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High-level nighttime working to an exacting standard
During the night of Tuesday 30 May and the early hours of Wednesday 31 May 2017, the Westerscheldetunnel (the Netherlands) was completely closed to traffic to allow annual maintenance and renovation work. Time was an important factor: Westerscheldetunnel Maintenance only had six hours to get the job done. Challenging? Yes, but not unachievable. The equipment and logistic plan provided by Boels Rental made it possible to achieve the desired result before the deadline.
Westerscheldetunnel Maintenance v.o.f., a company set up by CroonWolter&Dros, BAM and Mobilis, carries out monthly maintenance at the Westerscheldetunnel, the main link between Zeeland and West-Brabant in the Netherlands and Flanders in Belgium. Because of previous positive experiences with hiring equipment from Boels, the company contacted us again at the beginning of 2017. This time with a request for supplying the equipment required for the tunnel’s annual maintenance shut-down. This involves shutting both tunnel tubes for one night and diverting all traffic during that period. In short, the perfect conditions for temporarily deactivating the (camera) systems, installing software updates and replacing all the matrix signs.
Any type of hold-up would have disastrous consequences for this six-hour project. To prevent this from happening and gain time wherever possible, our aerial work platforms were tested at the work site two months before the project was due to start. The machines were placed on a low loader, driven into the tunnel and unloaded there. This was the most efficient approach: the tunnel is six kilometres in length so driving the machines back and forth would have been excessively time-consuming. The test was successful; the aerial work platforms performed perfectly at all locations, even in sections where the gradient increased to 4.5%.
Safety always has the highest priority, both for us and for our customer. For example, toolbox meetings (editor’s note: meetings focusing on specific topics chosen by Boels Training) were organised to discuss the function and operation of our aerial work platforms and the best unloading locations in the tunnel. However, safe working also means that you need to be able to clearly see what you are doing. Because good visibility sometimes presented a challenge, particularly in the darkest areas in the tunnel, we also supplied battery-powered LED lighting units. Thanks to their compact size, these energy-efficient units were easy to mount on the aerial work platforms.
Prepared for all eventualities
The project itself went as smoothly as the successful tests two months earlier. On the afternoon before the project was due to start, we received a call from the customer: one of his suppliers could not deliver half of the promised number of aerial work platforms. In preparation for scenarios like this, extra aerial work platforms had already been driven onto a low loader. Furthermore, at the customer’s request, a Boels technician was available on standby during the entire night so that any problems could be resolved immediately. His services were not required however. The project was completed without problems and delays.