Working on an Airport: A Case Study
Our project at the Perth International Airport recently came to a close after a busy and complex 6 months. The successful fitout of the Duty Free Departures areas came as a result of a carefully managed project that provided us with a lot of learning experiences. The project brief was exciting – to complete a new fitout of all the Duty Free areas at Terminal 1 – the Perth International Airport, within a very condensed timeframe.
The first challenge to address was the integration of our international clients with their international team of workers, and our local consultant team in Perth. When we came onto the job, the initial design and documentation had been completed by the client’s team in the UK. The difficulty of this was that the materials selected and the specifications used were from Europe. These selections had to be re- specified in Australian materials and products – surprisingly few of which are common to both countries.
As much of the lighting and fit-out joinery came from China, ensuring compliance with the Australian Standards was particularly challenging. Many compliance documents sent were not from reputable certifiers and upon arrival, inspection revealed that a lot of equipment was found non-compliant and had to be rectified at the supplier cost. Any extra time required to ensure the safety of all products causes delays and puts additional pressure on the management of the project to achieve the tight deadlines. Consequently, a procedure to prevent this reoccurring developed, firstly, request certificates of compliance from an Australian Certifying company and not accept any unknown compliance certification. Secondly, ensure the electrical contractor inspects all equipment as soon as it arrives and before installation, if in doubt the equipment was to be replaced with compliant Australian equipment at the supplier’s cost. This would minimise the risk of engaging suppliers whose products do not meet the Australian Standards, therefore reducing any time wasted in waiting for the supplier to rectify their product.
The next challenge that arose was the logistics of working within an operational airport. The works were required to be carried out in stages to enable the Duty Free store to remain partly operational throughout the project. This in itself was complex, as services to the functioning areas had to be maintained, and the highest standards of public safety had to be ensured as the construction was in such proximity to the public.
Perth Airport understandably has very strict conditions in regards to safety, security, and procedures. Considerable amounts of time were required to be spent on site in negotiations and applications for approvals from Perth Airport to ensure the safety and building, operations, and retail arms of PAPL were aware and agreed to all of the works and programming of them to ensure safety and compliance. The time spent inspecting, answering RFI’s and instructing the contractor and coordinating other contractors and suppliers is significantly higher than for a similar commercial fit-out.
The nature of the Duty Free retail in such public areas meant there were stricter requirements for the quality of finish and robustness. Heavy public traffic and use required very close review of architectural drawings and shop drawings, in addition to detailed defect inspection to meet the quality expectations. This also required very competent and professional contractors and sub-contractors to install products and produce an outcome to the high standards required.
These are just a few glimpses of the complications of this project, to be kept in consideration all while trying to maintain the project cost and timeframe. Overall the project, while complex, was thoroughly successful and we are pleased to have achieved a result that all parties were highly satisfied with. To explore the new areas of the airport inspired by the natural beauty of Australia, head here: http://fratellegroup.com.au/portfolio/duty-free-perth-international-airport/