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TFL reveals how ECI contracts boost delivery

Transport for London (TFL) has revealed how early contractor involvement (ECI) has helped it to deliver its most difficult programmes of work.

Head of projects and programmes Shaun Pidcock explained how the transport body had worked collaboratively with its supply chain to complete projects which were deemed to have the highest level of stakeholder issues or the least clearly defined scopes.

Three projects that were thought of as being particularly difficult to deliver included the recently completed Chiswick Bridge refurbishment, repairs to Fore Street Tunnel and the replacement of the Woodlands retaining wall on the A406 North Circular Road. All these were combined in a single package of work and delivered using the ECI model.

“This package of work was the least well-defined because we didn’t know the level of strengthening and replacement that was required for each of them,” said Pidcock. “Chiswick was a case in point. The internal concrete needed strengthening but we hadn’t done the investigations prior to going out [to tender], so we didn’t understand the level of work that was required.

“We were looking for a way of procuring something but also developing the scope at the same time as doing it.”

Pidcock said the TFL team had spent time looking at the various contract models used by major clients such as Network Rail and Anglian Water and also took inspiration from some of the contract practices used in delivering the London 2012 Olympics.

The organisation also took guidance from a contract to refurbish the northbound tunnel of The Blackwall tunnel where it worked with Bam Nutall at an early stage to decide how the project could be delivered with minimal disruption.

Bam Nutall project manager Jay Moorhouse said the same early engagement approach was replicated to deliver efficiencies on the Chiswick Bridge refurbishment.

“Normally when we turn up on site we have to go out and get our consents, things like the Marine Management Organisation licence, which can take up to four months,” he said. “Because we knew our methodology very early on, and we knew it would work, we were able to do get these consents during the ECI period. That saved four months straight away at the start of the project.” 

For the Fore Street Tunnel project, Pidcock said TFL had also spent time working with a dedicated mechanical & electrical contractor, VVB Engineering, from a very early stage to deliver an integrated design and to find equipment and performance savings.

VVB Engineering managing director Steve Hinde said: “One of the time consuming elements with most projects is obviously being able to order equipment. What we’ve been able to develop with this model [of contract] is certainty about the equipment that we’ll need as we’re putting together the details of the project. That allows us to order all of the big lead-time equipment early.”

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