AWARDS AND ACCOLADES Entrepreneurship award for Herrenknecht 09 Jul 2013
Peter Kenyon, TunnelTalk
Founder of TBM manufacturer Herrenknecht has received Germany's most prestigious Deutscher Gründerpreis award. Judged by high profile business partners from award sponsors Stern magazine, the German Savings Bank (Sparkassen), TV channel ZDF and iconic car manufacturer Porsche, Martin Herrenknecht is recognised in the coveted Life's Work category. An expert jury acknowledged Dr Herrenknecht as a "true entrepreneurial personality who has accomplished a pioneering achievement".
In his laudatory speech, Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Board of Management of Porsche, paid tribute to the pioneering achievement of Dr Herrenknecht.
"Those who meet him are immediately aware of his vitality and energy, and the pleasure he derives from what he does, coupled with a sense of responsibility and, of course, he is very down to earth. Indeed, he possesses all the qualities needed by an entrepreneur who not only enjoys short-term business success, but also long-term achievements," said Müller.
  • Matthias Müller (left) presents the prestigious award

    Matthias Müller (left) presents the prestigious award

  • Face to Face video interview with Martin Herrenknecht

Accepting the award at the ZDF television studios in Berlin, Dr Herrenknecht said: "I am very excited about this award. It honours my mother, who believed in me from the beginning and equipped me with the necessary start-up capital. This award is just as much for my family, who have often been neglected by me and yet have always stood by me."
He added: "This award also honours the loyalty and hard work of my staff, who have made Herrenknecht a champion on the world market." Dr Herrenknecht also took the opportunity to thank Professor Dr Lothar Späth, who, as Chairman of the Herrenknecht AG Supervisory Board for 14 years, made sure that the company was able to manage the process of globalization successfully.
1976: Early MH pipe jacking machines

1976: Early MH pipe jacking machines

The pioneering story of Martin Herrenknecht started in 1975 when he decided to utilise five years of experience gained as director of engineering services for the Seelisberg Tunnel project, and set out on his own. In 1975, he started up an engineering company in Lahr, his first headquarters being a rented apartment. Working at the drawing board he designed the first machine types MH-1 to MH-3 for mechanized pipe jacking for diameters up to 3m and for working through unconsolidated ground. In 1976, an MH-1 machine successfully completed its first job for GKN-Keller Renchen in Nuremberg.
Two years later, in 1977, Herrenknecht GmbH was founded in nearby Schwanau, with the 25,000 Deutsche Marks start-up capital that Herrenknecht borrowed from his mother. The entry in the commercial register from January 1978 describes the company's objective as being "to develop, distribute and service tunnel boring machines".
By 1979 Herrenknecht had expanded to seven employees, and by 1980 media coverage pronounced that "No one drills faster" in a headline referring to a successful mechanised tunnel project in Lahr. By 1983 the company had delivered its 150th machine, and for the first time it could be operated from outside the pressurised atmosphere via a monitor.
In 1985, together with Weiss & Freytag, one of the company's innovations was unveiled: a 6m diameter Mixshield designed for tunnelling beneath the groundwater level. The machine went on to excavate a 6.2km ring tunnel in Hamburg for the HERA particle accelerator.
In 1988 the Mixshield principle was further developed for diameters above 10m and Herrenknecht delivered the largest Mixshield to date in Europe: the 11.6m machine for the Grauholz highway tunnel in Switzerland.
  • 1985: 6m HERA accelerator tunnel machine

    1985: 6m HERA accelerator tunnel machine

  • 1996: Record 14.2m machine for Elbe Tunnel 4th bore

    1996: Record 14.2m machine for Elbe Tunnel 4th bore

Highlights of the 1990s included setting up the first subsidiary in the USA in Greenville, South Carolina, and production for Taiwan of the first EPB machine with an airlock. In 1996, another world record was set for the world's largest TBM at 14.2m diameter for the 4th tube for the River Elbe highway tunnel crossing. Innovations for the machine included accessible cutterhead spokes, an active centre cutter, and SSP seismic soft ground probing.
By 1997 the company had grown to 624 employees, and that year saw a mega-order of 10 machines for 62km of sewage tunnels in Bangkok. The following year Herrenknecht GmbH was converted into a stock corporation with Martin Herrenknecht as the Chairman of the Board of Management since then.
In 1999 the company's first large diameter hard rock gripper TBM, with a diameter of 9.53m, was produced for the Tscharner access tunnel in Switzerland, a move that signalled Herrenknecht's presence in all sectors of the TBM market. By 2001 the company had increased its range of products to include horizontal directional drilling (HDD), and the following year a record drive 65m beneath sea level, at pressures up to 6.5 bar, is achieved in the Netherlands.
In 2003 Herrenknecht developed its first vertical shaft machine (VSM) to sink a 100m shaft on the Pacific island of Java, and by 2005 the 1,000th Herrenknecht utility tunnelling machine was beginning its drive in Arizona, USA.
In 2007 more milestones were reached. The company set up its third production facility in Chengdu, China, workshop 8 is added at Schwanau, and for the first time the employee roster hits 2,000, including more than 100 trainees. Order intake tops €1 billion for the first time as the company benefits from a rapid worldwide growth in demand for TBMs for road and rail infrastructure as well as drainage and power programmes.
Today Herrenknecht AG employs nearly 5,000 employees, trains more than 200 young people, and generates a total operating performance of some €1.14 billion per year.
Hall of Fame recognition for Herrenknecht - TunnelTalk, January 2009
Tracking the world's mega-TBMs - TunnelTalk
Particle experiments the goal at Hamburg - TunnelTalk, August 2012
Russia confirms order for largest TBM ever - TunnelTalk, August 2011

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