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New partnership for ‘specialists in floaty things’

New innovative access options for inspection, maintenance, build and demolition of bridges, piers and other structures over water are now available thanks to a new partnership between ScaffFloat, developer of a patented plastic float that allows the design and build of pontoons and workboats out of standard scaffold components, and Richter, the largest firm of temporary works designers in the UK.  

There are an estimated 15,000 over water structures in the UK alone, from large commercial piers and ferry terminals to thousands of rail, vehicle, and footbridges over rivers, canals, and other waterways. These structures all need continuous maintenance; the ones made of concrete need regular inspection and repairs to cracks and weathering whilst iron or steel need blasting, painting, and often strengthening. All of this work requires an access system, normally a suspended scaffold, to be installed before works take place. 

The innovative ScaffFloat platform offers several advantages to projects where traditional solutions may struggle to be viable; the ScaffFloat can offer a much lower cost access solution than a full scaffold, is quicker to install – it can be mobilised by a 4-person team, launched, and lifted under the bridge in 2 days, reduces disruption to the top side of the bridge - particularly useful in city centre locations, workers are always working within full TG20 compliant edge protection, and the system can be designed so that there is always sufficient space on navigable channels for vessels to pass beneath.

The suspended ScaffFloat platform is built off-site and then lifted on to the water. Once afloat, the self-propelled system travels along the waterway to the bridge, even if this is miles from the launch site. 

Once in place under the bridge, lines or anchors are used to temporarily hold station while a MEWP (mobile elevating work platform) on deck is used to make the connections to the underside of the bridge. A hoisting system is then used to lift the platform up under the bridge together with a payload of equipment, plant, materials, and scaffold. Bracing is then applied to stop sway and the scaffold can be quickly and safely punched up from the ScaffFloat beams to give access to the top side of the bridge for contractors. 

Encapsulation or netting can be added to capture any paint or debris released during the planned works. When works are complete the platform can then be lowered to the water and re-positioned, or if needed multiple platforms can be placed side by side. The ScaffFloat can come ‘plug and play’ with full welfare facilities and materials. 

Toby Budd, MD of ScaffFloat said, “ScaffFloat has come a long way since it was launched two years ago. The system has really proved itself now and we have completed over 50 projects and provided 5,000 hours of safe floating access to contractors around the UK and abroad. This suspended offering is another big step forward for the system, really exciting.”

“We are specialists in floaty things and recognise where our strength lies. This is why we now partner with Richter and 48.3 on projects, they do what they are good at: making sure the design meets all industry standards and if necessary they can provide a Cat 3 check, and we do the floaty and hoisting bit on site and make sure it all goes to plan.”

Globally the scaffold industry is worth over £64 billion and is growing by 5% a year. A recent industry report by KBV stated, “Over the projection period, lightweight suspended scaffoldings will acquire substantial traction.” - this new offer from ScaffFloat could be popular given time and cost saving and safety.

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