Anyone who has spent time working underground is aware of the myriad difficulties lurking that can challenge even the most seasoned of mining and tunneling professionals. Fortunately, over the years innovative people and companies have been developing and honing solutions to meet virtually any challenge Mother Nature may pose.
Making sure that people are aware of the solutions and know how to properly implement them, however, is another problem. In an effort to help keep customers and its own support staff apprised of the latest technical solutions and how to use them, BASF’s Underground Construction division twice a year (spring and fall) hosts workshops at the Hagerbach Test Gallery in Switzerland. The workshops cover the range of underground construction disciplines supported by BASF: Injection, Sprayed Concrete and Waterproofing.
“We started hosting these workshops about 15 years ago to help educate our internal people about our two main products – pre-injection and water stopping,” said Uwe Wyink, Global Technical Manager Injection, Underground Construction. “Over the years we started bringing in more and more customers to help them understand the technologies available regarding injection.”
“The goal of the workshops is to help make our customers better at what they do,” said Jim Lindsay, Head of BASF Underground Construction – NAFTA Region. “The Hagerbach facility is unique and the setting in the Alps is a great bonus on top of the informational programs.”
In October, BASF hosted its “Injection Workshop for Underground Construction and Mining” followed the next week by its “Sprayed Concrete Workshop.” Workshop attendees come from all aspects of the industry – applicators, engineers, students, mine/tunnel owners and contractors, in addition to BASF representatives. Additionally, attendees come from all over the globe, including Europe, Asia and North America at the Injection Workshop in October.
“We have the full spectrum of people who work in underground construction because there is a need for education for applicators as well as specifiers,” Wyink said. “A specifier needs to know what is available to be included in the construction of modern underground facilities.”
The workshops are a way for people to see BASF’s Master Builders products in person in an actual underground environment at the Hagerbach Test Gallery in eastern Switzerland. Hagerbach is a private research and development provider founded in 1970 by Dr. Rudolf Amberg. The focus was initially on testing drill and explosives technology, but the facility has been expanded in the intervening years to include a number of galleries and test spaces for a broad range of testing and educational purposes.
“I don’t know of any other facility in the world that has similar capabilities and be able to bring many people in for training,” Wyink said. “In addition, they have excellent technical people and the equipment and laboratory facilities to be able to perform any kind of testing.”
Added Ed Paradis, BASF’s North American Sales and Market Development Manager for Injection Systems: “There are a multitude of products available and without a workshop, it would be trial and error for the applicators and contractors. Here, you can actually test it in the right environment.”
Of course, in any live event, networking plays an important role in addition to the curriculum. “It is interesting to see people from different disciplines talking and sharing ideas and solutions and learning from each other,” Wyink said. “Additionally, it is a good opportunity for our representatives, who are spread across the world, to establish relationships and share knowledge.”