Giving Pioneering Engineering A New Lease of Life

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As engineers, we work in an industry where we strive to design solutions that last a lifetime and are all aware of the great work undertaken by those before. This understanding provides us with respect for the design ingenuity and thinking that went into the pioneering approach to connecting Australia’s regions.

A perfect example of this is the North Coast Railway line which opened up Queensland’s East Coast to high-speed travel. Covering 1,680km from Brisbane’s Roma Street to Cairns, the railway was and still is a vital connection for people and commerce. Linking Brisbane, Nambour, Gympie Maryborough, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay and Townsville to Cairns, the railway turned a journey that would have lasted weeks overland into a 52-hour trip on opening in 1924.

These days with high-speed trains, the journey is much faster, but by and large, the railway still uses the same route and infrastructure from when it opened. And at Madsen Giersing we are fortunate to be working on a stretch of railway that dates back almost 150 years as we bring a new lease of life to bridge structures through modern technology, modelling and design.

Engaged by Canstruct as part of a D&C contract with Queensland Rail, we are reinforcing 150+ years old, heritage-listed cast-iron piers that hold up bridges within the Wide-Bay region.

Lasse Madsen outlined our involvement “This is a fantastic project to be involved in, because of the challenges it presents, but also due to the fact that we get to work with engineering designs that were directly responsible for opening up Queensland and connecting people and goods throughout the state.”

“Because of their age and design, each pier is heritage listed, and although they are coming to the end of their life and could easily be replaced with simple concrete supports, our challenge is to create a solution that preserves and extends their lifespan without fundamentally changing the look of the structure.”

The piers are designed in sections, with bolted joints connecting them and concrete reinforcing the interior. Over time, however, they have had to cope with larger trains and higher loads than ever before and battle the Queensland climate, which is not the kindest to cast iron. Therefore, they require upgrades to extend their life.

“Our team spent a considerable amount of time analysing the structures and identifying weak points in the piers, such as bolted joints and creating solutions that would remove any weakness, strengthen the structure and meet the requirements of heritage listing.”

“Essentially, we came up with a second skin solution involving a reinforced concrete and FRP wrap around the cast iron concrete-filled piers, which doesn’t destroy the look of the piers and complies with the heritage guidelines. In simple terms, it is like wearing a compression bandage that supports and strengthens a limb without changing its appearance.”

Madsen Giersing were then engaged to investigate the cast-iron pier behaviour under load, specifically the bolted connections between pier segments. This verifies the previous work completed, improves the knowledge on these types of piers and assists Queensland Rail in managing their existing assets.

In partnership with Canstruct as the contractor we worked with the University of Queensland using sections from decommissioned bridges to undertake a testing programme that would provide a full structural analysis which could act as a baseline for bridges of a similar age.

“Working with UQ enabled us to utilise their facilities to undertake comprehensive testing in a controlled environment, using the latest technologies and techniques.”

“Through our testing and analysis, we can provide feedback on bridge performance and help a major asset owner to keep vital transport connections operational,” said Lasse.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Update

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As a valued stakeholder of Masdaen Giersing, we hope that you and your loved ones and are safe and well during the current Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

We thought it appropriate to provide you with an operational update, as like you, we have many questions about how we, our partners, clients and suppliers will operate in the coming weeks and months.

As an organisation, we take the health and well-being of our team and you very seriously. We will continue to monitor the current situation and act in line with the latest directives from the State and Federal Governments and their associated health agencies.

In the short term, it remains business as usual at Madsen Giersing. Our team has access to technology and resources to facilitate video conferences rather than face to face meetings and can work remotely and flexibly if required.

We also understand the needs of industry and the role we all play in workplace health and safety and will naturally comply with the policies and procedures for site visits and meetings as laid down by any partner or client organisation.

At the end of the day we are engineers, not medical professionals, so we must at all times defer to those who have a greater understanding of the pandemic that we do.

We look forward to continuing to work with you and will keep you updated should there be operational changes in the future.

Once again, we would like to wish you well and hope that the pandemic passes with minimum impact and disruption to your business and daily life.

Should you require any additional information or have any questions, please contact you relevant Madsen Giersing team member or myself.


Lasse Madsen

The Art of Engineering

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We all know our team are artists when it comes to designing amazing feats of engineering, but how would they fare when they had to swap their computers for paintbrushes? Would it be a case of Pollocks or Van Goughs?

There was only one way to find out, and that was via our Christmas party at Cork and Chroma in West End. Armed with palettes, brushes, a glass of wine or two and challenged to paint a pineapple, the team’s creative juices flowed, and the results speak for themselves.

The star of the show? Well, it had to be Peter, who unhappy with his pineapple, did what any expert engineer would to and designed a better solution; a rather dashing duck, resplendent in a sailor’s hat.

Thanks to everyone who attended and painted the town red as we celebrated 2019.

Engineering our industry’s future

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For the last two weeks, the team at Madsen Giersing have been heavily involved in Constructionarium Australia’s latest Story Bridge build. Comprising an 8-day programme, 20 young engineers and industry professionals worked as a team to build a 25m long, 4-tonne replica bridge, managing every aspect of construction from tender to handover.

Madsen Giersing’s Lasse Madsen outlined our involvement “We are delighted to have supported the latest Story Bridge build. For any young engineer, it is impossible to place a value on practical experience that supports university learning and professional development.”

As specialists in temporary works, Lasse addressed the cohort and passed on insights that would help the team as they moved through the build phase. “Temporary works play a pivotal role in any construction project and can often define the success of a project’s schedule.”

Using the Hegigio Gorge Pipe Bridge in Papua New Guinea as a case study, Lasse discussed the principals of developing a temporary works strategy. “Hegigio Gorge is a fascinating project due to its remote location, limited access and the sheer scale of its 470m span and 500m gorge depth. Through the use of temporary works, including temporary platforms, access towers, trolleys, and restraint systems, we were able to overcome the challenges the site posed and enable construction to proceed.”

“To complete their bridge build, the team would need to adopt a similar approach, and best consider how to work with their site and resources to effectively construct their structure. I wanted the cohort to think about temporary works being far more than props and formwork and to ensure that they meticulously planned their strategy. In reality, temporary works are structures or systems that can facilitate construction, and in many cases, can be designed to be reused on future projects.”

“Following on from the session, it was great to be approached by the cohort for advice on their construction methodology and to share the passion that they have for Constructionarium Australia. But even more exciting was to see the team implement a temporary works strategy that supported their build and assisted in the on-time and under-budget delivery of their project.”

“As an organisation, we cannot wait to be involved in future builds. Supporting Constructionarium Australia in their mission to provide the next generation of industry leaders with real-world project experience is something of which we are very proud.”

Madsen Giersing over 25 years

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Over the years Madsen Giersing has undertaken the detailed design of many projects. Some of these projects have taken us to remote locations such as the Southern Highlands in Papua New Guinea and the Mekong River boarder crossing between Laos and Thailand as well as many locations within South East Asia including Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore.

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