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Xylem helps customer navigate COVID-19 challenges to deliver on ambitious swimming pool project

Strong collaboration with FT Leisure, combined with Xylem’s holistic approach and leading experts and solutions, enabled the customer to complete 18 swimming pool projects across the UK in 2020.

Prior to the pandemic, FT Leisure commissioned Xylem to provide pumps and flowmeters for a number of swimming pool projects in the UK, including the £73-million Sandwell Aquatics Centre. Despite the many challenges of COVID-19, Xylem’s experts collaborated closely with FT Leisure to adapt and problem solve holistically. Xylem successfully designed and delivered pool pumping solutions for all projects on time, within budget, and in compliance with the given specifications.
 
In 2019, FT Leisure, which delivers innovative engineering solutions and services to the public swimming pool industry, selected Xylem to deliver swimming pool technology for recreational centers being built across the UK during 2020. The stakes were high, as the work included supporting the build-out of the Sandwell Aquatics Centre in Smethwick. This center will host the diving and swimming events for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games – an international, multi-sport event with more than 5,000 athletes expected to attend.

But just as FT Leisure and Xylem began to partner on the projects, the coronavirus pandemic hit, presenting unprecedented challenges across the water sector.

With rapidly changing circumstances, regular communication with FT Leisure became more important than ever and the project management team had to overcome many logistical hurdles. Xylem was committed to working in an agile, holistic way with FT Leisure in order to meet their needs and make the project a success.
 
As society adjusted to a more regulated safety environment, there was also a greater need for recreational facilities to meet strict hygiene standards. Xylem was able to meet these challenges with our highly reliable and efficient products, backed by our extensive knowledge and expertise in the sector.

Working smarter and in close collaboration

FT Leisure sought to streamline the way they worked by awarding the contract for the different projects at the same time, in order to drive efficiency and boost cost savings. Working in close partnership with FT Leisure, Xylem designed a bulk solution for all the required projects across 2020, which included 58 highly-efficient Lowara e-NSC end suction pumps, 74 booster pumps, 20 Lowara DIWA submersible sump pumps and 32 Flygt MagFlux flow meters.
 
“As this major initiative took place during 2020, the level of potential disruption for each development was high,” says Kevin Loughman, Xylem’s Business Development Manager - OEM. “But the shared aim was clear from the outset – to work smarter and in closer collaboration with FT Leisure’s project management team to ensure each project was delivered on time and met the stringent specifications.”

Delivering maximum pump efficiency and minimum operating costs

In addition to cost, pump efficiency was a major consideration when FT Leisure selected Xylem’s solutions. In many cases, the market requires over 80 percent pump efficiency, which Xylem is well placed to provide.
 
“The circulating pumps supplied had to offer maximum efficiency to ensure minimum running costs to the end user,” says Loughman. “These pumps run 24 hours a day to ensure healthy pool turnover rates of approximately three hours for a 25-meter pool.”
 
“We differentiated from our competitors by offering more than just the pumps,” says Loughman. “Due to our wide product portfolio, we were also able to offer other integral components, like the Magflux flowmeters and variable speed drives. But in this case, it wasn’t just about being a component supplier – there was the additional project support supplied beyond the pool plant room that added real value.”

Ensuring delivery dates were met

The official order was received in November 2019, but each project was delivered separately throughout the following year. Xylem introduced monthly project review meetings via video conference, to keep both FT Leisure and Xylem’s team up to date. The teams were able to plan ahead through constant communication, and project delivery timelines were adhered to.
 
“During the lockdown period we formalized processes with regular project review meetings to constantly look ahead, anticipate, and work smarter,” says Loughman. “It was vital from a project management perspective, in such exceptional circumstances and with a roll-out program of this scale, that timelines and delivery targets were adhered to. That is where Xylem’s sector-leading knowledge comes to the fore, allowing our teams to accurately predict what was needed. Our order team in Axminster, Devon, was instrumental in liaising with the relevant factories to ensure delivery dates were met.”

Exceeding expectations with service and support

FT Leisure recognizes the flexibility of Xylem’s team to meet their needs during a year of unprecedented changes.
 
“Xylem was able to bring everything we needed together and more, not only in terms of the products but also the service and support that was offered, which far exceeded our expectations,” says Simon Whittingham, Managing Director of FT Leisure.
 
“As a team, we were able to have confidence that we were in safe hands, with the project being reviewed regularly to make sure each separate part was on track,” says Whittingham. “This avoided any further delays when there had been unavoidable hold-ups on site. Xylem’s communication with our colleagues was clear throughout, which helped everyone to understand the next goal and how and when to reach it. The partnership has been a great success, thanks to the extra effort put in during what could have been a stressful time for all.”
 
Kevin Loughman adds: “The approach taken on this project – to have a clear pipeline of work and to work more closely in partnership with our client – had maximum benefits on both sides. Here at Xylem, we value this more holistic view of solving water, and this was reflected by our mode of working in close partnership with the client to offer a complete solution and full national roll-out on time and well within budget.”

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