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Company Innovation of the Year

Winner: Bam working in collaboration with Network Rail – Hooley Cutting Grillage Sprayed Concrete Innovation

Bam Ritchies scooped the Company Innovation of the Year with a new solution using an old technique – sprayed concrete.

The solution was applied to a £7.5m grillage embankment stabilsation project on the Hooley railway cutting in Surrey, which had poor crest access and was close to residential homes.

With the standard method of pumped concrete ruled out, the firm developed the innovative spray concrete application to form the grillage, improve workforce safety and reduce disruption on the London to Brighton line.

“It’s not just the concrete spray: formwork, the scaffolding solution – they were all generated from real constrictions on site”

Judges’ comment

Contracted by Network Rail, the alternative technique increased the speed of construction by an estimated four weeks and saved £250,000.

The 150-year-old section ranges between 70 degrees and vertical and consists of two adjacent cuttings, 16 km north of Gatwick Airport.

The sprayed concrete columns and lower beam that form the grillage are supported by pile caps formed on top of piles. These piles were installed vertically into the embankment at the foot of the grillage structure.

With traditional scaffolding not viable due to poor ground conditions, the sprayed concrete columns were used to support a lightweight access system.

“It’s a very simple innovation. When you look at the photographs taken prior to the job, it looks like a horrific problem”

Judges’ comment

As works progressed up the cutting face, the scaffold platforms were supported by the previously formed section of concrete column.

Operatives installed twin youngman boards with handrails between the scaffold support platforms.

The contractor placed lightweight plywood formers to contain the sprayed concrete on top of the existing mesh instead of using shuttering recessed into the slope.

The firm also changed the plant, took radar from a plane and had its own catch fences made in-house – as well as the sprayed concrete.

Bam Ritchies said the innovation had advanced the technology for steep infrastructure slope stabilisation and pushed the boundaries of what can be done above a live railway.

It also offers an industry-wide legacy, with future projects and people able to benefit from the works and knowledge gained.

The judges said the project showed real collaboration by all members of the team to find a solution, noting that the achievements weren’t simply focused on the concrete spray but involved several elements that were all the result of real onsite constraints.

Highly commended: Shepherd Construction and Team Pirbright – Pirbright Institute DP1 and Team Pirbright

A groundbreaking £100m animal disease research lab in Woking, which allows workers to see the outside world from within the space, was highly commended in this category.

The Pirbright Institute is designed to revolutionise lab environments of the future.

“Each and every aspect of the design was analysed and tested with an onsite R&D test building, setting benchmark standards”

Judges’ comment

The traditional ‘box in a box’ laboratory design, which rose to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s, was scrapped in favour of a new concept: a lab against the outside world.

For the first time, workers will be able to see the outside world while they work.

The judges noted that laboratory workers are usually set in the bowels of the earth and said this project had enabled people to work in a much-improved environment.


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