May 16, 2020

Acciona acquires Geotech to extend presence in Australia

José Manuel Entrecanales
Chairman and CEO of ACCIONA
ACCIONA Geotech Holding
ACCIONA construction
Catherine Sturman
3 min
Acciona acquires Geotech to extend presence in Australia

ACCIONA's recentinvestment deal, which values Geotech at AUD$262 million, significantly strengthens ACCIONAs construction business in Australia, a...

ACCIONA's recent investment deal, which values Geotech at AUD$262 million, significantly strengthens ACCIONA’s construction business in Australia, a key strategic market which is poised for strong growth.

The investment will see the formation of a new company, ACCIONA Geotech Holding, bringing together ACCIONA’s future construction pipeline in Australia and New Zealand and the Geotech Group of companies. The new group will be majority owned by ACCIONA Infrastructure Asia Pacific and headquartered in Victoria.

The transaction includes a cash consideration of AUD$197 million for Geotech’s existing shareholders and a 17.6% stake in ACCIONA Geotech Holding for three key Geotech management shareholders, who may increase their stake to 20% subject to the fulfilment of the new company’s business plan.

ACCIONA, for its part, has agreed to contribute three projects currently in the bidding phase, as well as an undertaking to channel future bids for civil engineering projects in Australia and New Zealand via ACCIONA Geotech Holding.

José Manuel Entrecanales, Chairman and CEO of ACCIONA, said: “The integration of Geotech marks a step change in ACCIONA’s growth plans in Australia and South East Asia. The deal effectively doubles ACCIONA’s Australian offering, strongly positioning the combined group of over 1,000 employees for major transport infrastructure projects across the region.”

“ACCIONA and Geotech have complementary technical and geographical strengths. The integration of our two companies will allow us to become a leading, diversified contractor in the Australia Pacific region with genuine Australian roots,” Mr Entrecanales said.

ACCIONA Geotech Holding’s financial strength and depth of in-house engineering expertise will make it a significant player in Australia’s transport infrastructure sector. The two companies in Australia are joining forces at a time when the country is seeing a quantum leap in the number, size and complexity of infrastructure projects. As a result, builders are having to step up their game.

ACCIONA, present in Australia since 2002, has global expertise in managing very large and complex infrastructure projects, such as the Legacy Way tunnels in Brisbane, which have won awards for innovation and sustainability. ACCIONA was looking for a partner with complementary strengths and deep roots in the Victoria and Australian market to accelerate its growth in Australia.

Geotech, for its part, had identified a need in the market for more sophisticated project management skills, and was seeking a partner to help meet those needs. Geotech has grown significantly in recent years, but further growth required another level of financial strength and experience in more complex projects.

ACCIONA and Geotech have worked together on a number of projects in Australia over the past four years and share a commitment to innovation and excellence in engineering. Both are family-run businesses that found additional common ground in their commitment to sustainability and community, and a long-term approach to value creation.

ACCIONA Geotech Holding will be a fully integrated engineering group with a holistic approach to project delivery, from designing infrastructure projects to comprehensive on-site delivery.

Geotech Group’s Bede Noonan has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of ACCIONA Geotech Holding, while Garry Hounsell, ACCIONA’s Advisory Chairman in Australia and Asia, will serve as Chairman. Dieter Adamsas, Chairman of Geotech Group, has been appointed to the Board.

Geotech Group’s main subsidiaries – Coleman Rail, Geotechnical Engineering and John Beever – will continue to operate under the new ACCIONA Geotech Holding structure as separate entities.

ACCIONA Energy Australia is not part of this transaction and will continue to operate as an independent business within the ACCIONA group of companies.

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Jun 17, 2021

Why engineers must always consider human-induced vibration

Vibrations
Engineering
design
Structuralintegrity
Dominic Ellis
3 min
Human-induced vibration can lead to a number of effects upon the structure and its users

Human induced vibration, or more accurately vibrations caused by human footfall, often conjures images of Millennium Bridge-style swaying or collapsing buildings.

But in reality, the ‘damage’ caused by human-induced vibrations is less likely to ruin a structure and more likely to cause discomfort in people. Though not as dramatic as a structural failure, any good engineer wants to make sure the people using their structures, be it bridges or buildings or anything in between, can do so safely and comfortably. This is why human-induced vibration must be considered within the design process.

Resonance v Impulse

There are two ways that human-induced vibrations affect structures: resonant, and impulse or transient response. Put simply, resonance occurs when Object A vibrates at the same natural frequency as Object B.

Object B resonates and begins to vibrate too. Think singing to break a wine glass! Although the person singing isn’t touching the glass, the vibrations of their voice are resonating with the glass’s natural frequency, causing this vibration to get stronger and stronger and eventually, break the glass. In the case of a structure, resonance occurs when the pedestrian’s feet land in time with the vibration.

On the other hand, impulse or transient vibration responses can be a problem on structures where its natural frequencies are too high for resonance to occur, such as where the structure is light or stiff. Here the discomfort is caused by the initial “bounce” of the structure caused by the footstep and is a concern on light or stiff structures.

Engineers must, of course, design to reduce the vibration effects caused by either impulse or resonance.

Potential impacts from human induced vibration

Human induced vibration can lead to a number of effects upon the structure and its users. These include:

  • Interfering with sensitive equipment Depending on the building’s purpose, what it houses can be affected by the vibrations of people using the building. Universities and laboratories, for example, may have sensitive equipment whose accuracy and performance could be damaged by vibrations. Even in ordinary offices the footfall vibration can wobble computer screens, upsetting the workers.
     
  • Swaying bridges One of the most famous examples of human-induced resonance impacting a structure occurred with the Millennium Bridge. As people walked across the bridge, the footsteps caused the bridge to sway, and everybody had to walk in time with the sway because it was difficult not to. Thankfully, this feedback can only occur with horizontal vibrations so building floors are safe from it, but footbridges need careful checking to prevent it.
     
  • Human discomfort According to research, vibrations in buildings and structures can cause depression and even motion sickness in inhabitants. Tall buildings sway in the wind and footsteps can be felt, even subconsciously by the occupants. It has been argued that modern efficient designs featuring thinner floor slabs and wider spacing in column design mean that these new builds are not as effective at dampening vibrations as older buildings are.
     
  • Jeopardising structural integrity The build-up of constant vibrations on a structure can, eventually, lead to structural integrity being compromised. A worse-case scenario would be the complete collapse of the structure and is the reason some bridges insist that marching troops break step before crossing. Crowds jumping in time to music or in response to a goal in a stadium are also dynamic loads that might damage an under-designed structure.

How to avoid it

As mentioned, modern designs that favour thinner slabs and wider column spacing are particularly susceptible to all forms of vibration, human-induced or otherwise, but short spans can also suffer due to their low mass. Using sophisticated structural engineering software is an effective method for engineers to test for and mitigate footfall and other vibrations at the design stage.

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