The story of Soilmec started more than 50 years ago, in 1969, which tells its brand its ability to design machines for all the technologies of underground engineering. “Mec” as mechanics, the design of equipment, and “soil” where the equipment meets the natural element: the ground. Soil mechanics in the broadest sense of the word.

It counts on a wide range of products, among the most complete in the world, so that it can cover any requirements of works and sites. Bridges, viaducts, electric power plants, dams, ports, motorways, metro and railways, geothermal and small diameter drilling…. Soilmec can satisfy any request and need, also the most complex and articulated ones. This is the result of a widespread and rooted company culture which has always focused on the customer and relevant requirements as the real center of all its activities, according to a true idea of partnership.

Soilmec belongs to the Trevi Group, which is among the main leaders worldwide in the field of special foundations. And it is also thanks to the synergy and the interaction among engineering and experience on the field that the rigs produced by Soilmec are available on the market after an accurate and concrete site testing phase, hence capable of supplying successful and reliable performances, also in case of innovative technologies.

Soilmec is proud to have been awarded international quality certifications UNI EN ISO 9001 and TÜV Quality.

Interview with Massimiliano Battistelli, General Manager at Soilmec.

Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company?

Massimiliano Battistelli: Soilmec is currently active in over 70 countries, with a network of subsidiaries, agents and dealers who guarantee the clients a continuous technical and financial support as well as an after-sale service. The will to be “closer and closer” to the client, also geographically, is one of the main principles inspiring the daily work of over 600 employees of the company.

E.E: What’s the news for 2021 about new products?

M.B: In 2021 have just been and will be launched some new product and some retiling of existing product.

In the Soilmec SR range, the large diameter piling rig, we done the restyling of the SR-45 that has been upgraded to the HD version which features the segmental mast boosting its versatility and Low Headroom operation capability. In the entry level segment, we launched at the last IFCEE 2021 trade fair the brand new SR-30 Eagle. It is compact and agile, making the rig fast in rigging-up and transportation with very low running costs. Moreover, in the second part of the years will be launched two models of the new SR line named Blue Tech.

For the Cranes and Hydromill lines was introduced in the market the new SC-130 HD heavy duty crawler crane and the SC-130 hydromill range made by two different models: The brand-new SC-130 hydromill in its Cougar version is a technology dedicated machine, built with a modular set-up to customize the maximum depth reachable, is the perfect choice for the customers who are looking for a covering a vast number of requests, performing panels up to 70 m depth. The brand-new SC-130 Tiger Plus hydromill is configured with the “HDD” (Hose Drums Design) Soilmec system. Hydraulic and mud winders are positioned on a support placed on base carrier, allowing to work quickly and precisely at great depths, up to 120 meters. Moreover, in the next month will be launched the new Soilmec hydraulic grab for diaphragm wall technology the GH-20.

E.E: What are the ranges of products?

M.B: Multipurpose hydraulic drilling rigs, heavy duty crawler cranes, hydromills and grabs for diaphragm walls, drilling rigs for micropiles, anchors and jet grouting, soil deep mixing, equipment dedicated to tunnel consolidation and geothermal power, ancillaries for mud and/or  grout technologies, site equipment, ancillaries and tools

E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?

M.B: As a multinational company we are working worldwide and despite the impact of Covid-19 crisis on ground foundation market, the possibilities to work in a wide number of countries gave us a quite good steady flow of new contract awards. Cleary, we got some countries where our presence and strength in the market is most relevant, as North America, Australia, North Africa and Europe. As Soilmec, in the last few years, we are rather satisfied, both in the economic context as well as in the market presence. However, the results have not been easy to achieve, considering the hard work involved in both gaining new clients and increasing the local utilization of our new technologies and innovative solutions.

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?

M.B: The ground foundation machines market is really varied as it differs from country to country not only for what concerns the technologies usually used but also and above all because it is closely related to the type of soils on which the deep foundation is carried out. As regards the drilling rigs market, there is a demand for agile and easy-to-transport machines for the small construction sites, while for large works the trend is to choose very big and high-performance machines, over 100 tons. Furthermore, especially for subways and dams job sites, the need to perform deeper and deeper diaphragms walls are being used, leading customers to choose the hydromills. The future challenge will become more personalized and sophisticated, with lower costs. It will be the discriminating factor for continued growth and to be protagonists in the market.

E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?

M.B: We can underline 3 different products for 3 different types of features: Connectivity, environmental aspects and reliability.

Connectivity: DMS 4.0 represents the Soilmec’s digital transformation. Soilmec new rigs are all smart connected. By uploading filed data into the cloud, Soilmec Drilling Mate system proves to be a game changer.

The product suite includes the DMS Onboard instrumentation for improved machine control, DMS PC software for comprehensive production analysis and the DMS Manager cloud service for enhanced fleet supervision. The DMS can be easily adapted to specific needs using custom setup, from selectable widgets to personalized dashboard and add-on options.

Environmental aspects: Blue Tech is the new Soilmec piling rigs line designed around a new energy saving architecture. The Blue Tech Line design is based on the optimization of the power transmission and minimization of the energy dissipation. A special attention to the rig’s main parts which are normally involved during working cycle has been given. All these solutions and improvements reduce the fuel consumption and the carbon footprint emissions and improve the productivity and operating flexibility in all piling and soil consolidation techniques.

Reliability: All Soilmec hydromills are designed to prevent contamination on the main hydraulics so to ensure production and profitability also in the event of breakdown or failure. The SC-135 has a double hydraulic system fitted with independent tanks; a solution no other manufacturer offers, unless by including an external auxiliary unit.  Should pumps become contaminated or the milling module blocked when inside the excavation, the double circuit enables the crane to extract it, thereby reducing the time it is immobilized, or in a worst case scenario the possibility it must be abandoned. The user can thus resume work within a time period that, depending on the extent of the problem, is 50-70% less on average than what has been historically experienced before on the market, which translates into greatly reduced costs of repair and restoration.

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2021?

M.B: COVID 19 pandemic led to a downward revision of construction market growth prospects the following years; in particular in the O&G industry the pandemic led to a strong drop in demand and in oil price, and reduction in capex by main oil producing players and countries.

Beyond lockdown, construction activity was also impacted by operational issues such as supply chain delays, increased costs, labor challenges and changing health and safety conditions.

A specific example on this road is the positioning in China, which “froze” investments in new high value machinery such as hydromills In this context, Soilmec will implement some strategic actions envisaged by the business plan aimed at improving the efficiency of the structure, which are expected to materialize in the coming months.

Looking ahead, overall market expected to recover 2019 already starting by second half 2021 , catching the opportunity mainly by infrastructure segment (Group’s core market). Strong underlying trends e.g. urbanization, water management, large & complex infrastructures) are confirming the expectations and “multiplier” effect of infrastructure vs. GDP growth (construction/infrastructure usually mirrors GDP growth with a factor up to 1.5x), enabled by strong stimulus packages being deployed by governments ( e.g. China, USA…) will facilitate Soilmec market position with a specific focus on high value core products (e.g. rotary & hydromills) enabled by a strong efficiency rationalization campaign.