Multi-disciplinary engineering firm Spencer Group has delivered large-scale and challenging infrastructure projects to the rail industry for over three decades. Here, the Group’s Operations Director for M&E, Dan Whittle, writes about how its investment in M&E services has given the firm the edge to deliver these high-quality services in-house.
Multi-disciplinary engineering firm Spencer Group has delivered large-scale and challenging infrastructure projects to the rail industry for over three decades. Our in-house (M&E) team deliver mechanical and electrical installations on a wide range of rail schemes, from designing and building new platforms to constructing whole stations and depots.
Our M&E professionals work on projects across a range of engineering disciplines provided by the group including rail, bridges, industrial and building, positioning them at the forefront of key and innovative projects.
Our works on rail infrastructure encompass LV & HV supply and distribution, small power, OHLE, signalling power, telecoms, ventilation, data cabling, CCTV & security systems, fire alarm systems, pipework and pipe-racking, heating and water system installations, building management systems, gas services, depot services, CET, Ad-Blue, oil & lubricants, sanding and maintenance. These works can be undertaken on a wide range of projects from major rail maintenance projects and signalling control centre work, to state-of-the-art refurbishments and extensions.
A turnkey approach to rail depot systems
We are currently delivering M&E upgrades to several key rail depots in the UK. These include shed enhancements incorporating 5 car UFC and new offices at Etches Park for East Midlands Railway, a train warning system installation at Heaton TMD for Northern Rail, depot modifications for the arrival of the Fleet of Aventra 720/6 trains at East Ham and Shoeburyness depots on behalf of C2C and fuel road improvement works at Tyseley and Worcester depots.
As many rail depots often operate overnight, there is rarely a convenient time to provide infrastructure upgrades without causing some disruption to operations. With this in mind, Spencer Group’s M&E Services team works closely with Train and Freight Operating Companies and Principal Contractors to ensure their works causes minimal interference, often carrying out work on live sites while depots remain operational.
Our experienced planning team are critical in ensuring work is planned well in advance with all stakeholders including Network Rail, we have the ability to book possessions and line blockages, with broad experience in the use of Possession Planning System (PPS), Green Zone Access Planner and Network Rail Online Logistics (NROL).
Previous schemes at the Three Bridges Control Centre in Crawley, the Ipswich Chord double track railway, transforming services for depot operators at Cambridge Sidings and delivering the Stevenage Turnback Facility 12 months ahead of schedule, have all been successfully delivered by Spencer Group’s M&E specialist teams for clients including Network Rail, East Midlands Railway, Govia Thameslink Railway, Bombardier/Alstom, Great Western Railway, Siemens and Northern.
Spencer Group’s M&E services engineers and technicians have widespread experience in delivering complex M&E building services within oﬃces, stations and trackside buildings. The Group also specialises in new and refurbished stations, train servicing and maintenance depots and rail control centres, and undertaking designs in HV, LV distribution and signalling supplies.
The combination of in-house M&E design with civils and building skills ensures that the business is able to cater for any client requirement and also places Spencer Group in a unique position to deliver signiﬁcant eﬃciencies through Early Contractor Involvement (ECI).
Optimising the design solution
For clients seeking best value, Spencer Group can develop a number of early concept design options exploring a selection of cost scenarios and buildability analyses. This allows clients to seek out the most fitting and best-value final design. Once the optimum design solution is finalised, Spencer Group can undertake the planning; installation; commissioning and handover, reducing the number of interfaces for the client’s team to manage which results in a much more efficient process.
This ECI approach can yield much greater construction cost certainty and a significantly reduced risk/cost profile compared to traditional procurement routes. Often construction and mobilisation can commence far sooner due to the efficient transfer of knowledge and significant reduction of the procurement period resulting, from the adoption of an ECI approach.
Project SPEED ahead
In recent years at Spencer Group we have also looked to adopt the Project SPEED approach jointly developed by the Department for Transport and Network Rail in summer 2020. The SPEED (Swift, Pragmatic and Efficient Enhancement Delivery) approach was introduced by Network Rail with the aim to halve the timescales and slash the costs of project delivery to provide a better overall experience for service users.
Works at Stevenage during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic are a great example of the principles of SPEED. The project was delivered 18 months ahead of schedule despite Covid-19 challenges.
We are currently working at White Rose Station in Leeds where we aim to follow those SPEED principles, with extensive ECI works already undertaken to ensure buildability and where construction works are now underway.
The complete solution
As Operations Director for M&E Services at Spencer Group I have seen my career progress with the company, where I began in 2006 as an electrician before moving on to Site Engineer, then M&E Project Manager before taking up my current role. I believe we have the experience and personnel to provide a full turnkey solution for any M&E requirements in the industry.
This has been demonstrated on numerous projects where we have taken a client’s vison and brought it from feasibility through the design process and then to implementation and finally handback.
We’ve developed a team that can, when required, stand on its own. We also enjoy excellent relationships with supply partners, and this has been repeatedly proven with the work we deliver for our clients.
I believe what sets us apart from our competition is that while some businesses have to buy all of this expertise, we can call on it internally. Our investment in M&E systems has given us the edge to ensure that we can work really eﬀectively and provide high-quality M&E services in-house. We’ve seen a huge increase in orders through this growth period and are actively hiring for a range of roles within our M&E department.