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Why the Manchester Building Boom Demands Safer Groundworks

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With the news that Manchester-based construction projects have sustained their strong growth for yet another year, the Manchester Building Boom looks set to continue.

But what does this mean for the civil engineers and ground workers battling to keep their projects on track, amidst stringent health and safety requirements and in increasingly built-up areas?

According to the Deloitte 2018 Crane Survey, Manchester experienced a 75% increase in office projects and a leap of 60% in residential development last year. This equates to a total of 32 new projects across numerous sectors including residential, office and retail. Not far behind Manchester, were Birmingham and Leeds who saw an introduction of 24 and 16 major construction projects respectively; representing an unprecedented 156% increase for Leeds and a 75% increase for Birmingham from the previous year.

Renewed investments enjoyed by the Northwest over the last few years are thought to be representative of the current government’s drive to create a Northern Powerhouse, with Manchester at its epicentre.

Speaking to Construction Enquirer in January, Caddick Group Director Johnny Caddick said:

 “Today’s crane survey is a demonstration that the government’s ‘devolution revolution’ is paying dividends, with core cities such as Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Belfast seeing high levels of development across the board, but particularly in residential.

“In order to remain competitive, the regions will have to avoid the same housing pressures that London faces while also offering the same job opportunities, which as today’s figures show, they are more than capable of doing, which will aid student retention rates and in turn, long-term growth prospects.”

While most argue that a greater distribution of wealth across the Uk’s Northern cities is long over-due, contractors may need to tread carefully to ensure that projects stay on track. Heavy development work in congested areas such as city centres can bring numerous challenges to construction projects, not least of which being how to excavate the site safely, efficiently and within schedule.

The heavy cost implications of delaying a project are well known and with service strikes due to human error becoming increasingly common, the UK is experiencing growing demand for safer groundworks on construction sites, starting with more reliable excavation techniques.

Sean Quinn, an MD at Pier UK with decades of civil engineering experience, has set out to educate the market on the importance of safe excavation:

“Due to the volume of buried assets in the ground in City Centres, a lot of sites are now experiencing major diversions before building work has even commenced.

The advantage of using techniques such as Vacuum Excavation is that every buried service is treated with the same care. Drawings and existing service plans don’t show all that lies beneath the surface and with more and more development work taking place in built-up city centres, the chance of stumbling across an unknown and potentially dangerous pipe or cable is an ever-growing threat. As the Manchester Building boom continues, the threat of serious utility strikes will pose an even greater risk.

Damage is more often caused in an area that should be clear from services and can pose a real risk to both the well-being of the on-site team and safe completion of the project. Vacuum Excavation reduces the risk until all services have been identified.”

What is Vacuum Excavation?

7 steps vacuum excavation

Vacuum Excavation (or Suction Excavation as it is also known) is a technique becoming increasingly popular for use in road works and utility line installations. The ground around the buried pipe is excavated using a purpose-built truck with a remote controlled extension arm. This arm is used to suck the ground material up a connecting pipe and into the debris tank, safely exposing the pipework beneath.

Why is it safer?

Vacuum Excavation’s precision, no-dig approach, eliminates almost all risk regarding strikes to the service lines. There are up to 60,000 service strikes every year (Clyde & Co), with an average costing of £7,000 per strike (USAG). Vacuum excavation is not only the safest method but also the smartest and most economically friendly.

Want to know more?

To find out how Vacuum Excavation could provide a safer, faster and more reliable excavation solution for your project, contact us here

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