When the school bell rang on the first day of the first term in 2011, construction company Hansen Yuncken had the majority of its school projects—halls, classrooms, libraries, offices—ready for students’ use.
The projects in question were all part of the Federal Government’s Building the Education Revolution (BER) program, implemented as part of the government’s response to economic downturn. At a basic level, Hansen Yuncken’s role in BER comes to more than 300 projects in 204 New South Wales schools, with numerous projects also in Queensland and South Australia.
The foremost challenge is tackling all the projects simultaneously in a relatively short timeframe, without the benefit of precedent. “It’s not the standard major capital works delivery for the NSW Government, so the establishment of the guidelines, the parameters, have been developed as we have proceeded,” explains Matt O’Grady, program manager at Hansen Yuncken.
The company worked with the NSW Integrated Program Office (IPO) to develop suitable procedures that addressed each phase through to construction and also enveloped the communication of those phases with the schools.
Complicating matters was the fact that in addition to constructing new school facilities, the firm also had to undertake more than $100 million worth of refurbishments, which represented about a quarter of the BER projects. This meant finding a way to improve existing facilities safely, while the schools were still operational.
“Adopting our processes and procedures and working with the IPO to get a more efficient approach in that area of work—rather than just building a fence and putting up a new structure and moving the kids in afterwards—was a large component of our need for flexibility,” says Michael Parkes, stakeholder manager at Hansen Yuncken.
To attain this flexibility, the company used specialist construction software Asta Powerproject and a GIS management system to control and manage all the information from all the projects in the various schools.
Considering the numerous stakeholders—from subcontractors and staff, to the school community and neighbourhood—it also had to make sure it had processes in place to track all the issues being raised, says O’Grady. “That’s where we developed a database system to capture all the issues that were being raised and had a process to track them to close them out.”
This tracking system also enabled them to ensure that subcontracted work was delivered as required. “One thing that distinguishes our approach is our procurement. We have procured the vast majority of our work directly through subcontractors. Our approach was to investigate how our subcontractors were tracking, to ensure that we were going to deliver through that method of procurement,” O’Grady notes.
Not only did this provide work for others, thereby increasing the reach of the government’s stimulus money, but it also extended the company’s subcontractor base for future projects.