Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Joining the dots

Barts and Royal London Hospitals - Thirty year old technology managed in a new way is intended to reduce Skanska’s risk exposure on the 1bn Barts and Royal London Hospitals PFI reports Jackie Whitelaw.

When a contractor signs up to a 42 year, 1bn design, construct, operate and maintain PFI deal in which it has a substantial equity stake, you’d expect there to be some serious long term thinking about how best to manage the job.

It’s been one of the selling points of privately nanced schemes since their inception - if the builder’s got its own money tied up in the job it should do it more efciently - shouldn’t it?

Well, not all PFIs work out like that. But for two of the capital’s most important schemes, the St Bartholomew’s (Barts) and Royal London Hospitals, Skanska UK is determined to use its knowledge as a contractor and to get design and construction ‘right’.

‘Construction companies, as they take on wider and more onerous risk proles, need to have a greater understanding of, and inuence on, the relationships between design, construction and operation.

And they need to own and lead the integration process, ’ says Skanska Technology managing director Keith Marr.

Marr’s division of Skanska is designer on St Bartholomew’s hospital, partnering Halcrow Yolles on the Royal London. Both are working with architect HOK.

‘Cost and time overruns frequently result from a break down between design and construction teams. Without ownership and leadership companies investing in privately nanced infrastructure are leaving themselves wide open for failure at the interfaces, ’ Marr says.

What’s the solution for Barts and the Royal London? 3D, object based models, is a start, he says.

You’re going to point out there’s nothing new in that, but Skanska UK design director for the Royal London hospital Adrian Sprague is there before you. ‘It’s not about the technology, ’ he says with the air of a man who has used that phrase before.

‘We are using [a modern version of] technology that has been around since the 1970s but we are finding out the real benefits of connecting the data. Think pricing, safety, design, procurement, repair and maintenance, and sitting in the middle of that is the technology which is connecting the dots, ’ he says.

‘It’s not so much the software but that people are aware there is an extra capacity in the project born of using the technology.

‘Ten years ago we would not have been doing this, ’ he believes. ‘The reason we’ve gone down this road is the sheer scale of the job.’ At the Royal London, there are 65 to 70 buildings in the initial project, which would have required 50,000 rough data sheets and 8,000 drawings. And there are 12,000 rooms and half a million pieces of medical equipment.

One Autodesk 3D model layered for mechanical, structural and architectural requirements, and so on, contains all the information on the projects. Navisworks software allows Skanska to pull information out of the data and manipulate it to inform design decisions and create operating and maintenance regimes.

‘There’s 90% of data from 3D modelling that’s not really used, ’ says Skanska Technology data engineer David Throssell. ‘If you manage it properly it becomes very useful and helps you make intelligent decisions earlier.’ These range from simply pinpointing clashes, to highlighting possible safety risks like trip hazards and valves that are set so high they can only be reached by ladder, to almost instant take off of quantities.

‘When you are looking at millions of square feet of floor space that needs to be covered part with vinyl, part with lino and part with carpet and you want to know how much you need of each it’s less than half a day’s work to establish the exact quantities.

‘What I could have done was go to a firm of quantity surveyors and paid. But this is miles quicker, ’ Sprague says.

Now they know this facility is available through the modelling technology, Skanska’s cost planners are queuing up to talk to the modelling team.

‘The target for wastage on the projects is no more than 5%. But what we hadn’t got was an accurate take of how much material is actually needed.

With all our initial quotes there was built in wastage we were expected to pay for. Now we don’t have to and we can hit our wastage targets, ’ Marr says.

The potential benefits extend into operation and maintenance, Marr continues. ‘An intelligent 3D model provides a live, single source of data for the operations and maintenance team.’ ‘The hardest thing, ’ says Skanska data expert Malcolm Stagg, ‘is to manage expectation among the hospitals teams. The model can’t do everything. The risk is relying too much on the data. We say we can give you information presented in a different way - but you need to use your skills The project Skanska UK is carrying out the 1bn redevelopment of Barts and the Royal London hospitals in consortium with Innisfree and Equion. The Royal London will be the largest new hospital in the UK. St Bartholomew’s will be transformed into a cancer and cardiac centre.

Combined, the facilities will provide 1,248 patient beds.

Barts is scheduled to be completed in 2010 and all construction finished in 2016.

The hospitals will remain in operation throughout. Bart’s is in the City of London and the Royal London is further east in Whitechapel. Both are controlled by Barts & The London NHS Trust.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs