Efforts to further raise professional standards in diamond drilling and sawing are being introduced.
Members of the Drilling and Sawing Association have until the end of the year to exchange their operatives' registration cards in favour of the Construction Skills Certification Scheme.
To meet the 31 December deadline firms must ensure their operatives pass a relevant health and safety test and must pay a nominal fee for each operative.
This will see their employees accredited to the CSCS certification scheme for five years.
Companies failing to meet the deadline will have to enrol employees on National or Scottish Vocational Qualification courses to get them registered.
The CSCS programme recognises an individual's level of skill and competence and looks to raise standards of health and safety in the sector and encourage construction employers to use skilled workers (NCE 10 October).
The scheme was introduced to the drilling and sawing sector in autumn 2001, with DSA members initially allowed registration without completing NVQ or SVQ training.
Uptake has been favourable, but not everyone is particularly happy that the DSA's established competence scheme has been overshadowed.
Peter White is the managing director of specialist contractor D-Drill. He says: 'Our association already has a good training scheme which has been in place for around eight years. It looks very closely at safety and helps to increase operatives' skills.
'Training is often updated as new techniques and technologies are introduced and the DSA scheme has been adopted by drilling and sawing associations across Europe. Many overseas associations we work with were surprised our training scheme is being superseded.'
Mark Wilson of tool manufacturer Asahi Diamond Industrial UK says that adequate operator training is very important for the sector. 'Training is a contentious issue. Certain diamond drilling and sawing jobs require a great degree of skill as the machinery can be quite complicated to operate properly, ' he says.
Hugh Wylde of the DSA says the sector remains comparatively active because of a reasonable amount of refurbishment and reconstruction work going on which involves the latest drilling and sawing techniques.
'Diamond drilling and sawing are not new techniques, they have been around for many years, but many contractors and professional advisors are not fully aware of what you can do with the equipment.'
A major benefit of using diamond drilling and sawing equipment is its eradication of exposure to the causes of hand arm vibration (HAV), says Wylde. HAV is an often painful industrial disease caused by chronic exposure to heavy vibrations.
'An operative using a diamond drill is not subjected to harmful vibrations and the equipment gives a greater degree of cut accuracy, less noise and dust.'
Andy Wedge, business development manager of specialist contractor Robor Group, adds: 'Use of our equipment eliminates risk of developing HAV.'
He says that radio or remote controlled cutting devices have become very popular as they can carry out controlled demolition more safely. 'In many ways remotely controlled equipment is more efficient, because these machines can serve many different roles and are often very compact so they can work in restricted areas, ' he says.
Removal of cement mortar between bricks, blocks and paving slabs has been made easy with the launch of the Easy Raker by Brighton based product manufacturer Prema Diamond Tools.
The Easy Raker is an 8mm diameter diamond plated tool which screws onto the shaft of most hand held angle grinders and removes mortar without damage to the bricks or blocks.
The standard tool is 25mm long and a 125mm Long Series tool can be used to remove a whole brick, making the device ideal for replacing air bricks, cavity inspection of corroded wall ties and to assist with the replacement of damp proof membranes.
A guide plate can be attached to the angle grinder to set the depth of cut to ensure accurate and neat removal of the mortar. The device can also double up as a dust extraction unit when a suitable vacuum extractor is added.
Diamond blade specialist Partner Dimas has teamed up with a leading concrete flooring manufacturer to develop a range of high performance blades.
The flooring manufacturer was looking for increased performance of the cutting of pre-stressed concrete floor slabs, often for replacing traditional wooden or steel-beam flooring.
Partner Dimas developed and produced a special highperformance 900mm diameter diamond blade with increased cutting performance and durability.
Up to three saws running in parallel on rail systems had to be capable of continuous cutting of a variety of lengths, sizes and angles to suit manufacturers' specifications.
Dimas initiated comparison tests and manufactured highperformance blades for on site trials. The flooring manufacturer now fits the Dimas blades to deliver optimum life and excellent speed of cut, realising significant cost reductions. A fleet of Partner K950 Active Power Cutters with Dimas 16in Diamond Blades are used for on-site trimming and finishing.
Five airports in southern England have had refurbishment or improvement works carried out this year by Concrete Cutters (Sarum) using diamond drilling and sawing equipment.
The firm installed temporary edge lighting and carried out associated duct chasing and angle drilling on one of Heathrow's runways. These enabling works were carried out before summer resurfacing and relighting.
Cutters undertook drilling and sawing works at London City Airport as part of a contract to extend the western apron and opened up concrete pavement joints before sealing at Manston in Kent.
The contractor also carried out works at Farnborough in preparation for the annual summer air show and replaced fittings at Bournemouth International to allow resurfacing to take place.
A diamond tipped chainsaw was used to great effect earlier this year to help relocate a historic structure away from main line tracks at St Pancras Railway Station in central London.
The 130 year old listed Victorian water tower was removed with the use of a powerful ICS 853 chainsaw supplied by Nimbus Diamond Tools and taken to a site 700m to the north east. The tower had to be moved because it stood in the way of development of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.
The diamond chainsaw was deemed to offer the best prospect of cutting the historic structure cost effectively without damaging its fine faced red brickwork.
The 9m high brick built tower was sliced into three sections by specialist subcontractor WR Contracts, before lifting specialist Abbey Pynford moved each piece of around 350 tonnes to the new location (NCE 29 November 2001).
Mounted on tracks, the hydraulic chainsaw made a succession of 75mm deep cuts to penetrate the structure's 500mm thick, double skinned walls. Each cut was made in increments of between 1.5m and 2m to allow operatives to insert steel plate spacers into the bedding joints as the saw progressed.