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Innovation awards

Events Civils 2004 27-29 April NEC Birmingham

Four years ago NCE launched its first ever Civils award for innovation. Dave Parker reports on what happened to the four products that made the shortlist.

In a bid to focus attention on products and systems that could have real benefits for civil engineering and to draw attention to the importance of research and development, NCE introduced its innovation awards scheme for exhibitors at Civils 2000.

This hope was certainly realised for one shortlisted exhibitor, as concrete repair specialist Fosroc marketing manager Steve Jolliffe said at the time: 'Visitors to the stand were very aware of our new product Galvashield XP as a result of the shortlisting, and we picked up some very high quality leads.'

XP was the first in what is now a range of novel alternatives to conventional cathodic protection of existing concrete structures. Since Civils 2000, Fosroc has sold nearly 500,000 units worldwide - more than 20% in the UK.

Piling specialist Roger Bullivant's Quiet Hammer may have failed to pick up the award, but the company is more than satisfied with its success over the last four years. 'Environmental demands on piling contractors appear to increase daily - rightly so, in our opinion - and not just on city centre sites, ' reports group sales director John Patch.

'The same demands relate to rural sites, where background noise is far less.'

Since its launch, Quiet Hammer has been fitted to all newly built Bullivant driven piling rigs, and more rigs are under construction to meet increased demand.

Consultant FaberMaunsell was shortlisted for a particularly innovative use of carbon fibre plate bonding, the strengthening of the historic cast iron Tickford Bridge. Such opportunities are few and far between, but FaberMaunsell's expertise in this field was subsequently recognised by CIRIA when the research organisation commissioned the consultant to produce the seminal report Strengthening metallic structures using externally bonded fibre reinforced polymers.

Civils award winner Elliot Europe went on to claim the supreme Interbuild Award as well - a major achievement for such a small company. Its patented technique for swift, vibration free removal of excessive concrete from overheight piles and diaphragm walls has been further developed since Civils 2000, and demand has quadrupled. Prestige projects like the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and T5 have all used the Elliot technique. In Hong Kong, cast insitu piles 3m in diameter have been trimmed.

Managing director Bob Merritt says the biggest aid to market penetration is forthcoming European legislation on vibration, which will significantly restrict the use of hand-held concrete breakers. 'We stress the commercial benefits of our method, but the construction industry is slow to change.

'It seems the stick of health and safety legislation is more effective than the carrot of financial savings - perhaps that's just human nature, ' adds Merritt.

If you are proud of a new product or system your company has developed, you should be entering this year's innovation awards.

Contact Russell Kenrick on (020) 7505 6882 or russell. kenrick@emap. com

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