Akela claims new precast beam a “game-changer” for housing

Scotland’s Akela Ground Engineering has launched an innovative precast concrete beam system it claims could dramatically speed up the delivery of new homes.

The so-called ‘ABeam’ features a special mechanical pinned joint, which the company says allows for prefabricated ground beams to be installed in a matter of hours.

By combining precise off-site fabrication, alignment, interlocking sections with secure fastening, the joint design is said to ensures a robust, reliable and efficient way to connect precast ground beams.

Will Payne, general manager at Akela Ground Engineering, which is part of Akela Group, said: “After reviewing the precast ground beam options available on the market, we found many still had considerable downsides. The use of pile caps, insitu concrete and tie bars were common; this requires sequencing of works, and could also be impacted by weather conditions. All of this leads to considerably longer installation times.

“Akela’s new ABeam precast system eliminates all of these issues, and offers significant advantages in terms of construction install, performance and overall project quality.”

Officially launched at the recent National House Building Council (NHBC) Construction Roadshow in Glasgow , ABeam is said to offer housebuilders a new and sustainable alternative to ground beam installation.

Officially approved and signed off on “live” projects by the NHBC, ABeam could help housebuilders lay foundations for up to three plots per day, the company claims.

Following significant investment, the company has created a state-of-the-art fabrication facility at Akela’s headquarters near Glasgow.

The purpose-built facility at Thornliebank has the capability to fabricate the Abeams in a controlled environment to ensure quality and production output. The company has also invested in renewable ground source heating for curing the concrete to lower the carbon impact on the environment.

Payne added: “In addition to the significant time savings and efficiencies, our new ABeam system can be delivered using the same plant equipment for the full installation process, with lighter bearing pressures from our JCB JX driven piling rigs.

“Using sustainable methods of production at our purpose-built facility and existing equipment for installation, we’re able to reduce our carbon footprint and offer developers a more modern and energy efficient alternative to existing ground beam options. For example, with ABeam, clients will no longer need to install crane platforms or hard standings at their sites.”

Andy Borland, construction director at Bellway Homes, said: “Akela’s ABeam system has meant we were able to release plots to our wider teams a lot faster compared to other precast ground systems we have previously used.

“Our bricklayers were working on multiple plots within three days of pile installations at this development, rather than taking over a week and relying on the weather. We also didn’t need to install any crane platforms as Akela used the same excavated plant for the entire installation process, saving us money on preparatory works that other precast ground beams systems require.”

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