A major public project with a tight schedule that needs to be sped up even further. A catastrophe in the making? Quite the opposite – at least at the West Harbour in Helsinki, where the new terminal was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.
The Helsinki West Harbour, which opened at the end of February, was completed about a month ahead of schedule, and under budget; it cost about five percent less than was estimated.
A fantastic project indeed, although the conditions were in place for failure. The foundation stone of the new West Harbour passenger terminal was laid in November 2015. As construction was getting under way, the construction sector had heated up, and a lack of resources could already have posed problems for the project.
How was the West Harbour so successful?
Ari Parviainen, Project Manager for Port of Helsinki, says there were many underlying factors. One of the most important things he mentions was having common goals agreed upon right at the start of the project. The Port of Helsinki team and the employees of contractor YIT committed to these goals from the very beginning, and that commitment could be seen at all levels of the organisation, right down to the subcontractors.
Parviainen emphasises that when everyone involved is aware of the goals, each person knows what they should strive for. The project progressed and the common goals were acquired even faster and easier than expected.
“The schedule for the Helsinki West Harbour was sped up because a new ship was completed at the Turku ship yard ahead of schedule. The tight schedule brought its own challenges, but we managed the situation very well. We may have been helped by the fact that we knew the exact date when the new ship would begin operating on its route.”
The ship was the Tallink Megastar, which would operate between Helsinki and Tallinn, and it was important to have the new passenger corridors in use when the new route was opened.
Major projects always come with surprises, but Parviainen says these were always dealt with together in good spirits. The team did not get stuck playing the blame game, instead deciding quickly on how to proceed and then acting accordingly.
Smart, front-loaded procurement
According to Parviainen, another decisive factor in succeeding despite the tightened schedule was the contractor’s active way of working, including the front-loaded way of progressing with procurement.
The construction market was showing signs of heating up. If, for example, inquiries and subcontracting agreements hadn’t been made quickly, we probably wouldn’t have been able to stay on schedule.
“Thanks to the front-loaded procurement method, we were better equipped to save time and money,” Parviainen says.
Good co-operation also played a significant role in ensuring the project flowed smoothly. The approach was open on all sides. In terms of promoting openness, Parviainen feels that the joint workshop held at the contractor’s initiative in the early stages of the project was an important factor.
YIT Project Manager Kalervo Piirainen also highlights the significance of having a common starting point and internalising the objectives of the client.
The client has thanked the contractor numerous times for the success of the project, but contractor representative Piiroinen would like to thank the client—even despite the risk of his gratitude sounding like empty praise, or like the parties patting each other on the back. However, as Piiroinen emphasises, the client was genuinely skilled in the area of procurement.
Communication was open and active. For the duration of the project, the project steering group held regular monthly meetings in which they reviewed the situation at the site. Meetings were held every two weeks to discuss the schedule.
A further decisive factor was, of course, the competent team on the site that understood the high-pressure schedule.
Additional orders presented their own challenge: for one new passenger corridor and some small technical buildings. Two of the passenger corridors were opened under the tightened schedule before the opening of the terminal. This meant that the Tallink Megastar could start its operations from the new dock as soon as the route was opened at the end of January.
A further challenge came from passenger traffic, which had to be diverted through the site as the terminal was being built.
“A major factor in our success was the fact that the client was active, worked boldly and was ready to pull out all the stops. Decisions were made quickly and objectives were explained in detail.”
The Helsinki West Harbour
The West Harbour is the busiest passenger harbour in Finland. Ship lines to Tallinn and St. Petersburg operate from there. The West Harbour also receives international cruise lines.
The construction project was completed ahead of schedule: West Harbour Terminal 2 was opened five weeks earlier than its original opening date, on February 27, 2017. Two new passenger corridors came into use from January 29, 2017.
West Terminal 2 has been planned especially to serve fast-paced route traffic, and to serve almost seven million passengers a year.
Terminal 2 houses a café, a restaurant and bar, a kiosk, an ATM, and a Tallink Silja service point. An Eckerö Line service point will open in June 2017.
Watch a time lapse video of the completion of the terminal: http://ow.ly/hrw230a8TZj
For further information, please contact:
Kalervo Piiroinen, Project Manager, YIT Construction Ltd, tel. +358 (0)40 864 4420, email@example.com
Hanna Malmivaara, Vice President, Communications, YIT Corporation, tel. +358 (0)40 561 6568, firstname.lastname@example.org
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