Coming to this new-build decontamination and sterilisation unit once it had started on site as the new operational lead, Matthew Littlewood was always running to keep up. With the replacement of the legacy facility long overdue, achieving deadline was a well-founded concern (the inability to sterilise surgical instruments would halt operations in the city), as was made clear by the catastrophic failure of the old unit just 48 hours after the new one came on stream.
Combating delay, then, was Matthew’s main goal. The time lost to a late start to the enabling works was regained by sacrificing the programme float. It then became clear that not only was the subsoil on the brownfield site contaminated, but no cost uplift or time risk allowance had been allocated for it in the precontract despite the site investigation clearly identifying the contamination. Matthew resequenced again to avoid a change to the critical path – only to encounter an uncharted water pipe and gas main underneath the proposed foundations.
The critical path was in constant fluctuation during the progress of this project, with early warnings of issues that had the potential to delay contract completion reaching well into double figures.
Yet another setback came, 16 weeks before completion, when the dry lining and fire stopping contractor entered administration just as the fixing of plasterboard ceilings had got under way. With a third-party invasive survey finding a number of defects within the fire stopping joints, Matthew then lost five weeks to the removal and replacement of all the fire stopping.
By planning collaboratively and rallying the team, he was able to resequence and target areas on the critical path. Through perseverance, regular monitoring and readiness to let the programme evolve, he recovered the delay sufficiently to hand over on the completion date.
And in amongst that constant battle against time, Matthew made crucial quality interventions such as changing the plastic drainage to chemical pipes. Extra cost, certainly, but a no-brainer after his discovery that the temperature of the discharged water from the disinfectant washers and sterilisers would be 90 degrees, well beyond the plastic’s 70-degree distortion point.