It is full of challenges for man and machine. The erection of the 485 m-long Filstal Bridge represents a milestone. The new Cometto MSPE self-propelled modular trailers belonging to the Wiesbauer company passed this test with flying colours.
The impressive structure towers over the valley near Mühlhausen im Täle and will have two railway tracks on completion. With a height of 85 m, it will be Germany's third highest railway bridge. The bridge is being constructed by the Max Bögl / Porr consortium. With an overall length of 485 m, it is the Deutsche Bahn AG's largest single structure on this new ICE route, after the main railway station in Stuttgart. From 2022 onwards, high-speed trains will cross the bridge in just seven seconds at 250 km/h.
Self-propelled modular trailers SPMT move 350 tons formwork carriage
Until then, however, this project phase is proceeding at walking pace for a particular moment. The item to be transported is the 85 m-long blue formwork carriage, which up to now had bridged the distance from bridge pier to bridge pier and held the concreting formwork on the yellow booms.
While the traffic rolled below over the Drackensteiner Hang on the A8 towards Munich, the last preparations for this unique heavy duty transport were being made high above. A project that construction manager Daniel Welsch from Porr had been planning down to the tiniest detail for months. "We illustrated each phase of the transport in advance in our schedule. In doing so, we also determined the forces acting on the Cometto MSPE self-propelled vehicle," he says regarding one of the many trains of thought.
Advance calculations simulate stability
Since there is a permanent air stream in a valley, wind was also taken into consideration. "And that is where our engineers came into play," explains Joachim Kolb, Sales Manager at the self-propelled vehicle manufacturer Cometto. "In order to guarantee stability in all phases of the transport, calculations were made for wind speeds of 36 km/h, 72 km/h and, in case of a storm, 100 km/h too."
First assignment for Wiesbauer's new Cometto self-propelled vehicles
Since Wiesbauer from Bietigheim-Bissingen had been present on the building site for months with various mobile cranes, the company put in a bid for the execution of the heavy duty transport – and was promptly awarded the contract. A novelty for Wiesbauer, which was thus active in the self-propelled vehicle sector for the first time and equipped itself for the task at Cometto.
A total of 20 SPMT axle lines with an axle load of 48 t and two power pack units with 202 kW were ordered from Cometto in late 2019. And despite the serious effects of the corona pandemic, the vehicles arrived punctually for the important assignment on the bridge. "They're celebrating their baptism of fire here," said Jochen Wiesbauer, clearly enthusiastic about the new possibilities.
Open compound in perfect harmony
The formwork carriage was moved in an open compound. On one side two MSPE 4‑axle units from Wiesbauer in a side-by-side arrangement, on the opposite side - some 58 metres away - a 6-axle MSPE belonging to Krebs Korrosionsschutz from Rostock, who were also called in. The specialists from northern Germany also played a key role in this special project.
For this specific case, the advance calculations had resulted in a maximum permissible lateral tilt of 4.58% with a wind speed of 72 km/h. In order to safely comply with these benchmark figures, the transport was moved forward by one day at short notice, because a storm front had been forecast, which could have endangered the procedure. Speed and precision were therefore called for in order to keep to the tight schedule.
The two transport managers, Jörg Neuhäusel from Krebs and Leonard Schmid from Wiesbauer, laid and programmed the data cable between the power pack units so that the entire vehicle group could be moved with just one radio remote control. In addition, they placed a guiding chalk line on the bridge along which the transport had to move with absolute precision.
Spectacular handover of the huge freight
At a speed of 0.5 km/h, the impressive constellation travelled from the Ulm side of the bridge over a distance of 485 m towards Stuttgart. During the transport, the operator Jörg Neuhäusel, an expert from Krebs Korrosionsschutz, kept an eye on the transverse tilt: "At no time was 1.5 % exceeded – all safe!" said the experienced employee, bringing calmness, experience and a pinch of humour to the proceedings.
Shortly before reaching the final position, the consortium had installed a cross-transfer track. At a later time, this will shift the formwork carriage into the position of the second bridge axis. And the first beam of this track now had to be overcome.
For that reason, a second Cometto SPMT combination with two 6-axle bogies stood at the ready, likewise in a side-by-side arrangement. The obstacle run at a dizzy height began: the two 4-axle bogies "handed over" the load over the first cross-transfer track to the two 6-axle units. As a result, the distance between the supports grew to a considerable 71.90 m and the total weight of load and vehicles was around 438 t.
Moving a weight of many tonnes with precision
After that, the combination proceeded further towards Stuttgart, the 6-axle bogies being set back by 17.40 m once again and, after moving the formwork carriage forwards again, set down on the second cross-transfer track. This took place with careful measurement of the position by the engineers on site.
Jörg Neuhäusel brought all of his routine into play in these manoeuvres. He reduced the output of the power pack units to 20% with the potentiometer on the remote control and moved the entire combination with millimetre precision to the desired position. Project manager Thomas Reuschel from Max Bögl remarked on this final work of art: "It couldn't go more precisely or better."
Mission accomplished! The project for the completion of the Filstal Bridge made an important step forwards thanks to the perfect interaction of various partners!
A first for Germany!
The "cross-hire rental" of self-propelled modular transporters
MSPE axle lines from Cometto were used for the first time in "cross-hire rental" for this transport project on the Filstal Bridge. In details, this means that the 20 axle lines and two power pack units from Wiesbauer's vehicle fleet were joined by a 6-axle SPMT unit with power pack from Krebs Korrosionsschutz from Rostock. Great proof that bundled forces and compatible equipment can be turned into a profitable unit.