CEW Award Winners 2013 - Integration & Collaboration: Size Does Not Matter – Collaboration Does

Often the biggest and most complex of projects either suffer from organisational failure or succeed to such a degree that they become renowned examples of best practice

19th February 2014

That is exactly what happened at Harbour Way – the final section of the Port Talbot peripheral distributor road.

At £107m it is the largest transport project for Wales since the building of the M4 motorway and a vital link not only to West Wales and the motorway network, but to mainland Europe. It is a technically complex project with important multiple stakeholders including Tata Steel, Network Rail and client Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council (NPTCBC). 

As lead contractor it fell to Costain to make the project work and along with the Council, design consultants Arup and key supply-chain partners achieved a remarkable degree of integration. Not only did their work help complete 4.5km of dual carriageway, two new site entrances for the Tata steelworks and the construction of a major road bridge over the main Swansea to London railway line it won the CEW Award for Integration & Collaboration in 2013 and the CE National Award.

Where ever possible the team sought to break down barriers between the different organisations. BIM was used on the scheme from the outset; team members were co-located in an open-plan office and common processes and tools developed, such as a web-based file sharing portal and a contract change management system accessible to client and contractor. What developed was a collaborative one-team approach that was invaluable in terms of managing change and solving problems. For example, a target of £15m of savings was set early on; the team worked together to achieve it by realigning roads, reducing the width of embankments and devising alternative construction methods. The one-team set up really helped collaboration with key external stakeholders, particularly Tata and Network Rail and it led to innovative practical and sustainable solutions.

The local community also benefitted from dealing with one consolidated team, thanks to the appointment of a full time community relations manager and a communication and public relations strategy prepared by the Harbour Way team. Stakeholders, including local residents, were kept informed of progress and potential disruption from a single source. The project has supported more than 40 local initiatives, raised more than £12,000 for local charities and dedicated more than 2,000 man-hours in community benefits activities.

This is what makes Harbour Way stand out – not the scale of the project, but the manner in which it demonstrated how integration and collaboration delivers great results for everyone involved in the scheme.