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Design of a manufacturing facility to produce high quality undersea cable to serve the UK’s energy needs

Subsea Cable Manufacturing Facility

XLCC is a company formed to develop a new high voltage electric cable manufacturing facility on the site of a former iron ore and coal yard at the port in Hunterston, Ayrshire. The facility will develop subsea cable required for the Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project, as well as supplying the wider market for subsea cable.

Pick Everard was appointed as lead consultant for the design of the cable manufacturing facility, accommodating the processes and machinery required to deliver on XLCC’s vision for a site which will produce high quality undersea cables of lengths not seen before. Our approach has focused on consideration of multiple project stakeholders to inform design of this complex, unique and high-quality facility.

Our provision of the right expertise and our positive attitude in working with XLCC and the wider team (planning consultants, equipment suppliers, port authority, specialist designers, etc.) has achieved delivery of designs on time. We will remain engaged on the project throughout construction, set to commence early in 2023.

The layout and design of the facility has been driven by the manufacturing processes. Refining the layout required a collaborative design approach with significant input from XLCC stakeholders and equipment suppliers.

Processes for manufacturing the cables and a stringent testing regime require large building volumes. This needed to be balanced with careful consideration of massing of the buildings, given the prominence of the site on the coastline, the idyllic surroundings, and the proximity of sites of special scientific interest.

Initial designs considered clear spans, but this resulted in deep structural members that would have significant cost and environmental implications in terms of embodied carbon in the steel.

We held regular meetings with XLCC stakeholders to ensure transparent dialogue and design decisions were constantly reviewed and agreed. To ensure building designs accommodated manufacturing equipment and processes, we held weekly meetings to coordinate our approach with the equipment suppliers.

Our preparation of massing models provided a tool when engaging planning officers and public consultees to assess the visual impact of the development on the environment. Coordination within our design team and with the supply chain was maintained to enable refinements to the building form, reducing the overall visual impact of the facility.

We developed a structural model for the main factory hall which reduced spans and overall tonnage of steel required by introducing multiple portals which were designed to accommodate manufacturing processes. This same approach was then adopted on all other manufacturing buildings.

In support of the building services and sustainability strategies, we designed for inclusion of a building management system to provide monitoring and control of temperature, plant performance, energy metering and fault monitoring. To support the target for a BREEAM Very Good rating, we have provided regular records of evidence demonstrating the project’s sustainability credentials.

Our BIM team has supported federation of design models with the various supply chain models for the management and coordination of the design, including early clash detection issues.

Our Health & Safety team have acted as Principal Designer along with providing a general CDM advisory role on the project.

Key info




In progress


Architecture, Building services engineering, Civil engineering, Structural engineering, Sustainability and energy, Environmental services


Health and safety





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