Tag Archives: RVA Group

What does the Principal Designer role mean in demolition?

The role of a Principal Designer (PD) may be familiar territory for RVA Group, as we routinely adopt PD responsibilities on behalf of our UK clients. But for organisations new to the world of demolition, PD is yet another acronym that merits further exploration.

Here, RVA’s operations director and experienced decommissioning engineer Matthew Waller, gives a top-line overview of this extremely important project role…

In the most basic of terms, the appointment of a Principal Designer is a legal and fundamental requirement for UK decommissioning and demolition projects. This duty holder role is set out under the Construction Design Management (CDM) regulations, which exist to help manage health and safety on these potentially high-hazard assignments.

However, the successful fulfilment of PD responsibilities, in truth extends far beyond this regulatory framework. In fact, in our opinion, the role of Principal Designer is   integral to good project management and an essential element of the structure of any decommissioning team.

The role of a PD is to analyse the various potential risks that exist on a given site. Such risks may relate to the demolition discipline itself, but will also extend to include the process-specific hazards relevant to the industrial background and current operational status of the plant concerned. The PD may therefore need to enhance their own process knowledge with that of personnel from the sector, whether that be from energy, pharmaceutical, petrochemical, and so on.

The Principal Designer must then understand how these multiple hazards interact with each other, to assist and provide direction that will help mitigate the danger they pose.

In short, this detailed project knowledge and understanding adds demonstrable value to a demolition project. It forms the backbone of advice to the client in terms of:

  • What hazards are known to exist and can therefore be accounted for
  • And where they are located
  • When and in what order the risks should be approached
  • Who should tackle them, once the persons carrying out the works have been fully informed of the risks and the works that have gone before
  • How the process should be executed, in terms of communications between all involved parties, the most appropriate techniques for hazard mitigation, taking into account best-practice procedures, methodologies and ever-evolving legislation
  • And why, i.e. the ultimate rationale once everything has been assessed.

The above naturally relies on robust communication with all parties involved throughout, including the Client, Principal Contractor, CDM Contractors, Designers, etc as well as any other personnel brought in to work on the assignment. But it is this same clear and informed dialogue which will best protect health and safety during the entire project lifecycle. The PD should strive to create a successful safety-first mindset, with the management of EHS considered a joint responsibility shared by all involved.

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RVA Group experiences continental drift

RVA Group has cemented its position as an internationally-acclaimed engineering consultancy, having secured three prestigious new projects on three different continents.

In only the last six weeks the expertise of RVA’s specialist decommissioning team has been sought by clients in Canada, Singapore and the Netherlands. These new schemes of work – on top of ongoing projects in the UK and mainland Europe – mean the firm has a healthy forward order book and is continuing to expand its team.

RVA’s managing director Richard Vann explains: “The nature of our work is particularly complex and a somewhat unusual skill set is required to safely manage the inherently high-hazard projects that we oversee. Identifying the best people is therefore not an easy task as we are looking for such highly skilled professionals in their respective fields, be it chemical, structural, mechanical, or civil engineering, for instance. However there is a phenomenal amount of talent out there so now it is a case of handpicking the industry’s finest and gradually adding the RVA sector specifics to their already highly developed skill sets.”

With a resident project management role on the five month North American contract, RVA is set to supervise the meticulous dismantling of a complex petrochemical plant, for resale, relocation and reassembly in Eurasia. Elsewhere other RVA engineering experts are on two large chemical sites in Singapore and the Netherlands to support the client to manage the dismantling of redundant assets that are intertwined with operational plant and services.

Richard continues: “Projects of this nature are the very reason that RVA was established back in 1992, and international growth has long been part of our carefully planned expansion strategy. As our reputation has grown and our relationships with multinational blue-chip clients have developed, we have steadily secured more overseas work. These three new projects represent an exceptional achievement for the company and they are a testament to the capabilities and results of our team.”

This type of work is not for the fainthearted though. “We quickly have to acclimatise ourselves to varied local requirements to ensure legislative and environmental compliance,” Richard explains. “There can sometimes be language barriers and time zones present challenges too, when we need to communicate with colleagues on the other side of the world. Indeed with the current geographical spread, we can have colleagues separated by almost a whole day”.

But all of this simply represents a new dynamic for the business, concludes Richard. “We develop knowledge-based partnerships whether we’re working in the North East of the UK, or the Far East of the world. Our aim is to develop totally safe, environmentally sound and cost-effective regimes wherever we may be, and we will devise bespoke team structures and on-site methodologies to best tackle the challenges that any project poses.”

RVA’s work continues on nine UK projects nationwide.

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‘Decom North Sea – new member profile’, January 2013 newsletter

  Decom North Sea coverage (236.0 KiB)

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Getting to grips with demolition ‘waste’

Having amassed a wealth of experience in the the specialist arena of heavy-industrial plant decommissioning, RVA is well placed to comment on the ever-evolving level of waste management excellence in the field. This month RVA contributed to leading waste and recycling magazine Secondary Commodity Markets. Read on to find out more…..

“Since its inception the demolition industry has been a committed recycler, acknowledging the commodity value and demand for materials that can be salvaged during domestic, commercial and heavy industrial executions of work. In reality it was probably one of the first ‘green’ disciplines.

For decades, contractors have yielded a revenue stream from the recycling of materials such as bricks, slates, and copper nails and piping to name but a few. However, as environmental pressures mount and legislative developments continue apace, a greater number of contractors, consultants and clients have heightened their commitment to the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ mantra. Sustainable working practices have rocketed up the project agenda and as a result, organisations have experienced multi-faceted benefits from the careful and continuous management of demolition projects’ waste streams.

Even the soft-strip (internal clear out) and subsequent demolition of a small domestic building can enable recyclates to be recovered. Yet the larger and more industrial the programme of works is, the greater the scope for advanced salvaging methods and the wider the variety of materials that can be retained.

A vast number of processing plant owners throughout the UK and EU are closing their sites as they rationalise their activities, relocate their operations or prepare to upgrade their equipment. Consequently they face the predicament of determining the safest, most cost-effective and environmentally sound route for their plant.

Many variables affect the methodology adopted for a given site, but organisations’ commitment to EHS excellence often sees decommissioning projects excel in terms of material collection, processing and trade.

A fundamental driver is to reduce the amount of ‘waste’ going to landfill, which of course supports the country’s impending targets and reduces waste disposal costs. Concrete and brick for example can be crushed for use as backfill, road sub-base and levelling.

Elsewhere selected items of plant can be carefully salvaged for reuse. For instance I have overseen the meticulous disassembly of a 500m long, 6,500 tonne papermaking machine that was sold for re-erection overseas. Of course such an exercise is not without its complexities, but a comprehensive grasp of the commercial environment means that plant buyers can regularly be secured and income can be generated for the original asset owners, which contributes to the overall project cost. This is perhaps the ultimate in recycling and waste stream management.

The general recycling of project materials is also very prevalent in industrial demolition due to the commodity value of arisings such as scrap metals for instance. Process vessels are often made from exotic alloys and high-value metallurgy can generate a significant income stream. We have worked on projects in the past where the monies earned from scrap materials have not only covered the cost of the works; they’ve been cash generative for the client.

This is clearly not possible with every project but the sum that can be earned from recycling does frequently determine whether the works go ahead, or not. In every case it is a matter of achieving the ‘best value’ outcome for the client concerned. One customer, a cast iron foundry owner, sought the creation of a precisely-engineered salvaging system to enable the reclamation of timber, plastic and scrap metal and uphold the organisation’s ongoing environmental commitment. The resulting ‘production line’ saw suitable material graded and segregated according to whether it met the appropriate specification and should be retained for reuse on the client’s other sites, or whether it should be sold to the industry via the usual recycling channels in the UK.

The conclusion?

Many would wrongly perceive our industry as a somewhat grubby and unrefined engineering discipline that lacks scientific precision. But the better-informed people become, the more they realise that decommissioning, demolition and dismantling engineers are highly skilled professionals that display an unparalleled commitment to sustainability and environmental excellence. It therefore cannot be disputed that the future of recycling within this arena is bright.”

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RVA operations director takes to stage at leading industry event

RVA Group operations director Ian Wharton delivered an educative presentation entitled ‘Process Plant Sector Decommissioning & Dismantling’ at the Institute of Demolition Engineers’ (IDE) autumn seminar in London, late last month.

Speaking to a 150-strong audience of IDE members, Ian’s thought-provoking delivery encouraged delegates to reflect on what it is like to work in the complex decommissioning and demolition environment, what skills and competencies are required, and what procedures and challenges may be encountered. The overriding themes were EHS excellence, client satisfaction, reputational management and continual improvement.

With over 30 years engineering experience, Ian has developed extensive knowledge within this specialist field. Speaking about the invitation to present he said: “RVA has been approached to deliver a presentation for the IDE for many years, and we are committed to working with the Institute to help continually raise the professionalism of our industry.

“The RVA team worked hard to design an insightful, wide ranging presentation in which best practice could be shared. We hope delegates left the seminar thinking about what they could do to heighten standards within their own organisations, and those of their clients.”

RVA managing director Richard Vann added: “Demolition is an exciting and multifaceted branch of engineering just like civils, mechanical or chemical. But the institutions within these fields have existed for centuries, whereas demolition is very much in its infancy. This means there is so much potential for the discipline to continually learn, improve and flourish, and it is important that we work together to protect project personnel, stakeholders and the environment.”

For further information, or to ask RVA to speak at one of your educational events, please call 01473 256890 or complete our short enquiry form.

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We were faced with a number of options of how to approach our site exit, and in order that we could make sound business decisions we required independent, reliable information compiled by an organisation with experience of complex decommissioning and plant recovery projects.

The fact that we came to an agreement with the landlord to negotiate a settlement and leave the majority of our assets in-situ, was to a large degree driven by us being able to assess the costs/time benefits that were developed in the Feasibility and Options study compiled by RVA. The selected result, delivering the optimum outcome for NILIT.

We found the RVA team communicative and helpful at all times and the fact that a UK company was providing services to an Israeli client, in connection with their German based assets, never became a constraining factor.

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