For all projects to succeed in the construction industry, training is crucial – and especially that which takes place on site.
But there are times when, only through experience, can you tackle a job that requires a little bit of ‘out of the box’ thinking.
D-Drill was recently asked to remove 40 tonnes of heavily reinforced concrete from a shopping centre in Slough and we had to do it without disturbing shoppers, diners or nearby cinema-goers.
We were working on behalf of the main contractor, RGB Group, to remove the 40-m-long, 1.2-m-high and 325-mm-thick concrete wall at the Queensmere Shopping Centre.
The wall had, unusually, been constructed in front of stock room windows so no natural light was available to the rooms which were 30 feet above the live shopping mall.
It’s not something we had come across before – certainly not to this extent and not in a position where businesses would need to continue trading while we had the task of removing the concrete.
Everything needed to be done quietly and without disruption.
“Everything needed to be done quietly and without disruption”
Ideally, we would have carried out a series of diamond saw-cuts to work the wall into manageable sections and hoist away with a mobile crane.
However, the amount of disruption that would have created would not have been conducive to allowing the businesses to continue trading.
No shop or restaurant would be happy to have that kind of work going on directly above them.
Also, the sections would need to be removable by hand as no crane or hoisting facility could be accessed to the location, particularly as the street had to remain live and open.
We devised a method where our engineers would use a silent, non-percussive method of controlled demolition that would see a series of holes drilled strategically to then allow a hydraulic burster to break-up and reduce the wall to rubble.
The holes were set in a pre-determined grid pattern to ensure optimum performance of the burster allowing the resulting debris to be safely removed via a heavy duty chute leading directly into enclosed skips on the ground floor.
Due to excessive heavy steel reinforcement contained within the concrete it was necessary to increase the amount of holes drilled and also incorporate diamond saw-cuts which helped to increase the efficiency of the hydraulic burster.
The combination of different methodologies proved to be extremely successful resulting in a team of two removing 2-3 sq m of concrete per shift.
It was also very quiet and efficient – somebody said that there was more noise coming from people chewing their popcorn in the cinema than came from our team!
Following completion of our controlled demolition works, the residential apartments are now fully occupied – and we were awarded five more projects throughout the UK with the main contractor.
We don’t always think of what we do as innovative as we often have to devise bespoke solutions to get the job done.
In this instance by utilising various different applications, we managed to counteract many operational problems.
John Barber is a branch manager at D-Drill