University meets industry: Shaping the future together
Taking baby steps but thinking big. And making a change with the support of the industry. This is the motto of Technical University Munich (TUM) students. They have founded an association in order to shape the mobility of the future. In concrete terms, to revolutionize tunnel boring. They do not only see transportation on the streets and in the air, but also underground. With their approach, they are among the finalists of the “Not-A-Boring Competition” that runs under Elon Musk’s “Boring Company”. The aim: building the world’s fastest tunnel boring machine. So who if not the global leader of slewing bearings would fit better as a cooperation partner?
What people may not know is that our slewing bearing do not only make wind turbines rotate, but also tunnel boring machines. There was not much to think about for our thyssenkrupp rothe erde colleagues when the student association TUM Boring contacted them: “Great ideas have to be sponsored. Especially when they come from young talents. They are lacking the funds to actually put their ideas into action. Besides, it always helps checking the feasibility of new impulses. This works best with a lot of experience”, says Stefan Sünning, Head of Sales Industry - Tunneling at thyssenkrupp rothe erde.
Traffic on the streets is increasing. Traffic jams belong to everyday life of many people. At the same time climate protection is gaining importance, too. You think it does not fit? So did the TUM students and took part in the Not-a-Boring Competition, intending to build the foundation for alternative forms of mobility. ”Why not move mobility underground?”, says Miriam Welser, member of the TUM Boring team, “It would lead to less emissions, no noise and a nice cityscape. Cities could become greener. There wouldn’t be the need of having streets everywhere. Wouldn’t that be great? Obviously, it’s still a long way off. But we have to start somewhere, right?”.
Slewing bearing as a key
As a manufacturer of slewing bearings thyssenkrupp can play a big role in this future scenario. This is what Max Kutt figured out quite quickly. At TUM Boring he is in charge of various components of the cutterhead. These do not only include the gearbox and the power train but also the slewing bearing. “We reached out to various suppliers but there was always something that did not fit. We did in fact have special requirements for our slewing bearing, though. Eventually, thyssenkrupp rothe erde was able to meet our wishes and develop a special slewing bearing for us. It fit perfectly for our use which we are very happy about!”
Already won before the final
Meanwhile, the slewing bearing is installed into the cutterhead. The tunnel boring machine is ready and on its way to Las Vegas, which is where the final of the Not-a-Boring Competition is going to take place. Here, the tunnel boring machines of the 12 finalists will come into action. The challenge is to bore a 30 meter long tunnel with a 50 centimeter diameter. The team that does this the fastest and the most precise has the chance to win. But actual winners or proud finalists: Zhihao Yang thinks that the TUM Boring team has already won. “Besides the theoretical knowledge we gain at university, this practical experience comes quite right. There is so much to learn from this competition. To me personally it confirms me in what I want to do for a living one day – to work on innovations. I want to practice a profession that lets me shape the future. Here, the being in touch with thyssenkrupp is obviously not too bad”, says Zhihao with a chuckle.