In a bid to combat ongoing materials shortages, HS2 has established an innovative rebar threading facility at the Copthall tunnel construction site in Hillingdon, thus generating new jobs whilst reducing waste and unnecessary vehicular transportation.
This fresh facility will facilitate the creation of the 92,000 rebar couplers needed to construct the Copthall tunnel. The teams constructing the tunnel have been combating delays from a shortfall of available prefabricated fatigue rated rebar couplers.
The new threading will produce these requirements, as well as producing significant financial savings for the project in an environmentally sustainable and efficient effort. Construction of the 880 metre long cut and cover will see a team of 14 engineers working six days over eight hour shifts throughout a three-year period to meet the supply needs.
This facility was actioned and constructed over a 20-week period, seeing the team receive their CARES certification (assured certification for the constructional steels industry) for the work and securing the required equipment from a Sheffield based partner company. This marks a historic achievement, being only the second time that a CARES certification has been awarded for on-site activity.
The stock rebar that has been purchased is then processed on-site, prior to it then being taken through a four-step threading process before being delivered to the Copthall tunnel construction area.
To remove the need for unnecessary lorry movements, these works will take place in the site boundaries, decarbonising the process and supporting HS2’s Net Zero carbon targets.
The solution was devised by Ray Moloney, Senior Project Manager for SCS JV, who explained the approach, saying:
“Uncertainties in the market and the need to meet the requirements of the HS2 construction programme meant that we had to look at an innovative solution for supplying fatigue rated mechanical reinforcement connections. In mid-2022 we started engaging with partners including Leviat and CARES to develop an on-site processing scheme and within 20 weeks, we were processing our first order.
“The solution has created new jobs, offered new training opportunities for engineers and means that we can remove the risk of any delays in construction due to supply shortages.”
HS2’s Project Client, Malcolm Codling, said:
“We are always looking at ways in which we can improve construction efficiency and are pleased to support our construction partners in developing solutions like this and getting them off the ground. Ray and the team have developed an approach that means we can stay on track, save money, and can be replicated elsewhere.”
This kind of innovation has the opportunity to transform the construction side of rail infrastructure projects, with the model offering a blueprint for other major schemes across the UK. The team is currently observing how they can further improve productivity in the manufacturing process to create additional capacity that can, in turn, support other supply needs for the entire HS2 project.
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