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Hydrodemolition 2016 – The Year in Numbers

POSTED ON March 7th  - POSTED IN Blog

2016 was another successful year for Sabre Jetting Services with some record-breaking months at both ends of the spectrum. A vast array of hydrodemolition and industrial projects were completed using various water jetting techniques, pressures, and equipment. Here we are going to take a look back over the year and delve into the numbers to see what story they portray.

January to March

The year got off to an extremely slow start with the worst January and February ever recorded. January saw us on site for just 93 days which was followed up by with only 80 days in February. Both those numbers were well down on the averages for these months which stand at 126 days for January and 115 days for February. Things did begin to improve in March as we worked 127 site days, although that was still down on the highest mark set for the month, 160 days achieved in 2012 and 2014. All in all, it was a slow first quarter and the operators were chomping at the bit to get out on site and put their skills to use on a more regular basis.

April to June

As April started it became apparent that all the frustration built up over previous months was to be put to good use. A major hydrodemolition project was underway for Galliford Try on the A45 near Coventry and with four teams committed to that job, other crews were busy ensuring all other work commitments were satisfied as well. In order to fulfil these requirements, the guys were working 6 days per week and put in a monumental effort to keep the programme moving, completing 158 site days.

Sadly, the peak in April was followed by a trough in May. Traditionally a fairly quiet month but nonetheless, just 94 days on site was a little underwhelming. Luckily though this was nothing on the record low from 2011 which was just 44 days, the worst of any month since records began. Despite not being completely flat out, some major hydrodemolition works were started during May that were to continue through the subsequent months. A local project kicked off at Snow Hill Car Park for Coleman Specialist Cutting and a crew was on site in Portsmouth working alongside a fellow hydrodemolition contractor.

As the summer months approached it was inevitable (and welcome) that the workload would increase as the holiday period started. A slight increase came in June with 107 days on site recorded. The projects at Snow Hill and in Portsmouth were supplemented by projects at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where our mini excavator was put to work, and Navigator Terminals working for CRL to repair a jetty. Along with the hydrodemolition works, there were also projects cleaning industrial tanks, removing rubber lining and cleaning tube bundles, a truly diverse industry. The second quarter of 2016 clocked a total 359 site days, a marked improvement from 300 in the previous quarter.

July to September

The steady increase in work continued in July up to 121 site days, 14 of which were carried out at the weekend. Another major project commenced at Liverpool 2 Docks, this time working for BAM Ritchie, having previously worked on the same site for BAM Nuttall. Some major hydrodemolition works were also carried out at Gravelly Hill Interchange in Birmingham, part of the infamous Spaghetti Junction. This work was to carry out repairs to the deck and deck ends of the elevated structures and started with 3 teams working through a weekend to complete the deck ends before dropping to 1 team to carry out phased repairs to the deck.

Despite the Gravelly Hill works continuing into August, there was a slight dip to 115 days on site, just slightly down on the average for the month of 121 days. The month was set to be far more fruitful but the pulling of a Network Rail project after just a couple of shifts meant it wasn’t to be. We were set to commit four jetting teams to the project for approximately 30 nights which would have given us a further 120 days over the coming months.

Rather than becoming a problem, the cancellation turned out to be an opportunity as the workload increased dramatically over the next two months. Major projects kicked off for Interserve on the M62 and Ekspan at Fiddlers Elbow, whilst the works at Liverpool 2 Dock and in the Car Park at Snow Hill Station continued at a pace. The total for September was 143 shift days with 18 of those carried out at the weekend thanks mainly to a major push on the Countess Weir project for Lagan Construction. We provided 7 operators with 4 working during the day and 3 during the night to remove a staggering 24m3 over one weekend. The total days for the quarter were up to 379, the best of the year so far.

October to December

If September was busy, then October was set to crank it up a notch with 160 days worked on site, the busiest October we have ever seen and the busiest month of 2016. In amongst those days were two visits to the prestigious Tower Bridge in London on behalf of Ekspan. The guys were working under intense scrutiny due to the significance of the location and the presence of a BBC documentary crew and the works were carried out in a professional manner as always. The operators once again pulled it out the bag to keep all works on programme including working 23 weekend shifts. The work carried out was predominantly hydrodemolition with 150 days dedicated to removal of concrete and just 10 days of industrial works including floor cleaning and paint removal.

Although November was a little slower than October there was still plenty of work to go around with 125 days worked. However, November saw an increase in industrial work rising to 32 shifts from 10 the previous month, 25.6% of the work carried out. One particularly successful project was carried out at Lexden Reservoir for CRL where the team removed over 1000m2 of coating in just 9 shifts using ultra-high pressure water with rotary nozzles. Several similar projects were carried out throughout the year with our ultra-high pressure equipment really coming to the fore.

After what had been a productive 5 month period, the work fell off dramatically in December as it always does. This is of course partly down to the Christmas shutdown in the construction industry. However, the monthly total of 46 days was still the lowest ever in December and obviously down on the average of 70 days for the month. The month had promised more with the first phase of a major job set to start on the M6, however unidentified services discovered on site left us looking forward to a busy start to 2017 as 2016 drew to a close.

All in all, it was a good year with 1369 days worked. A big thank you must go out to all our clients throughout the year and to our operators for their fantastic efforts once again. We hope 2017 can be just as successful!

What is hydrodemolition?

POSTED ON December 16th  - POSTED IN Blog

Hydrodemolition is the controlled removal of concrete using high pressure water. Despite the name hydrodemolition, the technique is used mainly for localised concrete removal on civil engineering contracts rather than for traditional building demolition. High speed water penetrates cracks in the concrete and the hydraulic effect causes the concrete to burst into smaller pieces. A brilliant example of this can be seen on our homepage; a slow motion video of an operator using a hand held lance to remove concrete to a deck. The video shows the operator maintaining the position of the water jet on the concrete allowing the water to break away the concrete at its weakest point.

Hydrodemolition can be used for a wide variety of applications, from intricate removal around bearings, to mass demolition of decks, piers or parapets. Operators will select different pressures to suit each task. For instance, when removing bearings, a lower pressure would be selected to allow the operator to manoeuvre the jetting lance around the bearing plate and bolts and to breakout to the back of the bearing shelf. Alternatively, when removing concrete to a deck or a parapet, a higher pressure can be utilised as the operator allows the brute force of the constant water jet to hammer away at the concrete. At Sabre Jetting, we have vast experience of all types of hydrodemolition and always apply the optimum techniques to ensure work is carried out as safely and efficiently as possible on every contract.

The main reasons for selecting hydrodemolition as a method of removal are to keep steel reinforcement intact, or to avoid any vibration to the rest of the structure from which the concrete is being removed. When removing concrete with high pressure water, no damage whatsoever is caused to the steel reinforcement by the water jet, making this technique ideal for repair contracts. The water will only cause destruction at the point at which it hits the surface of the concrete meaning the rest of the structure suffers no adverse consequences from the removal. A further benefit is that when hydrodemolition is used, a rough finish is created on the remaining concrete, giving the ideal bonding surface for the new concrete.

As well as not causing vibration to the adjacent structure, the operator of a hand held lance will also not suffer any vibration when carrying out hydrodemolition. An independent report by the British H&S Laboratories found that operators will not exceed the exposure action values when carrying out high pressure water jetting with a straight jet. This means that hydrodemolition is therefore preferable to using hand held mechanical tools. This has led to a large increase in the use of hydrodemolition as an alternative to jackhammers.

Hydrodemolition Projects


Hydrodemolition is often used on repair contracts to remove damaged or failing concrete in varying sized patches whilst leaving the sound concrete intact. A survey will be carried out to determine the areas of concrete to be removed. Hydrodemolition will then be employed to remove the patches, exposing the reinforcement and allowing repair concrete to be sprayed or poured back. The top layer of the concrete is removed first, followed by breaking out behind the bars to ensure the replaced concrete effectively repairs each location. Repair works are often carried out on piers, abutments and soffits of bridges as well as on jetties and concrete tanks. Details of major repair projects we have carried out at Newport Jetty and on the Midland Links can be found on our projects page.


Another common application for hydrodemolition is to allow the removal of bearings used to support bridge decks. This can be straightforward where there is good access and plenty of room to work. However, this is often not the case and the breakout can be highly technical and physically demanding. Where there is little room to work due to the design of the structure, a lance shorter than the standard minimum may be required. If this is the case, the situation must be assessed to ensure there is no other option but to use a shortened lance. Sabre Jetting has stringent procedures in place for such scenarios and all operators are trained on these procedures.


Sabre Jetting has carried out numerous pile projects over the last 30 years. Hydrodemolition is used to reduce the height of the piles to the level that the contractor requires. The contractor will sometimes demolish the top of the piles, as far as possible, using conventional means and then hydrodemolition is used to complete the breakout and save the required amount of steel.

Large Scale Removal to Parapets, Decks & Piers

Parapet removal projects are often higher volume than many other projects. The requirement may be to upgrade the existing parapet or to remove the parapet to allow a widening of the bridge. Using the best equipment available, we are able to achieve outputs of up to 2m3 per crew on this type of removal. Similar rates of removal are possible on deck removal projects as the removal technique is almost identical. Where pier projects are concerned, hydrodemolition is commonly used for repairs as mentioned previously. However, as demonstrated on our projects page, major controlled demolition of piers can be carried out using water jetting, as with the M27 Junction 9 and the A1260 Bridge structure projects.

The projects described are common applications for hydrodemolition but by no means an exhaustive list. If you have any questions about hydrodemolition or in relation to an upcoming hydrodemolition project, please feel free to contact us and we will be more than happy to offer our expertise.

Hydrodemolition Services

POSTED ON September 24th  - POSTED IN Services

Sabre Jetting Services is committed to being the number one hydro-demolition contractor in the United Kingdom. In order to achieve this we have invested heavily in our workforce and the equipment that we use. Our operators are highly trained including specialist in-house training which is not available elsewhere. Our operators also have access to an extensive fleet of Hammelmann jetting units which are unrivalled in terms of capability and reliability.


For our clients this means shorter programming, lower costs and maximum safety awareness. We are happy to offer a full hydro-demolition package on every project, including provision of water and, treatment of the run-off water. All of our high pressure pumps are sound attenuated reducing the noise impact of our operation and we are also able to provide sound attenuation blankets to encapsulate the jetting enclosure where required.

When carrying out hydro-demolition safety is of paramount importance. At Sabre Jetting Services we take the safety of our operators and anybody else that could come into contact with the operation extremely seriously. All of our equipment and PPE is serviced, tested or replaced using standards well above the manufacturers recommendations. We can guarantee our customers we only use the best equipment and PPE, identified using the vast experience gained over the last 30 years.


As leaders in the specialist industry of hydro-demolition we have developed our own safety procedures following the Water Jetting Association code of practice. Our POSH Procedures are a reminder to our operators of their duties on every site and will ensure that every single job we carry out is setup in the optimum way to ensure minimum risk. The acronym POSH stands for, Positioning of the jetting unit, Operation of the jetting unit, Hearing the jetting operation and Seeing the jetting enclosure. Keeping in mind these four key responsibilities means that our operators are perfectly prepared to deal with any potential emergency.


If you have any queries regarding an upcoming hydro-demolition project, call us now on 0121 706 9801.


Hydrodemolition is the controlled removal of concrete using high pressure, high speed water has several advantages over traditional air tool, machine mounted breakers.

1. Minimal vibration to the operator
2. No loose or damaged concrete on the edge of breakout area
3. No damage to steel reinforcing
4. Removal of concrete around dense reinforcing (impossible using air breakers)
5. Thorough washing / self cleaning of breakout area

The use of hydrodemolition seems to becoming more widespread amongst the construction industry, particularly within the civil engineering sector. The reasons listed above are the main factors for the increase in awareness of what is now a growing industry.

Sabre Jetting Services’ first hydrodemolition contract was completed successfully in 1989 for Edmund Nuttal. We now employ twelve operators who are permanently engaged in concrete demolition, completing contracts ranging in value from £850 to £500,000 making us the countries most experienced hydrodemolition contractor.

Due to the ability of our operatives, we are not limited to Hydrodemolition, and are able to undertake projects of any nature ranging from intricate work such as bearing removal, to bulk projects such as parapet demolition. The skills of our workforce have been developed due to the many highly technical midland links contracts we have successfully carried out as a key member of the area 9 partnering scheme.

Sabre Jetting Services featured in BBC 2 Documentary

POSTED ON September 19th  - POSTED IN Blog

Sabre Jetting Services recently appeared in a BBC 2 documentary called The Motorway: Life in the Fast Lane, aired on 16th September 14. The documentary series is a look into the motorway system around Birmingham and examines the role of workers that help to keep traffic flowing around the UK’s second city.


During the second episode of the series titled ‘Keeping the Show on the Road’ there was a large focus on the maintenance of the road system, including the repair works continuously carried out to ensure the integrity of the vast concrete structures carrying millions of vehicles each year. As a sub- contractor carrying out a key element of the repair works; the hydrodemolition of concrete repair locations beneath the elevated carriageways, Sabre Jetting’s operatives were filmed going about their daily routines on the R163 contract, the most recent of numerous Midland Links contracts completed by Sabre Jetting over the last 25 years.


The team on site, Richard Donnelly & Daniel Horsnett, were shown during the documentary informing the viewers of the PPE they wear and the reasons it is required. The programme then cuts to shots of the hydrodemolition in action and close ups of the water jet penetrating the concrete at high velocity. Richard and Daniel are two of the most experienced operators in the country, especially when it comes to Midland Links work. As a company, Sabre Jetting have worked on 12 of these major projects over the last decade alone and are unrivalled in their ability to carry out this type of technical work.

The programme, The Motorway: Life in the Fast Lane ‘Keeping the Show on the Road’ will be available on BBC iPlayer until 16th October. Look out for Sabre Jetting in action from 16m 30s into the episode and for further information on hydrodemolition and the other services we offer, contact us now on 0121 706 9801.