Aspire Defence Capital Works Ltd
Aspire Defence Capital Works Ltd continues to prove its credentials as a considerate constructor, with its on-going development within four garrisons on Salisbury Plain and at Aldershot in Hampshire, winning a number of the Scheme’s National Site Awards.
A joint venture between Carillion and KBR, Aspire Defence Capital Works (ADCW) was set up in 2006 specifically to undertake the massive construction programme as part of the Ministry of Defence’s Project Allenby Connaught.
This project has a straightforward aim: to make life better for some 18,700 soldiers (nearly 20% of the British Army) who live, work and train within the footprint which is the largest infrastructure PFI ever let by the Ministry of Defence.
This ambitious project is being achieved by providing modern, high quality, fully serviced, purpose-built living and working accommodation.
In addition to a major £1.6 billion, eight-year construction scheme, the 35-year project encompasses a wide range of support services including building, maintenance, catering, cleaning, transport and waste disposal.
During the last eight years ADCW has delivered on a huge scale across six main sites, including the demolition of 496 buildings and the new build, refurbishment and alteration of 541 buildings, together with the associated infrastructure works. One of these sites can be found at Perham Down in Wiltshire.
Commenting on the highly praised Perham Down barracks, phases of which have previously scooped two National Site Bronze Awards, Senior Project Manager Alan Curtis commended the Scheme for playing a part in the project’s ongoing success.
The Considerate Constructors Scheme is recognised throughout the industry as a benchmark scheme to improve the image of construction. By being part of the Scheme it demonstrates to our project stakeholders and the wider community that we are serious about protecting the environment and engaging with our client, our workforce and our neighbours.
Our company objectives are to deliver construction projects in line with our company values and these fit very well with being a member of the Scheme. We know how important it is for us to leave our client and our neighbours with a good impression of the construction industry.
As we carry out our construction projects we want to demonstrate that we care about the environment, our workforce and the general public as we know that in the long run this is good for us, and the rest of the construction industry.
One of the best ways of demonstrating this is by being a member of the Scheme as not only does it show intent in this direction but it also formalises and focuses our approach to achieving these objectives.
Mr Curtis explained that most of ADCW’s building works are carried out alongside fully operational garrisons, so it is imperative that construction activity does not interfere with the day-to-day running of the camps. This is an issue of fundamental importance, as units from Perham Down have been engaged in, or have been preparing for, demanding operational developments during the construction phase.
Great care is taken in planning and communication with our client and other stakeholders. We have a comprehensive Transition Programme which shows when we require areas to be vacated, and we work very closely with the Army via many meetings, to accommodate their needs.
In addition we need to discuss and agree access routes, utility shut-downs, and days when access will not be available due to Army activities. Also, every person who comes into a garrison must, for obvious reasons, have security clearance or be escorted.
This can be a demanding commitment, but because of the good relationship we have with our client, the many challenges that this throws up are resolved in a mature and mutually agreeable manner.
Asked how being registered with the Scheme may have helped overcome any problems or hurdles encountered during the works, Mr Curtis said it had helped foster good community relationships and communications with both the Army and the public.
When this is done well, relationships are built that enable any problem to be seen as a ‘team problem’ not just a problem for one stakeholder.
In a similar vein, the work that the Scheme has encouraged us to undertake in the community has given us a profile with locals who now see us as friendly people who are involved in trying to help their area rather than a faceless corporate entity who they have no contact with.
Two initiatives highly praised by Scheme Monitor Martin Geary are the Project’s Value – “Safety First – Always” and the company’s “Don’t Walk By” incentive.
Aspire’s priority site value is that our workforce and our neighbours should be safe at all times hence, ‘Safety First – Always’. As this project has run for eight years we have had the opportunity to instigate and foster many safety initiatives, but more importantly we have developed a culture of safety that our longstanding supply chain and their operatives have come to know and understand.
We try to build safety into all our activities including the selection of our sub-contractors at the procurement stage. We believe that safety is an integral part of every phase of our work through design, planning and construction, not just a bolt on extra the day before an activity is to commence.
The ‘Don’t Walk By’ (DWB) cards initiative was introduced to encourage everyone to look out for each other and write helpful safety suggestions and tips on easily-accessible cards – a system which has proved useful for staff.
By preventing small safety issues from causing problems at an early stage we can prevent them from escalating into major problems.
In addition we can analyse the DWB cards to see trends and also use them to predict and prevent issues when we set up the next site. It is most important that all cards are actioned so that the workforce can see that their points are being addressed.
Each month two cards from each Garrison are selected for a prize to show that we value the input from the workforce. We hold many Worker Consultation and Safety Action Group meetings where we encourage open debate on all things to do with safety and welfare.
We believe that our safety culture, which heavily depends upon openness and feedback from all our workforce, ties in with the Scheme’s Code of Considerate Practice and its sections ‘Secure Everyone’s Safety’ and ‘Value their Workforce’.
ADCW has now worked over 20.8 million man-hours and recorded an AFR (Accident Frequency Rate) of 0.06, making it the safest major UK construction project ever, said Mr Curtis.
Scheme Monitor Martin Geary also singled out for praise the company vans carrying the logo, “Making Soldiers’ Lives Better”, which he described as displaying “the company values which are very well promoted within the company and to customers.”
Commenting on his vans’ striking branding, Mr Curtis said:
Allenby/Connaught clearly demonstrates that the customers’ needs have been placed at the heart of the design and implementation of the project, through a highly effective partnership with Aspire.
The end product for the soldier is a huge improvement on what had been provided in the past. This job is not just about bricks and mortar – it’s about people and making a marked difference to their lives.
We want our client, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, our customer the British Army, our workforce and the public to associate Aspire with this message. We want our workforce to live and breathe this message and to have pride in the fact that if they do their job well they have the knowledge that they really are making Soldiers’ life better.
On most construction projects the workforce does not see the fruits of its labours as they have moved on to the next job. On this project the workforce do get to see the Army using what they have constructed and we believe that this is important for many reasons, but principally the workforce know that they are making a difference.
Summing up his organisation’s overall experience of registering with the Scheme, Mr Curtis said:
The Scheme gives you a more holistic view of where your project sits in the local community and reminds you that you are only in temporary control of an area and that you must treat it well during your stay before you give it back to the community.
The Scheme gives focus and definition to areas that are not normally measured. It makes you think and act in some areas that are not part of your core job but if done well will reward you with better relationships with client, neighbours, environmental groups and the workforce.