We recently caught up with Stephen Marshall, director of VolkerBrooks, to discuss the launch of its new product.
Can you tell us a bit about the new product?
When construction projects are working over water, it is important that a physical barrier is in place to prevent any accidents. We already stock a range of products suited to the Linkflote™ and Uniflote systems, which provide a physical barrier, but we now have another system to add to our fleet. Our new GRP handrail system is a lightweight modular unit, that is designed to BS61800 standards. The handrails provide solid barriers to protect the workforce whilst working over water.
When was the handrail system launched?
Our new handrail system was developed using the skills and experience of our in-house naval architects and engineers in 2020. After carrying out several trials, using prototypical mock-ups in our manufacturing facility at Morecambe, we signed off the final design in March 2021. Manufacturing started immediately, and the system was used for the first time on a marine project at Cartbridge Wharf, in May of this year.
Why was there a need for the new handrails?
The LinkfloteTM handrail system has been developed over the years, from the original chain and steel standard system. The chain and steel system could easily be damaged, and did not provide a solid edge protection at the required heights. It was also heavy and cumbersome to install and relied on the gunwale on the sides of the pontoons for fixings.
We wanted to produce a new, lightweight system, which would provide solid edge protection, whilst at the same time being quicker and easier to install than the steel panel system. This would reduce manual handling weights and, by using the end couplers for fixing, would mean that the system could be used on LinkflotesTM with a flat deck - something that many of our clients specify as a requirement on new build equipment.
What are the benefits of these handrails compared to other similar products?
The system is lightweight, making it easier to install and disassemble. The handrails use standard components, which are also used elsewhere in the LinkfloteTM system, and it is also highly visible and robust.
How have trials of the new system gone?
After numerous trials in our facility, the handrails were used for the first time by Mackley last month. We have received positive feedback from the client, and Remus Lita, a site manager from Mackley, said he was really impressed by the speed with which they were able to assemble them, which saved their team a lot of time in the installation process. He also commented on how strong and secure the handrails were, how they fitted together so easily, and how great they looked!