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BAM Construction uses Powerproject to conquer complex development at London’s King’s Cross

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Building a three-storey office block in the heart of London is a challenge in itself, but three Grade-II listed rail tunnels running underneath the site adds extra complexity. BAM Construction – under the leadership of Project Manager, Emily Hoggins – used Powerproject to execute this complicated project on programme and on budget, clinching gold at the CIOB UK Construction Manager of the Year Awards.

BAM Construction uses Powerproject to conquer complex development at London’s King’s Cross

BAM Construction believes that creating and maintaining a building is both a human and a technical challenge, which is why combining capable people and cutting-edge technology is critical to its success.

The company’s recent construction of a three-storey office block at 22 Handyside Street, London – part of the King’s Cross regeneration scheme – is a prime example of talent and technology coming together. And its successful execution led to Project Manager, Emily Hoggins MCIOB, receiving gold honours in the Office category at the 2021 CIOB UK Construction Manager of the Year Awards (CMYA).

Carefully planning construction at an incredibly complex site

Powerproject by Elecosoft has been used by multiple stakeholders at BAM Construction for several years, and it was the key piece of construction management software for the £19 million, 36,000sqft mixed-use office block at 22 Handyside Street, which took 85 weeks to complete.

“Powerproject is embedded in our company. We use it for everything – from building critical paths for our main projects to creating targeted programmes for specific tasks and individual sub-contractors.”
– Emily Hoggins, Project Manager, BAM Construction

22 Handyside Street marked Emily’s first development as Project Manager, and it was an incredibly complex project to coordinate. The site was directly above three Grade II-listed Victorian rail tunnels, two of which still serve London King’s Cross – one of the busiest stations in the UK. This made construction very high risk, and affected both the way the project was planned and managed, and the choice of architectural design and building materials.

Powerproject proved to be effective construction planning software because it enabled the BAM team to present their methodology in a very visual way, displaying a complex delivery plan in a simple, easy-to-understand manner for those involved.

“I was engaged with the project over a year before we started on site, as we needed to plan things properly. We did a lot of internal presentations to our senior management team, using Powerproject to outline how we were going to manage construction.

“We were then able to take our vision to the client and our subcontractors, using 4D modelling to show how we were going to deliver the finished building – that took our project planning to another level.”

Using construction software to mitigate project risk

With the approach agreed, Emily and her team needed to negotiate the complicated planning permissions required prior to breaking ground. All construction work had to be approved by Network Rail at least twelve weeks in advance, and BAM needed to mitigate risk by putting a tunnel monitoring system in place, responding to safety alerts at any time of the day or night.

“With Powerproject, we were able to work backwards from our planned start date to make sure we could get the approvals we needed.”

To minimise the risk of heave in the rail tunnels below the site, the office block’s foundations could only be dug in seven-metre strips at a time to avoid the team removing too much load. BAM used Powerproject to manage this very tight programme and see where activities could safely overlap.

Construction software was also pivotal to building the development’s complex light steel-frame-superstructure, which was diagonally arranged to balance the building’s weight over the rail tunnels, and featured a series of eight parallel standing-seam roofs at a 45-degree pitch.

The steel beams creating the roof were difficult to access, and BAM modelled each coping before using Powerproject to calculate the time needed for subcontractors to take down construction podiums and rebuild them in order to get over each beam.

“We used Powerproject to share plans with our subcontractors as part of our plan of the day (PLOD) and plan of the week (PLOW) meetings, and they could feed back information for us to update them. It was very quick and easy for us to revise schedules based on their feedback.”

Getting back on track after unforeseen setbacks

Powerproject’s seamless resequencing capabilities also added huge value when the construction team encountered unforeseen or unavoidable setbacks – including city-wide protests by environmental activists Extinction Rebellion during a pivotal stage of the build.

Due to the rail tunnels running directly beneath the plot, the building’s foundations needed to use a bespoke, super-lightweight concrete, which the supplier had to shut down their plant to make.

Powerproject proved to be an effective planning tool because it enabled BAM Construction to present their methodology in a very visual way, displaying a complex delivery plan in a simple, easy-to-understand manner for those involved.

Unfortunately, Extinction Rebellion blocked roads across the capital when the concrete was due to be poured, and the delays caused by these protests rendered the concrete unusable. Thankfully, Powerproject enabled Emily to reschedule the concrete delivery and identify further efficiencies that could recoup most of the lost time.

“The Extinction Rebellion protests set us back by a week, but by resequencing works using Powerproject we were able to bring that time loss back to just one day.”

Emily and her team were also challenged by working restrictions during the pandemic, but fortunately preparations for another major event helped them deal with the impact of Covid-19.

“We thought Brexit was going to be a major issue with the availability and price of materials, so we placed orders as quickly as possible to mitigate the risk of longer lead times. Because we’d pre-planned so far in advance, we were better equipped to get through Covid than many other companies, and that enabled us to stay on track.”

Great customer feedback and gold award success

In the case of every setback, Emily was able to view the financial impact of delays as well as time slippage, making strategic decisions that empowered her team to deliver the new building on schedule and within budget – and the customer was really happy with both the project team and the quality of delivery.

“Having Powerproject helped us manage the whole process with the client, which was really helpful in making sure the project was a success.”

When BAM Construction submitted 22 Handyside Street for the CMYAs, the CIOB judging panel agreed with the quality of workmanship and project management; they remarked that delivering the development on programme and within budget, despite a hugely challenging technical build, “is some achievement.”

The power behind successful projects: book a free demo to experience Powerproject by Elecosoft.

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