ACS Construction Group has successfully completed and handed over a major new 5,000m2 military manufacturing facility after overcoming significant challenges arising from the COVID pandemic. The site will play a key role in supporting the Ministry of Defence’s military capability for the 21st century and will allow client WFEL Ltd to manufacture a substantial portion of the British Army’s 500 new Boxer Mechanised Infantry Vehicles (MIVs). Work at the site in Heaton Chapel, Stockport, commenced in March 2020, just as the country went into the first national COVID lockdown. Because of the time-critical nature of the project, ACS Construction Group was granted Key Worker status by the Government to enable the build to be delivered within the agreed timescale, while a range of new COVID protocols – both on and off site – allowed ACS employees and partners to work safely within the community without compromising efficiency. The project was successfully completed on time and within budget. At a time when the initial Government furlough schemes were being announced, the project allowed the Cheadle Hulme-based company to provide job security and continuity to its employees working on the WFEL site. A conscious effort was also made by ACS and WFEL to utilise a local supply chain for materials and subcontractors whenever possible, to support local jobs and the regional economy during this challenging period. The full design and build were carried out in collaboration with structural engineers HBL Associates and DPW Architects, both based in the Greater Manchester area. The LK Group provided the geotechnical investigations, FP McCann supplied the concrete, and the crushing of existing concrete slab and structures was done by J O’Shea & Sons.
Danny Doohan, ACS Construction Group’s Operations Director, and co-founder, said: “We are proud to have successfully completed and handed over this project to WEFL on time and within budget, despite the many challenges posed to our business and the construction industry by the onset of the COVID pandemic and the first national lockdown. Our team and our project partners demonstrated admirable professionalism, robustness, flexibility, and ingenuity to ensure that this complex scheme was carried out safely and efficiently. Having started out 20 years ago as a groundworks subcontractor, we appreciate that people are the very foundations of our business and our industry, and so we are delighted that this project also helped secure and support local jobs and the regional economy during what has been a difficult time for everybody.”
This project was an opportunity for ACS Construction Group to further demonstrate its capability to deliver high-quality and competitive large industrial, logistics and manufacturing schemes for its clients. Along with the complex and challenging construction of the Boxer MIV manufacturing unit, ACS specialists also constructed a new access road and remodelled the existing car parking space to significantly increase capacity and to house 12 new electric vehicle (EV) charging points for WFEL staff. The build consisted of the following:
- Removal of the existing Spaciotempo temporary buildings.
- Breaking up and crushing the existing floor slabs and service yard, utilising a mobile tracked crusher that provided the recycled stone that was used to stabilise the ground for the construction of the new floor slab following the removal of below ground obstructions.
- Construction of mass filled and reinforced concrete foundations.
- Erection of a steel framed portal building up to 14m high that required heavy duty steel columns to support the 3 internal 25t cranes.
- Insulated roof and wall cladding systems to achieve the specified Air permeability testing requirements.
- Construction of the internal floor slab laid to the specified FM2 4th edition 2014 specification.
- Construction of the CMM high tolerance machine pit bases constructed to the German specified design to accommodate the manufacturing machinery.
- Construction of the concrete external service yard, access roads and loading bays.
- External concrete ramp access roads to the rear higher level storage areas.
Works also included the coordination and erection of three 25 tonne cranes. 685m3 of recycled concrete and 1682m3 of site materials were reused in the construction process, this was in line with the specification detailed by the consultant, Ramboll`s and carried out in accordance with the Material Management Plan in accordance with the CL:AIRE code of practice. The floor slab was constructed to the FM2 tolerance to achieve the client’s specification. Following the successful handover of the Boxer MIV manufacturing site, ACS Construction Group is now in advanced discussions with developers and key partners to deliver a variety of small, mid and big-box industrial developments across the UK within the next 12 months.
Andrew Munt, WFEL Boxer Programme Director, said: “We are delighted to have taken ownership of a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility from ACS. This is an extremely important step in the journey we are taking, leading to full rate Boxer Mechanised Infantry Vehicle production. Throughout the construction phase, ACS proved to be flexible with the management of change and completed the build project safely, on time and to the defined quality standards – despite the huge challenges in working practice presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new building fully meets our expectations, having been constructed on a brownfield site at our premises in Stockport. We will now establish the UK Centre of Excellence for the manufacture of Boxer Vehicles for the UK Ministry of Defence. This is a significant milestone in the history of Military Vehicle production in the UK.”
Henry Long of HBL Associates commented, “We were particularly impressed by the proactive and collaborative approach adopted by the ACS Construction Group team, which enabled numerous design changes to be accommodated to the scheme, during construction.”