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Inauguration of Levvel-blocs production facility in Harlingen

Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 27 September 2019 - Today the Levvel consortium (BAM, Van Oord and Rebel) inaugurated the Levvel-blocs production facility in Harlingen. The facility is producing the concrete armour units that will reinforce the Afsluitdijk Dam in the years ahead. Provincial executive councillor Avine Fokkens (Province of Fryslân), performed the opening ceremony.

Circular construction

Levvel has leased a 10 hectare site from the Port of Harlingen for the facility. The site includes a 4,000 square-metre building, a carousel system, a concrete plant, sand, gravel and cement storage silos and depots, and a large gantry crane. The production facility itself is based on circular construction principles; after production has ceased, the facility will be dismantled and the parts used elsewhere. Various regional parties have been involved in the factory’s construction and will continue their involvement in the production process.

‘The province is happy that Fryslân has a factory with such an innovative product. The ecological footprint is small and transports over water are short because the Levvel-blocs are produced near the Afsluitdijk, in Harlingen. This fits the character of the Afsluitdijk perfectly. We are also satisfied that many regional companies have helped to set up this factory. Just like many companies from this region are now helping to strengthen the dyke.’

Avine Fokkens, Provincial executive councillor (province of Fryslân)

Fully automated production

The Levvel-blocs will be produced in an automated carousel system with more than one hundred revolving steel moulds. The system is unique in the marine engineering industry. The process begins by filling the mould with concrete. Once the concrete has hardened, the mould is removed. Production workers inspect the empty moulds, remove any remaining traces of concrete, and prepare them for the next casting. The facility produces a Levvel-bloc approximately every nine minutes and can turn out at least one hundred blocks a day.

Transport by waterway

A large gantry crane moves the Levvel-blocs to the adjacent storage depot, where a loading dock has been constructed. The same crane loads the blocks onto ships for transport to the Afsluitdijk. Upon arrival, the blocks are installed on the dam straight from the ship to avoid disrupting road traffic as much as possible.

New revetment

On the Wadden Sea side, the dam will be raised and reinforced by means of a new revetment. As many as 75,000 Levvel-blocs will be installed on top of the existing basalt blocks. The Levvel-bloc, also known as the XblocPlus, was developed especially for this project. Each one weighs 6,500 kilos and is wave-retardant. The blocks have a rough surface, with depressions in which water can collect to create an ideal environment for plant growth. Because of their symmetry and the regular way they are positioned, the blocks have a tranquil appearance that reinforces the austere and autonomous character of the causeway.

Using the Levvel-blocs represents a 56% CO2  reduction compared to the preliminary design because they require much less concrete to produce than comparable dyke reinforcement material.

Reinforcement of the Afsluitdijk Dam

Rijkswaterstaat (part of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment) has contracted the Levvel Consortium to work on the Afsluitdijk reinforcement project until 2022. The project also involves building additional drainage locks and pumping stations to permit more water to be pumped from Lake IJsselmeer into the Wadden Sea, ensuring that the Netherlands will remain safe from flooding. For more information, visit www.theafsluitdijk.com

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