Welcome to the Alpine Blog

Alpine D10 Rockwheel Cutting Potash

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

Oct 6, 2016 4:23:26 PM

The Alpine D10 Rockwheel is the tool of choice for cutting potash.  Here you see the tool working in the Canadian potash mines for scaling, floor leveling, and trimming the back (roof) of the tunnel network.  This 40-hp (30-kW) cutter is part of the Rockwheel product line that ranges from 13 to 300-hp.

Topics: Tunneling, Rockwheel, Mining

High precision rock removal with D30 Rockwheel

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

Aug 9, 2016 7:10:33 PM

The Rockwheel D30 is getting some great press from down under.  Extremely precise rock grinding with minimum disturbance to the adjacent material.  The same applies to tunneling work and concrete removal on sensitve structures. Alpine stocks the full line of Rockwheels for excavators in every size class.  Rental rock grinders are always available as well so you can try them on your equipment at your jobsite.  The Rockwheel will prove its worth!Australia.jpg

Topics: Roadheaders, Tunneling, Excavation, Rockwheel

Innovative Technology Designed to Make Tunneling Smarter

Posted by Ryan Leech

Jul 1, 2014 12:00:00 AM


Excavation and tunneling projects are nuanced and complex. The amount of planning and technical execution that goes into ensuring the job is completed successfully is significant.

Nowhere are these projects more challenging though then when they take place in urban settings.

When these major excavation and tunneling projects take place in urban environments, it is not only a priority to create the tunnel, but also to excavate in a way that does not cause distress or deformation to the surrounding infrastructure.

University of Cambridge engineers are taking advantage of a unique opportunity in London to answer a lot of questions about how large-scale excavation impacts cast iron tunnels.

The project underway is a Crossrail platform tunnel that is almost 11 meters in diameter.

The new tunnel runs parallel to an old cast iron tunnel, the Royal Mail tunnel, which was employed to transport mail from 1927 until 2003, for a long stretch.

Research engineers are taking this opportunity to use sensor technology that has been widely in the lab to monitor how excavation on the new tunnel is impacting the existing infrastructure.

To receive accurate and detailed information, hundreds of low-cost sensors were installed in the Royal Mail tunnel. There are several different types of sensors that are located throughout the tunnel. 

Optical fiber sensors are used to monitor the strain longitudinally all the way along the Royal Mail tunnel to capture how the tunnel deforms and bends.

Wireless displacement transducers were placed along the railway to measure displacement from one part of the tunnel in relation to other parts of the tunnel. As it receives information, it is able to send and that on wirelessly to a receiving station.

The sensors provide incredibly accurate information and are claimed to be able to detect displacement as minimal as one-hundredth of a millimeter.

Other sensors provide information on temperature, humidity, and acceleration to understand what conditions are like inside the tunnel.

Advanced computer vision techniques are also being implemented to monitor the project.

Collectively, the sensors are providing an extremely accurate portrayal of how the Royal Mail tunnel is responding to the construction work going on around it. With this wealth of instantaneous information, the Crossrail engineers are able to diagnose potential issues and make the necessary adjustments to protect the historic piece of architecture before any serious damage occurs.

The value these types of sensors provide will not only be beneficial to this project, but could also prove to be very useful to other projects in urban areas moving forward across the globe.

The ability to pinpoint how the construction affects cast iron structures will be especially beneficial to any future projects that take place in the London Underground. 70% of the London Underground consists of cast iron.

This inaugural “smart” tunnel has already returned exciting results for the Cambridge team. It will be interesting to see where this cutting edge technology goes from here in the future of excavation projects.    

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


Topics: Tunneling, Construction

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

3 Advantages of Tunneling with a Cutterhead

Posted by Ryan Leech

Feb 20, 2014 7:30:00 AM

3-advantages-tunneling-with-cutterheadTunneling endeavors present a particular set of challenges that make each scenario a project of its own. Constricted space, multiple rock faces with varying compressive strengths, and other geological conditions create unique problems that must be solved by the construction team.

Diagnosing the particular landscape and determining the correct equipment to handle the job are key attributes in delivering a winning bid for these complex projects.

The right combination of equipment and diligent maintenance can help you meet your deliverables efficiently and on schedule. This blog post will look specifically at cutterheads and some of the distinct advantages they provide over hydraulic hammers during tunneling projects.

Low Start-Up Costs

A key to any successful project is identifying areas to lower costs without sacrificing high-end quality.

Selecting a cutterhead for your tunneling project does exactly that. With lower start-up costs than hydraulic hammers, you’re project is off to a great start right off the bat.

In addition to lower start-up costs, for the majority of material that you’ll encounter during a tunneling project, a cutterhead is going to return a higher rate of production.

Tunneling is one of the most demanding situations for hydraulic hammers and it is not uncommon for them to break. The combination of lower cost and higher production is a major point of advantage for cutterheads.

Increased Flexibility and Precision

In the process of tunnel work, there can be a wide variety of conditions that a crew may encounter. Cutter heads afford operators with a greater sense of control, allowing them to operate more efficiently. Cutterhead designs are getting increasingly better at predicting the challenges of tunnel work.

The improved designs give them a superior versatility to hydraulic hammers. This greater versatility improves cutterheads abilities to operate in confined spaces at a high performance level.

Cutterheads consistently produce smoother, safer, and more stable walls than hydraulic hammers. Additionally, cutterheads reduce the amount of overbreak that your team will experience. With a cutterhead, your team can be confident in the stability of its trench walls.

Increased Efficiency

Cutterheads maximize efficiency by creating smooth walls and doing a better job than hydraulic hammers of creating fines. The smaller debris can often be used on-site as backfill.

Less debris means it is easier for the tunneling project to continue working and less money spent on removing debris.

Operationally, cutterheads perform at low speeds but have high torque which also improves their efficiency and lessens the likelihood of breakage.

These three areas of advantage demonstrate the viability of cutterheads as an alternative to hydraulic hammers in tunneling projects. If you are interested learning more about applications cutterheads can be used for, check out our free eBook – The Ultimate Guide to Rock Grinding.

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


Topics: Tunneling

Tunnel Expansion: How to Maximize Project Productivity

Posted by Ryan Leech

Feb 7, 2014 7:30:00 AM

tunnel2When 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.

Consist Results

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.

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


Topics: Tunneling

New Tunnel Construction: Maximize Effectiveness and Minimize Waste with Cutterheads

Posted by Ryan Leech

Feb 3, 2014 7:30:00 AM

TC-C cutterhead beginning a tunnelIn the right tunneling project, cutterheads can significantly cut down on waste and maximize your effectiveness. With a variety of sizes for projects that can range in size from wine caves to new railroad tunnels, cutterheads offer the flexibility to fit your specific project's requirements.

Efficiency Through Precision

Cutterheads offer clean, smooth cuts. They cause less over-breaking than hammers, meaning that your walls are more stable and your work zone more highly controlled.

The cut-rock debris left behind by a cutterhead is usually already small enough for usable backfill. There is no need to transport your debris off-site to crush it, resulting in lower costs for your organization.

Estimating Productivity

Production rates will vary greatly depending on the power and the size of the cutterhead you use and the compression strength of the rock that you need to cut. Igneous rocks, for instance, are extremely hard.

Production rates using any cutterhead in that environment are low, and cutterheads may not be right for the job. Concrete, well-weathered rocks and shales, on the other hand, are much softer, which means cutting these types of rock goes much more quickly.

As a baseline, estimate 60 cubic yards per hour in soft rock for the largest cutterheads. We can produce specific estimates for your project if you are able to give us specific compressive strength values for the rock you need to remove.

High Flexibility, Low MaintenanceBoom Mounted Cutterhead for Tunneling

Cutterheads offer low start-up costs and great flexibility. Each cutterhead has a unique width; traditional units run between 19 and 55 inches in width, allowing you to pick the exact size needed for your precision cutting project.

They can operate at any depth, dependent only on the carrier machine. There are cutterheads that can fit equipment that ranges from skid steer loaders and backhoes up to full-size excavators, making them a highly adaptable tool.

With simple daily maintenance, your cutterhead should run trouble free. Required maintenance includes checking and greasing the drums each day, performing gear oil and bolt checks and keeping the hydraulic system free of debris. Lower maintenance costs and time-commitment mean greater value for your company.

We offer a range of cutterhead sizes to fit your tunneling needs. Contact us today to find out how we can help increase the efficiency of your organization.

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


Topics: Tunneling

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. 

The Ultimate guide to Rock Grinding

Subscribe for Regular Email Updates

Recent Posts