Optimization of TBM Performance using Force-Penetration Interaction Diagram for Hard Rock

Document Type : Research Article


Mining Engineering, Amirkabir University, Tehran, Iran


In the phase of the design of a TBM, it is essential to optimize the cutter head characteristics concerning cut and cutter geometry parameters to maximize both cutter penetration and TBM advance rate. In this regard, valuable results have been achieved from numerical simulations and laboratory tests, however, due to the presence of some shortcomings for such methods (e.g. high difference between rolling force measured in the laboratory and actual field data), there is a high demand by the industry to conduct actual field data analyses. So far, very few efforts have been made to study the optimum cutter performance (e.g. penetration, normal force, and rolling force) based on the information of completed tunnel projects from around the world. To investigate the influence of various parameters on the cutter penetration and to provide basic guidelines for the evaluation of the optimum TBM performance in hard rock conditions, an extensive field database is compiled. Based on the data analysis of this database, it is found that the linear speed of the cutters has a direct correlation with two major parameters of normal force index (NFI) and rolling force index (RFI). In this regard, two formulas are generated using statistical analysis of the data from around 260 tunnel projects to evaluate both NFI and RFI. The corresponding formulas have a coefficient of determination of 77 and 68%, respectively. These formulas are used in an optimization process to maximize cutter penetration using the interaction of various operational constraints (cutter load capacity, cutter head torque limit, cutter geometry constrains, and cutter head penetration rate limits). The produced interaction diagram is called the force-penetration interaction diagram. The new findings of this study can provide a foundation to improve the design process of hard rock TBMs and to optimize their performance considering various project setting parameters.


Main Subjects

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