The InQuik bridge system was recently announced as the ACT’s top Engineering Excellence Award winner and Sir William Hudson Award finalist. We sat down with InQuik’s Robert Lindley in the wake of their success.
1. Where did the idea for InQuik bridge system come from?
The InQuik system actually came from an innovation in modular housing and a patented concrete slab system called Conquik and at the time, we were not even thinking about designing a bridge. We developed a system based on a sheet of reinforcement mesh that uses the reinforcing steel in tension to hold the weight of the wet concrete. We put plastic clips on the ends of the reinforcement to support the formwork horizontally, and we thought if we incorporated a truss into the reinforcement, we could hang a bottom formwork tray off the truss. This was the point at which the InQuik system started to be developed.
2. What legacy will the project leave on Canberra?
As a family business, InQuik has always considered the projects we build are for future generations more than the current one. We feel passionately that bridges should be built to the latest code and ensure that they not only last for 100 years, but thought is given as to how they will meet the needs of users past 100 years. The concept of ‘safety in design’ and ‘whole of life’ costs drive our innovation, and the project that SMEC’s Canberra office designed is a great example as the Parsonage Creek Bridge is a low-maintenance structure that will provide safer, more reliable access for the local community and industry for at least the next century.
3. What’s innovative about this project?
We developed an internationally-patented bridge system called the InQuik system, where we use the internal reinforcing steel to hold the weight of the wet concrete. This means that prefabricated modules can be transported to site with all of the formwork and reinforcement in place, and simply filled with concrete on-site. It enables bridges to be built by semi-skilled labour in a few days on-site, whilst delivering a fully reinforced concrete bridge that’s designed for a 100-year-plus service life. The innovative and revolutionary nature of the system has been proven with over 80 bridges in service or under construction across Australia since the first, which was only three years ago.
One particular customer initially purchased a single span 12x4.8m InQuik bridge, which was delivered on one truck (including abutments). They then decided to build a 24x4.8m multi-span bridge using InQuik before realising that the modular design would also suit this larger, three-span project – the great thing is that all three bridges were built using the standardised 12.1x2.4m modular panels in various configurations, thus showing the versatility of the system.
4. What challenges did you face while working on the project?
We have had several challenges during the testing phase, and before bringing the InQuik system to market. Aside from the intensive design development work, educating the market on a new way to build concrete bridges, changing tradition in a conservative environment and so on, the biggest challenge that we have had is more from a personal perspective, rather than project specific.
The InQuik system was invented by Bruce Mullaney and his brother-in-law Jim Howell in 2014-15, and the business was set up and run by Bruce's four sons: Ben, Hayden, Logan and Ryan. On the 19 September 2018, Hayden, who was a founding director and an integral part of the business, suddenly passed away. Having worked together so closely as a family for a number of years and losing not only a leader in the business, but also your best mate, your nephew, your brother and your son, it was something that was a really big cross roads for each of us personally and for the business. With determination and courage, and in Hayden's honour we continued, and needless to say we share this award with him as well.
5. What inspired you to enter the project in the awards?
The InQuik bridge system was invented and developed in Australia, and we built our business from scratch to commercialise and deliver this new technology. We are very proud of our success to date, with rapid adoption of the system across Australia, and now we are starting to bring the technology to the rest of the world. We wanted to throw our hat in the ring for the EA awards because they are the most prestigious awards in Australia for an engineering business like ours, and receiving an award would not only give us a strong sense of achievement and recognition, but also assist with validating the system and its reputation for our international efforts.
You can learn more about the Australian Engineering Excellence Award winners and Sir William Hudson Award finalists here, and re-watch the September awards ceremonies by logging into the awards platform or EAOnDemand.
The winner of the Sir William Hudson Award will be announced on Monday 9 November during the Pinnacles Award ceremony, which will be broadcast live online.