The most expensive and programme intensive part of the planned UK rail network improvements is that for the OLE infrastructure upgrades. Most of this work, from the ground engineering perspective, takes place during night-time possessions and therefore poses unique challenges on completing these works safely, within programme and to budget.
Van Elle has the experience and the latest, most powerful RRVs and attachments for installing 610 & 762mmØ steel, augered and drilled piles quicker and more accurately than any other contractor, however, the traditional cast insitu bases require a significant amount of readymix concrete, steel, can and can take weeks to reach strength. Any programme advantage previously gained through efficient operations is therefore swiftly lost.
The existing generic foundation designs vary greatly from 2m(L) x 2m(W) x 1m(D) to the largest at 5m(L) x 2m(W) x 1.5m(D). These require a great deal of ground preparation, planning and expense prior to delivery of the large volumes of readymix concrete. Once poured, a curing period of at least 28 days is essential before the stanchions can be installed requiring further possessions, more contractors and significant expense. Getting wet concrete to remote rail locations at night also presents its own challenges including having to pay for the plant to stay open out-of-hours, the need for specialist plant to transport the concrete to the work site, making sure the steel is available and placed prior to the pour and due to the volumes required, catering for multiple trips to the plant, taking up valuable possession time and slowing the overall process. Uniform curing of concrete is also a significant factor both in direct sunlight and freezing winter conditions. This can weaken the finished product, reduce the quality, longevity and in some cases, make it unfit for purpose.
Reductions in materials, cost and programme could be realised simply by designing each base bespoke to its location, however, this would be unrealistic and we saw a much greater opportunity here to significantly magnify the benefits and savings of such a system.
The resulting solution, Smartbase®, uses post-tensioned technology to connect precast sections to form a one-size-fits-all foundation suitable for locations across the network. With 10s of 1000s of OLE bases to install in CP5, CP6 and beyond, Smartbase® has the potential to significantly reduce programme and save many millions of pounds for the client.
Smartbase® is manufactured in gravity-fed reinforced steel shutters in a modern, purpose-built precast factory. Our state-of-the-art batching plant ensures a consistent mix design tested for its suitability for the Smartbase® product guaranteeing strength, a quality, aesthetic finish and repetitive engineered tolerances. Our large, indoor heated curing area, is ideal for all weather conditions preventing the possibility of uneven hardening due to excess direct sunlight or weak concrete due to the crystallisation of water molecules in winter, again, an advantage of precast over insitu.
Advantages of Smartbase®:
For more information, please view our Smartbase® Design Document