Uretek, the ground engineering contractor, has rebranded its core business to Geobear. You’ll know Uretek as the ground injection specialists who use their nondisruptive methods to solve sinking floor issues and strengthen slabs to withstand new mezzanine loads.

Subsidence or floor settlement can often pose a major problem for commercial sector. The closure of premises is not only inconvenient but the loss of revenue and disruption to customer service can be immeasurable. Vacating premises whilst remedial works are undertaken is simply not a viable option if business continuity is to be maintained. Soil can move for many reasons: vibrations from traffic and machinery, construction work, flooding and more, but when the ground gets unstable and has trouble supporting the foundations, buildings sink, become unsafe, which can lead to operations being shut down.

Geobear specialise in fast slabstabilisation and the re-levelling of concrete floors in commercial and industrial buildings, such as warehouse and factory floors, public buildings, offices and retail, typically whilst the facility continues its normal operations and without any interruption to business.

Geobear’s unique geopolymer technology means no excavations are involved, with the geopolymer simply injected into the sub surface through small holes drilled into the floor. The expanding geopolymer first fills the voids in the soil, after which it expands and, if necessary, lifts the floor or plate back to the desired level. The geopolymer cures fast and achieves its load bearing strength within about 15 minutes. After this, even a truck or fork lift can drive over the treated area.

The solutions provided by Geobear are extremely flexible and versatile, being ideal for any type of industrial plant or warehouse and can be applied regardless of whether goods are being made, stored or collected. Its solutions are up to 10 times faster than other methods; due to the technological innovation of its pioneering geopolymer technology, work is often finished in days, compared with the few weeks or months traditional repair methods can take. In fact, using Geobear’s geopolymer technology, trucks and factory machinery can start moving again within just 15 minutes after the work is completed and comes with a 10-year guarantee for added confidence. Geobear’s solutions are also 50%-60% cheaper than other methods and because its work causes minimal disruption, loss of revenue is low.

A solutions-approach is taken to all projects, which is extremely efficient. Geobear’s technology creates a firm base, which reduces the risk of cracking and potholes, and extends the life of cracked slabs. It is also environmentally friendly compared with other methods with a low carbon footprint and has no impact on ground water.

For example, one of Europe’s largest, newly constructed, bottling facilities in Avonmouth had become subject to the effects of settlement. Specifically, problems with the 80,000 m2 facility began after the tenant moved in and commenced operations. As the facility was loaded it began to experience significant slab settlement making the entire facility unstable; drops of 36mm were recorded in some areas. The stakeholders had originally planned to make a permanent repair, but due to significant depths of weakened ground soils and the excessive costs of the proposals it was unrealistic; consequently, Geobear proposed an ongoing maintenance solution to keep the facility operational.

Geobear designed a solution based on the level survey drawings which would relevel the slabs, bringing them back to within 4mm from the original specification. The process involved the injection of geopolymers beneath the slab across the facility, which would raise and re-level. The settlement experienced by the slab may have been caused by the slab dropping to the level of the settled soils, or by the slab essentially hanging from piles, resulting in voiding beneath the slab. In both scenarios, the solution Geobear proposed would fill and relevel. An additional aspect of the solution was to provide a structural infill above the pile heads of sufficient strength to support the loads.

In ground engineering terms, Geobear designed a programme of work based upon the site drawings that would require three passes; meaning the areas that showed the greatest drop in level would be injected first and repeat that process on the same area and all other areas that had a slightly lower level of settlement, and finally a third pass where all areas would be treated to bring all the slabs back to within 4mm of their required levels.

The onsite works required Geobear to design a new process of delivery. Typically, this means heavy plant machinery carrying the materials and pumps, however the nature of the facility meant those vehicles had to stay away from the interior.

Consequently, Geobear designed smaller purpose-built mobile pumping units that would fit within the aisles of the facility and met all health and safety criteria. Operations continued unaffected in aisles adjacent to the company’s technical teams. The facility has a total of 65 aisles and at any time Geobear would take four aisles and complete the injection process within 8hrs. Four technical teams were provided and worked on-site for 16 weeks.

As we went through the process of ground injection, Geobear substantiated every lift using laser monitoring, with levels verified by an independent surveyor was also contracted to conduct additional monitoring.

In addition to the ground monitoring a racking contractor was employed to adjust the racking. Originally the racking had been adjusted to counter the floor movement, but as the floor was raised, the racking had to be readjusted. The re-levelling meant racking would move by 50mm whereas the accepted limit is 18mm. A shimming company worked around Geobear to measure the verticality of the racking before and after and would make the necessary changes. Furthermore there was a crack survey and repair team who followed the Geobear technicians fixing a total of 7km of cracks in the slab.

The value-added components provided by Geobear’s solutions deliver direct and indirect economic benefits in both the short and longer term and present an attractive method of commercial and public building remediation for slab subsidence over alternative methods.