Michel van der Gracht, Manager Engineering, and Bastiaan Spoelstra, Director Business & Product Development, Bilfinger Industrial Services België/Nederland.
It all started when we were challenged by our customer Dow Chemical in Terneuzen: We were asked to come up with an alternative solution for 35 m high scaffolding along a part of the steel wall of an ethylene tank. There was no possibility to tie the scaffold conventionally, e. g. with clamps. Previously, this engineering problem was solved by designing large, pyramid-shaped, free-standing scaffolding with buttressing and counterweight. This has become redundant due to our innovative thinking. We came up with the idea to anchor the scaffold with magnets in order to reduce scaffold volume and costs. After thorough research, together with our customer and an external expert in the field of magnetism, we ran a pilot project and it worked well.
The principle is simple: the magnetic scaffold anchor consists of on/off switchable permanent neodymium magnets. This type of magnet is very powerful. Once switched on, the anchor will hold forever. Once the anchor has been installed, we test the load bearing capacity. Due to this the anchor is very safe to use.
We have now reached the stage that the magnet is fully developed and available for use in industrial scaffolding. We are proud that our idea enables us to offer a safe alternative to our clients, which – in specific cases – is considerably more cost effective than conventional scaffolding.