Digger data cuts costs and carbon on HS2 earthworks

Realtime data from earthmoving machines is being used to cut costs and carbon emissions at a key stage in the delivery of HS2.

According to EKFB, the main-works civil engineering contractor for HS2’s central section, around £25m has already been saved by using telematic data from the 700 machines used to carry out earthworks to pinpoint inefficiencies in the process.

The machines are fitted with electronic weight sensors to monitor the millions of cubic metres of earth to be moved across that section of the line, which runs between the northern edge of the Chiltern Hills and the east of Leamington Spa.

Live data fed back through EKFB’s DIGital Graphical Earthworks Reporting programme (DIGGER) allows the onsite team to identify pinch points that are slowing down haulage operations or to reshuffle the fleet where, for example, an excavator is waiting for a dump truck to arrive.

Based on a digital platform developed by construction-equipment supplier Finning, the technology has been designed to ensure the 53 million cubic metres of rock and earth on the site are moved as efficiently as possible.

HS2 Ltd senior innovation manager Rob Cairns said that delivering HS2 remained a “huge task”, but that technology tested on the site would benefit projects elsewhere.

“Most of its constituent parts are major, multi-year projects that provide both the testbed for development of innovative technology and subsequent deployment to enable benefits to be reaped,” he said.

“Once innovative, efficiency-enhancing technology has been developed and proven on HS2, it’s ready to be deployed on future projects anywhere across the UK and abroad.”

Mark Harrington, earthworks director at EKFB, said the technology had reduced costs by around £25m, a significant portion of which came from reduced fuel consumption, simultaneously bringing about a cut in carbon emissions.

“By providing data that enables us to identify where inefficiencies are occurring in real time, we can implement immediate improvement measures to ensure we maintain optimum efficiency across our operations,” he said.

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