The benefits of working collaboratively are well known with many businesses recognising that working constructively with customers, suppliers and joint venture partners is good, both for profit and for people.
The principles of team work are embedded throughout most successful organisations and this is particularly true within the construction sector where collaborative working is seen very much as the way forward. Major organisations such as Network Rail and the Highways Agency are actively encouraging their major contractors to adopt collaborative working approaches.
Collaborative working was a key requirement of involvement on the delivery of the Olympic Park project, driven down through the supply chain by the Olympic Delivery Authority. Last year, we delivered the Ordsall Chord in Manchester as part of The Northern Hub Alliance. Hailed as the future of collaboration, alliancing creates an environment in which we share aligned goals and objectives, and a commitment to win or lose together. Now, this collaborative approach, as certified by ISO44001 will help us to deliver work in the Antarctic.
Commissioned by the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), BAM began its partnership with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) just over a year ago. The long term UK partnership will last between 7-10 years and is worth an estimated £100m. The partnership will undertake a modernisation programme of UK Antarctic and other research facilities, accommodate the introduction of the new Polar Research Vessel the RRS Sir David Attenborough and enable British scientists to continue delivering world class research into some of the most important issues facing our planet.
Whilst every construction job can claim to have its share of strategic planning, this project, which takes place on the highest, driest, coldest, and windiest continent on earth, sees a unique set of logistical challenges for our team.
Known as the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation (Programme (AIMP), the work that BAM is helping to deliver will transform how BAS enables and supports frontier science. It includes the comprehensive modernisation of the Rothera Research Station – the UK’s main Antarctic Hub – as well as improving facilities and working conditions at other BAS research stations.
The construction team, who live and work alongside BAS scientists and support staff, face some of the harshest conditions on the planet. Besides that, all construction work has to take place before the onset of the Antarctic winter in May/June. The construction window also happens to be when the Antarctic mammals, including Orca’s, Leopard Seals and Fur Seals are at their most aggressive. With Bird Island being a breeding ground for the latter, planning works around breeding season is of utmost importance. Aptly named, Bird Island research station is an important research centre for long-term studies of bird and seal biology and one of the richest wildlife sites in the world. Tens of thousands of albatrosses, penguins and seals live on the island, which is a Specially Protected Area. Our construction programme is designed to minimise any impact on research projects and wildlife.
The modernisation of Rothera will see work to accommodate the new ship and reduce manual handling and cargo loading/unloading time during station relief, enabling the ship to spend more time at sea on scientific research cruises. The works include new accommodation, science and operations buildings. The works are underway with the dismantling of the existing wharf and construction of a new 80m long wharf, including improved small boating facilities for marine research, a larger crane for launching small boats, a personnel gangway and a floating pontoon for the deployment of scientific instruments such as gliders. As we begin the planning of the quarry and drilling works associated with the new wharf the core team is collaborating with BAM Ritchies to draw on their specialist knowledge in these areas.
With extensive experience in delivering works in the harsh conditions of the Scottish Mountains, but little to no experience working in the particular adverse conditions of the Antarctic, our relationship with BAS is at the centre of planning all of our works. The BAM team are fully embedded within the BAS headquarters in Cambridge, working collaboratively alongside the NERC & BAS Operations and Science department, together with their technical advisor Ramboll. In March this year BAS are supporting the mobilisation of investigatory site and dive team visiting Rothera to provide detailed information to help with our planning for the works. The specialist knowledge given by BAS scientists and staff is paramount to not only delivering the project efficiently and with as little disruption as possible to the surrounding wildlife, but also to the safety of our on-site team living and working in the Antarctic.
The relationship with NERC, BAS and the projects technical advisor, Ramboll is the basis of delivery. All four parties have shared goals based on the desire to deliver innovative and long-standing solutions which are critical to delivering world-class polar science to benefit planet Earth.
For such a complex project to run smoothly collaboration within Royal BAM Group is key. Our core team for the project, based in Cambridge, has staff from BAM Nuttall, BAM Ritchies, BAM International, SWECO and Delta Marine Consultants and allowing us to utilise the skills and knowledge that comes from working in these specialist areas. The team holds regular design, planning and construction workshops attended by representatives from all key stakeholders.
Our Construction Partnership Director Graham Hopper said, “The partnership will enable British scientists to continue delivering world class research into some of the most important issues facing our planet and BAM are proud to be part of the team enabling this. Our collaboration with NERC and BAS will provide the infrastructure for improvement in environmental impact, science facilities and quality of life for the scientist living and working at the research centres. All of the partnership and delivery team should be particularly proud of their contribution toward this and legacy provided for future generations”.