Innovative gaskets contribute to Shieldhall Tunnel success

Shieldhall Tunnel

The construction phase of Scotland’s biggest waste water tunnel has been completed with the benefit of an innovative tunnel segment sealing gasket developed by VIP-Polymers Ltd.

The 3.1-mile-long Shieldhall Tunnel beneath Glasgow has been one of the first projects to make use of the rubber gaskets manufactured by VIP which are designed to reduce the risk of segment cracking during installation.

The tunnel boring machine broke through in October 2017 after spending 15 months creating the 4.7m-diameter tunnel for Scottish Water. Its journey from Craigton to Queen’s Park, across the south of Glasgow, has created the largest-diameter bored tunnel in Scotland.

Global seals and gaskets manufacturer VIP, based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, was commissioned to provide all the tunnel segment gaskets (TSGs) by construction joint venture Costain VINCI Construction Grands Projects.

The cast-in TSGs used incorporated VIP’s new patented compliant compressible corner technology, which ensures delivery of consistent load performance along the entire perimeter of the gasket.

This eliminates the risk of a build-up of pressure at one or more of the gasket’s corners during installation, which could contribute to segment cracking.

Matthew Levitt, VIP Technical Business Development Manager, said:

“Our new cast-in TSGs have performed very well throughout the Shieldhall Tunnel construction process, demonstrating high levels of performance and reliability.

Segment cracking is a concern for all partners in tunnel construction projects as it can result in delays and additional cost. Clients have welcomed the opportunity to make use of a new technology designed specifically to minimise these risks.”

Sam Simons, Tunnel Lining Supply Manager for Costain, said:

“The decision to manufacture segments with VIP gaskets for Shieldhall was taken late in the approval process when it became clear that only VIP gaskets could meet the specified requirement for compressible corners to prevent hard spots.

The steel fibre reinforced concrete segment manufacturing process was achieved within the tightest of specifications, and all manufactured rejections were less than 0.25%, including exact gasket positioning.

Overall, the VIP gaskets contributed to an exceptionally well-built tunnel, with no reported segment cracking arising from high corner contact pressure, or segment ram loading transfer, cracks or leakage, meeting the tunnel lining specification without compromise.”

Conventional shot-joining of TSGs can result in the compression cavities within the extruded profile filling with rubber. This greatly limits compression, increasing the risk of corner point loading, and cracking.

VIP’s new corner joint, which has a UK patent, with international patents pending, maintains the TSG compression cavity profile right to the corner edge.

Extensive testing has shown this eliminates the risk of a build-up of pressure at one or more of the gasket’s corners during installation, which could contribute to segment cracking.

Prior to manufacturing any gaskets, members of the Costain waterproofing team witnessed corner loading (T and Cruciform) and pressure testing of the gaskets in VIP’s testing facilities in Huntingdon.

Over the last 18 months, VIP has manufactured more than 19,500 individual TSGs for the project. These have been cast into each tunnel segment at FP McCann’s site in Drakelow, Derbyshire, England.

Cast-In Gasket Installation Cast-In Gasket Corner Tunnel Segment Yard

Captions: Top & Middle – Installation of Cast-In gaskets into the segment moulds at FP McCann’s site in Drakelow. Bottom – Finished segments awaiting delivery to the tunnel site in Glasgow.

Dave Derbyshire, Operations Manager for Underground Products at FP McCann, said:

“For this contract we used cast-in gaskets supplied by VIP for the first time.

The geometry of the segments meant that the gaskets required intricately formed corners to fit the steel moulds correctly and provide a draft angle to the sealing face of the key and adjacent segments along the Z axis.

Technical representatives from VIP visited our facility at Drakelow prior to segment production, to ensure the correct fit was achieved on all six segment types. Once they, and ourselves were satisfied with the gasket fit, they went into production.

During the segment manufacturing programme VIP delivered gaskets on time, and to a consistent quality. Their technical back-up team was always on hand, but rarely needed.”

The £100-million Shieldhall Tunnel is one of the most important wastewater infrastructure projects in Glasgow since Victorian times. It will help tackle flooding and improve river water quality across the city.

The 1,000-tonne tunnel boring machine, longer than 14 buses and named Daisy the Driller by a Glasgow schoolboy, began the process of creating the tunnel in July 2016, and completed it on 13 October 2017, when it emerged at the bottom of a 16-metre-deep shaft.

The giant sewer will provide 90,000 cubic metres of extra storm water storage, equivalent to 66 Olympic swimming pools.


Profile: VIP028CI EPDM rubber
Number of segments in a ring: 6
Number of ring sets supplied: Over 19,500
Segment Shape: Trapezoidal with a tapered key (x, y and z draft angles)
Tunnel Diameter: 4.7m
Tunnel Length: 3.1 miles
Tunnel Use: Wastewater Management

Download the pdf version of ‘Innovative gaskets contribute to Shieldhall Tunnel success’ case study

VIP looks forward to a brighter more sustainable future

LED Lighting in the factory

VIP has significantly cut its energy consumption in line with a rigorous sustainability strategy by installing LED lights across its UK production facility.

As a result, carbon emissions for the site have been reduced by an estimated 150 tonnes a year.

The initiative has also reduced lighting energy costs by 20 per cent – equivalent to a saving of £28,000 a year – and increased the lux rating by 35 per cent, creating a brighter working environment.

VIP Operations Director Mick Gilchrist said minimising energy consumption was a core element of the company’s sustainability strategy.

He added: “Switching to LED lighting has had immediate benefits. As well as reducing energy costs, it has created a much-improved environment for our production teams, enhancing their wellbeing.

“From a business perspective, we expect this to deliver further gains in terms of improving staff morale, which feeds into improved productivity and quality control, and better staff retention.”

In an installation programme carried out by the in-house maintenance team, sodium and fluorescent strip lights were replaced with 182 twin-strip LED units across the entire factory floor, the rubber mixing department, maintenance areas, the canteen, and production offices.

VIP compounds and mixes the rubber for the products it manufactures. The process is energy-intensive, which makes the business particularly keen to reduce energy consumed for non-production processes.

Mick Gilchrist said: “Improving our sustainability through initiatives like this is vitally important to support our development of advanced, cost-effective manufacturing processes, and to act as a responsible international business.

“For example, we have also invested in new inverter technology that is allowing us to reduce the energy consumption of our production cooling system by up to 80% during periods of low demand.”

Taking steps to collaborate leads to natural rubber first

EMS Matting System

VIP-Polymers Ltd has collaborated with other suppliers to manufacture a ground-breaking new low smoke and low toxicity natural rubber matting system for use on the London Underground.

Development of the innovative product, on behalf of Entrance Matting Systems Ltd, has been made possible by close partnership working within a supply chain specifically put together to develop it.

The material is the first natural rubber-derived compound to meet the requirements of the EN 45545-2 (2013) fire retardancy standard for the floor composite category.

It is also the first natural rubber-derived compound to meet London Underground’s own standard for floor matting, which is based on EN 45545-2(2013).

The rubber was compounded by the Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre (TARRC), the UK-based research and promotion centre of the Malaysian Rubber Board.

It is mixed by BD Technical Polymer Ltd, in Corby, Northamptonshire, and then moulded by VIP at its factory in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

VIP’s prime focus is manufacturing seals and gaskets. However, it is using its technical expertise and specialist equipment to support the development and manufacture of the new entrance mat, which is already in use in 18 stations across the London Underground network.

Neil Creasey, Entrance Matting Systems’ General Manager, said: “Thanks to the collaborative approach and expertise shared across the supply chain, we have the opportunity to offer our customers an innovative, sustainable natural rubber product that we’re confident already has the hallmarks of a market leader.”

Peter O’Connor, Technical Services Manager at VIP, said: “This has been an excellent and very productive collaborative project, with everyone in the supply chain working very well together to develop an impressive product.

“The additives TARRC had to put into the rubber to make it fire retardant made it a demanding material to work with throughout the development and production process.

“In particular, its consistency made it challenging to mould, while retaining the finish quality needed. What VIP could bring to bear was our expertise across all disciplines, as a rubber compounder and a mixer, as well as a manufacturer.

“This allowed us to see the product’s potential, and gave us the confidence to work with our partners in the process. It wasn’t always straight forward, but everyone involved could always see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

The material was developed by the Head of TARRC’s Industrial Support Unit, Principal Scientist Dr Marina Fernando, specifically for the rail industry, which has increasingly specified the need for rubber products to have low smoke and low toxicity.

She said: “Until now, the only rubber matting that met London Underground’s fire retardancy standard has been synthetic.

“In a six-month trial at one London Underground station, our natural rubber-based compound proved to be significantly harder wearing than synthetic rubber alternatives. It also has additional sustainability benefits, because 80% of its content comes from renewable resources.

“VIP has played a significant role within the supply chain, firstly because they understood and believed in the product, and were willing to invest significant time and resources, including product testing, mould development, and many meetings with supply chain partners.

“Also, their quality assurance and technical knowledge across all product development processes was pivotal in resolving challenges in taking a material that was difficult to work with from lab-scale production to full production.”

BD Technical Polymer used its expertise in compounding and blanking to ensure rubber mixing cycles and blank production were precisely aligned with the requirements to produce the matting in a multi-cavity mould on VIP’s 1,000-tonne 3.5m strip press.

Deepak Shah, BD Technical Polymer Director, said: “The high quality of the final product, which has to withstand what must be among the highest mass transit footfalls in the world, could only be achieved by everyone working together and being on top of their game.”

VIP to Exhibit at VietWater 2017


VIP are pleased to announce that we will be exhibiting at Vietwater 2017.

VIETWATER is a trade exhibition which is supported by the Vietnam Water Supply and Sewerage Association (VWSA) and Vietnam Ministry of Construction (MOC). It is set to welcome more than 450 exhibitors from 38 countries and regions, with 14,000 trade visitors from all over the world.

As well as the exhibition, visitors are able to attend technical seminars and conferences and network with leading players in the market.

VIP will be present on the British Water UK Pavilion to discuss our full product ranges of rail pads, tunnel segment gaskets and pipe seals including VIPSeal® flexible couplings, VIP-Weco No-Dig pipe repair seal and Tyton-SIT VIPer among others.

Full event details and information on how to register can be found here.

VIP Exhibiting at Utility Week Live 2017

Utility Week Live 2017

VIP Polymers Ltd are looking forward to exhibiting at Utility Week Live 2017 which is being held next week (23rd & 24th May) at the Birmingham NEC.

The event brings together stakeholders and decision makers from across the gas electricity and water sectors and seminars across a range of topics will be held throughout the event. VIP will be present on the Wholesale Wastewater Pavilion on stand C44 exhibiting a range of sealing solutions including:

• VIPSeal™ Flexible Couplings – a versatile range of flexible couplings and adaptors for joining and repairing low pressure and non-pressurised pipes of any material and size combination.
• VIP-WECO – no-dig repair seal for pipes up to DN3500mm

For further information prior to the event or to arrange a meeting, contact us at

Information on the event can be found at the official website

VIP Gold Sponsors at the Future of the UK Water Sector Conference & Workshop

Future of the UK Water Sector Conference & Workshop

VIP Polymers Ltd are proud to be Gold event sponsors of the upcoming Future of the UK Water Sector Conference and Workshop which is being held at Leicester City Football Club on Tuesday 6th December.

The event is jointly organised by British Water, Future Water Association and the Water Industry Forum with the basis of the event formed from survey results that the organisations ran earlier in the year. The event will bring together representatives from across the water industry to establish an understanding of the needs of the sector and the issues holding the sector back.
During the day, expert speakers will introduce each of the main areas of focus and participate in round table workshop sessions throughout the day on:

  • Environment
  •  Infrastructure
  • Water users
  • Skills
  • Translation of R&D
  • Innovation
  • Learning from other sectors

As global providers of sealing solutions to the pipeline, tunnel and rail industries, VIP play an active role in the UK water industry and are always working on innovative solutions to the problems faced by the industry, whether it’s in their rubber compounding, product design or manufacturing processes.

Company representatives will be present on stand 7 at the event to showcase some of the products that they produce which are helping industry professionals every day to solve some of the issues they currently face.

They will also be eager to speak to people from within the industry to find out more about what they feel may be potential problems of the future in order to work together to create products that resolve these issues and help the industry provide a better service to their customers.

Click here for more information and to register your tickets.

Visit us at the Singapore International Water Week

Singapore International Water Week

VIP are exhibiting at this year’s Singapore International Water Week. The event, held at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is a global platform to share and co-create innovative water solutions.

VIP Polymers are sharing a stand with our partner Pan Asian Holdings Ltd, at the Water Expo @ City Solutions between the 11th and 13th July (9.30am – 5.30pm). You’ll be able to find us at booth B2-L30 where Managing Director John Millar and Business Development Director Paul Green will be on hand to speak with you about our range of sealing solutions.

VIP Appoints New Marketing Manager

VIP are pleased to announce the appointment of Craig Burkitt as their new Marketing Manager.

With previous experience in the automotive and more recently the building industry with East Anglia based merchant Ridgeons Ltd, Mr Burkitt brings experience of a sector that is a highlighted area of growth for the company, notably with the VIPSeal™ range of flexible couplings.

Commenting on the new role, Craig said “VIP Polymers is a highly respected brand within the pipeline, tunnel and rail industries both in the UK and overseas. I’ve been very impressed with the manufacturing facilities at the Huntingdon site and I’m looking forward to working on building the brand across the various product ranges.”

Commercial Director, Jon Crean added “We are pleased to announce to the industry, Craig’s position and we welcome him to VIP Polymers. This announcement further strengthens our commitment to supporting our distribution partners.”

Success at the IFAT Exhibition in Munich

VIP enjoyed a successful event exhibiting at this year’s IFAT Exhibition in Munich, Germany, giving us the chance to meet both current and prospective clients.

The IFAT show is a chance for companies from around the globe in the water, waste and raw materials management industries to come together to share industry knowledge and form new partnerships.

It was also a great opportunity for VIP to showcase our range of products including the Titon®, VIP-Weco and VIP-Seal™ gaskets along with our other ranges of pipe seals, tunnel segment gaskets and rubber products for the rail industry.

This year’s 50 anniversary IFAT exhibition was a great success with 138,000 visitors from over 170 countries making their way to Munich. If you were unable to visit our stand but would like to find out more about our products, contact us and we’d be happy to let you know how we can help with your project.

IFAT Exhibition 2016