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Reinforced Earth: An engineering breakthrough

Reinforced Earth’s DrainTube product provides mechanical protection, filtration, drainage and leak detection.

Geosynthetics have been a part of the construction sector for decades. So how do you revolutionise a legacy product? You combine the expertise of two companies that are among the leading innovators within the industry. 

The first reported use of textiles in road construction can be traced back to the 1920s in the United States (Gateway Structure SDN BHD). One hundred years later, the world of geosynthetics is a far cry from these initial experimentations and applications.

Geosynthetics still plays a key role in the delivery of construction and infrastructure projects. 

The Reinforced Earth Company has recently partnered with AFITEX-Texel Geosynthetics here in Australia to innovate the geosynthetics space.

Pascal Saunier, Business Development Manager North America & Pacific – AFITEX-Texel Geosynthetics, says while geosynthetics isn’t brand new to the construction and infrastructure sectors, there’s plenty of chances to innovate and expand, and the company’s collaboration with Reinforced Earth in Australia aims to deliver cutting-edge drainage geosynthetics. 

“Geosynthetics have been used in the construction industry for many years. They offer many advantages, with one of the biggest being the reduction in the consumption of gravel, creating a better environmental outcome,” he says.

“The more people use aggregates, the more expensive and rarer they become. They can have a poor environmental impact particularly when they’re being carted across long distances.”

ArmaLynk is just one of many ventures into the geosynthetics space that Reinforced Earth is undertaking, helping to provide more innovative options to the market.
ArmaLynk is just one of many ventures into the geosynthetics space that Reinforced Earth is undertaking, helping to provide more innovative options to the market.

AFITEX-Texel’s collaboration with Reinforced Earth aims to further develop drainage solutions in this space, combining a unique and specialised knowledge around geosynthetics with experts in soil structure interaction to retain, cross, protect and strengthen.

On top of its structure design, protection systems, and retaining structure services, Reinforced Earth also has a foothold in the geosynthetics field, particularly in designing and supplying materials for geosynthetic soil reinforcement in applications like basal reinforcement and slope stabilisation.

These services have helped to provide solutions for industries and works such as roads, railways, mining, energy, military and more.

Saunier says the relationship between the two companies has led to exciting work, pushing the envelope when it comes to geosynthetic production and uses in Australia.

“The work that I’m doing in Australia is dedicated to drainage. Reinforced Earth are already well known for their work across a number of different types of geosynthetics applications, especially involving reinforcement,” he says.

“They have great solutions and a well-established name in the industry. They’re super professional and it’s really a pleasure to work with them, helping to add to their drainage solutions to find one that will fit perfectly with their technology.

“They’re a very well developed and highly technical company with a great track record. We’re very happy to be considered as a supplier of such a solution for them.”

One example of Reinforced Earth’s strong experience in the geosynthetics market is its ArmaLynk product, which incorporates high tensile geosynthetic strips, amongst other components to produce a geogrid for use in ground stabilisation needs to support the construction of roads, bridges, railways and heavy-duty pavements.

Another example of Reinforced Earth’s variety of options when it comes to geosynthetic materials is its new DrainTube technology, which it is rolling out with Saunier’s AFITEX-Texel. DrainTube is a conductive drainage geocomposite consisting of a conductive grid made of Stainless-Steel cables placed inside a DrainTube product. 


 

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This product aims to provide mechanical protection, filtration, drainage and leak detection.

Multiple solutions such as these are available in customised lengths and stiffness, depending on the requirements of the design.

Somnath Biswas, Zone Manager, Asia – Reinforced Earth, has been involved developing and manufacturing geosynthetic applications since the early 1990s, and leads the manufacture and supply of the company’s ArmaLynk products. He’s seen the engineering world embrace what he says has been a “breakthrough” product for the sector.

“The use of geosynthetics in infrastructure projects is becoming more popular due to installation efficiency, cost competitiveness over conventional solutions whilst ensuring mid-to long-term performance,” Biswas says.

“The solutions must be well designed and engineered for the project. Geosynthetics have been used over several decades and whilst one section of these products has been commoditised, applications with products like our new DrainTube offering are highly customised with an engineered solution package.

“It’s an exciting time and I’m excited more and more about the development of customised products to suit specialised applications.”

Biswas says ArmaLynk satisfies this criterion.

“It’s a high-performance, high-strength reinforcement geosynthetic. The product is made from both high tenacity polyester (PET) and PVA yarns and is mainly used for basal reinforcement applications,” Biswas says.

“These applications include embankments on soft and very soft foundations, piled embankments or load transfer platforms, bridging over voids and subsidence, as well as piggy-backing landfills. ArmaLynk can also be used for construction of reinforced steep slopes.”

The ArmaLynk product is now available in Australia. It has already been used for embankment reinforcement applications in Europe and Asia. Bi-axial ArmaLynk has also recently been used to stabilise load platforms in Malaysia.

These works exemplified benefits over the use of conventional materials and methods.

“ArmaLynk is a global high-performance reinforcement brand with several versatility of product characteristics. These include low modulus, ultra-high strengths, composites with drainage and separation, filtration capabilities and special grades with high frictional resistance for marginal fills,” Biswas says.

DrainTube, meanwhile, is just one example of a new spin on geosynthetic products, helping to provide engineers with more options for any given infrastructure project.

Fluid control is critical for civil engineering applications. DrainTube is especially suited to mining and construction related drainage, with both sectors requiring customised solutions specifically adapted to dynamic situations. It’s here that DrainTube is key, Saunier says.

“It will help engineers to design with a higher capacity drainage solution, that’s able to handle high loads, which isn’t the case with too many products in Australia at the moment,” Saunier says.

With infrastructure only set to grow, along with an increased reliance on materials, geosynthetics look set to become a primary option for many project managers and engineers. Biswas says Reinforced Earth is well and truly up to the task.

“Engineers all over the world consider geosynthetics as a major break-through construction material for civil and environmental applications,” he says.

“I expect more demanding projects requiring highly engineered and customised solutions to appear in the future across civil infrastructure, environmental and mining projects in Australia.” 

This article was originally published in the June edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.

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