Established in 2002 the company has developed away from traditional access towers into bespoke access systems, developing a niche in innovative aluminium structures.

Aluminium Structures deals with a multitude of industries and has provided an endless array of bespoke products for many problems and needs. These include mobile inverted V gantries and safety cages, permanent walkways and maintenance gantries for roof maintenance and access – for major rail stations and rail maintenance depots. In addition access systems, platforms and buildings for the aviation, nuclear, water, manufacturing and retail industries have been provided.

The company operates internationally and has undertaken work in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. It has dedicated teams in design, installation and two manufacturing facilities in Cheshire, UK. With years of knowledge and experience in aluminium fabrication, the company is determined to establish a reputation for quality; all its welders are trained and coded giving high quality products and flexible delivery schedules. The company is accredited to ISO 9001, CHAS, LINK-UP and ALTIUS.

Growth in mobile work platforms and systems

Aluminium Structures’ market growth in mobile work platforms and systems has increased with the introduction of its own track and trolley system, and there has been a rapid rise in its use in both temporary and permanent access solutions.

The track and trolley system allows for ground or suspended access systems which enables very innovative and flexible solutions to difficult access problems.

Anything from simple step and handrail solutions can be provided, for example access to machinery and vehicles, to large suspended access platforms and crash decks for temporary access.

Aluminium Structures recently installed a permanent gantry system for the cleaning and maintenance of roof glazing for the redevelopment of a major station, which included 16 mobile gantries and 2km of aluminium and GRP walkway.

The company also helped the project by finding innovative time-critical solutions to several temporary access problems making them safer and more cost-effective.

Reducing the risk of injury

Working at height has become a very sensitive health and safety issue in recent years, as a large percentage of accidents are the result of falls from height. A number of products are available to limit the risk of injury which, if used in the proper manner can reduce the risk significantly.

Traditional systems include access towers and steel scaffolding. Less traditional systems include aluminium access systems and work platforms either suspended, fixed or mobile.

Traditional scaffolding gives access to areas at height but typically the structure takes up a significant amount of floor space. Aluminium has the advantage of being light and is therefore becoming increasing popular as a material for access systems. A number of products are available whereby the aluminium scaffolding system allows for the access system to be suspended from roof beams.

Suspending the work platforms from the roof allows the space below to be freed up for other contractor works. Often it is also possible for the access platform to be mobile; as it is light it can be easily moved on a unique track system. Moving the work platform will reduce the area of equipment required, making the system a very cost effective alternative to traditional steel scaffolding.

In its simplest form working at height includes ladders and aluminium access towers, often however, when access is required at very high levels or low at levels in an awkward location, bespoke access systems and work platforms are required. Bespoke equipment includes integral steps or ladders, fixed or removable handrails, fixed or mobile systems with swivel braked castors. Often these systems will need to be flat-packed as access to some areas will be restricted.

One common requirement for working at height is access to roof glazing; this is often accessed via maintenance walkways and mobile gantries. The walkways will generally have an 1100mm high handrail or an anchor system to prevent falls from height. The gantries will allow access to the roof glazing for cleaning and replacement. Normally these are over the roof structure where the risk of serious injury if a fall were to occur is very high. The gantries and walkways play an important role in reducing the risk of injury.

Temporary access is a key market and Aluminium Structures is expanding its business by developing its bridging panel access system.

Providing a safe zone

Most conventional scaffolding options come with inherent dangers, for example the dropping of component parts such as scaffolding fittings, tubes and boards. At the same time they create a congested work zone beneath the working area due to the volume of component parts and the need for extensive ground founded supports.

The bridging panel access system limits the risk of falling components and loose materials. It provides a safe zone beneath the working area allowing a business- as-usual approach in the areas below. Aluminium Structures offer a complete design, manufacture and installation service for this product range.

The modular component sizes used in the bridging access system are selected to provide the maximum versatility in assembly enabling a large range of access structures to be designed and assembled. A typical form that the system adopts is either an arch spanning a clear zone or a flat bridge spanning a clear zone.

Both assemblies can be either static or mobile, and often suspended from tracking so the access/working platform can be relocated very quickly and easily. Specific span dimensions and arch heights are achieved using ‘spacer’ spigots enabling an accurate dimensional fit to perimeter walls, roof soffits and client determined working clearances. Spans of 30m have been achieved without midpoint support.

Each individual element of the system easily falls within the maximum recommended lifting weights detailed within the UK Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 ACoP.

Combined or assembled units are managed using either purpose made trolleys or bogies and electric or manual winch and lifting systems.

In general the maximum weight of any assembled framework will not weigh more than 500 kg.

The future is aluminium

Aluminium is a key material for a number of different access systems and work platforms.

Typically 6082 T6 aluminium alloy is used as its welding and strength properties are excellent

Aluminium work platforms are a good substitute for traditional steel scaffolding as aluminium access systems are lighter and more flexible but still capable of being designed to adequate working loads.

Bespoke aluminium access systems have the advantage that they can be designed and fabricated to the specific profile of a building or piece of equipment. The erection time and effort tends to be less than traditional steel scaffolding and also the range of flexibility is far greater.

Aluminium has been used in the manufacture of access towers, work platforms and access platforms for a number of years. Traditional access towers have limitations so there has been a growth in the supply of bespoke access platforms. These include temporary suspended work platforms, crash decks and mobile access platforms.

As well as temporary solutions, aluminium is a good material for permanent systems. Aluminium framework combined with GRP mesh flooring is a good combination for maintenance walkways, and these are generally used in roof maintenance and industrial site applications.

Tel: 01244 531889