UK Defence Infrastructure - DEFENCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, Issue 56
PROFILE- Relationships are key to Whittington success
Project Director Paul Bird believes there is one aspect of building that is crucial to the success of Carillion's latest project to transform one of the West Midlands' oldest and most historic military bases. As with all of the work undertaken by Carillion, one of the UK's leading support services companies, Bird says it is the building of relationships that will inevitably determine the success of this multimillion pound contract, the second phase of a project to establish Whittington Barracks, in Lichfield and the West Midlands region as the central focus for the Defence Medical Services (DMS).
Whittington is the latest major project to be undertaken for Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) by Carillion and continues the group's involvement with UK MoD projects dating back to the 19th Century. The MoD is Carillion's single largest customer – and Bird has every intention of ensuring that this long and successful relationship continues.
Phase two of the Midlands Medical Accommodation project at DMS Whittington officially got under way in the autumn and the work will see Carillion constructing new state-of-the-art training facilities, including a learning centre, lecture theatre, and junior ranks dining and welfare facilities. In addition, a separate contract is being undertaken at the same time by Debut to provide living accommodation for 859 personnel.
The new facilities will sit alongside the DMS headquarters building that was completed by CarillionEnterprise in 2010 and houses the staff who control the DMS activities worldwide, including the management of around 10,000 people. The Whittington site is close to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which specialise in care for the service operational casualties.
Undertaking such a major construction project in the middle of a live military base calls for close cooperation and effective management of all the contracting workforce, which for Carillion alone will peak at around 300 people, and also the need to liaise closely with military personnel to ensure the smooth running of the base and the health and safety of all the people on site.
Bird says: "We have weekly meetings with the client to discuss in advance what work is due to be carried out and how we can work around the military's needs to ensure the least disruption to personnel is maintained.
"As the project moves forward, it will be crucial that we deliver the new facilities on schedule as further close liaison will be needed to allow for the DMS to transfer staff and their families over to the new location in a planned and timely operation.
"In addition, Whittington is situated close to the town of Lichfield, many smaller communities and a number of major road and motorway routes, so we need to ensure that we have good relationships with the local communities to ensure that disruption is kept to an absolute minimum."
Local communities are regularly updated on the progress of the project with community information newsletters issued by the team.
Carillion moved on site early in 2011 to work on the detailed plans for the new development – scheduled for completion in 2014 – obtaining all planning and regulatory approvals and to appoint the workforce, and using as much involvement from local companies as possible.
A range of Carillion operations are engaged at Whittington including:
•Carillion UK Construction, who will be undertaking all of the building and civil engineering work as well as the overall project management;
•TPS Defence, who, as architects, civil, structural and building services consultants, have worked with the MoD for many years on projects around the world;
•Carillion Specialist Services, one of the UK's largest group of approved inspectors and suppliers of building control services;
•Carillion's in-house materials testing laboratory.
In addition, the construction team will be working alongside CarillionEnterprise, the joint venture company currently responsible for the maintenance of the buildings and infrastructure assets at DMS Whittington.
Bird says: "All of the Carillion businesses have had significant experience of working for the MoD and DIO over many years, and therefore know and understand what the customer wants and expects from us.
"Through our years of working alongside the MoD we have gained a significant understanding of their special needs and requirements. In addition, Carillion has a number of ex-military personnel working in the group at all levels – from the board room to the front reception – which further helps our understanding and we are working closely with the relevant organisations to look for opportunities to help wounded service personnel who have to leave the forces into employment with Carillion.
"We have already had ex-service people working on site at DMS Whittington and are looking to increase the numbers wherever possible as the project builds over the coming year," adds Bird.Carillion's MoD portfolio
Phase two of the Whittington Barracks Midlands Medical Accommodation project is the latest in an impressive track record of projects Carillion has undertaken for the MoD.
In addition to its building work, the Carillion Group is one of the leading providers of facilities management and support services to the UK armed forces. Its recent operations include:
•Carillion has been redeveloping, managing and operating the Northwood Headquarters, Middlesex, home of the Chief of Joint Operations, in a £880m project for the MoD;
•Aspire Defence Capital Works (construction) and Aspire Defence Services (FM) are both 50:50 joint ventures between Carillion and KBR. Aspire was awarded the MoD's largest infrastructure PFI contract for Project Allenby/Connaught in March 2006. Since then, it has successfully delivered against an ambitious eight year programme of redevelopment alongside services delivery that will last 35 years and is worth some £8bn;
•CarillionEnterprise delivers the Regional Prime Contract for the MoD and DIO across the Central Region of the UK, which includes North East, North West, Yorkshire and Humberside, West Midlands and Wales;
•MODern Housing Solutions (MHS) provides a housing maintenance service on behalf of the DIO for families living in Service Family Accommodation (SFA). It repairs items in SFA properties (response maintenance).
Richard Lumby, Carillion Defence Managing Director, says: "The MoD is our number one client and we have built a highly skilled and dedicated team that knows and understands the client's needs and is continuing to deliver an outstanding range of services and buildings."Richard Lumby- Managing Director
Tel: +44 (0)1902 316696