Mode Wheel Sluice Gate No. 4 Replacement

Constructing Excellence

Mode Wheel is located within sight of Salford Quays’ gleaming new residential towers and commercial buildings, such as Media City. It was first constructed in 1894 and overhauled in 1954. Sluice Gate No. 4 was in danger of failing due to its age and nature, risking flooding to the surrounding area. The project’s passionate and dedicated team drew on the best experiences of suppliers, such as designer KGAL and fabricator Warbreck Engineering, and the client, Peel Ports, to develop an innovative prefabricated solution to overcome health and safety and logistics challenges.

With a small working footprint available, the works were extremely linear with almost all activities on the critical path. Therefore, best practice was applied using off-site fabrication approaches to overcome the challenge that the restricted working footprint presented. The existing gantry was removed in a single lift and the new gantry was fully fabricated and fitted out before installing in a single lift. This reduced the number of lifting operations from circa 30 to only 2, whilst also allowing full fabrication of the gantry and installation of all headgear and electrical systems in factory conditions, hugely reducing health and safety risk on site, such as working at height. An additional benefit was the removal of a significant amount of access requirements (mainly scaffold) to assemble and fit out the gantry on site, which significantly reduced associated costs.

Bringing the client’s operational team into decision making led to better outcomes. Their input ensured that future maintenance requirements could be minimised, adequate safe access ensured, and detailing to the gate fabrication incorporated so that it arrived on site right first time. Specified quality was improved upon by jointly agreeing a better method to replace the wheel tracks. Instead of grinding them down and fitting new tracks on top, instead existing tracks were cut off and new tracks cast using a chocking compound.

Three Winning Facts:
  1. The project really stands out due to the long-term benefits that the client will gain across the challenging programme of sluice gate replacements along the canal. This project has proven an approach that safely fast-tracks gate, gantry and headgear removal and installation, providing an estimated three months of programme savings for future works.
  2. As fabrication can be aligned with condensed construction programmes, potential huge savings across the remaining 23 gate replacements will be achievable. If these
    efficiencies could be realised on future projects, this would represent a monthly cost saving of approximately £64k (based on prelims costs from Mode Wheel), which, when extrapolated across the remaining programme, would save approximately £4.5m.
  3. Delivered early, under budget, with outstanding health and safety and quality performance, and with a satisfied client, the Mode Wheel Sluice Gate No. 4 replacement is an outstanding project that showed the best qualities of the region’s civil engineering and construction profession.