U 530 pulls, wades, scoops and clears the Kiel Canal.
Since 2018, a U 530 with a built-on loader has been providing the necessary digging and lifting work for the Brunsbüttel Waterways and Shipping Authority to ensure that operations in and on the Kiel Canal run smoothly at all times. The Unimog is a key tool in carrying out the diverse transport tasks involved.
From transport to tree care to winter maintenance - it couldn't be more versatile.
The Kiel Canal linking the North Sea and Baltic is the world's busiest man-made waterway. The vital link, including its infrastructure such as locks and bridges, has to be kept reliably passable at all times. From Brunsbüttel to Breiholz this is guaranteed by the Brunsbüttel Waterways and Shipping Authority. The stretch from kilometre 10.0 to 49.5 on the canal, and on the Gieselau Canal at the entrance to the Eider, comes under the responsibility of the Hochdonn district, where Daniel Thomsen and his colleagues ensure safe operation on a daily basis.
Since July 2018, the Brunsbüttel Waterways and Shipping Authority has been operating a newly purchased specially equipped U 530 as a high-performance workhorse to handle routine works as well as the many specialised tasks required. “Transport is of course one of our main tasks, as we are also constantly working to secure and reinforce the canalside,” Daniel Thomsen explains. In addition to setting new supporting stones, drainage pipes often have to be excavated.
The Brunsbüttel authority employee adds: “We're also continually out and about with our vehicles keeping the canalside clear of tree branches and shrubbery”. He goes on to say how very pleased he is that the old U 1400 has now found a modern successor. The old Unimog's users are appreciative of the great job it did though: “We’ve had very little to complain about. In its roughly 18,000 hours of operation - that’s over a period of 18 years - the only trouble the orange 1400 with its Schaeff excavator gave us was a broken final reduction gear. It even still has its original clutch,” Daniel Thomsen enthuses.
Special equipment for digging - and more.
The U 530 is more powerful and versatile than its predecessor. The new implement carrier is also equipped with a built-on loader from ematec. It enables digging and dredging work to be carried out in the tightest of spaces. The loader features a four-leg support mechanism, with each leg capable of being manually swivelled and disconnected, as well as being folded away by means of hydraulic cylinders. This means that the additional 3.5 tonnes of the truck bogey always remain balanced, even under maximum workload.
The crane with its lifting and articulated arm has a hook height of 10 metres and a digging depth down to 4 metres using its clamshell bucket. The required operating pressure is 300 bar. To achieve that, the axial piston pump requires around 45 kW of drive power - no problem with the Unimog’s powerful six-cylinder engine and power take-off. Thomsen praises the excellent visibility from the cab, whether for loading or dredging. “The dual-axis joystick in the armrest makes the unit really easy to operate.”
Pulling, wading, scooping, clearing.
“When carrying wood, the first thing we usually have to do is take broken tree trunks or sawn logs out of the water with a winch. It can pull as much as six and a half tonnes!” To prevent damage to the ground, the U 530 features high-profile tyres, aided by a tyre pressure control unit. “They ensure the vehicle has maximum traction, for example on polders for channel widening,” Thomsen explains. “At those locations, silt is pumped up and the soil quickly transforms into a viscous mass. Without lowering the tyre pressure and increasing the footprint, there's little to be done.”
The new Unimog is used in winter too, with a mounted plough for snow clearing. With such versatility, the orange-and-white all-rounder is approaching a thousand operating hours after its first year in service.
Text: Gerfried Vogt-Möbs, Photos: Daimler AG