By Martin Stener Breinholt, Chief Project Manager, Ramboll Buildings, June 2016
The Fast Track model is aimed to shorten the time from design to completion. It is a project delivery strategy where construction commences before the design is complete, and where the number of sequential relationships are reduced and replaced with parallel relationships.
One example is Novo Nordisk’s strategically important 1R Purification Pilot Plant in Bagsværd, Greater Copenhagen, which the pharmaceutical company will put into operation this year.
At a very early phase in the plant design, Ramboll estimated and aligned the structural and architectural layout with all stakeholders. This allowed the client to meet its top priority: to gain time. Using the Fast Track model, Ramboll was able to team up with the client and other key project stakeholders to develop a strategic design and robust project execution process. Likewise, the short and restricted design schedule meant that the first 3D model had to be based on a number of assumptions and estimates. This demanded active engagement in the development of the model to provide a sufficiently accurate basis for the necessary decisions and dialogue to come.
Some changes had to be incorporated during the execution phase, including the addition of floor space on the second storey, but this was an expected cost accounted for in the initial budget.
The Pharma Fast Track model entails other risks: the final cost of the project can be uncertain, which means risks need to be identified and managed from the outset, because construction commences before the design is complete. This leaves only a small window for conducting any value engineering before the design is locked. The Fast Track approach
is also more demanding to manage than a traditional Design-Bid-Build project. The schedule factors in practically no buffer time, the building site is extraordinarily busy, and the project is more or less on a critical path at all times.
However, the benefits outweigh the risks, especially because the time from design kick-off to client hand-over is significantly shorter than in traditional projects. On the 1R plant project for Novo Nordisk, Ramboll delivered a weathertight building in 12 months instead of the initially designated 18. An accelerated delivery of this magnitude is especially relevant in the pharmaceutical industry, where minimising the time-to-market is very valuable for the client.
All in all, the Fast Track model is an advantage when certain conditions are met: Most importantly, the model should be based on a trust relationship between the client and the engineering service provider, and there has to be a high degree of flexibility and readiness to implement changes at any time in the project.
If this is the case, haste does not make waste.