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The Maasvlakte 2 Project   

Rotterdam is by far the most important port in Europe. More and more goods are shipped via Rotterdam, and more and more companies choose Rotterdam as a business location. The existing port and industrial complex is rapidly reaching full capacity, making it necessary to develop new space. With the Maasvlakte 2 project the port of Rotterdam is expanding into the North Sea. The extension will not only benefit Rotterdam with a world-class port and industrial area but the entire Dutch economy, contributing to the positioning of Holland as the European hub.

439 PUMA Island 1
Fig. 1
Overview of completed project

The Maasvlakte 2 project involves land reclamation in the North Sea and dredging of the port basins to expand the existing port and industrial zone on the west side of Maasvlakte to provide 1000 hectares of new land for port activities and industry. Maasvlakte 2 will be completed in phases, avoiding unnecessary vacant sites. After an international tender procedure, the PUMA – Projectorganisatie Uitbreiding Maasvlakte – consortium, a partnership between Boskalis and Van Oord, was entrusted with the task of constructing the first 700 ha of port and industrial area and the complete 11 kilometres long sea defence. The objective is to ensure that the first seagoing vessels can moor here already in 2013. Construction of the quay walls, roads and railways is part of the contract as well. Expectations are that, after finishing construction phase 2, Maasvlakte 2 will reach full occupancy as late as 2033.

439 Trimble SPS 2
Fig. 2
Trimble Site Positioning System heading receivers provide precise navigation that is vessel-centric. Marine operators receive simple

PUMA had bid with the latest technologies already in mind. The timing and size of this ambitious project requires a perfect management of material, machines and staff. Wim Balvert, survey workshop manager, already had experienced the advantages of the Trimble® Site Positioning Systems portfolio, the most famous one being the Palm Islands project, the artificial peninsulas constructed in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This time, the local Trimble Distribution partner, Geometius BV, did not have to send the equipment very far. “On top of the reliability, robust design, lasting performance, high quality of the Trimble products, we have this time the technical support at the door” rejoices Mr. Balvert.

Fig. 3
The surveyors also utilize the functionality of the Trimble SCS900 field software to set out and measure the progress of the works.

Coordination and precision requires constant positioning information, therefore a large number of dumpers, graders, dozers and survey vessels on site are equipped with Trimble Site Positioning Systems. “The systems provide location in real time where to dredge, excavate, place sand and rock. The surveyors also utilize the functionality of the Trimble SCS900 field software to set out and measure the progress of the works.

439 Machine Cabin 4
Fig. 4
All operators can monitor their activities real time on a screen within their machine cabin. This way they can precisely follow the design plan.

The trailing suction hopper dredgers (TSHD for short), which supply sand for the project, are mostly equipped with differential GPS (DGPS) systems operating on sub meter accuracies. The cutter suction dredgers that are used to shape the forms of the new land, the stone dumpers, the survey boats and machines use RTK-DGPS receivers. These high-performance receivers such as Trimble SPS851, calculate centimeter precise positions in real time and constantly deliver position, headings and attitude information.

The sand extraction site, located some 11 kilometres off the coast, has been divided into a grid as the different types of sand (coarse and fine) are assigned to specific areas onshore. The TSHDs thanks to the location information available on board systematically and accurately dredge the area, section by section, and return after each load back to Maasvlakte to unload. The sand is then rainbowed to the right position – according to design.

439 Sand Rainbow 5
Fig. 5
The Trimble Site Positioning System provides positioning information for the TSHD to enable it to “Rainbow” the sand in the correct location.

Where the water is too shallow for the TSHD to get close enough to the site to rainbow the sand or to unload the dredged sand by dumping through doors in the hull bottom the sand needs to be pumped to the island via pipelines. Bulldozers of which some of them are equipped with Trimble GCS900 Grade Control Systems are there to ensure that the sand is distributed correctly so that the site becomes ready for building as soon as possible.

By the end of October 2010 a total quantity of 170 million cubic metres of sand was handled, 70% of the estimated sand needed for the first phase of the project until 2013.

439 GCS900 6
Fig. 6
On land dozer equipped with Trimble GCS900 Grade Control System ensure that the sand is distributed according to design.

This has been mainly used to form a banana-shaped body of sand connected to the mainland in the south and the basis of sand for the hard sea defense in the north. The sea defense will be 11 kilometres long. 7.5 kilometres will be a soft seawall consisting of sprayed-on beaches and dunes on the western and southern edges; 3.5 kilometres will be a hard seawall to defend the new port on the north-western edge.

The site is a perfect example of where offshore and onshore systems for the dredgers, excavators and dozers are working together. The machines are equipped with the Trimble GCS900 Grade Control System or the Boskalis / Van Oord system.   A design profile of the seawall is displayed on board making it easy to dredge sand from the bottom of the sea and trim up to the final profile. This is an invaluable help for all work underwater.

439 Blockbuster 7
Fig. 7
A unique crane called ‘Blockbuster’ is placing 40-ton huge blocks of concrete to form the rock armour.

The Maasvlakte 2 site on completion will be 5 m above New Amsterdam Water Level (NAP). The seawall itself will stretch to a maximum of 15 metres above NAP. The design of the hard seawall is called ‘stony dune with block dam’ and is unique in the Netherlands. The core of the stony dune consists of sand, a filter layer and a rock layer ranging from 0.20 – 135 millimetres. The block dam, constructed on the seaward side of the stony dune, consists of various rock layers ranging from 0.2-35 millimetres to rocks weighing 10 tons. At the top of the block dam, 40-ton concrete blocks measuring 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 metres need to be positioned in the sea. This task is assigned to an equally unique crane called ‘Blockbuster’ specifically designed for this operation. Even this massive crane relies on Trimble Site Positioning System modular receivers to position and orientate itself to place the blocks in the correct locations.

Maasvlakte 2 shows PUMA as a cutting edge consortium using the most advanced GNSS technology available to allow all players to work with greater precision, higher efficiency and more safely. “The material is quicker at its final destination, rework is avoided and all movements are efficient. A project of this scale is inconceivable without such solutions.” concludes Balvert.

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