Following on from our appointment to deliver Wellingborough Prison on behalf of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), we will be profiling some of the supply chain we’re working with to deliver the offsite elements of the project.

John Handscomb is procurement lead at Kier and previously highly commended as ‘Offsite Pioneer of the Year’ at the Offsite Awards 2017. Here, he talks about how Kier is driving a component-led approach centred around integration and collaboration at its Wellingborough Prison site.

“In May this year, Kier started work on site to deliver a new build resettlement prison at Wellingborough after being awarded the £253m contract by the MoJ. Prior to this milestone a huge amount of work was undertaken behind the scenes to deliver the project through a manufacturing mindset. A core feature of the MoJ’s Change, Strategy and Planning (CSP) Directorate within HMPPS is to optimise how assets are designed, procured, delivered and operated, through a Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) or ‘kit-of-parts’ approach. A DfMA solution delivers efficiencies through repeatable components and processes, achieving a higher quality product at lower cost and in less time. This aligns with Kier’s ambition to provide clients with the best solution from the full spectrum of offsite technologies available through our Choice Factory.

As a result, the Wellingborough scheme is incorporating repeatable, standardised components and assemblies across the 13 buildings on site. To give an idea of the scale of offsite construction, out of the 13 buildings, nine have been designed to make extensive use of precast concrete construction. This is huge, and we have just started manufacture for a total of 15,183 precast panels and more than 60,000 sub-components.

Around 80% of the design has been standardised, leaving just 20% as site-specific design. This essentially means that the component assemblies designed for Wellingborough will be used on subsequent MoJ prison projects, leveraging economies of scale for the programme.

As the main contractor, we have acted as ‘integrators’ to bring tangible value to the design, including enhancements to multiple components such as the composite sandwich panel construction (two layers of finished concrete with a thermal insulation core) with cast-in windows, shower enclosure details, and integration of the M&E modules.

Beyond bricks and mortar, our approach at Wellingborough has facilitated high levels of collaboration across our supply chain and we have once again brought together three separate precast suppliers; Bison Precast, FP McCann and Banagher (a total of six different factories across the country), as well as specialist HybriDfMA structural frame contractor PCE. By collaborating across several different suppliers, each business is able to work to their strengths to deliver offsite excellence and a better product for our client.

This is the fourth time Kier, Bison, PCE and FP McCann have collaborated to deliver an offsite project at scale, having come together initially to deliver HMP Oakwood back in 2012, so it’s brilliant to see how we are once again working as an integrated team to drive efficiencies on a brand-new scheme and repeating our successes at Wellingborough. Each company has its own expertise in the area and it’s great to share these on such an important project.”

More information on Wellingborough prison:

Wellingborough prison is the first in a series of schemes to be undertaken as part of the MoJ’s wider Change, Strategy and Planning (CSP) Directorate within HMPPS. The aim of the programme is to reform and modernise the prison estate to make it more efficient, safer and focused on supporting rehabilitation.

The new category C resettlement prison is being built on the same site as the former HMP Wellingborough, which closed back in 2012. The design developed for the facility is supporting the MoJ’s commitment to building a safe and secure environment that is conducive to rehabilitation. Buildings feature windows with no bars and each landing can be split into three, with each spur holding 20 men. There is also an association space for residents to use and the visitors’ hall has been designed to be open and light to instil a sense of normality for those visiting.

Read the other blogs in the series