Blacktown Mt Druitt Hospital

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Blacktown is one of the fastest growing suburbs in New South Wales. To ensure its public facilities keep up with the rapidly expanding population, the NSW Ministry of Health and Health Infrastructure decided to significantly extend the capabilities of the Blacktown and Mt Druitt Hospital campuses.

Project Completion Date: April 2015 Total Bathroom Pods: 165

The $322 million project, which incorporates a new seven storey Blacktown Clinical Services Building, presented a range of challenges for Health Infrastructure and its contractors. These include the large scale of the program, site constraints, and having to undertake construction in a live environment while adhering to infection and safety requirements.

To minimise the impact on hospital staff and patients, builders Laing O’Rourke decided to specify bathroom en suites that were prefabricated in a construction-geared factory environment and shipped whole to site for easy installation.

“The construction sites are very variable programmes, things change all the time, so having the ability to store things offsite with the help of Interpod, and the ability to bring things in when we are ready for them has helped to alleviate that,” explains Laing O’Rourke’s Senior Services Manager, Jonathan Deadman.

He adds that the use of pods has helped to overcome logistical and timing challenges and dramatically helped with the issue of limited parking.

“The other problem we have with bathrooms is that they require a lot of different trades in a very small area, so you have everyone from plumbers, electricians, vinyl, tilers – everyone’s in there trying to work in a very small space, and trying to coordinate that on a very fast track project where you’ve only got limited time,” he says.

“Having bathroom pods takes all that away. All in all they’ve certainly saved a lot of time.”

Although Laing O’Rourke has consistently been committed to modular construction and Design for Manufacture (DFMA), the Blacktown Mt Druitt hospital expansion is the first project by Health Infrastructure to have made use of prefab pods on such a large scale – 85 per cent of all bathrooms are prefabricated.

“Building in a factory environment, and being able to coordinate all those activities offsite, means there’s actually less activities and less high risk works that are undertaken onsite,” notes Andrew Paris, project director for Health Infrastructure.

“Interpod has been our strategic partner in delivering this aspect of the project. Thanks to this partnership, all those activities can be managed and controlled offsite. There are a lot of benefits in terms of quality control in a factory environment – it minimises the number of those finishing trades onsite.”

Tight construction site with myriad programmes occurring at the same time, adjacent to a busy, working hospital. The building was also initially designed with traditional bathrooms, and when Laing O’Rourke got involved they had to coordinate the necessary arrangements and changes to accommodate the use of pods.

166 fully DDA accessible bathroom pods were manufactured and delivered onsite, each with nurse call buttons, suspended ceilings, disabled rails and shower seats. Interpod first created a prototype that allowed Laing O’Rourke, the clinicians and end users to have a first look at what would be delivered and installed on site. This ensured the modular bathroom design was suitable for staff’s needs, and allowed the team to sign off before they started production.

Manufacturing (and storing) the pods offsite greatly reduced the amount of trades and time needed onsite, shortening the overall delivery of the project, and mitigated various organisational challenges as the team did not have to worry about trying to get a lot of people working in a restricted space. Construction process was also made safer, with the least amount of disruption to people adjacent to the building process.

Laing O'Rourke is an international leader in DfMA (Design for Manufacture & Assembly) and go through a process on every job to see what can possibly be built offsite. "We’re very passionate about taking work away from the construction site" Mr Deadman said, "We want to take it to a safe factory environment that we can build things to the highest possible standard, and with the least amount of disruption to people adjacent to where we’re building the buildings." Laing O'Rourke have definitely been successful doing this on Blacktown Hospital and Interpod looks forward to working with the company on future projects. "The relationship with Interpod has been very good, they’ve been extremely helpful, they’ve been proactive, they’ve helped us take the design on this project that we didn’t think was going to be possible with bathroom pods and make it work. We would definitely use Interpod again. They are just up the road, makes it so easy to work with them and go and visit their products being built. Especially in an industry where clients are not used to offsite manufacturing, they want to be able to go and check on their products and the ability to do that makes it a lot less concerning for them." Mr Deadman affirmed.