TPA panels pave the way for cost savings

12 Mar

Less security needed for 30-mile power line refurbishment for National Grid.

Portable roadways supplied by temporary access solutions provider TPA are protecting land from damage and helping deliver a major 30-mile power line refurbishment in the most cost-effective way.

A total of 10,000 roadway panels from TPA, providing over 20km of access, are being used by main contractor Babcock International for the National Grid on the 50-year-old overhead line which runs along the M62 corridor between Monk Fryston in North Yorkshire and Bradford West sub-station.

It is a significant project for Babcock and not without its challenges - as well as other overhead power lines, the route encompasses four crossings over the M62, the M1, four rail crossings and the River Aire.

TPA were selected by Babcock through a competitive tender process and having successfully delivered a similar scheme between Stalybridge and Thorpe Marsh last winter, the contractor was confident of the portable roadway company’s capabilities.

A combination of almost 7,000 heavy-duty aluminium panels and 3,000 plastic Terraroad have been utilised for the access roads and work areas, with the addition of TPA’s plastic TuffTrak panels to provide a breaker in the aluminium access and around the EPZs. 

All the equipment has been installed by TPA to provide access for the main contractor’s and its sub-contractor’s construction vehicles which include dumper trucks, tractors and cranes, weighing anything up to 250 tonnes.

Work on Phase 1 started in September and broke for Christmas. Phase 2 will start in February and last until the spring.

Babcock’s site manager Eugene Fox explained: “There are benefits in using plastic panels wherever possible as those can be left in place over the Christmas break without the need for security – which helps keep costs down on the project.”

But it is not just keeping costs down that have enabled the roadway supplier to add value to the project - ground conditions on Phase 1 have been challenging but the TPA panels have performed extremely well.

“It is obviously harder to complete a project during the winter because of ground damage but TPA have been instrumental in ensuring we have solutions for each of the sites,” said Eugene.

The TPA panels are delivered by a fleet of specialist vehicles and installed by fully-accredited installation teams, and backed up by TPA’s project co-ordinators who conduct a maintenance visit at every live site every week and attend the weekly contractors’ meetings to ensure the project planning is fully cognisant with Babcock and the other sub-contractors on the project.

During the first phase of the project TPA delivered the works utilising up to eight installation crews per day who were supervised by two project co-ordinators dedicated to the job. The project has been challenging in several areas.

Many of the sites are vulnerable which puts the contractor’s equipment, including the aluminium panels, at risk of theft.  There is always a need for security on a construction site but using TPA’s plastic panels has enabled those costs to be kept to a minimum.

“As soon as we get aluminium on site we need to guard it straightaway but we don’t with plastic. An added benefit has been that TPA’s plastic panels have been particularly good at keeping the mud down. We have used other plastic panels before that haven’t been as good as TPA’s.

“They are more expensive to hire and you do need more of them because they are slightly smaller [3m x 2m compared to 3m x 2.5m] but I believe the cost equates and it cuts out a lot of the aggravation,” said Eugene.

The refurbishment has also been challenging because the original specification changed due to landowners wanting routes changed and footpath closures were unavailable.

Jonathan Clowes, TPA’s business development manager for the transmission sector, said: “Since the original tender award the project panel demand increased and when the installations started for this project we still had a substantial amount of our panels out on summer transmission projects. But, thanks to the thorough planning and forecasting by our operations team we were able to support all of this requirement plus a further increase in sites for scaffolding works.”

Eugene said: “I have been really pleased with the TPA panels on this job but the supervisory staff at TPA have also been second to none in my opinion. They keep to what they say they are going to do and their timekeeping is excellent. You don’t often get that.”