My Belated New Years Resolution

20 Feb

Apologies for not posting for a while but an exceptionally busy end of year placed great demands on the technical team. It’s nice to be busy or so they say!

Meeting the demands of the continental market, Germany in particular, has provided us with the biggest challenge (or headache) over the last few months. All temporary works schemes in Germany go through a checking system undertaken by a body of independent engineers known as or Prüfstatikers. We ran up against a particularly diligent one of these guys on a major scheme we submitted for a very large basement on the waterfront in Hamburg. He was naturally extremely sceptical on the use of our proprietary modular equipment, which to be fair involved some very onerous load cases, being more familiar with structural steel framing. He insisted on verifying every last weld and stiffener detail of every component and that under the application of a particularly severe 100kN accidental load. The language problem was also more of an issue than usual, with each set of calculations needed to be translated into German. As you can imagine some man hours and cost went into that.

In the meantime Christmas and New Year has been and gone and I find myself sitting in Sofia airport composing this whilst waiting for a flight home from a week’s skiing holiday Plenty of snow in Bulgaria this year.

Looking back on 2011, by and large it was a good if not vintage year; trading conditions remain very difficult and of course competitive. The highlight probably was winning a major Crossrail contract for two portals either side of the Thames Tunnel at North Woolwich. Although not due to start until late spring this year, work is already ramping up to provide the necessary technical support on this extremely complex contract. More on this contract will follow in future blogs.

We continue to develop our prop load monitoring system and we are currently undertaking a detailed case study on a large excavation in Oxford. We are aiming to publish some comparative data on calculated and measured loads, including the effects of temperature increase on steel props - if it ever warms up that is!

Our first German based graduate engineer has just started with us. Initially he will be learning the ropes in the design office in Leeds before returning to Germany to support the sales team there. Hope the culture shock will not be too great for him.

The signs are that 2012 will be a busy and interesting year and look forward to updating you on things as they progress. My very belated New Year’s resolution must be to get my monthly blog out on time!

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