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In June this year the Guglielmo Marconi Airport, Bologna was awarded “ACI Europe Best Airport Award 2009” in the category for airports handling from one to five million passengers. The latest report of the ICCSAI on competition in European air transport ranked the Bologna airport as fourth in Italy for international connectivity. This was an improvement of 12 places on the previous year’s rating in this world-wide classification. The award and the excellent ICCSAI rating are recognition primarily of the strategies adopted by the airport authority regarding passenger services, commercial activity and attention to the environment and safety.

Maintaining recommended safety standards while air traffic constantly increases and keeping runways at top operating efficiency are just some of the reasons why the airport has for many years entrusted its scheduled maintenance operations to the Società Cooperativa Costruzioni. The Cooperativa Costruzioni is general construction company headquartered in Bologna and one of the leading contractors in the sector since 1934. It has 500 employees and a fleet of 80 earthmoving and road making machines.

The Coop Costruzioni is responsible for the construction and maintenance of airport infrastructure and recently received a request from the Airport Maintenance Department to repave one of the runway links, the ECO link, and also to repave some sections of the taxiway. Repaving involved milling and then re-asphalting the worn surfaces. Clearly the time window for such works was very small.

As is often the case with a fully operational airport, the biggest challenge during maintenance works was to coordinate a series of conflicting activities.

Works had to be executed in a very short time while maintaining the highest standards of quality. The airport authority wanted to avoid any interruption to normal services and therefore needed to have the resurfaced sections available as soon as possible. For the Coop Costruzioni this represented a considerable challenge in terms of resources, planning and works management.

As part of what proved to be a winning strategy, the Coop Costruzioni decided to perform the works at night when air traffic levels were relatively low and decided to use the best machines in its fleet and its most experienced machine operators.

“It was essential to finish the project on time without any hitches. To be absolutely sure of this we knew we needed two Cat PM200 cold planers; we had already put this model to the test many times and knew that it delivered what we needed: top performance and productivity; reliability and the capacity to work long shifts without breaks and without any interruptions or downtime for maintenance”, explained Nicola Guidetti of the technical management staff at Coop Costruzioni. “Since we only had one PM200 in our fleet, we immediately contacted CGT, our local Caterpillar dealer, and asked to hire a second machine for the time needed to complete the works”.

Coop Costruzioni completed the works in two night shifts of 6 hours each. Three hours were dedicated to removing the worn paving. This was done with the two planers working in tandem.

Works to resurface one of the links to the take-off runway were completed in the night between the 22 and 23 May 2009 while the taxiway was completed in the night between 5 and 6 June this year.

The planers milled a total surface area of 10,500 square meters. Milling was followed by resurfacing using a Bitelli BB760 paver finisher which laid a 4 cm thick mat of bituminous mix subsequently compacted by a Bitelli DTV370 roller. The Bitelli machines belong to the large Coop Costruzioni fleet which consists primarily of Caterpillar brand machines.

The cold planers performed really well, especially in terms of speed, and to the general satisfaction of the contractor and the construction company. “The machines (PM200) are so agile that it takes more time to get them into position than to perform the works. On the second night we completed a surface area of 5,500 square meters at speed with excellent results”, says Maurizio Torri, assistant technical manager at Coop Costruzioni.

This is confirmed by comments from Gianluigi Taras, the PM200 machine operator at Coop Costruzioni, who has over ten years experience on Caterpillar and Bitelli planers and finishers and has also driven machines by competitors. With his long experience he is enthusiastic about the superior quality of the Cat PM200 “…the drive is decidedly superior, it responds immediately to my commands, it is productive, easy to handle, and it does exactly what I want and all I want …”

The Cat PM200 on a tracked undercarriage combines high maneuverability, compact dimensions and advanced technology. This makes it the ideal machine for milling work on medium to large sites where it will remove deep layers of asphalt and concrete at high rates. The C18 engine featuring ACERTTM technology delivers a full 583 HP (429 kW) at just 1,900 rpm for optimum performance. The C18 engine has a very steep torque curve to ensure that the machine responds rapidly to heavy loads while remaining stable and productive. A steep torque curve is ideal for milling work.

Quick-release conical tool holders make changing tools easy and fast. The high-capacity folding conveyor adds versatility and enables the achievement of high production rates on site.

At the end of the second night of intensive work, the team lead by site manager Mario Mancieri had milled 670 tons of material and made 35 journeys with 0/8 modified bituminous mix. At 5 o’clock in the morning the airport was returned to full service with the runways ready to receive the first flights.

“The resources, the people, the machines, the experience and expertise fielded in this project made it possible to complete the activities in the time planned, guaranteeing the immediate return to service of scheduled airport operations. We are therefore more than satisfied with the works completed and can say that the final result fully met the very exacting quality requirements of the tender specification”, says Paolo Sgroppo, Systems and Infrastructure Maintenance Post Holder at the G. Marconi Airport, Bologna.