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Innovation inspires at c ivils' biggest event


More than 200 companies are coming together under one roof to show off products or services at the largest exhibition for the civil engineering industry in London's Olympia next week.

The three-day event, which runs from November 22 to 24, combines an exhibition with high-level briefi ngs, conferences, technical seminars and demonstrations.

Here, we preview some of the show's highlights

NEXT week Civils 2005 will bring people together from all aspects of procurement, design and construction to share information and demonstrate their services and skills.

Visitors interested in big new rail tunnelling schemes will get the chance to speak to promoters of the £15 billion Crossrail project and the £500 million Edinburgh Airport Rail Link, which will involve a tunnel and subsurface station at the airport.

This year's big theme is promoting best practice in civil engineering, whether it is through cheaper, more effective ways of building foundations and dealing with waste or smarter use of concrete.

Here is a snapshot of some of the new techniques and smart solutions on show next week.

Ground engineering Visitors on the geotechnical trail should check out Applied Geotechnical Engineering (stand A11), where new developments in videogrammetry for monitor ing movement in st ructures will be on show, alongside a new system for designing and constructing retaining walls. Monitoring system inventor Dave Cox, formerly of the University of Westminster and now of Taylor Woodrow, says: 'The monitoring system offers big benefits because it is relatively cheap, f lexible and highly efficient.' AGE claims that, in appropriate ground conditions, its retaining wall design reduces the required penetration and movement of the ground behind the wall. As a result the wall itself can also be thinner, saving money.

Staying with smart ground engineering systems, Screwfast Foundations (stand A2) is showing off the Angel Pile. This has been used to support signals for Network Rail, telecomms monopoles and CCTV cameras for the Scottish Executive and the Highways Agency. It can be used in poor ground conditions where multiple piles or a large gravity base would have been needed in the past.

Hazardous waste reduction Contractors are facing big challenges because of the ban on co-disposal of hazardous and non hazardous waste. The cost of sending contaminated materials to landf ill is soar ing because few sites are lef t to dispose of hazardous waste.

Con-Form Cont ract ing (stand M6) offers at least one cost saving solut ion with a specialist mobile batch plant to pre-treat waste before it is disposed of. The plant can be operational within one working day of its arrival on site. The firm holds a waste management licence from the Environment Agency, allowing the plant to treat both contaminated and non-contaminated materials classified as 'waste'.

Network Rail has also approved Aspin Foundations' (stand B6) revolutionary steel pin foundation, which creates foundation structures at a f ract ion of the cost of standard methods.

Cofra UK (stand C20) will be mapping out how its Geof lexR PVC sheet piles are an acceptable alternative to lightweight steel and timber piles.

The sheet piles can be manually handled and installed by lightweight equipment. The firm is also showing its band and wick drain systems and its Geolock watertight vertical cut-off wall.

Expanding ground support specialist MGF (main picture right) will celebrate the opening of a new depot within the M25. MGF (stand C17) is showcasing the new Super Tank Brace system, which it claims are the strongest in the UK, as well as hydraulic and mechanical struts up to 250 tonnes in capacity.

Everyone in const ruct ion knows the problems buried pipes and services can cause. CAL Services (stand N34) believes the TOMCAT (left) pipe and cable locator, which is rugged enough to cope with even the most heavy-handed operatives, will avoid dangerous and embarrassing breaks.

Concrete Solutions Mexican cement and concrete giant Cemex (stand G24) has chosen Civils 2005 as its first UK event to exhibit new product lines. The company, which manufactures and supplies cement, ready-mixed concrete, aggregates and concrete products, will be using the show to demonstrate its wide range of products and services. Anyone interested in the use of precast concrete and off-site construction should visit Buchan (stand N26), where a wide range of prestressed f lat slabs are on show.

To meet the Government's call for modern methods of const ruct ion they have been designed for use in hotels, student accommodation, military barracks and housing. The slabs (pictured above) are being used to provide 1,974 rooms of accommodation at the University of the West of England in Bristol.

Among the products on show is Densiphalt jointless surfacing, which Civil and Industrial Products (stand A17) is marketing as an alternative to traditional concrete pavements. CIP says Densiphalt is suitable for both internal and external applications, and bridges the gap between concrete and asphalt.

For those trying to reduce risks under the new manual handling regulation, ACO (stand E14) will be displaying the ACO LightWeight Kerb, while anyone looking for a bridge drainage system that is both lightweight and made from recycled kerbs should check out Pipeline & Drainage Systems (stand L2).