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Greenwich - Power Project

22/08/2018 | General

London is, as ever, a building site and there are a number of major infrastructure construction projects ongoing. Such open-ended contracts provide regular work for Pirtek franchises and are an opportunity to showcase the company’s ability to handle diverse and more complex jobs.

One such mega-construction site is at Battersea, just south of the river. After many years standing derelict, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s historic Battersea Power Station was finally approved for restoration and redevelopment in 2012.

The plan makes the power station the focus of a 40-acre site housing shops, cafes, restaurants, art and leisure facilities, as well as office space and residential development. There will be a riverside park and a high street linking the new Battersea Power Station tube station on the Northern Line extension built to serve the development with the power station itself.

The mega construction site is also a hub for the Thames Tideway project – mentioned elsewhere in this issue. While the Pirtek’s Docklands franchise is due to work on London’s super-sewer downstream at a later stage later in the project, the massive tunnel boring machines Ursula and Millicent are currently in action from the Battersea site.

There is a tradition of giving tunnel boring machines female names in order to protect the workers underground. In this case they were named after pioneering British women. Millicent was named after the suffragist and political leader Dame Millicent Fawcett and Ursula was lent her name by Audrey ‘Ursula’ Smith, a cryobiologist at King’s College Hospital who discovered the use of glycerol to protect human red blood cells during freezing.

Also serving the wider capital from the site is the Cringle Dock solid waste transfer station. This processes around 400,000 tonnes of waste and recyclables per year. The waste is compacted on site and loaded onto barges, after which it is transported to the Energy from Waste (EfW) facility at Belvedere. This is the largest EfW facility in the UK and one of the largest in Europe and will eventually generate up to 72MW of power.

The ageing waste transfer plant requires an upgrade, however, to reduce its impact on the local residential and recreational environments. The plans, which were approved earlier this year, will allow for the delivery of waste in a fully enclosed area, rapid unloading and a reduction in long-term storage and consequent odours.

Above the site will be a further residential development – shielded from noise and smells of the waste transfer station by its innovative design and technology. The combination of housing, leisure, transport and waste management projects means a great deal of heavy machinery requiring Pirtek’s services.

One such machine is a demolition grapple used to shift household and other waste into containers that transport it down the river. When a hose on one of the grapples on site failed, Pirtek were called upon to fix it. This was no simple job.

At the point of failure, the claw was closed, making it difficult to access the joints where the hoses were to be attached. Not only this, but the waste handler was filthy with layer upon layer of household and trade waste, making it quite an unpleasant task. Limited space makes it hard to manipulate hoses into place, however with much effort Pirtek’s MSST was able to bend it into position and attach the hose to its housing.

Digging the Northern Line tunnels nearby are tunnel boring machines Helen and Amy, like Tideway’s diggers named after pioneering women in British public life. Helen is named after the country’s first astronaut, Dr Helen Sharman and Amy’s name refers to Amy Johnson, the pioneering aviator who flew from the UK to Australia.

Pirtek works regularly on these machines too.

One of the advantages of ongoing maintenance contracts is that it allows Pirtek to keep track of machinery that it has worked on before. Pirtek knows its own high standard of workmanship and understands the machinery involved.

Taking this to another level, Pirtek offers a service called Total Hose Management. This involves a longer-term contract to manage all hydraulic hoses on a customer’s kit, marking them up and identifying them on a database making it possible to schedule maintenance and replacement.

This preventative maintenance service reduces downtime and consequent expense of machinery being out of use as well as the dangers – to people, plant and the environment – of catastrophic failure.

As London continues to upgrade its infrastructure Pirtek will be there to maintain the heavy plant and vehicles that keep the capital moving.

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