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Armada Success

15 January 2009

A 25-year PFI to transform Navy accommodation at Devonport naval base into modern en-suite, single living and mess accommodation with state of the art facilities, won the PFI/PPP category and Overall PFM Award 2008. Jane Fenwick outlines the key winning features

IN 2004, THE PFI CONTRACT TO CREATE, OPERATE AND MAINTAIN THE MOD’s new Single Living Accommodation facilities at the Fleet Accommodation Centre in Devonport, the largest Naval Base in Western Europe, was awarded to Interserve’s Falcon Support Services.

A major overhaul, dubbed ‘Project Armada’ was needed to transform outdated facilities into a ‘Drake Village’, a modern vibrant naval community which would entice new recruits whilst still retaining the historic and prestigious significance of this leading Naval facility. The contract has a whole life value of £230m, a build value of £65m, and FM service delivery worth £12m a year.

The rebuild and refurbishment covered 100,000 sq. m of accommodation for 1,553 military personnel. (see below). Interserve completed a number of the major building projects on the base between October 2004 and March 2008 including the creation of the new ‘Drake shop’ and entertainment venues for Drake Village.

Naval firsts
Providing single living accommodation across all ranks is a first in any Navy establishment, as is the new standard of accommodation with individual ‘cabins’ all fitted with high speed broadband access, free view television, pay per view movies(next phase) and IP telephone calls - now the standard for other establishments.

The aim it to provide navy personnel with a ‘hotel-style’ room rather than a military barrack block. The vision for the future of naval base is as a community where people can socialise with friends in cafes and bars, do their shopping, and have their hair cut. To reflect the changed nature of the base as a ‘village’, for the first time a junior rates mess committee has been set up to have an input into decisions about what they eat and how they are entertained. As part of the refurbishment a £1.2m Junior Rates sports bars and skittle alley provides them with their own identity and place to socialise which they ‘own’ themselves.

Under the 25 year FM contract, Interserve provides estate management within the 7.4 mile perimeter fence of the base; catering for 3,200 meals served each day at different mess levels and different levels of service including silver service, family friendly, buffet and self service; hotel services to 1,553 people accommodated on the base and cleaning and changing bedding in their cabins; planned preventative maintenance, M&E reactive and planned works; 24-hour help desk; and cleaning, laundry, grounds maintenance, car park security and childcare services.

The new and refurbished facilities have been built to current environmental and energy saving standards. However as anticipated, the higher level of facilities within single cabins had an adverse impact on energy use despite the building being designed to latest BREEAM standards. For example, the combined utility bill comes in at over £2m, due largely to the increased communications and washing facilities in single use cabins.

Lighting represents a large proportion of energy demand in the cabins. The solution has been to install LED lighting to realise a 90 per cent reduction in lighting consumption. Interserve and energy consultants, Invensys, have identified low cost, high impact ‘good housekeeping’ initiatives, and several tiered spend-to-save schemes have been put in place. Proposals for renewable energy schemes, benchmarking, sub-metering, and monitoring have been put forward, together with plans to connect pulse electronic water meters onto a ‘leak matrix’ around the base to reduce annual water leakage rate of 200 cu m/year. An energy and sustainability forum comprising Navy, Interserve and sub-contractors to support major sustainability initiatives, facilitated the standardisation of waste streams and recycling across the estate.

Business focus
One of positive changes resulting from this PFI has been the relaxation away from prescribed MoD ways of working. Historically, planned maintenance has always been undertaken within the MOD estate to ‘Schedule C’, now seen as outdated, inefficient and not cost effective. Interserve has introduced Business Focused Maintenance (BFM) which maintains efficiency of fixed assets while reducing costs. It has brought planned maintenance back in house, resulting in an annual cost reduction from £370,000 to £168,000.

The 24-hour help desk and integrated management system provides real-time, webbased performance information on a dashboard showing both the Navy and Interserve teams the contract performance and progress of any job logged on the helpdesk at any one time.

A strong working relationship is the cornerstone of the success of this partnership. It was this that particularly caught the attention of the PFM Awards judges. They said, “This was an outstanding example of partnership working that has delivered what the contract required and developed excellent working relationships between all parties at strategic, tactical and operational levels.”

From day one, work streams were established involving all parties, and these work streams are broadly aligned with the various aspects of operational service delivery, enabling everyone to become an integral part of the day to day fabric of the facility.

For a complex operation such as Armada to work effectively, communication has to work at various levels, this is achieved by daily liaison with the Navy representative for the individual work stream and the client.

The objective of the project is always to improve living conditions and therefore morale of the servicemen and women of the Navy in their ‘home from home’ base. The judges said the “Existence of complete trust between the partners which was the foundation of excellent service delivery to the final customer, and the
proactive action by the service partner anticipated the needs of the client. This level of partnership understanding carried through the supply chain.” The Armada project’s operational delivery is held in high regard within the MOD and Navy, and is hailed as an example of a project that has worked exceedingly well. It is used as a ‘benchmark’ against other establishments, and an example of how the MOD and armed services are addressing long term outstanding accommodation issues.

The judges noted that there was “A change of culture in service delivery and a change of culture through good design including single rooms and attractive, modern leisure facilities.”

A flexible approach was adopted from the start with a ‘can do’ attitude and only limited, occasional references to respective contractual positions where absolutely necessary.

This flexibility and partnering approach runs throughout the supply chain, bringing benefit to the Navy in terms of additional services that are initially outside the scope of the contract, enabling a rapid response to the client’s needs.

The Navy’s needs are often far from ‘ordinary’, falling outside of the traditional FM offer and requiring extra attention to detail. This can range from an enhanced service at major events and Royal functions that require the base to be immaculate and well serviced, to maintaining ‘non war graves’ across the country and in Southern Ireland, and cleaning and maintaining valuable antique paintings and wine and port cellars.
Quarterly customer satisfaction surveys consistently report positive feedback and results on service levels. In April 2008, they reported 100 per cent satisfaction with the helpfulness of Interserve employees and 90 per cent satisfaction with workmanship.

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