WESCase Studies

WES flying at Manchester Airport

Client: Manchester Airport

Project Value: £1 billion

Project Type: Refurbishment

Location: Manchester, UK

WES was flying high when WES3 and WES REACT were deployed across the £1bn Manchester Airport Transformation Project.


As one of the largest construction programmes in the North of England, the transformation will more than double the capacity of the airport when it is completed in 2020. The complex project comprises the expansion of the Terminal 2 building, to become the airport’s primary terminal along with The Link, a new bridging space, as well as new stands and piers offering better departure gate facilities.

Laing O’Rourke, the main contractor leading the project has specified a combination of WES3 and WES REACT to protect the 1,500 construction personnel that will be on site at its peak.   These two innovative systems combine to provide construction teams with a simple and secure means of communicating fire, medical and similar site emergencies.

WES3 is a completely wireless, EN54-compliant fire alarm system designed specifically for complex construction projects such as this.  Features include a medical alert, allowing an alarm to be raised in the event of a medical emergency from any call point without having to cause a complete site evacuation.  Also, an Inspection Delay feature, which enables site personnel to verify that the alarm is genuine before deciding whether to evacuate site, therefore minimising false alarms.   

When used in conjunction with the WES REACT cloud-based mobile app, WES3 becomes a total fire alarm solution.  All WES3 manual call points in their respective zones are interlinked, creating four individual wireless mesh networks, that can be activated simply by activating any call point on site. Once internal fitout begins, WES3 heat and smoke detectors will be added to the system, to provide automatic protection on site 24 hours a day.

WES3 utilises the best quality Category 1, Euro-harmonised radio in compliance with European standards covering the use of radio technology in emergency equipment (ETSI 300-220-1), meaning it won’t interfere with other radio-based systems used on or near the airport.

The challenges at Manchester Airport Transformation Project were centred on the need for a wireless fire alarm system that was scalable to a project of this size, whilst being fast and easy to reposition the call points. To put this into context, it is the fastest growing construction project in the UK with £1m of new infrastructure added each day.

Being a wireless system means that WES3 call points can easily be added and removed as the build progresses, and there’s no wiring, so no need for specialist installation. The system also overcame the challenge of scale by incorporating link units into the call point network to boost the wireless signal over larger distances. The WES3 system was split into four zones covering four concurrent developments within the overall project. All units in their respective zones are interlinked, creating a completely secure wireless mesh network.

Andrew Swindells, Laing O’Rourke Programme Health & Safety Lead, explained: “Manchester Airport Transformation Project is a large and complex development and at its peak there will be over a thousand workers on site. We specified WES3 because it is a wireless system, making it very easy to set up and reposition as well as being fully compliant with EN54. WES REACT also provides us with a highly effective cloud-based monitoring platform.”

WES3 has a three-year battery life under normal usage, reducing maintenance costs and waste on site. Once the development at Manchester Airport is completed Laing O’Rourke can simply transfer the units to another project as and when required.

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