In this final part of the Breheny on-site trilogy we visit the company’s largest site to date, The Newark Southern Link Road in Nottinghamshire servicing the new development at Middlebeck working for Urban & Civic.
We were met by Breheny Senior Contracts Manager Chris Wosman who explained, what the project entailed and the advantages technology was playing in making the job safer, planning better and reporting easier.
Key phase one is complete with a major housing development now occupied, in addition to the infrastructure one would expect such as schools, shops and space for the local community.
Key phase two and three will see 2,136 additional new homes built in this desirable and expanding part of Newark, with leisure facilities and an expanse of public open space all to be constructed.
The link road itself in package one, is some 2.1km in length and has 2 x roundabouts, 2 x bridge structures all of which links to the junction with the existing A46.
The project which commenced in March 2023 is due for completion in October 2025.
Find out more about how the wettest July on record, provided a significant challenge, given that the plan was to shift 600,000 (m3) of muck during 2023.
TECHNOLOGY ON SITE:
As we headed out onto site Chris was clear about the most significant role technology has played on site to date, that was to remove, via drone site mapping, the people v machine interface. Critical during such a prolonged period of much shift operation and thus reducing risk of any incident or accident.
The second benefit from the drone data has been around reporting, removing manual intervention by onsite engineers is not only safer but gives more accurate information, particularly useful when planning sections with real time data.
Watch Chris explain more, as he introduces the project and take us onto site.
IN-CAB MACHINE CONTROL:
We moved on to meet Senior Land Surveyor; Dan Greenwood, we were interested to talk more about in cab technology, in addition to finding out, in Dan’s opinion… If the advancement of technology and AI might be sounding like bad news for the careers of UK Plant Operators.
Dan explained that Breheny have been operating Trimble Earthworks machine control systems for some seven years now. The objective being to give Breheny Plant Operators an in-cab aid, so they are more aware of the task in hand and because all the information they need is in the cab… more independence.
All meaning the job is done efficiently, consistently and safely.
A key feature is the ability to be able to remotely receive data from the drones, via HQ, to the cab, so that operators are using the very latest data on the next pass or dig. Improving fuel usage, accuracy and the time taken to complete the task.
Dan explained that there was some reticence from some operators when machine control systems were first introduced, but after trials, training and communication the feeling and reaction is somewhat different today.
As for the future, what did Dan think, given the fact that technology has advanced so much in recent years, that the future of Plant Operation might be…Watch the piece here to find out more.
FLIGHT OF THE DRONES:
Understanding where the data comes from and how to best utilise the data recorded is clearly important. But who operates and manages the drones for Breheny and how does it all work.
We went on to meet Steve Jarvis who is a Senior Land Surveyor.
Steve explained that drones had been flying and operating on this project from day one. All to detail the expanse of earthmoving operations on site and enable a plan to be created that will optimise time and performance.
Prior to drones being used for this task, this was of course a manual job of measuring and reporting. All of which, given human behaviour, would inevitably lead to error and increased risk, as the task was undertaken when heavy equipment was at work in the same vicinity.
Watch the video to see the actual size of this drone, watch it fly and hear more from Steve about the training required to operate and the outputs the engineering team can achieve.
The detail is quite astounding, with literally millions of lines of data collected and disseminated around the business all to improve accuracy.
When it comes to flying the drones there is of a period of training to achieve the required number of flying hours, along with an understanding of all that is needed to be known around legislation and no fly zones.
Finally, it was very clear that this was an activity that Steve enjoyed, he found it fun and was very happy when he was out on site flying, adding another element to the importance of the job in hand.
IN CAB CONVERSATION:
As ever when we visit site, we love nothing more than to have an in-cab conversation with a Plant Operator. On site and happy to chat was Tony King.
Tony is an experienced Plant Operator and has been with Breheny for a good number of years. He began operating at 19 and sat in the cab the day we spoke at 62 years of age. Still, it was plain to see enjoying every single day.
Watch the in-cab conversation to find out more about what Tony thinks about:
• Where perhaps younger plant operators can learn.
• The role of in cab technology.
• The best excavators he has operated in his time.
• How important it is given the isolation of the role to look after each other on site.
• What the best part of being a Plant Operator is.
We thank Breheny for their hospitality, another fascinating day on site, everyday is a learning day.