Australia’s first Simem Concrete batching plant

Australia’s first Simem Concrete batching plant is increasing the capacity of concrete work for the Melbourne Metro Tunnel Project. 

Work on the Melbourne Metro Tunnel includes the construction of twin nine-kilometre rail tunnels from Kensington to South Yarra in Victoria and five underground stations. With an initiative as large as this one, and a deadline of only six years, speed and accuracy are paramount. With these factors in mind, Gough Industrial Solutions New Zealand and Australia has installed Australia’s first Simem concrete batching plant.

Holcim Australia, the project’s concrete suppliers, chose the Simem Dry Beton 100 batching plant specifically for this project. The plant, which stores and combines various ingredients to create concrete, has been successful with the particular mix and design of concrete Holcim will use for the Metro Tunnel Project. It will operate continuously throughout the three-year tunnelling part of the project.

Gough Industrial Solutions is the dealer that represents Simem in New Zealand and Australia. Its job is to promote and represent Simem’s products, such as the concrete batching plants, water recycling options and many other associated technologies. Gough Industrial Solutions also offers ongoing service to clients with maintenance support and spare parts.

The Simem batching plant used in this project has been designed to provide up to 120 cubic metres of concrete per hour. This will aid construction teams with large concrete pours that usually require multiple trucks. A batching plant of this size will enable large pours to provide high quality, consistent concrete.

“You can’t start and stop some large pours. If it was all coming from one plant you can require many hours of sustained production, so you need to have confidence in the reliability of your plant in order to commit to having just one,” Jon Bruce, Project Manager at Gough Industrial Solutions says.

The Simem Dry Beton 100 plant is designed with maintenance in mind. For a three-year project such as the Metro Tunnel, Mr. Bruce says reliability is a key factor. Rust can become an issue due to general wear and tear when working with concrete. As such, Simem batching plants are made from fully galvanised materials to reduce rust levels. The plants also include thick, removable steel wear plates, which enable prompt replacement and repair when needed.

Quick assembly of Simem plants is another advantage for clients. The Metro Tunnel plant was assembled on the Holicm site, off Laurens Street in North Melbourne, in just under six weeks. The Simem plant was first partially put together in Italy before being shipped over to Australia in fifteen 40-foot containers. This allowed the Gough Industrial Solutions team to rapidly put the plant together.

“When the plant arrives into the country, clients are always pushing us to complete the site assembly works as soon as possible. However, usually we end up waiting on the client’s own site preperations as they tend to expect the plant build to take a lot longer,” Mr. Bruce says.

“The modular design allows us to take a partially pre-assembled item straight out of the container, drop it onto some legs and already have a significant part of the plant assembled. It’s a proven and rapid assembly process.”

The plant can be changed and modified to some degree due to its modular design. “They are flexible in their arrangement. So, even once a plant is installed you can add extra storage to it or expand the plant. Equally you could disassemble it and move it to another location for a different project,” Mr. Bruce says.

“They are multi-project plants with low maintenance costs. You get good quality production with a high output and even a high second-hand value.”

A plant similar to the one used in the Metro Tunnel Project has been installed at Auckland’s International Airport in New Zealand. There, the Simem Dry Beton 100 high-production plant was installed in 2018 to help maintain the airports existing runways. It will continue to act as a resource for future airport projects.

Simem plants have also been used in major projects worldwide such as the Panama Canal Extension in between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in Panama and the Euro Tunnel, which connects France and Great Britain.

Simem plants are currently being used to construct one of the longest railway tunnels in the world, the Brenner Base Tunnel linking Austria and Italy.

The plants are typically delivered with an integrated automation software called Dorner. This allows clients to input the recipe for their concrete pour and have the plant automatically measure and deliver accurate material amounts to create the concrete. Clients have the choice to purchase Dorner with the plant or to use their own automation software.

“We always recommend the plants are sold with the Dorner automation as it is really cutting-edge technology and we are excited to bring that to Australia and New Zealand,” Mr. Bruce says.

Both the Melbourne and Auckland plant clients chose to use their own software but have expressed interest in Dorner for their next plant purchase.

Currently, Mr. Bruce says the Melbourne plant for the Metro Tunnel Project is being commissioned. “The client is going through the trial process of testing the speed and consistency of the product with different-sized batches and different recipes,” he says.

“The Dry Beton 100 high-production plant will operate adjacent to the tunnel entrance location where the impressive tunnel boring machine (TBM) will be launched later this year.”

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