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Sandsend Mule

Eadon Consulting were approached by Balfour Beatty to design a MULE (Mobile Unit Lifting Equipment) which would be used to transport and lay revetment units used as part of a 900m coastal defence project in Sandsend, North Yorkshire. Balfour Beatty had realised during the tender period that to install the revetments would require closure of the A174, a key road linking Sandsend to nearby Whitby. This closure would mean significant disruption for the local community. They consulted with their engineering team who had experience of installing the revetments and they came up with the outline initial concept. It was this outline concept that was brought to Eadon Consulting for further development into the detailed design used on site.

Key facts


Sandsend, North Yorkshire


The Environment Agency and North Yorkshire County Council

In Partnership with

Balfour Beatty

Eadon, who were the mechanical and structural designers on the project, carried out all of the calculations and the development of the concept. The project also saw engineers continue through to the detailed design and 3D model and manufacturing drawings. The team found that the project presented several challenges during the process and were required to make significant changes to the mechanism and strengthening concepts to ensure the MULE functioned correctly. Environmental factors also had to be taken into account as the machine is required to work in a hostile, coastal environment. As with all projects our engineers managed these challenges whilst ensureing a cost effective solution was delivered.

Work on the beach, which lies just north of Whitby, has been completed and all 360 revetments were successfully laid into place by the 5200kg mule. The completed project will protect the area from further erosion.

Credit: Brown Chapman Photography
The project was awarded a Yorkshire Region Institute of Structural Engineers Award for Best Medium Sized project by a Small Company, recognising the innovation that the machine brought to the project and the direct benefits for the contractor and local community.
The MULE demonstrates the power of effective collaboration between contractor and designer. Balfour Beatty had identified a problem with the usual method of installing coastal defenses in this location. They realised that an innovative solution could be applied. Through creative thinking, Eadon Consulting delivered the design of a moving structure which brought safety, economic and efficiency benefits to the project and also the local community in the form of reduced local disruption.

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