Webuild is investing in underground technology

Italian firm Webuild is investing in underground construction technology.
Recycling / May 15, 2024 1 minute 13.5 seconds Read
By MJ Woof
Italian construction firm Webuild is setting up a facility in Italy for rebuilding its fleet of TBMs

Italian construction giant Webuild is raising its profile in the underground excavation segment. The firm has established a factory at Terni, in Italy, to assemble and regenerate TBMs, so that it can reduce its CAPEX and operational costs. The new facility represents the last piece of Webuild’s investment plan in innovation and training to provide employment in Italy.

TBMs are large and complex machines that excavate soil with a cutting-head and also line the tunnel afterwards. 

Webuild will have in total 58 TBMs considering those already operating, those being assembled, those that have been ordered and those that will be ordered for planned projects. When these machines have completed the project for which they were built, they need servicing and modifications and must also be updated to be used in new projects and satisfy new requirements for the latter.

This is why Webuild decided to establish a TBM regeneration factory at Terni. The facility will service, modify and update the TBMs to allow them to be reused in new projects.

The initiative will extend the lifespan of these TBMs and reduce costs linked to these machines. It will also help the firm gain knowledge in new technologies that can increase the automation levels of these TBMs to benefit safety, work quality, and operational efficiency.

Interventions on a TBM vary according to the specific need, and can just go from a simple servicing activity to a substantial change with important updates. This is why costs also vary as do the times needed to carry out these interventions that can in fact require from 5-9 months.

The commitment in carrying out these maintenance activities on these TBMs with the foundation of WEM (Webuild Equipment & Machinery), stands as a clear reflection of the numerous tunnel boring activities done by the Webuild Group globally, especially in Italy. In fact, solely in Sicily it is currently working on 7 railway projects covering 200 km of railway network, which include 175 km of tunnels and 19 TBMs programmed to work in the construction sites of this Region, with an investment exceeding 400 million euros. The most recent TBM that started to work on the project is that being used in the Sciglio construction site, on the Taormina-Giampilieri section.

Due to these activities, the Group decided to greatly invest in the sector with the related research activities, also from a specialised training perspective, and using simulators that allow training new personnel directly on site. Webuild has built a completely automated factory at Belpasso, Catania, to produce pre-cast concrete segments to be used to line the tunnels of the two lots on the Catania-Messina route, with a second factory near Enna soon to be opened too. The first of its kind in Italy, it will produce a segment every 7 minutes (against the 10 minutes required without total automation).

With its training an employment plan named ’Cantiere Lavoro Italia ‘, the Group has decided to provide training programmes to hire the required technical personnel, like those that will drive the large TBMs that bore tunnels These will be trained using simulators specifically built for the Belpasso training centre near Catania, in Sicily, Italy. The Sicilian training centre adds to the many that Webuild has set up in Italy. The firm also has a facility at Novi Ligure in Piedmont for the Terzo Valico dei Giovi project, which is dedicated to the traditional excavation method and open works. In addition the firm will soon open a facility in Campania, that specialises in mechanical tunnel excavation.

For more information on companies in this article