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Working in partnership with Avie Consulting on structural engineering and floor vibration compliance

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Q-bital Healthcare Solutions has selected highly experienced Avie Consulting Ltd, a structural and civil engineering company based in Leeds to work with on two recent projects.

Why Avie?

We specifically chose Avie due to its dedicated team, which offers services including civil engineering, flood risk assessment, off-site modular construction, structural engineering and surveys, and viability appraisals amongst others.

The business was founded in 2013 by Graham Helme and Nick North, to offer 50 years of extensive engineering knowledge in all market sectors, with an assigned director involved in every project.

Avie Consulting has worked with us on the full structure of two hospital developments including the specifics of hospital floor vibration design for the Nuffield Health Tees Hospital and a second hospital modular build project to ensure compliance criteria (Hospital Technical Memoranda) are met.

How Q-bital's partnership with Avie has developed

We originally sought the advice and guidance from Avie Consulting when considering the differences in building regulations and design within the UK and Europe. In the UK, for example, there are some specific disproportionate collapse requirements, thanks to most buildings being of brick construction. The UK also has higher deflection limits than Europe, for how a building sways and is affected by the wind. This is important because it has modified the design of our standard modular units.

Avie Consulting has supported us on two hospital projects, one for two new operating rooms at Nuffield Tees Hospital, and one at another major hospital.

The two-storey purpose-built extension at Nuffield Tees Hospital is currently in construction, with the bulk of the construction led offsite by Q-bital. This dramatically reduces the disruption for the hospital’s neighbours.

The main challenge at the Nuffield Tees project was designing and building an operating room that has a very high response criteria, to work within the modular construction.

The second hospital project is far larger and involves lots of moving parts and a collaborative effort with other specialists. There is a lot of information to process and as such Avie used a Building Information Modelling BIM environment, which combines 3D models to assess the physical and functional characteristics of the building.

Using this method of design brings everything together, including new parts, with a solution that doesn't affect what's already been done. It makes this process as efficient and with as little impact on other specialists involved in the project as possible.

One problem Avie was instrumental in involved removing some of the site erected steel work and bringing it in as modules instead. The aim of this is to ensure less time and disruption on site, which is a working hospital.

Why this matters

Hospital buildings must comply with strict criteria set out in the NHS Health Technical Memoranda. Structure, and in this instance in particular, floor vibration requires precise planning to ensure that hospital equipment, for example imaging equipment, is located on a ground-bearing slab to limit the transfer of airborne noise and floor vibration. Similarly, certain types of equipment should be located away from sources of vibration.

Other vibration specific criteria include footfall, vibration between sensitive and non-sensitive spaces and provisions should be made for very sensitive medical equipment.

The long-term aim of the partnership between Q-bital and Avie Consulting is to create a standard structural design philosophy, that is compliant with all technical memoranda.

This would mean that the quality of the existing Q-bital units is maintained and to maximise the efficiency of the materials within the units.

When designing the modular buildings there are further considerations aside from the build and meeting compliance criteria. The units must travel from the production facility, on the back of a lorry, which needs to fit under bridges and be able to navigate the road network.

"Working with Avie Consulting has been a pleasure. Information sharing when working on these projects is of critical importance and the contact with Avie has been seamless, allowing us to aid the production of quality modular buildings for two principal projects"
Lindsay Dransfield, Chief Commercial Officer

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