No doubts over ability of Herrenknecht AG drilling equipment

SCHWANAU (Germany): Schwanau is located in Ortenaukreis, Baden-Wurttemberg, in the south of Germany, with a population of only 6,800.

However, the 38.34 square km wide Schwanau is ‘not really small’, as it is the home of a high-technology machine manufacturer that specialises in underground tunnel work.

Created in 1977, and renamed Herrenknecht AG in 1998, the Allmannsweier-based firm is known as the leader in the manufacturing and marketing of tunnelling machinery.
To date, Herrenknecht AG has supplied the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) in sizes of 0.10-19.0 metres and completed more than 1,900 km of tunnels.

In 2005, Herrenknecht AG set a world record by building a TBM measuring 19 metres (62 feet) in diameter. The firm is also involved in the construction of the Smart Tunnel in Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur.

The first TBM for the My Rapid Transit’s (MRT) Sungai Buloh-Kajang alignment is ready to be shipped to Malaysia from Schwanau to start tunnelling work for the MRT project, expected to take off in May 2013.

The shipment of the TBM followed the recent success of the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) conducted by engineers from MRT Corp and the contractor for the underground tunnel work, MMC-Gamuda KVMRT (T) Sdn Bhd and Herrenknecht AG here.

MRT Corporation’s Strategic Communication and Public Relations Director, Amir Mahmood Razak, said the first MRT alignment, which has 31 stations including seven located underground, will require tunnelling through karstified limestone and the Bukit Kenny geological structures.

Karst is an area of irregular limestone in which erosion has produced fissures, sinkholes, underground streams, and caverns.

Geological studies show that part of the underground area east of Kuala Lumpur is made up of karstified limestone, while the Bukit Kenny zone has granite, sand and mudstones.

This requires a suitable TBM, and MRT tunnels are to be constructed using two types of TBMs – six Variable Density (VD) modern TBMs and two Earth Pressure Balance (EPB) TBMs to ensure the safety of workers during construction of the tunnels.

VD TBM will be used to drill through the karstified limestone area, while EPB TBM will be used in the Kenny Hill geological area, explained Amir.
The first of the 10 TBMs, 6,620mm in diameter, 135 m-long and weighing 1,100 tonnes with cutterhead power of 1,280KW, will be used for the construction of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT tracks.

MRT Corp and MMC-Gamuda ordered the TBM in March 2012. It took nine months for completion before receiving the FAT scrutiny and approval.

This machine will be dismantled and shipped to Malaysia after the FAT clearance and is expected to arrive in the country in March 2013, said Amir.

This TBM and another (still in construction) will be used to bore a tunnel through Cochrane, Kampung Pandan and ending in Pasar Rakyat in Kuala Lumpur.

Ten TBMs, worth RM450 million, will be used for tunnel-boring works at the 9.5 km stretch from Semantan to Maluri, passing seven underground stations (KL Sentral, Pasar Seni, Merdeka, Bukit Bintang Sentral, Pasar Rakyat, Cochrane, and Maluri).

Eight of the TBMs will be manufactured by Herrenknecht AG, while the other two will come from China Railway Tunnel Engineering Ltd factories.

Also, about two-thirds of the company’s 3,300 workers are at the Herrenknecht AG headquarters, and another 300 at three different locations in China.

A tunnel boring machine (TBM) is a sophisticated machine used to bore through any type of soil or rock, explained the project manager for MMC Gamuda Joint Venture Sdn Bhd (MGJV), Gusztav Klados, to Malaysian journalists who recently visited the plant in Schwanau.

“It is shaped like a cylinder, which is lying on its side and has a rotary cutter head at its front. This cutter head cuts and “eats away” the soil or rock as it rotates and as the TBM pushes itself forward.

“A TBM also has a system which assembles the concrete lining for the tunnel immediately after the TBM has done its excavation work,” he said.

This consists of a mechanical arm that lifts and puts pre-cast concrete pieces together to form a ring in the excavated portion of the tunnel. This maintains the integrity of the tunnel by preventing the tunnel from caving in.

The TBM also has a set of hydraulic jacks that are fixed against the last concrete ring, slowly extended to push the TBM forward.

Another important component of the TBM is the system that disposes of the soil or rock material which the TBM has excavated. Depending on the type of machine used, excavated material can be brought out from the back of the machine via a conveyor belt or loaded into wagons which are then transported out, or can be mixed into a liquid clay called bentonite and pumped out, he said.

Gusztav explained that by using the EPB shields, the soil is excavated by tools on the rotating cutting wheel at the tunnel face and passes through the openings in the cutting wheel into the excavation chamber.

There, it mixes with the other soils.

The force from the thrust cylinders is transmitted via the pressure bulkhead to the soil to support the tunnel face and control the entry of material into the excavation chamber.
The excavated material is then removed by the screw conveyor from the excavation chamber, which is under pressure in the tunnel. With the help of an erector, the tunnel lining segments are built directly behind the shield. All activities are monitored from the control cabin.

EPB Shields, made by Herrenknecht AG, are in their element in soft ground. Cohesive and incohesive soils with high clay or silt content and low water permeability provide the ideal conditions for EPB tunnelling.

Gusztav explained, the soil excavated by the cutting wheel is used to support the tunnel face. Foam injected in front of the cutting wheel turns the excavated soil into a paste, guaranteeing the exact control of the support pressure, as well as the efficient removal of the excavated soil.

One other method for constructing a tunnel for the MRT without using a TBM is by digging from the surface, said Amir.

This method is usually called “cut and cover” because it literally involves cutting and digging the soil or rock from the surface, and then covering it over to make a tunnel once the desired depth is reached.

This is obviously not a feasible method when building an MRT tunnel, or any other type of tunnel, through a busy city like Kuala Lumpur, as the “cut and cover” method will cause constant disruptions on the surface.

Further, cut and cover through a city will mean closing all roads and demolishing all buildings that the tunnel will run under.

“The FAT is an important milestone in the MRT project as it marks the completion of the TBM’s manufacturing process. MRT Corp and MMC-Gamuda has inspected the TBM to ensure that it complies with its required specifications and that it functions properly. The TBM is now ready for action in Malaysia”, said Amir.

During the FAT, the engineers jointly went through a check-list of 450 items which stretched over 43 pages. The checks range from a simple visual of the external surface of the TBM to ensuring that every valve in the TBM is in good working order.

According to Amir, an added significance to this event was that this first TBM, code-named S-774 for the MRT project, is also the world’s first Variable Density TBM. The design of the Variable Density TBM was the result of a joint effort between MMC-Gamuda and Herrenknecht and was specially invented for tunnelling through the challenging Kuala Lumpur limestone which lies under the eastern part of Kuala Lumpur.

“The designing of the Variable Density TBM is the result of combined Malaysian and German ingenuity. This is something which Malaysians can be truly proud of,” said Amir.

Amir added that a TBM owner has several options upon completion of the work. One is for the TBMs to be decommissioned and dismantled. Parts that can be reused will then be salvaged.

The second option is to tunnel the TBMs into the ground and cap them.

The third choice is to dismantle the TBMs and then re-assemble them for displaying to the public.

The fourth option is to dismantle the TBMs, relocate them to a factory for refurbishment with replacement parts, and deliver them to another project requiring similar TBMs, all tested and approved for new tunnelling work, he said. — Bernama

Gamuda on track with MRT project

GAMUDA Bhd group managing director Datuk Lin Yun Ling looks re-energised. During Gamuda’s board meeting on Thursday, the board just approved the renewal of Lin’s contract to helm the company for the next five years, come June 2013. Further entrenching Lin’s optimism on Gamuda is the doubling of his shareholding in the company from some 34 million shares to 67.63 million, and thus increasing his stake from 1.7% to 3.25%.

The reason for the fresh perspective to his career has been the biggest job Gamuda has tackled. As the Project Delivery Partner (PDP) with MMC Corp Bhd, Lin and his team at Gamuda are busy planning basically all aspects of the My Rapid Transit (MRT) project in the Klang Valley.

MMC Gamuda KVMRT (PDP) Sdn Bhd a 50:50 joint-venture company between Gamuda Bhd and MMC Corp Bhd was formed on Dec 27, 2010, while the formal agreement between Mass Rapid Transit Corp Bhd (MRT Corp) and MMC-Gamuda JV on the appointment of the latter as the PDP was signed on Feb 10, 2012.

The primary function of the PDP is to deliver the KVMRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang (SBK Line) within the agreed key performance index of target cost and completion date.

The total target cost would include the total aggregate works packages contract value and reimbursables capped at RM2.8bil.

Piling works

To date, MRT Corp has disbursed some 95% of the value of the project and is on track to complete it by July 2017. Work has started and this is evident from the various construction structures, ground and piling works that have started throughout the Klang Valley.

“I would say that we are on track to complete the SBK Line by mid-2017. Being PDP is significant. It is more than just being a turnkey contractor,” he tells StarBizWeek.

To ensure efficiency, Lin said there are now some 2,000 people working with the PDP for the SBK Line project, out of which 700 are directly hired and a further 600 are supervising consultants and 700 engineering and design consultants.

Some RM2.8bil has been allocated for the salaries and reimbursables (third party costs) such as engineering design and supervision fees and site investigations, among others, for the SBK Line.

Lin is pleased with the way the PDP model is meeting expectations for the project owner.

“To take an out-of-the-box approach using the PDP model was a bold move by the Government. It is as Blue Ocean as it gets. The benefits of using the PDP model can be seen in three aspects: spread’, speed’ and skills development’,” explains Lin.

Lin explains that in terms of spread, this refers to the number and breadth of work packages being awarded. For example, there are more than 90 works packages to maximise participation by local contractors.

“This is spread out to big and small contractors so all have a share. The procurement process also becomes fully transparent. With so many contracts, the number of interfaces between the work packages is tremendous. PDP will have to manage it well,” Lin says.

In terms of the speed of rollout, Lin said that approval for the SBK Line was first obtained in Dec 2010, and construction commenced in less than two years.

“With the PDP, we are able to move faster because we can fast track the engineering process, we are familiar with the approval process for the railway scheme, land acquisition and local authorities. We have the incentive to do everything right and on time because the PDP guarantees the Government against any delays. Our fees are greatly reduced with delays,” says Lin. Skills development

For Lin, the rollout of the MRT presents not just an efficient mode of mass public transport in Greater Klang Valley but also provides an opportunity for the Malaysian workforce to acquire new and high order skill sets.

“In line with the Government’s Economic Transformation Programme, the nurturing of local talents during the construction process of the MRT will sustain our move up the technology value chain and enable higher income jobs to be created,” says Lin.

Lin notes that there are currently yawning skill gaps in the local rail industry workforce. This has forced the PDP to resort to recruiting highly-skilled expatriates on two to three-year contracts. Their positions are mainly to fill in the gap for operational software integration, train power systems and driverless train control and signaling systems,” Lin adds that the PDP is also putting in place a comprehensive understudy programme, whereby local engineers are trained to eventually take over these responsibilities.

For example, there are 150 experienced engineers and 200 graduate engineers who are trained via the understudy programmes to ensure the entire rail technology value chain is developed and managed by locals in the coming years.

For the underground works, MMC-Gamuda JV has the Tunnelling Training Academy. The training is targeted at 2,000 people across the entire spectrum from engineers to mechanics and technicians, operators, supervisors and skilled workers, providing a head-to-toe route from academy to on-the-job training.

“We have the most to gain from doing it well because our incentives are aligned with effective outcomes,” says Lin.

In facing the longer term and sustainability issues of the MRT, MRT Corp and PDP are on the same page that this project is more than just building the line.

First up is the issue of better connectivity especially on the interchange with other lines, buses and taxis. Next is the quality of access to stations, for example, the feeder bus systems, park and ride facilities and even bicycle parking.

Studies on second and third lines

“We need full WiFi access throughout our MRT and a seamless ticketing system. Supporting this will be a sustainable and accountable platform for operations and maintenance. For the vibrancy of the stations and the surrounding area, there needs to be good integration between the commercial and retail activities. We also need to be energy efficient during operations. These are the other aspects of the MRT which are just as important as creating multiplier effects,” says Lin.

Meanwhile, the Government is already conducting feasibility studies on the construction of the second and third MRT lines and will make the decision on the lines next year.

The two new MRT lines consist of the “Circle Line” which is an orbital line around the main Kuala Lumpur city while the other line is similar to the SBK Line, but runs from the underserved areas of Kepong and Sri Kembangan.

“To determine the right time for the next line, two main things are to be considered. First of all, avoid bunching the lines together as that will stretch the supply chain. And the scenario where contractors and experienced manpower finish the current line with no continuity should be avoided. If they leave for other countries, it becomes a lot more costly to rehire them,” explains Lin.

Timing wise, the SBK Line was approved in Dec 2010, and it took two years for construction to get off the ground.

“The civil works will only take two and a half years of the entire five-year timeframe needed to complete the MRT. The second half of that is needed for outfitting systems, testing and commissioning,” says Lin.

“Taking all this into account, approval for the next line will need to be obtained before mid-2013 so that construction works can begin in 2015. This will be just nice as the civil works for the first line will be coming to an end by then,” says Lin.

MRT Job – Gamuda

So far, RM20 billion of the SBK Line has been awarded with the balance being systems, equipment and vehicle works. The final value of the line may be RM22-RM23 billion. Hence the PDP fee will be based on 6 per cent of RM14 billion or RM840 million. The SBK line is on track to be 15 per cent complete by mid-2013, paving the way for strong earnings in FY13F and beyond. We think at least one of the other two MRT lines will be approved by the government next year.

Engineers Test Machine for KVMRT Project

SCHWANAU (Germany): Engineers from MMC-Gamuda KVMRT (T) Sdn Bhd have conducted testing on the world’s first variable density slurry shield tunnel boring machine.

MMC-Gamuda is the main underground works contractor for the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT), which is the largest public infrastructure project in the country.

The test was also witnessed by MRT Corporation, project owner of the 51km Sungai Buloh-Kajang urban rail line, targeted for completion by 2017.

Equipped with a cutterhead measuring 6.67m in diameter, the machine is custom-built to tackle the stretch of karst a type of limestone from Maluri towards Bukit Bintang, along which three of the seven underground MRT stations will be located.

Six such machines, costing around RM400mil, have been ordered by MMC-Gamuda for this difficult terrain while four earth pressure balance machines will be used for the rest of the more predictable sedimentary rock formation.

“Sinkholes and ground subsidence at highly built-up areas are something that we cannot afford. So, we expect these sophisticated machines to help us overcome the challenge,” said Sati Boghal, MMC-Gamuda’s project director for MRT underground works.

The machine was unveiled at the factory of its manufacturer, Herrenknecht AG, among the world’s largest makers of tunnel boring machines, here on Thursday.

It was jointly developed between Herrenknecht and MMC-Gamuda, based on MMC-Gamuda’s experience with the Kuala Lumpur’s Smart Tunnel project a decade ago.

Sati said the test marked yet another milestone in the progress of the underground works.

“Barring any unforeseen circumstance, this machine will arrive in Malaysia by the end of March so that tunnelling can start by the second quarter,” he said.

MRT Corp strategic communications and public relations director Amir Mahmood Razak said it was pleased with the progress of work.


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Kuala Lumpur, 29 October 2012: Following the meeting of its One Stop Procurement Committee (OSPC), Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) would like to announce than three more systems work packages have been awarded with a total value of RM107.3 million.
The OSPC meeting was held on 25 October 2012 and was chaired by the Secretary General of the Treasury, Dato’ Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Siregar Bin Abdullah.
A joint venture between A.F.S. Engineering (M) Sdn Bhd and ST Electronics Ltd was awarded the contract for the supply of facility SCADA for the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang line. The contract price is RM23.24 million. SCADA is used to monitor and control industrial processes.
MRT Corp also awarded the contract for the engineering, procurement, construction, testing and commissioning of the electronic access control system for the project today to a consortium comprising Apex Communication Sdn Bhd and Johnson Controls (M) Sdn Bhd. The contract price is RM41.04 million.

Meanwhile, the work package for the supply of the building management system for the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang line was awarded to Metronic Engineering Sdn Bhd. The contract is valued at RM43.04 million.

All the companies had earlier pre-qualified to tender for the respective systems work packages. All three contracts are for a duration of 82 months.
The contracts were the first successful tenders for A.F.S. Engineering, ST Electronics and Metronic. Apex Communication has won three previous contracts for this project. In August, it had secured the S7 package which was for the construction of Balakong and Taman Koperasi stations worth RM104.7
million. Earlier this month, Apex Communication secured the S8 package, to build the Saujana Impian, Bandar Kajang and Kajang stations at a value of RM251.7 million. The company, in a consortium with LG CNS, had also won the telecommunications work package for the project valued at RM319.9 million.

MRT Corp CEO Dato’ Azhar Abdul Hamid congratulated the companies on their success. “These companies had the best evaluated tenders. They have demonstrated their capabilities and experience and will ensure the MRT line gets the best quality at the best price,” says Dato’ Azhar.With the awards, which are subject to the signing of Letter of Award by all parties, 53 of the 85 works packages have now been awarded, with a total value of RM19.8 billion. The balance 32 packages are expected to be awarded by the end of the year.


Recently, one of my long-serving staff decided to give up her job. In most cases, people leave a job for greener pastures. Her case was different.

She lives at one end of Kuala Lumpur (KL) and works at the other end of KL. It would be reasonable to believe that travelling within KL should be a breeze. Yet, on average she spends up to three hours each day on the road to travel to and from work. While she loves working with the company, the tiring years of spending many hours on the road has worn her down and her family time has been greatly shortened.

To many, the announcement of the Klang Valley My Rapid Transit (KVMRT) project is like a timely rain to ease the drought. The development of public transportation dictates the ease of mobility and connectivity in a city, which is a key factor for KL to become a world-class city, and for Klang Valley to elevate to the next level.

Attractive line

Being an architect and a developer, creating quality lifestyle has always been my keen interest, and I do look forward to the development of KVMRT. The first Sungai Buloh-Kajang line that has 51km in total length is expected to generate great benefits along the route once it is completed.

It will attract more people to move into Klang Valley, achieving the mission of growing the Greater KL’s population, and eventually spurring the development of the country.

As the MRT project shoulders the important role of changing lifestyles of a huge population, it is important to be prudent in every single detail right from the planning stage to ensure the desirable outcomes are achieved, to the benefit of all, including the owner and operator of the MRT, as well as its end users.

Serving its purpose

Based on the plan, the Sungai Buloh-Kajang line is targeted to serve a catchment of 1.2 million people with 31 stations in total. Thirteen of these stations are expected to have the park-and-ride facilities. How viable are these facilities? Will they do more harm than good in solving the issue of traffic congestion, scarcity of land for housing and preservation of environment?

Before we delve further, let’s ask ourselves this question: “How far are we prepared to walk under Malaysia’s tropical weather?”

Answers may vary but the average acceptable distance will be 300m to 500m. If this is the comfortable distance for people to walk to the MRT stations, how many cars can we accommodate within the neighbourhood of this radius? How big a space should be allocated as parking bays next to the stations?

If one acre is allocated, it can only accommodate 150 cars, which is too few to satisfy the demand.

If the car park area is increased to three acres for 450 cars, it will be a huge waste of valuable space as the land next to the MRT station is a prime property. The construction and maintenance costs of these car parks will result in high parking fees for the users. Unlike shopping complexes which can charge reasonable parking fees to attract more shoppers and in turn, subsidise its car parks’ maintenance cost.

In some developed countries, the same piece of land would be used to develop high rise dwellings or commercial buildings.

For example, instead of constructing a car park, the same three acres can be utilised to build 450 units of apartments of 1,200 sq ft each.

The idea of constructing 1,200 sq ft apartments will also attract more middle income group who can afford to own cars to use MRT instead. This will generate more volume to the MRT stations, increasing the economy of scale and thus lowering the price of ticket.

These stations will eventually become centres of attraction for commercial activities, creating more business and employment opportunities for the areas.

In addition to constructing high-rise buildings nearby the stations, feeder buses can be used to increase the accessibility to the MRT station. The MRT operator must ensure the feeder buses are frequent and timely in delivering reliable services to MRT commuters. Another option is to build covered walkways to encourage more people to use the MRT facility.

Riding quality

In order to attract people to stay near the MRT stations, noise and pollution from the MRT system should be reduced. One of the most effective ways of doing so is to go underground.

We should have more underground stations to ensure the quality of living for those who stay around the stations. Such areas can later on be expanded to become commercial hubs, complementing the existing business activities on the ground, such as what have been practised in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taipei.

Going underground may be expensive. Nonetheless, one has to consider the economic and social impacts of MRT stations in the long run. If it is not viable to go underground, are there any other options that are worth considering? What about building an elevated tunnel enclosed with fiberglass (similar to our KLIA’s Skytrain) to cut down noise pollution?

There are many possibilities that can be explored with the development of MRT system. With proper planning, MRT system can ease the traffic flow and enrich quality of life for the people living in Klang Valley. However, with park-and ride stations, the concern is, does it serve the purpose of easing traffic congestion within if MRT commuters still need to drive to MRT stations?

Datuk Alan Tong is the group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties. He was the FIABCI world president in 2005-2006 and was named Property Man of The Year 2010 by FIABCI Malaysia.

Why we need to tunnel underground for the MRT?

Kuala Lumpur is a densely developed city with no pre-planned corridors for a transit network such as the MRT. Moreover, in order for the MRT to accomplish its objective, it needs to provide connections to the busiest centres in the Klang Valley, and these areas are also typically the most densely developed. The MRT Sungai Buloh – Kajang line will be the preeminent people mover in the region once completed catering to 1.2 million people with an estimated daily ridership of over 400,000 passengers a day by 2020.

There is also the question of speed and efficiency. Trains can travel faster underground than they can above ground because it is enclosed within a controlled environment.

There are questions as to why the MRT route could not be built above ground instead similar to some parts of the existing LRT network. There are three very good reasons why it can’t be done: i) cost, ii) destruction of property and iii) complexity of the construction process.

To build an above-ground rail route would be cost prohibitive, and would also require a very severe change to the cityscape, putting heritage centres at risk of demolition. Construction of such a route would also be inefficient, and extremely disruptive to the day-to-day lives of city dwellers.


Quoted from: MMC-Gamuda KVMRT Website


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MRT to award 38 contracts by year-end

PETALING JAYA: Mass Rapid Transit Corp Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) expects to award the remaining 38 contracts worth approximately RM2 billion, by year-end.

Director of Strategic Communications and Public Relations, Amir Mahmood Razak said 47 of the 85 packages worth over RM20 billion had been awarded, with 47 per cent of the projects going to Bumiputera contractors.

“The balance of the projects are not so big, including some system packages,” he told a media briefing on the V2 MRT Viaduct Works from Kota Damansara to Dataran Sunway, today.

When asked about the MRT lines two and three, Amir said the group had yet to be informed of its progress by the government.

“They are still undertaking the feasibility study. I think the plan is to announce the lines at least by the first half of next year.
“If the new lines are to be announced by then, we will be able to award some of the new contracts by end-2013. That would be a fair estimate,” he added. — BERNAMA


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