An 80t Caterpillar 375 hydraulic excavator is playing a major role widening a section of Germany's Nord-Ostsee canal between Brunsbuttel on the North Sea and Kiel on the Baltic coast. The 98.7km long canal is the world's third busiest waterway after the Suez and Panama canals.
During construction of the canal in 1895 some 82M.m3 of material was excavated to create the 9m deep channel which was 66m wide at surface level, narrowing to 22m. It has been continually widened to keep pace with increasing traffic and growth in size of modern vessels. Today, width is 160m.
The latest expansion requires removal of more than 600,000m3 of material over a 7km stretch. Initially the joint venture company Hydro Wacht used a suction dredger to remove material from the canal bed. But when patches of clay and marl were found the company switched to the pontoon mounted Cat 375 to dig out the difficult material.
The purpose built pontoon is 30m long and fitted with four spuds. For excavation the machine was equipped with a 5.5m long dipper and 3.5m3 bucket. A computerised system from IHC ensured the correct profile was maintained and no material was removed unnecessarily, incurring extra time and cost. Joint venture partner Joh.Wacht reports that the machine performed admirably, with exceptional digging and crowd forces even in the dense marly clay.
The 375 is also responsible for materials handling. Equipped with 4.5m dipper and a 3.5m3 clamshell bucket, the machine loads material from the barges into a fleet of D250E articulated trucks.
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