Almost from the middle of the ship, the dredger arm reaches over the ship’s side and almost vertically down it the clamshell bucket dives into the Rhine. “We had our new ATLAS 340LC dredger equipped with a hydraulic adjustable boom. This means you can also reach down directly on the ship’s side without endangering the ship’s stability,” says Rolf Nagelschmidt, master hydraulic engineer at the Waterways and Shipping Authority (WSA) in Cologne. The new 36 t crawler dredger is in use at the Cologne Waterways and Shipping Authority. It is stationed on a thrust unit moved by the “Keiler”, a thrust boat with a 900 hp engine.

Modern machine technology – extremely resilient

The 36 t ATLAS 340 LC crawler excavator is powered by a Deutz 180 KW/245 hp engine with turbocharger/intercooler. The hydraulics control the AWE4 system. Two high-performance, load-controlled piston pumps and a fuel-saving demand flow control make the 340 LC a sensitive working tool. And it is a very solid one. This is because design, production and assembly are all carried out from a single source at the ATLAS factory in Ganderkesee, with conversion work then being carried out at the ATLAS dealer Michels in Geldern. The principle here is to build excavators that work durably and are long-lasting. And that means also withstanding the heavy loads that occur on the Rhine. The new ATLAS 340 LC replaces its predecessor, an ATALS 1804 LC, which was in service for 20 years.

Many tasks – high demands

The WSA is responsible for the safety and maintenance of a specific section of the Rhine. The tasks here include

Bank protection, dredging, boulder removal, salvage work, tree removal and others. The excavator is used for this work. Bank protection means, for example, that heavy basalt rubble stones are placed in bank areas. The material is extremely abrasive. In addition, the basalt boulders have to be virtually thrown into slightly more distant shore zones in order to reach these places. This is extremely stressful for the material, statics, bolts and joints of the excavator. Especially during the winter season, the 340 LC is used for clearing felled trees in the riparian area. To do this, it can drive ashore via a ramp, pick up the wood there and store it on the prahm.

It is a very big logistical challenge to remove boulders from the navigation channels of the Rhine. Such chunks are discovered during regular measurements by a sounding vessel. Often the ATLAS excavator can grab them with its ATLAS orange peel grab and hoist them on board. However, if the boulders are too large, the hydraulic hammer, which is attached, is used first. Afterwards, the dismantled parts are taken on board. And again and again, the standard task is to remove gravel and sand from the riverbed to allow the prescribed water depth of 2.50 m above normal low water in the driving area.

Good aids for the driver – rear and side camera

“Sometimes I wonder if the engine is running, it’s so quiet,” says Rainer Schlicht, the driver of the 340 LC. With a cab level of only 70 dB, you can really talk about a quiet excavator. The cab, the excavator operator’s office so to speak, is also a pleasant and well-equipped working environment. Auch die Kabine, sozusagen das Büro des Baggerfahrers, ist eine angenehme und gut ausgestattete Arbeitsumgebung. Side and rear cameras provide driving safety and prevent accidents. The front windscreen can be retracted under the cab roof. Equipped with air conditioning and auxiliary heating, permanent concentration on work is possible in summer and winter.

Equipped for many tasks

The ATLAS 340 LC is equipped for many tasks. A quick coupler makes changing implements easy. The attachments are also designed and built at ATLAS. A clamshell bucket with a capacity of 1,200 l and a fully enclosed clamshell bucket with a capacity of 800 I are available for dredging and other purposes. If necessary, a rock bucket with a capacity of 1,260 l can also be used. A load hook (12.5 t load capacity) with the necessary safety equipment can be used for recovery work, etc.

Hydraulic adjustable jib

In order to be able to use the attachments optimally, a hydraulic adjustable boom was mounted on the standard excavator arm (adjustable boom 5,300 mm and articulated arm 3,200 mm effective length). With it, maximum flexibility is possible. This includes working near the ship’s side without the dredger having to go there. Finally, the 600 mm wide base plates provide a secure footing.

The necessary conversion work was carried out by the regional dealer Michels GmbH with its headquarters in Geldern and further locations in Bergheim and Essen. At least as important was the in-depth consultation on the special requirements that the ATLAS 340 LC has to meet. Here, too, Michels provided continuous support and ultimately also delivered the most economical offer.

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The new ATLAS 340 LC crawler excavator with hydraulic adjustable boom in operation at WSA Cologne