Structural Steel Fabrication - London Bridge

With the steelwork being on the London Bridge project’s critical path, any problems encountered by Bourne Group had a knock-on impact to the rest of the programme, so it was important to keep whole project team happy.

Structural steel fabrication and installation on the Thameslink Programme

Structural steelwork at London Bridge station included:

  • Temporary platform canopies.
  • Structural steel in for the retail and ticket office concourse units.

The London Bridge Challenge

Bourne Group provided structural steel for the retail fit-out of London Bridge Station Redevelopment. The redevelopment project was carried out in two phases. The first phase covered the southern two thirds of the concourse. The second phase saw the northern end of the concourse open later to the travelling public.

Bourne Group also provided structural steelwork including staircases and decking to staff accommodation blocks. Bourne were also involved in works such as the temporary platform canopies at the beginning of the project and refurbishment of the old building.

Due to the tight space on site and the large number of contractors involved, the construction of the steelwork had many challenges. Much of the steel came in at ground level and had to be manually lifted and manoeuvred into place using spider cranes and on skids.

This had implications for time, cost and most importantly safety as these were large items of steelwork that needed to be moved.

Lessons from London Bridge – get quality right first time and focus on procurement

There were two phases of the handover to the station’s operational team. The first phase handed over on time, but it became clear afterwards that things were not done in the best way and this had led to mistakes. At the second phase handover, the team was still essentially formed of the same people so all the errors during the first phase had been learnt and this made it a much smoother process.

With the steelwork being an item on the London Bridge project’s critical path, any problems encountered by Bourne Group had a knock-on impact to the rest of the programme, so it was important to keep whole project team happy.

For a project of this scale, the procurement must have vision to ensure that during the actual construction, when the steel frame was ready, critical parts were also procured for the electricians, plumbers and cladders etc. to interface with. This avoids re-work and major delays.

Recommendations

Get the interfacing trade draftsmen together at an early stage

The lesson here is to get all the different types of off-site draftsmen from each of the trades involved right from the beginning. Literally get them all in the same room. The Interface between these different contractors is needed right from the start to ensure the smooth design phase of the project.

By the time the second phase was reached, things were a lot better and the amount of costly retrofit work was reduced. Because the same teams were still involved and now knew one-another, it was possible to have a meeting with interface contractors (and work out who interfaced with who) and take the contact details of the interfacing trades at an early stage. The result was that a higher percentage of work could be done correctly first time.

It is important that for any future projects wanting to get this right that they provide a platform for draftsmen to communicate at the beginning.

Another future recommendation from Bourne Group is that having inter-operable systems that allow everyone on a project to communicate with each other is critical. So much time was wasted with incompatible BIM modelling files and data. Whatever system is chosen must also be user friendly to ensure buy-in at all levels.