Laterals: Out with the old, in with the new
Date: 31 January 2018
With the uncertainty that Brexit brings, coupled with several signs that infrastructure spend is slowing down, it’s been said that it’s more important than ever for British manufactures and the wider construction market to start questioning traditional methods. Not only for improvements within our own markets, but also to build the brand of British Construction.
With several large scale national construction projects increasing in intensity, there comes an opportunity for change. Many manufacturers have taken on the challenge and started to introduce products that change construction processes and the benefits have proved themselves to be significant.
Living in the past
Looking at drainage for instance, there are processes being used to this day that were used 20 years ago despite many newer methods proving to be quicker, more cost effective and just as reliable.
Connecting into existing drainage pipelines from houses or commercial properties, highways and environmental areas, in traditional ways is a labour intensive and a time-consuming process. Traditional methods include the use of factory made junctions, whether these are concrete/clay cast or fabricated plastic. In addition to the purchase of a new junction, the contractor would also need connecting products and the relevant tools and equipment. If the junction is too large for manually handling, then some form of lifting equipment would be required too.
As well as an expensive array of products, tools and equipment, the outlay costs for the contractor include the number of people required and the time it takes to complete the connection. The process would normally include excavation of the pipe, blocking off the main pipeline at each end, over pumping running waste if the pipe is in use, cutting out a length of pipe, lifting in a new junction and connecting the junction to the existing pipeline. When a connection needs to take place in a busy road, the result could be days of traffic disruption and costly inconvenience.
Challenging the Status Quo
To tackle this problem, Flexseal has recently put additional focus and development behind its range of lateral connection saddles. A ‘saddle’ is a retro-fit, water tight product that can eliminate many of the time and cost issues surrounding the traditional methods of making a lateral connection. The method consists of simply core drilling a hole into the main pipeline, as recommended in specifications, at the desired location and following the 10-15 minute installation instructions for the product.
“The entire process can take as little as 30 minutes, from core drilling the hole to connecting the lateral pipe, all of which is a one-man job” explains Ricky Hasprey, National Sales Manager for Flexseal.
As well as time saved on the actual connection process, considerable time can be saved on the excavation of a buried pipe. Only the top surface area where the connection needs to be made needs to be exposed, eliminating the need to excavate around the whole section of pipe.
Ricky continues, “Last year we identified that sales were significantly higher in certain geographical locations compared to others. We talked to contractors using the product and their feedback was that once they used the saddles and seen the benefits, they would use them for any lateral connection they could. They were experiencing fewer damages, fitting lateral pipes quicker and they could keep spares in their vans.
“We also talked to contractors not using the saddles to ask them why they’re still using traditional methods and their responses were that they were simply unaware of newer methods.”
Flexseal has since invested in greater communications surrounding the range of products and development to increase the awareness and uptake by the trade.
“We’ve since seen a huge increase in engagement from contractors and merchants. The concept of a saddle is nothing new and has been performing well for customers who jumped on the opportunity when they were first launched. However, change is always difficult and is something that needs nurturing. With the extra focus and improvements in the range, we now have a really good upward trend going across the country and we’re excited to see where it goes.”
Flexseal has also identified that water companies may be nervous to use products on their assets that they know relatively little about, and rightly so - adding new products into a specification can be a risky business. Reacting to this, the company has sought approvals for a substantial proportion of its saddles range from WRc, an Independent Centre of Excellence for Innovation and Growth, recognised by the water companies. WRc puts products through a series of rigorous tests to prove their ‘fitness for purpose’ and the result means less purchasing risk.
“We take immense pride in our ability to create innovative products that are not only fit for purpose, but exceed the expectations of our customers and our WRc approvals demonstrate this. As well as proving that our products work, we’re also committed to adding value wherever we can for our customers and we believe a WRc approval does this. The approval, along with the additional benefits of the saddles has seen contractors and merchants who are quoting projects using our saddles win tenders over their competitors who continue to quote more traditional methods” concludes Ricky.