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Chip Kogelmann

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Tunnel Construction: What Productivity Rates Can I Expect from a Cutterhead?

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

Apr 1, 2014 7:00:00 AM

The key to any good investment is starting with a clear objective of what you expect that piece of equipment to do.

Once you have established your target, you can order priorities and begin narrowing your search. When you have defined your priorities, you can be confident in your purchasing decision.  Alpine_trenching_hiprod

When it comes to your excavation equipment, there are several different routes you can take to complete a job.

With an abundance of products and product lines available, there is one question that rises to the top of many managers’ minds.

How productive will this tool or piece of equipment be?

The increase in production has to be significant enough to compensate for the additional expense of purchasing the equipment.

In short, you need to know if the benefits will outweigh the cost of your investment.

What productivity rates can I expect?

Today, we will look at cutterheads in tunnel construction applications and answer the question of what type of productivity rates you can expect from a cutterhead.

Because of the intricately technical nature of tunneling projects, it is difficult to predict production rates with any amount of certainty without knowledge of the exact conditions the equipment will be operating under.

With a detailed description of the worksite environment, it is much easier to provide a detailed prediction about the type of productivity you can reliably expect from a cutterhead.

If you would like to contact us and provide the rock compressive strength of your project we would be happy to talk with you and discuss a production estimate.

Without specific knowledge of your worksite’s conditions, we can also provide some more general information about cutterhead’s productivity.

What sets cutterheads apart?

Cutterheads have a couple built-in benefits that make them valuable investments in tunneling applications.

The first benefit is that they provide lower start-up costs than hydraulic hammers and other competing tunneling equipment.

The ability to keep start-up costs lower improves your productivity right from the beginning of the project.

How precise are cutterheads?

The second major benefit that cutterheads provide in tunneling projects is their greater ability to cut with precision.

The powerful precision of a cutterhead makes it a versatile tool that has successfully handled a variety of tunneling projects ranging from railroad tunnel enlargement to wine cave tunneling.IMG_1440_web

Whether your project calls for small tunnel work or large excavators, there is a cutterhead to help you finish the job.

More precision also leads to higher efficiency in the form of better tunnel formation and improves the safety of the project by creating more stable conditions.

Cutterheads are incredibly efficient tools that will empower your employees to perform at a higher level of productivity and produce better overall results.

You can also be confident that your cutterhead will withstand the demand of tunneling work better than the average hydraulic hammer which will also equate to less down time, which can be costly on tunneling projects.

Production rates can vary considerably depending on a number of details including the compressive rock strength and the type of cutterhead you choose for your project, but with a quick call we can get you set up and ready to tackle your next tunneling project.

Find out everything you need to know about rock grinding with a cutterhead



Topics: Cutter Heads, Tunneling

Cutterhead: The One Tool to Get the Job Done Right

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

Mar 19, 2014 7:00:00 AM

Cutterheads are incredibly versatile and are well suited for several different applications.

Designed to handle a wide variety of projects, cutterheads can be used to excavate soil, rock, asphalt, and concrete. They can also cut virtually any kind of rock. Despite the ability to cut any type of rock, there are some situations where a cutterhead is impractical.

Production rates are lowest for projects that are dealing with igneous rock and highest for shales.

Here is a quick overview of three applications where cutterheads are a viable solution.


Cutterheads are great for trenching projects.

Consistent dimensions enable cutterheads to perform at an optimized speed matched with an ideal cutting size.

This optimization leads to a superior performance that creates smooth, vertical trenches every time. The consistency and precision of a cutterhead will provide you with improved control and better results in all of your trenching projects.

Cutterheads also enhance your ability to form flat bottomed trenches and improve your ability to control grade. Different units are available depending on your desired width, ensuring that you will be able to find the right cutterhead for the job.

Learning more about the best uses and applications of cutterheads can help you decide which option would work best for your situation.  


Cutterheads deliver several capabilities that make them an ideal tool for excavating projects.

They are designed with a powerful low-speed, high torque cut that creates smooth verticals walls.

The smooth precision cuts provide a more stable foundation that is not prone to overbreaking issues.

An additional benefit is that the material excavated on-site is ground down into reusable backfill that eliminates the need for off-site transportation and processing.

These benefits make cutterheads the ideal tool for excavating projects and can provide your company with advantages over competing excavating equipment.  


3-advantages-tunneling-with-cutterheadCutterheads have a very successful history of quality completed tunnel expansions as well as new tunnel construction.

No matter what your tunneling needs call for, there is a cutterhead that will get the job done.

With a wide range of rotary cutterhead sizes, you will be sure to find a cutterhead you can outfit your equipment with. Whether your projects call for skid steer loaders, Brokks, mini excavators, backhoes, or even large excavators, there is an attachment for the job.

Suitable for any environment, a cutterhead attachment is the perfect solution for your tunneling needs.

If your company works regularly in these three areas, cutterhead attachments would be a great investment. With the right cutterhead you will see vast improvement in both your productivity and your efficiency.

With a versatile skillset and the ability to handle just about any surface, the cutterhead is the one tool designed to help you get the job done right.

Find out everything you need to know about rock grinding with a cutterhead  


Topics: Cutter Heads, Trenching, Tunneling

Tunneling: What Equipment Can Be Outfitted with a Cutterhead?

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

Mar 17, 2014 7:00:00 AM

what-equipment-can-be-outfitted-with-a-cutterheadDuring tunneling projects you are constantly faced with decisions about what equipment will enable you to work efficiently and effectively.

Some jobs will be simple and straightforward while others may call for more sophisticated equipment to ensure that the work gets done properly.

With a careful eye on the bottom line, there is a calculated balance between making sure you are outfitted to successfully complete the project and not busting your budget with unnecessary expenditures.

Selecting the right tool for the job can be the difference between a successful project and a project that is late and over-budget.  

The equipment you decide to use will largely be based on the unique conditions of your worksite.

The nature of the project will guide your decision on whether a standard excavator will be sufficient to handle the job or if you feel a custom excavator is necessary to finish the project successfully.

After you select your base equipment you may start to consider if there are attachments that will increase your efficiency and help ensure excellent quality.

Cutterhead attachments have several distinct advantages that they provide in tunneling, scaling, and excavation projects. They provide your team with a superior level of precision and control that will lead to safer, more stable walls.

Cutterheads work in just about any situation and stand up against even the hardest rock surfaces. To learn more about the advantages cutterheads provide check out this blog post.

The improvement in performance and quality make cutterheads an enticing option in several situations, but you’re not sure if a cutterhead is compatible with your equipment.  

Luckily, cutterheads are extremely compatible with several types of equipment making them easy to apply to your tunneling project.

Cutterhead attachments can be placed on standard excavators with ease. These attachments are very straightforward and simple. For slightly more complicated custom excavator equipment, boom-mounted and swivel mounts for cutterheads can be constructed and applied. If given the specifications, it is still a fairly simple process to outfit the equipment with the appropriate cutterhead.

In addition to this equipment, cutterheads are also viable options to attach to skid steer loaders and tunnel excavators.

Typically all machines have adaptors that allow cutterheads to be attached easily and efficiently. The adaptors generally allow the cutterhead to be upright to cut tunnel profile and provide it with the ability to swivel or rotate.

This maneuverability provides for unparalleled amounts of precision and control. The difference between regular tunneling excavators and a cutterhead makes it well worth the investment and will save your company money in the long-run.

The great news is, if you decide that a cutterhead is the right tool for you, it will be compatible with whatever equipment you have.

 Find out everything you need to know about rock grinding with a cutterhead


Topics: Cutter Heads, Tunneling

Refurbished ABM 330 roadheader send off

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

Nov 12, 2013 4:45:00 PM

Today we shipped our 2nd roadheader in less than 2 weeks so things have been humming down at Alpine. Today we rolled out a top-to-bottom refurbished ABM330-I roadheader.


The ABM 330 loading today

This machine features a 215-hp electric cutter motor and a 215-hp electric motor that drives four hydraulic pumps. With new electrical panel, new crawler drives, new valves, new hoses, new chain, all new hydraulic motors throughout, new cooling system, and totally rebuilt cylinders this baby has a long working life ahead of her. The ABM330-I roadheader weighs in at a svelt 100,000-lbs is is over 42-ft in length. It can cut up to 14-ft high and over 20-ft wide so it can cut an impressive cross section. The cutter head is the axial in-line style with a stout gearbox. While we can't divulge customer details, I can say that this machine will be working in the western USA in an innovative operation to drill for oil from the bottom up rather than from the top down! The machine will be disassembled and lowered several hundred feet down a shaft. There it will be reassembled and put to work. The boys busted ass on this one and deserve a break. A big shout out to the shop crew at Alpine and the various vendors who helped get the job done!



Ryan, Jeremy, Gene, Dave and Chip.


Topics: Roadheaders

Refurbished AM50 Roadheader rolls out

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

Nov 6, 2013 12:14:34 PM

Today we loaded up another refurbished AM50 roadheader, on its way to deployment
in a Canadian Potash mine. 


The AM50 is a work horse roadheader. A stout yet compact 25-ton machine with 150-hp cutter motor, it is ideal for medium hardness rock and is especially well suited to cutting potash.

Originally manufactured by Voest-Alpine of Austria (now Sandvik) there are many hundreds of these roadheaders in operation around the world. Alpine specializes in refurbishing used roadheaders of all make and models. For this machine a new electrical panel and controls were added, the old-style gathering arms were replaced with star wheels, and the conveyor chain was up graded to a single strand chain.


Additionally, the cutting drums were relaced, all electric motors serviced to new condition, gearboxes were rebuilt and sealed, and a new closed loop cooling system was installed. Quality used roadheaders offer an economical alternative to high priced new machines. 


Thanks for reading! Chip 

Interested in a refurbished roadheader? Click here to get more info on Alpine roadheaders


Topics: Roadheaders

Using soil mixing equipment to address in situ soil remediation challenges

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

Oct 10, 2013 9:11:00 AM

Every individual worksite comes with its own set of complications.IMG_1965

One challenge that can increase the complexity of your project is the presence of pollution or contaminants. When a site is known to be contaminated, it may be required to go through a process of remediation by law.

Remediation is the act of restoring soil to a safe, stable, and consistent state that is ecologically friendly. This can often be an expensive and time consuming process that adds difficulty to your project depending on the type of contaminant in the soil and the proliferation of contamination.

These factors influence the severity of contamination and can help you determine the best course of action to remediate the soil so that development can proceed.

Alpine provides a wide variety of soil remediation equipment that is designed to simplify the neutralization of contaminants. Our soil remediation equipment comes with options and customizations that provide you with the ability to select exactly the tools you need to complete the job.

If your project is a small one and you do not anticipate the need for your own soil remediation equipment, we also offer rentals. Whether you are looking to rent or buy, Alpine has the solution to your soil remediation needs.

One standard set of soil remediation equipment Alpine provides are powerful rock and concrete cutting tools that have been repurposed for soil mixing, remediation, and stabilization. These powerful tools are extremely useful for soil mixing which can help neutralize even some of the most volatile organic compounds.

These soil remediation mixing tools eliminate wasted time and make the process of soil mixing more efficient.

One of the best features of our soil remediation equipment is its level of customizability. Whatever your situation calls for, Alpine provides a variety of options and customizations to meet your needs. From transverse mixers and axial mixers, to drum lacing and mixing paddle layout, Alpine has it all.

Our company also has equipment for specific problems, such as container mixing or work in lined ponds or work areas where puncturing could be an issue. If puncturing needs to be avoided, soil remediation equipment can be paired with depth limiters and bumpers to ensure that puncturing does not occur.

Another special circumstance could call for the use of wet amendments. We provide soil remediation equipment with additive injection piping that is suitable for both wet and dry amendments.

The use of Alpine soil remediation equipment can greatly reduce your project cost by keeping soil remediation on-site. By removing the need for transportation, your project can proceed efficiently and cost effectively.

The majority of Alpine equipment can simply be attached to standard excavators, backhoes, and skid steer loaders which prevents the need to purchase any other special equipment. If your worksite is contaminated, contact Alpine today to find the right soil remediation equipment to take care of your contamination in situ.



Topics: Soil Mixing, Soil Remediation

Concrete Scaling with a Drum Cutter in Wet Conditions

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

Oct 9, 2013 7:00:00 AM

Concrete Dam Scaling Alpine TC-DOne of the more challenging excavation site conditions is the removal of concrete in wet conditions.

The presence of water can drastically reduce the efficiency of an excavation operation by severely limiting the capacity of equipment. To finish these projects in a timely manner, the tools used for the job become very important.

The requisite amount of planning and preparation inevitably increases when dealing with wet conditions. In addition to determining what equipment decisions will result in the best work, greater attention to scaling and the slope of grades is needed to ensure that the project will proceed safely at an efficient pace. In situations that call for concrete scaling in wet conditions, an ALPINE drum cutter is usually the best tool for the job.

ALPINE drum cutters are precise and powerful instruments that are specifically designed to improve control in scaling. Whether you are operating in wet or dry concrete, drum cutters will provide you with the ability to handle the excavation efficiently. Our cutter heads limit the impact angle between the cutter bits and the surface to create a smooth wall that leaves the underlying concrete undisturbed. This prevents the development of micro-cracks and ensures the material remains sound.

Depth gauges are also available to assist in the process of measured scaling. Depth gauges can be used to check top plate angles and cutter length which allows you to limit how deep the cutter head can go into the concrete. If you are looking for improved control, using a depth gauge with your ALPINE drum cutter will provide the improvement you’re looking for.

Excavator2ALPINE drum cutters are well equipped to limit excavation volume. Whether working in wet or dry conditions, our cutter heads have the ability to improve the efficiency of your project by crushing concrete to a fine enough size that it can be used as fill matter on site. No further crushing is necessary which means costly transportation expenses are eliminated as well as additional costs associated with further crushing.

Using an ALPINE cutter head will simplify your project by reducing the unnecessary steps that notoriously waste time and expenses. The bottom line results in a more efficient worksite that saves you valuable time and money.

ALPINE cutter heads are also viable options for projects that require underwater scaling. This would be valuable at a site that included a dock or marine facility. It is only a simple matter of using one small oil plug swap to make the cutter head water tight and then the cutter head will work with the same functionality it provides in dry applications.

The power and precision afforded by an ALPINE drum cutter makes it the perfect solution for scaling in wet conditions. These carefully designed cutter heads are the logical choice for sensitive removals that require a certain amount of precision. With the superior control the cutter head provides, limiting excavation excess, and the flexibility to work underwater, ALPINE cutter heads are the solution for your next concrete project.     

Ready for more information?



Topics: Cutter Heads, Concrete Grinding

How to Boost Rock Trenching Precision and Efficiency with a Transverse Cutter Head

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

Sep 25, 2013 3:26:04 PM

boost-rock-trenching-efficiencyTrenching and rock excavation projects are always tall tasks. The inherent uncertainty and variability of rock strength (measured in psi or MPa) and quality (degree and spacing of fractures) makes bidding these projects a challenge and predicting production rates even more so.

These projects involve a substantial amount of preparation and diligent attention until completion. Project managers have to constantly monitor progress because each situation is different and provides its own unique set of challenges.

In addition to making sure the project is completed as efficiently as possible, project managers are also worried about the inherent dangers that accompany trenching.

If you’re looking to improve your process for digging precise trenches for utility lines, here are a couple reasons Alpine’s cutterheads and RockWheels can provide a more precise and efficient solution.

Cutterheads Increase Efficiency

Alpine cutterheads have higher production rates than hammers in most applications. In general, hammers afford operators less control which can create unstable trench walls and unintended overbreak resulting in more costly excavation. This excess material often needs to be transported off site to be crushed even further, not to mention needing more backfill for the overbreak, which is a costly practice that quickly adds extra expenses to your project.

Transverse cutter heads equip you with superior control creating narrower, safer trench walls. Cutter heads can also eliminate up to 50% of excavation volume by cutting only the needed trench width, where a hammer needs a "V" shaped opening (see diagram). Cutterheads have the ability to grind crush rock to a consistent enough size that it is able to be used as fill matter on site. This creates an increased level of efficiency that can pay huge dividends for your trenching project.    

Transverse Cutter Heads Have Unmatched Precision

Transverse cutter heads provide you with surgical precision maximizing your control of the project. If you’re digging a utility line, a transverse cutter head will allow you to safely work around any existing utilities. This precision cut is controlled enough to leave the surrounding rock mass intact, unlike the shock force of a hydraulic hammer which can cause force fractures in the surrounding rock.

One great aspect of cutterheads is that precision does not come at the expense of power. Cutterheads are fully capable of cutting through several layers of hard surfaces including rock, pavement, and concrete. The additional precision helps your company limit expensive backfill and surface patching costs. The ability to provide sufficient power while greatly increasing precision makes transverse cutterheads a great solution for your trenching needs.

Here is a video of the Alpine TC-E transverse cutter head in action digging a precise trench in Las Vegas, Nevada.



As you can see, transverse cutter heads are extremely efficient and can help you dig your desired trench exactly the way you want while crushing rock, concrete, and pavement to a size that allows it to be used as fill matter. Transverse cutter heads also provide an unrivaled level of precision in their cuts that can gently grind to a matter of inches instead of crushing with brute force like a hydraulic hammer.

Thanks to these benefits cutter heads provide a compelling alternative to hydraulic hammers. When in the process of digging a precise trench for a utility line, a transverse cutter head could prove to be just the tool you need to make your project successful.



Topics: Cutter Heads, Trenching

About this blog

This blog is a resource for research, how-to's, and general news regarding rock grinders, transverse cutter heads, roadheaders, and alternatives to hydraulic hammers. 

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