AWARDS AND ACCOLADES Entrepreneurship award for Herrenknecht 02 Jul 2013
Peter Kenyon, TunnelTalk
The founder of TBM manufacturer Herrenknecht - which reached the milestone of 35 years in business in 2013 - is awarded Germany's most prestigious accolade: the Deutscher Grunderpreis.
Dr Martin Herrenknecht picked up the award, which is judged by high profile business partners from Stern magazine, the German Savings Bank (Sparkassen), TV channel ZDF and inconic car manufacturer Porsche, 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.
Dr Herrenknecht (right) receives his award from Matthias Müller

Dr Herrenknecht (right) receives his award from Matthias Müller

"Those who meet him are immediately aware of his extraordinary vitality, his energy, 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.
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 Herrenknecht AG's Supervisory Board for 14 years, made sure that the company was able to manage the process of globalization successfully.
1976: Early MH3 machine

1976: Early MH3 machine

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, and set out on his own. In 1975 Dr Herrenknecht 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 through unconsolidated ground, with diameters of up to 3m. In 1976 the MH-1 successfully completed its first job for GKN-Keller Renchen in Nuremberg.
Two years later, in 1977, Herrenknecht GmbH was founded in nearby Schwanau, with a start-up capital of DM 25,000 which Dr Herrenknecht borrowed from his mother. The company's entry in the commercial register from January 1978 describes its 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 remotely operated from outside the pressurised atmosphere via a monitor.
In 1985, together with Weiss & Freytag, one of the company's innovations is unveiled: a 6m diameter Mixshield for tunnelling beneath the groundwater level; the machine goes on to excavate a 6.2km ring tunnel in Hamburg for the HERA particle accelerator.
  • 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

In 1988 the Mixshield principle is further developed for diameters above 10m and Herrenknecht delivers the largest Mixshield to date in Europe: the 11.6m machine that completes the Grauholz Tunnel in Switzerland.
Highlights of the 1990s include setting up its first subsidiary in the USA in 1992 (in Greenville, South Carolina), and production for Taiwan of the first EPB machine with an airlock. In 1996 yet another world record is set, this time for the world's largest TBM (14.2m diameter) for the 4th tube of the River Elbe Tunnel. Innovations for the machine include accessible cutterhead spokes, and 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 ducts in Bangkok. The following year Herrenknecht GmbH was converted into a stock corporation, and Martin Herrenknecht has been the Chairman of the Board of Management since then.
In 1999 the company's first large diameter Gripper TBM, with a diameter of 9.53m, is produced for the Tscharner Access Tunnel in Switzerland, a move that signals Herrenknecht's presence in all sectors of TBM production. 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), this time 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 tunnel infrastructure projects as well as drainage and power programmes.
Today Herrenknecht AG employs nearly 5,000 people employees, trains more than 200 young people, and generates a total operating performance of €1.14 billion.
Entrepreneurship award 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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