Calgary winter tests LB 30 unplugged electric drill rig

A LB 30 unplugged drilling rig at work in Calgary

The first LB 30 Liebherr battery-powered drill rig on Canadian soil has successfully proven its abilities in winter on a Calgary jobsite.

During the construction of a new pedestrian overpass, contractor Graham and deep foundation subcontractor Ki International Ltd. put a LB 30 unplugged drilling rig purposely to the test with difficult drilling work and temperatures as low as -36 C.

“We saw the LB 30 unplugged as an opportunity to do something good for our society,” said Gordon Williamson, Owner of Ki International Ltd. “It is imperative that construction machines with electric drives have a future in Canada in order to steer our economy towards sustainability.”

The construction site where the machine is being used is in a busy area in north-west Calgary. There are important centres here, including the Foothills Medical Centre, the Calgary Cancer Centre and the UXBorough project.

The new pedestrian overpass enables access for Calgary residents and promotes growth in the area.

Ki International is using the Kelly method with the Liebherr drilling rig to construct 22 cast-in-place piles for the overpass. The largest piles have a diameter of 1,000 mm and are 18 metres deep.

Mud, water and sand make the ground very soft, which is why the entire drilling depth must be cased.

The biggest challenge for the work was the Calgary winter. Temperatures dropped to -36C which was amplified by the windchill. Nevertheless, the work had to be started in January.

“However, there were no delays with regard to the performance of the drilling rig,” said Janelle Bekkering, Project Manager at Graham.

The direct location of the construction site next to a large hospital makes one advantage of the LB 30 unplugged significant: the low noise emissions. The passage of emergency vehicles must be always ensured, even during ongoing construction site operations.

The quiet operation of the machine meant that emergency vehicles could be heard more clearly, which considerably improves safety for medical staff and patients as well as for construction site staff. The low noise level is particularly appreciated in urban and densely built-up areas.

Jason Lin, Project Manager for the City of Calgary, is also enthusiastic about the alternative drive system of the LB 30 unplugged.

“We are proud that this emission-free technology is being used in Canada for the first time. Zero emission aligns with our policies and our climate strategy,” Lin said. “The use of such machines will help us to reduce greenhouse gases. That is very important for us.”

The LB 30 unplugged

The LB 30 is one of six battery-powered drill rigs introduced by Liebherr in 2022.

The rig has proven its capabilities in the conventional diesel-powered version. The battery-operated unplugged version is identical with regard to application possibilities, weight and transport. The drilling rigs can be used for all common applications in the field of deep foundation.

Thanks to the optional extension of the drilling axis, the machine can be deployed for drilling diameters of up to 3.4 metres. The optional rear support and the new design of the modular rear counterweight ensure higher stability and longer service life.

In addition to the standard design, the LB 30 is available in a Low Head version with a total height of 14.1 metres, or as Ultra Low Head with only 7.7 metes.

For battery operation, the charging cable only needs to be unplugged and, for unlimited operation, reconnected to the construction site power supply. The battery is designed for a working time of 4 hours in Kelly operation. Whether in battery or plugged-in operation, the drilling performance remains unchanged.

Williamson said the first use of the drilling rig on Canadian soil was impressive.

“We wanted a difficult task. One that would really put the machine to the test,” Williamson said. “We got what we wanted. On this construction site, we have proven that the LB 30 unplugged is able to deal with difficult drilling work and extreme weather conditions.”