Professional construction piling contractors can put safety fears to rest

September 14, 2012 by Harvey Banks · Comments Off
Filed under: Piling News 

Professional construction piling contractors can not only make sure that the foundations of your next project are safe and secure; they can also make sure the work itself is carried out with health and safety in mind.

Whether that means using mini piling rigs to reduce the vibration risks to surrounding people and buildings, or using modern underpinning methods to keep less-stable ground in place, piling contractors are experienced in all of the most commonly encountered issues, and how to overcome them.

And hiring professional construction piling contractors to do the work for you not only demonstrates a commitment to high standards in health and safety, and in the quality of your work – it could also relieve some of the stress for decision makers at the top level.

Recent figures from Zurich Insurance show health and safety is a concern for 28% of top-level decision makers, who feel their lives would be easier if less red tape surrounded the issue.

In fact, construction ranks as the second-highest industry where red tape is a problem, with 75% of firms surveyed citing regulations surrounding health and safety, employment, pensions and other such issues as a problem.

Richard Coleman, director of SME at Zurich Insurance, says many firms would not want to compromise on health and safety, but adds: “UK SMEs are clearly looking for simplification to focus on what they do best – fuelling economic growth.”

Pile testing can bring assurance to infrastructure projects

September 7, 2012 by Harvey Banks · Comments Off
Filed under: Piling News 

When major infrastructure construction projects are undertaken, it can often be more important than ever to carry out suitable pile testing, in order to ensure structural stability for the future.

Infrastructure projects typically see the greatest levels of heavy vehicle or pedestrian traffic – and often include very heavy vehicles like trains and planes.

Pile testing is a must, where this weight is to be placed on underground foundations, in order to keep the facility in good condition for many years to come.

And with infrastructure projects showing renewed signs of growth, it’s likely that demand for top-quality piling equipment will be high in the weeks to come.

ONS figures for the second quarter of 2012 show annual growth of 38.5% in infrastructure projects, despite a 20.4% quarterly decrease in new orders.

This is an indication that, despite short-term turbulence that still exists in the construction industry, the long-term trend is one of growth; all new orders, across the board, totalled an annual increase of 11.1% over the same period.

Choosing the right piling equipment and carrying out comprehensive testing to ensure stability could help to underpin this growth for the future, by preventing the need for delays or costly remedial work further down the line.

Underpinning methods could be needed at Houses of Parliament

August 31, 2012 by Harvey Banks · Comments Off
Filed under: Underpinning 

A Sunday Times report has hinted that a range of underpinning methods may be needed in order to save one of Britain’s most iconic buildings in the years to come.

Last week, we reported plans to refurbish Battersea Power Station, and noted the risks posed to the structure if a Tube line and station were to be added to the site.

Now it seems another landmark of the River Thames is suffering from vibration due to Underground trains – this time, it’s the Houses of Parliament that are under threat.

Since the Sunday Times broke the story of concerns raised by the House of Commons Commission, several other news providers have picked up on it, quoting repair bills of anywhere up to £3 billion in order to protect the seat of British government for generations to come.

And some of the largest-scale underpinning methods ever employed could be needed to prevent London from getting a ‘leaning tower’ to rival that of Pisa, as Big Ben has apparently moved several inches away from the vertical over the years.

But with proposals to move MPs to a different location for up to five years from 2015, many are already opposing the work – and it will be interesting to see what measures are taken to restore structural stability to Westminster in the years to come.

Battersea Power Station refurb could challenge underpinning techniques

August 24, 2012 by Harvey Banks · Comments Off
Filed under: Underpinning 

Underpinning techniques could be put to the test in a whole new way as work to redevelop Battersea Power Station gets underway.

An £8 billion development plan was announced last month, which is expected to create 20,000 construction jobs as the iconic building is converted into homes, retail space, offices and a hotel.

Modern underpinning techniques may be needed to make sure the foundations of the building – which, at around 80 years old, is frequently described as being in poor condition – are up to the task of supporting residents, workers and shoppers.

But an extra challenge is likely to come in the form of plans to add a transport hub to the site, linking it with the London Underground’s Northern Line.

Even if this is done using above-ground tracks, the vibration of passing trains will mean strong foundations are essential for the Grade II* listed former power station.

The plans are just one part of London’s Olympic legacy, which UK Trade & Investment says has seen £14 billion of deals announced in the weeks since the Games began.

More pile driving set for Olympic Park

August 17, 2012 by Harvey Banks · Comments Off
Filed under: Piling News 

We’ve already looked at the piling rigs used in the construction of the sporting venues at the London 2012 Olympic Park – but the site is likely to see more pile driving yet before its long-term legacy is assured.

Plans outlined by the London Legacy Development Corporation estimate up to 11,000 new affordable homes to be built on the Olympic Park, including the flats built for the Olympic Village, riverside properties, and Georgian and Victorian-inspired squares and terraces.

Each is likely to need pile driving work to put the foundations in place to support the above-ground structures of the homes – and the remaining Olympic sporting venues could present unique challenges to that process.

Once again, mini piling rigs could prove crucial in carrying out the drilling work needed, without causing excessive vibration and damage to the now-iconic sporting venues that are to remain in place on the site.

Among those are the Olympic Stadium itself, as well as neighbouring structures like the Velodrome and Aquatics Centre.

Ultimately, a 25-year plan is to introduce schools, health centres and places of worship to the community too, turning the Olympic Park into a self-contained village-like suburb of London

Olympic piling equipment gets its time in the spotlight

August 10, 2012 by Harvey Banks · Comments Off
Filed under: Piling News 

While billions of people all over the world have watched the events of the London 2012 Olympics on TV, many will not have given a thought to the piling equipment and construction machinery that went into creating the venues, most of which – particularly on the Olympic Park itself – were built from scratch for the Games.

However, the piling equipment used on the Olympic Park is given its rightful moment in the spotlight on the London 2012 ‘Get Set’ website, which offers learning materials and education resources relating to the Games, and particularly the preparations made before the sporting spectacle got underway.

The entry on piling rigs explains that those used at the Olympic Park were screw piling platforms, to reduce noise and vibration, and were capable of drilling through dry or wet soil, or directly through rock.

In all, the foundations of the Olympic Park are up to 60-90m deep – creating a firm platform on which the various sporting achievements of the nations of the world have been played out over the past few weeks.

Mini piling rigs can help meet EU renovation targets

August 3, 2012 by Harvey Banks · Comments Off
Filed under: Mini Piling 

With a five-point plan outlined by the European Commission to help unleash the potential of low-energy buildings throughout the continent, mini piling rigs could play a key role in allowing existing structures to be brought up to date.

Renovation is one of the five main points in the plan, both to bring those buildings up to date, and also to stimulate investment conditions in EU member states’ construction sectors.

And it is in existing buildings, which may be on sites with other valuable infrastructure or neighbouring premises in place, where mini piling rigs can be particularly useful.

By using compact, low-vibration piling equipments, construction firms can make sure they do no damage to surrounding structures, or to any nearby underground infrastructure.

While it is impossible to carry out foundation work without disturbing the ground to some extent, it is likely that underpinning techniques which are as minimally invasive as possible will play a key role in the coming years, as this renovation-led plan for raising levels of construction investment goes into effect across the EU.

Underpinning can help keep non-moving households in place

July 27, 2012 by Harvey Banks · Comments Off
Filed under: Underpinning 

With few British households planning on moving house in the next year, those considering home improvements might want to invest in underpinning if they see any evidence of subsidence in their property.

Subsidence can be spotted in several ways, from windows that have become hard to close due to shifting frames, to crumbling and cracked masonry.

If left unchecked, the situation can worsen, leading to structural instability in the worst cases – such as for homes built at the tops of hills, or on land prone to erosion.

According to figures from Nationwide Building Society, just 8% of householders intend to move in the next 12 months.

However, 47% are planning home improvements, 9% of which are likely to involve structural work as they seek to add extra living space to their property.

Underpinning can help to ensure the stability of structures while work takes place around them – particularly if any excavation is required.

And with mini piling rigs, the heaviest piling equipment can be kept off-site, with compact rigs used instead to minimise disruption and vibration.

Underpinning techniques can protect structures near demolition work

July 23, 2012 by Harvey Banks · Comments Off
Filed under: Underpinning 

Underpinning techniques can be an important part of the demolition process – not on the building being brought down, but on surrounding structures.

According to newly updated guidance from the Health and Safety Executive, uncontrolled collapse is a major risk during demolition work, and applies not only to the main structure due for demolition.

“The structural survey should consider … nearby buildings or structures,” the HSE advises.

“The method statement for the demolition should identify the sequence required to prevent accidental collapse of the structure.”

In practice, this is one of the fundamental stages in any demolition work, and the HSE adds that structural engineers should assess the entire site before any work is allowed to begin.

Where any concerns are raised about nearby buildings, underpinning techniques may be used to ensure they remain stable from their foundations in the face of any vibrations as their neighbouring structure is brought down.

Underpinning can also restore some strength to structures that have shifted during heavy nearby construction or demolition work – allowing you to make them usable once again if the initial survey did not identify the problem of them becoming damaged.

Construction piling prepares for another wet weekend

July 13, 2012 by Harvey Banks · Comments Off
Filed under: Concrete Piles, Piling News 

If your plans for the weekend have been hampered by severe weather warnings, spare a thought for construction piling work that had been scheduled to take place over the past few weeks.

At a time of year that is usually warm and dry, we have had unprecedented levels of rainfall in short bursts, and it’s likely to rank among the wettest summers on record by the end of the season.

For construction piling works, that means a flexible approach is required, to avoid pouring liquid concrete into waterlogged ground.

One option is to use pre-cast concrete and steel piles, with professional piling equipment to drive these deep into the earth.

By using pre-cast piles that have been set in controlled conditions, away from extremes of the elements, you can avoid unnecessary extra pile testing once they are in place.

Instead, standard pile testing should be enough to ensure that your foundations are solid – even if the soil around them is a little soggier than usual.

And in places where the ground has been permanently affected by the recent soaking, underpinning methods can restore essential strength to structures.

With further rain warnings in place across the south of England and as far north as the Humber, we’re ready to offer our underpinning methods wherever they’re needed in the days and weeks to come.

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