Mammoet successfully lifts Wellsburg Bridge in West Virginia
Bridging the gap for multiple first-time achievements all in a single bridge move

Mammoet and Flatiron Construction are proud to have successfully completed the main span float and lift of the Wellsburg Bridge which connects Wellsburg, West Virginia and Brilliant, Ohio. History was made on the Ohio River during the Wellsburg Bridge project as floating a bridge had never been done before in West Virginia.

In addition, it is the heaviest floating bridge lift ever executed in the USA. Upon completion, the tied-arch bridge will significantly reduce travel time between the two communities, aiding in improved local commerce.

Mammoet’s proposed technical solution utilized its Mega Jack system to jack-up and install the Wellsburg Bridge, weighing 3,870t (8540 kips or 8.5 million lbs.). The overall length of the bridge spanned more than 252 meters (830 ft.) the length of more than two American Football fields.

Mammoet was the chosen contractor based on its expertise and experience jacking and floating bridges. Mammoet’s Mega Jack solution provided the least disturbance for ships on the river as the work could be completed in a maximum of two days. An alternative strand jacking method would have the bridge hanging on strand jacks for at least two weeks.

Flatiron Construction opted for using Mega Jacks due to increased efficiency, reduced disturbance, and a more controlled method which offered a higher level of safety. This was the first time the Mega Jack 5200 system was used on a barge, and the first time the system of this type and capacity was used in the USA.


Mammoet mobilized eight Mega Jack 5200 towers and eight 500-ton strand jacks and installed the equipment onto four prepared barges in New Orleans, Louisiana, and began function testing of the system. Flatiron Construction floated the barges to Wellsburg, West Virginia where Mammoet then took over the load of the bridge on its Mega Jack system.

Mammoet jacked-up the bridge with a total of six jacking beam layers and their client executed the float in operation. Once positioned next to the bridge piers, Mammoet jacked up the bridge again in order for the bridge to be floated between the piers and over the bridge bearings and the approach girder.

Mammoet’s tool kit consisted of a total of 18 jacking beam layers to cover all possible water levels during execution. In the end, the load was jacked up a total of 15 jacking beam layers on six towers and 16 jacking beam layers on the other two towers to account for variances in the interface beams which were provided by others.

Next, the jack-down operation began to precisely position the bridge on its bearings and to allow the barges to be floated away. Mammoet’s technical solution provided advantages, such as allowing the bridge to be built at ground level and allowing it to be safely jacked-up while loaded on the barge – bringing the bridge to the elevation required for installation. Therefore, all jacking works could be executed at a lower level and reduce working at height.

Forecasted windy weather conditions prompted a decision to expedite the schedule and complete the full float in and jacking operation in one day instead of two as originally scheduled. With safety as highest priority, Mammoet skillfully executed the scope of work ahead of schedule in one day without incident. Mammoet used its global engineering resources and the world’s largest heavy lift equipment fleet to make sure it could deliver the right expertise, in the right place, at the right time.


Mammoet helps clients with Smarter, Safer and Stronger solutions to any heavy lifting or transport challenge. We aim to develop long term relationships in order to understand their businesses and challenges best, so we can realize the most efficient and cost-effective approaches. We have a unique global network and an unparalleled fleet of equipment. Through deep and longstanding engineering expertise and the highest quality and safety standards in execution we bring an intelligent and flexible approach to projects across a wide breadth of industry sectors. Clients trust us to help them achieve feats that were once considered impossible, and we have often broken records in doing so. For more information, visit

Sarah Kostense-Winterton, Executive Director | Mineral Wool Insulation Manufacturers Association

British homeowners hold the key to decarbonising our homes. We must motivate them to take action now.

“It is fact that homes and buildings in the UK account for over 22% of carbon emissions. Homeowners comprise the largest housing tenure at around 64% of the UK’s 28 million households and therefore the largest potential market for financing home decarbonisation. This sector is crying out for significant new investment from the Government and the scale of this investment will determine whether we eventually cross the Net Zero finish line or not.”

Supporting a Sustainable Supply Chain

Firstly, there are no silver bullets. However, it is clear that a long-term policy and investment approach is needed to provide certainty for industry. Only such an approach will provide businesses with the confidence to make substantial, sustained investments in skills and supply chains, driving innovation and lowering the costs of technologies and installations in key markets.

In this context, Government should consider the full suite of financial support, incentives and levers to trigger behavioural change and give homeowners the full support they need to upgrade their homes and get the UK on track for 2030 carbon targets and beyond. While support has been pledged for fuel poor and low-income households, many homes will slip through the net. Millions of households are classed as “able to pay”, but the reality is that many are not in a position to afford deep home retrofits, nor incentivised to do so.

Levelling Up and Job Creation

The most recent English Housing Survey found that 33% of homeowners have no savings and those with the lowest levels of savings and wealth – and least energy efficient homes – live disproportionately in the North of England and the Midlands. These are the regions which most benefit from grant funding, supporting the levelling-up agenda. Overall, an energy efficiency investment programme to 2030 can create 190,000 jobs nationally, drive billions of pounds of private investment, and deliver energy bill savings worth £7.5 billion.

Policy and Funding Gap

The abrupt closure of the Green Homes Grant, has left a gaping funding and policy void in the so called ‘able-to-pay’ market, and there is now a clear need for support including well-known structural incentives, such as Green Stamp Duty and 0% VAT for green home retrofits.

As shown in the UKGBC’s new report “A housing market catalyst to drive carbon emission reductions Low energy adjustment to Stamp Duty Land Tax even a modest adjustment to Stamp Duty Land Tax would build a thriving retrofit market, supporting green jobs, boosting household spending and bringing down fuel bills. Embedding building energy performance into the homebuying decision-making process, it could catalyse and drive the market to deliver both energy efficiency improvements and low carbon heat and power. The policy has the potential to be both revenue neutral and drive demand for energy efficiency and low-carbon heating measures, improving Energy Performance Certificate ratings as a result.

it will not be possible for the Government to meet its long-term net zero target without substantially scaling action and investment for British homeowners

Government’s Next Steps

The forthcoming Heat and Buildings Strategy provides the policy opportunity and must set out the Government’s vision and roadmap for the UK to rapidly decarbonise homes across the country, through new targets, regulation and strategies for each tenure. To achieve widespread uptake of low carbon heating technologies and energy efficiency measures combined, financial institutions, the construction industry, local government, owner-occupiers, landlords and tenants must be motivated to take coordinated action.

The 2021 Spending Review and Budget provides the funding opportunity to get us back on track. Treasury must back a long-term package that spurs action and investment from homeowners – many of whom will not have the disposal income or savings to pay for the upgrades their homes need. Also, as new regulations are expected to come into place, such as a phase out of fossil gas boilers and minimum energy efficiency standards for owner-occupier homes, it is vital that there is support in place for all households through this transition.

Major Benefits

Finally, an energy efficiency infrastructure investment programme to 2030 would deliver major benefits across Britain, boosting productivity and supporting the levelling-up agenda. A sustained drive to boost home energy efficiency can reduce household energy expenditure by £7.5 billion per year, support hundreds of thousands of jobs across a range of trades, and reduce pressure on the NHS created by fuel poverty and cold, unhealthy homes – potentially preventing 10,000 excess winter deaths every year and saving the NHS £1.4 to £2 billion annually.

A public investment, fiscal and financial package to 2030 will unlock billions in existing capital and private investment, supported by innovation and the growth of new markets for green financial products and services. Few infrastructure projects can do so much for economic growth: with £2 put back in economy for every £1 spent on a national retrofit strategy.

However, one thing we are sure of right now – at present, policies and investment plans fall far short of what is needed to decarbonise homes to the levels required by carbon budgets and the Government’s own energy performance targets. As stressed by the Climate Change Committee, it will not be possible for the Government to meet its long-term net zero target without substantially scaling action and investment for British homeowners.

Sarah Kostense-Winterton is Executive Director at the Mineral Wool Insulation Manufacturers Association (MIMA) the UK’s industry trade body

for non-combustible, breathable glass and stone wool insulation, representing the leading mineral wool insulation companies in the UK.

She is also Co-Founder and Chairman of the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group (EEIG) – a broad-based coalition of over 25 industry groups,

NGOs, charities and businesses asking for rapid improvement in energy efficiency policy for UK homes and buildings. 


Scotland’s push to become a net-zero country within the next few decades is an ambitious target that requires some ambitious thinking – and that is what one Scottish college is looking to provide.

Borders College is already working to provide building companies, small businesses and individuals in communities the skills they need to help transform their homes, shops and offices so they are no longer adding to the climate crisis, but helping to prevent it.

The Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019, sets targets to reduce Scotland s emissions of all greenhouse gases to net-zero by 2045 at the latest, with interim targets for reductions of at least 56% by 2020, 75% by 2030, 90% by 2040.

Meeting those targets will require a major shift in the way homes are built and the way heating and power are provided – and these are the reas that Borders College is helping to provide expert training.

The Borders College Renewable and Energy Efficiency Training Centre was officially launched recently, one of six new training centres created around Scotland to ensure developers and students could learn the latest skills to create energy efficient net zero homes.

The training centres have been supported by ESP and funded by SP Energy Networks’ £20 million Green Economy Fund, which supports the delivery of the Scottish Government’s ambitious plans to meet climate change targets, boost local economic growth, improve air quality across the country and deliver a better future, quicker for local communities.

On site they have an eco-room, showcasing the kind of net-zero technology that will become the standard for all homes.

From the use of insulating materials to create more energy-efficient buildings to learning about the installation of electric vehicle charging points at homes, and the use of solar thermal energy and air source ground source heat pumps, the college offers a huge range of courses.

The launch of the new centres comes as Scotland prepares to host the United Nations COP26 climate change conference

Their fully equipped training centre allows them to provide a learning hub for students and the local workforce and community to learn about the methods already available to help reduce energy use and bring down emissions.

There are also courses in thermal imaging, which can help to find any faults in an existing home or a new construction, while the equipment can also be attached to a drone to carry out aerial surveys.

The college can also provide accredited training in mechanical ventilation systems with heat receivers, the latest smart tech which can be used to help control the environment of a home and reduce waste.

The launch of the new centres is also particularly significant in a year when the world’s attention will be on Scotland for the United Nations COP26 climate change conference to be held in Glasgow later this year, with these skills certain to be in demand worldwide over the coming decades.

Greg Steel, curriculum manager for sustainable construction at Borders College, is in no doubt about the importance of helping engineer a complete revolution in the way homes and offices are built and maintained.

“We’re in the middle of a climate crisis, and we have strict targets to try and meet,” he says.

“The construction industry can play a huge part in helping Scotland meet those targets, and that requires training on new construction methods, particularly around low-carbon heating.

“We want to be a national leader in helping Scotland become net zero by 2045 and that will mean to investing in the circular economy and educate people around construction

“These are really exciting times in the construction industry, it is a real sea change in the way things are done, and this will help business expand into these growth areas and drive forward the green recovery.

“This is a new area for us as well and we’re really excited to be forging ahead with this.

“We’d encourage anyone out there that’s interested to get in touch with the college and we can use the funding available such as flexible workforce development fund to put together bespoke packages for companies and tailor the training to their needs.”

To learn more about the courses on offer, visit the website here or contact Greg Steel:


Source: The Scotsman





Russia and China unveiled a roadmap for a joint International Lunar Research Station Wednesday to guide collaboration and development of the project.

Chinese and Russian space officials revealed the plans June 16 at the Global Space Exploration (GLEX) conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, stating that the ILRS has received the interest of a number of countries and organizations.

The ILRS is planned to be developed concurrently but separate to the United States’ Artemis lunar exploration program.

Wu Yanhua, deputy head of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), introduced the science objectives, facilities and transportation, lunar surface infrastructure, development phases and cooperation frameworks for the venture.

The first phase of ILRS, noted as reconnaissance, involves gathering data and verifying high-precision soft-landings across 2021-25 with the Chinese Chang’e-4, -6 and -7 missions, Russia’s Luna 25, 26 and 27 and possible missions of partners.

The second “construction” phase consists of two stages (2026-30, 2031-35). The first involves technology verifications, sample return, massive cargo delivery and the start of joint operations. Planned missions are Chang’e-8 and Luna 28 and potential international contributions.

The second stage looks to complete on-orbit and surface infrastructure for energy, communications, in-situ resource utilization and other technologies. Missions named ILRS-1 through 5 would focus respectively on energy and communications, research and exploration facilities, in-situ resource utilization, general technologies and astronomy capabilities. Russian super heavy-lift launch vehicles are listed to launch the missions.

The final “utilization” phase beyond 2036 would see the start of crewed landings. CNSA later published English and Chinese versions of the roadmap on its web pages while Roscomcos shared a presentation video on Twitter.

Spacecraft shown in the video include orbiters and relay satellites, descent and ascent vehicles, surface infrastructure for energy and communications, hopping robots and intelligent mini rovers.

The location of the ILRS is yet to be decided. Possible destinations noted in the presentation were Aristarchus crater and Marius Hills in the northwest of the lunar near side and Amundsen crater near the south pole.

Sergey Saveliev, deputy director general for International Cooperation for Roscosmos, said it was “difficult to overestimate the scientific significance of the project”.

Russia and China signed a memorandum of understanding on the ILRS in March. International partners were openly invited on the sidelines of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations’ Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) April 23.

China and Russia presented five cooperation domains in which prospective partners could collaborate. Wu said the parties hoped to produce a legal document detailing the principles of the ILRS before the end of the year.

Saveliev and Wu stated that discussions had taken place with the European Space Agency and CNES of France, while Thailand, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had expressed interest in the project. Wu noted however that the discussions were at a very early stage.

The development follows Brazil becoming the 12th nation to join the Artemis Accords, the U.S.-led effort to establish norms of behavior for space exploration.

Marco Aliberti, a resident fellow at the European Space Policy Institute in Austria, told SpaceNews that ILRS development “signals the progressive bifurcation of the international space community around two contending – and potentially conflicting – pathways for future lunar exploration activities.”

“To be sure, like the Artemis programme, the Moon base project conceived by China and Russia has been purposefully opened to international partners at all levels. And even if participation in the US-led Artemis would not per se preclude a possible participation in the ILRS, reality is that the two projects are to large extent mutually exclusive in terms of partnership configurations.”

The contending “international lunar exploration efforts can generate some potentially beneficial effects from a scientific, technological and industrial perspective,” says Aliberti. At the same time, it will “indirectly produce harmful spillover effects on the current international efforts towards the more cooperative space environment and eventually undermine international security and strategic stability, be it in space and here on Earth.”

The ILRS is at its early stages, with many other priorities and challenges ahead. Wu also remarked that the presentation was a “version one” of the roadmap.

Asked when Chinese citizens would first walk on the moon, Wu stated that the focus was on the Chinese Space Station following the recent launch of the Tianhe module and declined to provide a date.

The Shenzhou-12 crewed mission launched for Tianhe on June 16.





A new design of bridge that could transform rail crossings across Britain will be unveiled by Network Rail at Rail Live today (June 16).

The innovative circular bridge is set to revolutionise the way Network Rail builds footbridges over the tracks. Made from lightweight material, the environmentally friendly bridge can be installed in a matter of days, and its modern, modular design means it can be adapted to different locations. It also features built-in monitoring to assess usage and maintenance needs.

Andy Cross, Network Rail Programme Manager, said “We were able to take a different approach. This has allowed us to work with several small and medium-sized businesses, many of whom haven’t worked on railway projects before but have the skills and expertise to bring the concept of a lightweight, low-cost footbridge to life.

“In just 11 months we have developed a prototype bridge that is stunning in design, environmentally friendly and will take days and not weeks to install and thereby causing less disruption for the surrounding community.”


Network Rail currently has just one option when considering building a new footbridge or replacing an old one, the standard non-station footbridge design that is heavy, unattractive and expensive to deliver.

This new design is made from Fibre-Reinforced Polymer (FRP) – a lightweight material that is widely used in other industries, including the manufacture of aircraft and cars. The material is very strong but lightweight, leading to lower transport and installation costs.

It is hoped the ground-breaking design will be adopted across the country as part of a wider programmer of work to transform how footbridges are built on the rail network in future, as well as providing an attractive alternative to repairing existing crossings. The next phase of the project involves developing sustainable procurement and construction options as well as a ramped version of the bridge.

The prototype has been trial built at a test centre in Long Marston, Warwickshire, and will go on show there at the 2021 RAIL Live event on June 16-17.


London’s Serpentine Galleries have reopened their spaces to the public in May and on June11th , the Serpentine Pavilion 2021 designed by Counterspace, the architectural studio directed by Sumayya Vally, opened its doors. It is the 20th pavilion of the famous gallery which, for this edition, extends out to the city with four installations placed in different neighbourhoods across London, recognisable as four fragments of the pavilion.
Sumayya Vally who, as per tradition when it comes to the pavilions is completing her first work in the UK, as well as being the youngest architect to be commissioned for this renowned programme.

The pavilion’s inauguration is a splendid sign of the post-Covid 19 reopening efforts, extending across the city through the four installations located in different neighbourhoods in London and recognisable as four fragments of the same pavilion. A happy ending, to a very challenging year. The inauguration was, in fact, originally set to take place on June 11, 2020, when the lockdown initiatives undertaken by the city in order to contain the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the full suspension of the Serpentine Pavilion programme and its postponement to 2021. Moreover, after a year marked by compliance with social distancing rules, the new Serpentine Pavilion extends across London to support and facilitate gatherings and participation in different locations of great importance, above all, for their diasporic and cross-cultural communities: those groups of individuals who, as a result of migratory processes have reconstructed themselves in contexts other than those of their origin. These neighbourhoods include Brixton, Hoxton, Tower Hamlets, Edgware Road, Barking and Dagenham, as well as Peckham.


The Pavilion designed by Counterspace pays tribute to these places, which in some cases still exist, while in others are no longer with us. Religious places like some of London’s first mosques: the Fazl Mosque and the East London Mosque. Places hosting cooperative bookshops such as Centerprise and Hackney. Entertainment and cultural venues like The Four Aces Club on Dalston Lane, The Mangrove restaurant and the Notting Hill Carnival. Four installations designed and created precisely to reinforce this theme and its connection with the city.
Four fragments of the Pavilion installed in 4 locations across the city, carefully selected to reflect this close bond: the headquarters of the first black publisher and bookseller in the UK Beacon Books in Finsbury Park; The Tabernacle multipurpose venue and community centre in Notting Hill; the Albany art centre in Deptford; and the new Becontree Forever Arts and Culture Hub at the Valence Library in Barking and Dagenham, which commemorates the centenary of the UK’s largest municipal residential complex. The installations are not an end unto themselves, but have been created specifically for the places where they have been installed and are used as display stands for books, seats, benches and more.

Offering a viable answer to the scarcity of informal gathering and interaction places, the pavilion presents itself as a new meeting place in London’s famous Kensington gardens, with its abstract form inspired by the superimposition and union of architectural elements on different scales borrowed from the city itself. The different textures and shades chosen for the pavilion, made of recycled materials such as steel, cork and wood covered with micro-cement, also take inspiration from the city of London and its rich architecture.

As per tradition, the Serpentine Pavilion will host the summer program of initiatives of the Serpentine Galleries which, for the first time, will also include a music programme entitled Listening to the City that once again aims to link the pavilion to various neighbourhoods across London and their sounds. A Scholarship and Grant Programme, Support Structures for Support Structures, has also been created to help sustain artists from different London communities.

Images courtesy of Serpentine Galleries, photo by Iwan Baan, George Darrell

Source: Floornature, Architecture and Surfaces

For several years, the construction sector has been facing a labour shortage, generating a growing interest in automation. The health crisis has only exacerbated the trend, prompting automation companies to turn their focus from car manufacturing to the construction industry, for which automation is expected to grow up to 30% within the next few years. The following explores present capabilities and future possibilities of automation within the construction process, its integration within the mainstream practice and the impact on design.

Facing a shortage of skilled labour, an increasing number of projects, and an imperative to reduce its environmental impact, the construction industry is looking towards automation to increase productivity, cost efficiency and minimise material waste. “Construction is where automotive was about 50 years ago in terms of the density of robots and automation. It’s coming from a lower base, but it is going to grow much faster,” says Sami Atiya, president of Robotics & Discrete Automation at ABB. A McKinsey Global Institute pre-pandemic study covering 54 countries and 78% of the global labour market states that 44% of work within the construction sector has the potential to be automated. However, the prospect is not a fully automated construction site but the use of human labour solely for essential tasks.


At the moment, automation is being researched and deployed along two distinct paths: automating specific tasks within traditional site operations and creating an entirely new construction process supported by new materials and technologies. Several years ago, SAM (the semi-automated mason) generated significant excitement, as the robot was capable of laying bricks at almost three times the speed of a human worker. A new bricklaying robot Hadrian X, developed by Australian firm Fastbrick Robotics has completed several residential pilot projects in Mexico and Australia and is heading towards mass production. Addressing the current construction framework, an engineering and architecture research team from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) created a high-rise façade operations robot, which can perform a wide range of operations from façade painting to repair works removing workers from dangerous heights.

Traditional construction process and materials limit the adoption of robotic technology to highly specific tasks. However, digital fabrication, whether it is robotic manipulation or additive manufacturing, holds significant potential for reshaping the construction process altogether, as showcased by the experimental pavilions designed over the years by the Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE), illustrating both material innovation and the possibilities of robotic fabrication.

Automation within the construction process is no longer a preoccupation at the fringes of architecture, as is shown by the collaboration announced last November between Foster + Partners and the robotics design company Boston Dynamics. As part of the Early Adopters program for Spot, the robot has been tested for data collection and progress monitoring on construction sites. Spot’s performance was undeniable, with the robot showing a much higher rate of spotting errors than manual monitoring, thus enhancing productivity and efficiency. The robot is also capable of checking as-built versus as-designed models, with significantly reduced scanning and post-processing times, which would free staff for other tasks. Foster+Partners involvement brought automation on the construction site in the realm of possibility, and it might not take long until Spot’s appearance at a building site “will seem as ordinary as the arrival of a bulldozer or a forklift do today”. The robot has been adopted by several construction companies around the world and employed for various tasks.

In 2018, Dubai announced that 25% of its new buildings will be 3D printed by 2025, with the term is now revised to 2030. At the time, Dubai already created the first fully functional and permanently occupied 3D printed office building, the Office of the Future by Killa Design and Gensler. Subsequently, in 2019 Dubai had another breakthrough with the largest 3D-printed building, whose construction required only three people on site. There is no certainty around the ambitious plan coming to fruition; nonetheless, local decision-makers are developing additive manufacturing building codes.

There is a consensus around the idea that automation will enable an era of increasingly bespoke design, as it would allow for precision and accuracy throughout construction processes, presenting significant time savings. For the most part, the geometric complexity of a component is of no relevance in numerous robotic construction processes and doesn’t impact the costs, thus facilitating complex shapes. Automation opens the possibility for investigating new aesthetics, reshaping both the design and the construction process.


Source: ArchDaily


The five-year research program considered the seismic design of corrugated metal decks, with and without concrete topping, as a diaphragm system that is an integral part of the steel structure.

Photo courtesy Canam, Vulcraft, Steel Deck Institute

Steel Diaphragm Innovation Initiative Improves Seismic Design Tools

Researchers pave the way for future explorations that could speed up construction of steel frames

In a few months, Northeastern University expects to make research history by testing the behavior, under seismic loads, of a full-scale, composite, concrete-filled steel-deck diaphragm system. The novel experiment culminates unprecedented collaborative research on the seismic performance of steel floor and roof diaphragms in steel structures. The five-year initiative already has aligned and improved design methods and relevant standards used throughout the U.S., not merely in high-seismic zones, according to those involved.

The program not only validates current design practices for different steel structures, it also promises to improve the seismic design and behavior of “bare” and concrete-topped decks under earthquake loads, says Ben Schafer, a professor of civil engineering at Johns Hopkins University and principal investigator for the nearly $2-million Steel Diaphragm Innovation Initiative. The design tools developed allow “more reliable designs” for seismic performance and offer slight efficiency gains that can result in the application of less concrete as a deck topping, Schafer says.

The findings also pave the way for future explorations that could speed design and onsite construction. These include the study of modular deck systems and bare metal floor decks that are free of concrete topping, says Schafer.

Known as corrugated metal decking, steel diaphragms are ubiquitous in steel frames. They are considered advantageous because they are relatively low weight, use recycled material and offer potential redundancies from a large number of connection points between the diaphragm and other structural elements, say the sponsors of the initiative, which include the American Iron & Steel Institute (AISI), the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), the Metal Building Manufacturers Association, the Steel Deck Institute, the Steel Joist Institute, the Cold-Formed Steel Research Consortium and structural consultant Walter P Moore.

The investigation has resulted in the adoption of new provisions in seismic codes and standards that will increase the already high level of seismic safety of steel buildings, according to AISI, which, along with the other sponsors, is trying to make steel structures more attractive to engineers.

“These efforts expanded the capabilities of structural engineers to successfully employ steel in seismic diaphragm systems in essentially any situation,” say the authors in a 101-page final report on the research, published in March by AISI and released last month.

Until the recent research, funded by $1.4 million from the sponsors and $540,000 from the National Science Foundation, data had not been compiled and research was largely focused on the strength of isolated systems instead of ductility or whole-building performance, according to participants.

The initiative involved myriad design simulations and physical testing. The work resulted in a better understanding of diaphragm-structure interaction. That in turn led to new design approaches and new 3D modeling tools, say the researchers.

Under the study, researchers considered steel diaphragms as a system that is an integral part of a building.

“The ductility in these systems can be quite good and helps to address any variability in forces that might occur due to the variability in earthquakes,” says Jerome Hajjar, a professor of civil engineering at Northeastern University and a co-principal investigator, with professors of civil engineering Matt Eatherton, at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; and Sam Easterling, at Iowa State University. In total, there were 21 investigators involved in the research.

Unified Design Requirements

“The project unified design requirements, creating a cohesive basis” across the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Provisions and relevant standards from the American Society of Civil Engineers, AISC and AISI, says Charlie Carter, AISC’s president. The unified requirements also will render the next edition of the model International Building Code “similarly cohesive,” he adds.

Achieving corresponding changes in the standards required “extensive coordination” among the standards-writing committees, says John D. Hooper, director of earthquake engineering at Magnusson Klemencic Associates and an ASCE 7-22 committee member.

Specifically, there are changes to the design approach for steel floor and roof diaphragms in AISC 342, ASCE 7-22 and AISI 400. The changes include establishing special seismic detailing requirements to ensure ductility and deformation capacity in steel-deck diaphragms and establishing the diaphragm design force reduction factor, called Rs, for bare-steel deck diaphragms using special seismic detailing and concrete-filled steel-deck diaphragms.

“For the first time, engineers are able to reliably provide ductility and deformation capacity in steel-deck diaphragms,” says Hooper. This will be especially helpful in the design of rigid-wall, flexible-diaphragm structures where the ductility comes from the roof diaphragm, he adds.

For this, researchers expanded  building archetype designs. They performed thousands of nonlinear time-history analyses of 3D steel buildings and validated the alternative-diaphragm design procedures for concrete-filled steel decks and for bare steel decks in buckling restrained braced frames and concentric braced frames.

The program kicked off in 2015. The final report is available for free download on the AISI website, under “reports.”

To date, research has been conducted in the form of cantilever diaphragm tests, generally designed to identify the effect that one factor has on strength and behavior of the system. The Northeastern test system builds off the knowledge gained from these previous tests but advances beyond typical assumptions and necessary simplifications of cantilever diaphragm tests, says Hajjar.

The Northeastern, multi-bay test program is intended to document the inherent strength and ductility in typical composite diaphragms and provide a baseline test for future exploration of innovative diaphragm designs. The 28-ft by 20-ft specimen includes two chord members that span 28 ft and two collector members that span 20 ft. Findings will be appended to the final report.

To fill knowledge gaps, the five-year program focused on traditional floor systems. Time was limited for study of irregular situations, such as floor cutouts, irregular floor plans and eccentric architecture, which create unusual demands on the diaphragms.

Schafer hopes to study special cases in the future, along with bare decks and modular systems. For now, the focus is on educating practitioners about changes in the codes and standards so they can take advantage of the advances.

Source: Engineering News Record


A stunning new academy for training engineers and leaders of today and tomorrow has been delivered using cutting-edge modular building methods.

Integra Buildings, one of the UK’s leading modular construction specialists, has completed the development for Severn Trent Water, which serves eight million people across the Midlands.

Staff from both companies came together for a celebratory event to mark the launch of the Severn Trent Academy, which was officially opened by Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this month.

It provides a purpose-built centre of excellence for technical training on a new flagship campus in Coventry, as part of Severn Trent’s wider £10m investment in skills and training.

The versatile facilities provide a variety of traditional and experimental training environments, from hands-on areas designed to replicate Severn Trent’s working environments, to use of the latest technologies in virtual reality and “network simulation” computer modelling.

The energy-efficient building, which will meet Severn Trent’s present and future training needs, also houses an extensive suite of stylish rooms and breakout areas for hosting conferences and educational events.

It will offer a wide range of development opportunities for Severn Trent’s 7,000 staff, including apprentices, as well as members of the wider community, who will have a chance to gain valuable employability skills and training.

Hands on Training

The facilities will also benefit 500 young people to be employed by Severn Trent over the next year under the Government’s Kickstart Scheme, which creates six-month paid work placements for 16-24-year-olds at risk of long-term unemployment.

East Yorkshire-based Integra completed the development in just 12 months from the design stage to handing over the keys, despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic.

The building is a prime example of how modern modular techniques are transforming the construction sector by delivering major projects faster and more efficiently than traditional methods, without compromising on quality.

The Prime Minister took a tour of the new building and described Severn Trent’s training programme as “world class”. He added: “This brilliant academy will support thousands of people in the West Midlands to gain the skills they need to secure long-term jobs and to take a step towards brighter futures.”

Integra Managing Director Gary Parker said: “We’re delighted that the Prime Minister has praised the new academy, which looks superb inside and out. Working closely with Severn Trent, our team has delivered a first-class training environment with cutting-edge facilities.

“It’s a great example of how our innovative approach to bespoke modular building allows us to meet even the most challenging design briefs while delivering faster and more cost-effective results for the client.

“To do that while dealing with the challenges of Covid, especially during the uncertainty of the first lockdown, represents an outstanding achievement by our team, partners and suppliers.”

Severn Trent Construction Project Manager Zoe McPhilbin said: “It was great to work with Integra in helping us create our new academy that will be so valuable in providing skills and opportunities for our people and communities.

“The design aspirations for our academy have been met in full, which clearly demonstrates how Integra shared the same values and ambitions as ourselves on delivering such an amazing space in which to learn.”

East Yorkshire-based Integra designed and manufactured the building, which has a floorspace of 22,600 sq ft (2,100 sq m), at its site near Hull. The facility is made up of 45 modular units, which were transported by articulated lorry to Coventry, before being assembled on Severn Trent’s site on the outskirts of the city.

Working alongside Webb Gray Architects, Integra completed the design phase in just eight weeks.

Key aspects pushed the boundaries of what can be achieved with a modular build. The roof would have been too high to be transported by lorry from the production facilities to site, so the team designed an innovative extendable frame that allowed the height to be extended in situ.

Integra, which is renowned for providing bespoke solutions to clients, laid down robust, waterproof floors in rooms designed to replicate the challenges faced by Severn Trent’s engineers, such as working with pressurised pipes.

Incorporating sustainable features, including an air-source heat pump to provide hot water, ensured the building received an “A” rating for energy performance.

Visitors enter the academy through a warm and welcoming reception, while conference, break-out and office areas have been furnished with a stylish, contemporary look.

As the principal contractor, Integra also completed extensive preparatory works, groundworks and landscaping, including the demolition of existing buildings on site, alongside specialists from Dales Contractors. During the work, consideration was given to some of the area’s smaller residents – special lighting and bat boxes were installed to avoid disturbing a colony of bats.

A close and collaborative working relationship between Integra and Severn Trent was a key factor in the success of the development.

Integra’s on-site team worked hand-in-hand with Severn Trent’s project manager, which meant decisions could be made on the ground in real time, while in the conference suite, installing the hi-tech infrastructure involved extensive coordination with Severn Trent’s IT team.

Mr Parker said: “It’s been a pleasure to work alongside Severn Trent’s team, whose support, encouragement and expertise has made a huge difference to the success of the project.

“We enjoyed excellent communication on the ground and at management level, which helped keep the project running smoothly at all times.

“We pride ourselves on building strong relationships with our clients, which helps us to understand their needs and meet and exceed their expectations, so it’s really pleasing to see this approach paying dividends.”

The opening of the academy comes at an exciting time for Integra as it embarks on a major expansion of its base in Paull, near Hull, which is key to the management’s ambitions to double revenues to £60m within three years.

Integra has developed a nationwide reputation for excellence in the design, construction and fit-out of modular buildings for a wide range of uses, including education, sport, leisure, healthcare and commercial operations.

ABB Robotics advances construction industry automation to enable safer and sustainable building. Credit: ABB Robotics

ABB Robotics is advancing automation in the construction industry

The Swiss company ABB Robotics wants to take advantage of the shortage of skilled workers in the construction sector, which is currently growing rapidly, to grow its robotics business and diversify its operations beyond the automotive industry. ABB sees the construction sector as a new growth market for its robotics business. In the past 18 months, interest in automation in the construction industry has grown.

Its new robotic automation solutions could address key challenges, including the need for more affordable and environmentally friendly housing and to reduce the environmental impact of construction amidst a labor and skills shortage.

In recent years, the Swiss robotics company has been affected by the crisis in the automotive sector, which has traditionally been its main customer. In this context, the construction sector offers new business opportunities for ABB, especially in view of the important infrastructure investment programs it relies on to get the world economy out of the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a global survey commissioned by ABB of 1,900 large and small construction businesses in Europe, the US, and China, 91% said they face a skills crisis over the next 10 years, with 44% saying they struggle to recruit for construction jobs. Improving health and safety on building sites was a priority for 42%, and the same percentage said the environment is a key driver for industry change.

In the survey, 9 out of 10 construction businesses predict a skills crisis by 2030, with 81% saying they will introduce or increase the use of robotics and automation in the next decade. Only 55% of construction companies say they use robots, compared with 84% in Automotive and 79% in Manufacturing.

Additionally, construction workers account for around 30% of workplace injuries and are up to four times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than other sectors, with an estimated 108,000 fatalities every year worldwide.

Robots can make construction safer by handling large and heavy loads, working in unsafe spaces, and enabling new, safer methods of construction. Using robots for the repetitive and dangerous tasks that people increasingly don’t want to do means automation can help support the industry’s labor and skills crisis and make construction careers more appealing to young people.

While ABB Robotics’ sales in the automotive market are expected to grow by 3% to 5% in the coming years, Sami Atiya, President of ABB’s Robotics & Discrete Automation Business Area, expects the construction industry to grow by 20% to 30% per year.

ABB is currently working on projects such as the robotic installation of elevators with Schindler Lifts and the robotic automation of Intelligent City’s production of prefabricated modular homes, increasing production efficiency by 15% and speed by speed 38% while reducing waste by 30%. While at Swedish construction company Skanska, ABB robots weld steel structures together to secure buildings.


Source: Inceptive Mind