When the British road access system manufacturer Eve approached Hydro about wanting to reduce its carbon footprint, the British company was expecting strong technical support. They received creativity, too - along with all the benefits of aluminium.
Eve supplies temporary access systems and related services to approximately 2,500 customers, mostly domestic, in the United Kingdom.
Known for years as Eve Trakway – it was founded in 1966 – the Bramley Vale-based company handles work for customers as diverse as the Metropolitan Police in London to Glastonbury Festivals.
Most of Eve’s road access systems are manufactured with aluminium. These systems need to be stable on all types of surfaces, yet capable of bearing heavy loads, for instance, heavy vehicles on construction sites.
“We’re the oldest supplier of this type of system in the market,” says Simon Messenger, who is responsible for operations as site services manager at Eve’s main site in Bramley Vale, also where the head office is located, near Chesterfield. “We have what we have. We are not fortunate enough to have a blank sheet of paper. This was part of our challenge.”
Messenger explains that the company has used two types of aluminium panels for its market-leading access systems, the K panel and the HT box-type panel. The K panel is roughly 70 kilograms heavier than the HT panel.
“And if we are supplying 25 kilometers of roadway to a specific contract, there are substantial savings in haulage alone,” he says.
When management requested reductions in Eve’s carbon footprint, Messenger says he saw an opportunity to save money at the same time. He invited Hydro to an appointment.
Back to basics
“We wanted to bring the K panel in line with regard to weight but there is also the method of installing that we needed to consider,” says Messenger.
“It was about taking things back to the start, then doing them all over again.”
Glenn McCrickerd works as Development Manager in the sales department for Hydro’s extrusion company in the UK. He remembers the first conversation clearly.
“They wanted the weight taken out but they didn’t really see where the weight could be taken from. But to take out weight and retain strength, you first have to understand the design,” he says.
“The K panel was a robust design that has worked for many years. But sometimes maintaining a standard design does not allow you to improve. We went back to basic engineering fundamentals, to understanding the loads on the panels and how the panels interacted with soft soils or hard grounds. We used this information to design a panel that could carry the loads they needed, maintain traction, reduce weight and retain the compatibility of assembly with Eve’s existing panels.”
Hydro succeeded in removing the 70 kilograms from the K panel – more than 20 percent of the original weight. Further, the company is working with Eve on features such as new connections, ramps and speed bumps that will ease installation, improve site safety and complete the solution.
For all environments
The X panel is formed from an extruded aluminium hollow plank and is three meters wide and 2.5 meters long. The extrusion has five cells, like five hexagons linked together. The X-factor.
Eve describes its new panel as its "trakway-for-all-environments." In addition to the weight savings, the company expects to generate cost savings from reduced installation time and transportation.
“It looks a lot like the K, but it is standard like a box,” says Messenger. “I’m a great believer in keeping things simple and by standardizing the process this is exactly what it is.
“The challenge of reducing installation build times is very important for major music festivals, like Glastonbury Festival, where we have over 80,000 square meters of access systems to lay. We are really starting to tackle this challenge head on and seeing results from the introduction of the new X panel. I am happy with that."