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Contractors World UK & Ireland
2012 Vol 2 No 3   
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More flood alleviations works - this time at Wakefield - page 2 of 3

But although now commonplace in continental Europe, the use of pre-cast in the UK water industry is still relatively unknown   Downstream, a substantial concrete pumping station and downstream control structure have been installed to enable stored water to be pumped back into the stream after the risk of flooding has passed.

The original scheme proposed traditional in-situ concrete techniques to build these two structures. This would have involved assembling temporary formwork within the excavations, fixing steel reinforcement and then pouring the concrete and leaving it to cure until it had achieved enough strength to allow the formwork to be struck and removed.

But this is a lengthy and labour-intensive process, and CA Blackwell was keen to explore opportunities to reduce on-site activities, exposure to bad weather and speed up construction times.

“Waterfront, the company which supplied the penstocks and valves, suggested off-site construction methods as a more efficient alternative,” explains Blackwell Project Manager Phil Holden.

“By manufacturing the concrete elements off-site we could reduce the risk of disruption from adverse weather conditions and also reduce the amount of time spent working in a live natural watercourse. There were significant environmental benefits.”

Via Waterfront, Blackwell contacted Kijlstra, one of Europe’s leading suppliers of specialised drainage systems. Headquartered in The Netherlands – where much of the country is built on low-lying reclaimed land and flood conditions are a constant threat – Kijlstra has pioneered the design and production of pre-cast concrete components for drainage applications.

But although now commonplace in continental Europe, the use of pre-cast in the UK water industry is still relatively unknown. On the Oakenshaw Beck project, Kijlstra’s solution was an entirely new concept for most of the construction team.

“We had used small pre-cast components on previous projects but this was the first time we had considered using pre-cast for an entire structure,” says Mr Holden.

Convincing JBA Design Consultants, which had produced Blackwell’s winning design, to approve the use of in-situ concrete was the first major challenge, admits Wieger Faber, sales engineer for Kijlstra: “They were a little unsure I think, at first.”Precast components the way forward

Convincing JBA Design Consultants, which had produced Blackwell’s winning design, to approve the use of in-situ concrete was the first major challenge, admits Wieger Faber, sales engineer for Kijlstra: “They were a little unsure I think, at first.”

However, once the technical suitability of the method had been demonstrated to everybody’s satisfaction, the practical, environmental and time-saving advantages of pre-cast were enough to tip the balance in its favour, adds Mr Faber.

A mobile 200 tonne crane with 70 tonne counterweight was hired on a full contract lift basis from Emsley Crane Hire. The 31 panels, with a total weight of 90 tonnes, were delivered to site on ten highway trucks. The largest precast element weight 12,650 kg.

The panels are typically 350 mm thick and formed from C40/50 concrete mix.

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Page updated: March / April 2012

 

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