When it comes to maximizing the productivity of a project and tunnel expansion in general, one of your best friends in the field will be your cutterhead. When you're expanding a tunnel you're on a budget, which means that staying productive and keeping the project moving forward is of the utmost importance.
Production rates vary depending on both the size of the cutterhead and its overall power. Another variable that will majorly affect productivity will be the compressive strength of the rock in question, which is why understanding how your cutterhead works and picking the right one for the job is so important.
When you're involved in a tunneling operation, you'll want to pay close attention to the cutterhead you choose to use to meet your needs. Cutterheads are pieces of equipment that are specifically engineered with consistent dimensions that optimize both the speed and the cutting size capacity of the job ahead of you.
The aforementioned consistency creates a vertical trench wall that is smooth, all the while leaving the rock mass surrounding it untouched. These are the tools you should be using to get those incredibly precise cuts you need.
Selecting the Right Size
Another important factor to know is that each cutterhead you use will have a slightly unique width. Traditional units vary in size from between 19 inches and 55 inches in width. Size has a major impact on your overall project productivity.
The largest cutterheads available for soft rock jobs can offer over 60 cubic yards per hour in production, for example. The design of a cutterhead also requires a gear casing that leaves a gap in the middle of the drums. This gap is also referred to as the "no cut zone" and contributes to an actual cutting width that is a few inches larger than the overall unit width.
Cut Virtually Any Type of Rock
Cutterheads are known for being able to cut through virtually any type of rock that you can find. It is important to keep in mind, however, that there will be some rock surfaces that are impractical for use with a standard cutterhead.
Igneous rocks are very hard, for example, which means that production rates will be low. If you want to maximize the project productivity for shale, on the other hand, you can use a cutterhead to meet all of your needs and then some.