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“Sweet spot” for geotechnical innovation being missed


Advances in geotechnics are being held back through projects missing the key point of opportunity to apply innovative ideas, according to Arup associate Mike Devriendt.

Speaking at the Ground Engineering Infrastructure Summit workshop yesterday, Devriendt said that there is a “sweet spot” when innovation can be brought to the table and this is often being missed for geotechnics.

According to Devriendt, sometimes the programme for the ground engineering work does not allow time for consideration a derogation from the conventional approach but he added that there was also a cost issue. “Often the financial focus is too much on the capex, which would suggest that an idea is too expensive, but if the opex is prioritised then more innovations could be considered viable and applied,” he said.

Devriendt pointed to a number of concepts that were put forward during the development of Crossrail, including the use of ground source heat pumps within tunnel segment linings. He said that these innovations failed to make it into practice because they were considered too late or just in terms of the construction costs.

Devriendt said that he believes future projects have learned from these missed opportunities. “Derogation processes need to be more agile to prevent them from halting innovation,” he added.

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