Mace is to apply its jumping factory concept used on high rise buildings to linear infrastructure.
The “rolling factory” concept – still in early development – would apply to the construction and demolition of horizontal linear assets such as roads and railway lines.
Mace transport director Sean Gray told New Civil Engineer that it wants to “take the experience and innovation that we’ve developed through the jumping factory and convert that into an efficient, safe and cost effective solution for our clients and the industry as a whole”.
The jumping factory, a £9M innovation by Mace, was used to build two tower blocks, respectively 30 and 26 storeys high in just 33 weeks. They enclosed the towers in a five-storey tent creating a “factory” style environment. Each floor took around 55 hours to complete.
Developing the rolling factory concept could be easier than that of the jumping factory as it is not as constrained by the challenges of working at height. But there will be other other challenges such as access to adjacent carriageways, properties or track.
The rolling factory is intended to improve efficiency on site, and increase collobaration between contractors and technology providers. The factory is being developed to make work “cleaner” and while enabling smart technology providers to install ducting, telemetry and cabling more quickly.
Demolition of existing assets is also set to get an overhaul with the rolling factory team looking at how at quicker, more streamlined approach can produce less debris.
“How do we break up large areas of pavement carefully, cleanly and safely?” he said. “We are looking at the traditional methods of breaking out excavating, lifting onto lorries, haulage and muck away, [and asking:] can we change that in terms of a more linear approach [and put] all of that equipment in a rolling factory environment with a lorry to take it away at the other end?
“We are looking at cutting slabs so they are in segments that remain intact and then lift out in sections using vacuums, so we can lift them out onto a flat bed truck. it is high volume activity in terms of removal, it’s cleaner, much safer in principle and effective in terms of cost.”
Applying the concept to a project, he said the construction of the East West Railway would “lend itself very neatly” to the rolling factory idea. As an isolated route, work would not be constrained by a nearby active railway line.
“Because this is a closed route, let’s not open it up and create nodes and points of interfaces with the operational components until it’s absolutely necessary and let’s keep it as a closed civils environment.
“That would lend itself very neatly to the rolling factory concept.”
Gray said the new approach was also not all about the “big ticket” items and that benefits could be derived from the smaller, high volume assets.
“It’s getting the repeatability to get the benefit of marginal gains that when done over and again will generate the savings,” he said.
Gray said the concept was developed by looking at things differently and at examing approaches taken by other industries such as the automotive industry.
“We’ve got to look at things differently,” he said. “If we stay with the old then we’re not going to innovate and I think the opportunity to innovate within the normal construction methodology is diminishing.”
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