New rapid deploy bridge technology spanning greater distances while protecting the environment

Moses had to part the red sea. Soon the military will simply “plop” a bridge in place.

Introducing the new ERE Scissor Bridge Launch System from Ere Logistics based out of Alberta, Canada. This amazing sectional tactical bridge easily spans up to a 500 meter distance, laying 40 meter sections of the bridge at a time in under a half hour.

“There’s really no firm length – you cankeep going longer and longer with it, all in increments of 40 feet…”

…says Richard Richter, co-designer of the ERE S80T FR and President of Ere Logistics.

“The bridge is rated at 80 tons, and that’s a point load – that’s not a multi-wheeler load.”

New design, old concept

Richter is quick to explain they didn’t invent the concept. The ERE S80T FR is a re-designed, re-engineered modernization of a Russian military implementation dubbed the the TMM-3 from the 1950s.

Carried by a KrAZ class light armor engineering vehicle, the TMM-3 was a heavy mechanised bridge, especially useful in extreme cold climates where snow and ice were of particular concern. (See a TMM-3 being unloaded at YouTube ). The TMM series is a multi-span, trestle-supported, scissors-type treadway bridge transported on a variety of wheeled truck chassis and capable of supporting heavy vehicles/tanks. It consisted of a 4 section spans, and could be deployed by day and a well trained crew in around 45 minutes. (Learn more about the TMM and see many more pictures at JED The Military Equipment Directory ).

“We looked at that (the TMM) and felt it was cool, but didn’t like the way it worked. So, we redesigned it.”

While the newly redesigned ERE S80T FR appears to have some catching up to do on time, it is making up for slightly longer deploy times with decreased environmental impact, smaller required crews, increased point and span loads, and more flexible location deployment.1

Deploying an Ere S80T scissor bridge

The concept is simple. The S80T deployment vehicle carries one section at a time with support trailers transporting as many sections are required for the area being spanned. Back the deployment truck in place, set the support legs, balance and level the truck, and unfold the scissoring 40 foot bridge sections into place. If the spanned distance is less than 40 feet no support legs are required. Longer than 40 feet and the support legs are lowered. All of this is done by remote control adding safety to the bridge deployment in the event the rig were to topple.

Adding sections is even easier than the first, pulling the deployment vehicle onto the bridge. Removing the bridge takes approximately the same time as deploying it.

Some tactical bridge building history

As the video discusses, an understanding of tactical bridge history helps understand how vital this technology is. There are many tactical bridge systems that have been employed by the military through the years.

The Bailey bridge was introduced during World War II and allowed allied forces to build crossings where bridges had been destroyed. But the Bailey bridge was a massive undertaking requiring huge crews of trained personnel to erect. Richter says in the video…

“The Bailey bridge is basically an Erector™ set that needs put together.

Typically limited to spans of 60 meters, or 200 feet, the Bailey Bridge was a portable pre-fabricated truss bridge, with it’s key advantage being it’s modular assembly that did not rely on heavy equipment. Previously, tactical bridge solutions often relied heavily on cranes and other equipment that could be a liability in a war zone. Despite large crews required for assembly, the Bailey bridge is still considered a superior example of military engineering. Two examples of extreme Bailey bridge building include a Sangro River bridge in Italy, spanned 1,126 ft (343 m) and another on the Chindwin River in Burma, spanned 1,154 feet (351 m).2

Even modern tactical bridge system have various load, length, and deployment limitations. Modern military bridge solutions appear to be designed around various concepts to solve specific problems. The ERE scissor bridge is no exception. Despite it’s rapid deployment and potentially long lengths it currently cannot be deployed in depths larger than 3.5m (~11.4 feet).

Companies like WEFL , CNIM , and KMW currently engineer and sell a variety of different styles of tactical bridge systems including medium girder bridges, dry support bridges, air-portable ferry bridges, raft bridges, various modular assault bridges, and armored vehicle launched bridges.

Ere Logistics is still in the research and development phase and I suspect we’ll be seeing some major advancements and improvements in their design in the near future. For a non-engineer such as myself, it seems highly doable to mix the various rapid deployment bridge technologies into their concept and accomplish a wide array of bridge solutions using the same design.

Ere S80T tactical bridge and the environment

Environmentally speaking the S80T is low impact…

“If you’re using a single span of 40 feet or less, the impact is zero – you don’t even know we were there. You’ll see tire tracks going to the crossing, and then there’s tire tracks on the other side…If it’s over 40 feet, we have to put the support legs down, but that’s maybe 10 percent of the disturbance of walking a backhoe COMPARABLE through it – the leg comes in contact with the bottom and kicks up some sediment, and that’s all.”3

Environmentally sound design is one of the primary motivating factors for Ere Logistics. They are developing more than just bridge systems for military use. Their environmentally friendly off-road equipment includes environmental protection mat systems and off-road logistic vehicles and fueling trucks especially for the oil and gas industry.

They take environment protection very seriously and are translating that into ROI (return on investment) for their clients.

“When we pick up and leave, cleanup costs are zero, and prep costs are zero. A traditional bridge system, you need to look at the overall costs – your bridge system may cost X dollars, but your cleanup may be $20,000 or more.”3

This concern for environment protection is what really sets Ere apart. While recognizing the inevitability of oil companies needing to reach remote areas and military action, they are taking steps to mitigate the damage done to our dwindling natural environments. For a company based in Canada, that has some of the largest pieces of untouched wilderness, this is an important goal.

Visit the Ere Logistics website and enjoy the embedded video to learn more.

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1 NOTE: These are observations based on the video and limited research I was able to do online. As far as I can tell only Richter and his partner deployed the bridge in the embedded video by themselves. As for load and flexibility of deployment I am extrapolating that information from what I was able to learn about the TMM and available information on the S80T.

2 Wikipedia Bailey Bridge

3 Oil and Gas News article Environment and time saved by mobile bridging units