Innovative dike reinforcement technique wins Award
Rotterdam, The Netherlands – At the Innovative Netherlands trade fair, held on 6 and 7 December 2006, this year’s ID NL Award for Best Invention was presented to Evert Huiden of BAM Grondtechniek for his ‘Expanding Columns’ dike reinforcement technique. BAM Grondtechniek has been developing this technique since 2001 within the Delta Dike consortium, which also comprises DHV (leading consultant), Arcadis, Fugro, Van Oord Nederland and GMB Infra Projecten.
Huiden’s Expanding Columns technique is an alternative to traditional dike reinforcement methods. Expanding columns are steel tubes that are drilled into the load bearing layer of sand below the dike. The tube is wrapped in an empty sleeve made of a synthetic material which is then filled under high pressure with a cement like substance, thus creating a cylindrical foundation element within the dike. By installing the columns in a fan shaped pattern, the dike is effectively reinforced at its weakest point, i.e. just above the load bearing sand layer. The columns are installed using light equipment which is operated from the crest of the dike. This method minimizes nuisance and allows houses and vegetation on the slope of the dike to be preserved.
In September 2005 a successful demonstration of this dike reinforcement method was carried out in a dike near the Dutch town of Leerdam. The test was conducted as part of the INSIDE project (INnovations on Stability Improvements enabling Dike Elevations), a research program into dike reinforcement funded by the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management.
The Expanding Columns invention won the jury prize in the Water, Shipping & Transport category. According to the jury, the working method and technical execution were particularly innovative. The distinguishing feature of this dike reinforcement method is that the dike’s core is strengthened without damage to the surroundings. The invention can also be used to ‘jack up’ roads that are in danger of subsiding. The jury was also pleased with the quality of the collaboration between the various participants in this project. Increasingly, innovation is a process of working together and complementing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. These days, companies that collaborate closely with others are the ones that succeed in realizing innovations and achieving sustainable growth.