Schneider Electric saves time and adds value for Birmingham Schools

Schneider Electric saves time and adds value for Birmingham Schools

Working on behalf of Birmingham City Council, Transform Schools, a consortium comprising Balfour Beatty Capital, Building Design Partnership, Haden FM, Balfour Kilpatrick and BM, recently awarded Balfour Kilpatrick a £22 million contract to design, supply and install electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems for ten new schools.

Looking for an innovative approach that would combine flexibility and performance with economy, Balfour Kilpatrick invited Schneider Electric to submit proposals for equipment to be used for the electrical content of the contract. The requirements included main switchboards, sub-distribution panels, final distribution boards and wiring accessories worth, in total, £300,000.

The offer submitted follows the principles of modern methods of construction (MMC) advocated by the Egan Report on the building industry. The complete solution included equipment from the Square D and Clipsal brands of Schneider Electric, together with final distribution products developed jointly by Schneider Electric and ieland.

A key innovation was that the products would form the basis of a plug-in installation, from the final distribution boards to the furthest point of each final circuit. Since no conventional wiring would be needed from this point, this approach had the potential to offer big savings.

In addition, most of the equipment including, for example, the final distribution boards would be delivered to site as factory built assemblies – in other words pre-wired and 100% type tested, ready for immediate installation.

The modular plug-in approach delivered a number of important benefits. For example, it allowed a high degree of cost certainty at an early stage, making preparation of the final bid documents faster and easier, and it also reduced bidding costs. Overall programme times needed for the work were also cut, allowing the project’s very tight deadlines to be met with ease.

Additional benefits included greater flexibility with site labour, as the skills needed to install plug-in equipment are significantly less than those needed to install equipment with conventional wiring; easier maintenance; lower costs, as only standard products are used; and enhanced safety, as the installation uses type-tested equipment throughout.

The plug-in solution has made possible enormous savings in installation time. According to a study carried out by Mark Beardmore of Balfour Kilpatrick, 8-, 12- and 24-way distribution boards now all take around 2.5 hours to install and connect. With conventional techniques, the times required are nearer to 55, 65 and 90 hours respectively.

The study also revealed that, with the new system, a two-storey primary school could be wired by four men in just two days from start to finish.

The amount of waste produced during the assembly of the equipment is reduced, the need for packaging is minimised, and the equipment required at each site can usually be supplied in a single delivery. Furthermore, the equipment is supplied in re-usable packaging, and it complies fully with the requirements of the European WEEE Directive. Finally, all manufacturing is carried out under environmental management systems certified to ISO14001.

For further information about Schneider Electric:
Connie Taylor - External Communication Executive
Schneider Electric Ltd, Stafford Park 5, Telford, Shropshire, TF3 3BL
Tel: (01952) 209 226

Press enquiries:
The Bright Consultancy Limited, 10 St Catherine's Court, Herbert Road, Solihull, West Midlands B91 3QE
Tel: (0121) 711 5000
Fax: (0121) 711 5001

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