Facts About Boring Machines
A tunnel boring machine is a giant tube-shaped machine that bores through sand and hard rock. It is used to build tunnels, channels, and sewer systems. It has completely changed the way construction is carried out.
These machines are used for tunnels that measure more than three feet but less than 58 feet in diameter like what you will see at ICON Equipment. Smaller tunnels are produced with the help of horizontal directional drilling or trenchless construction methods. They have replaced drilling and blasting for the most part except in areas where rock is hard and is prevalent.
Boring machines have an advantage in that they do not disrupt surrounding soil. They also produce clean and smooth tunnel walls. A recent use of a TBM was by Elon Musk and his Boring Company creating tunnels for a transportation system in Los Angeles.
They are not inexpensive machines and can cost millions upfront. This is compounded by the cost to operate the machine. Yet, they are much easier to implement for major city projects which have the capability of netting billions of dollars in consumer use and spending as well as taxes.
They come in a variety of sizes from small to large. Smaller sizes work for installing cables underground. Larger machines work to bore tunnels like the one described above.
There is another type of machine called a computer numeric control boring machine or a CNC. They are automated and make precise tunnels. Once they were operated by humans now they are nearly completely automated.
Command codes get entered into the machine’s computer. Once these are set the machine bores as it has been instructed to do. A human must tell the machine what to do by entering the instructions as they are needed. Boring machines have taken over as the drilling operations once used in the past. They have also made hand mining obsolete.
Boring machines create accurate tunnels and eliminate a good deal of injuries from workers on the job. Drilling was once a highly expensive and time-consuming operation. Now it is faster. Besides eliminating the chance of worker injuries, automated machines eliminate a good amount of human error.
There are not cheap machines. Some construction managers report that they cost about 80 million dollars plus the cost of fuel to power them and the cost of any accessories needed for the job site. While human power is not needed as much as before, a human must still program the CNC types.