Piling Canada

Novaslice – Removing the Pile Headache

A new product from a start-up company across the pond is making it easier, faster and safer than ever to breakdown concrete pile heads
Written by Paul Adair
September 2018

A new product from a start-up company across the pond is making it easier, faster and safer than ever to breakdown concrete pile heads

Novaslice Ltd. is a British company that has set out to improve the overall operation of concrete pile heads at the construction site,

an idea that was first born out of frustration for Novaslice co-founder Willian Novais, a civil engineer with more than 12 years of experience in the construction industry.

When completing projects and managing the construction of many pile foundations for some of the largest contractors in the United Kingdom, Novais would struggle with the limited methods available to him for breaking down and removing pile heads. Although an important part of the construction process, concrete pile heads are often difficult to remove and current elimination methods tend to be notoriously pricey, time consuming and raise concerns in regard to a slew of health and safety issues; such as Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), a number of respiratory problems that stem from the creation of dust and a greater potential for physical injury when men and women work closely alongside machinery.

By 2014, Novais had enough and decided to start a personal research project into finding a solution to this troublesome task and developing an innovative device that could assist industry in breaking down concrete pile heads. After two years of calculating, designing and testing various ideas in the lab, he came up with the Novaslice product, a simpler and safer way to remove pile heads.

The next step for Novais was to put together his business plan and seek out investment for developing his product to advance the proper patent applications and to further his research into improving Novaslice. Additional investment was also important to help promote Novaslice to a very competitive, conservative and sometimes resistant U.K. construction market.

In 2016, Novais met up with Rory O’Sullivan, a former colleague who began his career at an international construction company working with Novais on several projects. Knowing the high cost of current, unsafe pile cropping methods, O’Sullivan immediately recognized the benefits and potential of the Novaslice product and invested in the fledgling company, helping to found Novaslice Ltd.

“Since the summer of 2017, there has been extensive research and development on Novaslice, as well as a number of positive field tests,” said Novais. “The company and our Novaslice product are now to the point where we feel that we are ready for a true commercial roll out.”

Easy to install, safe to use

The beauty of Novaslice is found in the pure simplicity of its application.

To install the product, a hollow, wedge-shaped device made of recycled plastic is slid over each individual vertical reinforcement bar at the exact cut-off level, just under the de-bonding foam, before being secured using a cable tie or reinforcement wire. Novaslice works by creating a weak spot in the concrete where the pile head can be precisely pierced – or “cracked” – with a wedge and hammer along the outer visible edge of the product. The pile head can then be easily removed by various means, revealing a clean and level cut with the protruding rebars exposed.

The benefits in using Novaslice in the construction of pile foundations are numerous. When removing pile heads with Novaslice, there is a marked reduction in dust creation, less need for any manual handling of the pile heads themselves and the product also helps to minimize the interface between the worker and the machinery. In addition, Novaslice devices that are installed at the same height will provide a consistent cut-off-level for all piles across your site, thereby raising productivity and generating greater project savings.

The main differences between Novaslice and other products available in the market today with similar purpose is that this sacrificial device is quick and easy to set up, eliminates many of the health and safety concerns surrounding the task of breaking down pile heads and is extremely cost effective. In addition, Novaslice is a device that can be precisely designed to be used on a pile specific to your project.

“Although some other devices are used for a variety of different pile designs and diameters, Novaslice’s distinct design is not always meant to be one-size-fits-all solution that should be used on each and every kind of pile,” said Novais. “While Novaslice’s standard design may fit different pile diameters depending on the pile design, it is a product that can be further tailored for your specific pile design and configured for the most uniquely designed pile formation if required.”

Spreading the word

In spite of the many proven and potential benefits in using Novaslice, the construction industry – in North America, as well as the U.K. – tends to be rather traditional or conventional in regard to, as of yet, non-established innovations. Because of this, it has been somewhat difficult for the Novaslice company to promote and gain acceptance of its product in order to encourage further adoption of the device.

“We only really started promoting Novaslice about six months ago and [it] has been a really slow process getting the word about our product out there,” said Novais. “That being said, all the feedback we have received so far from construction professionals, from piling contractors, ground workers and consultants, has been overwhelmingly positive and very encouraging.”

Novaslice Ltd. is currently in the process of building up its project portfolio and is hoping to trial the product on a live piling project soon. As such, the company is now seeking out construction companies that might be interested in partnering on the testing of the Novaslice product. To help sweeten the deal, the company is offering up free samples of its devices for piles of 300 millimetres to 600 millimetres in diameter and preferably for piles designed to be built using the Continuous Flight Auger construction method, although other methods can be suitable. 

Canadian companies are able to contact Novaslice Ltd. directly through email (will@novaslice.com) or by telephone (+44 7855 055259), after which the company will help arrange the delivery of its devices to anywhere throughout Canada. 🍁

Category: Business

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Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.

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