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Happy birthday! The Hydrofraise® celebrates its 50th anniversary

At the end of 1972, our teams registered the very first patent for the Hydrofraise®, a revolutionary drilling machine that is still the benchmark today for special works, in particular diaphragm walls and barrettes. Let’s take a look back at 50 years of success and innovation “made in Soletanche Bachy”!

A machine in constant evolution

Tools, motors, new models: since its first project at the Gare de Lyon in Paris in 1973, Soletanche Bachy has continued to develop the Hydrofraise® to meet our customers’ needs in terms of environment, productivity and performance. Today, Soletanche Bachy holds more than 20 active patents on the Hydrofraise®.

Some recent innovations:

  • 2016 – Grippers: this innovative, patented piece of equipment makes it possible to drill diaphragm walls in extremely hard rock by generating thrust from the sidewalls of the panel to be excavated.
  • 2017 – The electric power pack: used for the first time on the Thames Tideway site (UK), this equipment reduces greenhouse gas emissions (5000 liters of fuel saved per week), vibrations and noise.
  • 2017 – The remote power pack: deployed for the first time on the City Rail Link project in Auckland (New Zealand), this innovation makes it possible to work in very tight spaces, particularly in urban environments.
  • 2017 – The Hydrofraise® diaphragm wall drilling simulator: this tool enables operators to be trained to drive the machine by reproducing its controls and behaviors, situations encountered on our worksites, drilling fluid management, etc.
  • 2021 – Connection with Zetta-Lyze, our Big Data platform: thanks to this innovation, we are able to collect data via the supervision application onboard the Hydrofraise®, structure the data, monitor site progress in real time on an interactive map, visualize “as-built” drilling data and automatically produce excavation, deviation and verticality reports.
  • 2022 – The control interface: the Hydrofraise® HF8 used on the NSC105 project in Singapore uses a completely redesigned control interface, which combines the control panel and supervision on a single touch screen to improve ergonomics.

Today’s range

Soletanche Bachy’s range of Hydrofraises® now comprises 3 models, all of which can be fitted with the gripper module and an electric power pack:

  • HC05: Compact and containerizable, it is particularly well-suited to tight worksites and spaces with limited headroom. Despite its smaller size, its drilling performance is comparable to that of larger Hydrofraises®. It can be containerized and dismantled in less than 72 hours.
  • HF8: Specially developed for excavation in very hard ground, it is the Hydrofraise® with the largest dimensions (21m high and up to 3.60m wide).
  • HF6: Developed in 2022-2023, this is the latest addition to the family! Capable of reaching depths of 90m with a reduced footprint, the Hydrofraise® HF6 meets the requirements of today’s urban worksites.

A history of records

The Hydrofraise® has transformed the way in which diaphragm walls and barrettes are made. It has enabled us to push back the limits of depth and regularly broke records!

  • Deepest diaphragm wall at 125m on Mud Mountain Dam (USA)
  • The 126-meter-deep barrettes on the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
  • Deepest CWS joints at 74m on the Vert-de-Maisons station of the Grand Paris Express (France)
  • Diaphragm walls in extremely hard granite (UCS>200 MPa) using the HF8 with grippers equipped with roller bits on the NSC105 site in Singapore.

An international success story

The Hydrofraise® began its career in the heart of Paris. It was soon used on numerous iconic projects in France and abroad, with recent references all over the world.

Gare de Lyon, Paris
France (1973)

Grand Paris Express, Vert-de-Maisons

Sangatte shaft
Channel Tunnel (1987)

Testimonio II Tower

Subansiri dam

Mud Mountain dam
USA (1989)

Maison Blanche metro station, Paris

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur
Malaisia (1994)

Grand Palais, Paris
France (1994)

Dubaï Creek Tower
United Arab Emirates 

City Rail Link, Auckland
New Zealand

Thames Tideway, London
United Kingdom

Assemblée Nationale, Paris
France (1980)

NSC 105 Project 

In-house know-how driven by DIFM

The Equipment Manufacturing & Engineering Department (DIFM) is the specialist for Hydrofraise® within the Equipment Division of the Technical Department. Its teams are responsible for R&D, design and manufacturing of the various Hydrofraise® models, as well as for tooling and motorization upgrades.

DIFM also offers its services to Soletanche Bachy subsidiaries to optimize equipment performance on site (assistance, commissioning, training, instrumentation, supply of spare parts, etc.).

An anniversary poster!

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of our Hydrofraise®, a unique event poster has been created, adapted in 3 versions to highlight the 3 models in the range.

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