High climbers

Already well established as an engineering specialist with a number of high profile bridge projects under its belt, Spencer Group continues to deliver quality, world-class solutions to compliment its robust reputation

As one of the UK’s biggest privately owned multidisciplinary engineering businesses, Spencer Group has established itself a robust reputation for providing innovative engineering solutions for the transport, infrastructure, energy and industrial sectors. With a history of repeat work and collaborative relationships, the group has become renowned for its open and honest policy as well as its ability to drive innovation and high-quality into any project. From this history comes a unique expertise and breadth of experience that means Spencer’s team of industry leaders can provide solutions to clients at any stage of the project life cycle, always looking for the best and most cost effective way to carry out a job.

What really gives Spencer a competitive edge in the market is its wide-reaching, in-house design skill set, which covers civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, control, instrumentation and rail systems competence. This offering is particularly strengthened when the company is able to mobilise multiple disciplines in one project and over the last year alone the company has successfully demonstrated its world leading ability to deliver complex projects on two of the most prestigious suspension bridges in the world.

Earlier this year Spencer successfully completed a critical project to maintain the structural integrity of the Humber Bridge, which was the longest of its kind when opened 34 years ago. The £4 million project, which was vital to the long-term safety of the bridge, was a highly complex challenge to replace the four A-frames that connect the main span of the bridge to the towers at either end. Alongside design partners, Arup, the team first installed temporary load-bearing arms before transferring the load to a permanent pendel and wind shoe system, which is designed to protect the new installation from challenging wind pressures. Significantly, all work was carried out whilst the bridge remained fully operational and its successful completion helps further cement Spencer’s reputation for delivering complex high-level bridge works.

“The delivery of this project gives the Humber Bridge security in its support bearing systems for many years to come,” explains Nick Cooper, Technical Director at Spencer. “It also highlighted the multi-disciplinary expertise within the business, as it required the ability to integrate different disciplines, from hydraulics, to mechanics, to structure, while working in a very confined space.”
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Contract Project Manager, Daniel Smith, added: “It’s been very much a team effort, with lots of ideas coming forward from within the Spencer team and Arup colleagues to address the many complex issues this project posed. People within the team have come up with ways to work efficiently and cost-effectively to deliver the best possible results.”

The importance of this project on the Humber Bridge has been widely recognised throughout the industry. As such the programme was awarded the Smeaton Award for projects between £500,000 and £5m at the Institution of Civil Engineer’s annual Yorkshire and Humber awards. It was also short-listed for the highly coveted UK Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award at the British Construction Industry Awards 2015.

Further illustrating Spencer’s unrivalled abilities when it comes to highly complex bridge works, in October 2015 the company successfully completed the world’s largest bridge cables anti-corrosion project on Denmark’s East Bridge. Part of the giant Great Belt network, which links the east and west parts of the country, the Eastern Bridge is currently the third largest suspension bridge in the world with a span of 1.6km. The 18-month, £8 million project required Spencer to once again deploy its broad expertise to install 105,000 metres of protective wrap to six kilometres of cable, each 83cm wide in diameter.

To achieve the project, Spencer had to mobilise its own innovative and trademarked Cable Crawler gantry platforms, a traversing system that enables the negotiation of the cable infrastructure without returning the gantries to the bridge deck, therefore eliminating the need for lane closures after initial installation and the subsequent removal. As such, the entire project was successfully delivered with zero accidents and without disruption to the bridge’s 31,000 daily vehicle crossings.

“Every bridge project has its own unique set of challenges,” highlights Project Manager, Andy Macdonald. “However, this was a major step up and on a different scale from any of those we have previously undertaken. Throughout the project we worked very closely and collaboratively with the client, who was highly supportive and understanding of the complexities and challenges involved. Ultimately, it was a brilliant team effort, which demonstrated the technical capability within the Spencer business and our commitment to deliver a painstaking project to exceptional levels of quality.” Lars Fuhr Pederson, Technical Director for A/S Storebælt, the client for the project, commended Spencer’s competence saying: “We have enjoyed an excellent working relationship with Spencer because of their diligent and committed approach and the high standard of their work.”

The complexities and challenges posed by such high level and safety critical projects only serves to demonstrate the world-class expertise Spencer retains within its business. Crucially, successful and safe completion of both helps the company secure its position amongst some of the world’s leading and most specialist engineering groups. With these two projects, plus a range of other high-level bridge works, behind it the company is now actively pursuing further bridge maintenance projects in the UK and across Europe.

Spencer Group

Services: Leading engineering specialist