In 2019 Kier was awarded a £253m contract by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) for a new build resettlement prison in Wellingborough. The project 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.
A core feature of the programme is to optimise how the MoJ’s assets are designed, procured, delivered and operated, through a Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) or ‘platform’ approach. As project integrator, Kier is driving a manufacturing mindset for Wellingborough by bringing together a diverse team to deliver this component-led approach.
The scheme incorporates repeatable, standardised components and assemblies across the thirteen buildings on site. Circa 80% of the design has been standardised, leaving just 20% as site-specific design. This means that the component assemblies designed for Wellingborough can and will be used on subsequent MoJ prison projects, leveraging economies of scale for the programme.
Kier is making extensive use of precast concrete components (15,183 precast panels plus more than 60,000 sub-components), bringing together three separate precast suppliers, Bison Precast, FP McCann and Banagher – a total of six different factories across the country – as well as precast management company PCE. This approach is reducing risk, as well as enabling a high level of innovation and collaboration between Kier and its supply chain partners.
The precast components for cell doors, walls and flooring have all been optimised to avoid follow-on work as far as possible. For each cell, M&E utility conduits and points have been cast-in, and shower trays are also cast into the floor units. All this reduces on-site trades and will improve serviceability and security.
The Wellingborough scheme is also adopting a ‘digital first’ approach to enable Kier to monitor, manage and communicate across the wider team. Standardisation was driven throughout 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 components into position, as well as the integration of components such as the prefabricated services (MEP).
To control quality across all six factory sites, Kier is also implementing the use of Dalux, a field tool that is allowing the project team to track the status of components being produced by each supplier. Clicking on any precast component within the system brings up the full quality assurance records for that component, allowing the team to digitally track its journey and monitor progress. Live dashboards indicate how well the system is being used, giving full transparency to operations. The scheme is also utilising two dedicated quality managers to ensure Kier delivers this large-scale project to the MoJ’s high standards.
The design developed for the facility supports 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.
" Kier and the wider supply chain have embraced the design challenges at Wellingborough and have worked with us to apply the innovative design to the site, whilst using a Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) and digital-first approach, something which MoJ is committed to and which has helped us drive time efficiency through the construction programme. Early engagement with the preconstruction team enabled us to consider options and make the right choices for the design, fully understanding the implications. Kier arranged for us to visit one of our precast suppliers, Bison, which was an opportunity to understand more about the mechanics of production and the route to delivery. It was clear to see the dedication to both quality and precision through the supply chain. "Director of Prison Infrastructure, Ministry of Justice
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