Travel safely through the tunnel with the twin

Quiet nights and relaxation in the park instead of noise, fine dust and exhaust fumes: the Schwamendingen motorway tunnel connects both parts of Zurich’s District 12 and thus provides added value for the entire neighbourhood. Siemens is helping to ensure that the ventilation system in the tunnel is ready for anything that may happen.
The Schwamendingen tunnel

Schwamendingen residents fighting for higher quality of life

Noise, exhaust fumes and an almost insurmountable separation of their district – the traffic-plagued residents of Schwamendingen had had enough of all of this in the 1990s. They collected 12,000 signatures and in March 1999 submitted a petition for a referendum demanding that part of the motorway be covered. The tunnel will run from the Zurich East motorway junction to the Schöneich Tunnel, extending the latter by 940 m in length to 1.7 km. The ventilation system and the security features in the existing tunnel are to be renovated and modernised. The new tunnel will improve the connection between the two parts of Schwamendingen and protect the residents against noise and air pollution, while a large park on top of the construction will provide a recreational zone in the middle of the urban area. 

Siemens awarded the contract for this project

The project managers have chosen Siemens to take care of the complex control tasks. A Simatic S7-1500 master controller and ten local controllers ensure the optimal operation of the tunnel ventilation systems. 52 ET200SP local peripheral devices are used to monitor and record the current status in the tunnel via sensors and to control the motors and jet fans, which are equipped with Sinamics G120X frequency converters. 

“The engineering and programming is being taken care of easily in the TIA Portal, and the web-based WinCC Unified View of Things allows for simple local visualisations directly on the S7-1500 controller.”
Marcel Bachmann – Managing Director of Autcomp AG 

Digital twin instead of full closure

How can we ensure that the ventilation is working properly in the event of an emergency? For this purpose, HBI has developed a tunnel ventilation simulator, which was successfully used as a proof of concept in the collaboration with Siemens on the Roveredo bypass project. Thanks to its innovative modelling system, the HBI simulator allows for interaction with the controller and the real-time visualisation of the results. Bachmann also recognises the advantages of using the digital twin for automation. This is because it is not just the ventilation components that are being simulated – the controllers can also be mapped using the virtual PLCSIM Advanced controller in the TIA Portal. Various scenarios can thus be simulated and tested before the devices are installed on site.


Last but not least, Frey is also thinking of the Schwamendingen residents, who have been campaigning to reduce noise levels: “The virtual environment also helps us to not inconvenience the residents any further. Were we to carry out real tests, which would have to be done at night for logistical reasons, our work with the fans would keep the residents awake, because the fans are as loud as a jet plane when they are operated at full capacity.”

Pointing the way for future projects

Thanks to the virtual commissioning, the Swiss Federal Roads Office (FEDRO) does not have to close this busy motorway section at all. Markus Eisenlohr, a specialist in operating and security equipment at the FEDRO, emphasised how important this is, as any closure would have immediate far-reaching effects on all of the traffic in the North Zurich area. He can imagine that similar simulation will also be used in future projects. Last but not least, virtual planning and commissioning is an excellent supplement to the planning of a project using Building Information Modelling (BIM), something which is becoming increasingly common in complex building projects.

Customer feedback

The requirements in the building of tunnels are becoming more and more complex. For this reason, it is key that you are able to place your trust in years of experience and a good working partnership. Our customers HBI Haerter, Autcomp and the FEDRO rely on Siemens in this regard.

Siemens feedback

Take a look behind the curtains from the perspective of a Siemens representative. Our colleagues will show you the advantages of using Siemens products in your projects.  

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