Working as an integrated team, Kier has brought together three precast manufacturers and six factories across the country to collaboratively deliver the new build prison at Wellingborough. Through a series of blog posts, we are showcasing each business’ unique expertise and perspective on the project.

In blog seven of the series, Michael Dunn, commercial director at ASSA ABLOY High Security and Safety Group explains how ASSA ABLOY has developed a new specification of door and window to meet the Ministry of Justice’s aspirations for a rehabilitative environment.

“HMP Five Wells, the new build prison at Wellingborough is the first project to be undertaken as part of the MoJ’s wider work to modernise the prison estate to make it more efficient, safer and focused on rehabilitation. This includes improving the aesthetics of the buildings to enhance the internal environment for the prisoners and staff, whilst maintaining high levels of security.

When we won the contract to supply the windows and doorsets, we were keen to reflect these aspirations. It was vital that our products contributed to the building’s overall performance, including thermal, acoustic and wellbeing properties.

The ability to design, test and revise products in a short timeframe was key. During the design process, our engineers utilised SolidWorks 3D modelling for all aspects of the design. This enabled the designs to be created efficiently and checked for clashes or interference; effectively proven in a digital format before pre-production samples were produced. This resulted in a very short design to manufacture process.

To achieve a normalised environment for the prison, we developed and tested an innovative new barless window with adjustable ventilation. These are the only windows to pass new MoJ category C standards and were specifically designed for casting into four-cell wide external precast panels. Testing took place at the ASSA ABLOY UKAS-accredited test lab, enabling both Kier and ASSA ABLOY to confidently meet the requirements and standards of the new buildings. To demonstrate quality we undertook rigorous cycle tests on the vent mechanism to ensure the product met the MoJ’s high requirements for durability.

Our next challenge was to ensure that the volume of doors and windows required could be sustained during the manufacturing process. ASSA ABLOY is supplying all 2,000 windows and 2,800 doors for the new prison and, in order to meet the timescales, we needed to be able to manufacture 120 windows and 60 doors per week. To achieve this, we worked closely with our sister-brand, ASSA ABLOY Door Group, at our manufacturing site in Lisburn.

One of the potential bottlenecks we identified involved the welding of steel windows and doors. Processes were mapped out and it became clear that the use of robotic welders was necessary to hit the output. At our Lisburn site, a new robot was commissioned and deployed; enabling us to stretch our factory output with minimal impact to the core business.

In addition, window and door frames are being cast into the walls at multiple precast yards (six different locations). This relied on our capacity to hit every deadline to ensure supply and maintain offsite programme pace. We put time and effort to planning our logistics, with Kier providing a doors and windows schedule for each precast yard. A new “toast” rack was developed to transport the windows from our factory to the precast yards; ensuring windows were moved safely and presented in the correct position for precast manufacturers to efficiently move the windows into the formers.

Thanks to our experience in the custodial sector and our ability to design, test and supply an end-to-end solution, we were able to meet the demands of this pioneering project. We’re proud to have played our part."

To find out more about the custodial solutions offered by ASSA ABLOY High Security and Safety Group, visit