Ramboll UK completes work on world's largest Victorian glasshouse

21 May 2018 Consultancy.uk

As regeneration efforts continue to preserve the valuable biological and botanical legacy of Kew’s famous gardens, Ramboll UK has become the latest consulting firm to play a leading role in the project. The engineering firm oversaw the repair and improvement of Kew’s Temperate House, the largest Victorian glasshouse in the world, which opened its doors again in May 2018.

Kew’s Royal Botanic Gardens have been one of the UK’s top destinations for naturalists and the plant and fungi lovers among the general public for generations. The gardens, which are situated in Kew in West London and Wakehurst in Sussex, provide visitors and plant researchers with a haven to explore the diversity of plants. The locations attracted around 1.6 million visitors a year prior to their redevelopment, and were supported by a staff of around 800.

In total Kew hosts around 180,000 living plants, over two billion wild plant seeds at the Millennium Seed Bank and a historic library collection. As a result, Kew is also active in research, with more than 140 papers making their way into high impact journals last year. The dual tourist/research nature of the Kew’s economy means that it effectively raise awareness on key issues, from loss of biodiversity to how plants affect human well-being.

Ramboll UK completes work on world's largest Victorian glasshouse

Lately, the gardens have been part of a major redevelopment project. As part of this, engineering and design consultancy Ramboll has been engaged in a 5-year, £41 million restoration project on Kew Garden’s Temperate House, which reopened to the public in May 2018. The Temperate House has been home to a selection of the world’s rarest endangered plants since 1863, however the Grade I listed building and UNESCO World Heritage site had deteriorated since previous restorations, the last of which occured in 2012, and had been closed to the public and placed on the Heritage at Risk register.

After an emergency fund-raising campaign, including an injection from the Heritage Lottery fund, in 2013 Turner & Townsend appointed Ramboll as lead consultant and conservation engineer to develop a scheme of fundamental repair and modernisation of key features. Initially it had been proposed to dismantle, repair and rebuild the entire structure – which would have jeopardised the entire project due to its major expensive – however Ramboll proposed that instead only the glazing system should be removed, so that work to the structural frame could be performed from scaffolding with minimal deconstruction. The much more cost-effective solution has resulted in improvements in daylight and ventilation, restoration of the opening lights used for ventilation, and the installation of a new building management system to enable greater environmental control within the building – better securing its precious environmental contents.

Mike Mittendorfer, Ramboll’s project lead, commented, ”The structure presented some unique and interesting engineering and conservation challenges. There was considerable corrosion and decay in the extensive wrought iron, cast-iron and steelwork comprising the structural frame. We are proud to see our innovative approach help return this very unique structure to its former glory and celebrate its vital role in preserving some of the world’s most important natural hertiage.”

Richard Barley, Director of Horticulture at RBG Kew, added, "Over the past few months, I have watched as some of the world's rarest plants finally reach their home. And what a home it will be - a glistening cathedral, the new glass allowing the sun to stream in, the ironwork restored to its glossy best.”

Recently Kew also appointed consultancy Mott MacDonald to lead a multidisciplinary team as part of redevelopment plans. The firm was drafted in for its expertise in building, structural and civil engineering, project management and cost advisory to deliver the project’s goals, including the refurbishment of iconic buildings such as Kew’s Victorian Palm House, designing and building new nurseries and catering facilities, and critical infrastructure projects at both sites.

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How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.