As a subsidiary of Spie Batignolles, Spie Fondations continues to deliver innovative solutions to a range of high profile projects and its current UK operations perfectly illustrate this
Last featured in Construction & Civil Engineering back in December 2014, Spie Fondations has continued to demonstrate its leading ability to deliver innovative and demanding solutions to a range of high profile projects around the UK. Discussing the past year, Adrian Mercer, Business Development Manager for the UK, highlights that the company has been very busy tendering lots of major projects and sees a number of opportunities to pursue.
As Spie continues to look forward towards major infrastructure projects such asThames Tideway and HS2, its current and recent activities in theUK are perfect demonstrations of its ability to perform on complex construction and civil engineering contracts. In particular, following on from its previous successful contract to upgrade the foundations of 91 electricity pylons on the Bedford to Sundon Line the company has recently completed further work in Lancaster for the Energy Alliance. “This was a project to connect the Walney wind farm development into the National Grid,” explains Adrian. “National Grid required a couple of new pylons and a temporary pylon whilst they completed the diversion. We were contracted specifically to do the piles and pile caps for the pylons. Therefore, we delivered a turnkey package, which included fitting the stubs – the steel angles off of which the rest of the tower is built – that have to be in exactly the right position and at the right angle.”
Offering this complete turnkey package is a significant differentiator for Spie’s market offering in the UK. “A lot of our competition in the UK would provide either the piling or the caps, not both, and this is one of the reasons we initially won the contract,” notes Adrian. “Offering this is very beneficial to the client and can help our competitiveness because it means one less interface and one less subcontract to manage for the client. It also places the liability for the entire foundations with us, which clients prefer.”
Of course, this is not the only strength afforded by Spie Fondations in the UK, as a greatamount of its competitiveness comes from the high level of resources and expertise afforded to it by being part of the global Spie Batignolles group. On the whole, the leading French construction company employs over 8000 people across Europe and the Middle East, and is currently involved in contracts at the Port of Calais and the new Paris Metro lines. “We have extensive experience and knowledge in carrying out these types of major infrastructure projects,” says Adrian. “We have a wide variety of techniques from diaphragm walls, grouting and piling works and a large fleet of different rigs and equipment to deliver these. An example is our in-house developed cutter, the Rotoforeuse©,for excavating diaphragm walls into rock and other hard materials.
“We actually have the capability now to do 40 metre deep CFApiles with our new Llamada rig and have also developed our own in-house cage vibrator, which enables us to push cages more than 20m into CFA piles in the right ground conditions. This gives us an advantage when piling in east London where the denseThanet sands are out of reach of conventional CFA rigs but we can reach them with our Llamada rig and benefit from the high bearing capacity of the Thanets.
“Our diverse plant resource is supported by an in-house design team and a very experienced and well-trained workforce. Some of our guys have been with us for over 20 years. Delivering projects’ safely is always top of our agenda and Spie Batignolles have their own training school where we instil the philosophy of Zero Accident working to the whole workforce and management teams.”
With these strengths behind it, Spie is able to drive its knowledgeinto complex projects and employ innovative solutions to overcome potential challenges. An apt example of this is the ongoing project on the Jersey International Finance Centre in St Helier. Adrian explains: “This is another project for a local firm called Camerons to install the bearing piles and a piled retaining wall for the basement excavation for a five-storey commercial office development. Due to an existing granite seawall we have had to innovate here by building a composite retaining wall.
“The sea wall was buried below the ground and our piles had togo through it, so we designed andconstructed a composite seawall using CFA piles and drilled micropiles with steel casings. The CFA piles went down to the top of the old seawall and the micro-piles were drilled through the granite wall and into the rock below so they can provide the ground support.” The current project on Jersey is on the first of five buildings, which will eventually make up the finance centre, and Adrian is confident that Spie’s involvement with the contract will continue throughout the complete cycle.
The opportunities for Spie in the current UK market are obvious as the country’s construction industry picks up and the government continues to invest heavily into infrastructure projects. “The major opportunities are the Thames Tideway project, HS2 and the vast amount of residential high-rise developments currently being implemented throughout London,” notes Adrian. One such development, Eagle House on City Road, for which Spie designed and constructed the piled foundations back in 2008, is only just being completed after it was left as a concrete skeleton for a number of years due to the 2007/8 crash. However, Adrian is also aware that the UK’s boom brings its own challenges in the form of European competition and a shortage of skilled workers.
A strong reputation for innovation and a growing portfolio of major projects form the foundations of a busy and successful future for Spie in the UK, and continued focus on securing more high profile projects is key to building on this. “Looking forward our immediate focus will be on securing the Thames Tideway projects,” concludes Adrian. “As well as continuing to scout for other opportunities within the market”
Services: Specialist in major project foundations