Offsite - The Sensible Option

27th January, 2022

Investment in renewable energy as a low carbon energy source is central to our sustainable future. For this reason, TATA Chemicals Europe (TATA) and Lostock Sustainable Energy Plant (LSEP) embarked on an all-encompassing infrastructure upgrade costing £480million.

This would support its existing process plant and facilitate the integration of a new Energy from Waste (EfW) plant that would provide renewable energy via a low carbon source to over 125,000 homes within the Greater Manchester area. Once operational, LSEP will recover energy safely and cleanly, diverting 600,000 tonnes of residual waste from landfill, producing renewable energy constantly.

It was collectively determined that the only way to achieve this upgrade safely and within the timescales available, was to ensure everything was constructed offsite with minimal works on-site. A key aspect of the decision to construct everything offsite was largely driven by the fact that the live process plant was in 24/7 operation: downtime for construction works was not an option.

As with any process plant, the quality of the finished product must be exemplar, which further reinforced the offsite solution as this ensured the product was signed off entirely before shipment. As with any process plant, the reliability and longevity of the plant operation are critical in terms of supporting the key sector's customers. From the very first engagements with TATA, it was abundantly clear to SES Engineering Services (SES) that this project needed to be built offsite, and as such, develop bespoke engineered offsite solutions of an unprecedented scale not seen before. Engaging with SES at the earliest opportunity was essential to the successful delivery of this project. Due to the extensive existing infrastructure and the requirement to build everything offsite, SES had to deploy e-ranging cloud scanning surveys of the existing services, which were used to inform the BIM model, allowing SES to influence every decision that was made and to maximise the offsite solutions remotely.

The considerable number of hours saved using offsite construction from a Construction Design and Management (CDM) safety improvement perspective, allowed SES to win the award for ‘Prevention for Safety’ which itself recognises the valuable contribution made to improving health and safety on construction projects. CDM was also crucial as the scale of these modules and the infrastructure in general, required extensive working at height – allowing people to work safely at a lowlevel in a controlled environment rather than at a high-level in a live process plant was a key driver. The extensive works taken offsite reduced the overall programme by over four months, an undeniable game changer. 

SES played an essential part in using extensive technology methods and bespoke engineered solutions to positively influence its clients and afford them the very best opportunity to visualise the benefits of building this scheme offsite. This emphasised the key role in providing cost, program, quality and safety certainty, which makes the SES business stand out as a significant contributor and supporter of offsite construction.

SES installed 10 ‘super modules’ in three days, with three deliveries per day. As the entire project was delivered offsite and with multiple repetition across modules, they were able to contain the waste, surplus pipework, containment and insulation and use this for other parts of other modules, all pipework and containment is computer-cut thereby reducing waste to an absolute minimum.

Ensuring that the offsite solution was not damaged in any way that could compromise the integrity of the structure or services was essential. Without offsite, this product could not have been delivered to this standard. There were some real complex solutions and interfaces with existing live services that required a huger effort in collaborative working. SES managed this process using the cloud scans, BIM modelling and the use of VR technology to fully visualise the key areas whilst working in the collaborative data environment.

In terms of energy efficiency and performance, one of the main benefits of the prefabrication strategy was the ability to recycle materials in-house as part of the production. This was a considerable improvement over sending waste directly to a landfill from a traditional construction site which is what would have occurred had we not used offsite. Also, the controlled environment of a factory allows for more accurate construction and engineering, better jointing of materials and pre-shipment strength tests of all materials to ensure integrity and no site works.

Taking the SES vision, and fully supporting the proposed solutions from the outset was a fundamental success of this project, which brought together engineering teams from Copenhagen, France and the UK whose close-working, collaborative process allowed creative thinking to be exercised and turned into bespoke offsite solutions in a very sharp and efficient manner.

To read the full article, go to Offsite Magazine

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