The Sunraysia Solar Alliance is a partnership between Melbourne company Solar Systems (later bought out by Silex Systems) and tier 1 engineering and construction company Abigroup. A member of the Lend Lease group, Abigroup provided more venues for the 2000 Sydney Olympics than any other contractor. In 2003, in a joint venture, the company was awarded the then-largest single infrastructure contract in Australian history: the $1.5billion Western Sydney Orbital (now the Westlink M7 Motorway).
The alliance was responsible for the design, construction and commissioning of a 2MW solar plant in Mildura, Victoria. Comprising a 40 dish-system that used concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) technology, it was the largest of its kind in Australia. The challenge of this major, multidiscipline project involved creating genuine, innovative solutions to seamlessly manage the complex logistics of scale of the development.
The alliance required Vative’s expertise to provide Lean construction advice and technical support for tackling such a large project. The company needed an outside perspective to analyse their current construction methods and benchmark them against Lean techniques.
As the project involved 40 mirror-covered dishes, the assembly process was highly repetitive. The team explored ways in reducing waste both in time and in resource utilisation, particularly by zeroing in on anticipated productivity and efficiency gains. Current construction practices at the client’s R&D facility were observed and filmed over a 4-day period, during which time a single dish was assembled and disassembled several times. Recommendations were then made to change specific processes to reduce waste in the construction process.
Vative was able to achieve a cumulative 36 per cent improvement through using Lean construction methodology for Abigroup. The company achieved an increased labour utilisation from 50 per cent up to 80 per cent, giving the double benefit of lower costs and a faster program that resulted in significant gainshare for the alliance.
The Sunraysia Solar Alliance’s R&D facility provided an ideal candidate for the application of Lean construction techniques delivered by Vative and the project management team.
“Put simply, Vative was able to provide the necessary tools and innovation that enabled greater efficiency and perhaps more importantly, superior quality and safety outcomes for all project stakeholders.”
Mark Bartoli, Alliance Manager Abigroup Contractors