Thanks to the application of ‘Value Assured Engineering’ (VAE) by Firstco, technical consultancy, project management and systems integration specialists, the Heathrow Express station at Heathrow’s new Terminal 5 has seen an initial systems budget of £25m reduced to an anticipated final cost of £19m – thus saving some 25 per cent on the overall cost of the project.
According to Firstco’s managing director, Bill Martin: “This application of VAE, combined with Firstco’s use of superior products and the latest technology, has ensured the success of the project at every level.”
Martin added that VAE offers clients an alternative method of systems procurement and delivery. By separating the three primary elements of a typical large systems project and applying individual expertise to each of them, a more commercially focused solution can be obtained.
Mark Calnan, Firstco’s chairman, explained: “Traditionally, because of their perceived difficulty, systems projects are often awarded to a single major manufacturer. This appears to give the client a ‘one stop shop’ solution, with the selected manufacturer offering all the required elements ‘in house’ and so ensuring continuity of design throughout the various sub-systems.
“However, history shows this is not always the case.
“When large companies are given complete control of systems projects, they tend to use their own products and solutions. These may not be the most suitable solutions for the individual project and can lack innovation,” Calnan added.
“There is little or no incentive to drive down costs and members of the design team feel less responsibility for the project. All these factors can mean that the client does not get the best available technical solution at the most economic price.
“On the other hand, we believe that the VAE approach gives the optimum structure for managing the overall supply of a successful systems project,” he said. “And this has been justified in the case of the Heathrow Express station at Heathrow’s new Terminal 5.”
“VAE has a number of advantages – including tangible cost savings and a fully assured design,” said Martin.
“The equipment selected is the best available and not limited to one manufacturer or one technology. A concerted effort to achieve and exceed the project’s requirements is guaranteed and the project will be delivered on time and within budget.
“VAE means ‘best in class’ systems engineered at the lowest cost by specialist multidisciplinary teams,” he continued. “It ensures the optimal mix of technologies instead of slavish adherence to boilerplate products from one manufacturer.
“As our experience has shown, there is unconstrained innovation and a real commitment to achieving and exceeding the client’s requirements.”
About Value Assured Engineering (VAE)
The three primary elements of VAE are:
• Engineering Design
• Assurance / Compliance
• Cost Management
By forming a team, drawing expertise from each of these disciplines, the client is able to realise huge potential savings in overall delivery costs. The team is headed by a Project Manager - who could be a member of the client team - assisted by planners and other support staff depending on the project’s size.
All three teams are specialists in their respective disciplines, have a definite structure and lines of communication – and are responsible for value, assurance and engineering. The teams have the ability to be expanded to suit the size of the project.
The Cost Management team has expertise with specific systems knowledge. It provides detailed equipment and labour budgets, cost control and earned value reporting throughout the project life cycle, together with the procurement of specialist packages.
The Assurance team deals with the capture of design, standards, safety, CDM, EMC, RAMs and human factors – along with traceability, change control and document control.
Firstco provides the Engineering team, with responsibility for conceptual and detailed design, asset management, procurement specifications, sub-contract management, commissioning, operator and maintenance manuals, operator and maintainer training and optional maintenance.
For further details on the VAE model, contact Firstco: 00 44 (0)207 034 0833.
Established in 1998, Firstco is now a major force in the areas of technical consultancy, project management and systems integration. Working in a range of industries – notably transport, especially rail installations and airports; power and construction – Firstco specialises in controls and communication solutions for assignments of all sizes from buildings through to large scale infrastructure projects.
Firstco’s in-house team includes specialists in: electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, software engineering, consulting, project management and commissioning management.
Through its core services of consultancy, system delivery and project management, Firstco provides its clients with a total solution - from concept to commissioning and maintenance, based on collaboration and integration with clients and partners.
Its mission is to advise, deliver and support high quality control and communications solutions that improve transport and workplace environments, create value for clients and make a positive difference to their end users.
Firstco’s approach is based on four core values:
• Service Excellence - achieving client confidence by truly understanding the business drivers and the project requirements, delivering the agreed solution to plan, managing issues and communicating clearly and regularly - while being easy to do business with and enjoyable to work with.
• Integrity - applying professional and technical expertise to ensure the right solution for the right reasons, as well as being open, honest and fair in all of its dealings.
• Teamwork - deploying the right blend of talent and experience to get the job done, and integrating effectively with client and third party personnel and activities.
• Development - continually seeking to enhance its own capabilities and processes, enabling it to remain innovative and challenging - and sharing this with its clients.
Firstco’s clients include: BAA Heathrow Airport Ltd; Esso Petroleum; Heathrow Express Operating Company; London Underground Ltd; Standard Life Assurance; Morgan Stanley; Arup Associates; Balfour Kilpatrick; Landis & Gyr; London Electricity Services, Mott MacDonald, Crown House and Transmanche Link.
Further information from:
David Bligh / Rupert Exham, Firstco, +44 (0)207 034 0833