Eadon Consulting was founded by partners David Price, James Hill and Michael Thorogood, who have more than 40 years’ combined experience working in design, manufacture and installation. The company, which chose AMP Technology Centre as the location for its first office, offers an innovative approach to engineering design; working closely with clients across a broad spectrum of projects, from nuclear cranes to moving bridges, with specialist expertise in mechanical, structural, control and hydraulic design.
The three directors met at work at a small Rotherham-based design consultancy of 30 staff. When the company merged with a bigger agency with a broader remit in 2008, the dynamic trio – who relished working in a smaller team where engineering excellence was key to producing quality output – saw an opportunity to start their own business. In 2009 Eadon Consulting was born, and a commitment to high quality of engineering is at the heart of the company.
By 2013, the company had expanded to a 13-strong permanent team, growing the business by 25-30% year on year, and the directors site their decision to locate at the AMP Technology Centre as a key factor in the company’s continued success.
Comments James Hill: “There is a kudos in being based here, close to so many pioneering companies working on technologies that are 20 years ahead of their time. It’s great to be working alongside similar business who understand the specific issues faced by our industry, such as finding the right, high-quality engineering graduates, and are happy to share knowledge and experience in our specialist areas. Advanced manufacturing and engineering is a growth sector in this country and being based here means we can collaborate on projects that we would not be able to tackle alone.
Eadon Consulting has expanded four times within the Centre to accommodate its growth, having worked on a series of high-profile projects across the globe including the Hatea River Crossing, a pioneering bascule bridge in the city of Whangarei, New Zealand; the design of specialist access gantries for the Great Belt Suspension Bridge in Denmark, the third largest bridge in the world and the design of a stainless steel garage used to deploy Forum Energy Technologies’ XLX Work Class Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV) which is required to function in severe offshore conditions.
The company is committed to recruiting home-grown young talent and offers a development scheme to graduates. It is also one of the first to recruit through University of Sheffield’s RISE programme, a city-wide initiative to increase graduate employment in small and medium sized enterprises which offers a £1,500 financial incentive and ongoing support if a graduate is matched to a business through the programme, and James Hill feels this is a step in the right direction in order to cultivate talent in the UK.
Add James: “Our biggest problem is finding good quality engineering graduates and recruits for the kind of specialist work that we do. It’s fantastic that universities are now coming round to the idea that graduates need on-the-job training before they enter employment – but really we need to start earlier and ignite a passion for engineering in younger children – from secondary or even primary school age. We need to catch them early enough so that they know it’s a career option, although I do think we are starting to see a change in perceptions as the government realises that this sector is key for the future economic growth of the country.”
The team plans to employ 2 new staff over the next twelve months and has invested in marketing including the launch of a new website which better communicates the company’s broad offering and skillset.
Mechanical design is at the heart of what Eadon Consulting do. Recent stand out examples of Eadon’s work in this field include the award winning Lower Hatea River crossing project in New Zealand and the refurbishment of Dover Berth 3 ro-ro facility. Having experience in delivering cost effective, reliable solutions across a wide range of sectors, Eadon’s design engineers are increasingly working with a growing range of resources including aluminium, stainless steel and timber.
Evolving design services:
The diverse and bespoke nature of Eadon’s work load means that it is essential for in-house design tools and capabilities to be constantly developed. The continually evolving phases of both design expectations and software advances have provided Eadon with opportunities to build upon and provide an up-to-the-minute approach to design services.
Every project brings its own challenges. Eadon Consulting’s engineers strive to keep abreast of developments, ensuring to utilise best practice in design tools such as 3D CAD and analysis packages.
An expanding design portfolio had led Eadon to approach new areas of work, with a number of recent projects requiring unique calculations and the use of rare and specialised design codes. This is something clearly demonstrated in the recent completion of a Metrology Tower which will eventually be housed in the Indian region of Dehradun. Eadon carried out the design using several Indian Standards for both structural and earthquake resistant design as well as specialist American national standards for the seismic detailing of structures.
Leadenhall Escape Hatch
Eadon Consulting carried out the design of a bespoke automatic escape hatch for the soon to be completed Leadenhall Building in London. The hatch conceals a fire escape route from the basement level into the 30m tall ground floor atrium, and lifts in the event of a fire to allow the use of the staircase underneath.
Laing O’Rourke is the main contractor for this landmark skyscraper, and commissioned Eadon Consulting to provide the conceptual and detailed design for the hatch structure and mechanical systems. The design must be extremely reliable to ensure that the fire escape will be available when required, and also needs to be as safe as possible during operation as it may be unsupervised in the event of a fire. In addition, the layout of the basement left little space for the mechanical systems and limited scope for strengthening.
The hatch is opened by a pair of hydraulic cylinders, one on each side of the hatch, which are concealed under the staircase to reduce risks to the public during operation. Each is capable of operating the hatch alone, providing enhanced reliability. Options using hydraulic accumulators and hydraulic pumps were developed for providing the motive power, with a more traditional pump option ultimately deemed preferable for safety reasons.
The landscaping of the atrium continues over the top surface of the hatch, allowing it to blend seamlessly into the architectural scheme, but resulting in high and variable soil loads on the hatch surface. In order to resist the twisting effect of this load if one cylinder has failed, a steel box girder deck was designed with an integrated planter for the soft landscaping. This also fitted in with the aesthetic requirements of the architects.
When fully raised, the emergency exit route needs to comply with the Building Regulations, including those governing the headroom and hand-railing. It was impossible for a fixed hand-rail to comply with these requirements, so Eadon Consulting designed a linkage mechanism to automatically deploy the hand-rails into the correct position as the hatch rises. When the hatch lowers, the hand-rail is pulled back into its folded position underneath. 3D modelling using Solidworks was an extremely useful tool throughout the project, and particularly for this element of the design.
With the challenging brief and competing priorities, Eadon Consulting’s extensive mechanical and structural engineering experience in movable structures and ability to design innovative pieces of bespoke machinery proved crucial to the success of the project.
Grimsby River Terminal
Following the completion of a number of Offshore and Marine projects, Eadon Consulting were approached to carry out design work for 3 restraint booms that would make up part of a floating pontoon system in Grimsby.
Each steel boom, which weights around 43 tonnes and is 34 metres in length, is designed to anchor the 2400 m2 pontoon in place and is articulated at both ends to allow for tidal movement. They also feature a lightweight walkway to allow for access to the dolphins, which act as fixing structures for the whole pontoon.
Among the key challenges in the design was the severe fatigue loading to which the booms were subjected as a result of wave action. The specification for the structure had used a very conservative method for deriving the fatigue spectrum, resulting in the required steel thicknesses being excessively high. However using the raw time history data from the wave modelling that had been performed, Eadon Consulting were able to use a cycle counting algorithm based on the rain-flow method to derive a much less onerous spectrum. This reduced the effect of the fatigue loading sufficiently that it was no longer the critical load case for the design of the sections, and some careful detailing at the connections resulted in a structure with a high anticipated service life. The clevis fabrication was fastened to a concrete corbel on the pontoon by an array of post-tensioned Macalloy bars to withstand the fluctuating loads.
An additional issue was ensuring that the pontoons could be installed easily. The steel pin assembly connecting through the bearing at each end weighed over a tonne, and to maximise the life of the bearings it needed a very close fit. Careful design was required to allow these pins to be inserted safely and easily on a pontoon that moves with the waves. Ultimately the final three pins were installed successfully within a single six hour window.
While seemingly straightforward structures, the design of the booms presented a number of difficult problems and required the consideration of a number of complex interacting components. However, Eadon Consulting were able to produce an efficient design that is safe to install and maintain.
Leamouth Lifting Bridge
Following the go ahead for the redevelopment of the Leamouth Peninsula in London, Eadon Consulting were approached by Davies Maguire & Whitby to assist with the mechanical design of a pedestrian bridge spanning the River Lea. This link will provide a connecting route between the peninsula and its subsequent development and Canning Town centre.
After being approached in 2011 by main contactors Davies Maguire and Whitby, Eadon Consulting provided the mechanical design and the detailed mechanical hydraulic and electrical specifications for integral components of the 3 meter wide, lifting pedestrian and cycle bridge.
The 82 metre long steel structure comprises 2 lifting spans which are raised simultaneously at each end. Powered by 4 hydraulic rams, the 2 sections will rise to allow river traffic to pass easily underneath. Eadon worked on the design of both the lifting mechanisms as well as the guiding systems which are responsible for holding the raised components in place. Drawing on previous experience, Eadon engineers also supported the development of the concept and operating methodology.