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SSDA Awards

TNT FastTrack, Magna Park, Lutterworth

TNT UK Ltd needed a large distribution facility for its subsidiary TNT Retail Services to service Primark, a fashion retailer trading from over 100 high street locations in the UK. TNT believed that fitting out an existing building would be the only possibility in the time available, although the ideal solution would be a bespoke facility. However, this is an option now available through FastTrack – Gazeley Properties’ new concept in distribution developments – which offers a fully operational facility in 10-12 weeks. A typical contract for a bespoke building of this size takes 40 weeks.

FACT FILE: TNT FastTrack, Magna Park, Lutterworth
Architect: Chetwood Associates
Structural Engineer: Burks Green
Steelwork Contractor: Barrett Steel Buildings
Main Contractor: UKGSE
Client: Gazeley Properties

The project brief required the following work:

  • To design and build a 1,600 tonne steelframed distribution facility with a three and a half week erection programme, compared to a normal 15-week programme
  • Steel was the only material capable of meeting such a demanding programme
  • Detailed design development began only six weeks before the steelwork was due on site, so the 3-D design model progressed in tandem
  • “Speed engineering” was needed to maximise on-site production; rather than a traditional minimum weight design. In order to do this it was necessary to:
    – reconfigure the building layout, and span frames so as to maximise the working fronts during erection
    – design robust members with few restraints as they are faster to erect.
    – minimise the number of cold-rolled items as they require the most restraint by ancillary parts and slow down erection
    – minimise the number of pieces
    – minimise time working at high level to increase safety
  • A supply chain ethos was essential. The programme was not achievable through traditional tendering means, so Gazeley partnered its supply chain. The steelwork contractor also revised its supply chain: steel, erection, paint, bolts, transport, coldrolled purlins and rails were all partnered
  • Work with associates (e.g. the cladding contractor, door and dock-door company) was pre-agreed. Standard details were used to speed up design and drawing and eliminate interface problems
  • Follow-on trades required carefully phased hand-overs – the first, cladding, began after only four days
  • Effective project management was the key, with meticulous planning of the 85 loads of steelwork, delivered every two hours in erectable lots to a site team of 30 men, four cranes and 16 cherry pickers

The results

An extract from an on-site diary at the end of the fourth week of the building contract read: “The steel frame is blitzkrieging its way across the field, the Barrett boys have had a fantastic week’s production – 800 tonnes of steel erected, lined and levelled since they started seven days ago. We believe that this rate of production is a European, if not world, record, for on-site production of a portal framed building of this type. The organisation from factory through delivery to erection is as slick as can be.”

By day 20 the entire 1,600 tonne building was handed over to the main contractor, beating the programme by five days. This was achieved without compromising the most important factor on any building site, safety.

Ground conditions were close to perfect, a vital factor in the safe erection of steelwork. Exactly 12 weeks to the hour from when the first foundation was dug, TNT’s vehicles were being unloaded.

This project is a case study in the unique properties of steel allied to effective supply chain management. Both are vital for successfully meeting a unique challenge and producing a satisfied client.

Judges’ Comments:

A powerful team effort, which delivered a remarkably fast project, necessitated by the demands of a distribution business, but with no compromise in quality. A finely engineered solution, only possible in steel.

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