One of the major announcements in 2019 was that electric car pioneer Tesla was to build its next Gigafactory in Berlin, Germany. Playing an unheralded, yet vital part in the productive, efficient and safe construction of the factory was an array of National Pile Cropper’s solutions.
The Tesla Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg (also known as Gigafactory Berlin, Gigafactory 4 or Gigafactory Europe) is a state of the art European manufacturing plant for Tesla, Inc. which has been constructed in Grünheide, Germany. The campus is located some35 kilometres south east of central Berlin on the Berlin–Wrocław railway, which forms the north border of the site between Erkner station and Fangschleuse railway station and the A10 autobahn, which forms the west border.
The facility and its Berlin location were announced by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in November 2019 at the Das Goldene Lenkrad award show. The factory is planned to produce batteries, battery packs and powertrains for use in Tesla vehicles and also assemble the Tesla Model Y. Construction began early in 2020, with site preparation and foundation work immediately commencing including the essential foundation and site clearing work. The initial work saw the placing of the first four construction cranes and the arrival of trainloads of building materials including pillars, beams and literally thousands of concrete piles of all shapes and sizes. Tesla was keen that the work would be undertaken quickly, efficiently and environmentally friendly as equipment and systems would allow.
Prefabricated concrete construction
Prefabricated construction was used to produce concrete walls, beams and piles, being chosen as an efficient method for building structures. Large portions of the Gigafactory structure were assembled at a manufacturing site and then transported to the construction job site and installed where required. Reinforced concrete beams and walls that became a part of some of the main structures of the facility were installed into the ground.
In order to crop the thousands of concrete piles as efficiently, productively and safely as possible, and with Tesla’s avowed aim to have the factory completed as soon as possible, the main contractor, Arikon, turned to midlands based UK manufacturer and supplier of state of the art pile cropping solutions, National Pile Cropper. Its pile cropping solutions are mounted on a 360O excavator via quick release fittings, which when lowered onto the pile or beams, the hydraulic system operates the jaw(s) which allows the pile cropper to cut a de-bonded pile and cause the concrete to break away leaving a horizontal finish as a result. In doing this, the chisels penetrate in a precise direction up to the rebar to make the fracture. On bonded piles, the chisels will penetrate further, and due to the shape of the chisels and the reaction forces of the rebar, the concrete will break in pieces and can easily be lifted off the pile enabling recycling of the cut away concrete.
Different types and sizes
The piles that required cropping in Berlin came in a variety of sizes, diameters and construction techniques, all designed and developed to have the factory completed and functional as quickly as possible. The all-encompassing National Pile Cropper range aided the construction, proving to be invaluable on the Tesla development and many other projects. Amongst the solutions provided included National Pile Croppers largest Quad cropper, ‘Quadzilla’. This beast of a machine can handle the largest of piles and beams, delivering high rates of productivity and efficiency – just as Tesla required.
The current Quad range (including ‘Quadzilla’) is not the end of the NPC’s investment in pile cropping solutions however. “Although our range covers virtually all applications and requirements, we continuously invest in R&D to develop and refine our solutions,” explains company director Paul Emberton. “We work with our customers to find out what they want and how we can help make them more productive and profitable. To this end, this year will see the launch of new solutions that are currently undergoing field testing and refinement.”
The National Pile Croppers that worked on the Tesla Gigafactory in Berlin proved their worth and have contributed to the efficiency of the project. “We are proud to work with a company of Arikon’s standing on behalf of global trendsetter Tesla, to help them with this strategically vital project. The pile croppers we have supplied have helped ensure that the cropping part of the project was done to deadline, as efficiently, safely and productively as possible. We look forward to working with Arikon again on other projects as the need arises,” concludes National Pile Cropper’s Paul Emberton.