The Award for Technical Excellence celebrates a technical development that has helped a company improve its performance or delivery of a project. Entrants were expected to demonstrate innovation to reduce costs, improve efficiency or improve safety; collaboration with clients and partners to develop solution; potential to benefit future project or application delivery; and enabling previously challenging project or concept to be delivered at lower risk.
Aecom and Senceive: Box Tunnel track lowering monitoring work
Remote monitoring specialist and Aecom worked to jointly develop a wireless monitoring system, which could operate without mains power to quickly provide data on the tunnel structure during work to lower the trackbed for electrification work.
The system was formed from Senceive’s Flatmesh system, which the company says gave the system high precision, stable and repeatable real time results throughout the work using the dual axis tilt sensors. The monitoring was essential to the project to lower the trackbed on the 175 year old tunnel which was bored through four different geological strata and two fault zones and was brick lined soon after completion due to instability issues.
Atkins: Engineering geological characterisation and 3D ground modelling for offshore wind farms
Creating a three dimensional ground model for offshore wind farms with sites covering up to 200km2 is a major challenge, especially when information at the concept stage is limited. Atkins has combined its experience in offshore geology and geophysics, engineering geology, and geotechnical engineering to develop a map in GIS to show the 3D spatial variation in ground conditions.
According to Atkins, the engineering terrain unit mapping can serve as a powerful tool for displaying the geological and geotechnical information in a form that is easily accessible to developers, designers and installation contractors alike, allowing a shortlist of favoured foundation options to be made and identification of potential geotechnical, geohazard and construction risks. Atkins has already applied the approach to the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm in the Moray Firth for SSE.
Atkins, Amey and Severn Trent Water: Asset management plan and autonomous tunnel inspection systems
Atkins and Amey worked with Severn Trent Water to develop an inspection system for the water authority’s 75km network of water transfer tunnel, some of which are over 100 years old. The data collected by the autonomous system has been used to help Severn Trent develop and asset management plan, which has resulted in major construction work being undertaken on the Elan Valley Aqueduct.
STW has said that what makes the project unique is that STW, Atkins and Amey worked collaboratively to successfully overcome key challenges including the provision of digital condition data in near real time and for the first time in over 60 years gaining visual inspection data from inside the asset.
Bam Ferrovial Kier JV, Dr Sauer and Partners, Crossrail: Farringdon Crossrail
Crossrail’s Farringdon Station project team aimed to challenge the conventional approach to construction of open face sprayed concrete lined tunnels and delivered a more efficient solution. The team successfully excavated a larger diameter SCL tunnel than previously undertaken without the need for a pilot tunnel, temporary sidewall or temporary invert.
According to the project team, this was a particular challenge given the nature of the ground conditions at Farringdon Crossrail station where work was undertaken in the Lambeth Group.
To ensure the larger diameter tunnel could be delivered without increased risks an optimised geotechnical risk management methodology, entailing a combination of systematic in-tunnel probing, collection of data from face mapping records and populating a constantly updated “live” 3D geological model was developed.
Cementation Skanska: Cem Optics – fibre optic distributed sensing technology
Cementation Skanska developed the Cem Optics system as an alternative to cross-hole sonic logging to assess the integrity of piles and diaphragm wall panels in a bid to improve site safety and the quality of the results achieved. Cementation worked with Cambridge University’s Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction to develop the fibre optic system, which has improved the efficiency of the installation process by over 50% and sped up data acquisition once installed. Use on various projects has shown the approach to be effective on diaphragm wall panels up to 60m deep.
Dr Sauer and Partners, Bam Ferrovial Kier joint venture, British Geological Survey: Use of a 3D geological model as a geotechnical risk management tool at Farringdon for Crossrail
It was recognised that Farringdon Station would require a 3D ground model with high degree of confidence in order to assess the geotechnical risks arising from the water bearing sand lenses and the faulted zones in the Lambeth Beds at the site. The model produced by the British Geological Survey was further developed with data from additional ground investigation and the tunnel excavations during the construction of the station and used to inform the construction process.
Use of the model by Dr Sauer and Partners and further development of the model during construction by data collected by BFK allowed the contractor to significantly reduce probing offering savings to both time and cost.
Fugro: Innovation in wireline cone penetration testing for shallow water site investigation
Fugro developed the combined downhole/top-push wireline CPT system to offer improved knowledge of nearshore ground conditions. The system combines downhole CPT with traditional top push methods to get the best of both techniques using a system suited to collection of high quality data and deployment on small jack-up barges.
The system has already been successfully used on ground investigation work for the Fermernbelt immersed tunnel between Germany and Denmark where 84 boreholes with depths of up to 40m called for CPT testing at 1.5m intervals. Use of the new approach reduced the field work time by almost a third.
United Utilities and Fugro Geoservices: Rapid scanning condition assessment for the Haweswater Aqueduct
The Haweswater Viaduct has transferred water 100km from Cumbria to meet the needs of 2.2M United Utilities customers in Manchester for over 60 years but a survey in 2013 identified a number of defects, including potential for sulphate damage to the concrete from aggressive groundwater.
Investigating the sulphate issue could have been undertaken by coring and lab testing but there was risk of this issue over a 45km length of the tunnel. United Utilities worked collaboratively with Fugro to develop a rapid non-intrusive scanning system based around ground penetrating radar, with integrated camera and non-GPS positioning systems to undertake the survey and deliver £300,000 of savings over using conventional techniques.
University of Exeter: Modelling and control of seawater intrusion
According to University of Exeter, seawater intrusion is a major problem threatening groundwater resources in coastal regions of the world. In the research project presented in this category, the university carried out intensive research into numerical modelling of seawater intrusion considering the effects of sea level rise.
A transient density-dependent finite element model was developed for modelling of seawater intrusion and a new cost-effective method was proposed for effective control and management of seawater intrusion. The efficiency of the method was illustrated by application to a number of hypothetical and real world case studies including the Wadi Ham costal aquifer in the United Arab Emirates. The results show that the proposed method is very effective in controlling seawater intrusion and outperforms the existing methods.