Industrial Junkies is the exciting new series that gets dangerously close to the mechanics and engineering of some of Europe’s biggest industries. Join engineering enthusiast Jonny Smith (Fifth Gear), who will be given exclusive access to several enormous industrial locations across Europe, and the opportunity to get his hands dirty as he tries out some of the toughest jobs in the production chain.
Jonny joins the dedicated team of men and their incredible machines in Romania, working on one of Europe’s biggest motorway building projects. He witnesses the process of constructing this new 415 kilometre highway, which involves vertical shaft impactors, beam launchers, massive off-road lorries, vibrating steamrollers and a multi-lane tarmac-laying machine.
Jonny follows the incredible process behind the production of aircraft tyres for the A380 Airbus, the biggest passenger aircraft in the world which weighs a monstrous 560 tonnes. At the factory in France, Jonny watches how natural rubber tapped from trees is turned into synthetic rubber to mould into these super-sized wheels.
Jonny follows the amazing process of producing explosives by visiting a production plant. Then he sees how they are put to use in a tunnelling project under the streets of Stockholm. Here, builders blast through solid granite to create new road tunnels as part of the Northern Ring project. Jonny also gets the opportunity to press the detonator button, which leaves him shaken and overwhelmed from the sheer force of the blast.
Jonny’s journey begins at the Belchatow open cast mine in Poland, where he is awestruck by the breathtaking scale of one of the world’s biggest coal excavators. It is here that lignite, a form of coal, is excavated to create power for up to 20% of the country. The mine is an amazing 12 kilometres by 3 kilometres deep and is linked to the power station by a staggering one hundred kilometres of conveyor belts.
Jonny visits one of the biggest truck manufacturers in the world in Gyttorp, Sweden. He is roped in to help build a truck from scratch, then test drive it in extreme weather conditions of snow and ice in minus 20 degrees.
Jonny learns how oil from the sea bed is eventually turned into petrol. The process involves helicopters, gargantuan tankers, turbines, vertical descent lifeboats, flames, cranes and an oil rig. He goes inside a 285 metre high hollow concrete leg, which supports the entire rig, seeing how it pumps out up to 37 million litres of oil per day.
Jonny learns how glass is made by visiting the Carmeuse Limestone Quarry in Belgium. With exclusive access to the process of glass-making and the industrial machines which are used, Jonny witnesses first hand the huge drilling machines, explosions, volcanic temperatures and dizzying heights which together produce glass for many European cities.
Jonny’s mission is to learn how to make paint; but not the common, everyday-use paint. This specialised, super-slippery paint is designed to prevent marine barnacles attaching to ships hulls, which they do in their thousands if left untreated. The paint is going to be applied to one of the world’s biggest new cruise liners, which is almost three times the size of the Titanic. Jonny meets the paint scientists who battle barnacles for a living at one of Europe’s biggest paint factories in the UK; and then visits the shipbuilding yards on the River Ems in Germany to see where the giant ships are painted.
Jonny ventures to a sustainable forest in northern Sweden, to witness the process of plastic package making. Trying his hand at becoming a mechanical lumberjack, Jonny climbs on board a twenty tonne, 6-wheel drive, chainsaw wielding forest harvester; a beast of a machine which can cut down trees faster than a team of axe men. Jonny then visits the paper mill which devours 3,000 tonnes of trees every 24 hours.
Jonny visits Spain to see how iron ore is turned into steel and then forged into 120 metre long rail sections, before being laid as part of Spain’s newest high speed rail link. These rail lines will see trains reach speeds of up to 350 kilometres an hour – the same as Formula 1 racing cars. Jonny then gets his hands dirty at a factory in Austria, which produces nearly eight thousand kilometres of steel rails a year and is the size of a small city.