Foreign construction companies and developers have introduced alternative methods to fund large transportation projects and have influenced an increase in innovative bridge construction methods. For example, mechanized bridge construction is more common in Europe and is growing in the United States as European companies invest and manage job sites. At the same time, there is an increased awareness of safety on the construction jobsite, whether it is a bridge, a tunnel, or a building. With high-profile projects and greater collaboration among large companies, crews are working across teams and sharing best practices. This is guiding the industry into a more safety-focused approach to decision making and material selection. Safety is now often the first topic contractors address in meetings and the priority for them in their day-to-day operations. Product innovation in bridge formwork is poised to meet these chal- lenges at a time when it has never been more critical. Monumental Investment, Massive Improvement In the United States, one in five miles of highways and major roads and 45,000 bridges are in poor condition. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $110 billion in additional funding to repair those roads and bridges that are failing and rebuild the most economically significant bridges in the country as well as several thousand smaller bridges. Part of the law also includes an investment in passenger rail, the largest since the creation of Amtrak. The venture enables the United States to enhance transportation and create safe, efficient, and climate-friendly alternatives for moving people and freight. The development of the passenger rail network will require an investment in bridges and el - evated track to maintain level rails. As the need to build or replace bridges is on the rise, the country faces a challenge that must be addressed to fulfill that need: the ongoing skilled labor shortage will be magnified as stimulus funding is pumped into the market, outpacing the ability to generate a skilled craft labor force. Builders will continue to face the challenges of finding skilled labor and training teams quickly. Formwork companies will be bidding business while contractors contend with fresh teams on job sites. Teams populated by unskilled workers will face steeper learning curves, im- pacting completion timelines. In bridge construction, one thing remains constant: Bridge designers and owners steer designs toward the most economical style, known as a girder element or composite bridge. This bridge style employs an assembly line approach with crews first constructing piles, then foot - ings, columns, caps, girders, and then the bridge deck. Contractors will always be looking for an advantage to building these typical bridges
In reviewing industry trends and gaps in product offerings, PERI saw the opportunity to innovate a stagnant market through conversations with customers, who continue to face cost pressures and the shortage of skilled workers. PERI’s solution: The VARIOKIT Pier System (VPS), which offers in - novation the industry has not seen in decades. VPS bridges the gap between safety and efficiency to provide a versatile, rentable, and high- performing system for the smart construction of bridge columns and caps. It brings together the advantages of the industry standard girder dancefloor systems and self-spanning systems to deliver the highest safety level with standardized platform solutions and the elimination of potential safety hazards on site. In doing so, VPS helps specifiers and contractors answer critical ques - tions connected to the construction of a bridge: • Repetition of Structure. Is every cap the same? Do the bridge caps have variable dimensions in the cap cross section or column spacing from one bent to the next? Identical structures lend themselves to steel girder forming, and proj - ects with variable dimensions tend to lend themselves to dancefloor methods. VPS caters to both, offering flexibility and a simplified pro - cess to take the platform apart in only two pieces and reassemble again on the next cap. • Crew Experience. What experience with formwork systems does the crew have? How much of the crew is a new hire and requires training on the systems? From the first test site, VPS proved to be intuitive and easy to learn. With a simplified group of components, reduced quantity of bolt con - nections, and the innovative one-sided X-bolt, the room for user error is minimized, and crews are immediately empowered to build. • Safety Features. Safety is top of mind for everyone in the decision chain. What is the vendor able to provide to keep a crew safe? How does the system offer a safe working environment?
faster and cheaper without sacrificing quality. Considerations & Innovations: PERI VPS
For the vast majority of bridge caps, there are a few considerations when selecting a formwork system to ensure it will meet project requirements and crew needs. Companies often cater to one style of bridge design or the other – self-spanning bridges or dancefloor bridges.
November 2022 csengineermag.com
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