When the Ministry of Defence required three new, accommodation blocks to be built on the Falkland Islands, Rexel went above and beyond to provide products, project support and training to the Corp of Royal Engineers to help them successfully complete Project ANEMOI.
Project ANEMOI is a £20m capital works project to build three 50x20m single storey buildings on remote radar head locations in the Falkland Islands, in the South Atlantic ocean. The buildings include accommodation, welfare, kitchens, a gym, office space and temporary sleeping areas for training army personnel.
Mid 2014, Rexel’s National Account Manager for the MOD and the Business Manager of Rexel Norwich were approached by the Engineering Logistics Management cell at Bicester to provide a complete supply solution for a future project in the Falklands, sourcing all of the materials required for Project ANEMOI – this extensive remit covered everything from building, construction and electrical products to internal fixtures, fittings and furnishings. That same week a follow-up, indepth meeting was then held with 63 Works Group (Ssgt P Bradley) and the Main Design Team.
The materials required for the project needed to withstand the challenging climate and geology of the Falkland Islands and, as almost everything would be sourced from the UK, Rexel were required to liase closely with the Logistic Node to ensure correct purchasing compliancy for everything to be shipped or air freighted more than 8,000 miles (a nine-week journey) to site.
With such a broad requirement for materials and products plus complex logistics to negotiate, Rexel dedicated five members of the team, including Christine Duffy the NAM, Adrian Langner the Business Manager, and Linda Graver of the Rexel Norwich branch to manage the project. This took the electrical distributor outside of its normal boundaries and into collaboration with other building and construction suppliers. The support provided included daily technical visits to the main military design team with the Rexel team changing holidays to meet logistic time frames and shipping deadlines.
The first major challenge for Rexel was the specification of the products and materials for the project. To ensure the right products were chosen for each element, Rexel attended over 200 technical meetings to discuss product choice and suitability with the MDA (Main Design Authority), industry and Rexel. These technical meetings took place both at Chilwell Barracks and various industry locations across the UK with designers and engineers.
In total Rexel supplied or procured more than 5,000 product ranges for Project ANEMOI, from more than 350 manufacturers and suppliers. This included everything from cables, controls, fire and security and data networking to tools, HVAC equipment and brown and white goods. Sales to date for Rexel total £6.3 million for this project alone.
After over 10 years supporting Military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq this was to be the first truly commercial quality construction project undertaken by the Royal Engineers in a generation. Rexel was therefore able to add value by using its knowledge and experience of modern products to suggest more efficient and cost effective ideas to the Royal Engineers. They supported these suggestions with more than 20 in-branch meetings at Rexel Norwich with MDA to physically introduce products and demonstrate their capabilities.
To ensure the build in the Falkland Islands would run smoothly, Rexel set up training for the MCF and Royal Engineers with various industries including CCF, Purevent, and British Gypsum. This made sure everyone had the necessary skills to correctly and safely install the materials specified on the project. Rexel went on to support the build of test sites where new construction methods could be tested before being replicated in the Falkland Islands.
One of the most challenging aspects of the project was the logistics, which not only required the procurement of products from all around the UK, but also a nine-week supply chain to get materials to site. Using both the MoD’s cargo container ships and air freight services from RAF Brize Norton, Rexel needed to ensure that each order was accurately collated and packed so the Royal Engineers had the items they needed for the build in a timely fashion. Any missing or damaged items could hold up the construction programme for weeks – getting it right first time was essential.
Rexel also paid particular attention to the packaging of the materials in transit as during the nine-week end-to-end journey the materials could easily be damaged or compromised by the conditions. During the project Rexel packed over 400 wooden crates for shipping, and had to negotiate the issues of inert gases and hazardous compounds.
Ssgt Philip Bradley, Senior Logistics and Supply Chain Manager for Project Anemoi, said: “Working on a building project 8,000 miles away can be challenging and it’s important the logistics run smoothly. This is something the Ministry of Defence does well, and we expect the same commitment to getting things right on time and right first time from any third parties we work with. Rexel were very organised in their approach and worked closely with us to ensure the materials needed for the accommodation blocks were delivered to site in a timely way.
“Rexel were a good all-round partner on the project, providing product knowledge, technical support, competitive pricing, procurement – and all with a commitment to delivery.”
Christine Duffy and Adrian Langner from Rexel added: “We have a long-standing association with the Ministry of Defence, and extensive experience of meeting their stringent requirements, however this is the single biggest project we have worked on with them and we have learned a lot from it. We were faced with many challenges we had not encountered before – such as the issue of containers being blown off cliff edges by strong winds, or a cracked armoury roof – but in the spirit of our military friends, we worked around any obstacles and came up with creative solutions using our construction and product expertise, which would help to keep the build on track.”
For more information on Rexel’s services and solutions visit: www.rexel.co.uk