At a press conference in the Kremlin with 1,232 accredited journalists, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the City of Sochi’s participation in a bid with other international cities for the honour of hosting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
In order to succeed in hosting the Games, a new international airport was required in the town of Gelendjik, and construction began in December 2005. Initial estimates for the airport assess its potential passenger turnover to reach between 600,000 and 800,000. The airport will have an airstrip length near 3,000 meters (9,843 feet). According to Sate Budget figures, the airport construction cost is estimated at RUB4.5 billion (rubles) or US $171.5 million.
Transtrojmechanizacii, a Russian contracting company based in Moscow, has been involved with ground preparation and levelling projects for years. Since its establishment, the company has undertaken earth-moving and ground preparation works for the airport construction in Gelendjik, and its work spanned over 3,000 m in extremely rocky ground conditions, including along the runway route.
Prior to the Gelendjik airport work and for most of its time in the industry, Transtrojmechanizacii has utilised the blasting method in site preparation.
However, more recently, in conjunction with the airport construction works, the company decided to move away from its traditional mode of operation and utilise modern ground levelling systems in order to improve productivity and efficiency across its range of projects.
After carefully considering the products available, Transtrojmechanizacii purchased a Vermeer® T1255 tractor with a Terrain LevelerTM surface excavating attachment. The surface excavating unit was delivered to the airport site in Gelendjik in early 2006 where it worked from the first of February.
Since starting work the unit has processed some 1.3 million m3 (47 million cu ft) of rocky ground, with a hardness up to 700 kg/cm3 (10,000 psi). At the time of this writing the machine had completed some 5,700 working hours.
The T1255 TL Unit
The Vermeer Terrain Leveler surface excavating attachment is specifically designed to make surface mining, over-burden, road and ground construction, and ground condition works easier and simpler.
The Terrain Leveler attachment can cut an area of ground up to 3.7 meters (12 feet) wide to a depth of up to 690 mm (27 inches) in a single pass. From the company’s background with its proven COMMANDER® line of tractors, the Terrain Leveler unit will cut not only soils, but also hard rock.
It also boasts a unique, patent-pending tilting cutter drum which has two-direction levelling that is designed to help productivity by keeping the cutter drum level during operation. This allows the cutting process to proceed on difficult jobs regardless of prevailing ground conditions. It is also designed to allow the use of laser guidance systems as an aid to grade control during cutting work.
Powered by a 447 kW (600 hp) Cat engine, the T1255 tractor can power the attachment enough to cut through most tough surface materials, including rock. This is achieved using Rotary Power headshaft motors and a splined headshaft. Using proprietary “top-down” cutting technology, the need for tractive effort on the cutter drum to engage the cutting teeth into the ground is eliminated. The units are capable of travel speeds of up to 40.2 m/min (132 fpm).
There are several advantages to using a surface active system like the Terrain Leveler unit: First, it produces a consistent spoil product in terms of size and transportability because the product doesn’t have to be crushed further before removal from site. Second, no drilling is required before the surface can be cut.
No blasting is required and no heavy-duty transport trucks are needed because the product from the Terrain Leveler unit can be loaded directly into standard road trucks for disposal.
Since the arrival of the Terrain Leveler unit in Russia, eight operators have been trained to operate and service it over the course of one year. The fuel expenditure during the course of its operating life to date has averaged about 75 L/h (19.8 gph).
Generally speaking, the T1255TL has performed very well and is now according to the Transtrojmechanizacii team “In a good technical condition.”