HS2 head of construction on project opportunities

Tuesday, November 03 rd, 2015

At its peak it requires close to 400 Articulated Dump Trucks and over its programme time an average of 327 operators a month, all of which have to shift and process over 55 million cubic metres of earth. So what can the plant sector expect from HS2 and what will the legacy be? Here we take a closer look at the project and hear the thoughts of John Caroll Head of Construction and Logistics HS2 Ltd, who spoke to us at this year’s CPA conference.

John: “HS2 is going to be the largest transport project in Britain for the next two decades, requiring 5,000 construction workers a month to deliver what will be a major engine for economic growth. It aims to address the serious capacity issues we will have in the rail network by the mid 2020’s, which if HS2 is not built, will see at least 150 people for every 100 commuter seats into Euston and Birmingham New Street.

“The plant sector has a real opportunity to deliver a great project in HS2 and to benefit from the legacy it will leave behind. This will include a greater understanding of how to bring innovation and sustainability into play on major projects and ultimately the UK will be left with a fleet of the very latest fuel efficient equipment.”

Likened to a ‘mine in a line’ due to the sheer scale of earthworks that will need to take place during its construction, according to Finning technology specialist Lucy Couturier, HS2 has the potential to transform infrastructure delivery.

“Connectivity is what HS2 is all about and its delivery will have to reflect this. It is not going to be a project that can operate effectively without the use of modern technology and a mining style approach to plant management. It will also be the most interesting and challenging project for a generation.

“When you also look at the scale of equipment that will be needed to deliver this project, you understand how important it is to have a single data protocol for the full range of plant and equipment used on the project.

“HS2 could and should be the first connected site project of its type in the UK, where data is collected from each machine, processed in real time and interpreted by experts to deliver programme efficiencies. If delivered properly, significant reductions in cost and carbon can be achieved as well as increases in productivity.

“This approach to plant management already happens in UK mining operations like the Ffos-y-fran Land Reclamation Scheme run by Miller Argent in Merthyr Tydfil. So by looking at HS2 using the same principals, although it will use very different equipment, we can see that by working collaboratively with designers, contractors, manufactures, plant hire companies, site managers and operators, major efficiency gains can be achieved.

“From the contractor and designers’ perspective, HS2 will have to adopt a much more BIM style (Building Information Modelling) approach to delivery. So in turn equipment manufacturers and service providers like Finning, will be required to supply plant that it capable of receiving and processing information derived from this type of modelling.

“This is where the connected site begins and is why new initiatives like Cat Connect and advanced Equipment Management Solutions will play an important role.

“Looking more closely at some of the key elements to efficient delivery, we can see how GPS technology and solutions like grade control on both dozers and more recently excavators, will play an important role. For example, data from the BIM model will be able to be processed and sent to numerous machines across the project. These machines will then be able to use GPS technology to make sure they dig and doze to the right depth or height respectively.

“This data in turn will then be sent back to a central hub and, if required, to a hand held device operated by the site manager, confirming the job has been done correctly. Similarly, when you are looking at productivity, once a job is done and registered, the equipment can be reassigned to other jobs.

“It is this effective management of equipment flow around a site that can really make a difference. In mining, when trucks are idling for an extended period outside of a pre-set parameter, a site manager can get an alert and take action to solve a potential problem, or reassign the unit to other operations.

“When you are dealing with a much larger fleet of ADT’s, in the case of the HS2 project, having this focus on idling and work flow management can make a huge difference to fuel consumption and productivity. This is where site and workflow modelling comes into play. Site modelling is like extending the BIM model to incorporate items like haul roads, tips and the layout of the site itself. This is also a moving model that needs to incorporate changing site conditions through onsite surveys and trending data on machine productivity.

“With a large amount of plant expected to be hired it is the collaboration between all stakeholders that will be crucial and when it comes to plant performance the highly trained operator will be HS2’s most prized asset.”