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World First Is SMART Move By Lancashire Construction-Sector Firm

The TM 12/15 LR installation rig commissioned by Sheet Piling UK Ltd

A Lancashire-based steel sheet-piling contractor is about to revolutionise Britain’s SMART motorway construction environments, having commissioned the world’s first long-reach telescopic leader rig, due to enter service very soon.

The TM 12/15 LR state-of-the-art vibratory installation rig has been specifically commissioned by Preston-based Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd, as an innovative solution to the issues involved in widening existing earthworks.

As the UK’s leading steel sheet-piling contractors, Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd has thought through an issue and created a rig that is unique. The TM 12/15 LR has an 8.1-metre maximum horizontal reach, measured from the centre of its cab’s body to the pile-driving position – a full 3 metres further than any other worldwide rig.

Operating with a rig with this extended reach provides distinct advantages. Currently, the widening phase of SMART motorway upgrades typically requires two weeks of enabling works and platform construction, so as to support a rig with the standard five-metre reach. With the new TM 12/15 LR, no such preparation works are required, as the 8-metre-reach rig can stand on the existing carriageway and drive the piles where required.

This dramatically speeds up a widening project and also reduces overall cost. Predicted savings are between £40,000 and £60,000 on a project within which a typical 100-metre sheet-pile wall is being installed.

This world first has been built by German-based ABI Group, to a brief supplied by Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd, whose director, Andrew Cotton, has recently inspected the innovative rig at ABI’s headquarters in Bavaria, prior to taking delivery of it.

Despite the reach capacity of the rig being greatly enhanced, the innovation has not been achieved by making any compromise when it comes to other capacities. The long-reach telescopic leader rig’s vertical reach is 3.9 metres and it offers a maximum driven or extracted pile length of 16 metres.

The rig also has a powerful MRZV 20VV vibratory hammer and MDBA 4000 auger attachment, plus a Euro Stage IV emission engine. It provides the contractor with an extraction force of 175kN and a crowd force of 100kN. The weight of the extended arm is balanced by an additional 3-ton counterweight, whilst a heavy-duty hydraulically extendable undercarriage has a 4.2-metre overall track width, which reduces ground-bearing pressures.

Sheet Piling UK’s Andrew Cotton says: “The long-reach telescopic leader rig (TM 12/15 LR) was specifically commissioned to address the current problems that infrastructure widening schemes face, which is why it is such a godsend for contractors working on SMART motorway, rail, or other infrastructure-widening projects.

“We used SPUK’s 20 years of expertise in the construction sector to analyse the problem and then develop a solution. We shall be proud to introduce this huge innovation to the UK and enjoy the exclusivity that we have with the concept design until the end of 2019. Over the next 16 months, we shall be further reinforcing our positioning as the UK’s number one sheet-piling contractor.”

With key deliverables being more assured through utilising the long-reach rig, and due to the attractive cost-savings attached, Sheet Piling UK has already gained the attention of both contractors and Highways England. However, there are other benefits. Reduced site-traffic flow in and around the embankment-widening zone enhances on-site health and safety, with fewer vehicles having to be deployed in already congested areas. This, in turn, helps reduce pressures on traffic flow on main motorway carriageways, with drivers not having to slow down as much to accommodate the entry and exit of contractor vehicles from the site.

Additionally, with much-reduced vegetation clearance on embankments being required, habitat and tree-loss is minimised, delivering environmental benefits, as well as operational ones.

Andrew Cotton says: “We believe this to be the most innovative development within the construction sector in the last 30 years and believe we can change the face of UK infrastructure projects with this new methodology. We have invested heavily in this innovation but believe our faith will be truly vindicated. It ticks every box a contractor could wish for and it is set to revolutionise the SMART motorway programme over the next 8 years.”