Two recent projects – one in Canterbury and one in Watford – demonstrated how partnerships within the supply chain could drive new efficient ways of working. We report.
Pressures facing the construction industry in 2022 require new approaches to supply chain management and new ways of addressing challenges. And as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite, and energy bills put further pressures on household budgets, the role energy-efficient buildings play in mitigating those challenges are coming under greater scrutiny.
In two recent projects involving companies that manufacture windows using profile from Deceuninck, new approaches to project management realised new efficiencies that cut the time on site (despite Covid restrictions) cut costs, and introduced more energy efficient products.
According to John Duckworth, Head of Commercial Sales at Deceuninck (pictured above), having an open mind about the integration of a project’s separate elements is vital to avoiding significant pitfalls, such as project delays and installation errors.
“Today, it is more evident than ever before that the technical expertise and knowledge required to complete sometimes very challenging jobs are coming from the specialist suppliers,” John says. “As result, we are seeing greater collaboration earlier on in the life of a project to iron out issues and maximise opportunities.”
New frontiers for offsite construction
Deceuninck fabricator Dempsey Dyer was involved in the construction of new student accommodation at The Riverside at Canterbury. The company delivered 666 Deceuninck 2500 Heritage Chamfered windows over a two-year period as part of a £115 million mixed-use development, and was involved in every stage of the project – design, build and delivery.
In a bid to drive efficiency and quality, and to overcome obstacles, Dempsey Dyer pioneered new ways of working including shipping products and expertise between continents.
Main contractor Bouygues UK wanted to drive a new approach to modular building, and enlisted the help of Dempsey Dyer as its fenestration partner. To ensure the windows fitted the modular build efficiently, Dempsey Dyer worked closely with Deceuninck, which was also involved in the architect’s drawings and submission.
Bouygues UK moved the construction of the student accommodation pods to Rabat in Morocco. Once constructed, these were shipped back to the UK where they were assembled on site. This took place over a 12-week period.
To ensure the safe transit of the windows to Morocco, Dempsey Dyer designed a crate to suit the window sizes, and the windows slotted down inside the crate. These were then loaded into shipping containers, which were transported by lorry to the port at Dover, before being shipped to Casablanca in Morocco. From there they were transported by lorry to Rabat, where the factory was located.
Dempsey Dyer’s Project Manager Anna Cusworth and Installation Manager Steve Burton spent two weeks in Rabat in Morocco to teach the construction workers at the modular construction factory how to install windows correctly.
“The workmanship in the factory in Morocco during our time there far exceeded the standard we see in UK construction,” Anna says. “Modular build enables a level of quality that is much harder to produce in the UK due to the nature of a construction site and all that affects it – weather, access, tolerances of all trades.”
As the pods were constructed and returned to the UK, they were assembled on site in Canterbury, where Dempsey Dyer installed bespoke cills for each window.
The main challenge facing all parties on the project was the restriction on movement following the Covid outbreak. This meant that during the design phase, Dempsey Dyer worked alongside the design teams from other organisations via Teams.
“In theory this was considered a negative, but in practice it worked exceptionally well, and it was a big positive for the project because most problems were ironed out thanks to swift collaboration,” Anna says.
Reduced cost, improved performance
Cortland Cassiobury on Ascot Road in Watford, is a 485-home build-to-let scheme, developed by American-based Cortland. The first phase of the project involved the construction of five multi-storey blocks, the largest of which has 23 floors.
Having passed the planning process with aluminium windows, the client later sought to cost-engineer the project. FastFrame was approached for an opinion after architects saw completed FastFrame projects using Linktrusion profile from Deceuninck. The architects liked the fact that Linktrusion products could replicate the look and size of aluminium windows, but at a reduced cost.
After winning the tender process, FastFrame took on full design responsibility for the building’s interfaces, allowing the fabricator to ensure the building envelope was fully weathertight, fit for purpose, and had no inherent defects for the completed build.
FastFrame worked with Deceuninck to prove that the windows and patio doors were fit for purpose on the higher floors – one block was 23 storeys high. This included demonstrating that the products would cope with the higher wind pressure at the greater height, and that they would be weathertight. This was completed via testing and simulation programmes.
FastFrame supplied products for 1,872 apertures across all five blocks. These include: Deceuninck 5000 tilt and turn windows – Decoroc-coated in Umbra Grey; Balcony doors manufactured using a fibre-glass reinforced profile (Linktrusion) from Deceuninck, which allowed them to go up to 1,100mm wide and 2,400mm high, and can’t be achieved in PVCU; Decalu Patio Doors from Deceuninck, which were colour-matched with the PVCU products; and all the aluminium cills.
FastFrame is the only UK fabricator to manufacture Deceuninck’s full PVCU range, including Linktrusion which is reinforced using fibre glass. This allows windows and doors to go to larger sizes where PVCU wouldn’t typically be considered. Linktrusion also comes in at about 60% of the cost of aluminium. FastFrame is also the only company outside Belgium to apply Deceuninck’s unique Decoroc coating to products, which matches aluminium powder coating for looks and performance.
Due to complications on site and the restrictions brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic, windows were not required on site until six months later than originally planned. Rather than pushing back the end date, FastFrame helped to bring the completion date forward, so a two-year project was completed in a year and a quarter.
FastFrame worked closely with the installation team – APW Installations – so that product was delivered on time. Part of the strategy to bring forward the completion date was that the five blocks were built concurrently rather than consecutively, which required careful negotiation between the different parties on site.