When Keller, a specialist in civil works and retention, began planning how to support a large basement excavation for the Bowline Wickham residential development in Newcastle, the company initially preferred ground anchoring. When the adjacent rail asset prevented this shoring method for the southern half of the excavation, it soon became clear that a hybrid solution was needed.
Keller designed an anchored retention system for the northern half of the excavation and approached Coates Engineering Solutions to design an internal bracing system for the southern half.
Darren Browne, temporary works engineer at Coates, acknowledges that although the project presented complexities from its inception, it was only as the work progressed that the true intricacies and challenges became evident.
“With strict design criteria from Transport for NSW and challenging soil and site conditions, it became clear that both Coates and Keller needed to work closely together for the project to succeed,” says Browne. “We moved from being treated as a contractor to becoming a vital partner on the project – it wouldn’t have been possible without both of our teams working as one.”
The successful completion of the project hinged on three key elements, Browne explains. He emphasises the critical role of Keller’s anchored retention wall, engineered to counteract the earth’s pressures; the internal bracing system from Coates comprising two levels of hydraulic struts, including the super heavy-duty MP375 hydraulic ram, laterally braced by the HW500 waler system.
“Our configuration was not just about holding things in place; it was about precision monitoring via telemetry sensors and ensuring that every part of the hybrid shoring system worked in tandem,” says Browne. “If any of these elements were missing, the whole solution would be compromised.”
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Browne’s philosophy, evident in Coates’ approach to this job, is to see these challenges as opportunities for growth. He and his team have a history of taking on challenging projects, even when others have been unable to offer a workable solution. It demonstrates their determination, capability and willingness to tackle difficult tasks, ultimately leading to successful outcomes.
Browne highlights the importance of trust in the technical expertise of Coates’ engineering team on projects like these. The team’s ability to handle complex temporary works projects like Bowline Wickham doesn’t just rest on the leadership’s shoulders, but on the collective efforts of the team.
“Trust in your people, trust the technical department and the people around you – you can do it,” says Browne.
By leveraging each member’s unique skills and insights, the Coates Engineering Solutions team achieves positive results. Browne believes that when combined, the team’s collective intelligence and skills are exponentially greater, making them “more than the sum of their parts”.
Although this project is extensive and ongoing until 2024, all involved parties have expressed extremely positive feedback, underscoring the impact of successful collaboration on such a significant scale.
Browne sums up Coates’ ethos with a simple yet impactful statement: “Shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you might at least land amongst the stars.”
This philosophy of setting ambitious goals and not shying away from challenges has undoubtedly been a key driver for Coates’ success.