ITALY’S A1 ROAD EXPANSION SUCCESS - Known to many as the Spinal Cord of Italy’s road network, the A1 Autostrada in Italy connects Naples in the south to Milan in the north via Rome and Florence and it is currently in the process of a major upgrade which includes widening and the construction of a number of tunnels to increase road capacity for the future.

As part of this upgrade the 59 km long section between Barberino and Firenze Nord to the north of Florence is being widened in four sections (with one section already completed) with the construction of up to three new lanes for southbound traffic and with the existing four lane highway, two in each direction, ultimately being utilised solely, once completed, as the northbound route.

Within this section a 7,528 m long tunnel known as the Santa Lucia Tunnel is required through the Apennine mountain range. To complete this tunnel TBM manufacturer Herrenknecht built the largest mega-TBM machine to come out of its Schwanau European manufacturing facility, an EPB machine measuring 15.87 m diameter. This is third largest TBM ever built.

The machine is designed to bore through the heterogenous geology of the mountainous region, using its drive power of 8,750 kN, and a torque of 101,296 kNm. The contractor for the project is, Pavimental, with the project being owned by a Joint Venture compnay comprising Atlantia S.p.a 59.4%, Autostrade per l´Italia S.p.a 20%, Aeroporti di Roma S.p.a 20% and Astaldi S.p.a 0.6%.



Of course at such a size tunnelling can create many potential problems so the planning and control of the construction process are key issues to the success of the work. Therefore selecting the right tunnelling support infrastructure is as much a part of the project as the tunnelling machine itself.

Not only is this correct selection required to minimise the construction time overall but the potential for problems restarting the TBM after a stop or for unexpected incidents when the TBM is stationary can lead to significant construction and cost implications.

As part of the tunnelling process, the Santa Lucia Tunnel requires some 32,000 tunnel liner segments, the client and contractor decided to utilise the most effective tunnel segment manufacture and control process available, VMT’s Segment Documentation System or SDS. Maccaferri, an Italian construction and precast company with a precast factory based nearby in Bologna was subcontracted to provide the segments. To meet the challenges of high quality standards and the application of RFID tags specified in the tender, the manufacturer decided to work with VMT, a German supplier of quality management and tracking systems for the tunnelling industry.

But why the VMT system? This question, along with others was put to Valeria Mainieri, Quality Manager for the Santa Lucia Tunnel project with Maccaferri Tunneling s.r.l. to understand the processes behind selection of the tunnelling support software.

What were the criteria on which the selection of the production and logistics management system for this project were based? Valeria’s response was: “The decision to manage the production and the logistics storage through an integrated system came from the need to produce and document an important range of elements in a short timeframe. The alternative was that we would have needed to employ several workers that would be ‘stationed’ along the production line in order to collect the production data that was required. This could have led to an increased risk of data loss and thereby the propagation of management errors, in other words eliminating the potential for human error. It also meant that we could meet the customer’s requirement to install and monitor RFID tags into the liner segments.”

Why did you choose SDS? Valeria said: “In order to meet the customer’s requests, it was necessary to develop a system that fitted well with production requirements. The SDS system from VMT was chosen because it was felt necessary to have a ‘standard’ product which could be configured and ready to use in a short timeframe, which this system offered. But, the system also necessary for the system to have the flexibility to be adapted to and integrated with any changes in the production process even after the production process had started. This allows the system to fit with the production process and in particular to the part dedicated to the segment storage system.

What were the main benefits that the SDS system delivered to the Santa Lucia Tunnel project? Valeria commented: “The SDS system allows us to manage the production process along with detecting some of the parameters linked to the traceability of materials. The fact that we could customise parts of the system we are able to create a complete report with all the necessary information concerning data related to the raw materials used in each segment. This option allows us to drastically reduce the use of resources (people) allocated to data input in the PCQ cards for each segment for example on the client side of the process, which is one of the requirements demanded by our customer Pavimental.

Who on your staff work mainly with the SDS system? Valeria said: “The people that interact with SDS are the workers in the segment production line who collect the data related to segment production and the raw materials usage data. Management staff (largely Valeria Mainieri and Marco M. Belleggia) then check and verify this data and integrate it into the main database along with other required information in order to have a complete report on each individual segment produced.”

The process of selecting the SDS system was undertaken over several phases with the VMT team, how smoothly was this process achieved from your point of view as the customer? Valeria commented: “Despite the usual communications difficulties where manufacturer and client work in different languages our collaboration with VMT both in the negotiation stage and in the implementation phase has been both profitable and direct. During the production phase VMT was always available for support. Although once trained in the system our operators seldom had to call on the VMT team to assist. But we always knew they were available if needed.”

In closing, would you consider the option to work with VMT and its SDS system again in the future? Valeria stated: “The system is certainly well built and solid. The final outturn cost however is not always as predictable as might be preferred, but this is more often than not due to the fact that no matter how hard we try we cannot always determine or predict which additional parts of the system may need to be customised after the production process starts and as it proceeds. Therefore the total cost of the system during the tender phase cannot be determined ‘up front’. But sometimes this is just how things work.”

More information about the SDS system is available through VMT or there is a new product video which can be found at: http://sds.vmt-gmbh.de/