Big Block Builder Telebelt in action
The huge giant concrete blocks wait side by side: a total of 35,000 blocks will be needed to build the new quay wall
[The following text is based on a report from CMME, edition 08/2012]
The long wait for the start of the World Cup in 2022 and the reorganisation of the “Qatar National Vision 2030” master plan to invest in the future of the country planted the seed of doubt in the minds of many people as to whether the optimism of the last year was actually genuine or simply an illusion. Projects such as the new international airport in Doha, which is scheduled to open on 18.12.2012 (a Qatar national holiday) as well as the current deluge of infrastructure contracts and a huge project for a new harbour in Doha show that Qatar is really serious about getting things moving.
The existing harbour is located in the heart of the city and severely restricts the economical development of the country. Once the new harbour is finished, Qatar can finally meet its obligations of delivering the stadia, hotels and infrastructure required by FIFA for the World Cup in 2022. In terms of cargo, the equivalent of six million 20-foot containers will be handled every year. In July 2012, the first prefabricated concrete block was laid in the 8 km long quay wall. A total of 35,000 blocks are required for the new quay wall – each one weighs between 40 and 90 tons and represents a logistical nightmare!
In the summer of 2012, a team from the magazine CMME (Construction Machinery Middle East) visited the site of the ambitious “New Harbour” project to meet the organisational team responsible for operating the four Putzmeister Telebelt TBS 130 machines. The project manager from FBA (Fahad Bin Abdulla Ready Mix) Khalid Ali talked about the large project. Together with subcontractor China Harbour Company, FBA is responsible for supplying and pouring four million cubic metres of concrete on site.
“The government wants to make this project one of the largest in the Gulf”, explains Khalid Ali. “The first phase of the project started in 2011 and completion is scheduled for 2016. The harbour will cost somewhere in the region of 25.6 billion riyal (7 billion US dollars) and cover a surface area of around 25 km2 by the end of the first phase.” He adds “Since January, China Harbour has managed to excavate about half a million of the four million cubic metres of concrete required for the project.” “The large quantities of earth dug from the site will be used at another location”, explains Ali. “That alone is a huge undertaking. China Harbour has almost 300 machines in operation.”
The quick delivery rate of the Telebelt (up to 275 m3/h) is just right for the large volumes of concrete required for this project
A wall made of finished concrete parts will be built for the new harbour and the area behind the wall will be further excavated and then backfilled. A concrete wall for a pier will also be constructed while a breakwater will protect the ships in the harbour. The actual harbour will consist of a range of navigational structures and business premises. The project manager explains that the most notable contribution of the FBA in the project is the three
years it will take to pour three million cubic metres of prefabricated blocks, which will then be used for various purposes. FBA is currently working on the quay wall, which will require approx. 1.8 Million cubic metres of concrete alone.
“It really is a huge project. Qatar has large reserves of capital and projects of this kind are a real statement of intent.” In spite of the significant delays often experienced in Qatar, the company can already see a change in material prices. “Last year the price for finished concrete was 380 riyal per cubic metre – the price has now decreased by 80 riyal”, explains Khalid Ali.
To the new harbour
The reliable TBS 130 tirelessly delivers concrete into the immense formworks
Later on, the team from CMME travelled to the coast with Louis Franssen and Khodor Ali Taki, After Sales & Services Manager from Putzmeister Middle East and the “Telebelt guru” from Putzmeister America, Don Matthews, to have a closer look at the project in person. China Harbour is very careful about security. Beyond the gates, a long road winds all the way up to the enormous concreting site. Hills and embankments deposited by dozens of large diggers block the view of the sea to the west.
The Chinese company has everything under control and is worth every penny of the 3.2 billion riyal covered outlined in the contract. The project includes work to excavate the dockyard to a depth of 17 m and build the wharf. Other operations in progress include canal digging work, the construction of a 2.7 km long breakwater and the removal of 3 million cubic metres of rock and sand. The size of the site and machinery is breathtaking. The cranes that set the solid concrete blocks are colossal and the inland area where the blocks are cast in formwork is vast. The large concrete mixing plant con-sisting of two Sany 180 Eco mixing units is situated about one kilometre away. The Sany unit beat off fierce competition from the UAE and China to secure the harbour contract and will also supply concrete for the construction of the Doha stadium from 2014 onwards.
Masses of concrete blocks
The 2 m high blocks are arranged tidily in identical rows. Each block has a “nub” on the top and a corresponding recess on the underside so that the wall can be constructed like a large Lego structure. The voids are then filled with soil. Gantry cranes “patrol” above the rows of blocks and will spend a month loading the hardened finished products onto large trucks so they can be transported quickly to the right location. It all sounds relatively simple but production operates at the highest level and maximum speed. FBA manufactures the actual blocks into individual shapes using the Telebelt from Putzmeister (a total of four TBS 130 machines), the first time the machine has operated in Qatar.
Built in the USA and Germany, the machine is perfect for this job because it uses a conveyor belt instead of a pump and transports the unpumpable bulk concrete more quickly and efficiently. The machine can deliver up to 275 m3 of concrete per hour. The advantages of the Telebelt quickly become clear during operation. The truck mixers arrive in convoy and seamlessly empty their loads at the filling hopper one after the other within a very short
time. Like a concrete pump, the Telebelt is also operated with a radio remote control. Speed is almost always the most important aspect of filling formwork and the Telebelt does not disappoint. The concreting team positioned directly above the placement site ensures that the concrete hardens as evenly as possible. When the block is complete, the belt swings 180 degrees to an empty formwork on the opposite side and the placing of concrete starts again.
The process will be repeated day and night over the next few years. A hard and monotonous job, but essential for Qatar‘s visions to take shape.