As the UK construction industry moves towards ever-greater integration of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in major projects, one prestigious development offers a fine case study of how the effective use of BIM and well-integrated partnership working and information sharing can benefit all parties, and deliver top-quality outcomes.
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Triangle, in Cambridge, will be a new international headquarters building for Cambridge Assessment, the University of Cambridge's international examinations group. The project received planning approval in September 2014, and contractors began work in the summer of 2015.
Triangle is being built on a brownfield site previously occupied by Cambridge University Press, and with the previous buildings now demolished, work has begun on the replacement.
Triangle will be the global headquarters for the examinations group and the site will ultimately house up to 3,000 employees. The commitment is a top quality, sustainable building that will use cutting-edge techniques and new technologies, such as chilled beams and modular installations fitting seamlessly into the existing neighbourhood. It also requires the creation of a new landmark; a 39.1 metre tower will be highly visible to all who approach Cambridge from the south. Accommodation will include office space, catering areas, archive facilities, meeting rooms and outdoor spaces for both work and relaxation.
In late 2015 Cambridge Assessment awarded the £120 million contract to design and build the Triangle to Bouygues UK, the British subsidiary of Bouygues Construction, and the use of BIM and associated best practice has been key to the development from the beginning. As Brian Brewis, M &E Manager, Bouygues UK explains: "When used to best advantage, BIM is every bit as much about the modelling and integration of optimal construction process and logistics, as it about modelling the building itself. We are delighted at the enthusiasm for BIM applications that has been shown by our partners on this project, and together we have been realising the benefits of BIM best practice, such as optimised logistics, warehousing and delivery schedules, from the outset. We expect this to make a substantial contribution to the Triangle, which we hope and expect will become an iconic building within an iconic city."
Newmarket-based Allied Mechanical Services Limited to are supporting Bouygues UK in delivering MEP services for the Triangle contract, and true to BIM principles, the two companies have worked closely together, sharing specifications and other construction information. As a result, Allied turned to Pipe Center (a subsidiary of Wolseley UK, one of the UK's leading distributors) for further input.
Pipe Center have added huge value to the supply chain. This is largely because, as subsidiaries of an industry-leading distributor, they have productive relationships with a range of manufacturers, outstanding logistical provision and a comprehensive network of outlets across the UK. For the Triangle project, this is particularly important, because in accordance with BIM best practice, some elements are being pre-fabricated away from the site, then stored locally prior to installation. This allows the contractors to have all elements ready and immediately accessible, at precisely the time they are needed.
By liaising with staff at Pipe Center's Cambridge branch, Allied has been able to take advantage of the company's logistical capabilities and advantageous relationships with manufacturers. These have allowed Allied to purchase bespoke components, manufactured away from the site prior to use, while the logistical capability and network of Pipe Center and Climate Center outlets has ensured that the resulting modular components are delivered locally, on time, every time.
Advantages of best practice logistics
Outsourcing the piping pre -fabrication brings several advantages.
One is access to innovative tools, processes and materials that are constantly evolving to increase efficiencies - this means that pipes can be made to precise, bespoke specifications in a more cost-efficient way than would be possible on-site, and which yields a top quality product. Savings are also made in terms of waste, because there are no off-cuts or excess materials to deal with. For customers purchasing this service through Pipe Center, storage facilities are included, which means that customers do not have the burden of providing floor space or other logistical costs. They are also protected from the threats of theft and vandalism that can occur when items are kept on-site. Additionally, the project is being delivered with the use of lightweight duct work and pre-installed pipework which bring efficiencies to the programme, and is the first time that this is being used on a project in the UK.
The collaboration also included a pre-fabricated plant room which has been a joint venture between Bouygues UK, Allied and the Pipe Center. This approach has led to efficiencies in the programme and adding value to the overall project.
As Liam Connelly, Regional Sales Director for Pipe Center, explains: "The fact that Pipe Center is part of a multi-national industry-leading company and operates through many outlets in the UK, means that parts can be transported and stored close to almost any other UK location. As we have seen, this has been a key element in the efficiency of process at the Triangle, because the storage of components off-site but nearby, not only removes the cost of on-site storage, but also the time and expense usually involved in bringing the components to site at short notice."
Bringing it all together
Of course, when using BIM the aim is to share information and optimise process during construction, in order to optimise building outcomes. Christian Carter of Allied Mechanical Services feels that together, the parties involved in the Triangle project have been successful in this regard from the outset. He said: "From our point of view, at initial concept stages the ability to deliver within budget was crucial, and for the module process we needed additional input from all parties to optimise logistics and design. Pipe Center really contributed here, particularly with regards to the supply chain, because we had a local branch in Cambridge that gave us a gateway into their wide range of services, while the local staff could bring everything together and always made sure they were competitive and delivered on time. This aspect of the project neatly shows how BIM, when it's comprehensively applied, can save time, costs, wastage and effort for all concerned, and it's an approach we are keen to apply in our future projects."
Work on the Triangle is currently in progress, with first stage occupation scheduled for 2018. Further information is available on the project website, http://thetrianglecambridge.co.uk/
For more information on Bouygues UK, visit: www.bouygues-uk.com
For more information on Allied Services, visit: www.alliedservices.co.uk
For more information on Pipe Center and Climate Center, visit: www.pipecenter.co.uk or www.climatecenter.co.uk