Epiroc ER 3000 Drum Cutter Clears the (Flow) Path Into the Future

Published: 16/6, 2023

In order to keep the Rhine River 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.

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.

Milling work must be carried out in the Middle Rhine area, between Östrich and Geisenrücken, in order to guarantee a target depth of nearly 7 ft (2.1m) below the equivalent water level. For this profiling of the channel, crags and other obstacles are removed underwater at specific points. The scaly, cracked material requires suitable drum cutter sizes and carriers. The project, funded by the German 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

Hülskens Wasserbau GmbH & Co. KG., an experienced hydraulic engineering company, utilized two floating pontoons that carry the required technology. 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, fitted with special wear protection for extreme underwater use, as well as an additional suction hood installed in the first construction phase. 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 111 gpm (420 lpm). 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.

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