We wanted to know what kit is getting site managers excited. From heavy plant to a humble nail gun, these are the things they told Stephen Cousins they simply can’t do without

"I’d recommend our new radar-powered cable avoidance tool [similar to this radiodetection model] which has a display and doesn’t just show what’s directly below, but also what’s ahead and behind. The old ones are much less accurate because they simply measure electric current and a buzzing sound is the only indication that something has been detected. This product could prevent a lot of unnecessary damage."

Tristram Full, site manager, Rok, for the extension to Up Ottery primary school, Honnerton

"We recently bought 10 Volvo ec210 and ec2140 excavators to dig 48m-wide and 6m-deep primary sewerage tanks into sandy soil and rock. We chose Volvo because they have a good rep for breakdowns and repairs and true to form, we haven’t had many breakdowns so far."

Tony Hodson, works manager for GCA, a joint venture between Galliford Try, Costain and Atkins, is working on Bolton waste water treatment works

"The thing we’ve found most useful for roadbuilding is a Scanlaser global positioning system for bulldozers. A receiver is fitted on the blade of the dozer, and a screen in the cab tells the operative where to move the blade. He’d normally excavate to formation level guided by wooden profiles and another worker."

Richard Anthony is Carillion’s roadworks site agent for the Rugby-Weston relief road

"We wanted to lift some shuttering manufactured offsite into an atrium space to help build a staircase, but had no tower cranes available. Instead, we brought in a very small UNIC URW-095 mini-crane, which is lightweight and has a huge lifting capacity. Using the crane meant minimal manual handling, and allowed a difficult piece of work to be completed with minimum risk. It also helped us beat the tight contract programme."

Warren Pickance, construction manager, Mace Plus, working at the Old Road Campus Cancer Research Building, Headington, Oxford

"Our dryliners are using a Hilti GX120 gas-powered fastening gun to fix to concrete. The Hilti DX450 gun we previously used had a habit of misfiring and Willmott Dixon banned it after the gun’s powerful recoil injured several people. The GX120 never misfires, the cartridge can hold up to 50 nails, and because it’s gas powered there is less recoil."

Martin Halley, senior building manager, Willmott Dixon, at City of London KPMG Academy, Hackney

"We completed a 12-storey office block concrete core in just two weeks using Gleitbau slipforming formwork. The system jacks itself up on rods cast in the concrete and can operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so concrete can be poured constantly. It allowed us to start on the steel frame a lot quicker."

James Carpenter, construction manager, Kier Build, is building the Reading One Central office block, Reading

"We have a 55-tonne Logicrane 55.38 track-mounted crane, the first of its kind in Europe. The tracks can be moved in and out so you can get through tight accesses and the cab sits on a scissor lift, so the driver can raise it up to 3m to improve the line of sight."

Paul Corner, project manager, Morrison Construction for the Coleham Head flood alleviation scheme, Shrewsbury

"I couldn’t live without my Olympus digital camera. I use it to photograph any health and safety issues to notify subcontractors and keep a record. I also take shots of details to send to the architect."

Libby McCartney, site manager, Rok, working on Cockington primary school, Torquay

"We’re building a school next to Victoria Station, and had to excavate and do sheet piling next to existing buildings. We used a Giken silent piling system from Japan, which drives the pile into the ground without any noise or vibration. It’s more expensive than conventional methods, but on this site it made sense. We did a laser survey of the District Line tunnel afterwards, and I can assure you it’s fine!"

Frank Gerard, Bouygues’ site manager for the Westminster City School

"We’ve started using Screedflo’s Mobile Floor Screed Factory service. Their truck comes to site and mixes the three ingredients, sand, powder and water in the back, then pumps the screed into the floors as and when required. Unlike having ready-mixed flow screeds delivered to site, which can leave considerable waste material, they mix only the quantities required. Any surplus materials like sand and chemical powder are returned to source to be used again."

Sean Clements, site manager, Marriott Construction, working on the Academy Project, Milton Keynes