Preparations for the KOSMOS project in full swing

Over recent years, Rijkswaterstaat (the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management) has been carrying out what is known as a ‘contract inventory’, listing the condition and maintenance status of all the properties it manages. Where tenders were previously issued, the contractors are now presented with specification queries. A contractor’s offer has to present solutions giving details of the lifespan, the extent of the associated traffic problems, and of course the price. A number of formulae are then applied and the tender amount is worked out. Van der Ende participated in the acquisition of a number of orders. The result is the Kosmos project: 21 properties in the provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg.

Kosmos is an acronym, standing in Dutch for ’joint works maintenance tender under system-oriented contract management’. Quite a mouthful in either language. Harry Boogert (head of Kosmos project management), Ries Blom (Kosmos project coordinator), Henk Ras (paint technology inspector and HSE representative for Kosmos) and Richard Draër (head of the operations office, focusing on HSE legislation) have explained the enormous project for us.

“All the properties – the works – the Rijkswaterstaat manages in the Netherlands were tendered out two provinces at a time,” says Harry Boogert to get things moving. “The pairing that we got was Noord-Brabant and Limburg. There are 21 properties that we have to get completed by October next year. Two working seasons were originally planned, but because of other contractors, Rijkswaterstaat cut it back to a bit more than one year. It’s an order for about eleven million euros, which – for a company the size of Van der Ende and given the relatively short time for getting it done – is a real mega-project.”

Precise requirements
“The specification queries defined precise requirements for the execution of the work and listed all the relevant standards, such as the paint system to be used,” says Richard Draër. “The contractor must use them to demonstrate that the specific requirements can be met.”
Harry Boogert adds, “The contractor then has to detail the solutions for each individual object, jointly with Rijkswaterstaat. In the end, after any adjustments and changes that are needed, this has to produce a version that is acceptable for Rijkswaterstaat.”

He continues, “The plans were drawn up in September and the detailed working plans were prepared. In effect, we produced a tender document of our own. The actual work on site starts at the end of September or beginning of October. We reckon that about 15 to 20 Van der Ende staff will be working on it in 2007; that number will increase substantially to 35 or 40 in 2008. Part of the work will be carried out in-shop, i.e. at the Van der Ende workshop in IJmuiden. This will be done for the parts of the structures than can be dismantled and transported.”

Weir at Roermond
The first project that is being tackled, partly as an in-shop project, is the weir at Roermond. This is being disassembled and the parts are being taken to IJmuiden where the preservation work will be carried out by our sister company KBR Staalstraaling IJmuiden. Ries Blom says, “Bridge elements, trestles, sluice gates – everything will be blasted and preserved against corrosion. In total there are 54 sluice gates, 18 trestles and 17 bridge components. Logistically, the job is having a major impact. The bridge parts and the gates have to remain available at all times: in emergencies, it has to be possible to put the components back straight away, even if the paint is still wet.”

Another unusual project is the two historic bridges at Bunde and Geulle. These are two arched bridges of about 60 metres in length with a riveted construction dating back to the nineteen thirties. The unusual construction using rivets means that they are listed structures. “That means that the repairs all have to be carried out using authentic materials, preferably re-using the original components. That can usually be done. A special aspect is that the layers containing red lead and iron minium have to be removed, since that type of protective paint has been banned since the mid-nineties,” explains Ries Blom. “The work has to be done as safely as possible and the waste has to be disposed of safely as well.”


Five swing bridges
The maintenance work on five swing bridges around Eindhoven, over the Zuid-Willemsvaart canal and the Wilhelminakanaal is another high-profile part of the Kosmos project. “The work there is being done in fourteen days for each of the swing bridges. The first bridge at Stad van Gerwen was dismantled completely in September and the preservation work was done in-shop,” says Harry Boogert, adding in conclusion: “Kosmos is a very varied project, with all sorts of aspects that have to be tackled.”