The Issues Faced
“For this project we have applied lean principles to examine how we can improve the whole installation process of access chambers. By manufacturing the access chamber slab in a factory, we have removed most of the on site installation processes.” Russel Patterson, MWay Communications Managing Director.
Traditionally the installation of an access chamber would involve a number of steps. First the installers would need to excavate and install the chamber. Then the chamber cover and frame would need to dismantled, reassembled and levelled on top of the chamber.
The surround would then need shuttering and preparing ready for a concrete delivery. This concrete would then need deploying either directly from the vehicle or by hand, be floated off to the required finish and protected from the weather until it is cured. Finally the protection and shutters would be removed and the earthworks completed.
Supply chain collaboration between MWay Communications, Saint-Gobain PAM UK and Stanton Bonna has led to an access cover installation solution that reduces time on site by 50 percent, improves site safety and ensures factory controlled quality standards are met for reduced future maintenance. The development of a precast concrete motorway communications chamber slab was the brainchild of MWay Communications managing director Russell Patterson. The solution was realised by a joint venture between Saint-Gobain PAM UK and Stanton Bonna to precast the access chamber cover slab off site.
In contrast by removing most of these processes to the Stanton Bonna factory, the on site installation is reduced to two steps: excavation and installation of the chamber before installing the precast hard standing and completing the earthworks. The installation can also continue in virtually all weather conditions.
Says Paul Thompson, marketing manager for Saint-Gobain PAM UK: “Ensuring that access covers are installed correctly for a long life with minimal maintenance is always a challenge for the supply chain. To achieve this we have always made sure that we train installers properly.
“Saving onsite installation time improves efficiency and frees up resources for other tasks. By reducing manual handling and movement of vehicles and people on site, the solution also improves safety.”
The patent pending solution combines high quality steel reinforced precast concrete with Saint Gobain PAMs high performance ductile iron Opt-Emax access covers and Warrior surface boxes.
Two solutions have initially been developed an A type chamber cover slab and a smaller B type chamber cover slab. Both have cast in lifting anchors to aid safe offloading and installation. Originally developed for an ongoing project on the M60, the solution has also been proposed for a number of other major highways projects.
Once installed the Opt-Emax access cover is ergonomically designed for frequent maintenance and inspection of below ground assets. The cover sections are individually hinged to reduce lifting effort , it has a skid resistant design and security is provided using Saint-Gobain PAM’s patented T-LOK system, which is third party verified and certified by the BRE in accordance with LPCB LPS 1175 Issue 7 SR3.
Says Neil O’Sullivan, business development manager for Stanton Bonna “This solution truly revolutionises the way that access chambers are installed. It reduces installation time and risk on site and used a factory quality controlled solution to reduce asset maintenance costs for the long term.
“It is an excellent demonstration of exactly what can happen when collaboration occurs right down the supply chain for the benefit of all.”