At the new prison development at Wellingborough the latest digital technologies, coupled with an integrated project team approach, are being utilised to deliver one of the largest Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) strategies within the UK construction industry. This will be the fourth large scale government project PCE and Kier have delivered together over the past 10 years, with each project complying with BIM Level 2.

Here Simon Harold, business development director at PCE, talks about the advancements being adopted at the new prison development at Wellingborough and how greater efficiencies, more predictable outcomes and better value are all being achieved through digital technology.

“For PCE and Kier, digital delivery is not just about 3D visualisations. It is also about collaboration and communication throughout the manufacturing and assembly stages. At the new prison development in Wellingborough, we are using digital tools and systems to allow the optimisation and efficiency of every delivery process and activity.

The digital platforms we are using at the new prison build at Wellingborough are enabling:

  • Effective coordination through the offsite and onsite phases
  • Construction-driven solutions that can be developed collaboratively by integrated multi-disciplinary designer teams
  • The development of safe systems of work before designs are finalised, through the mitigation of risks and hazards
  • Optimisation of offsite and onsite logistics, allowing informed decisions to be made as to whether offsite preassembly or onsite assembly is the correct approach
  • Effective integration of other building systems into the main structural system to create 'smart' solutions for the good of the project

The creation of an integrated BIM model has been key to the successful delivery of the digital strategy for the new prison development at Wellingborough. Each discipline can collaborate efficiently and seamlessly with each other in a digital environment, sharing data, coordinating each other’s design and progressively populating the model over the lifecycle of the project.

Initially, simple models of the precast structure were created from the architect’s design to illustrate how we could break the design down into components. This allowed the M&E designer, MZA, to integrate all conduits, heating mats, shower drains/feeds, builders’ work holes and fixing channels at an early stage, with a safe knowledge of where components needed to connect. Secure doors and windows were also integrated and all handrail fixings for the stairs.

Standardisation was driven through the design to ensure the repeatable use of components. The level of detail we were able to achieve informed our strategy for developing the precast moulds, how we would cast the components, how we would put together the construction programme, strategies for lifting the precast components into position, as well as the integration of other components such as the prefabricated services (MEP). The benefit for us was that we could also obtain a robust set of component numbers, material quantities and specifications to place orders against with Kier’s supply chain, as well as a detailed sequencing plan for the delivery of each building.

Detailed construction models were then progressed by Curtins Consulting, which is undertaking the structural design. From here we were able to prove and review buildability, down to each connection of each component, creating certainty that each interface works and has been tested in a virtual environment. The models at this point contain detailed data for each component, including who has designed, modelled, inputted and checked it. This is continually added to and updated over the lifecycle of the component’s development.

From these we have been able to produce detailed fabrication drawings with input from the entire team. Cloud-based reviewing systems and intelligent clash detection is enabling all model errors to be identified, reviewed and corrected in real time. At the new prison build in Wellingborough we have been able to resolve over 7000 clashes, which has saved millions of pounds in prevented onsite remediation works.

Construction issue models are being used for 4D planning, tracking and quality management of offsite manufacture and site construction, giving visibility and real-time data management to the project team, and allowing key decisions to be made quickly. On-site modelling will also be used for educating site teams in terms of inductions, briefings, sequence, virtual method statements.

Digital tools are thereby simplifying communication and providing us with new, intelligent and efficient ways of working."

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