The Royal Institute of Civil Engineers, at One Great George Street, again hosted the Autumn Seminar for the Institute of Demolition Engineers.
The venue hosted a full day of interesting speakers combined with networking opportunities and stands from leaders in the supply of equipment, attachments and services to the industry
Opening a sell-out event, IDE President David Darsey welcomed almost 200 guests to the prestigious venue.
First speaker of the day was Terry Madden, Project Manager for Erith Contractors. Well versed in delivering complicated projects throughout London, Madden spoke about the company’s project to deliver the demolition and enabling works at the new Great Portland Estates development which involved the demolition of multiple buildings adjacent to the new Crossrail Bond Street Eastern Ticket Hall at Hanover Square.
Throughout the works Erith were faced with working hours and crane restrictions along with the usual traffic and access limitations, they were also tasked with having to work above the recently completed Crossrail tunnelling operations whilst still working to tight deadlines. The demolition of twelve structures completed with a façade retention system installed to 8 of the structures due to them being in a conservation area. The scheme was completed to the total satisfaction of all parties involved which included various neighbouring properties under party wall awards and the neighbouring Crossrail.
One of the largest construction projects to be undertaken in recent years will be HS2. Christina Wallace, Senior Project Manager for the development spoke about the opportunities available for demolition contractors to work alongside the construction teams to help deliver this project. Whilst the first three phases have been appointed to main contractor JV’s the initial enabling works and route clearance work will not commence until mid-2018 at the very earliest with Wallace explaining that experienced IDE and NFDC members and companies should be the only ones considered for the projects. With complicated works especially around existing infrastructure such as Euston Station and Birmingham Interchange. The HS2 project is being vaunted with delivering a high level of health and well-being for its workers and is being said to promote innovation and delivery a legacy for the country.
Council Member and former President John Woodward took to the stage to ask “if we had a plan B?” The art of crisis management is not one to be overlooked and according to Woodward, something that is often underestimated when it comes to project planning. Whilst projects are meticulously planned from start to finish, the possibility of things going wrong or accidents happening are never taken into consideration. Woodward spoke about various projects C&D Consultancy had assisted with and how they dealt with the distribution of information to the media. “As facts never get in the way of a good story” Woodward spoke about the necessity to understand how your company needs to react in an emergency, the chain of command for investigating it and the honest and open way in which media enquiries need to be handled. Mike Kehoe then took the stage to divulge a particular project in Liverpool where the company assisted the demolition contractor after a failed blow down and how the emergency procedures put in place helped smooth the process. Kehoe completed his talk by saying that it is vital to have that plan B, but also a plan C, D and E! Before closing their slot, Woodward announced he will be retiring from both IDE Council along with transferring the running of C&D Consultancy over to Mike Kehoe.
Immediate Past President Duncan Rudall was next to the stage to speak about the major project he was involved in with Rye Demolition and their demolition of the Boleyn Stadium, the former home of West Ham United football club. The company had been employed to demolish the stadium for new housing and Rudall spoke about the issues and processes associated with the demolition works. Traffic and road closure issues along with overhanging structures close to neighbouring properties and an adjacent school requiring access through the middle of the site were just some of the issues faced by the team. Whilst the demolition works were relatively straightforward, Rudall spoke about the initial work of stabilising the existing playing surface to give a stable base to work from and the work associated with dismantling the large trusses which were covering three of the four stands. Security issues including the theft of security cameras and working with some of the largest mobile cranes in the UK has led to the project being nominated for the World Demolition Awards.
Paul Hampton from the University of Wolverhampton spoke about the recently commenced Demolition Degree and how the university was delighted to be pioneering this degree and working to give the industry the same recognition as similar trades have.
Dr Terry Quarmby also spoke about the need for personal development in the form of CPD. Without maintaining a record of CPD to prove your competency you cannot prove you regularly seek to find information and knowledge to improve your ability to do your job. Quarmby went on to inform the audience that if they require any information on CPD to ask Maureen at the IDE. Rounding off his session Quarmby announced the latest courses for Demolition Engineers in the shape of a certificate in demolition engineering and a diploma in demolition engineering. With 8 and 12 modules respectively, the courses will be ratified by the University of Wolverhampton.
Paul Sayer from Beroa Bierrum took to the stage to speak about his company’s methodology of demolishing tall chimneys and cooling towers and the requirement to design their own specialist equipment in which to undertake these tasks safely. Both access and demolition issues were talked through along with the development of mechanical and robotic demolition techniques including concept drawings of new technology being developed by the company.
Sarah Fox from 500 Words was next to the stage to talk about the issue of contracts. Commenting that, for the majority of contracts we agree to, we very rarely read past the first sentence before agreeing to abide by it. Whilst there are companies out there trying to buck the trend, the majority of modern day contracts are extremely long and irrelevant. A visual contract is far more readable and understandable and will put people at ease with the form as opposed to a wordy document. With over 20 year’s experience dealing with construction contracts, Fox believes there are two types, carrot or stick and that the easier a contract is to read and understand, the more trustworthy a company or individual is deemed to be.
Rounding off the event was comedian John Ryan from Serious Glee, . The pertinent matter of mental health has been brought to the fore recently and Ryan brought a light hearted yet extremely detailed slant to the subject. Focussing on the need to speak about problems. Stating that social or financial status is not a barrier to suffering with mental health issues, the need for everyone to understand the trigger points and to avoid them as much as possible. “We need to move away from statistics and concentrate on individuals”. Finishing off with some audience participation, Ryan reiterated the fact that in a male dominated industry, we should take heed of the females in our lives and learn to speak to each other about our problems.
President David Darsey closed the day thanking everyone for their attendance.
Author and Photographs courtesy of: Paul Argent, RPA Photography
The content of this article represents the personal views of the author and nothing is to be taken as representing the views, opinions, policy or position of any other persons or organisations mentioned herein or of the Institute of Demolition Engineers.