It begins with a humming noise, then, without warning, an enormous rock crashes onto a trailer and punches straight through it with a loud bang. Suddenly everything is silent – and very little of the vehicle remains. The footage shows every driver’s worst nightmare – but luckily it is just an experiment carried out at a test center in Erzberg, Styria, using an old caravan on an inclined test facility.
This system was developed by Trumer Schutzbauten for the testing and certification of protective barrier systems that are designed to prevent this kind of event. The company was founded just outside Salzburg in 1991, and in 2008 developed what was at the time the world’s strongest rockfall protection fence. The fence is capable of stopping a 13-ton stone that is rolling down a slope at a speed of 100 km/h without breaking. The protective system can even withstand additional debris falling in the wake of the main rock. These fences are usually used to protect roads and railroads in mountainous regions, as well as in mines. They can be found in almost every country on Earth, from Russia to Canada and Nepal.
The main components of the modular Trumer rockfall protective systems are steel cable nets, steel supports, load-bearing and anchoring steel cables, and braking elements. Cables are strung between the steel supports, which are connected to ground anchors using base plates. The cables run freely through the guides on the supports and are then connected to braking elements and anchored to the ground at both ends. These cables bear the omega-meshed steel nets between the steel supports. The construction is designed to allow the nets to be pre-fitted and pulled across like a curtain, which not only makes it easier to install the system, but also simplifies maintenance work, such as clearing the area above the protective system. Depending on the protection requirements, additional guy cables, supports, and reinforcements ensure extra stability and strength. The protective systems not only need to withstand extreme loads in emergencies, they also need to survive being exposed to the elements for 25 years. Trumer sets an equally high bar for the entire production process – from the raw materials used through to the manufacturing processes and quality assurance.
“We are EN 1090-2-certified and manufacture the load-bearing steel components in accordance with execution class 2,” explains Daniel Jäger, long-time Operations Manager at Trumer Schutzbauten GmbH. “Welding accounts for around 30 to 40 percent of the production workload in steel construction, and all our welding work is performed manually.” The company has a total of seven manual welding workstations at its production site, all of which are kitted out exclusively with welding technology from Fronius. “Our very first welding system was from Fronius,” Jäger recalls. “We rely on premium manufacturers for all of our tools. Anything else would not be compatible with our quality requirements and would also be a false economy.”
Trumer currently has three generations of devices in service at the same time – from the TPS 330 to the MIG/MAG welding platform TPS/i. ”All of these solutions allow us to efficiently and reliably achieve high-quality weld seams, which is absolutely vital for our steel safety systems,” says Jäger. With his decades of experience, he is clear that: “Fronius repeatedly delivers innovations that make our lives considerably easier.” This includes, for example, the user-friendly TPS/i with a touch-sensitive plain-text display that can even be operated while wearing welding gloves. “The operating concept is similar to the previous generations, which makes it easy for welders who have already worked with Fronius machines to get the hang of the new ones,” says Jäger. “The immediate feedback is that the TPS/i has even more power and the arc is extremely stable.”
The production specialist is also impressed with how easy and convenient it is to access data on the TPS/i, such as the total number of operating hours – and even remotely, if necessary. Jäger particularly appreciates the different torch body lengths and angles that Fronius offers for the manual welding torches used with the TPS/i platform, as well as the ball joint. This means that the welding torch can be easily adapted to suit the individual requirements and preferences of the welder, while also reducing strain on the wrist thanks to the more favorable ergonomics. In view of these advantages, Trumer has even retrofitted the new MTB 500i W ML manual welding torch and the corresponding MHP 500i W ML hosepack to their older TPS 4000 and TPS 5000 devices.
Trumer can also count on Fronius when it comes to customer service and availability. “Practical experience shows that problems are most likely to occur when the order books are full and welders are working under pressure, meaning that the devices are being used almost constantly,” says Operations Manager Jäger. “We have discovered that it’s not just the Fronius devices that are incredibly reliable – the Fronius customer service team is extremely responsive, someone is sent out to us quickly to conduct repairs as soon as possible, and, if necessary, to provide us with a loan device.” This ensures that welding can continue without unplanned interruptions and without any loss of quality, even at peak periods.
The Operations Manager feels that the company is well equipped to take on future projects, such as the development and construction of even stronger rockfall protection systems, with Fronius at their side. “We will remain a loyal Fronius customer because the products, the service, and the company’s innovative spirit provide us with everything we could ever want.”