Early design integration can bring efficiencies to healthcare construction

Brian Mulgrew, sales development executive at Acheson & Glover (AG) explains how integrating design teams early in the construction process can save clients time and money

Integrating engineers into the design process early on can have a positive impact on construction timescales and cost

Over the past 15 years the healthcare sector has seen major investment, with the replacement of many hospitals throughout the country, and a switch from large new-build projects to refurbishments and expansions to existing hospital buildings.

The focus has also shifted from the acute hospital sector to primary and community care facilities, including GP surgeries and mental health centres.

In an industry where overall quality project standards should never be compromised, cutting corners is not an option, so smart planning at the beginning of a project is the best method for reducing the costs of a project and making cost-effective savings

And, while all this is taking place, advancement in building technology and modern medical equipment has led to increased expectations of patients and higher demand for new state-of-the-art, purpose-built facilities.

The most-pressing issue in healthcare building programmes today is cost and funding.

Cost escalation has dramatically increased over the years, with some recent studies stating the cost of a healthcare facility built today is double that of the same facility built in 2002.

In an industry where overall quality project standards should never be compromised, cutting corners is not an option, so smart planning at the beginning of a project is the best method for reducing the costs of a project and making cost-effective savings, especially with regards to time-on-site costs.

Many healthcare providers are seeing a change in the make-up of the build team – which now usually incorporates engineers, designers and builders, creating a project-delivery team which delivers more value.

Embracing value-led engineering solutions at the beginning of the construction process will develop a deeper understanding of the project’s specifications and requirements; resulting in a project that often comes in under budget and under the estimated timeframe.

Many healthcare providers are seeing a change in the make-up of the build team – which now usually incorporates engineers, designers and builders, creating a project-delivery team which delivers more value

Integrating design engineers early on will allow for invaluable advice and expertise, which can cut costs in the long term. They can advise, not only on products that are cost-effective, but ones that will best meet the scheme’s specifications.

When calculating the cost of a new project and the equipment being installed, it is important to go one step further by identifying areas where there is scope to increase efficiencies through on-site automation and machine installation.

By using products that have been optimised for machine installation rather than traditional manual construction methods, contractors are able to complete projects more efficiently to specific deadlines.

For example, AG recently optimised one of its best-selling products, Anchor Vertica, to ensure the segmental retaining wall solution is fully compatible with on-site machine installation.

Targeted towards large and small projects within the healthcare, residential, commercial and transport / infrastructure sector, Anchor Vertica was originally designed to tackle difficult installation areas such as steep, sloping hillsides.

With enhanced factory-instilled geosynthetic reinforcement ensuring superior characteristics compared to natural stone, Anchor Vertica blocks meet and surpass industry standards for strength and durability. The walls can be built to virtually any height in incredibly-tight spaces, thanks to patented built-in alignment locators and a near-vertical rise for less excavation and land loss.

This product that has been optimised for machine-installation rather than traditional manual construction methods. Anchor Vertica is much faster, with the capacity to transport two blocks at one time and has zero downtime due to external factors such as the weather because the blocks do not require mortar. Machine-installed solutions are also superior in terms of a health and safety standards as they reduce risks around human error and accidents.

There are factors that make construction and renovation difficult and costly, but integrating the entire team at the beginning of the process can overcome the challenges involved with healthcare construction

Design engineers can look at how the programme can be improved, advise on the appropriate materials, and can speed up the process. And early involvement can ensure delivery slots are organised early and efficiently, as these can often be limited due to the busyness of the environment.

AG’s specification experts work closely with project teams to ensure measurement, manufacturing and installation are synchronised meticulously.

There are factors that make construction and renovation difficult and costly, but integrating the entire team at the beginning of the process can overcome the challenges involved with healthcare construction.

Working with experienced design engineers who understand the project’s goals will deliver the most value, as they can effectively identify innovative solutions and co-create the scheme, within the specified timeframe and budget.

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