Dr.-Ing. E.h. Martin Herrenknecht (73) builds the world’s biggest tunnelling machines. The tunnel boring machines produced by his Herrenknecht AG are first choice when spectacular projects are involved. They have been used for instance to drive 85 km of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the fourth tube of the Elbe Tunnel in Hamburg and just recently, the Eurasia Tunnel deep beneath the Bosporus in Istanbul. Never before has such a large, efficient tunnel been built underwater under such extreme conditions: at the deepest point 106 m below the Bosporus, the tunnel boring machine with a diameter of 13.66 m had to withstand pressures of up to 11 bar. The Werner von Siemens Foundation has now honoured Martin Herrenknecht’s outstanding technical achievements with the most important German prize for technology, the Werner von Siemens Ring.
In 1975, Martin Herrenknecht, who now runs a medium-sized business, began at the very bottom. He opened an independent engineering office and developed the first types of machines MH 1 to 3 for mechanized pipe jacking. In December 1977 he founded the Herrenknecht GmbH. Gradually methods and mechanized tunnel driving technology experience advances. The business becomes a joint-stock company in 1998, of which Martin Herrenknecht is still board chairman today.
Today the Herrenknecht AG leads the world in terms of technology and marketing. It supplies ultra-modern tunnelling systems for all types of soil and in all diameters – from 0.10 to 19 m. Herrenknecht employs some 5000 staff, trains more than 150 young people and in 2014 had a turnover of 1.17 billion euros.
Martin Herrenknecht is also intensively involved in education and fostering up-and-comers: he and his company have sponsored in various ways natural and technical scientific institutions, initiatives for training new blood as well as programmes for general education in technical matters.
Prof. Joachim Ulrich, president of the PTB – the national metrology institute – and chairman of the Werner von Siemens Ring Foundation council commented “it was his great innovative energy and his enormous success as an engineer that made us decide to award the Werner von Siemens Ring to Martin Herrenknecht”. Prof. Manfred Nußbaumer, member of the foundation council emphasized that “one of Herrenknecht’s remarkable assets is that he always adapts his machines individually to the trickiest subsurface conditions with great ingenuity thus inspiring the many successes registered in recent years”.
Werner von Siemens Ring Foundation
The Werner von Siemens Ring Foundation and the award-winning personalities have constantly provided important orientation points and motivation for new generations of researchers in technical and natural sciences. Towards this end, award winners are engaged in the foundation council together with the presidents and chairmen of the PTB, the German Research Community, the Fraunhofer Society, the Max Planck Society, the Association of Donors for the Promotion of the Sciences and Humanities, the Federation of German Industry (BDI) and the German Federation of Technical and Scientific Organizations (DVT). The federal president acts as patron for the Werner von Siemens Ring Foundation.
The Werner von Siemens Ring is to be presented to Martin Herrenknecht on December 13, 2015 during a festive ceremony in the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences.