Loss of skills, a hands off culture and lack of technical in-depth training are some of the biggest risks to success on future grouting projects, claimed Clif Kettle in his 2019 John Mitchell Award lecture last night.
Speaking at the Institution of Civil Engineers, Kettle praised the way technical capabilities in grouting had grown during the course of his career in his lecture “Ground Treatment - 40 years from Black Art to Fully Engineered Solution”.
Kettle told the audience that the advances mean that grouting is “no longer a black art” and the technology available today means “there is no excuse for failure now”.
“Grouting is now a robust and quantifiable process,” he said.
However, Kettle said that he believes the biggest risk to future success is with the skill of engineers and the drive to become generalists as a path to project management rather than become specialists in a particular field. According to Kettle, this is driven by major companies in the UK only rewarding staff when they take a managerial path and the lack of recognition for technical expertise as a career development path.
“We are seeing a lack of succession planning with skills and knowledge lost as people retire or move on from major projects,” he said. “The use of joint ventures means that staff are often away from their core company for years at a time. Also the pressures of time mean that we are failing to record and share experiences to ensure that essential knowledge is not lost.”