The A14 story continues: Co-ordination is king

The A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme carried off three trophies at the 2020 Highways Awards - Road Enhancements and Marking Project of the Year, Major Project and the Judges' Special Merit Award. Behind all this success was a commitment to detail, co-ordination and collaboration, say the team at Keyline Civils.

Keyline Civils Specialist provided in-depth project support and co-ordinated the supply of civils and drainage products for Highways England's £1.5bn 21-mile A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme.

With a co-ordinated strategy and steadfast commitment to collaboration, the three-and-a-half-year project opened to traffic on 5th May 2020 - eight months ahead of schedule.

The project was delivered by the A14 Integrated Delivery Team (A14 IDT), a joint venture between contractors Costain, Skanska and Balfour Beatty and designers Atkins and Jacobs.

Tim Maskell, senior buyer for the A14 IDT said: 'We were keen to foster a collaborative relationship with our civils supplier that would provide the project benefits through a dependable single source of supply.'

Having worked with the three organisations before, Keyline was invited to tender. The rigorous selection process involved stakeholders from different disciplines within the A14 IDT and comprised a wide array of criteria including cost, health and safety, sustainability and social value.

Keyline provided full project management and logistics for the supply of materials. From the very outset managing all supplier negotiations, identifying the best product solutions and working with manufacturers to meet the budgetary and lead-time requirements. This removed the burden that would have usually been placed on the A14 IDT team of evaluating competing supplier offers.

For each product, Keyline established and managed lead-times to avoid availability issues that would have delayed the project. Furthermore, to support the A14 improvement scheme thre company significantly increased the stock levels at its Braintree, Norwich and Peterborough depots. These branches were chosen for their strategic value based on their proximity to the project sites.

The increased stock holding meant Keyline could react quickly and make deliveries of products needed at short notice to provide a first class service on ex-yard deliveries. A stock of key products was also established at each of the six compounds along the route, ensuring that sufficient quantities were available on site.

Additionally, Keyline was able to improve cost savings through bulk orders. By having full visibility of the project requirements, the team could make sure the products were delivered to schedule. This information was also used to allow full loads to be ordered, which ensured the best price was always secured.

By providing a dedicated point of contact with expertise and experience on similar large road projects, both the manufacturers and A14 IDT could direct their communications through a single contact team to help streamline the process - with this same support for solutions, pricing and supply, being extended to contractors working on the scheme.

Regular site visits were also made to understand what was working well and how improvements could be made, refine delivery schedules and improve lead-times to meet the needs of the sites.

Keyline also assisted with value engineering of various elements. For example, on the River Great Ouse viaduct section of the project, the team team reviewed the 750m span bridge’s drainage design alongside the relevant data and suggested revisions. These revisions achieved a cost saving of more than £100,000 while maintaining the necessary levels of performance.

Over the duration of the project, Keyline made more than 4,300 deliveries and supplied approximately £15m in materials. This included more than 100 miles of drainage products – both HDPE surface water pipe and precast concrete, 1.8 million square metres of geotextiles and 3,700 units of municipal castings - with Keyline taking full responsibility for the whole process.

Dave Walker, national sales manager at Keyline said: 'Our experience supplying similar road schemes, and the close relationships we maintain with the whole supply chain meant that we could manage the lead-times effectively and ensure product availability. By projecting the demand for product as well – we were able to generate cost savings.'

An additional benefit of using Keyline was its ability to deliver products using its fleet of FORS Gold civils specific vehicles - a requirement on Highways England projects where suppliers must have Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) Silver level or higher to deliver to the site.

Throughout the project, the A14 IDT carried out 360° performance reviews with its partners to assess a wide variety of criteria including quality, efficiency, health and safety, sustainability and collaboration. Beginning from a good position, Keyline’s scores against these metrics improved steadily and reached a level the A14 IDT defined as ‘world-class service’.

Finally, the A14 improvement scheme aimed to deliver an element of social value and a positive legacy. The Keyline team participated in charity work in the local area, including supplying materials free of charge and donating their time to help with renovation work for the East Anglia's Children's Hospice. Furthermore, as a partner of Prostate Cancer UK, it raised awareness of the disease through on-site talks and encouraged those in the at-risk age group to be screened.

Tim Maskell added: 'Keyline became an extension of our organisation and added real value to the project. The team’s experience, support and hard work throughout was a key part of why we were able to deliver the project on budget and ahead of schedule.'

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