Highway to prosperity


Denmark's first public-private funded highway aims to get the country's economy moving. Volvo Construction Equipment is keeping the project on track with its unique service set-up and onsite washing bay.

The first thing you notice about the KMG construction site is not the vast expanse of surrounding Danish countryside, nor the fact that hundreds of machines are working at once. Although both are surprising, the first thing that strikes you is that KMG's site office is situated in a castle - and the project team are tucking into a posh lunch from a kitchen which looks like it belongs to a celebrity chef. This is a far cry from the conventional temporary shed/office and convenience food found on many sites - but then, KMG is not a conventional construction company.

The Kliplev Motorway Group (KMG) is one half of Denmark's first ever Public Private Partnership (PPP) with the government, after winning the tender to build a 25km highway in the south of the country near the German border. KMG will finance the whole project and take care of everything from moving soil to building bridges and maintaining the highway.

The two year development, valued at 126 million Euros, is a new way of working in Denmark because projects are traditionally funded by the government and shared between several contractors. However, KMG impressed the authorities by promising to complete the highway by spring 2012, without payment until it is completed.

Overtaking the downturn
The highway will stretch from Kliplev in the southwest, to Sønderborg in the southeast. The project is part of the government's stimulus package to get the economy moving after Denmark slumped into a deep recession. The world's fifth richest country, which was notorious for low unemployment rates, suffered badly in the economic crisis, particularly in the housing sector which held a large proportion of Denmark's wealth.


The new highway will connect areas lacking infrastructure such as Sønderborg - a small town with 60,000 people on the outskirts of Denmark - to major roads such as the E45, which runs the length of the country.

Doing it differently
Right from the start, KMG decided to build the highway in an unconventional way. Rather than beginning at one end and building in stages, KMG is attacking the whole highway at once. Three hundred and fifty people, 200 hundred operators, and 200 machines and are involved in the project - out of which, 71 are Volvo, supplied by Volvo's North German dealer Baumaschinen Koenicke GmbH & Co. This includes 30 Volvo A25E and A35E articulated haulers, 40 EC210 up to EC460 excavators and several L220F wheel loaders.

KMG's Austrian Project Manager, Alexander Kanovsky, says he decided to use Volvo after working with a competitive brand for a long time, because Volvos are fuel efficient and user friendly. "We rented some Volvos and compared their fuel consumption with our competitor machines," he says. "The results were remarkable; Volvo was 20% more fuel efficient than the competitor!" he exclaims. "We realized this very early in the project and decided to rent more Volvo machines from local contractors. We pay the fuel costs, so we need the most efficient machines."

Fuel for thought
Fuel emissions are a top priority for KMG and it is believed to be the only motorway construction project in Europe to have a 'CO2 balance sheet' to monitor diesel consumption. This is updated several times per year and sent to the Danish authorities.

KMG is limiting the amount of fuel needed in site transportation by mixing the existing earth with concrete and chalk to make the foundations of the highway, rather than removing the soil. KMG is also using the railway to transport cement and chalk from Hannover in Germany to Padborg in Denmark. From there, materials are driven by truck to the site. Approximately 120,000 tonnes of lime and cement are being moved at a rate of 700/800 tonnes per day. "It is the first time materials have been handled this way in Denmark," says Alexander. "Using railways not only reduces fuel consumption but it quickens our lead times."

At your service
Per Stjernqvist, Managing Director for the Nordic Group of Volvo Construction Equipment, identified an opportunity for the project to have a Volvo onsite service set-up, complete with a service area and washing bay. "Once I realized the project only had one contractor I saw a great opportunity," he says. Per called Alexander and one hour later a deal was made. "Alexander understood that an onsite set-up is more efficient," says Per. "He didn't need much persuading; Volvo ticked all the right boxes."


The service set-up includes a washing bay which has never been done before in Denmark. "We invented it ourselves," says Per. The bay washes soil from the machines (which can be as much as 100kg from one machine) and then separates oil and soil from the water so the water can be reused to wash the next machine. "Washing the machines could further reduce fuel consumption," says Alexander. "It also keeps our fleet looking nice and clean." 

In the same area as the washing bay is a section for machines service where Volvo mechanics change oil, filters, and replace spare parts. "Time is so crucial in this project and having the service tent onsite reduces breakdown time because mechanics don't need to travel hours to repair the machines," says Per. Volvo's telematics system CareTrack also reduces service time because the system, fitted to the machine, alerts mechanics 50 hours prior to the machine requiring a service.

Alexander confirms that it was systems like CareTrack which attracted him to Volvo. "Volvo has the whole package," he says. "The machines are reliable and fuel efficient, and the service offering is excellent. At KMG we treat our suppliers as partners, not subcontractors. We work in close cooperation with Volvo; to us Volvo is a partner who has all the right solutions."


July 2010

Text: Clare Gittins

Note to Editors:
KMG is the concessionary company for the project Kliplev-Sonderborg and is 100% owned by the Austrian company STRABAG SE - Europe's largest construction company.


July, 2010

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Bill Law
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Volvo Construction Equipment
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Email: bill.law@volvo.com
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Brian O'Sullivan
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Email: osullivan@se10.com