Mammoet pioneers sustainable skidding

4 March 2024

Print Page

850 tonne tunnel section installed using just electric power.

What began as a standard skidding operation became a unique opportunity for Mammoet to demonstrate how it could lower the carbon impact of civil projects while still keeping disruption to a minimum.

When Mammoet was approached by Belgian construction company Stadsbader Contractors to lift and skid an 850 tonne concrete tunnel section 40 metres underneath railway lines in Belgium it assessed that the project could be achieved with zero emissions.

To achieve this Mammoet’s engineers combined existing skidding equipment with new battery-powered technology.

The project required precise calculations and implementation to lift and skid the 850t tunnel section, measuring 25m x 8.5m, across 40 metres to reach its destination: below a railway track near Brussels.

The operation also had to be carried out to a time-critical deadline, with minimum disruption to train users and before the Monday morning commute began. 

Using Mammoet’s specialised tunnel adaptors and skidding system, hydraulic jacks were put into place to manoeuvre and lift the concrete tunnel section from the ground. 

When enough ground clearance was created, hydraulic cylinders pushed the tunnel section across 40 metres of Teflon pad-equipped skid tracks to its destination.

The hydraulic power used to achieve this was generated using an electric powerpack, combined with a battery, to supply the power needed. 

To determine what was needed to carry out the job, Mammoet engineers executed several smaller scale projects, such as transformer installations, which served as feasibility tests before moving on to the large-scale Belgian project.

After preparations for the operation were put in place, the skidding procedure was completed in under an hour and 2.5 hours ahead of the estimated schedule. 

The electric powerpack, or Mobile Power Unit, is powered by recycled batteries, with a maximum capacity of 50kWh. It weighs 1,460kg and has loading capacity for an additional 1,000kg of auxiliary equipment via its roof rack. It accepts standard inputs and outputs at 16, 32 or 63A.

Its battery can also be charged using solar energy, further increasing the sustainability of operations. 

The sustainable mobile power source enabled Mammoet to not only perform the special device skidding operation with zero emissions, but also off the grid. This means the solution is transferable to even relatively remote locations.

According to Mammoet, the combined technologies used for the all-electric tunnel skidding process is a prime example of how it is making heavy lifting safer and more sustainable.

Positive gains for the customer include improved on-site safety due to reduced noise levels during the operation and less impact on the surrounding environment due to the absence of on-site emissions – while still maintaining the same timescale as normal.   

The improved working environment received a positive response from the field experts working with these newly combined technologies. 

“We have demonstrated that through innovative engineering and combining new and existing technology we have the ability to execute zero emission heavy lift projects for our customers – and that’s the future,” said Pascal Eeken, Manager Improvement and Innovation, Mammoet Europe.