SENER and EIPSA, civil engineering sticking to reality Cover /Article

SENER and EIPSA, civil engineering sticking to reality

Guadalajara metro in Mexico, a joint project of EIPSA and SENER.

Guadalajara metro in Mexico, a joint project of EIPSA and SENER.

The history of EIPSA is studded with intelligent engineering solutions in unique constructions. These projects have arisen in response to architectural problems and are sometimes on the cutting edge of technical possibility. Bridges and viaducts on complex terrain make up a large part of its landmark projects, along with structures for spectacularly designed buildings and other special projects, carried out in Spain, Argentina, Cyprus and Mexico, and currently in Qatar and USA.

Although it has formed part of SENER since 2012, EIPSA maintains its own unique character. The company has built a wealth of knowledge and experience in its nigh 30-year lifetime, earning it a number of international recognitions. The most recent of these was the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award given by multinational ALE to EIPSA’s founder, José Antonio Llombart, in February 2015.

A history of challenges

Estudio de Ingeniería y Proyectos (EIPSA) was founded in 1987 by José Antonio Llombart, a Civil engineer with 20 years of experience in construction companies (Agromán and Caminos y Puertos). At the latter he held the post of Manager of Projects and Technology, where he was involved in projects and works in construction and civil engineering, and particularly in road and rail bridges (viaducts, bridges over rivers and footbridges) throughout Spain. Some of these gave rise to significant technical challenges, such as the various highway viaducts from Barcelona to the French border, and the ‘9 de julio’ urban highway in Buenos Aires.

With the expertise he had acquired, he made the decision to start a company devoted to structural engineering –the backbone of any building– and specifically to the field of special structures, which, by definition, is outside of the ordinary. It was a decision that was not only career-related, but was also linked to a number of other factors: there was a demand to be met for complex structures in the booming development of Spanish infrastructure; at the same time it was the area he knew and liked best, requiring an ingenuity intrinsic to the ambitious labors of civil engineering.

It was unmistakably a good decision. In 2015 EIPSA celebrates its 30th anniversary and boasts a notable portfolio of works, projects and technical assistance services for the construction of special structures in industrial and urban buildings, storage silos, walkways and bridges.

This last field is EIPSA’s most outstanding specialty, having developed road and rail bridge projects in a wide range of categories. Exceptional past works include the Alconétar viaduct, which makes a 220 m crossing of the Alcántara reservoir (Cáceres) and set a world record for the dimension of the main span of the arches, which were built using downward displacement techniques; the viaduct on the C-58 Barcelona highway, built on the central reserve of an existing viaduct that is part of Catalonia’s busiest highway into Barcelona, without disrupting traffic; the Tejina viaduct in Tenerife, which was built using deck launching techniques and whose design features a bending radius of 131 m and an 8% gradient; the Arenteiro viaduct, whose concrete deck is the longest built in Spain using launching techniques, at over 1,400 m, and the Barbantiño viaduct, measuring 1,176 m, both of them part of the Galicia’s high speed train line; not to mention the number of bridges built outside of Spain. It has also carried out projects in architectural special structures, namely the Bilbao Exhibition Centre (BEC) and the CNCI tower in Monterrey, Mexico.

EIPSA employs a team of civil engineers and draftsmen who work in close collaboration with construction companies. It may be this positive understanding with the construction sector that has set EIPSA apart from other technical offices, as its projects go much further than designs on paper. In addition, it develops specific construction procedures, watching the evolution of the structure on site and accompanying its execution step by step, in close attendance to solve any problems that may arise. It is often the case that unique operations are required that have never before been performed, making its close ties with construction a vital factor.

As well as this tight link between design and construction, EIPSA has demonstrated its ability to provide for aesthetic considerations in its projects, achieving necessary profitability and accomplishing a balance that has allowed it to stand the test of time. EIPSA has thus earned itself a strong reputation in a number of different techniques: concrete deck viaducts built in stages, balanced cantilever bridges, launching decks, cable-stayed structures, prefabricated solutions, arches, footbridges, aqueducts, steel structures, steel-concrete composite structures, and more.

Two companies, one spirit

EIPSA and SENER’s have often coincided on projects throughout their histories, sometimes as partners and, in the case of SENER, as client. They worked side by side on the BEC, where SENER was the site supervisor and EIPSA was responsible for the structure of the building –a 92 m tower made up of a central concrete core supporting a roof structure, from which the slab floors are suspended leaving a large open lower space. They also came together in the Madrid–Valencia high speed rail connection, where SENER was the site supervisor and EIPSA delivered Istmo and Arco, two unique viaducts over the Contreras reservoir. Other joint projects include the A4 highway in the Netherlands, the Vitoria–Eibar highway, Seville’s metro and the bridge project over Deba River in Guipúzcoa (these last three in Spain), sometimes in multiple sections and for different clients.

These projects gave the two companies the chance to get to know one another’s work philosophy, passion for innovation and technical excellence, and appetite for taking on new challenges. To a certain extent, they shared a similar founding and day-to-day driving spirit, and this was clearly demonstrated by their understanding on site.

The international panorama

With the 21st century well underway, SENER and EIPSA had each individually realized that they would have to compete across an increasingly global panorama. SENER had already made definite steps in the way of internationalization, running offices and projects on four continents. EIPSA mostly subsisted on a national level, but had taken on some jobs outside of Spain.

In the worldwide context it becomes possible to seek larger contracts, but the level of competition also rises, with not just more companies involved, but also rivals of greater dimensions. There is a tendency for clients to opt for companies that can offer an end-to-end service, and SENER and EIPSA had been working well in tandem for some time, uniting skills and forces with such effortless coordination that their integration in 2012 was almost predictable.

Since then, the two companies have undertaken the Doha metro (Qatar), and the Guadalajara metro and intercity train between Toluca and Mexico City (Mexico). Work has just begun providing environmental and engineering services on the Palmdale–Burbank section of the California High-Speed Rail, which will incorporate 11 viaducts. Other works in the pipeline include the Jeddah metro (Saudi Arabia) and the Lima metro (Peru). Together the future is global and full of opportunities.

A professional and personal career worthy of an award A professional and personal career worthy of an award

In February this year, the ALE group awarded José Antonio Llombart with their ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award. This was presented at the 14th ALE civil engineering awards in the traditional dinner at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid (Spain), an annual event. During the ceremony, ALE’s representative emphasized that EIPSA’s General Manager is “a professional with exceptional knowledge gained from a career of more than 50 years working in civil engineering.”

With the award, ALE recognized his intense professional activity in the field of special structures, principally through the founding of EIPSA. Alongside this, the prize was also in recognition of José Antonio Llombart’s academic and informative work as a professor at the Madrid School of Civil Engineering, the numerous articles he has authored in technical publications, and his participation in international conventions and assemblies in Spanish technical institutes and universities. The award also put light on other personal qualities, such as his training as a pianist –an area where he performs semiprofessional concerts– but above all his role as a friend, father and husband.

The prize is in addition to a previous award, that of the Medal of the Spanish Technical Association of Prestressed Concrete.

EIPSA as a company has received many more recognitions throughout its existence, for example the 2006 fib Congress Award Nomination for Outstanding Concrete Structures, the 2007 Construmat prize, the 2008 Caminos de Extremadura award and the 2011 Potencia award.

Gallery

Construction works at the viaduct on the C-58 Barcelona highway.  Istmo viaduct at the Contreras reservoir. Construction works at the Arch viaduct over Contreras Reservoir. Building of the CNCI tower in Mexico.  Building of the Bilbao Exhibition Center (BEC).

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