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CITB buys plant simulators to fill operator skills gap

August 21st, 2017 No comments

The Construction Industry Training Board has forked out £1.2m to buy 16 plant simulators to help train the next generation of operators.

Josh-Missin-PlantSims-606

Trainee operators can test drive excavators to cranes in all weather conditions

It is the first large-scale investment in a dedicated virtual training centre as the industry faces the challenge of finding 5,000 new plant operators over the next five years.

The simulators from Sweden and Canada have been installed at the National Construction College in Bircham Newton, Norfolk.

They will be used to train apprentices and trainees in a wide-range of plant machinery, including excavators, cranes, crawler dozers, telehandlers, tractors and dumper trucks.

CITB plans to use this technology to train people for an even wider range of jobs in the future.

The simulators help provide a life-like experience in all weather conditions, while minimising health and safety risks before trainee move onto real machines.

The simulators, from CM Labs in Canada and TenStar in Sweden, also electronically record progress and analyse how learners behave in different scenarios.

Graham McPhail, Head of Education and Training at CITB, said: “This is the first large-scale investment into plant simulator technology anywhere in the UK.

“New methods of technology are playing an increasingly important role in construction and this investment will help us modernise the way we train.”

Josh Missin, a 24-year-old plant apprentice from Wisbech who works with plant hirer Mervyn Lambert, was one of the first to train on the new simulators.

He said: “As someone who had never used any form of plant machinery before, I was quite nervous before doing so.

“However, the simulators allowed me to quickly learn how certain controls worked, which meant I felt much more confident when using the machines in real life.

“They are also good when bad weather would stop us from using the real machines, as you don’t feel like you’ve lost a day’s work.

“They should be used in everyone’s plant apprenticeship training.”

Full courses details and entry requirements are available to view on the National Construction College Apprenticeships pages.

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Construction Safety In the European Workplace – Perception vs. Reality

August 18th, 2017 No comments

Since the enforcement of the EU Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Strategic Framework in 2014, the numbers of accidents at work have been dropping, suggesting a positive impact on health and safety regulations and compliance at the workplace.

The framework analyzes key challenges and strategic objectives for health and safety at work and aims to identify actions and instruments to address these objectives.

But whether workers actually feel safe at work is a different matter. Perception of safety or danger is none the less a very important question that can have a significant impact on a worker’s performance and well-being at work.

Health and safety consultants Arinite compared research from Eurofound on the perception of safety in the workplace with Eurostat’s recent analysis of health and safety incidents across the EU 28 countries. This is what they discovered.

 

 

 

 

 

Mismatch between perception and reality

Revelations show that actual workplace safety and perceived safety do not always match. Romania, for example, has an incidence rate of 68.9, meaning out of 100,000 workers 68.9 were injured and had to stay off work for more than 4 days (5.5 out of 100,000 on average died).

Compared to other European countries in the survey, that is the lowest rate, followed by Bulgaria and Greece. France, Portugal and Spain show the highest incidence rates.

If you now look at how workers from these countries perceive safety in the workplace, the results are perplexing. Denmark, which scored fourth in the incident rating, now ranks first place, with almost 50% stating they were “Very Satisfied” with their working conditions. They thus having the most satisfied work force in the ranking.

Romania on the other hand, previously having the fewest incidences in comparison, appears to be one of the least satisfied countries, with only 11% saying they were “Very Satisfied”.

Reasons behind the discrepancies

How come the number of accidents at work and the perception of safety do not seem to correspond very much?

Firstly, the feeling of safety can be shaped by many factors, such as job quality, financial security, development of skills or national labour laws.

 

Also, considering the results in Denmark and Romania, the strength of bureaucracy in a country may influence the perception of safety too, as effective and exact incident reporting systems manipulate the ranking. Denmark’s high incident rate might simply be a result of the strength of the Danish accident reporting system, which leads to the assumption that safety is being regarded as a high priority – therefore workers naturally feeling safer.

 

Construction workers seem to feel less at risk when they feel that safety provisions and strong labour laws are in place. Creating a safe work environment is not only a question of compliance, but also of assuring a productive and happy workplace.

The OSH will keep improving prevention measures, implementing existing health and safety rules, and reinforcing coordination with international organisations, like the International Labour Organization (ILO). Social safety nets also need to be strengthened to ensure accidents across the EU decrease further while working conditions improve, leading to a successful relationship between employer and employee.

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Gilbert-Ash Awarded British High Commission Project in Ghana

August 10th, 2017 No comments

West Africa project is latest for UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

26th July 2017: Award-winning UK construction, refurbishment and fit out contractor, Gilbert-Ash, has been awarded a fit out project on the British Embassy in Accra, Ghana.

Set to commence in August 2017, it is the latest international project by Gilbert-Ash for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) with work undertaken in a total of 41 countries worldwide to date.

Ghana is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and the UK’s fourth largest export market in Sub-Saharan Africa. The UK is a key partner to Ghana and is committed to advancing continued economic development in the country.

The fit out project, the first by Gilbert-Ash in Africa, includes interior and exterior refurbishment of British Embassy facilities in the capital city.

A key aspect of the close to £400,000 project includes fitting and reinforcement of new enhanced windows and doors in key embassy buildings.

Andrew Whitten, General Manager, Gilbert-Ash Fit Out said: “Ghana is a modern, dynamic country and one of the UK’s longest-standing and strongest partners in Africa. As with all our projects for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, it is critical that the fit out of the British High Commission is completed to the highest standards showcasing UK excellence in design, construction, materials and innovative technologies.

We will be working closely with local Ghanaian companies and so far, our team have been very impressed by the level of commitment provided across the local supply chain for this prominent project. We look forward to playing a small part in transferring some new skills that we hope will also benefit and bolster the growing local construction industry in Accra.”

Over the last decade, Gilbert-Ash has undertaken a broad range of projects in partnership with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to refurbish and refit British Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions around the world. Often in environmentally challenging and culturally diverse locations, the company’s fit out team are highly skilled in delivering the highest quality projects on an international scale. To meet high specification standards befitting the UK’s leadership in design and construction, Gilbert-Ash ships many of its fit out materials around the world.

Andrew Whitten added: “With each project we develop for the FCO, we are acutely aware that the High Commissions, Embassies and Consulates represent the ‘public image’ of the UK. We therefore think of the work we do as being a ‘showcase’ for British skills overseas, so we really give the projects everything, both through a sense of company pride and of national pride.”

Working with its strong UK supply chain network, the company recently commissioned the manufacture of the bespoke windows for the British Embassy project in Accra with manufacturing, packing and shipment within a four week timeframe.

With Ghana’s tropical climate, the Gilbert-Ash Fit Out team will be working to complete the project in 12 weeks in challenging 34°C temperatures.

The leading construction company has specialist fit out expertise in a range of sectors including workplace, retail, leisure and restoration. For more information on Gilbert-Ash visit www.gilbert-ash.com

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Timber Expo set to address safety and quality in buildings

August 9th, 2017 No comments

A unique show designed to bring together the leading voices of the construction industry for all in the

built environment

Timber Expo, the UK’s only event dedicated exclusively to Timber, announces its return to Birmingham NEC from 10 – 12 October 2017. Covering a wide range of timber applications, from timber frame through to plywood, CLT and timber cladding, the show will explore the latest developments across the industry as well as new products and innovations from around Europe, for all in the built environment.

 

Exhibitors from across Europe will be at the show including fastenings and fixings provider, Schmid Scrauben Hainfield; manufacturer, Intumescent Systems, a leader in fire containment technology; Czech distributor of plywood and packing, Orlimex; Latvian sawmill, Vudlande Sawmill, which will showcase the newest form of sawmilling technology at the show, and Gaujas Koks Ltd, which has 25 years of CLT manufacturing and will operate two major sawmills with a total output of 300,000m3 of finished products. This top quality product is not one to be missed.

 

This year, collaboration with TRADA, the leading authority dedicated to informing best practice design, specification and use of wood and timber in the built environment, will see the Timber Focus Theatre introduce speakers who will explore how the industry is pushing the boundaries on the use of wood, wood for good health, technical timber an how designers are working directly with fabricators.

 

Students from the Emergent Technologies and Design Programme at the Architectural Association are also developing an innovative timber installation, co-ordinated by TRADA and sponsored by Hanson Plywood. The design derives from extensive research on plywood composite material systems, focused on the integration of doubly curved plywood forms and tensile cables. The design is a development from an initial understanding of ‘tensegrity’ (or floating compression) systems and departs from a pure tensegrity through a three-dimensional structure, where doubly-curved plywood members coexist in equilibrium.

 

There has never been a more important time to learn about building materials and regulations, which is why the show has introduced a series of free CPDs bringing together leading authorities to deliver advice and guidance on key issues including:

Up to date advise on fire prevention in all types of buildings

Changes to Legislation on Safety

Advice and guidance on construction product safety

Your responsibilities in the construction process and protecting you and your employees

 

Nathan Garnett, Event Director at Media 10, which runs the show, said: “In addition to showcasing the latest products and innovations across the timber sector, the Timber Expo will deliver the latest information on safety and quality in buildings for all in the built environment, from architects, contractors, local housing authorities, and developers. This is crucial in the current climate and only by coming together, through shared knowledge and learning, will we be able to tackle the issues surrounding building safety head on.”

 

Consisting of Build Show, Civils Expo, Plant & Machinery Live, Energy 2017, Smart Buildings 2017, Surface & Materials Show (featuring Kitchens & Bathrooms Live), HVAC 2017 and Grand Designs Live, UK Construction Week caters for the entire spectrum of the industry from builders, architects, innovators and consultants, each show provides exhibitors with the opportunity to network alongside decision makers and purchasers while showcasing their services and products to thousands of visitors.

 

For more information and free registration visit www.ukconstructionweek.com.

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Post Grenfell: UK Construction Week to offer definitive safety courses

August 7th, 2017 No comments

In light of recent tragic events, UK Construction Week, the leading event for the construction and building sector has taken the most positive step possible by launching free unbiased, factual workshops to anyone working in the industry. These free, one hour CPD-certified sessions – taking place from 10 – 12 October at the Birmingham NEC – will address the specification and use of products from the viewpoint of safety, quality and fire prevention in buildings to ensure that all participants are given the most up-to-date advice and guidance on the main issues affecting the built environment following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower.

 

These topics have been under intense public scrutiny at a national level, and whilst Grenfell will change the construction industry forever, companies must come to terms with the fact that ‘doing enough’ is no longer good enough. Our industry has a responsibility for the safety of every user or inhabitant of every building in the UK and with an ever-zealous media looking to apportion blame, and the threat of prosecution and prison now a stark reality, these workshops will ensure that our industry is completely informed with the latest views, findings and legislation.

 

Earlier this month UK Construction Week issued a survey which received over 1000 responses from construction professionals. This survey asked them to identify the professional bodies they want the most up-to-date guidance from; the type of products and services that are now a priority for on-going and future projects; and how the industry can learn from this terrible event and move forward. The survey results have shaped a series of workshops, which will seek to clarify the latest advice and guidance for the industry. Topics include:

 

Building Regulations – an update and interpretation

Fire Prevention – guidance on sprinklers, fire doors, dampening

Flammable Building Materials – looking at cladding and other materials and latest advice

Health & Safety – knowing your responsibilities and up to date guidance on the latest legislation

Improving Safety through Technology

 

Nathan Garnett, Event Director, said, “In light of recent tragic events in London, and the fact that there are millions of square metres of building space being refurbished, refitted  and built right now, the industry must act swiftly to decipher the latest guidance and advice by separating the facts from the fiction. By collaborating with the authorities and professional bodies, we at UK Construction Week have responded with a series of free, CPD certified workshops to address the latest issues and provide the facts from people the industry knows and can trust.”

 

Available to any companies involved in the specification or use of products or services in construction or who are responsible for Health and Safety in commercial or residential buildings, the show is offering completely free subsidised places on the workshops. Due to the expected high demand, places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

 

For more information and free registration visit www.ukconstructionweek.com or contact info@ukconstructionweek.com

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Graduation Day honours for Survey School’s 2017 top achievers

August 4th, 2017 No comments

A record number of graduates of the TSA Surveying Course were commended for their commitment and hard work at The Survey School’s annual ceremony and presentation, held at Worcester Racecourse.

From the intake of 35 students, ten achieved distinctions and 13 submitted a total of 26 assignments judged to be of A-A+ grade, in terms of technical knowledge and professional presentation.

The recipients of the Best Student, Best Assignment and TSA Vice-President’s Award were also announced.

Jointly sponsored by The Survey Association (TSA) and Leica Geosystems, the Best Student Award went to Paul Cross of Sterling Surveys, who gained an outstanding overall mark of 94 per cent.

Paying tribute to the winner, John Fraser of Leica Geosystems, said, ‘’The award for Best Student is a real achievement, with students required to return, not only high marks in all areas, but to act in a professional and dedicated way throughout the course. Paul is a very worthy winner.’’

For the second successive year the Vice-President’s Award was given to a student graduating from the TSA Surveying course. This year’s recipient was Jacob Sharples of Site Vision Surveys Ltd.

TSA Vice-President, Nick Hampson said that all graduating students should be commended for meeting the high standards required to pass.

Nick added, ‘’A number of candidates achieved high marks over the last two years but Jacob’s consistent professionalism made him really stand out.’’

Declan Meban from WYG Group was presented with the prize for Best Assignment by Harry Bell, President of the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES).

The Survey School is recognised by industry and employers as the UK’s premier commercial training centre for the education of land surveyors.  TSA Surveying Course 46 starts on 25 September 2017 and Course 47 on 20 November 2017. For full details on these and shorter technical courses on specific topics, see the School’s website. www.surveyschool.org.uk

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SIKA RANGE KEEPS CONCRETE STABLE – WHATEVER THE WEATHER

August 2nd, 2017 No comments

The mini-heatwave that settled upon many parts of the UK in June provided a welcome reminder that hot, sunny weather wasn’t necessarily the preserve of our compatriots across the continent. Sweltering temperatures, however pleasant they might be for camels or ice cream vendors, do not make ideal building conditions, particularly when it comes to concreting.

For concrete to be placed and finished correctly, it needs to remain workable. In hot weather, moisture is drawn from the mixture more quickly, which can lead to it setting too rapidly for the user’s requirements. For instance, a 300mm-thick slab requires two loads of concrete to fill a mould.

Timings are tight, and it’s not unknown for the first load to set before the second load is even delivered – particularly during hot weather. It only takes the second delivery load to be delayed by traffic, for example, for the process to fail. Fresh cement that’s poured onto an already-set and compacted base can lead to cold joints and unevenness.

Fresh loads of cement should knit together to form one homogenous mass. For this to happen – concrete generates its own heat, so climatic conditions are only part of the hydration issue – it helps if the setting process is decelerated. Here’s where the availability of a product range such as Sikatard is such a huge benefit.

Sikatard is an admixture in liquid form developed for the control of cement hydration. It coats the cement particles to prevent infusion and slow the drying-out process. This ensures the concrete mix is stabilised and prevents its setting for hours or even days. Sikatard, which conforms to the requirements of BS EN 934-2 Table 8, can also be used in steel reinforced concrete construction without restriction. Its stabilising properties ensure the distribution of stresses throughout the reinforcement encapsulated in the concrete isn’t compromised.

Sika PilePak is another product proven to eliminate moisture escape from concrete. Its use during cast in situ concrete piling projects eases steel reinforcement fitting. Sika PilePak acts as a thickening agent which helps retain moisture within the concrete’s cement paste. It’s added to the concrete during batching then delivered to site.

Dry or gravel-based ground absorbs water from cement like a sponge, making steel reinforcement insertion incredibly difficult, which could affect the concrete, and ultimately, the infrastructure’s stability. Sika PilePak ensures consistency and workability of the concrete over a prolonged period of time, helping avoid any concrete problems at any one pile position.

With the government announcing a total of 250,000 new homes are needed annually to keep pace with demand, speed is key to developers helping fulfil this requirement without compromise to safety or quality. Thankfully, in Sika PilePak and the Sikatard range, the industry has the products with which to build a stable base to help meet our future housing needs – however hot the weather.

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GALVANIC ANODES OFFER 21st CENTURY SOLUTION TO AGE-OLD CONTAMINATION

July 28th, 2017 No comments

The seaside is known to do wonders for a person’s health, but it does nothing for the long-term wellbeing of buildings. The main cause of deterioration of reinforced concrete structures is the corrosion of embedded steel, particularly when exposed to chlorides found in sea water and airborne salts. This impacts on buildings within marine environments such as jetties, ports and bridges.

Reinforced concrete structures are built to last and can generally expect to have a lifespan of about 50 years. However, in areas of chloride ingress the rate of corrosion increases, as does the need for repairs to maintain the buildings. Without professional treatment, a concrete’s surface can crack and spall.

This is caused by passivating iron oxides, which protect the steel reinforcement, being destroyed by chlorides in air and water. The resulting surface debilitation could potentially weaken the structure and leave it vulnerable to serious deterioration – even collapse. This is particularly pertinent to public infrastructure such as bridges, which could be subject to lengthy and costly repairs funded by already cash-strapped local authorities. In such instances, people’s daily lives might also be severely disrupted.

The same applies to jetties, which serve vital aesthetic and operational purpose for marinas and nearly 100 sea ports across the UK. They also offer frontline sea defence, but bear the brunt of chloride’s invasive effects on account of being situated in tidal zones or splash areas.

 

Sacrificial efficiency

Sika was recently selected to supply a concrete repair and total corrosion management system (TCM) to the underside of a dockside quay that had displayed signs of corrosion due to chloride contamination. Sika® Galvashield® galvanic, sacrificial anodes, which are proven to provide long-term protection to high chloride environments, were installed as part of the refurbishment.

The sacrificial anodes, comprising a zinc core encased in a small, cementitious shell, are installed within repair sites to prevent incipient anodes developing, or outside repaired sites to protect the reinforcement in chloride-infused concrete. Easily fastened to exposed steel reinforcement – or into cored and grouted holes in the concrete outside the repair site – the anode’s zinc core corrodes sacrificially to protect the surrounding rebar and prevent formation of new corrosion sites adjacent to repairs. This sacrificial zinc approach is similar to protecting oil rigs & hulls of ships.

All-in-one solution

As there is no need for an external power source, Sika’s galvanic systems are a popular choice for effective, low maintenance corrosion mitigation. Unlike other manufacturers, Sika provides repair materials and coatings as part of a total corrosion management package, because as well as supplying the anode, we provide repair materials and coatings. Once repairs have been carried out to all parties’ satisfaction, we will guarantee the repair system for up to 20 years – an offer unique to Sika.

Galvanic anodes have revolutionised the treatment of chloride-contaminated concrete. It’s a system that is ingenious in its simplicity and effectiveness; eradicating the need for costly, time-inefficient and energy-consuming shot-blast methods of corrosion removal. The anode system is a smart 21st century solution to an age-old problem. It means our weathered, waterfront buildings can stand protected – ‘the seas shall not have them’.

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Going Digital for the Digital Enterprise

July 27th, 2017 No comments

As engineering firms move toward developing a digital strategy, a new phrase – going digital- will resonate with engineering, architectural, and construction professionals, as well as infrastructure asset owners, is now part of the infrastructure lexicon. Going digital refers to the business transformation being realized as infrastructure professionals take advantage of a connected data environment by leveraging a cloud computing platform that digitally connects and converges people, processes, data, and technology to yield significant benefits.

 

In its broadest sense, going digital means moving data that used to be locked in application-specific files or even paper documents, and making the data inherent in these files and documents available to be consumed and analyzed by other software and processes. Through going digital, 3D digital engineering models created during the planning and design phase can provide the interactive 3D environment for operations and infrastructure asset performance modeling, leveraging cloud computing, predictive analytics, and operational data from the Industrial Internet of Things and other sources. These models can now be referenced throughout the full lifecycle of an infrastructure asset, improving performance, safety, and sustainability.

 

But what about an infrastructure asset that does not have a digital engineering model? Reality modeling, an exciting technology that involves the process of capturing existing facilities and site conditions with the use of digital photographs and/or point-cloud data – enables the rapid creation of 3D, engineering-ready mesh representations of the existing, as-operated conditions. The process is simple: overlapping photographs taken with a camera either handheld or mounted on a UAV are uploaded to a cloud processing service that automatically reconstructs the 3D model for use in engineering applications. Further detail and accuracy can be added to the model through close range photos or point-cloud data from laser scanners.

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BUILDING PLATFORM FOR FUTURE GROWTH WITH WEBCONTRACTOR

July 27th, 2017 No comments

Keeping on top of the paperwork generated by even the most straightforward project-based contract with a given subcontractor can prove an arduous task, with various documents coming in and going out throughout the works requiring actioning. Managing this process in a timely and efficient manner becomes increasingly difficult as the number of ongoing projects and subcontractor contracts increase, something we have first-hand experience of at Osborne.

We utilised the services of more than 1,200 different subcontractors last year – from major businesses working on our behalf on a number of projects right down to small, niche companies working on one-off projects.

As you can imagine, processing payment-related paperwork for each of these subcontractors without error or issue is no easy task. That’s why we’re working with Open ECX to build and implement a bespoke system called WebContractor to increase efficiencies.

At this stage, we’re looking to launch a pilot phase on a small number of projects in the very near future. Following successful completion, we plan on implementing WebContractor across the business on all our projects.

For now, all we can say is what we’re expecting to achieve. There are three main reasons WebContractor stood out for us; compliance, fairness, and forward planning.

 

Compliance

Firstly, we want to make sure we comply with the requirements laid out in the Construction Act. We are looking for a way to ensure we don’t miss any timelines for issuing any paperwork for the various types of contracts we enter into, such as payment and payless notices, for example.

Our current processes are insufficient for our future needs and direction of the business. Through the WebContractor system we will significantly improve our Construction Act compliance, with the system providing early warnings and a fixed process to work through for both our and the subcontractors’ teams.

 

Fairness

We’ve signed up to the Fair Payment Charter as we believe very strongly in providing payment on time for our subcontractors to help them with their cash flows.

WebContractor will help us achieve this and also provide all of our valued subcontractors with much-needed transparency, letting them know where their application for payment is in the process.

 

Forward planning

We expect WebContractor will also provide us with additional administrative capabilities as we will have greater visibility of the payment process throughout the project cycle. From a finance point of view, it will allow us to have a better and real-time understanding of our cash flow forecasting, something that is vital in this industry. Moving forward, we would like to expand this solution further to link in with construction industry services and databases such as Builders’ Profile and Construction Line, helping us to be more streamlined and joined up in our approach and significantly reduce the need for manual intervention.

We will also benefit from having a single and uniform way of storing all paperwork and supporting documentation and information.

 

WebContractor has been developed to provide businesses with time and labour savings, helping them to improve efficiencies and compliance with legislation as well as give them the platform to plan their finances more easily and accurately. As a company with construction and infrastructure contracts creating an annual turnover in excess of £350 million, we’re very excited about the size and scale these benefits can bring us not only on our pilot projects but long into the future.

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