Structural monitoring in cities: protecting assets from nearby works

Our towns and cities are often a hive of construction activity, with skylines dominated by cranes and new high-rise buildings. By the very nature of city-centre construction projects, building work can often be undertaken in tightly packed spaces, close to adjoining structures and infrastructure. In the next blog in our city-centre blog series, Dave Bradshaw, our Monitoring Manager explores how structural monitoring solutions can help to protect these third-party assets, giving the assurance that no damage is caused by ongoing works. 

City centres are often a hub for construction work, whether it’s relating to buildings, utilities or infrastructure. While this is a fantastic sign for the industry, it can create unforeseen engineering and health and safety challenges when considering the limited space with which there is to work in. Of course, as well as having responsibility for the work site in question, contractors also hold responsibility for any changes or damage caused as a result of the works. 

Take any building or groundworks site in London as an example: there will likely be existing buildings and structures in close proximity, in addition to foundations, sewers, live services, infrastructure, tunnels or other assets. As such, great care and consideration has to be taken with every action on an active construction site to manage and mitigate the risk of damage to third-party assets in the surrounding area. 

It is for this role of asset protection that real-time structural monitoring should be the first port of call for contractors. Structural monitoring is used to monitor the changes to a structure over time, such as overall stability and condition, as a result of nearby works. Used to provide a real-time picture of the condition and structural health of formations - ranging from bridges and buildings to tunnels and other infrastructure - monitoring can help to mitigate risk and act as an early warning system.

A great example of structural monitoring technology in action is Bank Station in London, where over a kilometre of new tunnel needed to be built. The worksite sat directly adjacent to a multi-storey building, which featured a full glass fa├žade. With the building foundations sitting so close to excavation work, it was calculated that even 1.5mm of movement could jeopardise the glass exterior of this building. 

With this in mind, our structural monitoring solutions were installed to provide up-to-the-minute data on the height and position of the existing building columns, ensuring that any movement caused by the works below ground never exceeded the parameters set. Such valuable insight could also allow any subsequent action plans to be implemented as necessary. This meant that construction work could safely continue on the tunnel, with the contractor having the assurance that their works were not impacting on the surrounding area. 

To further this, our hydraulic and electric screwed ram jacks were also installed to mitigate the risk of damage. In the event of any small vertical movements being detected, a series of hydraulic jacks would return the columns to their original position. This is just one of the benefits of working with a “one-stop-shop” temporary works provider, who can offer both structural monitoring and propping and jacking solutions that can be integrated together, further streamlining your workflow; allowing projects to be completed on time and within budget.

City centre construction work can often be complex, with a large number of structures, services and infrastructures found in a confined space. However, temporary works and monitoring technology have a major role to play in enabling this work, by both managing the risk of damage to third-party assets and providing assurances of compliance. With our experience and the necessary equipment to meet these challenges head on, we can work with you to ensure our city centres keep moving forwards for the future.

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