For 15 years, we have been working with Tier 1 contractors, delivering civil engineering designs for significant infrastructure projects across the UK in the rail, energy and power sectors. Supporting these clients from the outset has been instrumental in our success, with many relationships starting at the tendering stage.

With cost and timings being two major drivers in tendering success, having access to the right level of information at the right time is incredibly valuable in ensuring that an appropriate bid can be submitted.

Somewhat understandably, when there is consideration of a new on-shore or grid substation upgrade, the tender detail is focused on the electrical outputs and what is required to achieve this. This does, however, often mean that some detail around the civil structures is not provided.

Without this detail, ensuring that an appropriate estimate can be calculated is difficult and can lead to those most undesirable of outcomes – changes to programme or escalating budgets.

Expert tendering advice from Whitfield Consulting Services

Having delivered designs for organisations including London Underground, Network Rail, National Grid and Westminster Council, we have experience that brings clarity and therefore adds value to a bid submission.

A bid might specify elements such as a 120 MVA transformer and 22 panels of switching gear, but only reference the construction as needing to be ‘to required standards’. Knowing these standards for each end client and environment, we can interpret the electrical requirements and then are able to provide suitable technical drawings.

These drawings will be to the level of detail appropriate for a civils contractor to provide a realistic estimate, and can be completed by us within a matter of weeks, and within the tender timeframes, to ensure that tight deadlines can be achieved. Whilst the detail will be important at the stage of construction, in this tendering phase we really need to be focused on ensuring we are balancing provision of sufficient detail to allow for correct estimation with the timeframe available. It is an area where experience pays, in knowing what is important now and what can come later without impacting the outcome.

Having a comprehensive package of drawings within a couple of weeks helps throughout the supply chain. It ensures that the civils contractor can realistically estimate materials requirements, such as volumes of concrete, as well as to consider any impacts these requirements might have on the programme of work.

Within our own supply chain, we also have civil estimators who can produce a Bill of Quantities and we can liaise directly with them, another aspect of helping to deliver to the required timeframe as to ensure that the tender is completed as fully as possible.

Review of civils contractors’ submissions

Whether the civils estimates are coming directly from a Tier 1 contractor or from their civils subcontractor, once they have been completed, we are able to review these to ensure that they meet the required standards, to investigate pricing and to check that all aspects have been thoroughly considered.

At this point, we’re also able to review the submission to make sure it passes the ‘apples with apples’ comparison, to ensure that the bottom line isn’t masking a factor that could eliminate the bid submission, or have more serious implications later on. Looking into the detail with an experienced eye confirms all the required costs are included, as well as provides reassurance that the programme is logical and achievable. Constructability is a key aspect of our designs, and we are well placed to review documentation to ensure that this carries through.

Asa Whitfield, Managing Director at Whitfield Consulting Services, commented: “We are all experiencing tighter and tighter deadlines on bid submissions which require very fast response and turnaround, at a price that’s economically acceptable for a bid. With our experience of working on projects for major infrastructure clients, our team is well placed to quickly assist first-tier contractors with civils designs.”

If you would like to find out more about our capability in supporting Tier 1 and civils contractors with bid submissions for major infrastructure projects in rail, energy and power, please get in touch. You can email us or give us a call on 020 3581 7847.