Spotlight: How Sarens Became a World Leader in Bridge Installation and Replacement
Project Sales Manager Pieter Augustyns Shares His Insights
May 2019

Sarens has a rich history in accelerated bridge replacement, known as the famous "ABC method", and is a market leader in bridge installation technology. That legacy is particularly strong in Belgium, France, Germany, Holland and the UK where Sarens performed the first bridge move nearly 40 years ago. 

Pieter Augustyns, Project Sales Manager, provides his insights on how Sarens has grown to lead this sector over the years, and what's ahead for the future. 

Could you tell us about one of the first bridge moves Sarens ever performed in Belgium? 

One of the first bridge moves Sarens ever performed was in 1980. It was the Haccourt Bridge on the Albert Canal, and it measured 90 metres long and weighed 1.400 tonnes. We have video footage of this historic bridge relocation, which can be viewed here (in Dutch). 

How does Sarens work with clients on bridge projects today? 

Today, Sarens offers clients a 'factory to foundation' solution for many different sectors, including oil & gas, wind, nuclear, and large infrastructure projects. That means that in addition to performing installation and removal, we also take care of the transportation logistics between the factory and job site. 

For example, we were recently awarded a project for the renewal of an important railway bridge in Stockholm's city centre. Its components will be built in Tallinn, Estonia, and include three steel sections measuring approximately 100 metres each. For this project, Sarens will not only remove the old bridge and install the new bridge sections onto the foundations, but we'll also pick up the sections at the steel shop in Tallinn, load them onto one of our barges, and sail them to Stockholm. We'll use a complete range of equipment for this operation: barges, SPMTs, jacking equipment, modular beams, and supporting equipment. 

What makes Sarens a preferred partner for bridge-related projects across the world? 

It is not just PR to state that we are experts-it is a proven fact! We install numerous bridges every year, all in very different circumstances. 

Our expertise has been built up over many years spent listening to and understanding our clients' requirements and challenges. These clients have pushed our engineering to new levels, challenging us to think "outside the box" and create solutions that had never been done before. With each new project, we build our expertise and our reputation, becoming the preferred partner for our clients' challenges. 

Our Group has realised an impressive number of technical innovations, especially for civil projects. One great example is the floating foundation installer we designed for the Champlain Bridge project in Canada. 

Another example of a well thought-out solution is our twin barge concept. With our twin barges Wim & Tom, Karel & Victor, and Jozef & Rosa, we are able to pass through narrow locks and channels to reach project sites that are inaccessible to other barges with the same capacity and stability. Once our twin barges are on site, we can couple them next to each other to create a stable floating platform designed for heavy loads. 

Looking at the local market, what's next for Sarens in Belgium? 

From 2019 onwards, several bridges will be installed across the Albert Canal, an important channel for inland water transport between the port of Antwerp and Liege. The government has decided to increase bridge heights along the canal to allow larger vessels to pass, and over the next two years it is investing in the renewal of nearly 20 bridges along this key waterway. Each of these bridges weighs about 1.500 tonnes, on average. With our expertise in bridge installation technology, Sarens is dedicated to supporting the success of this project. 

Why do clients consistently choose Sarens for this, and other, bridge projects? 

In the tendering phase, our level of expertise is so advanced that we are able to have in-depth interactions with clients, proposing alternatives or a combination of existing solutions. These interactions result in project executions where we take full ownership. And of course, the fact that we have a high amount of bridge installation with a "ABC method" each year (up to 70), means that Sarens' name is well-known in this market.