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T5 faces logistics challenge


They have diverted two rivers, completed 13 km of tunnels and handed over 10 aircraft stands. And, with 72 per cent of civils work completed, it could be argued that the BAA project team has already moved the mountain necessary to create the £4.2 billion Terminal 5. But between now and March 30 2008, when passengers start checking in at Richard Rogers' creation, thousands of workers will be joining the site as civil engineering and structural work gives way to fit-out. Emma Crates talks to some of the key players keeping the project on track as a new logistical complexities come to light


Doug Black, materials logistics manager, T5

IT IS not uncommon for Doug Black, materials logistics manager at T5, to be working with one eye on 2006 or even 2007. 'We're trying to smooth and flatten out the peaks in demand.

We need to forecast a year ahead , ' he explains.

Mr Black is one of the logistics gurus helping cater for the project's voracious demand for materials, and in the past eight months he has watched the types and quantity of deliveries change dramatically.

When the programme was dominated by its civils programme and concrete and steel was mainly in demand, 14 suppliers catered for up to 80 per cent of deliveries.

'We had around 40-50 delivery vehicle movements for deliveries an hour, ' says Mr Black. But by the end of summer, he expects deliveries to site to increase to 60-80 an hour.

Early on in the project, to avoid bottlenecks, BAA established two consolidation centres ? and a fleet of 50 T5 vehicles ? to create a just-in-time delivery system.

The logistics centres are used as a buffer, or waiting area, for delivery drivers permitted to deliver direct to site.

'Suppliers are given two-hour delivery windows. We can afford two hours at the moment but the windows are going to get shorter as the size is inversely related to the volume of traffic, ' warns Mr Black.

Suppliers have three options: they can wait at the logistics centre until the material is required on site, then deliver it themselves; drop the trailer at the consolidation centre, which is then picked up by a T5 delivery vehicle, or take certain materials ? such as building services components ? into the warehouse; they are then reloaded onto T5 vehicles at a later stage.

Mr Black estimates that 70 per cent of materials currently touch the logistics centres at some point in the journey.

'This will increase as the project moves away from bulk loads. There will be less opportunity for vehicles to come directly to site, ' he explains.

To manage the project's transition from bulk to high-value goods, Mr Black's team is planning an overhaul of the logistics centres.

'Our centre at Colnbrook only dealt with concrete and steel a year ago, ' he says.

'Now it's also handling building services for Amec. It also has a buffer lorry park and all this has to be catered for in the same space as before. We'll also have to change the grid at Colnbrook, which is currently laid out for 40 ft articulated trailers. It will soon have to cater for small white vans.' In 2006, when construction and fit-out will be carried out simultaneously, the logistics centres will have to evolve to cope with the variety of suppliers. Much of the fit-out will be carried out by a new breed of worker to the project: a non-BAA contractor.

The third parties, such as airlines, shops and control authorities, will have their own fit-out teams, which will be working on T5 for much shorter periods.

'I've got a team of guys planning for third parties coming on board and how best to integrate the volumes of materials, ' says Mr Black. 'We're working out whether we need a separate logistics centre for these people.

The question is based around the anticipated volumes and when the deliveries will be arriving. For example, shopfitting could be carried out at night, as often happens on the high street. But the challenge will be to get their fixtures and fittings to site.

There won't be any cranes at that stage.'


John Milford, head of buildings, T5

JOHN MILFORD, head of buildings at T5, is no stranger to mammoth undertakings.

Previously he was working for Amec on large projects in China, New Zealand and South Africa. His most recent was a petrochemical complex in Shanghai for BP.

Mr Milford joined BAA in May last year.

'Challenges like this come along once in 15 years. It's one of the biggest projects in the world and is moving the boundaries of what's being done in the UK, ' he says.

'At T5 we recognise the need to increase the capability of our construction teams.

It is essential that we eliminate risk.' Mr Milford cites M&E modules as an example of how the team has increased its capability through collaboration.

He says: 'There are 32 modules being installed in each core of the building. The modules are assembled on a frame, strandjacked up, brought in and connected together.

'But we found through trials that the lifting rig was heavy to handle and complicated to use. The periods between the times at which we could use the rigs were too long.' Initially there was a two-month delay as the project teams got together to solve the problem.

Their new strategy uses a much lighter frame and improved method statements.

'I had to trust in the team, ' says Mr Milford, 'But it worked. Now we are finishing this in September, a good three months before the original completion date, and the job will take eight to nine months instead of 14.' Mr Milford admits that the challenge for the UK industry is that the supply base is geared up around small projects.

'We are breaking the works programme into strands ? areas that people can comfortably manage, ' says Mr Milford. 'They're wor th approximately £150 million each.' He encourages friendly competition between team managers.

He says: 'We did 1,200 tonnes of steel structural steel work in one week. Our previous best had been 800 tonnes ? we're pushing that hard.' Speed is of the essence. By the end of March 47 per cent of the buildings were complete. But a whopping 83 per cent has to be completed by end of March next year, when the external structure must also be fully watertight.

He says: 'We have hit every single milestone between 2004 and 2005. We got the baggage handling facility in a week earlier than schedule, which is a huge success.

Baggage is critical path for the success of the project. We have also pulled forward the schedule for floor screeds on T5A.' To keep up the momentum of innovation, BAA has formed 'buildability teams', which attempt to find new ways of doing things across the programme.

All this talk may work well for the large companies used to tackling big projects but Mr Milford admits that small companies can find it overwhelming at T5.

As more, smaller suppliers come to site, BAA is ensu r ing that it is engaging with them earlier.

'We're buddying-up the newcomers with people already here, ' Mr Milford says.

He admits that, once many small companies start fit-out, the sheer amount of data capture required will be one of the biggest challenges.

He says: 'Small companies will have to find a way which allows us to report what they're doing, and getting accurate reports from all these sources will be a challenge.'

Main terminal

Phil Wilbraham, project leader with T5A

ON ANY given day up to 1,400 workers can be found working on the main terminal, known as T5A. This 400m-long giant structure could house 50 full-size football pitches.

'We have reached a really interesting point in the project, where the structural parts of the building are being completed, the mechanical and electrical works are going in, we're building walls and starting screeding, ' says Phil Wilbraham, project leader with T5A.

He has worked on T5 projects for around nine years, previously for TPS Consult in a scheme to divert two rivers around the T5 site.

'The one thing I've learnt about T5 projects is the importance of leadership. You have to be in the right place at the right time and you have to be prepared to speak up if things aren't going well, ' he comments.

Mr Wilbraham says his biggest current challenge is making sure all the teams come together in an interface. With an M&E programme worth £240 million at T5A alone and a total of 105 lifts and 65 escalators to be installed in the main terminal, there are interfaces galore.

One large area of innovation has been the offsite prefabrication programme for the M&E work. Babcock is manufacturing modules in its factories in Scotland and Kent and these are being craned into site onto a gantry at the southern end of T5A. Another gantry will be installed at the nor thern end next month 'In the cores of the building and the corridors the M&E is between 80 and 90 per cent prefabricated, ' says Mr Wilbraham.

'Elsewhere prefabrication accounts for closer to 50 per cent of the M&E components.' Installation of the core modules started in March and are expected to be completed by September, while M&E in the corridors is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

Mr Wilbraham will not speculate on how much time the prefabrication process has saved.

'Working that out would be an entire PhD in itself.' But it has enabled the team to get on with other things simultaneously.

'It has enabled us to have fewer men on site at critical times. Freeing up space for other trades, ' he says.


Rob Stewart, head of infrastructure and commissioning on T5

BEFORE joining T5 two and a half years ago, Rob Stewart was running BAA's pavement and infrastructure team. Now he is head of infrastructure and commissioning on T5.

'The biggest challenge on this project is not technical ability, but the ability to bring the teams together, ' he comments.

The building may have reached fit-out stage in places but the civils infrastructure programme is running until 2007.

Back in October 2002 when T5 was in the early stages, Mr Stewart's challenge was to get up and running the infrastructure, such as canteens, to support the workforce and the nine-lane entry plaza for all the vehicles coming onto the site.

He says: 'The speed of mobilising staff and labour was one hell of a challenge. Back in early 2003 worker numbers were increasing at the rate of 400 a month.'

Now Mr Stewart's concerns are focused on how best to integrate the infrastructure with the perimeter of the site to enable workers to get to work faster. A spur road from the M25 is targeted for completion by the end of 2005.

From next January construction workers will be able to use it to access half the spaces in the giant 4,000-space multistorey car park, currently under const ruct ion to the west of the main terminal.

We're bang on programme and we may even finish early, ' says Mr Stewart.

At the moment, the workers are having to use remote car parks, so the 2,000 spaces that will be available from next year will not come a moment too soon: more than 5,000 people are estimated to be on site at peak time in spring next year.

BAA has now moved its vehicle entry plaza to the north of the site in an area that was previously a drainage lagoon.

'It was in the way of the permanent roads that need to be const ructed , ' explains Mr Stewart.

The civils team is also busy moving 1 million cum of backfill from temporary stockpiles back to site. In its best week, 72,000 cu m were shifted.

The southern taxiways have to be completed by October 2005 in order to welcome in the giant A380 Airbus in November, while cut-and-cover work over the track transit system, between T5A and B is under way.

'You get used to the scale, but it never ceases to amaze you. This project stretches everyone, ' says Mr Stewart.

'They're all working for T5 now'

'WITH less than 1,000 days to go it feels fantastic, ' says Andrew Wolstenholme, construction director of T5. 'We're where we need to be.

We've been on site for 36 months, and are 62 per cent per cent complete. In round numbers we've spent £2.7 billion out of £4.2 billion. I'm delighted.

'Twelve months ago there were a lot of major risks ahead ? such as the lifting of the T5 roof, the jacking of the ATC tower, tunnel digs. Now most of these are behind of us.' 'We've got roughly 28 per cent of civils work left, for example much of the airfield work is yet to be done. We've also got to complete the car park and backfilling and back excavate between T5 A and B. But these are low-risk compared with items earlier in the project.

For Mr Wolstenholme baggage is the next potential iceberg on the horizon, 'It's the largest baggage installation project in the world. It is one example of where teams are specialising and integrating across construction boundaries.

You can see them crossing the normal boundaries of discipline and meeting and interfacing to a huge degree.' He argues that the T5 agreement has been key to enabling BAA to nurture highly integrated teamwork. 'They're all working for T5 now ? dropping their company badges, ' he comments.

With such a mammoth workforce and multitude of projects running simultaneously, Mr Wolstenholme says safety has also been an abiding preoccupation.

'We're very passionate about safety.

We go way beyond compliance, ' says Mr Wolstenholme, who introduced the Incident and Injury Free programme ? first used in the UK by Bovis ? to site in March 2004.

'I was impressed by the culture of IIF, ' says Mr Wolstenholme, 'and the way it engages with strong leadership.

'We already had the 'right first time' mentality on site and the approach is similar, so IIF was relatively easy to adopt.

'Now we're insisting that all the managing directors of suppliers to site must take the IIF course. IIF needs support of senior leadership ? it's critical at supervisory level.' Mr Wolstenholme is clearly pleased with the results.

In a recent assessment, 73 per cent of workers said that T5 was the safest site they had worked on.

But he admits that, with a rapidly changing workforce, his work will be cut out keeping up the safety message.

'We've got to keep it fresh. We're fully engaging with the supply chain, ' he says.