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Heathrow pioneers Project 13


The £14bn expansion of Heathrow Airport and National Grid’s £750M London power tunnels project are two of the early adopters of the ICE’s drive to transform project delivery and outcomes.

The two projects, along with Anglian Water’s Capital Delivery Alliances and the Environment Agency’s Next Generation Supplier Arrangements, will spearhead Project 13, the initiative from the infrastructure sector to improve project delivery and asset management.

Project 13 has been developed by the ICE for the Infrastructure Client Group (ICG) and it aims to get the industry to operate on a more collaborative basis. This means a focus on customer outcomes, construction and management of the whole life of assets, working together to become more productive and innovative and better managing delivery schedules and costs.

Transactional model

The ICG describes current project delivery as happening via a transactional business model.

This model defines the relationships in a project’s supply team by the transaction which results in the construction of an asset – the amount paid in exchange for the service delivered.

This, argue those behind Project 13, means that keeping costs down has become the overriding factor determining the way a project is delivered rather than what is best for a project’s lifetime and outcomes. It is argued that if a supply chain works as an enterprise – everyone collectively working together as one business towards the project outcomes – the project will be more efficient, more innovative and more productive.

Project 13 was officially launched in May, along with a suite of training materials, a website, supporting events and the announcement of the early adopters.

Changing delivery

ICE director general Nick Baveystock says: “The launch of Project 13 is the chance for industry and government to change how we deliver our infrastructure. Developed between industry, clients and government over a number of years, Project 13 places customers at the heart of our national infrastructure programme, focusing on the social and economic value infrastructure can provide over the long-term.

“We look to government to continue to support a solution developed by and with the industry with all the potential benefits for the public and the taxpayer.

“This is a win-win. We should just ask ourselves why we wouldn’t want to use Project 13 principles to deliver better value.”

Heathrow Airport Ltd has some experience of the thinking outlined in Project 13 from the construction of Terminal 5 which was led by its predecessor BAA. At the time ground-breaking reports by Sir Michael Latham and BAA chief executive Sir John Egan outlinied how the construction industry could better deliver, creating a mind-shift which drove what was then unprecedented collaborative behaviour on a major project.

Affordable and sustainable

Speaking to New Civil Engineer, Heathrow Airport expansion programme director Phil Wilbraham, says that the Project 13 approach will deliver sustainable infrastructure with the price tag that its customers such as British Airways demand.

“It is key for us that the infrastructure is affordable,” he says. “It’s about getting the outcome for the customer when they need it. The runway needs to be built, but then you get into terminal capacity and you can build that at the time it is needed, in line with increases in passenger numbers.”

The mega-project, if approved by Parliament, includes enabling works such as moving and lowering the M25 and diverting local roads and rivers to make way for the new runway. Work also includes terminal capacity increases with associated expansion of baggage systems, airfield and landside facilities.

Sharing experience

Heathrow and the other early adopters are to form a Project 13 implementation group to share experiences and lessons of the new principles.

Speaking at the official launch of Project 13, one of its lead architects and ICG chair Dale Evans, who is also director of Anglia Water’s

@One Alliance, outlined three “shifts” the initiative will impose on the construction sector. These are:

  • a shift from simply building an asset to using it to deliver customer outcomes
  • a move to include smart monitoring equipment in new buildings, to aid maintenance
  • a shift towards rewards being determined by the delivery of agreed outcomes

“It’s pretty challenging and there is lots to do. Change can be hard and painful, but not as much as doing nothing,” he says. Evans argues much of what Project 13 is doing is already being carried out in the industry, but not in a consistent manner. “Any step change lies in pursuit of best practice,” he says.

National Grid’s £750M London Power Tunnels (LPT2) project is another megaproject on the early adopters list. The 32km of tunnels, crossing seven London boroughs, will be engineered to have a design life of at least 130 years.

Anglian Water’s Capital Delivery Alliances is also an early adopter. Led by Evans, the delivery of £500M of new or refurbished infrastructure for the next water funding cycle comes from a team which has set the benchmark for industry collaboration. He will be looking to maximise the benefits he believes Project 13 can bring.

Environment Agency

The final early adopter  is the Environment Agency with its Next Generation Supplier Arrangements. It says taking part will enable greater collaboration with others such as local councils, and delivery partners.

The launch of Project 13 comes amid a background of a difficult start to the year for the sector following the collapse of Carillion in January. It also comes at a time where increasing the UK’s productivity is a key political driver, and improved infrastructure is seen as a way to help businesses do better.

At the launch, Treasury exchequer secretary Robert Jenrick said it was “incumbent” on the government to help create the right framework for the sector to grow, contribute to wider government policies such as increasing productivity, and learn the lessons from Carillion.

 He also pledged government support to attract private investment. “If we are to deliver our goals, it will be absolutely vital that we use the expertise and energy of the private sector,” he said. “There are those who would turn away from.”

“Fifty per cent of our £600bn pipeline over the next 10 years will come from the private sector. The private sector drives innovation and better value for money for consumers. I believe that would be a terrible mistake – for taxpayers, consumers, for the competitiveness of the country.”

At Project 13’s launch, Evans said he had never seen a project with so much client commitment, while Wilbraham said there should be no excuses in terms of implementation. In the words of Baveystock, it should not be a case of asking why you should join Project 13, it should be a case of “is there any reason not to?”





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