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Supply Chain Excellence: Winner

Winner: Kier Construction & University of Cambridge

In naming Kier the winner of this year’s Supply Chain Excellence award, the judging panel cited its work on Project Capella as nothing short of “a template for the future of our industry”.

Not only did the contractor show the obvious benefits of true collaboration with all stakeholders, but did so on a relatively short-term project rather than a long-term programme – making its achievements “all the more impressive”, according to the panel.

Kier was chosen by the University of Cambridge to deliver an £80m 18,000 sq m laboratory scheme, dubbed Project Capella.

The firm was named main contractor relatively early – RIBA stage one – and set about a ‘one team’ approach to the design stages aimed at setting a benchmark that would spread through the supply chain. The project’s Level 2 BIM model was developed by the wider team, and Kier’s intense engagement enabled a deeper understanding of the client’s and the project’s aims.

Specialist suppliers in areas such as structural, façade, MEP and others came on board from the end of RIBA stage two, providing further early input. These efforts saw the project move from briefing to planning submission in under eight months.

“A genuine example of real supply chain collaboration delivering measurable benefits – a template for the future of our industry”

Judges’ comment

The judges commended how, as work developed, Kier focused on helping ensure risk was mitigated by the right parties at the right times thanks to involvement of all stakeholders.

Capella’s rapid programme drove Kier to seek constant improvement and refinement, with workshops on lessons learned conducted with the university and supply chain to evaluate progress as they went.

The project is being delivered within the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, on which £600m-worth of facilities are being built concurrently. As part of efforts to accommodate all this nearby activity, 80 per cent of the frame and façade was built off site as precast modules. This contributed to a 20-week reduction in the programme as well as benefits to site management, health and safety and sustainability.

Through exhaustive co-ordination and planning, deliveries were also reduced by 750 from initial estimates and worker-hours halved compared with a traditional approach. Furthermore, Kier oversaw more than 200,000 worker-hours without a single RIDDOR.

This is the 25th project Kier has done with the University of Cambridge, creating an established team and supply chain – the benefits of which are clear on Project Capella. However, the judges noted that the specifics of this scheme and its various challenges still required exceptional collaboration to overcome.

The results are clear: from nothing to an enclosed, complex university building in just 24 months.


  • Fusion Building Systems
  • Kier Highways
  • Manchester Smart Motorways
  • Network Rail
  • Sustainable Building Services (UK)
  • Thames Water Utilities

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