Most people don’t really notice scaffolding on a building under construction, renovation, or one that’s just acquiring a fresh coat of paint. They tend to just walk underneath or alongside it without giving it any thought at all.
However, recent innovations have led to significant advances in scaffolding technology, resulting in safer job sites and more efficient resource allocations. And, believe it or not, some individuals do notice scaffolding and even appreciate it for its aesthetic value.
Scaffolding Shaped to Fit the Shape
Famous structures like the Colosseum, the Parthenon, the Taj Mahal, the US Capitol Dome, and the Washington Monument have all undergone extensive restoration in recent years. This means that some creative person designed scaffolding to fit each of these iconic shapes.
And, new buildings that are pushing architectural boundaries, like the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, also necessitate advanced scaffolding engineering. It can be concluded that scaffold design is an art and clearly not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. And, some scaffolds consist of multiple scaffolding systems fitted together like a puzzle. Scaffolding is a serious business – if done wrong, construction delays and even dangerous collapses can result.
Recent Innovations in Scaffolding Design
One technology that is driving change in the scaffolding industry is reality capture. This technology creates 3D models from photographs or laser scans to enable more accurate and precise modeling of scaffolding designs.
Scaffold designers can generate the scaffold design and then place it within the reality capture to see how it works. This process reduces scaffold modifications, reworking, waste, and inefficiency.
Examples of Innovative Scaffolding
- Decommissioning of a Nuclear Waste Site (UK) – An innovative scaffolding solution resulted in savings of more than £300,000 of taxpayers’ money in this decommissioning project. The unique rolling scaffolding used a state-of-the-art rail track system that created one easily-moveable structure that could shift from side to side as sections of work were completed. The system was lightweight, quick to assemble, and provided increased safety as there was no need for workers to climb the scaffolding.
- London Olympic Stadium Transformation with Hanging Scaffolds – An innovative scaffolding design used chains to hang supportive beam work from which to build scaffolding pods. This structure eliminated the need to use over 250,000 scaffolding fittings that would have been necessary with traditional scaffolding and created a safer working environment. In addition, this arrangement allowed work to be carried out regardless of weather conditions.
- Skyffolding Pendant Scaffolding – Components called strand jacks support a raised pendant-like scaffolding system called Skyffolding that provides a working environment that is much safer than traditional scaffolding for use on boiler maintenance in power plants. (Boilers are typically 230 ft. high.) Traditional stacked scaffolding with the total load on the base is less safe because damage to lower levels could trigger a complete collapse.
Even more advanced scaffolding construction technologies, such as advanced simulation and augmented reality are in the pipeline. Scaffolding is of vital importance to any infrastructure, so it’s important to never take it for granted. The scaffolding design process will continue to evolve and safety and efficiency will continue to increase along with innovations.