An innovative product from a Midlands steel manufacturer that aims to save lives in one of London’s biggest ever infrastructure projects has been given royal attention.
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall saw the rapid opening stretcher access covers that were specially developed and supplied by Fabweld Steel Product (FSP) when she officially opened the National Grid’s new £1bn energy superhighway with His Royal Highness Prince Charles.
The access covers on the service shafts are vital for the emergency extraction of casualties.
They had to be designed to cope with a weight load of up to 11.5 tonnes and other requirements included single-person operation and two-hour fire rated protection on the steel.
The London Power Tunnels carry 200km of electricity cables deep beneath the city streets.
The 32km electricity superhighway is made up of twelve 15-metre wide shafts that are up to 60 metres deep.
Her Royal Highness viewed one of the access covers as she was given a tour of the National Grid substation and was able to see down a 32-metre-deep shaft leading into the tunnels, which featured one of the FSP covers.
The seven-year £1bn project has been the most significant addition to London’s electricity system since the 1960s.
The tunnels run from Hackney in the east to Willesden in the west, and from Kensal Green to Wimbledon in the south.
Telford based FSP was already installing duct cover systems on the project when it was approached to provide the stretcher access covers at sites in Hackney, St Johns Wood, St Pancras, Willesden, Wimbledon and Kensal Green.
As there was no standard solution that fitted the brief, FSP designed a bespoke stretcher access cover that would carry the required load and be fireproof.
The entire cover and all elements are totally demountable, so the structural opening can be increased for essential maintenance.
The stretcher access covers now form part of FSP’s general product portfolio.
Managing director Richard Hilton said he had been delighted that the Duchess had been able to see how the covers worked.
“To have been invited to develop a bespoke solution for this prestigious infrastructure project was a great honour for FSP," he said.
“It was a complex design to create as we had to factor in a number of issues to ensure they met the operational standards and were fit for purpose.
“What we have created is a product that now has a wider application for use in many different environments where emergency access and fire protection are essential requirements.”