News & Views

FPS Podcast – June 2020

Episode two of the Federation of Piling specialists (FPS) podcast, sponsored by Soilmec, hears FPS Chair Steve Hadley talk to A Squared Studio Director Tony Suckling about advanced geotechnical design techniques. Steve also welcomes David Major, the leader of the FPS early careers group (ECG), to discuss professional development, before spending time with Dave Trotter of Fatigue Science, looking at how technology can help us manage tiredness in the workplace and beyond.

Co-host David kicked off discussions speaking about why the ECG was formed. Specifically, how David’s own personal disappointment of not being able to access some training for a programme promoted his post-reflection look to the FPS for guidance but found little applicable for the ‘young professional’. Together with FPS colleague John Chick, they pitched the idea of the ECG group to the FPS and got the green light to set it up.

As well as all its aims, topics and planned evolution, David speaks about the importance of networking and how forming common themes is a benefit to ECG members, and how the ECG can grow further to provide support from University level right through to those already in the industry and doing their chartership.

Conversation moved on to Tony Suckling and his pathway through and into the geotechnical sector, including the inspiration an encounter with some timber piles he saw had on his career and his subsequent move into piling. From contractor to consultant Tony has had a varied career, but is keen to express how his mentors played an important role in shaping his career path and how this has prompted his determination to give something back through his involvement in the ECG. Moving on to his present work, Tony spoke at length about the RIBA design stages and how its seven steps progress, where piling fits in and how funding increases as you move through the steps.

The importance of Ground Investigation is also discussed and how it should be encouraged. Tony spoke of the finite element techniques his consultancy offers and the need for clients to understand exactly what they are looking to know from a project, and the benefits environmentally and cost-wise. From 3D arching and its benefits to the design demands of ever higher structures being built, particularly in London, Tony’s discussion progressed into more technical issues, before the impact of Eurocode 7 and its influence on design was outlined, including factors of safety etc.

Tony concluded his discussions with his role on the then Eurocode development and where it will be heading and introduced the term “Ground Model Method” – something to get used too!

Dave Trotter of Fatigue Science joined the discussion from Canada, and spoke at length about the work his company is doing with the FPS, specifically to educate people working in the industry, educate managers of fatigue and learn lessons from research about how fatigue impacts performance as well as safety, and how working and travel patterns can effect individual’s too. An insightful discussion Dave spoke of the technology they use to study fatigue, what they study, and how the data collected can be used to predict subsequent risk. The predictive nature of findings, for example, can be used to ensure operatives and workers do the riskiest work when they are ‘at their best’ and less risky work when the data has predicted they may not be operating optimally.

How firms can alter their work patterns and how individuals and their home life can be altered to improve performance and reduce risk was also discussed. With fatigue comparable to a measurable and concerning blood alcohol level, Dave explains how serious the issue is, but also offers positive advice about how we can all help ourselves and just knowing how fatigued we are at any point can help us perform better. The importance of exercise was discussed, but it is important to know when best to do it to avoid it actually hindering your sleep, as well as other little things we can do to help us sleep better.


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