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Unibridge® Famara Ibrahima Sagna Bridge in Marsassoum: a major structure in Senegal

It was the Senegalese President himself, Macky Sall, who inaugurated the Unibridge® Famara Ibrahima Sagna Bridge in Marsassoum in February 2023. Let’s look back at this technical achievement and this historic moment for Matière® and the citizens of the Sédhiou region.

On 28 February 2023, Senegalese President Macky Sall inaugurated the Unibridge® Famara Ibrahima Sagna Bridge in Marsassoum. This is an important date for the population of the Casamance region in southern Senegal. The bridge will completely open up the Sédhiou region and facilitate its economic and social development.

From ferry to Unibridge® bridge

Previously, the inhabitants had to use a ferry to cross the river,” explains Thomas Rivalta, Manager of Matière® Senegal. It only operated every hour between 8am and 6pm. Since the opening of the Unibridge® bridge, crossing the river takes only 10 minutes, and at any time, day or night. This saves users a considerable amount of time and gives them more flexibility when travelling. It took 24 months to complete the 2×1 lane structure, which is part of the company’s 2018 contract to build 18 bridges.

Technical constraints

As a region of estuaries, Casamance contains poor quality organic soils with a preponderance of silt. To build the roads on this muddy soil, the company had to carry out several phases of soil consolidation with concrete foundations driven by piles up to 40 m deep to allow the bridge to be anchored in rigid soil. The other challenge of this work was to maintain the pace of execution despite the heavy rainfall in the region. The use of Unibridge® made it possible to meet these deadlines despite the geotechnical difficulties of the soil.

Contributing to the economic and social development of the region

During the official inauguration, President Macky Sall emphasised the strategic importance of this bridge located in a natural region surrounded by hectares of forest and multiple waterways. As part of the policy of opening up the region, this structure will also have a significant economic impact by facilitating the transport of goods in remote areas, thus enhancing the economic potential of the region (mango, forest products, horticulture, fishery products). As for the name of the bridge, Famara Ibrahima Sagna, it immortalizes the economic and intellectual career of this man, who was several times Minister and Honorary President of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council.

Promoting Matière®’s know-how

The Famara Ibrahima Sagna Bridge, with its 485 m of linear length and its technical nature, is a great reference for Matière®. “It is a great honour for the company to have carried out this work, which demonstrates our know-how and our ability to work with the local workforce trained to use our techniques and know-how,” says Thomas Rivalta. In fact, to complete the contract for the 18 bridges, we opened an agency in Dakar in 2018 and set up a prefabrication plant for concrete elements on the outskirts of Dakar.

Of the 18 bridges in the contract, 12 have been delivered. By April 2024, the company will have completed the contract. For MATIERE, this is certainly a race against time, but above all a great source of satisfaction, as these structures are strategic for opening up Senegal and facilitating trade.

By 2050, the population of Senegal is expected to increase from 7 million to 30 million. And the population is expected to double in Africa by 2050, so it is essential to develop the infrastructure and we are proud to be part of it.

Thomas Rivalta

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The traceability of our manufacturing processes: guarantee of quality and conformity of our products

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The traceability of our manufacturing processes: guarantee of quality and conformity of our products

Where do the raw materials come from, how are they transported to our workshops, how are our products manufactured, stored and delivered to our customers?  Who carries out the quality controls? Dive into the quality traceability system of our manufacturing processes.

We efficiently trace each step of the manufacturing process, from the receipt of raw materials to the delivery of the finished product to the customer.  This traceability allows our teams and  customers to follow each stage of production and ensure the quality and conformity of our products.  And because the manufacture of metal structures differs from that of concrete structures, Matière® has defined specific traceability processes.

Metal industry: Unibridge®, MPB®, caisson, walkway, …

The raw material – usually steel plates – is ordered by our buyers and then delivered to our metal factories with certificates of conformity associated with the Delivery Note. Once the plate has been received, its certificate of conformity is verified by a person in charge who assigns it an internal number. This number is reported on each plate and it is he who will make it possible to trace it during allthe stages of production: oxy-cutting, welding and assembly.

The oxy-cutters control the cutting quality of the plate in real time and write the marks and the number of the plate on a flow sheet (case number, dimensions, etc.) , which is then retrieved by the flow manager.  Next step: welding, whose processes, which vary according to the product to be manufactured, are defined upstream via a welding book containing QMOS and DMOS (Quality and Description of the Welding Procedure).  A Welding Inspector accredited and external to Matiere® then verifies, from the welding book, the conformity of the process with the international standards to which the final product must meet.  For this weld, the process is identical: detailed follow-up reported on a sheet, inscription of the initials of the welder on each welded part, visual self-control by our internal teams, verification by internal controllers certified COFREND*, who then give their agreement for the following steps of milling, shot blasting and painting.  Then it’s time for assembly: the teams fill out a report and systematically self-check their work which is then checked by the quality manager.  Each step of sandblasting and painting is recorded in a report which is archived in order to be included in a final document that will be sent to the customer.  Each coat of paint gives rise to an ACQPA (Association for Certification and Qualification in Anticorrosion Paint) control which is plotted on a sheet. Last step: storage and delivery of the finished product.  A certificate of product conformity is issued for each product that leaves the factory: the product is then either stored at the factory or delivered to the site.

Concrete industry

It is the Studies/Prefabrication coordinator of our concrete plants who defines the quantities and diameter of the reinforcing steels to be ordered. Once the steels have been received, the workshop manager checks the quantity, diameter and AFCAB** certification via the delivery note.

From receipt of steel to the prefabrication of concrete parts requires several production phases. First step: the cutting and shaping of the steels which is carried out according to the nomenclature of the Good For Execution Plan (BPE).  A flow sheet is established daily per structure and per machine to track the origin of the steels and their traceability.  The assembly of the reinforcement cages are carried out according to a rib mounting sheet and the BPE. Once the quality of the ribs and reinforcement cages has been checked by a dedicated team, the reinforcement cages are labelled with their number and the name of the structure and then transported to the concreting area.  Then it’s time to prepare the concrete: the raw materials needed for its manufacture (aggregates, admixtures, binders) are weighed, checked and stored in clearly identified places. Each entry of raw materials is recorded in a register. Concrete is manufactured at the request of the concrete production manager according to a specific formula for each structure.  A production order is formulated daily to carry out the formwork and concreting steps. The production team shall place the reinforcement cage corresponding to the labelling number indicated on the production order. After self-control of the positioning of the reinforcement cage in the formwork and the respect of the coating, the covers are set up to close the formwork.  Before carrying out the concreting, an internal control is carried out on the cleanliness and tightness of the formwork as well as on the positioning of the cage. These controls are traced on quality monitoring sheets.  Once the concrete has been checked and the mould checked, the concrete is poured in the mould and then smoothes the unformatted parts. The workshop manager checks the strength of the concrete before formwork, then each part is identified by a CE marking and a concrete prefabrication report number. A visual inspection of each part makes it possible to identify possible non-conformities and to implement corrective actions.

The delivery of the product is made according to the loading plan transmitted by the work manager to the workshop manager, who will specify to the driver the instructions for setting and strapping the parts established by our design office. Last step: the signature of the packing slip and the awareness letter recalling the safety instructions for the driver.

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From idea to field: the story of a revolutionary modular bridge

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From idea to field: the story of a revolutionary modular bridge

Header article Unibgidre

Claude Valdenaire still remembers the day, almost 19 years ago, when the director of the company, Philippe Matière, asked him to “invent” a modular bridge. He then held the position of head of the Metal Construction Design Office. 

“Philippe Matière, a true entrepreneur at heart, wanted to develop a temporary modular bridge activity for quick use for a war site in Kosovo,” he explains.  I sketched the first drawings in my office, then everything went very fast. I played the role of conductor with a small team composed of Philippe Matière and Mr. Lestrade, sales manager. In order not to work alone and to have this concept validated by an internationally recognized engineering office, we finally asked the designer of works of art JMI (Jean Muller International) of the EGIS group to help us. »

The vision of a new modular bridge

Philippe Matière had a very clear idea of what would later become Unibridge® bridges: a modular structure, quick to assemble, economical, installation by crane or by launching, transportable in 40-foot containers and complying with all international standards. “Designing beams that were containerizable was critical for Philippe Matière, who understood the economic interest of container transport compared to bulk,” says Claude Valdenaire.

For their part, the notions of modularity and speed of assembly were inspired by the temporary modular bridges invented by Donald Coleman Bailey for the British Army. “ Shortly before the Second World War, Bailey had developed a bridge with fairly light modular panels (400 kg max per component) assembled by axes that could be mounted just with human force and even under enemy fire ,” says Claude Valdenaire.

From sketch to Unibridge® concept

Realized in a few months, the first version of ideas (V0) was never manufactured. After several prototypes (V1 & V2), it was finally the V3 in 2007 that gave birth to the Unibridge® concept: a simple system of standard metal structures in prefabricated “lego” produced in factories, delivered as a kit and assembled on the site seamlessly, for lengths and widths on demand! Its advantages: its modularity, the simplicity of the construction and transport of Unibridge® boxes, its speed of assembly.

Other virtues: the simple nature of the connections with ears and axes between technically very robust modules and the exceptional quality of the materials used for its construction and in particular for the axes, which make it a unique product in the world. Industrial production begins and the first bridges are delivered, not in Kosovo, but in France, in Cantal to open a road in the village of Massiac and then in the ski resort of Les Orres in the Alps. 

The first (big) success of the new modular bridge

The contracts signed in the Philippines in 2008 marked the beginning of the ascent of the Unibridge® Bridges and its evolution into a definitive bridge.  “At the time, the Philippine government was looking for a concept of definitive metal bridges, following a breach of contract with a British supplier of Bailey-type panel bridges,” recalls Claude Valdenaire.  Our Australian sales representative saw an advertisement in the local newspaper and our sales teams approached the Philippine contractors to finalize a first contract for 72 Unibridge® bridges with the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highway) and a second contract for 418 bridges with the DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform). Then we moved to present our concept even if it was not finalized!

A colossal first order that led Matière® to partner with Eiffage to benefit from its know-how in large-scale production.

Subsequently, we replaced the metal decking  with a concrete deck slab and our temporary all-metal bridge became a definitive mixed bridge! » 

Always evolving

Unibridge® bridges are constantly evolving and it is currently a seventh version that should see the light of day in early 2022, under the leadership of Luc Vandemoortele, Material Engineer based in Indonesia. 

The objective is twofold: to incorporate the structural improvements detected over the course of the applications and to revise all the documents necessary for its production (plan, quantitative, models and 3D animation) in order to create a homogeneous production environment. “This V7 will make it possible to gain in efficiency but also to make our concept even safer,” says Luc Vandemoortele.  Our goal is to have a complete Unibridge® catalog with standard parts for both its production and construction. This standardization is key to selling our product in markets with different regulations. »

A wordwide succes

Since its creation, the Unibridge® concept has experienced tremendous success with multiple achievements in many countries, especially in the process of development, to improve traffic flows in cities, such as Senegal for example. Autoponts in the city (flyover), road bridges in rural areas, urban motorways… The Unibridge® adapts to multiple configurations. 

While he is proud to have contributed to the birth of this unique concept, Claude Valdenaire attributes this success to the entrepreneurial spirit of the Matière family. “My only merit is that I was able to sort out good and bad ideas to create a simple and competitive product,” he says.  Philippe Matière knew how to sniff out the right idea, believe in it and invest in study, production and sales! This quest for innovation and this entrepreneurial spirit is transmitted from father to son and continues to animate the company today! » 

More than 14,000 Unibridge® beams manufactured and delivered on all continents, representing 150,000 tonnes of steel.

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Expatriates: our ambassadors outside France

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Expatriates: our ambassadors outside France

header article drapeaux

In 2020, 65% of the company’s turnover was generated outside France. This successful internationalisation is partly based on the commitment of its expatriate employees, who are the strongest links in the company.

Dive into the daily life and challenges of our expatriates with Sandrine Taillefer, HR Director at Matière®, surrounded by Chawki Djouini, Export Manager in Algeria, Guillaume Dumont, Sales Manager in Panama and Claude Valdenaire, Export Engineer in the Philippines.

Was expatriation a choice or a chance?

Guillaume Dumont, sales manager, Panama: Definitely a choice! I have always been attracted to international business and have been an expatriate for most of my career. After my studies, I went to Hong Kong as part of a VIE (Volontariat International in Entreprise) and since then I have never stopped moving! The United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Colombia… Panama is the eighth country in my professional life.

Chawki Djouini, Export Manager, Algeria: A real choice, even if my case is special because I am an expatriate in my country of origin, Algeria! I am one of the longest-standing collaborators of Matière®, with 31 years of collaboration. After 10 years in France, I wanted to return to my native country. I was first assigned as a consultant for Matière® in Algiers, then the management offered me a position as a business manager.

Claude Valdenaire, export engineer in the Philippines: This is also a personal choice. My motivation? To change my professional and personal environment to gain in fulfilment. I started my career in Papeete as part of a VIE, then I was expatriated to Thailand, Tunisia, Portugal, Hong Kong, Israel and since 2014 to the Philippines for Matière®.

Tell us about the expatriation situation at Matière®.

Sandrine Taillefer, HR Director at Matière®: Out of 500 employees, Matière® has 25 expatriates, most of whom work in Africa, particularly in Senegal and the Ivory Coast. Indonesia is also a major expatriation country, as well as the Philippines, which was our first expatriation country in 2008. We distinguish between two types of expatriates: business managers and site staff. The business managers canvass new markets and study their potential, in order to decide whether or not to establish a local structure. This is the case in Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, where our long-term contracts require the presence of Matière® expatriates (business managers, engineers, administrative and financial staff) and the creation of a local structure that works closely with local players.

At the same time, we send expatriate site personnel for one-off operations in the countries: site managers or works supervisors who are responsible for the assembly of our products, which are manufactured in our factories in France.

What are your missions as expatriates?

Guillaume Dumont: I have been living in Panama for two years and have autonomy to explore development opportunities in Latin and Central America. Why Panama? Because it is a logistical and transport hub, ideally located for easy travel to the countries in the region. Today, I am the only Matière® representative in this area. 

Chawki Djouini: Based in Algeria since 2010, I am in charge of business for the Maghreb and the Middle East, a strategic area with major infrastructure needs. I am responsible for projects from prospecting to the delivery of the structures to the construction sites and I also manage the commercial entity of Matière® in Algeria.

Claude Valdenaire: When I arrived in the Philippines in 2014, Matière® had already set up a structure, as the Philippine market had been identified as the most attractive in South East Asia. Today, we are two expatriates and 14 Filipino employees. Our mission is to develop Matière® in the Philippines by exporting our know-how, ideas, engineering and our prefabricated mixed product Unibridge®.

What are your main challenges?

Guillaume Dumont: The priority is metal and our Unibridge® technology. We are faced with a strong reluctance to use anything new, as customers prefer technologies that they have mastered. Our main competitor is concrete, with a major player in Mexico.

Chawki Djouini: Indeed, convincing our clients to build metal bridges is a real challenge in the Maghreb and the Middle East because the concrete culture is very strong for engineering structures.

Claude Valdenaire: Our challenge is to provide our clients with the skills they do not have and to satisfy them at every stage of the project. We are responsible for meeting deadlines, quality, safety and cost control, all of which enable us to gain the trust of our clients.

How does Matière® support its expatriates?

Sandrine Taillefer: We provide administrative, material and technical support. We provide them with an “Expat” package for social and pension coverage and an “Expat” contract including local allowance, housing assistance, vehicle, family air transport. Our objective is to enable our employees to maintain the same standard of living as in France and to maintain their pension rights when they return.

Chawki Djouini: We are autonomous in our daily work, but supported by Matière® for all technical, legal and administrative aspects. Before the health crisis, Matière® organised an annual meeting of all the business managers to discuss our issues and technical challenges. 

Claude Valdenaire: Matière® supports us on a commercial level through its initial prospecting actions as well as the setting up and training of a local team. We can rely on a single contact person at the French headquarters. As the point of entry in France, he facilitates our relations with the factories, the purchasing department, the accounting department, etc.

In your opinion, what are the keys to a successful expatriation?

Guillaume Dumont : Expatriation is a family choice, which has consequences on the lives of other family members. It is therefore necessary to build this project with your spouse by anticipating the changes in lifestyle and the possible cultural shocks. You also have to be autonomous and understand the codes and customs of the host country.

Claude Valdenaire: Mastery of the local language is also essential, as is a good understanding of local habits and professional codes. In Asia, for example, you never say no to clients. You mustn’t be arrogant and you mustn’t make them lose face.

Chawki Djouini: I totally agree! The balance in one’s life as a couple, the blossoming of one’s family, integration and social, cultural and professional wealth are key. Just like understanding the Arabic-speaking culture and customs: here it is human relations that count, you have to go and meet the clients.

Would you recommend expatriation to a young person?

Chawki Djouini: Expatriation is a life-changing experience. You need to have a real capacity to adapt, to be open to the world and curious, and to integrate into the customs of the country. For me, being an expatriate means becoming a citizen of the world and an ambassador for your native country in your host country. A country’s economy is not limited to its borders and to succeed, a State and therefore its companies, must send their employees around the world.

Claude Valdenaire: It is an experience that I highly recommend, provided that you alternate periods in France and abroad that you give priority to your family situation. It is often easier to expatriate at the beginning or end of one’s career or with young children. Expatriation is easier for the spouse if he can also pursue his career.

Guillaume Dumont: It’s very personal. Not everyone is suited to expatriation, above all, you need a strong desire and a real curiosity for different cultures. In my opinion, the VIE is a very good way to test this expatriation experience. 

Sandrine Taillefer: I agree with everyone’s point of view: expatriation is a great experience as long as it is anticipated, matured and constructed. Our expatriates play a key role for Matière®, as they represent the company in the host countries. They are our ambassadors. The health crisis has clearly shown the importance of having our staff on site: it is what allows us to continue our activity when it is no longer possible to travel.

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Keur Gorgui Autobridge: a symbolic first step in Senegal:

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Blog > Projects > Keur Gorgui Autobridge: a symbolic first step in Senegal
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Keur Gorgui Autobridge: a symbolic first step in Senegal:

Header Article Keur Gorgui

The Keur Gorgui overpass in Dakar was the first work delivered by Matière® under its €209 million contract with the Senegalese government to build 18 bridges and overpasses. Here is a look back at this critical stage, the success of which confirmed the client’s confidence.

On 1 April 2020, the Keur Gorgui autobridge on the northern highway (VDN), one of the three main roads leading to the economic heart of Dakar, was opened to traffic. This is a real benefit for the inhabitants, as traffic was particularly difficult there. No provision had been made to allow motorists to exit the expressway and join the VDN,” explains Thomas Rivalta, Matière® project manager. The construction of the Keur Gorgui overpass was intended to restore fluidity to these intersections in order to avoid traffic jams. We were in charge of the structure, the connection of the bridge to the existing roadway and the development of the roundabouts and ramps located under the bridge. ” 

The first of a long series: 

Although the construction of this bridge did not present any particular technical challenges for the Matière® teams, managing this project and setting up an organisation dedicated to a much larger project was not an easy task. The Keur Gorgui overpass was part of the major road infrastructure improvement project entrusted by the government to Matière® in 2018 to improve mobility in the Dakar region in particular. We had to succeed in this first stage, while at the same time creating a local subsidiary dedicated to the construction of the 18 engineering structures within 44 months,” explains Thomas Rivalta. We had no room for error and had to prove to our client that he was right to choose us. The pressure was high because this was our first collaboration.

Major projects require major resources!

Matière® had to recruit the right profiles from among the Senegalese resources and train them in Unibridge® techniques but also in the company’s specificities. “It wasn’t so much a question of skills as adaptability to our way of working and our corporate culture, says Thomas Rivalta. We are an agile family business, with specific niche trades. Each employee must be flexible and able to step outside their job description if necessary. This ability to adapt to the need and to do everything possible to ensure that the project progresses are the real strengths of Matière®. And it is this state of mind that we have tried to transmit to our Senegalese employees. ” 

Another challenge that Matière® has mastered is how to get people from different cultures and backgrounds to work effectively together. On the one hand, there are the teams in France (design offices, the frame manufacturing plant and the purchasing and logistics department) and on the other, the teams in Senegal (sales office, heavy prefabrication plant for the ramp and employees on the site).

Header article ponts Sénégal

Need to go fast:

The work on the Keur Gorgui autobridge had an impact on the lives of users, who took longer to get to their workplaces. Matière® tried to limit this nuisance as much as possible with optimised construction methods and organisation of the work. Its objective was clear: to have the fastest possible intervention on site in order to free up the roads as quickly as possible and ease the traffic flow. This is why we chose to build Unibridge® modular bridges, which are easy and quick to assemble,” notes Thomas Rivalta. We also took care to use equipment adapted to the outdoor environment, as we had little space for assembly.”  

A great success: 

Matière® is very proud of the Keur Gorgui overpass, which was successfully delivered during a complex project launch phase for the construction of the 18 structures. “Our client trusted us in the choice of construction methods and the Unibridge® product, concludes Thomas Rivalta. We had to confirm this trust by building the structures quickly and on time.” 

With Keur Gorgui, Matière® has helped improve traffic flow at crossings on the VDN and offered the inhabitants a beautiful structure. With its pedestrian areas, benches and green spaces, the overpass fits perfectly into the urban context. Three other bridges have been delivered since Keur Gorgui was opened to traffic, marking the end of the first major phase of one of the largest road development projects in Senegal.

The Keur Gorgui autobridge is:

  • A double bridge with two lanes
  • 202 metres long
  • 10 metres wide for each bridge
  • A Unibridge® steel structure

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San Juan Bridge in the Philippines: an extraordinary work by Matière®

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Blog > Projects > San Juan Bridge in the Philippines: an extraordinary work
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San Juan Bridge in the Philippines: an extraordinary work by Matière®

Header Article San Juan

Matière®, a recognised player in the Philippines with more than 500 Unibridge® bridges built between 2008 and 2014, has just completed the design and construction of the San Juan viaduct to relieve traffic congestion in Manila. A look back at an exceptional work. 

Home to over 12 million people, the capital region of the Philippines is one of the largest urban areas in the world. Reducing traffic jams has become a priority for the government, which must cope with a rapidly growing population. Faced with a very limited number of tunnels and major roads, finding solutions to decongest Manila has become an urgent necessity for the government.

It is in this context that the Filipino industrialist San Miguel launched in 2016 the construction of a 17 km urban viaduct crossing greater Manila from north to south. Matière® was entrusted with the most technical section of this new structure: the San Juan viaduct, an exceptionally large “skyway” – six lanes over a length of 4 km – to be built on a river site within a short timeframe (two years). This was a complex project that required all of Matière®‘s expertise.

A structure with many challenges 

We had to build a bridge with a low hydraulic impact, so as not to cause a significant rise in water levels during floods,” explains Claude Valdenaire, Bridge Engineer in the Philippines. This hydraulic constraint necessitated the design of single-column river piers, which required us to reduce the weight of the pier heads and decks as much as possible in order to withstand the strong seismic hazards of this region. For this reason, we decided to use steel headers similar in design to the Unibridge® beams, which are lighter than the concrete parts and form a lightweight deck superstructure. “Self-stable during installation and lightweight, Unibridge® beams also meet one of the major constraints of construction on river sites: weight. “Pre-stressed concrete beams could not have been transported on foot on barges because of their weight,” explains Claude Valdenaire. 

Another challenge was to destroy existing bridges to ensure the passage of barges at night on the San Juan River and to restore one of them to working order during the day. A complexity that was perfectly mastered thanks to the modularity and ease of assembly of Unibridge® bridges, as Claude Valdenaire points out: “We had to destroy three bridges on the San Juan River to allow our barges and cranes to pass. We had to destroy three bridges on the San Juan River to pass our barges and cranes. We rebuilt them, including one with a Unibridge® mobile span, which allowed us to dismantle it easily to pass our barges at night and to reassemble it before sunrise to reopen it to traffic.

A success on all levels

Tight deadlines, controlled costs, construction on a river site… Matière® was able to design the entire viaduct (infrastructure and superstructure) by meeting all the client’s constraints. The success of the project is based on Matière®‘s expertise and the performance of the Unibridge® caissons, which combine quality of manufacture, low cost and ease of assembly on site. The metal components are prefabricated in our factories in Europe, which saves time and costs,” says Claude Valdenaire. They are also easily transported by standard sea containers to the Philippines. Although assembly on site is quick and easy, it requires a high level of precision that only Matière® can provide. “

Matière® was also able to react quickly to a customer who often questioned its choices during the design phase. “From a simple pencil sketch on a map, we were able to create a quality design, adapt to the client’s changes of direction and manage the entire project right up to the opening of the structure to traffic,” summarises Claude Valdenaire. Another of Matière®‘s virtues is its collaboration with local companies, as well as with large local and international groups for the civil engineering.

Operational since December 2020, the San Juan viaduct is a fine showcase for Matière®‘s expertise. “Thanks to our unique Unibridge® concept, which is mainly manufactured in France and Belgium, Matière® is able to offer the Filipinos a high-quality, durable structure, more quickly and at a lower cost than the large East Asian groups,” concludes Claude Valdenaire.

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Keur Gorgui Autobridge: a symbolic first step in Senegal:

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Unibridge® : replacing and repairing old bridges

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Unibridge® : replacing and repairing old bridges

Header article Unibridge reparation

Matière®‘s expertise in Unibridge® bridges goes far beyond the design and construction of new structures. The company also has real expertise in replacement and repair, offering its customers competitive and quick solutions.

In West Africa, some bridges built several decades ago are in an advanced state of deterioration, representing a danger for the population and a risk for the economy. The stakes are high, as these infrastructures are often the only possibles ways for inhabitants to reach major cities and to transport goods. 

Replacement of obsolete bridges with Unibridge® structures

In January 2021, Matière® will start work on replacing two dilapidated bridges over rivers in southern Senegal. This project is part of its contract with the Senegalese government for the construction of 18 bridges and overpasses (Plan Sénégal Emergent). These two high-risk structures will be replaced by more resistant and wider Unibridge® prefabricated metal bridges, which will be extended from 1 lane to 2×1 lanes over a distance of 120 metres to facilitate mobility.

A turnkey solution

Matière®‘s involvement is not limited to the construction of the structures: it covers all stages from design to delivery of the bridge in order to offer the client a turnkey project. “The studies and foundations are entrusted to specialised local companies because this is not part of our trade. However, we closely monitor, control and coordinate them. These upstream phases are key to the success of such projects,” analyses Thomas Rivalta, project manager. For bridges over waterways, hydraulic studies are necessary to know all the parameters of the foundations and supports precisely. Depending on their condition, we decide whether or not to place the new structure on the existing supports. Matière® relies on its factory in Diamniadio to prefabricate the reinforced concrete parts of the structures and on its local agency to manage the project and coordinate the various stages, from supply to on-site assembly of the Unibridge® bridge components. “Prefabricating the reinforced concrete parts and the structure ourselves guarantees perfect control over quality and deadlines,” explains Thomas Rivalta.  This optimal organisation, which combines Matière®‘s know-how with the local economic fabric, is one of Matière®‘s great strengths.

Safe engineering structures

Unibridge® modular bridges are particularly well suited to the needs of African countries. Resistant and requiring little maintenance, they are perfectly suited to extreme maintenance and climatic constraints. Other advantages: the transport of Unibridge® components in containers to areas that are difficult to access and the ease of assembly thanks to the absence of on-site welding are real pluses in Africa. By replacing obsolete bridges with Unibridge® bridges, we can guarantee quality bridges with virtually no maintenance, which is a fundamental aspect in Africa,” emphasises Frédéric Bay, export sales manager. We are also contributing to the economic development of the country, since we are restoring damaged or even dangerous routes with safe engineering structures. “

Sabang bridge repair in the Philippines: a textbook case

The repair of the Sabang bridge is certainly the most emblematic example of Matière®‘s know-how in terms of bridge repair using Unibridge® solutions. Located 180 km from Manila, this nine-span highway bridge was in danger of collapsing due to a strong deflection in its main span. Commissioned by the Philippine Highway Department, Matière® decided to repair the bridge with Unibridge® structures rather than rebuild a new bridge. A clever solution that turned out to be faster and cheaper than the competition! 

Perfect control of each stage

The first step was to identify the problem. We realised that the deflection of the span was the result of an assembly error during the construction of the bridge eight years ago,” analyses Claude Valdenaire, Bridge Engineer. This diagnostic phase is crucial, because repairing an engineering structure means first and foremost analysing the pathology. “Matière® then destroyed the damaged span using a controlled explosion. This was a daring idea that was entrusted to a subcontractor with expertise in this field. 

The next step was to replace the damaged span with a Unibridge® mixed structure. “In general, we install steel structures by craning or launching. But the length of the span (60 metres) meant that we had to launch a temporary truss bridge over which the lorries carrying our Unibridge® beams were travelling.  Mastery of the preliminary studies, choice of the best subcontractor for the explosion, speed of execution, high level of prefabrication of the Unibridge® beams … the repair of the Sabang bridge is a true demonstration of Material expertise! Completed in just five months, it was a first for the company and enabled the client to benefit from a solution that was three times faster and half the price of competitors. The demand for Unibridge® is growing in the Philippines,” says Claude Valdenaire. Customers appreciate our responsiveness as well as the attractive design and fast assembly of our structures. Their resistance to earthquakes makes them particularly well suited to the Philippines, a highly seismic region. “

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Construction of more than 15 bridges and flyovers in Senegal

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Blog > Projects > Construction of more than 15 bridges and flyovers in Senegal
Projects

Construction of more than 15 bridges and flyovers in Senegal

Header article ponts Sénégal

The Senegalese government has begun a vast project to provide the country with modern road infrastructure. As part of the implementation of the Emerging Senegal Plan (PSE), Matière® has been entrusted with the design and build of 18 Unibridge® bridges and flyovers that can be erected very quickly. Started in August 2018, let’s take a look at the progress of the works. 

Major infrastructure project in Senegal

The city of Dakar is facing serious urban traffic problems. As part of the opening up and improvement of urban mobility, the Senegalese government has entrusted Matière® with the design and build of around ten flyovers, including severals on the “Voie de Dégagement Nord (VDN)”.

A total of 5,390 linear meters of bridges and 11 km of slip road will be built in order to relieve congestion of Dakar traffic, which is particularly dense at certain times of the day, but also to improve urban mobility in densely populated areas. 

Construction of flyovers: Dakar’s traffic is growing in height 

In the Dakar metropolitan area, the first works on the VDN, the capital’s structural axis, were delivered on schedule, in fact 5 months ahead of schedule (the work on the Saint-Lazare flyover, which was scheduled to last 18 months, will in the end take only 13 months). Proof of Matière®‘s technical know-how during the execution studies, but also during the manufacture and installation of the metal structures. 

The two flyovers built in 2×2 lanes are already open to traffic. The flyover of Keur Gorgui’s Cité, with an overhall length of 202-metre, is operating since April 2020. On the other hand the 404-metre Saint-Lazare flyover was inaugurated on July 2nd last by the Minister of Infrastructure, Land Transport and Opening-up, so ten months after the beginning of the works.. A situation that considerably improves mobility in this part of the Senegalese capital.

But the project does not stop at the extension of the VDN in the heart of the city. Other works are planned, particularly in the regions. The construction of five bridges is planned in the south and east of the country, with the aim of opening up certain regions to the population and local economic development.

Keur Gorgui flyover bridge at Dakar.

A prefabricated steel reinforcement and precast concrete plant created in Diamniadio

This is not the first intervention of our teams in Senegal. Matière® factories in Belgium and Le Creusot were used to manufacture all the components (the entire deck of the Marsassoum Bridge was manufactured in Le Creusot). 

In addition to the Senegalese companies involved in the construction of those infrastructures, a Matière® steel prefabrication and precast concrete unit were created. In Diamniadio, 300 people are working daily to build  precast retaining walls and slab deck. The assembly is carried out on site, after simplified controls, which results in a substantial saving of time. 

Unibridge® modular bridges

In order to meet the specifications, the steel structures are built using Unibridge® technology, the concept of prefabricated metal bridges box girder invented by Matière®. This system is innovative in its design, original in its functionalities (modularity of geometry, possible evolution over time) and in the very rapid assembly methods used. Indeed, the panels and multiple parts give way to 11.40 metre long watertight boxes. More sophisticated, more modular, more aesthetic too, they can be transported in shipping containers, easily assembled on site by crane or ground handling. 

The preservation of the environment is also taken into account. 

The preservation of the environment was also taken into account in this project led by Matière®. In addition to improving urban mobility, the works contribute to the development of a better living environment for local residents. The construction works of Dakar’s flyover also forsee urban and landscaping development around the structure, with paved and vegetated surfaces, pedestrian walkways, playgrounds, etc. 

This new reference is an excellent showcase for Matière®‘s know-how, where the skills and talents of our teams are expressed. 

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