Life saving role for Shropshire steel fabricator
A Shropshire steel fabricator has revealed its life saving role in a groundbreaking scheme to rewire London.
Fabweld Steel Products (FSP), based in Telford, has played a key role in ensuring that workers on the National Grid’s London Power Tunnels project can get to emergency help.
The firm has developed and supplied rapid opening stretcher access covers for service shafts on the tunnels that are being created deep under the city to upgrade the capital’s power supplies.
The seven-year project will construct a new 32km electricity superhighway, made up of 12 15-metre wide shafts that are up to 60 metres deep.
The access covers on the service shafts are needed to allow the emergency extraction of casualties. They had to be designed to cope with a weight load of up to 11.5 tonnes and other requirements included single-person operation and two-hour fire rated protection on the steel.
Managing director Richard Hilton said FSP had invested a great deal of research and development at its headquarters in Madeley to create the life saving access covers.
“We were already installing duct cover systems on the project when we were approached to provide the stretcher access covers at sites in Hackney, St Johns Wood, St Pancras, Willesden, Wimbledon and Kensal Green,“ he explained.
“At the time, there was no such product in our range and we worked to develop our hinged access cover system further to meet these specific requirements.
“There was no standard solution to creating a stretcher access cover that would allow the safe extraction of casualties, carry the required load and also be fireproof. The entire cover and all elements had to be totally demountable as well so that the structural opening could be increased for essential maintenance.”
FSP researched a number of designs and materials to achieve the solution but this also posed further challenges.
Richard said: “We used 3D modelling software and analysis throughout the project to develop the access cover, introducing numerous improvements to decrease the manufacturing time and reduce buckling issues at the galvanisers.
“There was a fine balance between the weight and the required strength within the stretcher access assembly, particularly due to the hinged design.”
The stretcher access covers are being installed on the tunnels and FSP has added the product to its general portfolio.
Richard added: “With the increasing population and the need for future underground infrastructure developments, these stretcher access covers are likely to have a wider application for use in different environments where emergency access and fire protection are essential requirements.
“Our commitment to research and development allowed us to develop a cutting edge product and create this innovative bespoke product that wasn’t available on the open market.”
FSP recently won the Excellence in Learning and Skills category at the Shropshire Star Excellence in Business Awards in recognition of its innovative approach to development.