Posted: 9 September 2015
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On time for the NHS

Despite difficult conditions and unforeseen complications, a team of National Grid partners completed the diversion of a gas main at Rotherham Hospital on time and under budget.

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On time for the NHS

On time for the NHS

Despite the extra complications, the work at Rotherham Hospital was finished on time.

“If it hadn’t been for the water main, we would have finished well ahead of target. As it was, we still finished on time.”

Paul Leonard, tRIIO authorising engineer.

Insight:

This work, part of the hospital’s phased expansion, was carried out by the tRIIO consortium and National Grid’s Pipelines Maintenance Centre (PMC) over a three-month period to 30 June.

Source: National Grid.

Before Rotherham Hospital could start work on its new and innovative emergency centre – the first of its kind – an intermediate pressure (IP) gas main running close to the existing building at a depth of 2m had to be diverted.

This work, part of the hospital’s phased expansion, was carried out by the tRIIO consortium and National Grid’s Pipelines Maintenance Centre (PMC) over a three-month period to 30 June.

Paul Leonard_150x225

Paul Leonard, tRIIO authorising engineer.

It would have been completed earlier, said authorising engineer Paul Leonard EngTech MIGEM, had there not been a five-week delay to deal with a water main discovered during excavation.

The challenges of the job became apparent in meetings with the hospital trust before work started. The team would be digging a trench just 13m from the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department and across the ambulance access route to lay the new 6in pipe. Before they could start, they had to locate all the other underground utility pipes and cables carrying vital power supplies and other services to the hospital.

Highest standards

Safeguarding the wellbeing of hospital staff and users demanded the highest standards of health and safety, including best practice in gas fitting and testing.  Noise and dust levels had to be kept as low as possible.

“This being an NHS project, we were mindful of keeping costs down while ensuring we delivered the project safely and on time,” said Paul.

Using available drawings, ground-penetrating radar and test holes, the contractors came up with solutions that would save significant cost to the client and speed the progress of the job, aware that the slightest mistake could force a major evacuation of the hospital, with serious repercussions.

Mechanical excavation was not possible, so the team brought in vacuum excavation specialists who worked through extremes of weather, from heavy rain in the spring to unusually high temperatures in June. “Working conditions were very difficult,” said Paul.

Work suspended

Halfway through the operation, the excavators discovered a water main at a critical point on top of the old gas main. Work was suspended while they waited for a decision on whether to divert the water main.

“We had to stop the job for five weeks,” said Paul. “This meant shutting the site down. We were concerned this would affect the overall time scale.”

In the end, the water main – the hospital’s primary supply – was left untouched and tRIIO had to work around it, welding the connections, testing the new pipe and coating it before the trench was backfilled.

Communication paid off

The strong lines of communication established at the start of the project paid off at the point of commissioning the new pipe – and decommissioning the old one – when hospital users near the site had to be warned of a possible smell of gas. “We put control measures in with the hospital. It all worked extremely well,” said Paul.

Taking a proactive approach throughout with job with any unforeseen problems, such as the water main also contributed to its smooth progress.

“We knew the hospital had a deadline,” he said. “If it hadn’t been for the water main, we would have finished well ahead of target. As it was, we still finished on time.”

Looking ahead to FES 2018