Author Archives: Katie Mallinson

Managing cultural differences on global demolition sites

As part of his regular column with Demolition and Recycling International, RVA’s MD Richard Vann penned his thoughts on managing cultural differences on global demolition sites.

If you missed the article, you can read it in full here…

No two projects are ever totally the same. But the variances – and for some people the challenges – increase further still, when works take place in distinctly different locations, with teams made up of personnel from a number of cultural backgrounds.

There are language barriers to navigate, for example, and perhaps unanticipated norms surrounding working hours, break times or the pace of progress. Even the climate can influence on-site behaviour.

Legislation also varies significantly, which can set the tone regarding project expectations, unless carefully managed from the outset. But there should be one common law irrespective of culture, geography or the scope of works – respect. Respect for the client, colleagues, the environment, wider stakeholders and of course the engineering discipline itself, can help set the project barometer.

Establishing this respect takes effort of course, but this is usually easier to attain with strong levels of communication, consultation and clarity. The corporate minimum standards for the project – however large or small – should be outlined and agreed from day one. Globally-respected British standards are often the starting point, but where higher levels of quality are known, they should always provide the benchmark.

I have previously stopped work on site because agreed safety protocol is not being followed. It represents a huge mindset shift for personnel to wear harnesses in some parts of the world, for instance. But when they did start to wear them and that hurdle was overcome, the next obstacle to tackle was appreciation for the fact that they needed to be clipped on to a fixed stable point, to be of any value!

I’ve also been to sites that didn’t have a rescue plan in place if someone was to fall and become suspended – basic for those in the know but new thinking for many. Approaches to risk management differ from country to country but risks don’t become any less onerous simply because you’re working in different territories.  A fall from height in the UK and a fall from height in India – the result is inevitably the same.

Some culturally-driven safety challenges are seemingly less extreme – refusing to wear sunscreen in blistering temperatures, working without a shirt on or turning up to a heavy industrial demolition site in trainers. It may be the norm for some, but if this practice puts safety levels in jeopardy, we cannot forget what we’ve been taught and know is right, and leave our morals waiting at home for us.

It’s about being respectful, of course, but also robust.

When a demolition assignment is taking place in a developing part of the world, it does not mean that incidents can be allowed to happen. This is why internationally experienced demolition teams are now finding their expertise being exported worldwide, so that they can help protect the integrity of jobs and the levels of EHS excellence witnessed on site – particularly as projects grow in scale and complexity.

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Explosive demolition design underway for next phase of Ironbridge Power Station clearance

New engineering investigations and calculations are underway at Ironbridge Power Station in Shropshire, as decommissioning consultancy RVA Group prepares to oversee the next phase of demolition using the controlled use of explosives on behalf of site owner Harworth Group plc.

The site’s four iconic hyperbolic cooling towers – constructed from 45,000 tonnes of reinforced concrete – were brought to the ground in less than 10 seconds in early December 2019, following more than 5 months of behind-the-scenes preparatory works.  The same scientific and robust demolition methodology will now be deployed in phases to clear the power station’s bunker bay, turbine hall and de-aerator bay, over the remainder of the project.

Elsewhere, decontamination work is continuing on the safe removal of all hazardous materials within the 180ft boiler house and turbine hall, and minor structures are currently being demolished using mechanical techniques.  Close collaboration with environmental and community groups also remains ongoing to ensure maximum respect for the site’s ecological habitats and surrounding neighbours.

Progress of the programme – which it is estimated will have expended 250,000 man hours by the time of its completion – takes the 350-acre site several steps closer to becoming a residential-led mixed use development. Once home to one of the largest power stations in the UK, this vast expanse was acquired by land and property regeneration specialist Harworth Group in June 2018.  Harworth submitted an outline planning application for the site’s redevelopment to both Shropshire and Telford Councils in December 2019 and should planning be granted, the site’s redevelopment is expected to take a further decade to complete.

With more than 25 years’ industry experience and having completed almost 800 complex demolition assignments worldwide, consultancy RVA Group was appointed as principal designer for the project in April 2019. The specialist team continues to support the activity of contractor Demolition Services Ltd.

Commenting on the ongoing works, RVA’s managing director Richard Vann said:

“Harworth Group came to us because they were looking for a collaborative strategy involving the client, contractor and consultant, making the best use of all available technical skill-sets – crucial on a project of this scale.

“Their priority is the safe execution of works, so we rigorously audited the proposed methodologies to ensure best practice techniques would be adopted throughout the demolition and associated processes. From the outset the project approach has been and will continue to be open dialogue with all stakeholders, enforcement agencies and interested parties. The demolition project is just one of many stages of the overall development programme lasting over several years, and we have to ensure that the needs of all are considered from start to finish.”

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RVA Group heads to Russia

RVA’s managing director Richard Vann has been specially invited to address delegates at a new decommissioning event in Moscow.

The inaugural Russian Demolition Forum 2020 will take place at the capital’s Korston Club Hotel from 4-5 February, in association with HAACT, the EDA and PDi.

Having been in talks with the organisers since the earliest conceptual phases, Richard has shared his industry experience to help shape the focus of the event. And now a detailed programme exists for the Russian conference, with RVA Group featuring on the rundown.

Drawing on more than a quarter century of consulting in the decommissioning industry, Richard will take to the stage for a late morning session – ‘Demolition in the UK from the 1980s to 2019’ (11:40-12:05). Other topics set to be covered by sector professionals, include demolition trends, training, safety, plant reuse and project-specific spotlights.

Anyone interested in attending can sign up or discover more information online.

RVA is no stranger to the international events circuit, having been invited to chair the 2nd Annual Decommissioning & Demolition of Industrial Plants 2019 event in Amsterdam, and the 3rd Annual Global Decommissioning and Demolition of Fossil Fuel Power Plants Conference in Prague, not to mention the World Demolition Summit.

Seminars have also been delivered in Barcelona, Berlin and Dublin to name just a few.

This varied geographical presence reflects RVA’s increasingly global reach. Having now completed almost 800 decommissioning, decontamination, dismantling and demolition assignments across the world, the team announced the formation of a new German operation in late 2019. Details of a large Cypriot project have also recently been unveiled with two Middle Eastern schemes also soon-to-be disclosed.

Commenting on the company’s international activity, Richard Vann said: “I have long talked about the global nature of this market, and while international projects naturally present very different cultural, legislative and operational challenges, we have hundreds of years’ combined expertise within our team. This means we’re able to confidently immerse ourselves into these complex engineering works, and our advice is increasingly being sought on the global events scene as a result.”


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RVA appointed to oversee dismantling of Cypriot power station

RVA Group has been appointed to oversee the dismantling of Moni Power Station in Cyprus.

Located 20km east of Limassol, the plant – constructed mainly in the 1960s – is owned by the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC), who recently appointed RVA to look after the 26-month assignment.

RVA is in the process of developing the tender package in collaboration with the client’s team. Specifically, RVA’s senior project manager Ellis Hutchinson – who has worked on a vast number of decommissioning projects including a large power station scheme in Teesside – will have a permanent on-site presence from the commencement of the dismantling contractor’s works until the programme is complete. An RVA asbestos analyst will also travel out to the Mediterranean island to survey and monitor the hazardous insulation material removal processes, as the dismantling unfolds.

A number of local partners – specialising in the disciplines of safety management, structural engineering and geotechnical science – are already working with RVA’s specialist engineers. The careful assembly of this project team will help to navigate any language and regulatory challenges, while ensuring the efficient progress of works, to schedule.

An international tender procedure for the selection of a dismantling demolition Contractor for a turnkey project, is envisaged to be issued in February 2020 and the Contract Award is expected to take place in October of the same year.


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Decommissioning consultancy announces new German operation

London-headquartered decommissioning consultancy, RVA Group, has announced its latest chapter of expansion with the formation of a new company in Germany.

Based near Hannover– in the heartland of Europe – RVA Group GmbH will enable the team to further penetrate the EU market.

RVA is no stranger to working in this part of the world, with the engineers having overseen a number of complex dismantling and demolition assignments throughout the country, since 1992. But mindful of the growing volume of ageing assets – and decaying plants ready for clearance – the directors have now established a more defined and permanent German presence.

A local vanguard team has already been assembled – with skill-sets covering the full spectrum of decommissioning engineering, project management, administration and business development – and members of RVA’s UK operation will also have a supporting role as assignments dictate.

The company’s first front-end engineering project is also complete, with decommissioning plans and tender documentation developed for Mehrum Power Station, and the contractor already selected ahead of the cessation of operations at some point in the future.

RVA Group GmbH has recently been awarded the contract for a similar assignment at Buschhaus Power Station in Lower Saxony, following the execution of ground investigations and wider site hazardous materials surveys.

Commenting on the expansion, managing director Richard Vann said: “We’ve worked all over the world during the past 27 years, but regardless of where client requirements have taken us, our base has always been back in the UK – until now.

“To truly make a mark in Germany, we knew we needed a local HQ, plus a team that understands the culture, can speak the language and contract under the local law. We’ve therefore spent the last twelve months making this vision of a new company, a reality.

“I’m very excited to see how 2020 pans out for us all.”

Having a base in Germany will also enable RVA to widen its reach into The Netherlands, Belgium, France, and other neighbouring countries on the continent, as opportunities arise.

“RVA Group GmbH will play a crucial part in us taking our growth to the next level,” continued Richard. “We want to replicate what we’ve been doing in the UK for the last quarter of a century, as we head into the next 25 years and beyond.”

RVA Group’s UK operation – which has completed almost 800 projects since it was established – was acquired by Energetický a průmyslový holding (EPH) in November 2017, for an undisclosed sum.

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RVA to take lead role at European demolition event

Senior professionals from the international chemical, petrochemical and power generation sectors – plus other heavy industries – will gather in Amsterdam next week for the 2nd Annual Decommissioning & Demolition of Industrial Plants 2019 event.

Having completed almost 800 projects in this complex environment, it is perhaps no surprise that RVA Group will be attending this peer-to-peer gathering. But truly committed to global knowledge transfer, RVA will not just take a seat in the audience.

Managing director Richard Vann has been invited to chair the entire two-day conference and will open with a speech that will hopefully set the tone from the outset.

Continuing with the theme of ‘Addressing Environmental Challenges & Regulations for Cost Effective, Safe Decommissioning Strategies’, Richard will then deliver a seminar advising on how to write detailed tender documentation.

He will also take a seat on two panel discussions – the supply chain management debate which marks the close of the first day and a stakeholder relations session which will run just before delegates’ lunch on day two.

Wider subjects set to be covered during the event, include the redevelopment of power plant sites, the use of BIM, practical techniques for the demolition of complex structures, recycling and the circular economy, contractor risk management, soil and groundwater liabilities, and asbestos removal modelling.

Commenting on his reason for attending, Richard said: “With industrial plant decommissioning projects coming to the fore at a rate never seen before, it is crucial that demolition professionals and asset owners alike, come together to share challenges, experiences, learnings and best practice.

“The more knowledge is shared at events such as this, the greater the likelihood that these inherently hazardous assignments can be executed safely, cost-effectively and with minimal environmental impact.”

The 2nd Annual Decommissioning & Demolition of Industrial Plants 2019 is expected to attract VPs, directors, heads, managers, analysts and specialists in energy generation, asset management, construction, engineering (including civil), site operation, construction, health and safety, and more.

The event will take place in The Netherlands from 27-28 November. Pre-registration is essential but final tickets can be reserved online.

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