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What Is A Self-Climbing Formwork System? A Guide to Understanding Formwork

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Even in today’s advanced world with high-tech safety procedures, the construction industry is still very dangerous with many workers succumbing to injuries and fatalities every year. In the year 2012-2013, the construction industry in Australia was ranked fourth in terms of the total number of injuries sustained by workers. Clearly there’s room for improvement in regard to safety and working conditions in the construction industry.

In regards to scaffolding and formwork, there are many types of equipment available to workers and each depends on the type of structure being built, the budget, and the time-frame. An advanced type of formwork system available is known as ‘Self-Climbing Formwork’ which presents many advantages over traditional counterparts. While this type of formwork system is more costly and complicated, the huge increases in safety coupled with far better performance measures makes this system an excellent choice for construction companies.

What is Self-Climbing Formwork?

As the name suggests, Self-Climbing Formwork is a type of formwork that elevates itself with the aid of mechanic leverage equipment (typically hydraulic), which is mainly used for vertical concrete structures such as tall buildings and skyscrapers. The formwork structure itself is usually fixed to sacrificial cones or rails that are placed in previously cast concrete and is very effective for buildings that require repetitive work. Not only is this type of structure used for formwork, but it also provides a working/scaffold platform for construction workers, machinery, and screens for weather protection.

Self-Climbing Formwork enables construction companies to reuse the same formwork for similar sections (or stories) further up the building. Another advantage of this system is that it allows very large concrete structures to be constructed in a single pour, leading to structures with enhanced strength and aesthetic appearance along with reducing labour costs, construction times, and material costs.

What types of Self-Climbing Formwork are available?

There are essentially three types of Self-Climbing Formwork systems available: ATR Self-Climbing Systems, RKS Rail Climbing Systems, and HWS Hydraulic Windshield Systems. Due to the complexity of each of these systems, Australia’s leading scaffolding and formwork company, Uni-Span, have provided a detailed and thorough document relating to each type of these Self-Climbing Formwork systems. Let’s take a closer look at the components and applications of each of these systems:

ATR Self-Climbing System

(Image: Uni-Span)

In this type of system, the climbing process involves the successive elevation of the mast and the climbing bracket-formwork-set without the use of a crane. This system is effective at constructing complex geometrical buildings since worker access and working and storage areas can be completely customised. Furthermore, this system allows slabs and walls to be simultaneously constructed which significantly reduces materials and costs. This system is very flexible and versatile and provides workers with increased safety due to its large and protected working platforms.

RKS Rail Climbing System

(Image: Uni-Span)

The RKS Rail Climbing System enables the climbing of the panel without separating the structure from the wall by using hydraulic lifting (crane is also optional). One of the biggest advantages of this system is that safe lifting operations can be performed under any weather conditions. This type of system is ideal for the construction of buildings with perimeter walls due to its large formwork areas with extremely high safety and performance rates. It is also an inexpensive system for shaft construction without the need for a crane and protects workers from adverse weather conditions.

HWS Hydraulic Windshield System

(Image: Uni-Span)

The HWS Hydraulic Windshield System is a self-climbing system with a myriad of applications that provides maximum safety to workers and excellent performance measures at height. Based on the MK system, this system is very versatile and has many configuration types according to the needs of workers. This system is primarily designed to protect workers from harsh weather and prevent them or other materials from falling over the edge of the slab. It can be used to build high-rise buildings and those of irregular shape alike as it can be anchored to both slabs or walls.

While Self-Climbing Formwork systems are more expensive, there is a significant reduction in the costs of labour and materials, not to mention the huge increase in safety to workers and pedestrians below. For large buildings with a high surface areas, Self-Climbing Formwork systems are clearly the leading choice in terms of performance and safety. If you have any questions or enquiries about Self-Climbing Formwork systems, get in touch with the experts at Uni-Span: