Stable structures require stable foundations.
Nature does not always provide the ideal ground conditions\u2013 whether for civil engineering or structural
engineering projects. Quite often, the existing soil requires preliminary treatment to improve its bearing
capacity. In other places, massive rock formations need to be levelled. What methods are used for laying
majority of cases, the ground is unstable, offering insufficient bearing capacity. Earthmoving operations are therefore usually the first step in the construction of a new road. When the course has been defined and set out, the ground underlying the new road needs to be prepared.
Compaction is the single most important process in soil construction. Its job is to reduce the volume of
pores in the soil to be compacted, which are filled with water and air. Compaction will give soil the desired
properties: Its resistance to stresses induced by traffic and climate will be improved by increasing its
stability while simultaneously reducing its tendency to swell due to water absorption. The latter will
additionally make the soil resistant to frost.
The process is different for different types of soil. Experts distinguish between cohesive and non-cohesive soils. In cohesive soils like loam, clay or silt, the particles in the soil bond to one another. In non-cohesive soils like gravel or sand, the particles lie side by side without bonding. Soil types can be distinguished as follows in terms of compactability: water-retaining soils, fine grained cohesive soils, coarse grained non- cohesive soils, fine and coarse grained mixed soils, and rock.
Dynamic compaction of soils by means of vibrating or oscillating compaction equipment has proved to be particularly effective in earthmoving operations. Compaction is generated by the combined action of the vibrating or oscillating roller drum and the weight of the machine itself. Applying a dynamic load achieves significantly higher compaction effects than applying just the weight force.
Cohesive soils are compacted most effectively using single-drum compactors with padfoot drums applying high amplitudes of approx. 1.8 mm. Non-cohesive soils are best compacted using smooth drums and low amplitudes of between 0.5 mm and 1 mm. The ground has now been prepared to serve as a base for the
Single-drum compactors with padfoot drum play their ace in particular when working on wet mixed soils:
Trapezoidal studs on the drum produce impressions in the soil, increasing the total surface and enabling the
soil to dry.
Extremely cohesive and wet soils are not suitable for compaction by rollers. In such cases, the existing soil needs to be stabilized first to improve its bearing capacity and prepare it as a suitable base for the upper pavement structure. Stabilization is a method of soil improvement, its goal being to permanently bind the water in the soil.
This goal is achieved by mixing binding agents\u2013 in particular lime or cement\u2013 into the soil. Cement
stabilization is particularly suitable for making subsoils permanently resistant to traffic loads, ingressing
water and frost. Soils that require stabilizing are often very muddy, so that the stabilizing operation needs to
be carried out by powerful, all-wheel driven machinery. Wirtgen soil stabilizers are therefore equipped with
large, deep-treaded tyres, offer excellent traction, and feature a powerful travel drive system. Their mixing
rotors are capable of mixing pre-spread binding agents into the soil at depths of up to 50 cm in one single
working pass. Soil stabilization reduces the water content, turning the soil into a crumbly, stabilized mixture
that is ideally suited for compaction by single-drum compactors.
Before commencing the actual road building operation, the prerequisites for doing so need to be
established first. Heavy equipment is used where roads are to be built on rocky ground. How to
create a precise ground level in hard rock? What are the methods used?
Hard rock to the core
Road builders are confronted not only with subsoils that are excessively soft or instable, but also with bases that are extremely hard\u2013 too hard for roads to be built to the specified level without preparing the ground first. This difficulty typically arises when a road is to be built in mountainous terrain or in other areas where the ground is rocky or extremely hard. When that is the case, routing operations need to be carried out first.
Routing operations are frequently carried out on ground which consists of limestone, slate, or granite, but
also in other types of rock. Blasting is a common method for removing hard rock, and is accompanied by the
inevitable nuisances of noise, dust, and heavy vibrations.
Where blasting is not feasible because houses, industrial estates or railway lines are located in the
immediate vicinity of the job site, routes are often produced by cutting through the rock with surface
miners. This environmentally friendly method is capable of cutting rock without causing any damaging
vibrations and is therefore gentle both on the mountains and on their inhabitants.
Routing operations involve cutting a path through hard rock. Surface miners cut the rock by means of a
cutting drum fitted with tungsten carbide tools, and load it onto trucks or dumpers via their slewing
discharge conveyor, all in one single working operation.
The cut material is of uniform size and can therefore be reused as backfill without requiring additional
treatment. Surface miners produce a clean and precisely levelled surface which is ideally suited as a base for
the road to be built.
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