Powering on

  • Speed and efficiency results in high praise for Laing O'Rourke team
  • Offsite quality checks provide product satisfaction on site
  • Digital model provides innovative solutions and enhances client access

Our project team at Wimbledon substation continue to receive praise from National Grid for the efficiency of their work, using innovative techniques and a real one team approach to tackle a number of early challenges. 

Bob Knott, responsible for the construction of the GIB building and all civil works, highlights the high standard and quality of the build. He said: “The quality checks can be done in the factory, so that every element or module that arrives on site has already been looked at, giving the construction and delivery teams a massive advantage on this project.” 

The use of a digital model has also given National Grid maximum access to the progress of the project throughout the early stages of its lifecycle. Site coordinator Steve Wheatcroft explains: “The model has been useful at all stages of the build, from initial meetings to actually using it on site to streamline various processes.” 

Finding innovative solutions 

Laing O’Rourke needed to connect supergrid transformers on the new substation to the existing National Grid site, on an extremely tight foot-print – sitting between industrial units to the north, a recycling facility to the west, Wimbledon greyhound stadium to the east and a live substation to the south. This required the use of above ground cabling, so the design team proposed a slender frame that would support the cables, provide four-hour fire resistance, but also allow full accessibility and worker maintenance access to each cable.

The cable containment was made up of modules, fabricated off site by CHt, and lifted into place by Select, these were then bolted together upon arrival at the substation site. This cabling frame was given seven days for completion within the overall power outage, but the team managed the installation in just two and a half days – marking a great achievement for the project. Bob adds, “essentially we used every part of the company as part of our one-team delivery approach, to ensure we provided the best manufacturing solution.” 

Benefits for customers built in

In addition to quality the team can also add sustainability as a major plus point of their work. Not only have National Grid awarded their first contract with carbon weighting to Laing O’Rourke, but the project is also on track to deliver a 23% carbon reduction and a £3m saving during the substation extension project - this equates to taking over 7,600 cars off the road for a year. By reducing the environmental impact of the construction work, the approach will also bring more value to customers and the end consumer.

Project leader Lodewyk de Clercq sums up overall progress to date. "Key to the client’s approval of the project’s delivery is the speed at which the team have been able to progress. I think the main thing for National Grid is the rate at which we’ve been able to build the structures for the transformer. In fact, we managed to reduce the installation time by about a third. National Grid have also been very pleased with Laing O’Rourke’s commitment to the Next Gear safety approach for teams on site. Our use of offsite manufacturing has ultimately allowed us to deliver a number of our initial milestones with fewer members of the team on site, which greatly reduces the risk of serious accidents occurring.”


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