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Heathrow International Airport

Heathrow Airport and MIW

In 2017, Heathrow Airport embarked upon a project to improve hydration facilities for passengers. A number of drinking fountains were already in place and well-used across the airport. Heathrow’s management team sought to build upon the current offering and help to reduce the amount of single-use plastic drinks bottles used on site, with the introduction of a series of drinking fountains with integrated bottle filling stations. MIW Water Cooler Experts was enlisted to advise upon and oversee the project.

The Brief

Heathrow airport caters for around 80 million passengers every year. Any equipment installed on site needs to meet a series of strict criteria. And locations for any equipment installation need to be carefully chosen.

  • MIW was invited to Heathrow to conduct a site inspection. The team were required to advise upon potential positions for the new public drinking equipment and guidance upon the models of bottle filling stations that would best suit the airport’s needs.
  • As the busiest airport in Europe and the seventh busiest in the world, the equipment installed in Heathrow needed to be able to withstand a high degree of usage. It would have to be quick and easy to use, without need of lengthy instructions – making it accessible to millions of international visitors. The equipment would also need to be heavy duty, to avoid any accidental or deliberate damage in the course of use.
  • It was imperative that all equipment meet strict water authority guidelines and also be wheelchair accessible, in line with ADA Americans with Disabilities Act & the UK Equality Act (2010).
  • The Heathrow Project Management Team also required guidance upon the branding of the bottle filling stations. The aesthetics of the units was considered important to the overall success of the project.
  • MIW would need to work closely with the Heathrow Project Management Team in order to advise upon and oversee any necessary equipment upgrades and coordinate the installation of the units once selected.
  • All work carried out on site at Heathrow must be conducted between 23:30 and 06:00 to ensure no disruption to passengers and staff.
  • MIW would be required to offer a service to maintain all equipment post-installation.

The Process

On a site as incredibly busy as Heathrow, logistics are always going to be the greatest challenge. With just five and a half hours daily in which to access the airport, all installations required meticulous planning. Working through the night, MIW’s engineers would have no recourse should tools or fixings fail. And there would be no room for negotiation, should there be any delay in delivery. MIW took these obligations very seriously and safeguarded against any potential problems, installing all of the units on schedule.

Prior to installation, MIW as able to provide the Heathrow Project Management Team with BIM files, technical and specification details to allow for comprehensive planning.

Heathrow’s other requirements were met through successful collaboration. The MIW team worked closely with the Heathrow Project Management Team to discover which apparatus would best meet the needs of the airport. WRAS (Water Regulation Advisory Scheme) and CE (European Conformity) approval guaranteed that the equipment would comply with any water authority guidelines. The MIW team used their own extensive knowledge to recommend Halsey Taylor & Elkay units that would be able to withstand the potential use that the site’s enormous footfall would dictate, while adhering to the Equality Act (2010). MIW was also able to offer the units in line with the requirements of Heathrow’s Project Management Team with bottle counters to track the usage.

Although the Heathrow Project Management Team made their decision to directly manage the branding of the new drinking equipment in line with their existing units, the MIW team were able to provide advice on the best materials and systems to use to ensure a safe a lasting finish.

The Project Continues

So far, MIW has worked with Heathrow Airport to install 15 customised drinking fountains with bottle filling stations across all of the airport’s terminals. That number is likely to increase during the coming year. Working on a rolling contract, the MIW team continue to support Heathrow in any way they can.