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Jackson works with supply chain to innovate on its Navigation programme

Jackson Civil Engineering and its supply chain has introduced numerous innovations to this winter’s Navigation programme designed to improve the way it works and add value to projects.

Jackson was appointed by the Environment Agency to refurbish 11 locks on the River Great Ouse and River Nene in Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire between November 2020 and March 2021. The work has included lock drain downs and silt removal, mechanical works including installing new actuators, and the repair and re-painting of lock gate structures.

Creative solutions were employed to increase the efficiency of the works, enhance health and safety, mitigate risks to the environment and boost relations with local businesses.

Welding work

One major improvement came from working closely with supply chain partner XL scaffolding, who Jackson asked to design and incorporate a lifting track into the scaffold structure around the lock gates. Prior to this, heavy items had been lifted either by hand using pulleys, or by using cranes or lorry loaders, which can be costly. The new design enabled workers for another supply chain partner, Huntons Engineering, to hook up items at the bottom of the scaffold, lift to the top safely using chain blocks and then run the item along the track to lower safely onto the required area.


Jackson consultant site agent Ben Fabian said: “We are always looking where we can bring value to the project and do things better – often using the expertise of our supply chain.”

Other instances of using supply chain partners to push improvements include working with SPG – a Peterborough-based company who use specialist heat induction equipment to remove old paint from structures prior to repainting. This approach minimises the waste produced compared with traditional shot-blasting techniques.

Jackson also trialled an innovative new product called ScaffFloat, which uses a set of tough plastic floats that have been specifically designed to integrate with standard scaffolding parts, to make a working pontoon. It is hoped going forward this will provide a safer and more cost-effective way of working on the water.

Boosting local businesses.

At one site on the River Nene, Ben and his team helped to boost a local business by chosing to set up their facilities in the nearby pub that was closed because of lockdown. The arrangement provided the pub with a much-needed alternative revenue stream and also saved the client up to £26k in set-up and maintenance costs over the working period compared with standard welfare facility arrangements.

Some of the innovations were simple but incredibly effective, such as choosing to use tree bark on the pathways between the site facilities and the locks rather than employ standard plastic matting.

Ben added: “Not only were the paths less slippy, the use of tree bark was a sustainable solution that left the footways in a better condition than before – providing a benefit to members of the public who used them after our work had finished."