Women managers: our favourite pieces of kit
Construction Manager has previously asked site managers to nominate a favourite or innovative piece of kit, and this time we asked the women. Stephen Cousins spoke to eight female professionals about the plant and machinery that has most improved their life on site.
Hana Hassan, project surveyor, Willmott Dixon
Willmott Dixon has been using a BioSITE biometric access control system, which takes fingerprint technology beyond simply controlling who can enter and leave a site. The system gives each registered operative a unique ID and holds information on “toolbox talks” they have attended; Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) registration details (it prevents entry if the CSCS card has expired); training records; accident records; offences on site; medical history; next of kin; and other information.
It is useful to me as a surveyor to obtain accurate site records of personnel to assist with monthly valuations/payment or dispute resolution.
It is also possible to obtain information for BREEAM and framework KPIs (key performance indicators). For example, one KPI is to have a certain number of apprentices on site. Apprentices are identified when setting up the BioSITE ID, so it is simple to run off a report.
The same goes for number of people aged 15 to 17 on site, for example. The system is cloud based to enable company-wide data sharing and managers can log on remotely to obtain information off site.
Claire Sutton, assistant site manager, BAM
On my last project, the £26m redevelopment of Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena (formerly the National Indoor Arena Birmingham, below), we used a Brokk remote-controlled demolition robot to break out a reinforced concrete floor slab to create a new structural opening for stairs. The machine runs on caterpillar tracks and has an excavator arm fitted with a hydraulic hammer.
I thought it was brilliant, as it meant the operative using the remote control could stand behind a barrier in a safe zone away from the potentially unstable floor, which was a massive improvement for safety. In addition, it cut out the need for hand-held breaking equipment and associated safety concerns around hand arm vibration (HAVS).
It was a lot faster than using hand-held equipment, which forces us to swap operatives around frequently to reduce HAVS risks, and took just a week to cover a huge area. The only negative was the noise and we had to install acoustic barriers on surrounding hoardings, but these were much more effective at reducing decibel levels than we anticipated.
Lucynda Jensen, project manager, Morgan Sindall
Colleagues put me on to this innovative “hollow drill bit” technology, from Hilti, which I’m hoping to use on my current scheme, Dixon House at 72-75 Fenchurch Street, a commercial development in the City of London, when it starts on site.
TE-CD/TE-YD drill bits are as strong as conventional drill bits but they have a hole running through the centre, similar to a drinking straw. When connected to a suction-based dust removal system, virtually all dust is removed as the hole is drilled.
This is ideal for Dixon House, where we will be installing numerous drill fixings connecting new structure to the existing concrete slabs. If we don’t use this technology, more emphasis will have to be put on the use of respirators and higher-grade dust masks for operatives, increasing costs and health and safety considerations.
Dust extraction is normally related to the carpentry packages – for example, bench saws are often fixed to a dust extraction machine, but hand-held drills need to be mobile and this, as far as I’m aware, is the only piece of kit that will do it.
Leanna Fry MCIOB, site manager, BAM
We’ve been using a remote-controlled Saez TL55 tower crane, mainly for concrete frame erection, on the new Stratford School Academy secondary school in east London. Positioning the crane driver on the deck, rather than inside the crane cab, reduces the risk of falls. In addition, there is no need to climb the mast and the process of starting up the crane each day is quicker.
Furthermore, it removes the need for a “buddy” system, the driver has better vision of the sizes of loads being lifted, and there is better communication and teamwork between the lifting team.
It also improves the occupational health of crane driver, who has a more physical role.
Jackie Abi-Khalil, site manager, BAM
We’re using a Powerclad acoustic sheeting system to help minimise construction noise while building the new £30m Metropolitan Police headquarters – a refurbishment of the Curtis Green Building on London’s Victoria Embankment.
The project is located in the “government zone”, next to the Ministry of Defence, the Department of Health and the Houses of Parliament, and has a planning restriction to limit noise at the site boundaries.
Powerclad features a sound-absorbing foam, pre-laminated to scaffold sheeting for temporary weather protection, designed to provide both thermal insulation and sound absorption.
The product was laid across the entire elevation facing the parliamentary estate and proved very effective, particularly after we mobilised a noisy demolition robot as part of the works.
Nazma Uddin ICIOB, consultant, Rise Management Consulting
We’ve been using the SafeTime scaffolding inspection device during construction of a children’s theme park in Westfield shopping centre, west London.
The gadget makes it simpler for sites to comply with their legal requirement to record weekly scaffolding inspections.
The monitoring device is attached to the temporary structure (several have been installed across the project) providing a visual display of the load path and the number of days remaining until the next inspection.
It connects to an app installed on an Android smartphone or tablet, where the inspector fills out simple safety check lists then uploads the information remotely to secure online servers.
The inspection data, including the specific time and date and the name of the inspector, is stored in “the cloud” to ensure that anyone that needs access to the information can see it in real time and there is a full online audit trail for company records.
The company also requires scaffolding inspectors to provide evidence of their qualifications before they are permitted to use the device and software. We’re now planning to use the system when construction managing the Bow Street luxury hotel and Royal Opera House (above) refurbishment projects.
Karen Woods, project manager for waterways, Kier
I was intrigued to read about a new type of underwater digging machine, nicknamed the Mermaid – a small 4 tonne excavator on caterpillar tracks with the cabin and engine removed and remote controls added so it can work at depths of more than 25 metres.
We carry out investigation and repair work on rivers and canals. This requires divers to go in and clear tonnes of sludge and silt to allow them to access to the walls and bed of waterways, which is time-consuming and costly.
This machine, developed in house by Osborne Construction and piling contractor Suttle Projects, speeds up the process, providing an immediately deployable solution to scour and clear, while also removing health and safety risks associated with long periods of work underwater. We’re looking for opportunities to deploy a similar system at Kier.
Lianne Lawson, senior site manager, Interserve Construction
Combisafe’s Alsipercha fall arrest system has helped us shave a month off the programme building the University of Sheffield’s £43m Factory 2050 research facility.
The system comprises a “hangman”-style 3.5 metre high metal frame that can pivot freely around an anchor point cast into the head of a concrete column (on our site the columns formed part of a retaining wall structure for a 5 metre-deep basement).
It was used to prevent operatives who were building a suspended slab above the basement from falling through and hitting the floor.
It was more cost effective than the more common method of constructing a temporary crash deck across entire basement, and saved us about a month on the programme. In addition, it has a 6.5 metre working radius, which provides a good level of coverage.