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Concrete cutting at Football Stadium

Pitchside result for Pompey fans 

Nigel Ostler-Harris, Technical Concrete Cutting 

The latest technology in tracked concrete sawing has delivered a stunning result at the home of once FA Cup winners Portsmouth FC. 

As a result of investment in high-frequency wall saw equipment by Chichester-based Technical Concrete Cutting (TCC), the company was able to undertake some concrete surgery in rapid time at the club’s stadium at Fratton Park. 

TCC, which specialises in concrete cutting, drilling and crushing, won the contract to reduce the height of two 175mm-thick pitchside perimeter walls by 600mm to improve the line-of-sight for supporters sitting close to the playing surface – and to enable the installation of state-of-the-art electronic advertising hoardings. The total length of wall to be cut was 175m. 

Like any Premier League club, Portsmouth counts its advertising revenue as an extremely important income stream and its investment in electronic hoardings provides the club with a new dimension for advertisers. Speed was of the essence for the football club and the contractor because Pompey wanted the project completed within a three-week window in which no home matches were due to be played, so TCC decided that tracked sawing was the preferred method. This was due to both its speed of execution, and from a health and safety perspective since the unit is operated remotely, which overcomes any concerns over operator vibration. 

With the risk assessment complete and budgets agreed, TCC started work and immediately put its remotely operated Pentruder high-frequency tracked wall saw to work. The company recently invested in the 27kW machine to replace its hydraulic counterpart that had seen many years successful service but which was unable to compete in terms of manual handling and performance. 

Step one was for the front row of seating to be removed. Even so, space was at a premium, which was another reason for introducing the lighter weight Pentruder saw. Another key factor was the quality of finish provided by the extremely powerful 600mm diamond blade used in order to minimise the risk of over-breaking the concrete structure, therefore ensuring that only minor remediation work would be needed. 

The electronic hoardings required that the pitchside space in front of the perimeter wall be excavated. The tracked saw was bolted into place and the wall cut at the required height and then broken into small sections using a light breaker, with the concrete debris taken away for recycling. A new concrete duct was put into place, onto which a steel structure was fitted to hold the electronic hoarding. 

As the tracked wall saw used three-phase electric, the whole operation was very quiet. The special fast-cutting blades developed by Nimbus Diamond Tools ensured rapid cutting of the concrete despite standard reinforcement bars and the discovery of old railings within the concrete from a previous era. The blade was water cooled/lubricated to prevent dust and the resulting slurry was controlled using an industrial wet vacuum system. 

Concluding remarks 

In all, nine days were allocated for the work and the project was completed several days ahead of schedule, thanks to the power of modern equipment and the effectiveness of the high-speed cutting blade. 

TCC was very pleased with the progress of the job and the quality of the finish achieved using the electric wall saw. As well as finishing ahead of schedule the project was fulfilled exactly to specification with minimal environmental impact and no damage to any other structures. 

The high-speed saw provided a perfect result, enabling a new structure to be created for pitch-facing electronic advertising hoardings and guaranteeing premier viewing angles for supporters as a result of the lower pitch-side walls.