On a sunny day in November 1989, Sweden's leading foundation contractors gathered at the principal hotel in Norrtalje, a small town some 80km north of Stockholm. Their objective was to found a trade association. This was prompted partly following an invitation to join the newly formed European Federation of Foundation Contractors. But independently of this Sweden's foundations contractors had recognised a need to establish an industry focal point for dealings with Swedish authorities and institutions, such as the Swedish Board of Housing, Building & Planning, the Swedish Geotechnical Institute, Swedish National Rail Administration, Swedish National Road Administration and the Swedish Commission on Pile Research.
Thus Palentreprenorfor- eningen was founded on 16 November 1989 with the 10 companies present accepting the rules to be members of the Swedish Federation of Foundation Contractors (SFFC), the international name of the organisation.
The Federation is based in Stockholm with Lars Morast as managing director. The current president is Goran Hamberg of Hercules Grundlaggning. The Swedish Federation is hosting the next EFFC AGM at Stockholm in June.
SFFC presently has 11 members, representing a combined turnover of SEK600M (ECU70M) - almost 100% of the Swedish foundation market.
Maintaining and improving transport links in Europe's fourth largest country is a key issue, and about half of foundation work in Sweden comes from road and rail projects. Other main areas include industrial developments, and non-residential private developments.
House building, which historically has provided a good source of work, has been extremely low for the last five years. And with no signs of recovery in this area - despite 1998 being an election year - there is little anticipation of growth in the foundation market for the immediate and medium term.
Most Swedish contractors operate on a national level and some are also active in other Nordic countries and around the Baltic Sea. Work is also carried out further afield, particularly in the US, generally in collaboration with the internationally oriented Swedish main contractors.
Current major projects in Sweden include the resund tunnel and bridge connection with Denmark, the Sunningesunds Bridge in the archipelago north of Gothenburg, the Arlanda Link (a BOT-project with railway connection between Stockholm and Arlanda Airport), an European expressway between Arboga and Orebro. Work is just about to start on the South Link in Stockholm, which will form part of a major system for traffic travelling through the capital.
The main capabilities of Swedish foundation contractors are driven precast concrete piles (which accounts for more than 50% of work) followed by lime cement columns, sheet piles and driven steel piles. Lesser used techniques include drilled tubular steel piles, CFA-piles, anchors, soil nails, underpinning, slurry walls and grouting.
Methods and machines developed for lime cement columns is a particular area of specialisation in Sweden, and it seams likely that this technology may become a significant export product.
Lars Morast, SFFC