How Cranes Led To The Invention Of Modern Construction

How Cranes Led To The Invention Of Modern Construction

15th Jun 2021

The crane is one of the most important inventions in the history of construction as it allows us to build higher and lift more than we could through manpower alone, and have given us the ability to create monuments and buildings that reach the clouds.

As well as this, however, it led to a dramatic transformation in how construction was undertaken and a move away from gigantic groups of workers towards a smaller group of skilled contractors.

In a world before crane hire and where relatively small groups of skilled contractors would take advantage of advanced technology, construction looked very different.


Ancient Construction

Most of the secrets of ancient construction and our earliest buildings have been lost to time, not helped by the fact that Neolithic structures tended to be tents and other simple structures that leave no trace and therefore no clue of how they were made.

Larger structures such as megaliths and tombs were not so much constructed but instead quarried and hollowed out of naturally existing stone or were simple structures made of huge pieces of stone arranged into place.

This would, in combination with the development of mud bricks (in Ancient Mesopotamia) and adobe and stonework (in Ancient Egypt) lead to the construction of ever more ambitious structures.

The pyramid, for example, was constructed without using wheels, pulleys or cranes, leading to wide speculation as to how exactly the gigantic blocks used in the pyramids were constructed, although one suggested method involved huge numbers of people, ramps and wet sand.


The First Cranes

Whilst Mesopotamia and Egypt had used cranes as part of water irrigation, the first cranes used for lifting ever-heavier loads were developed around 515BC.

Early cranes used chains and lifting tongs to heave stone blocks, and evidence of this usage has been found in Ancient Greek temples around this time.

There has been some speculation as to the exact use of the cranes, whether it took the form of one large crane above the block, or in pairs, but regardless of this they point to the earliest known use of cranes in construction.

The winch and pulley were developed around 480BC, as they are referenced in accounts of the Persian Wars and by the philosopher Aristotle as a common part of architecture by 322 BC.

This new lifting technique allowed for weights to be lifted by much fewer people but also changed what kinds of construction materials were used.

Unlike Ancient Egypt, with ever bigger stones being used, smaller stones were used, including in the construction of columns.

Part of the reason for this is due to societal changes. Assyria and Egypt were huge singular entities with a single leader that would gather huge numbers of unskilled labourers to move vast quantities of material.

Ancient Greece, especially in its earliest days was exceedingly volatile, so hiring a small team of construction contractors was far more feasible and preferred in Greek cities.

This principle was evolved by the Roman Empire into the treadwheel crane, a system that largely remained until the Industrial Revolution and the first water-powered hydraulic cranes in the 19th century.


Read more
Flooded School Library Finally Replaced

Flooded School Library Finally Replaced

25th May 2021

Pupils at Eton Park Junior School in Burton upon Trent have been able to enjoy their new London-themed library after a flood over the Christmas holidays destroyed the last one.

Staffordshire Live reports that a burst pipe in the girls’ toilets caused flooding over the Christmas break, with students and staff finding corridors, classrooms, and the library knee-deep in water when they returned on 4 January.

Executive Principal Helen Phillips said: “Our concourse carpet had to be replaced as we couldn't get the damp out, the storage cupboards were replaced and a small reading nook was ruined.

We managed to claim on the furniture but we fund-raised for the books from PTA money and we have local friends, Rick and Jane Nuth, who have been gifting us what they can when they can.”

The new London-themed library allows pupils to continue developing their reading skills either individually or in small groups, and a ‘Tower of London’ provides a comfy seating area for the children to take time out from their studies to relax and get stuck into a good book.

Ms Phillips said that the decision to create a London theme for the library was due to that some of the children have not travelled very far, and many have never been to London, and the library aims to broaden their horizons, helped by a book called the London Eye Mystery.

She added that reading is at the heart of everything at Eton Park, and the school aims to develop a love of reading in every child.

We recognise the importance of this and its impact on future success. Put very simply we believe that having access to and knowing more words makes you smarter and our children deserve the very best start in life,” she said.


If you’re looking for educational furniture, then visit our website today to see our brochure.

Read more
Sustainable Concrete Poured Commercially For The First Time

Sustainable Concrete Poured Commercially For The First Time

21st May 2021

The world’s first graphene concrete slab has been laid commercially, a milestone that helps significantly reduce the environmental cost of concrete.

The new hybrid material is 30 per cent stronger than standard concrete, which significantly reduces the amount required for building projects and surfacing contractors.

This breakthrough was the result of a joint project between the University of Manchester and Nationwide Engineering, who laid the slab down at the Southern Quarter Gym in Solstice Park in Amesbury, a few miles east of Stonehenge.

The single floor slab was made by what the team have called concretene, which removed much of the building material and all of the steel rebar that is standard with concrete construction projects.

A representative of the University of Manchester called the project a breakthrough that could revolutionise the concrete industry and reduce its significant effect on the environment.

According to their data, if concretene is used worldwide, it could on its own reduce carbon emissions globally by 2 per cent, a reduction equal to the entirety of the shipping industry.


Why Is Concrete An Environmental Issue

The production of concrete is the third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide emissions, behind only the overall emissions generated by China and the United States of America.

Part of this is a result of the chemical process used to make cement, which releases carbon dioxide and lime when calcium carbonate is heated. The other part is the energy required to heat the cement to form clinker, often to temperatures above 1500 degrees Celcius.

As well as this, concrete production requires a lot of water, currently amounting to 1.7 per cent of all water use.

Finally, most construction concrete is reinforced with steel rebar, which gives concrete tensile strength and reduces the risk of cracking. However, the steel required has its own carbon cost as well.

There have been other suggestions to reduce the effect of concrete on the environment, such as using fly ash, slag or bottom ash to replace clinker, as well as mixtures that can bond more effectively with less water.

The simplest way to reduce the impact concrete has on the environment is to require less of it. This would require less heat to create it, less carbon dioxide emitted during the process and less water needed to start the mixing process. This is where concretene comes in.


How Does Concretene Work?

Concrete sets through two chemical reactions known as hydration and gelation. Hydration is where the cement reacts to the water and gelation is where this paste mixture bonds and hardens. Once dry it becomes an exceptionally strong material.

Adding graphene helps in several ways. The first is that it acts as a mechanical support that increases the strength of the concrete. As well as this, it also serves as a catalyst surface, which makes the bonding process more effective.

The result is concrete that is stronger, more durable and more resistant to corrosion.

Whilst the process of creating concretene is different, the process of mixing it, laying it and letting it set has not changed, meaning that no extra training or equipment is needed on the part of the construction firm.


Read more
Five Steps To Take Whilst Operating A Mobile Crane

Five Steps To Take Whilst Operating A Mobile Crane

11th May 2021

Mobile cranes are a critical part of most building construction projects, but like any other piece of industrial equipment, it is vital that any construction firm that operates a crane hire does so as safely as possible, which involves both the machine itself and also the surrounding site.

Crane safety is covered by the Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, which stipulates that all work using lifting equipment, such as cranes, hoists and gin wheel pulley systems, must be properly planned, supervised and carried out safely.

Here are five important steps to take whilst operating a mobile crane.


Make A Plan

Write out a detailed plan for the lifting operations that will allow you to undertake the work safely, and ensure that everyone involved with the operation reads and understands it.

Parts that should be included in your plan include:


  • The criteria behind your selection of a suitable crane, as well as set up and examination provisions,
  • Site preparation,
  • Safe slinging and signalling arrangements,
  • Details of the trained staff operating the crane, and others involved in the operation,
  • Supervision details and the authority of the person supervising,
  • Any other relevant examinations, reports and documentation,
  • Measures to prevent unauthorised use or movement of the crane,
  • Safety measures for everyone else on-site not involved in lifting.

Record this information in a place and a way everyone can refer to.


Check The Equipment

Make sure you complete a full inspection of the crane before you start work, checking for any structural, hydraulic, electrical or mechanical issues, as well as checking fuel and fluid levels to ensure the machine will work optimally during the entire length of the operation.

Check the load charts as well, and make sure you and any other operator fully understand what they mean before starting.


Check Above And Below The Crane

Make sure the crane has been set up on stable, secure ground, with no chance of the crane slipping or moving. Ensure that the area you have set up is free of traffic and pedestrians, blocked off for as long as is necessary to do the work.

As well as this look for overhanging hazards like wires, tree branches and other potential dangers.


Check Your Personnel

Make sure that your crane operators are accredited and certified and ensure that only qualified personnel are in the crane cab during its operation.

As well as this, ensure that everyone else on site is aware of the procedures involved with working with a crane and do not put themselves or others in unnecessary danger.


Stop Whenever Something Feels Wrong

If at any point during the lift something feels wrong, stop as safely as possible and reconsider how to accomplish the task.

With lifting equipment, safety comes above everything else, and if a lift at any point does not feel safe, it is a warning sign that there may be a safer way to handle the task.


As well as this, ever override the computer system. It is aware of the maximum loads and tolerances of the crane and overriding it could place the site in danger.

Read more
Sheffield Schools And Colleges To Take Part In International Study Scheme

Sheffield Schools And Colleges To Take Part In International Study Scheme

29th Apr 2021

The Sheffield Star reports that schools, colleges, and higher education providers in the region will be invited to take part in a ‘life changing’ study abroad scheme which is funded by the UK Government. Students will be encouraged to apply for the Turing Scheme, which replaces the Erasmus Scheme.

The Turing Scheme, named for the British scientist and mathematician Alan Turing, will provide funding for international opportunities in education and training around the world. It will be open to UK and British Overseas Territories organisations, encompassing a broad range of training and educational institutions.

The experience of travelling and studying abroad is invaluable in helping young people with their personal development, expanding language skills, employability, and understanding of other cultures. The new scheme is being hailed as an ambassador for ‘Global Britain’, helping to enhance international relationships.

Rani Moorcroft MBE FRSA, who instigated ‘Turing passport to the world’, said: “Sheffield is a thriving community, a young community. The council is already looking at race disparities. All the component parts are there. Sheffield can be a leader - taking the lead in tackling some of the most difficult issues.”

Moorcroft said that the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated inequalities, particularly among young people, who are in danger of becoming disengaged and underoccupied. She highlighted the importance of giving the younger generation something to aim for and look forward to.

The organisers of the £110m Turing scheme will be keen to attract applicants from a diverse range of economic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds, according to the Star article. The first placements and exchanges will take place from September 2021.

Commonwealth countries such as the Caribbean, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Jamaica, India, and Nigeria will be a part of the programme. Students will be able to take part in a range of activities, such as teaching English in schools, and working for environmental, social and governance programmes.

There will also be the opportunity to take part in safaris, pick tea leaves, and plant mangroves. Moorcroft views these activities as a chance for members of the Windrush generation to give something back to their parent countries. She is especially keen to break down barriers to achievement for younger people.

Moorcroft has also founded a community interest company called Zedgeneration, which encourages small global communities to work together and built a better future.

They have partnered with a not-for-profit social enterprise company called Catalyst in Communities, and also Buildeco, a construction company which works in partnership with councils and housing associations to provide modular flat-pack eco-designed housing.

Robin Lockhart FRSA, director of Catalyst in Communities and a Commonwealth Youth ambassador, said: “All new knowledge exists outside of our comfort zone and our job as Youth Coaches at Catalyst In Communities is to facilitate processes that stretch the comfort zone.”

Together the organisations hope to create ways of working and living sustainably, both at home and overseas. They are keen to invest in the green economy, lower fuel bills, reduce poverty levels, and mitigate the effects of climate change.


If you are looking for educational furniture, please contact us today.

Read more