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Building Information Modeling/ Virtual Design & Construction
The risk of prolonged power outages has been substantially reduced in Sweden’s Jämtland region. On January 1, 2011, a new law took effect prohibiting power outages lasting more than 24 hours.
Skanska has built a weatherproof power grid. In practical terms, the new grid will provide protection against storms, wet snow and falling trees, resulting in a reduction in power outages and lower maintenance costs. Skanska was commissioned by Jämtkraft Elnät AB.
We have also created the right conditions for faster Internet connections in the region, since our assignment also included laying Optoslang conduits to be filled with fiber optic cables. This enables the broadband network to be expanded to more rural areas.
The area in which we were working is as large as the regions of Sörmland and Uppland combined, which imposed extremely rigorous logistical demands. We have buried enough electric cable to stretch from Malmö to Luleå.
Many components of the project were carried out in sensitive mountain areas. The scope of the project, combined with the geographic distances involved and sensitive natural surroundings, required sound planning, a high degree of flexibility and extensive experience.
The collaborative structure of the project was unique. The client, contractor and subcontractors participated on equal terms: the budget was established jointly and any profit or loss shared evenly, resulting in lower costs and shorter decision-making paths.
We shared an onsite office, which also helped facilitate rapid decision-making. All of the parties involved in the project contributed a unique set of skills and expertise. Skanska has extensive experience of conducting projects and financial reporting. We were responsible for ensuring that the enormous logistics system functioned properly. In simple terms, this meant making sure that the right items were at the right place at the right time – and that the right people were there to carry out the work.
Jämtkraft is an expert in the construction of power grids and worked with preparatory work, surveying and the supply of materials. All physical labor, such as burying cables, was performed by subcontractors.
Lars AnderssonSkanska Sweden
Mejl Lars Andersson
Marknadssegment: Power, Oil & gas
The project is highly beneficial for society, since it reduced the number of power outages. Having a faster Internet connection provides residents and companies in rural areas with the same opportunities as those in more densely built-up areas, which means that more people can continue living in their home regions.
The environment must always be protected. We imposed strict demands on the machinery we used and continuously monitored our fuel consumption throughout the project. Our employees were trained in eco-driving and thus knew how to use the machinery in an energy-efficient manner. In practical terms, eco-driving involves planning your driving, looking ahead for queues at the loading area and driving with optimal loads.
Sensitive watercourses were also protected. Laying cable on the bed of a watercourse entailed environmental risks and a hole was therefore drilled two meters below the watercourse bed. The cable was then drawn through the hole and we thus avoided all contact with the watercourse itself.
A new method for laying conduits was used to pull cable through long stretches of conduits. This dramatically reduced the use of protective filling material, which in turn meant fewer journeys with materials. The amount of damage caused by driving was dramatically reduced, which is important when we are working in sensitive natural surroundings. The method has proven particularly effective in delicate mountain terrain.
Naturally, the safety of our employees was extremely important. One way of protecting our personnel was to appoint the right people with the right skills. Safety and environmental inspections were carried out to ensure that all employees and machinery had the correct protective equipment, all machinery met the applicable environmental requirements and featured spill response equipment and so forth.
Material consumption was minimized for both financial and environmental reasons. The cables were spliced to avoid unnecessary waste lengths.
Jämtkraft recycled transformers, which was another example of the environmentally conscious approach of the project. Rather than being scrapped, used transformers that were still in good condition were sold to Nigeria and other countries in Africa. Purchasing used transformers makes electricity affordable for impoverished areas.
Skanska was commissioned by Jämtkraft Elnät AB to construct a weatherproof power grid and lay Optoslang conduits to enable a broadband expansion. On January 1, 2011, a new law took effect prohibiting power outages lasting more than 24 hours. Serious consequences as a result of prolonged power outages are to be avoided.
Power outages due to weather are mainly caused by heavy wet snow or severe storms. Tree branches or entire trees falling onto electric cables can cause a short circuit. The power grid was weatherproofed by burying cables underground and replacing overhead lines with durable insulated lines that can withstand falling trees.
The number of power outages has been significantly reduced and Jämtkraft’s maintenance costs have decreased.
Preparations were made to expand the broadband network to more rural areas in conjunction with the development of the weatherproof power grid. We buried a conduit in the ground that could later be filled with fiber optic cables. A reliable broadband connection renders geographic distance less important.
Jämtkraft Elnät AB was the client for the project and Skanska served as the contractor. The project was carried out as a joint venture between Skanska and Jämtkraft. Most decisions were made jointly, including decisions regarding the procurement of subcontractors. Examples of tasks to be performed by subcontractors included the actual laying of cables and line replacement, controlled drilling, felling and bridge assembly.
All parties participated in the project on equal terms, which meant that everyone was working toward the same goals and that decisions could be made more rapidly. The client, contractor and subcontractors shared any profit or loss.
Skanska’s assignment started in 2006 and was completed in 2011.
Skanska, Jämtkraft and certain external consultants shared an onsite office. Matsola Vestin, Production Manager at Skanska, explained the advantages, “Being under one roof enables us to make important decisions instantly. The client and contractor have the opportunity to discuss various issues and arrive at the best solution simply and quickly. We can look at a drawing together and instantly discuss an alternative solution. Normally, people work in different offices – sometimes in different parts of Sweden.”
The unique skills and expertise of each party were utilized in the project. Skanska has extensive experience of conducting projects and financial reporting. Jämtkraft is an expert in the construction of power grids and possesses local knowledge of its electric cables, connections and customers. Jämtkraft was also responsible for preparatory work, surveying and the supply of materials, as well as obtaining the necessary permits from various municipalities and county administrative boards.
The logistics involved in a project of this magnitude are like a giant puzzle. The cable trenches were excavated in the summer, the power lines replaced and old lines dismantled in the winter and so on. Skanska’s job was to ensure that the right people were working at the right place at the right time. We were also responsible for making sure that the right machinery and materials were in place so the subcontractors could perform their work and for ensuring that all quality, environmental and work environment goals were fulfilled.
The area in which we were working is as large as the regions of Sörmland and Uppland combined. The large geographic distances involved entailed extremely rigorous logistical demands. Sound planning was key: we always needed to be a few steps ahead. Flexibility was also crucial, since we were sometimes forced to find alternative solutions.
Examples of good planning included ensuring that clearing and felling, drilling under watercourses, bridge assembly and material transportation were all completed before the cable trench subcontractors arrived to bury the cables. No one should have to wait to perform their work.
The project comprised some 300 subprojects, including the laying of cable, replacement of power lines, dismantling, felling and many other tasks, each of which contributed to the overall result. In addition to the actual task of laying cable, which involved burying approximately 1,500 kilometers of electric cable, we also switched to an insulated overhead line stretching some 750 kilometers, dismantled the old power lines and cleared trees along approximately 600 kilometers of power-line paths, which involved the felling of some 40,000 cubic meters of forest.
One way of ensuring that all parties were working toward the same goal was to use checklists that could be filled in by each work group. These lists provided a tool to ensure that the work groups were doing everything correctly, which in turn provided a sense of security and source of support. This boosted our team spirit and solidarity, while improving the quality of our work.
The experience we gained during earlier stages was utilized throughout the project. For example, ground thawing caused problems with limited accessibility on certain roads, forcing us to have materials delivered ahead of schedule.