Case Study: SRB Civil Engineering

UKAS certification ensures quality results

Project

The A477 trunk road is a major route that forms part of the Trans European Road network, linking the United Kingdom and Europe to West Wales and Ireland via the ferry port at Pembroke Dock. 

Valued at an estimated cost of £47.3m, the A477 St. Clears to Red Roses Improvement scheme started on 31 January 2012. The 9.3km scheme was designed to improve road alignment, increase safety standards and improve journey times and reliability. 

Back in September 2009, the Welsh Assembly Government appointed SRB Civil Engineering Ltd (SRB), as the Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) ¹  for the Scheme. SRB is a joint venture company, formed in 2002 with two of Ireland’s leading civil engineering contractors, Roadbridge and John Sisk & Son. 

Founded in 1967, Roadbridge operates in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Poland, South Pacific and the Middle East. It has a proven track record for delivering major projects in the transport, renewables and energy, utilities, commercial, industrial, waste management and leisure sectors – on time and on budget. The company’s core ethos: “Not just to meet client expectations, but to exceed them, making us the partner clients want to work with.” 

John Sisk & Son is a family business, with more than 150 years’ experience, and operations in the United Kingdom, Poland and the United Arab Emirates. It is a member of the international SISK Group. The company applies rigorous quality control throughout the life of each construction project: “We take our quality, safety and environmental responsibilities extremely seriously and pride ourselves on our standards and record, a shared commitment laid out in our Zero philosophy.”   

Challenge

Environment protection, heritage conservation, and bad weather conditions throughout much of 2012 and 2013, were major construction challenges. 

While major reprogramming maintained progress, the challenges could have seriously affected work projections. However, Celtest’s pro-active analysis, and quality testing enabled the project to stay on track. 

As Roland Tarrant, Roadbridge Quality Manager says, “UKAS certification of all testing was a major project requirement. Celtest’s UKAS certification and experience were major factors in them being appointed as our testing house.” 

The poor weather, in particular, meant that fast and accurate testing was essential to gauge material quality and its suitability for various construction requirements. To ensure material remained suitable for use, initial plans were amended to suit the particular soil types and the weather. This included working on rock areas as opposed to clay areas for much of the poor weather, and requiring haul routes to be constructed through the site from granular material won from cuttings.

SRB ensured a sustainable approach throughout the project:

Results

From 2012 to project completion, Celtest had up to four technicians working on the site, testing soil, concrete, cement-bound granular material and bituminous material. 

Due to the fast-changing project requirements, operatives needed to be fully prepared and capable as soon as they were on site. Roadbridge had previously worked with Celtest, and knew the company’s excellent reputation. 

We are particular when it comes to testing houses, as we’ve had a number of poor experiences with other testing labs in the past,” says Roland Tarrant. “On a number of occasions, Celtest’s testing facilities and materials’ knowledge were major factors in allowing us to make essential on-site decisions.” 

He adds that Celtest site personnel gained an immediate understanding of the project’s needs, were very helpful, and integrated quickly into the team: “The personnel sent to site were willing to work within our team and take instruction and also suggest improvements. Timekeeping was excellent – often a point of contention with sub-contractors.” 

Celtest’s pro-active approach included the support and materials knowledge back at the Bangor head office. 

As Roland Tarrant comments, “We felt very secure knowing that Gwynfor and Hefin were always available to provide extra, knowledgeable backup if necessary. For example, we faced some issues with a CBGM production proposal from site-won rock. The Celtest head office support allowed us to make informed decisions when deciding a way forward.” 

Conclusion

Under the Considerate Constructors Scheme, the A477 St Clears to Red Roses Improvement site received regular external, independent audits. The Code of considerate practice covers how the site maintains a good appearance, how it works with the local community, how the environment is protected, how the safety of workers and visitors is ensured and how the welfare of workers on the site is maintained. 

The site secured a Bronze award in the national site awards in 2013, placing it in the top 10% of considerate construction sites (CCS) in the UK. After a January audit the following year, the site subsequently won a national CCS Silver award for 2014. 

SRB worked within a stringent ISO9001, ISO14001 and OHSAS 18001 integrated management system. Roland Tarrant adds, “Our organisation places a high emphasis on safety, and there were no issues with Celtest personnel.” 

As Roland Tarrant concludes: “Celtest’s on-site and off-site testing is consistently professional, always with the emphasis on providing accurate results above everything else. The company was an essential part of the project.” 

He adds, “Throughout the project, we were always confident that Celtest’s testing was always of the highest possible standards. In my experience, this is not something we can ever compromise on.” 

¹ Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) contracts: This form of contract allows supplier engagement at an early stage of a project, in order to draw in industry experience at the design and preparation stages. ECI contracts remain an option for major highways schemes where there is significant scope for input from the supply chain. Suppliers’ engagement will be on a partnering basis. Their knowledge and abilities to influence project decisions will have maximum impact in terms of project timing, quality and cost.
Source: Gov.UK. Guidance: The Highways Agency; tendering for projects. 
ONLINE: gov.uk/the-highways-agency-tendering-for-projects Accessed April 2014.

Site Testing

On-site materials testing from Celtest

Laboratory Testing

Laboratory materials testing from Celtest

test

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