Before a single blade of grass was moved at Hinkley Point C, extensive pre-planning work was undertaken to ensure logistics for the site could be delivered safely and effectively. The sheer scale and complexity of logistics required is phenomenal.
This is where the experience and local knowledge of North Somerset based Osprey came in to provide marine and heavy logistics advance consultation to look at the challenges related to delivering large and heavy items to the site.
That was over 6 years ago, and today Portishead headquartered Osprey are still engaged with HPC completing live operations under NEC3 contract to Tier 1 & 2 suppliers. For the past 18 months they’ve been involved with port logistics at Avonmouth Dock ensuring large components are safely funnelled into the holding areas ahead of being installed offshore – a task easier said than done.
“Our Projects team have handled thousands of tonnes of structural steelwork for the 490 metre long jetty that Costain are building in the Bristol Channel. When complete it will accept marine deliveries of aggregate used in the production of nuclear quality concrete” explains John O’Connor, Commercial Director at Osprey.
This work requires highly specialised assets, all of which Osprey owns within its UK fleet, including: heavy lift barges, four heavy-lift cranes and over 100 axle lines of SPMT (Self Propelled Modular Transporter). Behind the equipment are experienced project managers, engineers and skilled operators. It’s a unique package which differentiates Osprey.
Huge steel jetty piles, some weighing over 140 tonnes have arrived by ship from all over the world which Osprey have unloaded and positioned in a muster port facility in Avonmouth Docks ready for sequenced dispatch.
“Many items we have then re-loaded into specially designed frames onboard delivery vessels, some items we lifted into water for float-away delivery. Long before the equipment arrived we completed the processes required to correctly import the shipments into the UK; this involved consultation, licencing and finally Customs clearance.” he said.
A range of specialist marine vessels are being used by Costain in the construction works including three jack-up barges, delivery mulitcats, supporting towage and crew transfer craft.
“The most innovative asset is the 8 leg jack-up barge ‘WaveWalker’. She is specifically designed to work in the challenging intertidal zone allowing the connection from land to sea to be made.” John said.
Osprey have a permanent presence inside Bristol Port, the team has worked alongside Costain and The Bristol Port Company to load out and deliver materials during the mobilisation and operational phases.
“We’ve been an operator inside the port for over two decades, this type of work is a natural fit for us. The jetty is a unique part of the project; whilst it’s outside the main site boundary it’s very much an extension of site in all respects. It’s required a mix of land and marine expertise and a fully integrated approach across multiple teams.” John said.
The jetty will form a vital marine delivery point, receiving about 80% of the total aggregates volume by sea, removing heavy transport from the local road network.
Being a local supplier has allowed Osprey to be responsive and flexible during delivery of their services, reacting to changes in programme and requirements.
“In our experience of complex projects, no matter how detailed the planning, there will always be challenges to overcome and opportunity for innovation. A practical knowledge driven approach and ‘can do’ attitude is required, it’s often where significant positive gains can be found,” he said.
Osprey have been able to deploy a broad array of their assets including heavy cranes and SPMT.
“Our SPMT can move virtually any large or heavy item. Synchronised 360-degree steering allows precise control of movements including side-shift, diagonal movement and even a full carousel rotation.” explains John.
The operator works from a safe position using wireless controls, this is especially useful where there is restricted space to operate.
“The SPMT have a hydraulic suspension system which allows heavy loads to be picked up and placed without the use of a mobile crane. This can reduce cost, risk and provide greater flexibility. We’ve found that once the client sees our equipment operating they realise it can be applied to other upcoming work.” adds John
Not restricted to port operations, Osprey have delivered very large items into HPC by road. Advance route consultancy has been given and bespoke transport configurations built to overcome potential pinch points and safely pass sensitive site structures.
“On public roads minimising disruption is important because when you deliver to Hinkley you are representing the project. We’ve worked closely with the road authorities, Police and the Site Operations Freight team to achieve this. Our interactions with the public during transport phases has been really positive…often people are just interested to hear about what we’re up to.” John adds.
“Once you arrive on site there are many stakeholders with overlapping interests so when moving exceptional loads everyone’s needs have to be accounted for. To see it work well has been very satisfying.” said John.
It’s often been said that no one company can build Hinkley, its referred as a mega project for good reason. Partnering is a theme which has been encouraged by the Hinkley Supply Chain Team at events long before work commenced on site. Linking with partners is common practice for Osprey and they’ve taken an active approach here when delivering packages for Hinkley.
“There’s vast expertise in Somerset, we’ve drawn on our local partnerships to strengthen our offering. Our relationship with Bristol Port and others locally span decades, stable relationships release value to the project for obvious reasons,” says John
Tier 1 & 2 contractors have seen a range of benefits come from businesses coming together. Local knowledge can be leveraged and the supply chain is simplified for the main contractor meaning that often progress can be accelerated.
“Where our partnerships have worked especially well is where the whole delivery team understands the specific work package and service levels – where needed we adapt to fit. Agreeing a common approach from the start is important whether it be service, quality or behaviour of personnel.” he adds.
Osprey works with a broad range of clients on diverse and challenging projects, providing logistics, consultancy, engineering solutions. The company has a long, successful track record as a land and marine contractor in areas such as the Power Generation and Oil & Gas sectors working in power stations and delivering equipment offshore. Such experience requires skills which are directly transferrable to the Nuclear newbuild sector.
Osprey owner and CEO Nigel Fletcher said “As a company we’ve developed in line with market requirements, the sectors we work in normally require detailed front-end support. Often we face a challenge alongside the client and engineer a solution together.” says Nigel, adding: “In recent years we’ve invested significantly in new assets; combining these with our knowledge means we can deliver an outstanding service for HPC, our ongoing work packages are of significant value.”
In common with other South West businesses HPC represents a significant opportunity for Osprey, who have worked hard at engaging with the site’s Supply Chain Team, including attending networking events, seminars and generally keeping up to date with developments affecting the Tier 1 contractors and key people within HPC.
The pathway to contractual engagement can require a committed approach, a long-term view and the drive to be part of the Hinkley team. At Osprey this has required real investment far in advance of any work being awarded.
“There are many opportunities, some we have been tracking for years. It takes hard work to realise them but we’ve proven they do exist.” Nigel adds. “We’ve developed our skills and expertise within the company by growing our team, it’s about being ready and a good fit for the project so you can deliver on your commitments. We’re certain Hinkley will provide a lasting legacy for Somerset companies and enhance the future for Osprey.” said Nigel.
As to whether John would offer any advice to Somerset businesses still seeking their first engagement on the project.
“I’d say, remain up to date, connected and be visible. Most of all though, be patient – the project has natural stages and decision milestones so while you may consider your company to be a suitable supplier, you have to appreciate the client may not be ready or have developed their team to a stage where they can engage with you yet.” he continues.
“The rest of the world is watching progress at HPC as the UK take strides forward in nuclear newbuild. It’s hugely exciting to be part of that. We’ve had opportunity to show what we do best and I’d encourage other businesses to get involved and do the same” John concludes.