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  • Writer's pictureJo Bisset

Scaffolding - It's Marmite

I am going to get off the fence straight up and say something that may surprise you. I love scaffolding.

There is a "but" ... which I will come to later.

I read a book set in the Middle Ages where the author describes in great detail the ways in which the early builders constructed the first huge cathedrals using revolutionary engineering principles and early scaffolding systems. It was fascinating. The skills and engineering principles that people developed then are still to be seen today in some form.

Scaffolding does the job that it should do in many work situations. Its success can be seen by the sheer quantity of scaffolding all over the world.

Here comes the but....

Perhaps over time scaffolding could have developed more. Scaffolding has barely changed over the last 1,000 years. Yes, the materials have changed and there are extra gadgets, but fundamentally it is still the same. Surely it is time for step change innovation?

There are very obvious reasons why this kind of innovation doesn't happen. One major reason is that companies, having bought into their given scaffolding solution, want to maximise the return on their investment and build as much of their existing scaffolding stock as they can regardless. Which makes financial sense for them.

Why buy a new system like V-Deck which reduces installation times by 50-80% requiring CAPEX investment in order to reduce your billable hours for the erection of it? It doesn't make sense commercially, right?

It makes less sense for the Oil & Gas clients who often end up with hundreds of tonnes of scaffolding clinging to their ageing asset costing them big bucks, often for little advantage. What scaffolding goes up doesn't come down in a hurry. I remember situations where platform were overloaded by the amount of scaffolding on them, one platform in particular that had so much scaffolding on it that it started to sink.

We see what we are doing with the fully scaffolding compatible V-Deck, is adding to the incredible range of scaffolding.

However, many people see change as a threat. and sometimes change is a threat to the existing order but it brings with it huge opportunities. In the North Sea we have to remain competitive in this new era of oil prices. We can remain competitive by investing in new time and cost saving solutions.

I guess what I am saying is that scaffolding is pretty incredible stuff. But we always need to push ourselves and our technologies to do better. Sometimes that is threatening but the end result benefits us all more.

So in true Marmite fashion I have come to both love and hate scaffolding.

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