The wind is whistling. And it’s raining, too. Nothing for friends of fair weather. And also not the environment for nature lovers. Because the way the former brown coal mining area Klettwitz looks now, it could be on the moon. But then one hears the sound of engines and sees plants growing in the distance and one slowly suspects that this moonscape will become a nature reserve in the future.
The team that has been moving masses of earth here since October 2015 belongs to the BTF Rönnebeck GmbH. The brothers Marcel and Renè Rönnebeck manage the family-run company specialising in construction and transport services.
“Renè and I originally each had a one-man business,” explains Marcel Rönnebeck, Managing Director.
“After a while, we received more and more jobs, so we merged our companies in 2013. A year later we founded BTF Rönnebeck GmbH and invested in construction equipment and tractors,” says the younger brother. The company now has 17 permanent employees.
Renè Rönnebeck, the older brother, is responsible for job coordination as well as on-site construction project completion. He was the one who drove the idea with the tractors forward. “When we take part in tenders, it is an advantage, if the vehicles are approved for on-road driving. Furthermore, the machines must also have extreme off-road capabilities. If you look at the area here and observe the weather, you don’t have a big choice. A truck with four axles wouldn't make it through here. No way!”, says the construction manager, confirming his choice of the Fendt 930 and 939 Vario. “Fendt tractors clearly have the advantage here: they are approved for on-road driving, drive 60km/h, make it through tough terrain and give me different mounting options, for example, I can use a soil stabiliser with them. With a dumper I can only drive earth back and forth and the same thing with a truck.”
The challenge on the grounds of the former brown coal mine Klettwitz are the dumps, which lie far above the water table, and the nutrient-poor soil, comprising gravel, clay, loam, top soil and coal. Add to that the steep, erosion and landslide-prone embankments, which have a number of residual holes. A typical state after mining has been abandoned. The goal of the restoration is to remove any dangerous mining waste, prevent hazards and enable the reuse of post-mining landscapes. To do this, enormous masses of earth must be moved. “We moved 450,000 m³ in the period from November 2015 to July 2016, incl. profiling work on the embankments,” says Renè Rönnebeck explaining the massive earth-moving work. “Our machines must transport approx. 2,000 m³ every day. Depending on the weather, however, it may be less on some days. When it rains heavily, the ground becomes slippery and deep holes fill with water.”
The two Fendt tractors have been in continual operation for nearly a year now and have about 2,500 work hours behind them – all without problems or major repairs. “The work those two have done is quite an achievement,” says Renè Rönnebeck, praising his two 900 Vario tractors. “The Fendts are tougher than all the others. I notice it on the troughs that I build. The machines are constantly subject to short, small shock loads on the tracks here. We tried several different tractor models: the attachments for the wheel arches often broke off. The tractors literally fell apart while driving because of the vibrations! And the transmissions and engines from other manufacturers couldn’t handle this tough terrain. The Fendt is the only one that made it through here. The same goes for the electronics: the sensors on the others failed because of the dirt. Then the whole tractor was stuck and I couldn’t do anything anymore.”
The entrepreneur appreciates what the two Varioscan do and knows the differences to agriculturalapplications. “In the field, I have relatively uniformloads and draft forces. During our work, loads varygreatly: I am always driving from level ground toslopes and back again. A lot of power is required toget up the slopes. I also have water holes, giant furrowsand soft, sandy soil – the tractor must also beable to drive here. And the tractors are subject tochanging loads a hundred times a day!”
Since Renè and Marcel Rönnebeck have already made a bid for a new major job for the reclamation of a former strip mining landscape, they are already planning machine operations today. In any case, Fendt tractors will be used on the construction site again. With this heavy-duty work, the new Fendt1000 Vario is also of interest for the brothers. They had the opportunity to test a Fendt 1050 Vario for one day in their fleet.
Renè’s verdict is clear: “The Fendt 1050 Vario drove up inclines of more than 12 percent. Not even the dumper made it up, and it has six-wheel drive. Very impressive!”
The new intelligent 4WD concept on the Fendt 1000 Vario, along with its 500 horsepower, convinces both operator and boss. “What I also find very impressive is that the 1050 Vario doesn’t even need a front weight. It can pull the large three-axle tipper without a front weight and remains firmly on the ground. We drive the 900 series with front weights here, because otherwise they would float.”
Until July, the team from the BTF Rönnebeck GmbH still has to take some 200,000 m³ from the embankment and drive it into the trough. Then the soil in the landslide-prone area in front of the dump and around the banks will be compacted and stabilised. The embankments are arranged as terraces to facilitate water flow out of the trough. “Talk amongst construction companies says that there are enough areas that need to be recultivated in the former brown coal mining areas to last 30 to 35 years,” says Renè, describing the upcoming jobs. “The legislative authorities stipulate that every gravel or brown coal hole and every landfill must be recultivated. In this way, the current moonscape will first be a reclamation area and then turned into a natural paradise for plants and animals in the future – with the help of two Fendt tractors.
Through the new intelligent four-wheel drive and the integral tyre pressure regulation system VarioGrip, even the deepest furrow is no problem for the Fendt 1050 Vario.
»The Fendt 1050 Vario drove up inclines of more than 12 percent. Not even the dumper made it up and it has six-wheel drive.«
Today’s landscape is the result of a long history of mining, some of which already began 150 years ago. In order to mine coal, rivers and ditches were moved, whole villages had to make way for strip mining. Here a conveyor bridge in the Klettwitz strip mining area in the 1960’s. (Photo: ©LMBV)