From Inverness to Antarctica: meeting (supply chain) milestones

27 January, 2022 Rothera

Joe Stebbing, Assistant Project Manager, AIMP at British Antarctic Survey on how we are meeting our (supply chain) milestones.

January has marked a momentous milestone for the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Programme’s (AIMP) Discovery Building project, with the arrival of the vessel FWN Bonafide at Rothera Research Station.

Chartered by our construction partner BAM, through their logistics partner TransGlobal Partners, this was the final link in a supply chain stretching back from Rothera on Adelaide Island, Antarctica through BAM’s UK marshalling yard at the port of Middlesbrough and far beyond to suppliers and subcontractors in the UK and Europe.

A boat sitting on top of a beach

Credit: BAM

Except for some temperature-sensitive pieces of equipment, the vessel was loaded with all the remaining materials and equipment required to complete the Discovery Building and its associated Site Wide Services. This included cladding, windows, doors, internal finishes and 106 20ft containers with mechanical and electrical components from BAMs MEP subcontractor GA Barnie.

For Alex Barnie, Director of GA Barnie, and his team, the significant logistical challenge presented by the Discovery Building has been at the forefront of their minds from the start of their involvement with the project.

“With a charter vessel delivering materials to the site months, if not years, ahead of their final installation, it was essential that we progressed the design and procurement in detail to meet the challenge. There’s no option to nip to Screwfix in Antarctica!” said Alex Barnie.

To ensure nothing was left to chance, the firm prefabricated the Discovery Building’s plant room, corridors, and main in its Inverness facility.

“The prefabrication process has been essential for this project. Not only have we been able to reduce waste, save time on site and maintain quality, we have been able to pre-commission and test systems with the client here in Scotland, where we can make amendments easily and avoid missing parts on station.”

A close up of a factory

Credit: Alex Barnie, GA Barnie Ltd

GA Barnie also made use of mobile technologies to manage and manifest materials through their supply chain and prefabrication. These were carefully packed into containers and loaded on to a ship which transported them 300 miles to Middlesbrough to meet the charter vessel. This decision to charter a ship took more than 50 lorry journeys off the road and ensured the cargo reached Middlesbrough on time.

Loading of vessel

Credit: Alex Barnie, GA Barnie Ltd

BAM Project Manager Maurice Siemensma said

The innovative approach GA Barnie have taken to this project is very typical of our supply chain, who have all risen impressively to the challenge of building in Antarctica. This is the third charter vessel we have sent to Rothera with our logistics partner Trans Global Projects and with their help it has been an enormous success.”

Preserving the pristine environment in Antarctica is essential to the success of all AIMP projects and for BAM this process starts at the supply chain and is only complete when the materials are installed on site.

With our assistance, the supply chain quickly got to grips with and implemented BAS’s Biosecurity Regulations in their facilities and took specific measures when packing materials which meant changes in some of their processes” explained Maurice Siemensma.

Following delivery to the Port of Middlesbrough, containers and break bulk were carefully inspected and thoroughly washed before loading on to the vessel.

A crane next to a large ship in the background

Credit: BAM

During the off-load at Rothera, further biosecurity inspections were carried out by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and BAM site teams before the cargo was stowed in pre-planned cargo lay down areas.

“Rothera is a tight site and it’s our aim to reduce the impact of construction on operations and scientific activities as much as possible, so in the lead up to the season we work closely with the BAS station management team and BAM to plan in detail where cargo will be stored” said BAS Project Manager David Brand.

He added:

“The safe arrival of the FWN Bonafide at Rothera is an important milestone in the Discovery Building project and its success is a testament to the hard work and careful planning of the those involved from the AIMP Construction Partnership and its supply chain.”

The Discovery Building will be a new world-class science and operations facility at Rothera Research Station in Antarctica for British Antarctic Survey. This innovative building with a unique environmental design, will assist climate-related research at the UK’s largest Antarctic station.