Trafikverket continues to successfully complete new stages of the ambitious E4 Stockholm Bypass Road Infrastructure Project

See page 48

Under pressure

Polypipe Terrain works on the ÂŁ385m Deansgate Square development

Amazing project

Cleveland Bridge UK installs two 1050 tonne bridges in just 11 hours

Stunning space

Cyprian redevelopment features access covers from Fabweld Steel Products


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contents Chairman Andrew Schofield Editor Libbie Hammond Assistant Editor Will Daynes Art Editor Fleur Daniels Staff Writer Vladi Nikolov Advertising Design Fiona Jolliffe

FEATURES 2 planning Evolving technology and living habits mean cities need to change - this requires planning and regulation so that the enhancements improve our quality of life

6 case study

Operations Manager Natalie Griffiths

14 News

Editorial Researchers Adam Blanch Mark Cowles Alasdair Gamble Jeff Goldenberg Tarjinder Kaur D’Silva

16 Facilities management

Web Sales Tim Eakins

36 Britlift

10 offsite construction

Operations Director Philip Monument

Sales Joe Balfour Natalie Brett Mark Cawston Theresa McDonald Gary Silk

34 construction systems marketing

The Highways England A14 Integrated Delivery Team looked to automate the earthworks process on this major project – and it chose Topcon’s machine control technology A recent report encouraged the use of offsite manufactured housing solutions – Darren Richards believes the Government should heed the recommendations

Managing Director Joe Woolsgrove

exclusive features

Updates and information from the construction and civil engineering market To avoid poor construction in surface preparation, facilities managers and contractors should stay in constant contact to manage each other’s expectations and complete the work efficiently

34 company profiles 38 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain


40 Precon Products

Further growth is forecast for the UK’s bridge and tunnel sector - innovation and knowledge-sharing will be key drivers to enhance productivity, safety and sustainability

44 matpro machinery & crj services

22 Construction innovation

48 trafikverket 52 8build 54 balloo hire centres

Exclusive Features Darren Jolliffe

The Jump Factory concept has caught the eye of the 2018 Structural Awards judges, thanks to its astonishing innovation and the huge potential that it offers the built environment

Independent Sales Dave King

26 case study

66 swan housing association

A flood protection solution for new halls in Cambridge includes stormwater management technology that maximises a small space and enables fast installation

68 IbStock brick

Production/ Office Manager Tracy Chynoweth

Schofield Publishing Cringleford Business Centre, 10 Intwood Road, Cringleford, Norwich, NR4 6AU, U.K. Tel: +44 (0)1603 274130


© 2018 Schofield Publishing Ltd

28 BUILT ENVIRONMENT Instead of planning for a building that is fit for purpose at the point of occupancy, we need to think more about its entire lifecycle

30 bim According to Jozef Dobos of 3D Repo, it is important for the future of the construction that open source technologies are adopted and BIM is embraced

58 haven fire & safety l.l.c. 62 parker Building supplies

74 britcon 78 r&w Group 82 mecalac 87 bradfords building supplies 92 ac plc 96 derbyshire specialist aggregates 102 kes group 106 veitchi interiors

32 The Offsite Construction Show 2018

110 kw bell group

The client and supply side of offsite construction are brought together at ExCel in November

114 castle building services

Please note: The opinions expressed by contributors and advertisers within this publication do not necessarily coincide with those of the editor and publisher. Every reasonable effort is made to ensure that the information published is accurate, and correct at time of writing, but no legal responsibility for loss occasioned by the use of such information can be accepted by the publisher. All rights reserved. The contents of the magazine are strictly copyright, the property of Schofield Publishing, and may not be copied, stored in a retrieval system, or reproduced without the prior written permission of the publisher.



Cities of the

future Marnix Elsenaar and Paul Minto discuss the challenges planners face as technology evolves faster than policy making

Marnix Elsenaar


Paul Minto


e are fastapproaching the future Ridley Scott envisaged in his 1982 classic film Blade Runner, set in a 2019 Los Angeles. While we are perhaps a long way from human-like replicants and colonising

other planets, who could have imagined in the early 1980s that in 2018 we would be wrestling with the challenges posed by the use of autonomous vehicles, drones, artificial intelligence and personalised digital advertising? The Blade Runner future may not be as far away as we think, as

planners, developers, consultants and city dwellers contend with the prospect of greater volumes of people living in our cities, and the impact that has on how we move around, the spaces in which we live, and the air we breathe. The challenge of mass public transport, limited and expensive

living space, and increased levels of air pollution, are all real and we must consider how the planning system and infrastructure policies respond to fast-moving technological changes. How will planners set policies that may be out-of-date by the time they are adopted?

Rapid city-centre living Take London for example, where job growth is fuelling the requirement for 42,000 new homes every year, and the associated space, congestion, pollution and planning issues which are likely to come as a consequence of more people living in the city.



In the capital, we are seeing the growth of co-living and microliving, and we are starting to see examples of this in other parts of the UK, where the demands of people living and working in city centres are very different to their predecessors’, and perhaps at odds with local authorities’ minimum space standards. We need to think about housing which meets the needs and demands of its residents, rather than being overly prescriptive. Across the UK we can see examples of a rapid increase in city-centre living, fuelled mainly by young people with different lifestyles, standards and expectations. According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of 20 to 29-year-olds living in the centre of large cities tripled in the first decade of the 21st century. It’s no coincidence that the rise in city-centre living has grown alongside, although not perhaps because of,


technological advances. However, the two are inextricably linked. With such demand, city planners should be thinking carefully to future-proof their plans to contend with and accommodate technological advances. How will cities plan for the growth in autonomous vehicles and their impact on urban areas in the context of sharing space with pedestrians or other important infrastructure? It is encouraging to note that the Government is acutely aware of some of the challenges being posed. A Grand Challenge emanating from the recent Industrial Strategy, the Future of Mobility consultation is seeking views to ensure our transport needs for tomorrow are met, particularly in our urban areas. It is also encouraging to note the Law Commission’s consultation on the legal framework for automated vehicles, requested by the Centre

for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. Our planners are paying close attention to learn from other countries with similar challenges. Take Singapore for example, with a population of 5.6m and growing and 15 per cent of its land covered by roads; strict controls are placed on new roads being built, there is a fixed vehicle quota, and car ownership is carefully managed. Some would see that as over-authoritarian. Others see it as planning for the future. However, questions remain about the long-term impact of such policies on social mobility and equality. We examined this topic at a recent seminar titled Retail Travelution alongside other themes such as retail logistics.

Changing retail habits As our retail habits change, and the challenges faced by High Street retailers are welldocumented, so do the trends we

see in the supply chain adapting to consumer demands. We are seeing new inter-modal hubs being developed but will the need for such hubs be reduced as retailers develop strategies to enable delivery straight from factory to store? Linked to this is the on-demand nature of our shopping habits, leading the Government to consult on last mile delivery, including the use of ‘green’ vehicles such as e-bikes. Amazon is talking to the Government and Civil Aviation Authority about the increased use and application of drones in our society. Technological advances are pushing boundaries beyond the current regulatory environment.

Environmental concerns With more people living in our cities, and retail habits changing, the impact on our urban environmental health should be closely monitored.

In 2015, the Government called for Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton to introduce clean air zones in a bid to reduce nitrogen dioxide levels or face big fines – the plans for Birmingham and Leeds will be implemented next year. Is it a coincidence that the number of people in each of these cities has grown significantly since 2002, according to the Centre for Cities (Birmingham by 163 per cent, Derby by 32 per cent, Leeds by 150 per cent, Nottingham by 81 per cent and Southampton by 94 per cent)? The plans being developed by local authorities are prompting significant local debates and it is foreseeable that national transport policies could be influenced because of what is being discussed at a regional or local level. What is important to note is that underpinning these policies are conditions which cost drivers money and we therefore anticipate a change in travel behaviour to increased public transport or electric vehicle use. But it’s clear that the environmental challenge is not unique to the UK. We are seeing new cities in China struggle with serious levels of air pollution and the Chinese government is implementing strict regulations as a result. The challenge for policy makers is to ensure that pollution levels are kept within acceptable limits rather than reaching levels which create severe risks to public health.

Conclusion In an ideal world, the regulatory environment would be agreed first, but we are increasingly seeing technology developers influence the regulatory discussions. The Amazon drone example illustrates how the private sector is leading the discussion and policy makers struggling to catch up.

The development of cities is being led from the bottom up rather than the top down. Evolving technology and living habits mean that cities need to change but there is a risk that, without careful planning and regulation, the opportunity to effect change that enhances our environment and improves quality of life for all, will be missed. The debate around the extent of powers given to the UK transport authorities is critical to the development of our smart cities. The interaction of digital technology and transport planning is in its infancy but the imminent arrival of Clean Air Zones across the UK is fuelling that debate and we can expect significant developments over the next few years. It could be argued that Blade Runner 2049, compared to its predecessor, does not feature the same level of futuristic technology not yet dreamed of, but of a world ravaged by environmental catastrophe. This is perhaps an indication of the rapid pace of technological change in the last 30 years, but the worries over the environmental impact are perhaps far greater, which should be of great concern to everyone with an interest in creating our cities of the future.

Marnix Elsenaar is partner and head of planning, and Paul Minto is partner, energy and utilities, at Addleshaw Goddard, a premium business law firm with international reach and an exceptional breadth of services. Its reputation for outstanding quality and certainty of service is built upon long term relationship investment and a deep understanding of client markets which creates and delivers superb value and results. Its approach combines a deep understanding of its clients’ businesses, markets and sectors with high calibre expertise, straight talking advice and a collaborative team culture. For more information, please see


Case study


Bigdig The £1.5 billion A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme includes vast excavations – Topcon technology has been used to increase efficiency and streamline the process


Case study


hen embarking on a major road project, the Highways England A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme, the A14 Integrated Delivery Team (A14 IDT – a joint venture comprising Costain, Skanska, Balfour Beatty and design consultants Atkins & CH2M) looked to automate the earthworks process, and they chose machine control technology from Topcon. Due to open in December 2020, the £1.5 billion project will see upgrades of 21 miles of the A14, increasing capacity and cutting up to 20 minutes off journeys. The works include the creation of a major new bypass around Huntingdon, improvements to junctions and widening of the existing A14 between Swavesey and Milton. Walters Group was one of two specialists appointed by the A14 IDT to carry out the earthworks required to deliver the scheme. For their section of the project,


this would see a need to move an estimated 12 million cubic metres of earth.

Instant communication The vast scale of the excavations meant that Walters Group needed equipment and technology that would give them the most accurate results on-site. The team were already

familiar with the range of Topcon technology and chose to use the Topcon 3D machine control systems on excavators and dozers. “We started using Topcon equipment around seven or eight years ago,” explains Andrew Burder, Earthworks Project Manager at Walters Group/A14 Integrated Delivery Team. “The drivers get on with it really well because it’s quite easy to use. We message them and they’re able to message us back. They know when we’re going to use it remotely and we tell them when we’re going to play around with their system, so they know if anything will change on their screens.” The Topcon 3D machine control platform has been designed to provide unmatched material control capability, and acts as a productivity tool. It simplifies grading and gives operators the opportunity to put the focus on material and safety. By using the SiteLink 3D, any potential machine downtime is significantly reduced as most issues can be

resolved in real-time without the need for a technical team on-site. As part of the 3D machine control software, Topcon’s SiteLink3D was used as a way of connecting the machines and the office. The technology provides remote access and support to every machine connected to the system, including file transfers, messaging and reporting and analytics. “If drivers need to activate the service or they don’t know how to select a line or choose an offset, I can remotely access their screen on my desktop and change what it is they need to change,” explains Martin Langhorn, Sub Agent at Walters Group/A14 Integrated Delivery Team. “I can also delete and add different models to their screen so they never get mixed up or use an old revision by mistake.” Andrew added: “SiteLink is definitely in front of the other systems at the minute for what it can produce, especially the information we can feed into it and the live data we can get out of it. We can see instantly

where the machines are, what programme they’re working on, what construction offset they’re working to and which areas they’re working in – so we know instantly if they’re working on the right model and at the right level.”

Real innovation Other Topcon technology used as part of the project included the Topcon GNSS receivers and Topcon FC-5000 hand-held field computers, as well as SiteLink3D in partnership with Walters Group. Mark Lawton, Survey Manager for the A14 Integrated Delivery

Team, commented: “SiteLink makes my life easier because of its efficiencies. We’ve got the data links out there so we can send data from the office to the machines, and another critical factor is that the people planting phase has been reduced – there are no people working around the machines. The quality of the data being sent to the machines is always consistent too.” Mark concluded: “We’ve used 3D machine control on a number of sites before and we’ve asked our contractors to adopt this too. Walters have taken this a step further and pushed it wider into their fleet, and now we’re starting to reap the benefits of that. Topcon has made innovation reality, and 3D machine control is business as usual now.” The A14 work is ongoing, with the team set to continue excavating the material needed to build the scheme once the land has dried out in spring.

For more information, please see


Offsite construction

The ideal Image courtesy CCG (OSM)

approach Darren Richards discusses the findings of the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee report ‘Offsite manufacture for construction: Building for Change’


his report acknowledges that offsite construction techniques are now recognised as some

of the most important solutions to many problems facing the UK construction industry today particularly in the housing sector. Evidence from the report reveals


Darren Richards

that the construction industry and its labour model is at a critical crossroads. Whilst the diagnosis points to a deep-seated market failure, there are certain industry trends and wider societal changes happening now that represent both unprecedented risk and opportunity for the industry and its clients. As the team at Cogent

knows only too well from our work in the industry - if the opportunities are not harnessed in a planned and structured manner, the risks may become overwhelming. In my opinion, one of the report’s key and most important recommendations, is that the Government should encourage the use of offsite manufactured

after a relatively short time in the market, which brings me onto another crucial element of the report – pipeline/demand certainty – probably the most significant issue for all elements of the offsite supply-chain.

Carrot and stick

solutions through policy measures as part of the wider procurement strategy across the ‘big five’ spending portfolios – infrastructure, education, healthcare, prisons and housing. There is an opportunity here for the UK to extend our position at the forefront of offsite manufacturing globally in these sectors - such a policy would

further strengthen the confidence in the offsite supply-chain and encourage greater R&D/innovation investment. Concerns that the UK lags significantly behind other countries in the low-rise residential offsite sector is a real issue, particularly as some low-rise offsite specialists have recently gone out of business

The report recommends that the Government provides a steady pipeline of projects for the construction sector so that companies can plan and make the capital investments or create the strategic supply-chains necessary for embracing offsite manufacture. I welcome the Government’s commitment to the National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline in the Construction Sector Deal, but it is important that the Government adheres to the pipeline to provide certainty to the sector. The ‘presumption in favour of offsite’ – if properly executed – will help to achieve this, but it is also important that public sector procurement bodies take heed of the important recommendations around a ‘reporting/auditing’ framework to require an explanation as to why offsite technology may not have been used. This looks like a recommendation for the use of the carrot and the stick – either way it will take strong Government leadership to enforce. The key issues of standardisation, capital investment in semi-automation and the cost premium often associated with low volume offsite manufacturing are part of the same equation and have a direct correlation. That is, with more standardisation there is a higher likelihood of a production process being repeatable and therefore automated, with automation comes investment in machinery which increases efficiency and productivity levels and ultimately provides cost reductions. Crucial to unlock the benefits of automation is asset financing. As


Offsite construction

an industry, we need to lobby the Government to find better ways of asset financing to encourage a greater uptake of automated processes, which will increase advanced and lean manufacturing procedures. The automotive and aerospace industries have been exploiting this model for decades and it is time that the offsite manufacturing sector had the confidence to do this too.

Embrace technology Crucial to lean and advanced manufacturing is Design for Manufacture & Assembly (DfMA) protocols and Building Information Modelling (BIM). DfMA enables optimal configuration of offsite solutions on site by engaging with multidiscipline and multi-tier suppliers – ideally from the beginning of the design development process. This approach requires a change of mindset and a shift away from ‘traditional construction thinking’ to the adoption of assembly principles. Think about ‘assembling’ the building rather than ‘constructing’ it. The discipline and collaborative


Top: The report makes clear a ‘presumption in favour of offsite’. Image courtesy CCG (OSM)

working that DfMA requires and facilitates, are ideally suited to the needs of prefabrication in terms of early detail design co-ordination and three-dimensional design information. The output of the BIM design process, the IFC model – can now be directly imported into the fabrication software eliminating the time-consuming translation of engineer’s information into cut lists and assembly drawings. Further to this, it reduces the risk of errors. Designs can be optimised and tested in a virtual and preproduction environment before reaching the full manufacturing process – reducing costly rework

and errors onsite. The next steps in the development of this technology will be to integrate BIM/ digital design processes and specification information with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Material Requirement Planning (MRP) using ‘intelligent graphics’. This will also permit full manufacturing simulation and visualisation, clash detection and virtual onsite assembly modelling and programming which can then be enhanced using the latest augmented and virtual reality digital developments. Bringing the use of the latest digital technology from predominantly the design

and architectural stages into the manufacturing and offsite technology assembly process. I welcome the Government’s commitment to changing its procurement models so that the public sector can procure for whole-life value rather than upfront cost. This, along with the Government’s ‘presumption in favour of offsite’ across five departments, will provide an important signal to the construction sector that there will be a consistent pipeline of projects, allowing companies to invest in offsite manufacturing facilities with confidence. However, this ‘presumption’ needs to be material and system agnostic and not always advocate volumetric modular construction. We need to have access to a full portfolio of offsite systems from pods and modules and panels and cassettes to hybrid solutions, if we are to utilise all of the capacity that the UK offsite manufacturing sector has to offer. Change is not easy, and not all first experiences of using offsite technology will run smoothly! For most clients they are on a

steep learning curve when initially adopting and offsite method of building and they will need to remain resolute in adopting the new mentality of ‘assembly’ rather than ‘construction’. The offsite manufacturing sector has to be cognisant of these issues and will need to support public sector clients as they feel the pressure from Government and take their first steps. In the Construction Sector Deal the Government sets out that it will provide £15 billion of new financial support for housing over the next five years, taking total financial support to at least £44 billion to 2022/23. Furthermore, the Government states that it will ‘ensure that’ funding for the Transforming Construction programme supports the development and commercialisation of technologies and digital building designs that can help deliver the Government’s housing objectives. When allied to the ‘presumption in favour of offsite’ the conditions to flourish could not be better. The Government and the wider public sector are by far the

Above: Adopting a new mentality of ‘assembly’ rather than ‘construction’ is at the heart of offsite manufacture. Image courtesy CCG (OSM)

construction industry’s biggest clients. Their role is pivotal in increasing the use of offsite technology – they have the power to drive change. The problems are clear and well documented – the recommended actions are set out in the report. I implore the Government to heed the recommendations made and urgently respond with a detailed plan of action.

Darren Richards is Managing Director of Cogent Consulting, one of the expert contributors to the Lords Committee Inquiry. Cogent’s comprehensive offsite knowledge and experience enables clients to access a breadth of specialist services from a single company - providing an exceptional range of proven design, engineering, manufacturing, project management and supply-chain management skills. Cogent is able to draw on a wide base of in-house professional expertise, and longestablished networks of specialists, to provide tailored solutions to meet the exact needs of clients across all construction sectors, based on a first-hand experience and understanding of the offsite landscape. For more information, please see




Strong foundations The latest addition to San Francisco’s iconic skyline, Salesforce Tower, has been designed to meet a demand for residential and office space, and at 61 storeys is the tallest building in the city. Global building materials company CEMEX has participated in the Salesforce Tower project since day one, supplying materials for the foundation and construction of this approximately 325-metre-tall building. For the nearly 84,000 cubic meters of concrete needed for the project, CEMEX mobilised more than 130 ready-mix concrete trucks and performed the second-largest mat pour in San Francisco’s history. “Our customers are at the centre of everything we do, and Salesforce Tower exemplifies our commitment to providing top quality service and products for industry-leading projects,” said Ignacio Madridejos, President of CEMEX USA. “We are proud to contribute to the evolution of the nation’s skylines and partner with some of the most renowned architects, developers, and suppliers in the world. These buildings need strong foundations, and those foundations start with CEMEX.”

Under pressure Polypipe Terrain, the UK’s leading manufacturer of waste and water management systems, is to help to complete the UK’s tallest residential complex. The Kent-based firm will supply ventilation, drainage, soil and waste systems to the colossal £385 million Deansgate Square development in Manchester city centre. Main contractor Renaker selected Terrain to design the vent piping. Polypipe devised a system that incorporated its exclusive P.A.P.A. (positive air pressure attenuator) and Pleura Vent system, which work in harmony to regulate air pressures within pipework and eliminate the need for a secondary vent. Jonathan Greenwood, technical sales manager at Polypipe Terrrain, said: “The height of the development posed a unique challenge for the designers. The drainage stacks throughout the building had to manage huge amounts of pressure so a robust solution was required. Polypipe Terrain was able to supply a system that limited the pressures placed on the base of the stacks. “By installing P.A.P.A. valves we were also able provide the developer with significantly more space in each individual apartment within the tower.”


Construction projects can now benefit from a secure digital evidence collection platform believed to be the world’s first to adhere to principles set out by the Home Office in The Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPO) digital evidence guidelines. Business software specialist eviFile has launched its software as a service (SaaS) product of the same name to set new standards in terms of security and digital inspection for the UK construction industry. The product also allows a flexible workflow. Developed over an 18-month period, eviFile is already being used in the UK construction, infrastructure and utilities sectors by contractors to satisfy clients that work has been successfully completed to required standards and timescales, whilst simultaneously protecting against disputes. The company also expects its platform to be of use for intermediaries working within those sectors, including lawyers and building, project and engineering consultancies. eviFile works via standard tablets and smartphones, enabling field operatives to use their device’s cameras and GPS capabilities to capture evidence of work completed. Every use is securely captured with tamper-proof information on time, date, geographical location, user and device orientation. The founders of the platform aim to create a new ‘gold standard’ for evidence collection in UK infrastructure and construction projects, whilst also expanding into Europe and the United States to achieve the same objective.



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Remarkable achievement Cleveland Bridge UK has installed two 1050 tonne bridges in just 11 hours. The project took many months of detailed planning and client liaison to ensure the bridge decks, each measuring 44m in length and containing 330 tonnes of steel and 720 tonnes of concrete, were lowered into position without a hitch. The bridges are part of Highways England’s A14 Huntington to Cambridge Improvement Scheme and form part of a new junction connecting local access roads. A total of 12 girders were fabricated at the company’s leading fabrication facility in Darlington, County


Durham, before being transported by road over two weeks during the summer. The girders were then braced together on site and handed over to the A14 Integrated Delivery Team (IDT), the joint venture comprising Costain, Skanska, Balfour Beatty

and designers Atkins/CH2M, working on behalf of Highways England, before the reinforced concrete was added. Once the concrete was cured, the decks were lifted from a series of trestles onto huge self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs). They were then manoeuvred slowly into position before being lowered onto the newly-constructed reinforced concrete abutments. The A14 was closed to traffic at 9pm on a Friday evening to allow sections of the existing A14 carriageway to be infilled and regraded at the Bar Hill site to accommodate the SPMTs. The bridges were installed in 11 hours and the road re-opened by noon on Sunday – 18 hours ahead of schedule.

Prestigious Cyprus project

Go for Glasgow

A steel manufacturer has completed the third phase of a programme to supply one of its flagship products to a multimillion-pound redevelopment in the heart of the Cypriot capital Nicosia. Fabweld Steel Products has delivered the final batch of its FAB PAVE access covers for the refurbishment of Eleftheria Square, the city’s main piazza that sits below the Venetian walls of the medieval city.

Savills has secured planning permission at Queenslie Park industrial estate, a major mixed-use development project in Glasgow on behalf of Warehouse REIT. The scheme will deliver up to 250,000 square feet comprising a combination of distribution, industrial, commercial, storage, retail and hospitality space, with a gross development value of £25 million. Savills has worked closely with project architects 3D Reid in formulating innovative and forwardlooking plans to revitalise Queenslie Park. Savills Associate Ruth Highgate explained that this major project ‘unlocks the potential for wider provision of industrial and business use as well as supporting retail, leisure and other commercial uses, which will help improve the overall quality of Queenslie Park’. “The combination of its location on the M8 east of Glasgow, and the exciting opportunities that can be delivered through this planning consent, will really put Queenslie on the map,” she said.

The project, designed by the firm of award-winning architect, the late Zaha Hadid, aims to unify the ancient parts with the modern centre and is said to be ‘dramatic and historically significant’. Managing Director Richard Hilton said: “Eleftheria Square is a stunning space demanding a top-quality specification to marry the practical with the historical aspect of the setting. The flexibility of Fab Pave access covers meant we could work closely with the contractor to deliver their specific finish. “To have seen the covers in situ on such a prestigious project was an honour.”


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Facilities management



Tom Dunn explains what factors facilities managers should consider when planning surface preparation work


he W.E.B Du Bois Library is famous for its height, but also the fact that it is slowly falling apart.

Could this be because of lack of planning before construction? Two months after opening, the W.E.B Du Bois library began spalling, a phenomenon where a


building sheds brick chips. There are various urban legends about why this happened but the most realistic is that the architect involved did not account for the weight of the books in his design. Problems like this can occur when there is a lack of communication between contractors, architects and facilities

managers. Every person involved in a construction project needs a clear idea of the expectations of the final building. During the construction or renovation of any facility, either residential, commercial or industrial, there is one important consideration that affects all parties - the type of floor covering required.

The new floor covering will primarily depend on the type of facility and the purpose of the building. For example, it would be inappropriate for a hotel and a manufacturing facility to install the same floor covering. Facilities managers should receive a detailed brief from the building owner, before contacting the coating manufacturer for the best advice regarding floor coverings.

to limit dust exposure is by using the right equipment. Dust collectors can greatly reduce the amount of the dust in the atmosphere, keeping contractors and other people in the facility safe.

Manage expectations

Before the renovation Once facilities managers know what covering they are using, they must consult with a contractor to establish what surface preparation work needs to be done. To clearly establish the whole process, they should create a timeline of the entire job with the clients’ brief and desired result in mind. The timeline will help both the facilities manager and the contractor manage on-site activity, while facilities managers can plan how the facility will operate during this work. During a renovation, a timeline can help the manager determine if the facility must be shut or employees can operate around the construction work. Contractors will need to know the available power sources on site to know what machines can be used. Residential facilities or smaller commercial facilities normally have single phase power availability, which is suitable for smaller equipment. Larger, industrial or commercial buildings will usually have three phase power, which is compatible with larger machines. If the job requires a larger machine, but the facility has single phase power, contractors can bring three phase generators to complete the work efficiently. In facilities with lots of equipment the facilities managers need to eliminate all obstacles that can move and cover any remaining equipment to prevent damage. Contractors

should use smaller machines around remaining equipment to manoeuvre around corners.

Staff considerations Before the contractor arrives, facilities managers must make the staff aware of the work that will be taking place. With this knowledge, employees can make sure their work and movements do not hinder the surface preparation work. Facilities managers must also ensure both contractors and employees are kept safe during the work. One of the main health issues related to surface preparation is dust exposure. Silica is a chemical compound found in a lot of materials used in the construction industry, including concrete, granite and brick. When it is fine, construction workers and employees around the work area can inhale the dust that can cause health problems, such as silicosis or bronchitis. In surface preparation, facilities managers can work with the contractors to ensure they are taking the precautions to mitigate silica dust inhalation. The best way

From conception to completion, facilities managers and contractors need to manage one another’s expectations. Once the work has started, it is important for facilities managers to contact the contractor daily. This way, they can understand each stage of the work and ensure that it is going well. Facilities managers need to know what the desired finish of the floor should be before the job starts and communicate that to the contractor. Once both the contractor and manager understand the expected finish, they must work together to reach this, from the type of flooring needed and the factors that need to be considered to place that covering to organising where and when the work will take place and where the employees will be during the work. No one has given an official cause of the spalling at the W.E.B Du Bois Library. However, to avoid poor construction in surface preparation, facilities managers and contractors should stay in constant contact to manage each other’s expectations and complete the work successfully and efficiently.

Tom Dunn is director of major accounts at surface preparation expert, National Flooring Equipment. Founded in 1968, National Flooring Equipment designs and manufactures quality flooring equipment and supports it with unparalleled customer service. With dozens of patents, National Flooring Equipment boasts the most extensive product offering currently available in the surface preparation industry. For more information, please see


Bridges and tunnels

State of the

industry Innovation is the key driver to unlocking potential in the bridges and tunnels sector, says Will Reddaway


teady economic growth since 2012 in

the UK has meant more freight, rail passengers and road users and, consequently, greater wear and tear of public infrastructure.


Will Reddaway

To continue to rise to the challenge of providing a fit for purpose transport network that keeps trains, vehicles and people moving, professionals in the bridge and tunnel industry will have to develop innovative

solutions that are quicker, safer and more reliable. Within the sector a growth of 4.3 per cent per annum is forecast over the next five years, bringing plenty of opportunity for innovative engineers, backed by brave and

supportive companies, to make their mark on the industry. There is not too much concern that Brexit will dramatically affect the sector as the government has shown continued support to improving infrastructure. One

concern is that cost pressures will be placed on the supply chain if an adverse exchange rate causes price inflation. It is up to contractors therefore to appropriately prepare and consider how we will be able to

directly deliver more elements of work and share their knowledge and experience to help mitigate this challenge. Construction 2025 states that the government’s vision for the future construction industry


Bridges and tunnels

is of one that is more diverse, sustainable and innovative; focused on research and with clear leadership from consultants and contractors. In answer to this, Murphy is developing its innovation capability and implementing a systematic open innovation management system called the Innovation Foundation (IF). The IF allows ideas to be submitted from across the workforce that range from small improvements such as reusable over boots to reduce plastic waste to large improvements like robotic arms to reduce Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). In the future, Murphy aims to bring along academia, its supply chain and clients on its journey to make innovation part of business as usual.

Case Study: Whiteball Tunnel One example where the IF is working collaboratively with Murphy’s clients and partners to innovate in the sector is on the Whiteball Tunnel Maintenance


project. The team are currently designing new solutions to the traditional challenges of the works that will be carried out over a 23-day blockade period in March 2019. The original plan was to drill 1380 holes for stainless steel dowels to support a new sprayed concrete lining on the existing brick tunnel. However, stainless steel brings with it a prohibitive cost; normal steel rusts; and drilling is a lengthy operation with operatives limited to just 13 minutes per shift due to risk of HAVS. Murphy’s IF has since established two possible solutions to these issues. The first is to use a robotic tool manipulator to drill the holes, thereby reducing HAVS risk. The second is to explore the use of Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) dowels in sprayed concrete lining, potentially a first for the tunnelling sector. The robotic arm and GRP dowels will allow Murphy to be more productive, reduce costs and possession times by allowing more drilling per shift and faster dowel installation.

The innovation team are testing the dowels in collaboration with Network Rail and Loughborough University to confirm compliance with the structural requirements. We hope to find results that will allow us to change the process by which we, and others in the industry, restore tunnels, creating a more efficient and cost effective method. Both of these innovative ideas came through Murphy’s Innovation Foundation (IF) portal and were nurtured by innovation specialists, before being presented by the originator to Murphy’s Engineering Tomorrow Forum (ETF) and approved. The ETF is highly experienced and signifies the company’s commitment to innovation. It is chaired by Murphy CEO John Murphy and attended by the COO, engineering director, people director, two non-executive directors, Professor Barry Clarke from Leeds University and Professor Peter Hansford from University College London (both of whom are also ex-ICE presidents).

Interest is already growing around reapplying these innovations across different parts of the business. For example, Murphy’s specialist welding service has also had problems with HAVS and Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WRMSDs) when using grinders in the fabrication of steel pipelines.

The future of the industry In this £1bn industry we have seen major projects come to completion over the last five years such as the tunnel boring on Crossrail, the Mersey Gateway Bridge and the widening of the M25. The future project pipeline is looking promising, making this is a very exciting time for the industry. There is an increased appetite from clients for creative construction solutions and contractors like Murphy are moving away from a typically, and understandably, risk-averse approach to change, to one that is not afraid to celebrate opportunities for improvement. New construction makes

up around 50 per cent of the industry and repairs and maintenance currently sit at one third of the industry which is a significant overall impact. Network Rail’s move to revive aging infrastructure has put an emphasis on renewals in its CP6 procurement process, moving away from the trend of developing new infrastructure on CP5. In much the same way, innovation is not always about the shiny and new or big impressive technology and fancy kit. We must also revisit the tried and tested, refine processes and look at how we can make small changes that make a big difference. The bridge and tunnel sector in the UK is significant generating over £1bn of revenue with growth forecasts over four per cent for the next five years. Many existing (and ageing) assets require regular maintenance and construction of new infrastructure calls for improved manufacturing and engineering techniques. A requirement for easier maintenance as well as

better monitoring capabilities is now expected. This journey is not without its challenges but innovation and knowledgesharing will be a key driver in unlocking potential in the industry to enhance productivity, safety and sustainability. Murphy is excited by this journey and seeking collaboration with industry partners, clients, academia and its supply chain to stimulate these opportunities for improvement and create increased value for the asset owners.

Will Reddaway is Head of Innovation at J. Murphy & Sons Limited, a leading global, multi-disciplined engineering and construction company founded in 1951 that improves lives by delivering world-class infrastructure. Operating in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada, Murphy provides better engineered solutions to infrastructure sectors including transportation; water; power; natural resources; and construction & property. For more information, please see


Construction innovation



higher ground Prof. Tim Ibell takes a look at The Jump Factory, and celebrates the amazing innovation that is behind the concept


Construction innovation


he 2018 Structural Awards shortlist was announced in July 2018, showcasing some of the world’s best examples in engineering from large corporations and small practices alike. It’s an annual highlight in the Institution of Structural Engineers’ calendar and is the perfect way to celebrate the extraordinary talent and skill of the Institution’s membership and the wider industry. I have been involved in judging the awards for five years and it’s a great privilege to be asked to chair this year’s panel. One category which always captures my imagination is ‘Construction Innovation’. This year the category has offered a fascinating collection of projects demonstrating both engineering ingenuity and creativity. One entry which particularly interested us this year was Mace’s ‘The Jump Factory’. A tenstorey demountable enclosure, the project creates a factory environment in which a high-rise


building can be constructed. Earlier this year, the efficacy of this extraordinary innovation was demonstrated through two residential towers of 26 and 30 storeys which were completed in Stratford using this pioneering construction technique.

Complex brief Support for the Factory is integrated into the design of the main building. Bespoke jacking frames are incorporated into the Factory structure, allowing it to be raised up incrementally as each level is completed. It provides four internal working levels at which frame construction, load-out of internal fixtures and fittings, and façade installation is finalised. This allows the completion of one floor per week. The entry fascinated the panel and I was keen to find out a bit more, so I caught-up with Des Mairs a director at Davies Maguire, the structural engineers behind The Jump Factory, to get his take on this significant development in the construction industry.

Inspiration for the system came to Mace from abroad, as Des highlights: “They had seen a high rise project being built in Holland using an enclosed ‘factory’ and felt the approach would provide an efficient way of constructing the twin N08 towers at the East Village site in Stratford. “Particularly,” he continues, “Mace was keen on advancing the concepts of pre-cast and modular construction and wanted to explore the programme benefits of carrying out this form of construction within an enclosed space. “That’s when we became involved. Mace was clear on their spatial requirements within the brief, loading bay at one end, storage and welfare at the other. This needed to be complemented by access walkways around the full perimeter. One of the key operational requirements was uninterrupted crane access across the complete internal footprint of the site. Finally, the factory needed to be supported on four corner columns to ensure structural stability.”

Des observes that it was a basic brief, but enough to develop the requirements: “As the project progressed, trussed portal frames in both directions became necessary to ensure the stability of the factory, all without inhibiting the gantry crane movements.

Game-changer “Inspiration for the final design,” he says, “developed directly out of the brief. To keep the self-weight of the factory to a minimum no structure was provided that wasn’t necessary. The size of the four corner columns had been fixed, architecturally and could not be changed, so our work was framed by this criterion. However, there had to be an element of material flexibility to the original blueprints. For example, the concrete columns specified in the original design could not carry the heavy loads, so these had to be changed to steel.” The Davies Maguire team had envisaged early challenges arising from the supporting columns but it was not until the construction

journey had started that they presented themselves. “The structural form crystallised quickly, but the support and lifting methodology took time to refine. We constantly needed to develop solutions which would support the whole structure but also ensure that the whole frame could be easily lifted from one level to another as the jumps progressed. “The main difficulty we faced,” Des highlights, “was getting the supporting corner columns to work whilst maintaining their overall size. To get the columns to work, we had to use slender bearing plates to minimise eccentricities. The entire factory weighed 500 tonnes and needed to sit on four bearing plates 450mm long by 50mm wide. This pushed the material to its limits, as much a challenge as it was a highlight when it all came together!” And what of its applications? “The Jump Factory has huge advantages,” he enthuses. “Precast concrete walls, columns and slabs, bathroom pods and pre-formed M&E cassettes

have all be done before but this structure provides truly ‘factorylike’ conditions to optimise installation.” Des concludes, as one might expect, on a high: “It’s a game changer and comes into its own when combined with a strong supply chain. In the case of the Stratford project, Mace was so efficient it was able to successfully plan for one floor completed per week. The Jump Factory was essential to this ambition, which was achieved very quickly once it was up and running, ensuring both consistency and rapid construction all the way up to the 30th floor.” Indeed, this new building system has huge potential for the built environment. The judging panel and I are of the opinion that The Jump Factory is a step change for high-rise builds as it accelerates higher-quality construction in a safer environment. As such it is impressive enough to achieve a coveted place on this year’s shortlist, alongside the other worthy projects nominated for the ‘Construction Innovation’ category.

Prof. Tim Ibell is Chair of the Judges for the 2018 Structural Awards. The Structural Awards are the world’s foremost celebration of structural engineers as innovative, creative design professionals and the guardians of public safety. For over 50 years, the Structural Awards have showcased the world’s most cutting edge engineering achievements. The Institution of Structural Engineers is the world’s largest membership organisation dedicated to the art and science of structural engineering. The Institution has over 28,000 members working in 105 countries around the world. The Institution is an internationally recognised source of expertise and information concerning all issues that involve structural engineering and public safety within the built environment. For more information, please see


Case Study

Excelling in every degree Stephenson Construction sought out Wavin’s expertise when looking for a flood protection solution for a uni halls installation project in Cambridge


n the wake of significant flooding across Europe in recent years, a growing number of housing developers look to take steps to protect properties from flood water. More and more is being demanded of stormwater drainage installations. Construction experts Stephenson Construction turned to Wavin’s Q-Bic Plus, in harmony with Wavin Vortex valves, to address this key issue with bespoke solutions. Flooding and Climate Change are combining to create a concerning rise in floodwater damage to commercial and residential buildings alike. To protect against the potentially catastrophic damage caused by excess water over-capacitating standard drainage systems, developers are turning to SuDS (Sustainable Drainage Systems).


Adequately protecting from potential flood damage was a key concern of the developers of a 202-bed student accommodation in Cambridge for Anglia Ruskin University, as they enlisted the support and expertise of Stephenson Construction in installing an integrated drainage system within a tight time frame. With over 200 students set to descend on the halls upon its completion in January 2019, the developer needed a solution that could not only be installed quickly, but could fit into the tight space left by a derelict car dealership on the corner of Newmarket Road and River Lane.

Doing the homework After careful consideration of the size and situ of the site, it was clear that traditional stormwater

solutions, which direct water into pipe systems to be carried away by a local watercourse would not be sufficient. Such systems fail to mitigate the impact of such high levels of surface water – rather, moving it elsewhere. The challenge with this is that it can make flooding worse in other parts of the local area, as water is directed away from access points. To overcome this issue, Stephenson Construction worked with specialist experts from Wavin, who recommended the use of an engineered solution specifically designed to support the infiltration and attenuation of stormwater. The installation of such a system would help provide a place to store excessive groundwater away from the halls for later controlled release, supporting floodwater attenuation.

The system would also need to be somewhat flexible to make best use of the limited space of the site. This meant the developers were in need of a modular system that they could, in effect, mould to the shape and size of the space they were able to use.

Sitting the exam To meet the brief, Wavin’s Q-Bic Plus infiltration system, with integrated and bespoke Wavin Vortex valves, was selected for the student halls site. This is a specialist sustainable drainage solution (SuDS) consisting of a series of tanks buried underground. Designed to mimic Mother Nature by managing stormwater at source, the system works by collecting excess stormwater from across a site, and storing it until

it can be released in a controlled manner back into the surrounding soil or into the local sewerage network. Working in tandem with existing management systems, it can help significantly reduce the risk of flooding. The modular nature of the Q-Bic Plus system – with integrated connectors incorporated into each unit – meant that the engineers working on the design for the new halls had considerable freedom to devise the most appropriate drainage solution for the needs of the site. The result was a network of more than 140 Q-Bic Plus units installed beneath the halls, arranged into five different tank configurations of units optimising storage capacity. The system will be connected to the guttering on the final build, as well as the drains for the local area, ready to collect excess groundwater during extreme weather events.

the development – the second site with this system in place in the UK – with work on the halls themselves still ongoing. For Stephenson Construction, the company leading the drainage system installation, the Q-Bic Plus system offered benefits beyond ensuring the site remains dry and accessible during bad weather. The Project Manager of Stephenson Construction Ltd., said: “Wavin’s first class customer service and products far outstripped our other supplier options as they provided bespoke solutions that addressed our need for speed and maximising the use of the small space we had. “We were able to work efficiently, saving time and costs, by having a 3D model from Wavin of the full attenuation system – Vortex valves included – meaning we were able to plan with minute accuracy. The products themselves solved the issue of our space restrictions, with Q-Bic Plus allowing both regular and irregular shaped tanks to be constructed. Wavin helped us to make what could have been a near-impossible task straight-forward, quick and effective.” Martin Lambley, Product Manager, Wavin UK, concluded: “When choosing stormwater management equipment, it’s important not just to think about capacity alone, there are other considerations as well. These include issues like health and safety for workers, as well as installation efficiency. Taking all of these factors into account during the selection process, it’s feasible to ensure that the construction process runs as smoothly as possible, while providing the finished site the protection it needs from the harmful impacts of extreme weather.”

2:1 with honours

For more information, please see

The new Q-Bic Plus SuDS system with Vortex valves has now been installed beneath the ground of rainwater-stormwater


Built environment

Lack of


Blane Judd discusses why we need to plan for the future when constructing buildings, and then schedule the proper maintenance them to keep them fit for purpose


e are stuck on a trajectory that will increasingly see buildings that could have been made to be continually fit for purpose being disposed of or worst still demolished. The reason is we are not looking at the assets we have and continuality improving them, but rather taking an out-dated approach of living with them until the services within them become obsolete and then facing a bill so high that make do and mend becomes the O and M mantra.


Blane Judd Chair of the IET’s Built Environment panel

I recently received a letter saying that the cost of upgrade for the Care home my mother has finally settled into (at the age of 87), can no longer afford to function. There are a number or reasons cited, but the key one that stands out is the lack of continual investment in the building during its life. Of course, there isn’t the budget today to undertake the major refit required to bring the building up to required standards for the elderly. But this has not just become apparent recently, it could be seen to be happening long before the closure announcement was issued.

This is not a one-off case either, the lack of a vison for buildings and occupancy of them, is blighting so many of our heritage sites too. Constructions that have been around for hundreds of years are failing internally due to a lack of continuous investment. It is also the case that many of our older sites are facing high cost investment to make them functional for a 21st century occupancy. Too few projects are looking at a 50 year plus utilisation and considering how solutions selected today can be designed to allow for the impacts of tomorrow. We know

that can block the introduction of newer and more efficient solutions further down the line.

Sustained functionality

more now about the future of the environment in which our buildings will be required to operate. Climate change, air pollution, water scarcity and carbon reduction are less of a concern to the current occupants. We can more accurately predict 20 years hence, what the impacts on the occupants will be. Here, then, is our chance to work with clients to help them extend their ambition for their buildings. In refurbishment projects so often, plant and equipment is selected because it is a direct replacement for the existing. This approach, however, can lead to a principle

In many cases the approach is to make the building fit for current purpose. If we are truly to practice sustainable development isn’t it incumbent on us as professional engineers to adopt the principle of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations? Of course, I can hear the objections on the grounds of capital cost, but if the financial crash only taught us one thing, it is that someone has to pay at some time. The youth of Greece are bitter for having to pay for the excesses of their forefathers, is that a legacy the construction sector wants to leave for the future? Will it be the engineers or accountants that will force the issue of life cycle costing? As we move further into the digital age of construction, where modelling and prototyping can be done long before the first sod is turned, we have the opportunity of bring a concurrent engineering approach. The design, build, maintain, repurpose principles of construction need to be considered as one. The emergence of multidisciplinary teams and collaborative working are helping in this regard, but we need to do more. Latham’s accusation of an adversarial sector is still evident in the way many work today. We have been somewhat behind the curve compared to our manufacturing colleagues, but we have shown that we have the ability to adapt and adopt with approaches such as Lean. We live in a society that is disposing of so much technology long before it ceases to function. This is not because we over engineer, but because it is possible to make technology that

is far more reliable than it was 50 years ago and at a fraction of the price. We have become better at what we do and it is now time for the construction sector to show that we are as good at thinking long-term about the buildings we construct and the purposes for which they are used. For this to be effective we need to learn from the past, not live in it. Instead of planning for a building that is fit for purpose at the point of occupancy we need to think more about how that building will be used during its life. Working backwards from that point we can start to determine what needs to happened now and into the future to achieve sustained functionality. But we must not stop there. Once we understand the journey the building is on, we need to make sure we continue to invest to attain those goals. That requires a different mindset for all stakeholders including those in procurement who have to think longer-term, thereby stopping the cheapest price best value thinking, which prevents building life cycle best value. It’s time we created a legacy to be proud of, where future generations celebrate the contribution we made to their built environment.

Blane Judd is Chair of the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s Built Environment Policy Panel. The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with over 169,000 members in 150 countries. It is also the most multidisciplinary to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of modern engineering. Its mission is to inspire the next generation of engineers; inform members and the wider engineering community; and influence Government, media and other stakeholders to support its message of the vital role engineering plays in today’s world. For more information, please see



The digital


Jozef Dobos believes that the construction industry needs to embrace to new ways of working


he construction industry has made huge advances in recent decades especially in areas such as materials, mechanisation techniques and health and safety. However, in other respects it could be argued progress has gone backwards. Back in the days of engineering giant Brunel, major infrastructure projects were conceived, planned and built in relatively short timescales. Today, it is a lot more complicated. Some changes have certainly been necessary such as stricter employment legislation, shorter working hours and much more stringent health and safety practices. However, long drawn out public consultations, political indecision, complex legalities and inflexible contracts - and generally


Jozef Dobos

slow decision-making processes make progress frustratingly slow. There is one other serious issue hindering progress. That is a resistance to change – or at least an inability to change - when it comes to adopting new digital workflow. Driving these news ways of working is technology and in particular the internet. And through improved mobile communications, everyone is connected via their mobile devices and all equipment on site is increasingly connected – something that is described as ‘The Internet of Things’. The ‘cloud’ as it is known has become the accepted way to deliver IT infrastructure in the modern era because of the huge benefits it offers. It has had a

major impact on industries such as retail, logistics and banking. The construction industry has, however, struggled to embrace new technology and undergo the change which is inevitable. ‘So why is this so?’, you may ask. It is a combination of factors most likely. For a start, large projects run on long and inflexible contracts. Some projects take decades to complete and the project management and deliverables are based on what was current at the time of the agreement. Also, clients such as governments but also most construction firms are ginormous, risk-adverse and with very inflexible ways of working. Of course, when it comes to new technology, it is the millennials who have the vision and capability

to introduce new technology and new working practices that can seriously boost efficiency and productivity. However, in most large organisations these ‘new kids on the block’ are not going to be in senior-enough management positions where budgets are set, and decisions are made.

Adapt to survive At some point soon, the industry is going to have to adapt. If it does not, the survival of the established players is at risk. You do not have to look too far to see the impact of what are known as the ‘disruptors’. The taxi industry and Uber, the music industry and Spotify, the retail industry and Amazon, the property rental sector and Airbnb, the office rental sector and WeWork; the list is endless. These disruptors do not have the legacy issues of the established market leaders. They force industries to change and those that adapt - introducing the next day home deliveries, offering mobile booking apps and building city short-rental apartments, for example – survive and flourish. The future for those that did not adapt enough was not so bright and included established names such as Kodak, HMV, BHS, Maplin and Toys ‘R’ Us. Maybe the demise of Carillion was a warning shot, only time will tell. Nonetheless, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Over the last few years, there has been a significant shift in attitudes and slow, but gradual acceptance of the fact that a new technological era has arrived in the last frontier of construction. Objections to open source systems, hosted services and data held in the public cloud are diminishing as the number of adopters grows and benefits become more and more apparent. At 3D Repo, we have been at the forefront of innovation with a multi-award winning digital construction platform

that enables users to quickly and securely access project information via a web browser. We give project teams and software developers instant access to 3D BIM data online as part of an enterprise-grade open collaboration platform. What we offer is pretty revolutionary and that is not always a good thing! It is not what people are used to, but it is definitely the future. It means that companies in the construction sector can move to web-based workflows and not be burdened by cumbersome and, proprietary but also legacy systems. Today, companies such as Atkins, HOK, Skanska, Canary Wharf Contractors, Crossrail and Balfour Beatty are amongst those adopting 3D Repo on a huge variety of construction and infrastructure projects worldwide. It is important to just understand a little bit of the technology behind our developments. Instead of a conventional file-based approach to data storage and processing, our software breaks down files into miniscule information blocks that are more easily accessed and distributed online in an encrypted fashion. Other vendors provide systems but they are based on conventional and more importantly proprietary file formats. To modify even a single door in a building, you have to upload a new version of the entire 3D file again. With our system, data blocks can be mixed and matched, filtered and optimised, to push out an enormous amount of data over the Internet very fast. This not only makes it easy to create custom workflows very easily thanks to the open nature of the platform, but it also makes the whole BIM dataset futureproof as proprietary file formats are not suitable for archival purposes. This new approach to delivering IT is of particular benefit to large

projects where teams need access to lots of data over long periods of time. It is also great for multi-party collaboration, with various companies working in different locations and time zones, that need to quickly change information, validate it and visualise online without the need to download, install or process large models.

Free and open Ultimately, the industry needs to embrace the cloud as others have done before. Construction has many proprietary software vendors, but we are trying to democratise the free and open nature of information in the digital age, as well as co-operation in general. We are trying to change things so that everyone with the right permissions and clearance has access to the right information at the right time and for eternity. An open source web-based approach reduces the time and cost associated with sharing knowledge, simple! The adoption of open source technologies is something that is happening all over the world and across industries. It is important for the future of the construction industry as the effectiveness of BIM will ultimately depend on ease of access, standardisation and affordability for work that relies on sharing data. The software is now a free commodity, it is the data that has the real value!

Jozef Dobos is the CEO of 3D Repo. 3D Repo provides a cloud platform and BIM data repository for collaborative working. Instead of architects, consultants and contractors sharing massive proprietary files in a costly and time consuming manner, they can simply use a web browser to access BIM data for managing projects as well as verifying, validating and analysing the data in a fully collaborative environment. For more information, please see


The Offsite Construction Show (OSCS) 2018

Date for the diary

The Offsite Construction Show is the event for professionals working in or with the construction industry and delivers a really high-quality audience who are all either using or looking to use offsite construction in their latest projects


ollowing a record breaking third Offsite Construction Show, the event has firmly established itself as Europe’s largest specialist event for offsite and modular construction, demonstrating that it is the place to do business and to bring this new industry together. And with so many new plans and initiatives the organisers can confidently promise even more at the next edition, which is taking place in a new dateline (20-21 November). This what some of the exhibitors thought about the highly successful 2017 Show:


TDS – ‘it has been a fantastic show this year, we’ve met lots of architects and developers’ CREAGH CONCRETE – ‘our first time at the Offsite Construction Show and it has been absolutely fantastic for us’ POPPERS SENCO – ‘we have got some fantastic leads and it has been very worthwhile’ MODULAR BUILDING AUTOMATION – ‘we’ve been able to present our brick slip system to a lot of very interested potential customers, so really busy for these two days’ EXTRA SPACE SOLUTIONS – ‘it’s been a great experience for us and we’ve been very busy for two days’

MODULEK – ‘the level of interest in our systems and services we can offer has been very encouraging; well worth coming’ KNAUF – ‘the volume and quality we’ve had has been absolutely superb. We’ve had an awful lot of domestic enquiries, but also interest from abroad, including Brazil, USA and Russia’ YARA – ‘very productive and we’ve got a lot of very meaningful leads’ There will be lots of new companies and initiatives at this year’s event - come along and see many first-time exhibitors all showing their offsite products and solutions companies such

20th & 21st November 2018 - Excel, London

to deliver at scale the quality, high performing homes that are urgently needed in the UK. Wednesday 21 November will be themed as Infrastructure Day the Seminars will be reinforced by a Programme of Workshops that will demonstrate how offsite and other innovative technologies and practices are being combined to transform the productivity and performance of the UK construction industry. OSCS is the only UK event that brings together the client and supply side for all sectors of the rapidly expanding offsite construction sector. OSCS is a show for all sectors and provides a business-to-business networking opportunity for those funders, clients, designers, constructors and suppliers who wish to improve the quality, performance in use, asset value and value of construction – both building and civil engineering. as Lindapter, Sikla, Construction Systems Marketing, Britlift, Frameclad, City Lifting, Lucideon, Co Builder, Istidama, Proctor Group, Nationwide Windows and Doors, Hants County Council, C-Probe, Carnehill Contracting, Wago and Emtec Product, Tarmac and many more still to come... Find out more about Structural Timber in the new STA sponsored Structural Timber Zone and take part in the daily seminar sessions on ‘Why Timber?’ These are concentrating on the technology driving Timber Frame, SIPS and CLT, plus there will also be a new series of case studies and presentations in the

Offsite Show theatre presented by companies such as Wago, the Offsite Academy, Lucideon, Tekla, Envirobuild and Strusoft. Buildoffsite will be delivering a substantial programme of Seminars and Workshops over both days of the Show to provide invaluable opportunities for delegates to get to grips with the latest developments in offsite solutions and other innovative technologies across all markets. Tuesday 20 November will be themed as Housing Day - with event speakers drawn from client and supply side organisations to address the challenges and opportunities for offsite solutions

Please check in at: for the full programme in the coming weeks, or call Eddie Milton on 01327 226412 or Paul Shelley on 020 3086 9296 extension 3 for more information. TO REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT VISIT: Visitors/Visitors/register TO VIEW THE LATEST PLAN VISIT: shows/546/views/3/plan


Functional and versatile Construction Systems Marketing offers flexible solutions to architects and designers, enabling the latter to create visually attractive concrete buildings, while ensuring maximum thermal efficiency


he numerous specific advantages of sandwich panels have, in recent times, become widely recognised by the concrete and construction industries, leading to the considerable growth the sandwich panels market is currently enjoying. Staying at the forefront of this niche sector is Construction Systems Marketing (CSM) – the undisputed number one provider of thermally broken connector systems, which is now making the most of the market’s buoyancy. “We have been selling our Thermomass product line since 1999 when the items we were offering were still a little bit ahead of their time,” Managing Director, Scott Green recalls. “Today, it is a completely different story. Architects and builders find the benefits of Thermomass particularly attractive and it is precisely its versatile properties that make it such a popular solution.” Being manufactured off-site represents a key advantage of the Thermomass system, as it provides a certainty of


programme and a certainty of cost. Scott points out several technical aspects that make the difference with other traditional systems. “It is a thermally broken system, which means that no energy can escape through the inside to the outside. This allows you to achieve nearly 100 per cent thermal efficiency, aligned with the purpose of your building, as the connectors can be used with any type of insulation. Therefore, even if you want to keep a freezer building cold, you can do so, because there are no thermal short circuits in the wall to waste energy. In fact, the connectors’ strongest point lies exactly in their significant contribution to making concrete walls look more attractive thermally.” One of the key drivers of the Thermomass success has been the company’s understanding that it needs to invest in R&D, in order to enrich its proposition and develop a variety of connectors for different purposes. “A latest innovation of ours is the X-connector, which we introduced about three years ago,” Scott states. “It is an

extremely helpful tool, especially for architects, because of its ability to take on a phenomenal weight, over extreme thicknesses of insulation. Keeping that in mind, the architects can then design more aesthetically pleasing buildings and not just boring blocks of flats, as was the case in the 1960s. Nowadays, the style of the concrete being used, as well as the relief on its surface, are completely different, and we are offering the alternative the architects want to see,” he explains.

Multiple benefits Elaborating on his previous point, Scott introduces to us another trademark CSM product, called Versaliner Brick Placement. “It is a form liner, which enables the easy placement of bricks onto the surface of the concrete. Again, it expands the opportunities before the architects, who can now use a different palette of materials, or a brick complete with different colours of concrete, and this multiplies the options they have to make a building more attractive to look at. “The benefit of using the

Construction Systems Marketing (CSM)

X-connectors with the Versaliner is that the combination ensures the lowest possible U-values on the wall. A lot of buildings are exceeding regulation expectations, partly because the architects want a relief in the panel. At the same time, we have to increase the thermal insulation to between 250mm and 450mm thickness, and this is where the real strength of our system comes into play, as it holds a concrete face back to the structure,” he discusses.

Crucial role Fire safety is the overriding issue of the day across the construction industry, and due to concrete’s non-combustibility, CSM now offers standard fire-tested products to serve the changing needs of the sector. “Right now, there is a huge caution of what materials to use in building constructions. People are starting to realise that concrete does not burn and all that needs to be done is have a correctly insulated panel. We have now released a range of thermal insulation solutions, which are non-combustible, and there are a number of projects in this area, which we are looking to launch in the near future. “It is evident that the regulations are becoming tighter, as safety is being looked at even more closely across the construction industry. To us, it seems that each building

regulation officer has a different approach, but the general trend is that fire stops are wanted to be put around the windows, because this is the weak point and they are taking extra protection measures,” Scott analyses some of the trends and challenges CSM has to deal with in its operations. He goes on: “The biggest issue for architects and designers is hitting a specified average U-value, in order to meet energy requirements. This is the exact moment we step in and play a crucial role in a project, as we look at a typical panel, appraise the window configuration and the reduction in thermal value there is around the windows, and then give our clients the thickness of foam they need, so they can meet their U-value targets. “Most of the panels have the windows already installed when they go to a construction site, so construction tends to be very simple and extraordinarily fast on our part, once the panels have been done in the factory. We are convinced that we have

the easiest and simplest to use system for our customers,” Scott maintains, comparing a concrete sandwich panel to a normal sandwich in an attempt to further emphasise the flexibility of the product. “You get two pieces of concrete on each side, but the filling could be completely different every time, which gives us the exceptional versatility to produce exactly what a designer wants. For example, if the client wants to ensure maximum fire safety, we can deliver such a core that addresses this requirement. Similarly, if cost-effectiveness prevails in their considerations, we can again change the inside to meet that demand. It is also possible for us to manufacture the panels on-site, should that be what a customer wants.” Speaking of the future, Scott is optimistic that the concrete industry in the UK is making a return, some half a century after its rise and subsequent decline in the 1960s. “Concrete has so many advantages. Acoustically, it is vastly superior to both timber and steel. It does not burn and it has excellent thermal capabilities, outperforming other materials. When you think about it, the Romans were building in concrete and some of their buildings are still around, proving concrete’s permanence and costeffectiveness over a long period of time. All of these factors lead me to believe that concrete will regain its supremacy and we are currently helping it do that, as we are offering all the answers that the construction industry demands, at the moment.”

Construction Systems Marketing (CSM) Products: Thermally broken connector systems and form liners


Flexing its

muscles Britlift adopts a customer-oriented approach in the development of lifting equipment that has helped the company distinguish itself from its peers and grow significantly in the first year of its operation


nly a year has passed since the formation of Britlift, but the specialist designer and manufacturer of lifting equipment has already been involved in a number of prestigious projects at home and abroad. Having previously spent ten years collectively in their chosen industry, founders Liam Botting and Anthony Culshaw (now Managing Director and Technical Director, respectively) were overcome with a feeling that they could introduce a fresh and flexible approach that centres entirely on the customer’s true needs. “Clients looking for a custom product had historically been offered an off-the-shelf service, which resulted in them being supplied with lifting equipment that suits not their needs, but those of the suppliers,” maintains Liam. “In contrast, we have taken a diametrically opposite approach, in which we work with the clients to ensure that they receive a product that is right for them


and their project in any given situation. Whether it is a custom design that needs to fit a tight budget, a fabrication that needs to suit a tight lead time, a project that requires a site visit 200 miles away to understand the lifting problem, or whether it is supplying to a construction site in a factory or offshore, Britlift can advise, consult, design, fabricate, source, and supply to fit all requirements.” Paying such a high degree of attention to the requirements of every individual customer is a trait that is not seen too often in the providers of today, so the appearance of Britlift in the market has been met with huge interest from the outset, leading to an uptake of the company’s custom design work. “We have been able to win a significant amount of orders in a short space of time, precisely because we can really understand the exact needs of our clients. “Rather than supply an off-theshelf solution, in most cases we will design and fabricate a beam or a frame specifically for the type of lifting that is required,” Liam

explains. “This helps to ensure that the customer gets exactly what they need and also has a positive effect on the overall cost of a project. In order to do this successfully, it is important that we are able to offer quick lead times, which we consider another core strength of ours. On some occasions, we have supplied endto-end custom-designed solutions in under two weeks, including design and engineering, material delivery, fabrication, proof load testing, CE marking, painting, and finally, shipping. “Besides this, we are able to quote and provide a supporting drawing within 24 hours of being contacted by a client, and, unlike many other lifting equipment manufacturers, we genuinely fabricate in-house. By having this differentiator, we can control workload, give accurate manufacturing lead times, prioritise, and expedite projects,” he continues. Britlift takes pride in developing equipment that is CE-marked and delivered with an EC Declaration of Conformity, and Liam stresses


the importance of customers being wary of the quality of lifting equipment they are looking into. “It seems to be very common for someone to fabricate their own uncertified (illegal) lifting equipment, or ask a local welder to do it for them. This is highly surprising because of how safety-critical lifting equipment is, and considering the very high standard of certification that is legally required.”

Unrivalled knowledge Taking advantage of the rapidly growing modular building industry, Britlift has channelled its efforts to serve the sector, having worked with many of the well-known modular building manufacturers in the first year of its existence. Liam analyses where the company adds value in this particular field: “As the modular units are becoming larger and heavier, the lifting circumstances on-site are becoming more and more difficult. Lifting is a crucial part of installing modular units and is something that should be taken very seriously by everyone involved. We have gained unrivalled knowledge in the past 12 months and possess a comprehensive understanding of lifting during manufacture and on-site installation. We also understand the weight and time restraints that exist on-site and how important saving even the smallest amount of time can be. In addition, we are specialists in reducing rigging time and weight. When 15 minutes can be saved on rigging between module sizes, it also leads to a huge saving over the lifetime of the entire installation project. Similarly, rigging weight can be of vital importance in relation to the capacity of the crane. Should a lighter set of riggings allow a lower capacity crane to be used, again, the savings made over the course of the project can be substantial.” To give us an example of Britlift in action, Technical Director Anthony refers to a project the

and, to this end, we designed and supplied six 11-tonne telescopic beams to allow a quicker adjustment during the installation of different-sized modules, reduce the overall rigging weight, and improve manual handling,” he reveals, when discussing the nature of yet another successful project Britlift has participated in.

Brimming with confidence

company has delivered for a modular home manufacturer that required a lifting frame for its rubber-tyred gantry cranes (RTGs). “It was a two-frame supply, actually. Along with the RTG frame, they also needed a second frame to install the modules on-site. We designed the former frame in a way that would allow its full flexibility in length, width, and connection points. It was 11m x 6m with a lifting capacity of 25 tonnes and was designed for a direct connection to the RTG. The on-site lifting frame was designed similarly, with the same length and capacity, but the width was achieved through modular struts that can be removed and replaced.” “While our success is mainly due to the overall service we provide, rather than a specific product, if there is one particular item that is gaining popularity within the modular building industry, that is our telescopic spreader beam. We have been involved in a project where the client wanted to streamline their lifting operations

Internationally, the company has supplied none other than the fabled European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, with a lifting frame for a low headroom lift. It has also worked on the first-ever project in India to involve the use of prefabricated bathroom pods. “We were asked to supply a lifting frame system that can be adjusted to suit the four different pod sizes on the project. We developed a modular system that allowed for the different pod dimensions within the modular strut makeup. The modularity of the frame also enabled an easier and more cost-effective transportation,” Liam clarifies. Going strong in its second year of operations, Britlift is brimming with confidence as it is moving closer towards its goal to becoming the manufacturer of choice for custom-designed lifting equipment. “Our aim in the next three to five years is to increase our manufacturing capabilities threefold, as well as to quadruple our engineering capacity,” Liam concludes by revealing his company’s aspirations for the near future.

Britlift Services: Design and manufacture of lifting equipment


1000 Companies to inspire britain


to learn from

For a fifth year in a row, the London Stock Exchange Group acknowledged the 1000 UK companies that have outgrown their respective sectors and set a positive example for their peers


he latest edition of London Stock Exchange Group’s ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain’ list marked a jubilee of a kind for the initiative, as it was for a fifth straight year that the Group recognised some of the fastest growing and most dynamic small and mediumsized enterprises in the UK. Engaging the financial technology company DueDil to identify and audit all participating companies against key financial performance indicators and sector benchmarks, the LSEG published its 2018 report in May. In order for a company to be considered for inclusion on the list, it must be active and registered in the UK. Businesses that have a parent incorporated in a foreign country are excluded, except for specific tax shelters.


Companies that have been incorporated within the past three years are also excluded, and independent company or consolidated group revenues must be between £6 million and £250 million, if they are to be eligible. To measure each company’s performance, DueDil calculates the average annual turnover growth over a three-year period, with calculations weighted to favour latest-year growth. It is noteworthy that any business with more than 20 per cent deterioration in net assets over the three-year period is ineligible to enter. Having compiled its list, DueDil then separates the eligible companies into their Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) groupings. Within each SIC sector, the companies are ranked by their individual growth rates, and those that have most outperformed

their sector averages are singled out as the excelling businesses across the UK. In his foreword to this year’s report, Mr. Nikhal Rathi, CEO of London Stock Exchange PLC, presented some of its key findings: “The service sector contributes 80 per cent of UK GDP, but our research paints an encouraging picture of diversity among the country’s fastest growing SMEs. The top five industries represented account for 40 per cent of the list, and the biggest industry by far is Engineering & Construction, followed by Information Technology,” Mr. Rathi explained. Indeed, 132 companies operating in the Engineering & Construction field were acclaimed for their achievements over a three-year period, while 72 IT businesses received the coveted praise from

the reputable LSEG. The Food & Beverage, Financial Services, and Building & Landscape industries were each represented by 65 companies, while 63 organisations trading in Retail earned a spot on the report. Analysing the figures of this year’s list, Mr. Rathi dispelled, to a degree, the common belief that London and the South East are the traditional engines of British economic growth, stating that more than 60 per cent of the businesses listed are located outside that region. “Companies in the North West and the West Midlands also see the highest growth, with turnover increasing by more than two and three times the national average, respectively. This is against a strong national average of 71 per cent of turnover growth – similar to the 2016 figure and up from 50 per cent the year before.”

Further dissecting the demographics of the companies present on the report, Mr. Rathi pointed out that Edinburgh is one of the top ten cities for average turnover growth at 83 per cent, while Northern Ireland had its number of companies doubled on last year. “In Wales, innovative clinical healthcare providers operating across a multitude of cutting-edge health disciplines make up 15 per cent of the companies featured – three times the national average,” the CEO added. With Brexit inevitably reshaping the business reality in the UK, Mr. Rathi continued his foreword discussing some of the issues that need to be addressed, making sure, however, that he broaches a number of subjects that have pre-dated Brexit that also need increased focus, in order for British companies to fulfil their potential. “Brexit has highlighted many issues – from frictionless access to markets and movement of skilled labour to reducing trade barriers through appropriate and co-operative standards of international regulation – which businesses, together with UK and EU Governments, are working on, in order to ensure the continued economic well-being of all citizens. There have been some issues from earlier on, however, including ensuring dynamic SMEs can realise their potential and scale-up into the global leaders of tomorrow.” According to Mr. Rathi, meeting this goal is linked to the presence of a healthy growth finance market that works for all companies and investors. “The vast majority of SME finance comes in the form of debt, which may not always be the right financing vehicle for start-ups that need to invest permanent capital in growing their business instead of servicing a loan every month. “Overreliance on debt means too many entrepreneurs are scaling

back their ambitions, rather than scaling up their businesses,” he went on, citing stats provided by the Bank of England, according to which a third of UK SMEs see themselves as having made too little investment across the range of funding options open to them. “More than a fifth of these businesses either ran into onerous collateral requirements or were unable to obtain funding for the duration they required, and these are all barriers unique to the debt market.” LSE’s CEO maintained that equity growth finance is taxed several times over from capital gains tax to dividend tax, to stamp duty, and gave a positive example of equity investment being more fiscally viable and, therefore, prevalent in the economy of the USA, which results in the fact that 60 per cent of the world’s most valuable companies originate from America, while less than 15 per cent come from Europe – a considerable decline from 30 per cent a decade ago. “Last year, the UK created a record number of start-ups and some studies estimate that just one per cent increase in the number of high-growth companies would drive an additional 238,000 jobs,” Mr. Rathi said, going on to praise the Government’s acute recognition when setting out its Industrial Strategy that more needs to be done to support innovative businesses to scale-up. “An economy that truly works for everyone should see capital flow bottom up to risk takers and entrepreneurs who create the jobs for tomorrow. We fully supported the Patient Capital Review and the £2.5 billion British Business Bank fund will ensure billions of extra pounds of vital investment flows into our dynamic SMEs,” he concluded.


profile: Precon Products

Rich assortment Precon Products has experienced unbelievable growth in the first ten years of its operation, offering an extensive range of products to some of the leading construction companies in the UK


ow do you become the biggest independent supplier of construction products in a wildly competitive market such as the UK’s? According to Mike Philpot, Managing Director of Precon Products, there is a combination of factors that needs to be concocted, in order to reach this stature. “Our biggest strength is the vast product range that we offer to our customers.


We have about 1800 different items, ranging from concrete accessories, through to concrete repair products, waterproofing products, as well as finishing tools. Essentially, we can provide anything concrete-related, acting as a one-stop shop for manufacturers, thus saving them the time of going to multiple companies to get each individual item.” Clearly, the wide variety of products requires a knowledgeable and agile staff that are familiar

with the ins and outs of every commodity, so that the client is treated to a customer service of the highest standard. “Having good staff and looking after our employees is fundamental to our success,” Mike affirms. “It is thanks to our people that we offer such a seamless experience to the clients. Ours is not necessarily a difficult business. It all comes down to providing the right level of service coupled with the right pricing. Having recognised that, we are constantly preoccupied with

Adomast Manufacturing Ltd Adomast has built a solid reputation over the last few years for manufacturing and suppling an extensive range of high performance construction chemicals for today’s demanding construction requirements. Its chemicals are used widely across all categories of construction and civil engineering projects, including recently, Hinkley Point C power station and Crossrail. Adomast has been an ISO 9001:2015 approved company for many years, where top-quality customer service is at the heart of the business, offering next day delivery service to over 90 per cent of the UK, including direct to site delivery if required. Adomast also offers a bespoke product service to its customers, fitting specific construction applications or projects. Adomast sends its congratulations to Mike Philpott and all his team at Precon Products for the last ten highly successful years, and sends its best wishes for the next ten and beyond. Adomast is proud and delighted to supply Precon Products with its construction chemicals.


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This ensures you are fully compliant with the latest building regulations and environmental standards.

As part of the RPC bpi Group we can draw upon the expertise of one of the world’s leading suppliers of high quality, value-added flexible solutions. It’s easy to see why the difference is Visqueen.

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profile: Precon Products

challenging environment, but we have managed to overcome these difficulties, trying to stay ahead of the game and continue to deliver our products from A to B without interruption. As for other parts of the UK, because they have not got the same legislative requirements yet, it is much easier for us to operate in these areas.”

Ambitious future plans

making sure that our people are well-versed, so when a customer rings up with a question, they can always answer it. This kind of attitude instils confidence in the clients themselves, too, as they know that if they place an order, it will be dealt with immediately and without any issues.” Executed to perfection and in unison, all these elements have led to the success story Precon Products has been in the past ten years. Formed only in 2008, the company projects a £35 million turnover in 2018, a spectacular growth for such a young business. More impressively still, this growth has been totally organic and was achieved largely due to the hard work going on in Precon Products’ four depots, in Bury St Edmunds, Godalming, Rotherham, and Watford Village.

Strong growth The company has also received a respectable amount of external recognition. In 2013, it entered ‘The Sunday Times Fast Track 100’ for the first time in its history and was also included on the ‘1000

Companies to Inspire Britain’ list. The latter feat was repeated this year, when Precon Products was singled out for its strong growth in the past three years, in which it significantly outperformed its peers. Since its formation, the business has been involved in some of the most prestigious projects in London, such as the building of The Shard, Crossrail, and the Battersea power station regeneration. Gaining valuable experience at the highest level has then made Precon Products a more than relevant source of precious insight into current industry trends. “Truth being told, it is becoming a lot harder to get products delivered, especially in the London market,” Mike observes. “The legislation keeps changing. For example, your trucks now have to be a lot newer and the cost to upgrade your fleet is astronomical. Similarly, you need to obtain a lot of different certifications from the local authorities, in order to operate in London, so it is definitely a

Attempting to address given challenges within the sector, Precon Products has taken a proactive approach to facilitating certain aspects of how materials are being delivered to the construction sites, especially where health and safety is concerned. “We are looking to launch a purpose-built vehicle into the market, hopefully, in the next six months. The safe loading and offloading of trucks is an ongoing theme in our industry, so we are collaborating with a manufacturer and a bodybuilder to put together an innovative vehicle that will be ahead of its time,” Mike enthuses. “In the meantime, we look forward to completing our new headquarters that is due to open in April or May next year. We have outgrown the space we currently occupy and the new head office will help us improve our efficiencies at every level. We are also close to opening new depots in the next year and a half. Given the projects we have undertaken and our ambition to recruit new people to help us generate more sales, the coming months promise to be particularly busy,” he smiles. “All of these arrangements will play a key role as we move towards realising our objective to take the company’s turnover to £50 million in the next two or three years.”

Precon Products Services: Construction products supply 43

profile: Matpro Machinery & CRJ Services

A match made in heaven Operating by the ‘Unity makes strength’ creed, Matpro Machinery and CRJ Services officially came together in late 2016 to form one of UK’s largest materials processing solutions organisations


oth recognised as reliable operators in the materials processing industry, Matpro Machinery & CRJ Services joined forces in December 2016, so they could benefit from each other’s competences and establish an enhanced service for the greater good of the sector. Speaking with Construction & Civil Engineering is Matpro & CRJ Director, Ben


McQuaid, who discusses the history of the two businesses, the collaboration’s early highlights, as well as its vision for the future. “CRJ is the older company. It was formed in 1999, initially getting involved with the Cheshire East Council green waste contract. As it began hiring out its machines to various local contractors, the company realised that this could be an area of growth, so it concentrated on developing

within this market. Today, what started with just one high-speed Doppstadt shredder has grown to a fleet of over 85 units, including slow and high-speed shredders, mobile picking stations, and a range of mobile separators, which are normally hired out to waste recycling companies, local authorities, and recycling centres.” To support the seamless operation of its machines, CRJ

boasts an impressive parts stock holding, valued at £1.2 million, which is held within its Cheshire headquarters. The company employs four mobile engineers who travel to clients’ sites to provide maintenance and service, as well as 14 inhouse engineers that keep the business’ equipment in top form at all times. They also run their own logistic division in house, to transport machines throughout

the UK and Ireland. The administrative duties to manage this infrastructure are undertaken by a spare parts manager, two service managers, two transport & logistics managers respectively. “Keeping our fleet fresh is a nobrainer. We are constantly looking to upgrade our machinery with the latest pieces of equipment and even now, we are in the process of buying four new machines,” Ben notes.

“When Matpro was founded only four years ago, in 2014, we had the ambition to distribute new and used materials processing equipment and we enjoyed immediate success with our activities,” he states proudly. “At first, we were selling solely into Scotland and North East England, but, guided by one of our major suppliers – Haas – and following the subsequent sales growth and formally merging with CRJ at the end of 2016, we were enabled to expand our service offering to all of the UK and Ireland. The merging of Matpro and CRJ has strengthened Matpro’s proposition, by gaining access to CRJ’s well-developed infrastructure, in terms of machinery, personnel, expertise, and aftersales service.” Nearly two years on, the Matpro-CRJ partnership is already bearing fruit, as the companies are currently engaged with their largest project to date, both as a single entity and individual businesses. “We recently won an order for a large stationary wood recycling plant in the Midlands, valued at approximately 1.5 million euros,” Ben reports. “It is a substantial scheme, which requires a great degree of commitment in every respect, so we can install the plant by Spring 2019. The project attests to the mutual benefits the two organisations see from working together. We have raised our game in a way that has allowed us to win business we would have struggled to acquire otherwise. This is due to the strong aftersales offering we can now present,” he comments, adding that the company has also recently broken into the Irish market, selling its first machine there. Rob Symons, Director of CRJ Services, agrees that aftersales is crucial to the business’ success: “For me, it’s not just about the hire and sale of machinery - I believe it’s the comprehensive


profile: Matpro Machinery & CRJ Services

aftersales service and support we are able to offer our customers that keep them coming back time and time again,” he said. “Our team of mobile engineers and site based engineers are the best in the business, and they help set us apart from our competition.”

Diverse offering As the pair continues to gain momentum, Matpro and CRJ have agreed to zoom in on the construction and demolition sectors, focusing their efforts on growing within that arena. “Our fleet contains machines that can deal well with demolition material. For example, our mobile picking stations are particularly suitable for such processing, and we have experienced considerable demand from the construction industry,” Ben explains. “Companies within this industry require a lot of onsite processing, so we have to ensure that the machines they need are delivered to the area they are working in. Together with this, we offer to shred the recyclables that are pulled out,


which adds further value to our proposition. Put shortly, our fleet complements the construction and demolition market ideally, hence our interest in it. “We aim to maintain this diversity in our offering across both businesses. The idea is to provide versatile machines that are not specific to one market only, but can serve a wider range of industries and materials,” he reasons. “As it stands now, we are well-covered and confident that we have developed a rich product portfolio, which is allowing us to concentrate on today’s fast growing sectors.”

Fresh fleet On the eve of its 20th anniversary, CRJ has reached the status of UK’s largest waste recycling equipment hire provider, but Ben assures us that the company is not complacent and will maintain its sharp attention, in order to retain this position. “We understand what we have to do to stay on the top. Keeping a fresh fleet and delivering exceptional

aftersales service are paramount to our future success, so we are trying to scrutinise every single aspect that shapes us as a business and adapt accordingly. “It has been a very long journey over the last 20 years, but with that comes a lot of experience and knowledge. By this I mean not just product competence, but wider industry understanding and awareness of what turns customer requirements will take. Without a doubt, we wish to continue learning and improving,”

Ben visualises the company’s future development, placing it in the context of its hitherto growth. “As to Matpro, the business will be only five years old next year, but we have grown very progressively, which provides us with a solid platform for our upcoming activities. Only two years ago, we were distributing solely Scotland and the North East, and today, we have a footprint in the whole of the UK, as well as in Ireland. Our desire is to remain a force to be reckoned with in the materials

HAAS Recycling-System Since 1989, HAAS has been a constructor and supplier of machines as well as complete plants for the recycling industry. HAAS machines chip, shred, screen and convey waste wood, commercial and municipal waste, light metals and much more. With over 80 employees and over 20 sales partners, HAAS achieves an export share of around 70 per cent. CRJ Services (the biggest HAAS customer and owner of 12 HAAS TYRON Slow Speed Shredders) as well as the distributor Matpro Machinery, are well respected in the material processing industry. Together they offer HAAS customers a first-class all-round service in machine rental and sales.

processing and equipment supply industry. To do that, we have to continuously improve the synergies between Matpro and CRJ and operate as one flexible unit ready to respond to all of our clients’ needs.” “As a team, we are proud of what we have achieved in the near 20 years we have been operating,” Rob added. “To see our fleet of machines grow, along with our customer base has been very rewarding. We look forward to continuing our passion and drive to make the next 20 years as successful, if not more.”

Matpro Machinery & CRJ Services Services: Mobile waste recycling equipment hire and sales


profile: Trafikverket – Stockholm Bypass Project



Once open, the E4 Stockholm Bypass project will include one of the longest road tunnels in the world, an achievement being made possible by the work of countless players, including Trafikverket – the Swedish Transport Administration


t was approximately one year ago when Construction & Civil Engineering first spoke to Trafikverket Project Director Johan Brantmark about the work being undertaken on the hugely important E4 Stockholm Bypass road infrastructure project. At that time, Johan spoke in detail about the ways in which the


massive project would provide numerous benefits to a fastgrowing city that welcomes upwards of 40,000 new inhabitants per annum. The new link will connect the southern and northern parts of the Stockholm county, relieving the arterial roads and the inner city of traffic, and reducing the vulnerability of the Stockholm

traffic system. Construction work for the first main contracts began in 2015, with the Stockholm bypass anticipated to take ten years to finish. In order to reduce the impact on sensitive natural and cultural environments, over 18 kilometres of the 21-kilometre link will run through tunnels, and by 2035 will accommodate an estimated 140,000 vehicles per day.

Some 12 months on from our initial conversation, Johan tells us about some of the developments that have taken place in the time since. “Today there are intensive works ongoing on all project sites,” he details. “All major civil contracts have now been procured and works, overall, are progressing well. The tender process for electric and

mechanical works are now almost complete, and we are in the midst of signing the next set of contracts. Since we last spoke, we have also successfully produced more than one-third of the total tunnel excavation, and we have begun the permanent concrete works in the tunnels. Meanwhile, the major part of the earth works above ground are now complete,

as are the initial major traffic diversions.”

Successful delivery A project of such size and scale does, of course, also come loaded with challenges, particularly when the company is faced with delivering such a large, complex tunnel system. Johan, however, is particularly proud of how


profile: Trafikverket – Stockholm Bypass Project

Trafikverket has already met some of these challenges head on. “One of the big successes in recent months has been the completion of the difficult first section of the Lake Mälaren crossing,” he explains. “This section of the work


involved subsea tunnelling in soft ground, the type of undertaking that requires that little bit of extra skill, dedication and care from every individual and party involved. By retaining close collaboration between the client,

contractor and designer, we have been able to deliver this phase of the project successfully.” The men and women working on the E4 Stockholm Bypass project come in for considerable praise several times when speaking to Johan, and it is clear he sees their respective contributions as being vital to the achievements being made on the ground. “I have great belief that we have the very best teams currently active across our various sites, both from within our own organisation and also when it comes to the various contractors at work, and we realise that the future success of the project is down to have skilled and dedicated people working on all aspects of it, now and in the years ahead,” he enthuses. Throughout its time working on

the project, Trafikverket has made a tremendous effort to be totally transparent with the public as to the nature of its activities and the impact they have on the wider community. One of the ways it plans to expand upon this is by holding a ‘Public Worksite’ event on 24th November, 2018. On this date, the company will close one of its tunnels to work and invite members of the public to take a trip underground to see the fruits of its labour. During the course of the remaining weeks of 2018, the

main activities that Trafikverket will be focused on include further tunnelling, finishing earthworks and increasing its concreting efforts. Then, as it enters 2019, its focus can also turn to additional tasks. “Next year we will see the first break through between tunnels, as well as the completion of all earth excavation works,” Johan continues. “We are also excited by the fact that civil structures such as bridges, and cut and cover tunnels will start to take shape in the coming months, and that we will also soon see

COMSA COMSA’s 125-year history and its international presence vouch for its capacity to undertake all kind of projects in the infrastructure sector. Today it finds itself among the leading construction companies in Spain and it has a strong international presence in over 20 markets. COMSA delivers turnkey services for the construction, engineering and maintenance of road and railway transport networks. The company has been involved in the extension of the Ankara metro (Turkey), the track duplication between Tibble and Visinge (Sweden), the access tunnels to the Stockholm bypass of the E4 motorway (Sweden), and the construction of the Lugoj-Deva motorway (Romania), etc.

detailed design and initial testing of electrical and mechanical works take place.” While much has changed in the time since Trafikverket featured within the pages of this magazine, one thing that has not is the end goal that continues to motivate Johan and drive his teams forward. “My long-term goal is to safely complete the tunnel project to the designed standard in time and to the highest level of quality possible,” he concludes. “By doing so we will contribute to what is an ever-growing metropolitan area, where people and goods are able to move smoothly and safely.”

Trafikverket – Stockholm Bypass Project Services: The Swedish Transport Administration


profile: 8build

Building the future Known for offering bespoke solutions for fit out and construction projects, 8build has made a name for itself as a reliable main contractor in Greater London and the Home Counties


he brainchild of eight colleagues, 8build was founded in 2005 with the idea that it would be an ethical and customer-oriented business that would make a difference and implement new working methods to reinvigorate the construction industry. Thirteen years on, the company employs over 100 staff who work on and deliver highquality fit out and construction projects to numerous clients. Several key principles have come together to establish 8build’s identity. First and foremost, every member of staff firmly shares the company’s values of honesty and integrity and enjoys the freedom of acting in a completely ethical way. 8build has also become known for its strive to always employ the very best people in the industry. This approach has allowed the business to empower managers that are proven deliverers who


have the desire and the foresight to improve the construction environment as a whole. Standing out among the company’s core principles, is the willingness to always operate in a way that will benefit and give back to local communities. 8build proudly stresses that it aims to treat the others the way it wants to be treated, in order to maintain positive relationships with all the stakeholders in every project. In addition, the company is uncompromising in its choice of partners, only picking out people it trusts, thus promoting a culture of collaboration based on openness and sincerity. It goes without saying that quality is another centrepiece of 8build’s philosophy. With that comes commitment to innovation, as the organisation tries to continually improve its processes and delivery methods, so that it can remain at the forefront of today’s construction industry.

8build’s services can be divided into two categories – fit out and construction, with the company taking pride in enhancing and building spaces that change the way its clients work, learn, rest, and play. Boasting expertise across a broad spectrum of sectors, the fit out division traditionally works on projects ranging from improving specific areas of one floor to large scale fit outs of entire buildings. The experienced teams of the construction division, on the other hand, are usually engaged with light refurbishment, heavy refurbishment, and new build activities, demonstrating enviable versatility in addressing requirements that vary greatly in nature. During its 13 years of existence, the department has taken part in both small schemes, such as the light refurbishment of an office, and much larger programmes like the building of a school, house, or restaurant from scratch.

The varied capabilities of 8build have earned the business projects across a multitude of sectors. Be it commercial or residential jobs, the contractor has supplied its bespoke solutions to lots of customers, each with different requirements. Furthermore, 8build has delivered its services to clients in the education, arts and leisure, historic, healthcare, retail, and notfor-profit sectors.

Garrick Club project London can be easily viewed as the company’s stronghold, since the majority of its work comes from customers based in the Greater London area and the Home Counties. Nevertheless, 8build has always been open to taking on challenging projects in other areas of the UK, looking at each case individually and appraising what its team can bring to it. Six years ago, the company also set up an office in Singapore, providing a unique fit out delivery solution across the commercial office, hospitality, retail, healthcare, airport, and leisure sectors. The mixture of local and British staff, every member of which having gained extensive experience in working on high-quality, complex projects throughout South East Asia, has allowed 8build to make a significant difference for its Asia Pacific and international clients, so much so that it has just opened a second office in the region, in Hong Kong. One of the significant projects completed by 8build has been the modernisation of the Garrick Club – a private members’ club situated in the heart of London, offering accommodation, fine dining, a library, and exclusive events. Eager to provide better facilities to its members, the Garrick Club approached 8build to make various internal and external alterations to 15 Garrick Street and to the third and fourth floors of 11 Garrick Street.

The works included the conversion of an existing wine cellar into a new dining room, and turning the existing back of house areas into a new billiard room, infilling the external courtyard to create new chef’s office and store, new housekeeper’s office and laundry room. Next was the forming of the new ground floor kitchen and new office space to the 3rd floor adjacent building. The demolition of the existing structure of the building to the rear was carried out and installation of new floor plates and lift shaft, a new library, eight new bedrooms, private dining room, members’ computer room, staff room, PDR pantry and new lift. Following this, the existing lift and shaft were removed, so that facilities such as a card room, WCs, a new wine cellar, a security office, and escape

corridors can be formed. The final works included the installation of the new DDA lift to the rear courtyard to allow access into the basement through a new opening, and finally the reinstatement of the existing 18th century floor to the Great Hall. The Garrick Club project is just one example of the many programmes 8build has worked on in the last 13 years. By remaining down-to-earth in its stakeholder relationships, the company has gained the trust of lots of clients who allow it to restore the past, enhance the present, and build the future.

8build Services: Fit out, new build, light refurbishment, heavy refurbishment


profile: Balloo Hire Centres


The right equipment Balloo Hire Centres is investing heavily in its six depots on the Island of Ireland, as the plant, equipment, welfare and tool hire provider looks to grow its business, targeting future development in the rest of the UK and Ireland


here are no large or small jobs for Balloo Hire Centres. Every customer request is treated with the utmost attention to ensure that the right solution is found at all times – a trait that has enabled the plant and tool hire provider to grow into a trusted nationwide company, both sides of the border. Balloo Hire has been serving the country’s business and domestic markets since 1987. During its over 30 years of existence, its hire fleet has grown to well over 9500 units across a product range of more than 650 items, making it one of the industry’s largest and most versatile ranges. Due to its continued growth, Balloo Hire has succeeded in creating a comprehensive network of five locations across Northern Ireland – Belfast, Bangor, Lisburn, Ballyclare, and Glenavy, and Dublin in the Republic of Ireland to ensure seamless delivery to every nook and cranny of the country. Recently, the company announced its plans to invest a total of £10 million across these facilities, which will also lead to the creation of 20 new jobs. The recruitment process is already underway for a vast array of roles in administration, management, engineering, mechanics, finance, and sales.

Below: Left to right Alan McCom Mark Grundy Colin Magee Terry McAviney

In addition to increasing staff numbers, Balloo Hire will also enrich the range of new machinery available for hire by adding cabbed dumpers, generators, site accommodation, event VIP toilets, and specialist fit out equipment to its offering. “We have experienced significant growth in the construction industry, which is still in recovery from the recession. This has resulted in the company winning new contracts across a broad range of sectors,” commented General Manager Mark Grundy. “Together with this, Northern Ireland’s burgeoning events and entertainment sector has

also increased the demand for our products and services. Our prediction is that these sectors combined will see further growth over the next three to five years, which has motivated us to invest in key staff and machinery to meet the needs of our customers and stay ahead of the competition. On top of the changes in the commercial landscape of our business, there has also been an increase in demand for domestic use hire,” he added. Complementing this investment plan, Balloo Hire is now also looking at its growth potential into other sectors and markets throughout the island of Ireland and the UK.


profile: Balloo Hire Centres

Balloo Hire is a great believer in teamwork, with staff development and education at the core of everything it does. Training in IPAF, CSR, IOSH, COSHH, first aid, harness and business intelligence workshops are just some of the areas addressed. It also believes that the industry needs to be bringing through ‘new blood’ who can take the company on well into the future. To this end there is a healthy apprenticeship programme aimed at passing on the skills and experience the staff have learned over the years to a new generation. It has already been hinted at the beginning of the article that the notion of delivering quality products that add tangible value to its customers, is at the heart of everything Balloo Hire does. The company has built a team of highly-trained, dedicated, customer-focused experts, capable of providing sound professional knowledge and advice. Coupled with the second-to-none breadth of its product offering and the commitment to providing outstanding customer service,


the business has elevated its proposition to a first-class standard, satisfying clients at all times.

Extensive fleet Balloo Hire’s plant hire range covers compaction machinery, as well as a large number of compressors, dumpers, excavators, powered access, forklifts, lifting and handling equipment, telescopic handlers, and trailers. On the tool hire side, the provider can serve its

customers with an extensive selection of building and decorating gear, cleaning and maintenance and concrete preparation pieces of equipment, as well as drilling and breaking, welding and lighting, surveying and measurement, and woodworking tools. The company also has a host of additional services to support its hire fleet. Its team is specialist in repairing the majority of the plant and tools it offers, carrying

a wide range of common parts for most market leading brands. Furthermore, Balloo Hire operates a young high spec delivery fleet comprising of different types of vehicles that allows it to respond quickly to its customers’ requirements. Prioritising safety, it conducts mechanical testing and inspections on its machinery to ensure that the clients are compliant with the various legislative requirements they need to meet.

Plans for expansion Last but not least, Balloo Hire can conduct free temporary power, powered access, and accommodation and welfare site surveys for its customers to advise clients on several aspects of their project, including the correct product, logistics, and the most cost-effective solution to temporary power or access problems. In an attempt to further boost the variety of its services, Balloo Hire also stocks a respectable range of consumable items for sale across its depots. For the successful completion of a given job, the business boasts a huge assortment of hand tools, and for maintaining safety on site, it offers all the safety equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) that might be required. Clearly, Balloo Hire has gone a long way since its inception as ‘one man with a van and some tools’ business more than three decades ago. Regularly refreshing its fleet with the most soughtafter and functional machines, the organisation’s ambitions in the last few years have outgrown the territory of Northern Ireland. As new opportunities emerge on the horizon, the prospects for an even quicker growth seem more promising than ever.

Balloo Hire Centres Services: Plant and tool hire 57

profile: Haven Fire & Safety L.L.C.

Safe and sound Committed to all aspects of quality where the objective is complete customer satisfaction, Haven Fire & Safety has an unmatched reputation in the UAE marketplace for the successful completion of fire protection projects, no matter how large


n the 20-plus years since it was founded in its present form by Gerry Boux in 1997, Haven Fire & Safety has grown into one of the region’s leading fire protection, engineering, supply and service providers, offering its clients a one-stop-shop of system solutions and equipment needs. With facilities based throughout the UAE, including branches in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah and Fujairah, the company has successfully implemented a wide range


of important projects. These include the retrofitting of total fire and safety systems for offshore drilling/accommodation facilities, the supply of high and low expansion foam system to the aviation sector, the installation of industrial/ commercial fire detection and voice alarms systems, and kitchen hood fire suppression systems to a number of landmark hotels.

“It has always been our goal to exist at the high-end of the market when it comes to delivering quality fire and safety products or solutions that embrace the latest innovative technologies,” explains Lewis Alexander, Haven Fire & Safety’s Sales and Marketing Manager. “Working with a host of leading

With Dubai gearing up to host the universal exposition, Expo 2020, in less than two years time, huge construction, public service and power generation projects across the surrounding region continue to provide considerable opportunities for many, not least of all Haven Fire & Safety

SIL2 -IEC 61508-

UK and European brands, we bring their respective products into the UAE and market these to a variety of industry sectors, before carrying out extensive, installing, testing, commissioning and servicing.” The different brands and businesses that Haven Fire & Safety work with are what it commonly refers to as ‘partner companies’. Together the two parties work to identify gaps in

the UAE market to target with cutting-edge solutions, before going on to agree on pricing and targets, before exclusivity is awarded to Haven Fire & Safety to showcase, market and sell the solutions to customers across the region. In working with a host of leading names, the company has become a veritable onestop-shop for customers’ fire and safety needs. There are plenty of examples of these partner companies that one could draw attention to, in order to showcase Haven Fire & Safety’s passion for promoting technologically innovative products. One such example is Autronica, a brand that is part of United Technologies Corporation (UTC) and has been leading the way in safety system development for the last five decades. “In many cases, fire detection equipment can be cheap and simple, and thus can become desensitised over time and require considerable maintenance. In the case of Autronica, what it has done over the years is consistently seek improvements to enhance a safety system’s capabilities in detecting real incidents, while at the same time suppressing nonhazardous events from creating false alarms,” Lewis states. “It was also been responsible for creating the first integrated fire & gas detection system, which includes a fully addressable solution providing high resolution diagnostics, and full detection

chamber self-testing and calibration every 24 hours.” A further example comes in the form of Bull Products, an independently-owned manufacturer and importer of life-saving products for the construction industry, specifically construction sites. In addition to its core range of fire protection and fall arrest equipment, this UK-based business has also created the innovative Cygnus brand, which focuses on wireless fire alarm technology. “The Cygnus system is a dynamic innovation that we are working to promote for on-going, highrise construction site projects as a means of protecting those working on site,” Lewis continues. “Cygnus is able to link up to 480 units, including fire alarm call points, first aid alert points, smoke detectors, heat detectors and interface units, in 15 different zones. This means that the system expands as the building in question grows, and we are working very hard to promote its use and incredible benefits.” One of the secrets to Haven Fire & Safety’s success has been its ability to diversify its offering to incorporate numerous industry sectors. This has allowed it to ride out downturns in particular segments by transitioning to those industry sectors experiencing an upturn in activity. This ability to service different industries can be seen via a quick comparison between its oldest and most successful partner company, Ansul,


profile: Haven Fire & Safety L.L.C.

and one of its newest, GLOBEX Evacuation Solutions. In the case of the former, Haven Fire & Safety has been successfully marketing and selling Ansul’s Kitchen Fire Suppression Systems for a number of years, to the point where it is today one of, if not the leading solution of its kind in UAE, and can be found in kitchens throughout the restaurant and hotel sectors. The systems are certified by UL300 with a two minute pre-burn and Civil Defence approved, and use cartridges instead of cylinders to minimise the risk of any leakage. The latest Piranha system has many distinctive advantages in the market including rapid flame knockdown, overlapping coverage, agent-plus water hybrid technology & high nozzle installs for kitchen practicality. Ansul also support Haven Fire with a wide range of Vehicle Systems, Foam Agents & Hardware, Detection, Control and Industrial Suppression Systems. Meanwhile, GLOBEX Evacuation Solutions is a UK business providing unique


solutions to ensure the safe evacuation of mobility impaired persons up and down stairs in the event of an emergency. It is one of only a handful of companies to have its solutions personally endorsed and approved by the London Fire Brigade and is being promoted in line with Dubai Universal Design Code, which aims at improving accessibility for

everyone in Dubai and recognises that Every Person who enters any building, facility or public area, whether temporary or permanent, has the right to be able to leave safely. This is why Globex Evacuation Solutions are an integral part of all evacuation plans and procedures. “In the case of all of our partner companies, whatever their

respective specialty may be, it is Haven Fire & Safety’s role to extol the wide range of benefits that our partner’s unique products and solutions bring to the end user,” Lewis states. “We ensure that the products we come to promote and sell are of only the highest quality, and while they may face competition from some cheaper alternatives at times, we do everything within our power to show the customer why choosing quality over cost is more often than not in their longterm best interests.”

With Dubai gearing up to host the universal exposition, Expo 2020, in less than two years time, huge construction, public service and power generation projects across the surrounding region continue to provide considerable opportunities for many, not least of all Haven Fire & Safety. With this in mind, it plans to continue to market the products of its many partner companies to those customers engaged in said projects. “In addition to this,” Lewis goes on to add, “we will also be turning

ANSUL - The first choice in restaurant fire suppression solutions. Commercial kitchen areas are a significant fire risk to many buildings, including restaurants, hotels and schools with café or canteen facilities. At Johnson Controls, we strive to develop innovative products to meet specific customer needs and protect lives, property and businesses. ANSUL® brand restaurant fire suppression systems have been designed to rapidly detect and combat kitchen fires. Visit the specifier resource centre at to include ANSUL Restaurant Systems in your design.

more of our attention in the coming months to better develop our services and maintenance offerings. We already offer such services, not only for products that we have installed ourselves, but also for those of other companies that are not part of our family of partners, and we foresee that the demand for these will only be increasing over time, even after the current boom in new projects settles. In the meantime, however, we are very happy to continue to ride the wave that we are presently and continue to capitalise on our earlier success.”

Haven Fire & Safety L.L.C. Services: Fire protection, engineering, supply and service provider


profile: Parker Building Supplies

Making a difference

For over a quarter of a century, Parker Building Supplies has been Sussex’s and Kent’s favourite independent builder’s merchant, helping to shape its customers’ projects with a comprehensive range of materials and products



hen Tom Parker started Parker Building Supplies (Parkers) in 1984, he did so from a single branch in Uckfield, East Sussex. In the time since, the Company has grown into a strong regional player with 15 branches across Kent, and East and West Sussex, supplying building and plumbing materials, alongside specialist Architectural Ironmongery, Joinery and Kitchens. In 2017, the company generated revenues of £66 million. The Business is made up of five specialist divisions, combining to create a one-stopshop for Parkers’ customers. These divisions are Heavy Side, Plumbing, Kitchens, Joinery and Architectural Ironmongery, supported by the branch network and Direct Sales business. Where Parkers once operated its divisions separately, today the respective trade counters work side-by-side to promote a more integrated and comprehensive service offering to its customers. In March 2018, the Company entered the next stage of its evolution when it announced that it had been acquired by Cairngorm Capital Partners, a specialist private investment firm providing equity capital and management expertise to leading UK companies.

Cairngorm Capital invests in well-performing, private midmarket growth companies, and Parkers represents its 13th proprietary transaction since July 2016.

New phase Cairngorm Capital’s ambition for Parkers is to transform the scale of the business in order to become a market leader in the builders’ merchant sector in southern England, and leading this charge is a team of new senior managers, led by Cairngorm Capital operating partner, and now Parkers’ Executive Chairman, John Declerck. “Parkers’ partnership with Cairngorm Capital is the start of a new phase in the firm’s development,” he stated at the time of the acquisition being announced. “Our goal is to increase our network of builders’ merchants over the next five years, to become a leading distributor of building products in the UK. We aim to achieve this through a mix of acquisitions, new site development and organic growth. We are interested in further opportunities that allow us to fulfil our plans for innovation and growth, to the benefit of our customers, employees and suppliers.” The new team are further supported by Managing Director, Chris Maityard, and Chief Operating Officer, Iain Bell, with

What we do here is about more than simply selling products, rather we sell solutions to our customers that they can acquire quickly and easily from a one-stop-shop. I truly believe that what we do on a daily basis makes a positive difference to those people that we serve and we want to continue along that path in the years to come


profile: Parker Building Supplies

the former telling Construction & Civil Engineering what he puts the success of Parkers down to. “I think there are a number of elements behind this, one of the most important being the company’s people and their service orientated customer focus,” he explains. “We have worked hard to empower our teams and give them what we call ‘the ability to trade’. When Tom ran the business, he always took a very customer-focused approach and that is the ethos and culture that we are putting at the forefront of Parkers today. “One of the ways we are doing this is by spending significant time each week visiting our customers and suppliers to understand their businesses, together with time in branches to get a clear idea of what issues they have, how we can provide help and assistance, and what improvements we can make to our own operations to support them. To date, from the customers I have met, without exception, I have found that they have come away with a new-


found knowledge of the range of products that we can supply and with a willingness to engage with us on projects going forward.”

Engaging customers Selling more of Parkers extensive products to its existing customers – or ‘cross selling’ as Chris refers to it – is also high on the company’s list of priorities. “We have spent a great deal of

time and effort encouraging our colleagues to actively engage with as many of our customers as possible in order to further understand their businesses and raise awareness of all that we can offer them,” he states. “As a result of these efforts we have been able to grow our monthly like-for-like sales consistently since acquisition. So, for us, it has been an incredibly successful

relationship to date and we remain immensely proud that Tom had the confidence and faith in us to become custodians of the business he worked so hard to build.”

Future investment The Parkers’ Team also understands that this is just the beginning of a journey towards long-term prosperity and they have considerable investment plans for the business, with over £100,000 already committed on various projects with further significant spending due for approval in the near future. “When we acquired Parkers, we did so with a clear investment strategy in mind, one that is made up of a combination of transforming the existing business and of future expansion,” Chris adds. “The investment we intend to make will assist us in further demonstrating the abilities of the teams and the business, and we are confident that when it comes to growth and performance there is still a great deal we can look forward to achieving.” At the heart of Cairngorm Capital’s ’s plans for Parkers going forward is the aim of taking what is a great business, with great people and helping it reach its full potential, all while maintaining the high level of customer service that it is known for. “What we do here is about more than simply selling products, rather we sell solutions to our customers that they can acquire quickly and easily from a one-stop-shop. I truly believe that what we do on a daily basis makes a positive difference to those people that we serve and we want to continue along that path in the years to come,” Chris concludes.

Parker Building Supplies Services: Independent builder’s merchants 65

profile: Swan Housing Association

Flying high

Swan Housing Association has been successfully delivering effective services, enterprising solutions, and exemplary homes and communities for the best part of 25 years and counting


irst formed in 1994, Swan Housing Association (Swan) started out life small. Its original incarnation, Basildon Community Housing Association (BCHA), which happened to boast a Swan as its logo, was responsible for managing homes transferred to it in Basildon by the Commission for New Towns. It was in 1994 that the Commission transferred some 2000 homes to BCHA, kick-starting the growth of a business that today provides over 10,600 high-quality and affordable homes to rent and buy to more than 22,500 residents. Operating in Essex and East London, the company also has plans to deliver over 1000 new homes as part of an ambitious three-year strategy. “When we took on our first 2000 homes, I quickly realised that Swan had to build more,” comments Swan’s Chief Executive, John D. Synnuck when detailing the history of the business. “Housing need was


rising then and it continues to rise now; we must address our future responsibilities. That’s why in 2016 we adopted the challenging target to deliver an additional 10,000 homes by 2027. We recognised that, if we undertook the building of new properties ourselves, including homes for private sale, we could maintain our independence and return any profit to social housing. As funding was, and remains, extremely limited, we had to use our entrepreneurship to fund Swan’s mission. “There has been a shift towards housing associations pursuing commercial aspirations and I have no problem with this, if all the profit is ploughed straight back into meeting housing need. In fact, we’ve set ourselves the target of generating £250 million from our commercial activities by 2027, so we can reinvest in our social purpose - that is providing homes and services to those who need them. The decrease in social housing provision during

the last 20 years has created a genuine crisis, together with a dysfunctional market affecting millions. We’re trying to do something about this.” Aiding in the growth of the business is its in-house developer, NU Living. Under this, it is building homes that are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. Not least among its innovative projects is high quality modular housing built in its own factory under its NU build brand. This commercial acumen means that generated income produces gift aid to make a real difference to local communities in the provision of affordable homes, care and support. Since it was formed, NU Living has completed over 1200 starts and is building most of its secured development programme of 6500 homes. Swan continues to expand its services, providing domiciliary care and support services, and property management, through its management arm Hera.

400 new homes to rent, and has plans in place to develop a further 250 new rented homes over the forthcoming year. “We are continuing with the major regeneration schemes in Basildon, Tower Hamlets and Newham, and have been selected to undertake the regeneration of Blackwall Reach in Tower Hamlets, creating more than 500 new homes for rent,” John details on the company’s website. “We remain committed to involving residents in shaping and improving the services we deliver, and in the running of the business. We also recognise the importance of our employees in the delivery of excellent services and will continue to invest both in supporting and developing existing employees, and in the recruitment of the best possible candidates.”

While providing excellent service will always remain at the top of Swan’s agenda, it acknowledges that this cannot be achieved without the input of its residents. This is why the company is committed to actively involving residents in the management and maintenance of all of its homes. Swan’s commitment to meaningful involvement is all about building a consultative and scrutiny framework that gives residents a real opportunity to influence its everyday work, and is why it continues to strive to place all of its residents at the centre of all it does.

Swan Housing Association Services: Housing association

Meanwhile, it also continues to deliver high-quality services to those in need, providing sheltered housing to people with special needs, units that accommodate very young parents and their babies, and it owns a number of women’s refuges. Always looking to innovate, Swan has been the recipient of numerous industry awards, including Inside Housing’s award for Modular Construction 2017. This particular award was in recognition of the company’s approach which has seen it invest £3 million in its own factory to build modular homes in Basildon. These homes, which are BOPAS accredited, were delivered to the regeneration programme occurring in Beechwood, and going forward Swan will use its ‘NU build’ system to deliver up to 100 homes year to locations including Laindon Place and Watts Grove in Tower Hamlets. Over the last year alone, Swan has completed some


profile: Ibstock Brick

Not just another brick in the wall Producing a rich variety of aesthetically appealing brick ranges, Ibstock Brick has recently opened the world’s most modern brick factory in Leicester


taying true to its policy of investing heavily in the business, in order to deliver strong returns and support the growth in the market, one of the world’s leading producers of building bricks – Ibstock Brick – recently completed its impressive Eclipse factory in Leicester, whose construction cost around £55 million. “It is the most modern brick factory in the world, covering an area equalling that of


six football pitches, and boasting a capacity of producing 100 million bricks per year,” the company’s Operations Director, Darren Bowkett proudly begins. “The site,” he continues, “is unusual, as it has clays on-site, which can fire red, buff, and cream. It can produce three different textures and also has the ability to use many sands and stains to create a large number of colours, which gives us the confidence that we will have the capability to react

to our customers’ needs for many years to come.” Having already started production at full steam, the Eclipse factory is manufacturing two of the most prominent brick types made by Ibstock Brick – the Leicester Multi Red and the Leicester Weathered Red. These are currently being used in two major projects the business is working on. The Leicester Multi Red product is helping shape the appearance of a new build

The significant investment in the Eclipse factory will positively affect local economy, as well... Besides opening over 50 direct jobs at the facility itself, many of which are taken by local people, we also support a number of other indirect jobs at the companies that supply Eclipse

if the process stops for some reason, also helping us to achieve lower waste and higher quality. In addition, waste heat from the tunnel kiln is used to dry the bricks and is injected back into the kiln at the start of the process. We also employ precision robotic technology to set the dry bricks and form the fired product into the finished pack, ready to be delivered to a customer,� Darren explains. Passionate about operating in a sustainable manner, Ibstock Brick has succeeded in setting up its new facility in a way that will limit its environmental impact. “We have installed a smart lighting system, which monitors the lighting levels and adjusts the light in the building, taking into account the availability of natural light. Furthermore, because we aim to use natural light wherever possible,

housing scheme in Leicester, while the Leicester Weathered Red bricks are playing a vital role in making the Ash Gardens complex in Towcester an attractive place for its future residents. Being completely state-of-theart presupposes that only the latest technology available has been installed across the factory to make Eclipse as efficient as possible. “For example, control technology is used throughout the process to ensure quick resolution


profile: Ibstock Brick

we have also placed translucent panels to facilitate that,” Darren continues. As discussed earlier, the factory recycles waste heat and has already achieved very low levels of waste, also recycling any defective bricks. “The significant investment in the Eclipse factory will positively affect local economy, as well,” Darren points out. “Besides opening over 50 direct jobs at the facility itself, many of which are taken by local people, we also support a number of other indirect jobs at the companies that supply Eclipse. We are proud of being actively involved in the life of our local community. Shortly after the formal opening of the factory in June, we hosted an open day in late September to thank the surrounding community and our employees for their


support of the project over the last three years. It pleased us immensely that over 400 people attended the event, for which we had prepared a factory tour and a whole lot of other activities, to showcase what we do here and its importance for the whole area,” he discusses.

In another considerable factory investment project that started in 2017 and was completed in March this year, Ibstock Brick upgraded its Lodge Lane facility in Cannock for the sum of £7.6 million. The move included the introduction of a new kiln and was done with the idea of boosting production by

up to eight million bricks a year. Known for manufacturing four types of blue brick – with its most popular being the Staffordshire Slate Blue Smooth – in 65mm, 73mm, and solids, the facility also has a specials department, which makes a variety of shaped bricks, including sills, plinths, bullnose, and chamfered.

unique building façades. Taking a look into the building systems field, our ambition is to be leaders in the development of non-combustible products, with Mechslip being a great example of that.” Launched into the market this summer, the mechanically fixed cladding system is the first of its kind to use real Ibstock Brick. It was developed in conjunction with Ash & Lacy (A&L) and features Ibstock Brick’s clay slips and A&L’s unique aluminium support rails. Designed to

Cost savings By building the Eclipse factory and redeveloping some of its existing factories across the UK, Ibstock Brick has made a clear statement of intent that it wants to lead on the innovation front. Darren details: “An example of such innovation could be the development of European colours and textures and we are eager to work more closely with architects, so we can create various truly

provide substantial cost savings compared to similar systems, Mechslip is also capable of delivering the flexibility and aesthetic appeal of real brick in a fraction of the time. Ibstock Brick has been selected to work on a significant number of building programmes in recent times, across an impressive array of sectors, such as commercial, education, housing, healthcare, leisure, retail, and new build. Whilst a detailed account of its case studies is available on the company’s website (https://www.

Borregaard UK Borregaard UK, who are part of Borregaard - the worlds most advanced biorefinery, have been supplying Ibstock Brick for over 30 years with a range of Additive A Clay Conditioners specially developed to lower processing costs, improve handling, increase output rates and improve quality thus maximising their value to Ibstock Brick. Our dedicated range of products offer lubrication, binding and antiscumming properties to suit almost every raw material and process being used within Ibstock Brick. Borregaard UK offer full technical and logistical support to Ibstock Brick for product supply along with help and advice for tank installation and dosing equipment.

71, it is worth highlighting one or two of the more ingenious buildings, Ibstock Brick has provided its products for.

Impressive projects One such construction is the 14-storey Music Box – a mixeduse development incorporating a campus for the London College of Contemporary Media (LCCM) and 55 residential units, including on-site affordable housing. On Ibstock Brick’s part, the use of brick had to reflect the robust character of the surrounding area with its white colour underlining the building’s unique identity. The three-dimensional projecting brickwork pattern, which required special bricks glazed on all visible surfaces, reads like a sheet of musical notes across the page, providing relief, rhythm and interest. To add to its character and slip a historical link in the building’s soul, the pattern resembles Eric Clapton’s guitar riff from Cream’s song ‘White Room’. Equally impressive has been Ibstock Brick’s involvement in the construction of Putney’s Oasis Academy. A combination of high-quality standard and multi-hued glazed brickwork contributed to the stimulating and unique façade of the building, providing an inspiring environment to aid the pupils’ educational and social development.


profile: Ibstock Brick

Product recognition Providing evidence for its enviable multifunctionality, the company received a whopping 23 nominations for the Brick Awards 2018. These are spread across a wide range of projects, clearly demonstrating the breadth available within the business’ product catalogue. The winners will be announced at a ceremony held on 8th November at the Hilton Park Lane in London, with multiple projects being shortlisted for more than one category. Ibstock

Brick’s work at the University Arms Hotel deserved a nomination in three separate categories – Commercial; Refurbishment; and Craftsmanship; while three other schemes received two nominations apiece – 40 Beak Street (Commercial and Craftsmanship); Royal Albert Wharf (Large Housing Development and Urban Regeneration); and the George Davies Centre (Education and Innovation). Ibstock Brick has a proven track record of strategic investments

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and the business intends on staying on the same path to ensure its future growth. Plans for sizable organic investments notwithstanding, the company also wishes to be viewed as a reference for transformation in the construction sector. Darren concludes: “We believe that, as an industry leader, we need to lead the way in developing supply chain efficiencies to support our customers and industry partners. What is more, we need to do this by operating at the highest levels of health and safety, which will guarantee our continued success in the coming years.”

Ibstock Brick Services: Brick manufacturing


profile: Britcon

Multifaceted competence Keen on building relationships founded on experience and trust, Britcon has earned its reputation of being a multifunctional civil engineering and building company, capable of serving numerous sectors


s demand from customers for a more diversified set of services grew in the late 1980s, Specialist Surfacing’s chairman Derrick Hunt set up Britcon – a civil engineering company, to act alongside his road surfacing and road planning business. What followed was a series of successfully completed projects and the broadening of Britcon’s expertise that enabled the company to operate in several distinct sectors. “We grew steadily in the 1990s and relocated to our


current facility in Scunthorpe in 1998. There we found an existing workshop facility, which our chairman turned into the steel fabrication, design, and erection division of the company,” Managing Director, Paul Clarkson begins. “We had considerable success in the 2000s, particularly in general construction, where we had got involved in a longstanding programme with VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency). Over a period of sevento-eight years, we completed various projects nationwide that amounted to more than £40

million. In the meantime, our steel business focused part of its work on supporting Network Rail with the construction of a number of steel structures along the network.” When the 2008 financial crisis turned the business world upside down, Britcon had firmly been on the growth curve. Little opportunity was to be found in either the public or commercial sectors during the recession, so the company focused on repositioning itself in a new area. “We diversified into the energy sector, which sustained the

plant dedicated to food waste in the south of England. In fact, the food waste from the first two plants is converted to gas used to produce electricity, while the gas from the latter two sites is injected directly into the National Grid after being carefully tested continually for full compliance with the Gas network’s stringent requirements. Our involvement in these projects is an excellent example of us targeting a specific market, getting a foothold and building lasting relationships, allowing ourselves to grow and move on to larger schemes.”

Interesting projects

business during that turbulent time. We were fairly successful between 2009 and 2012, in particular, but even today, we have created a niche in this sector and have aspirations to grow it,” Paul discusses. “The company has completed several STOR (ShortTerm Operating Reserve) plants across the country, and, in general, we can see a lot of opportunities, as the sector is moving away from the old forms of energy. Battery storage is also coming to the fore, so, we are certainly planning to take advantage of these ongoing trends.

“In recent years, we have also built four anaerobic digestion plants – two in Doncaster, one in Widnes, and one in Dagenham, for ReFood. When we first diversified into green energy, we were awarded a contract to construct the first plant in Doncaster, but, over time, we have built on that relationship to eventually deliver the construction works for another three plants,” he outlines. “The latest facility – in Dagenham, represents a £32 million investment by ReFood, and is the most advanced integrated AD

While the energy sector has been a fast-growing field for Britcon, it is commercial and industrial building that has proven the core sector for the organisation since the turn of the century. Paul details: “We often develop warehousing and office spaces, but where we have really seen growth in the last few years, is in our work for process-led manufacturers. We have partnered with steel producers and chemical factories, for example, all of which are businesses running complex processes that need a level of support in civil engineering.” Since around the beginning of 2018, Britcon has been present at McCain Foods’ factory in Scarborough, where it is involved in the facility’s redevelopment, in what is the largest programme the company is working on, at the moment. “In order to optimise its manufacturing facilities, McCain Foods has taken to remodelling its existing site, and we are helping them with the civils and structures to accommodate the new process equipment they want to bring and install across the space. We expect to be there for a while, as the work is projected to continue for the next two years over multiple phases,” Paul explains.


profile: Britcon

Brief involvement in Retail during 2015 and 2016 brought unsuspected long-term benefits for the company, marking the beginning of a considerable rise in turnover since. “At that time, we were consolidating in the energy sector and doing our usual work in commercial and industrial, when we had an opportunity to work for Lidl. We took part in a number of newbuild and refurbishment schemes across the retailer’s network of supermarkets, which accumulated a combined value of £24 million,” Paul recalls. “Shortly after, we decided to pull out of the market, because it had lost a lot of value to us, as prices were driven down due to new entrants. However, the Lidl work had already catapulted our turnover in a very short space of time, which propelled us to


grow the business to handle this increase. Following this investment, we targeted our core markets and secured several highprofile commercial, industrial, and energy projects, thus filling the gap left by the discontinuation of our collaboration with Lidl.”

Efficient diversification Encouraged by the buoyancy of its steel division in the past couple of years, Britcon has set itself a strategic goal to make the most of opportunities. “As I mentioned earlier, a considerable part of the workload for our steelwork business comes from Network Rail, so we would like to build on that relationship in the future. The Government is investing heavily in rail infrastructure and, especially with the development of HS2, the North will feel the positive impact of these schemes over the coming five years. Our desire is to be strategically-positioned to take advantage of the situation and use it as a catalyst to grow our steelwork department,” Paul sketches out his intentions for the future. “Transport, as a whole, is a large sector of ours, which we want to do more in. Rail aside, we also work with ports and are involved in road haulage, too assisted by our long involvement with VOSA (now DVSA) and constructing maintenance and testing buildings. Establishing a deeper relationship with some airports is potentially another area of interest to us, as we are eager to cover all aspects of integrated transport in our work. Moreover, we should continue supporting the manufacturing industry and enhance our reputation for being able to help processled manufacturers streamline their practices in a fast-moving and continually changing environment,” he goes on. During three decades in operation, Britcon has managed to efficiently diversify its service

offering, a process that has stabilised the company’s presence in the market and helped it develop an all-encompassing expertise in a multitude of sectors. “It is vital to continue this way,” contends Paul. “Previously, we have demonstrated that we can maximise our opportunities in a wide spectrum of industries, therefore, we need to stay on our toes at all times and try

to capitalise on the promising initiatives that are being launched, whilst maintaining our reputation for quality & delivery across all our sectors both private & public.”

Britcon Services: Building, civil engineering, and structural steelwork


profile: R&W Group

Passing the torch The last few years have been a time of positive change for the R&W Group, and thanks to the legacy of its founder and the tireless work of its people, the future is arguably bright



he last few years have without doubt been an eventful time for the R&W Group and its seven respective businesses - R&W Civil Engineering, R&W Traffic Management, R&W Environmental, R&W Rail, R&W Langley, R&W Limited and R&W BPMS including the acknowledgement of the accomplishments of its founder Ray Ransom, who was presented with the Outstanding Contribution/Lifetime Achievement award at the prestigious CECA (Civil Engineering Contactors Association) Southern 2017 awards dinner. For those unfamiliar with Ray’s story, he founded what would grow into the R&W Group in 1978 by using a £500 loan from the bank to purchase a second hand JCB. One of the first projects he secured for the company involved working on the construction of the Manchester Stockport bypass,

The initiative, known as the Civil Engineering and Groundworks Apprenticeship (CEGA), sees apprentices complete 20 weeks of college-based intensive training to ensure they are fully qualified to work on site for the next 18 months of their course

which in turn led to it being part of the initial construction work on the M25. Further contracts would see R&W play a key role in the extension of the runway at Gatwick Airport, as well as numerous other motorway and trunk road initiatives across southern England and beyond. Today, R&W is recognised as being a major highway infrastructure and traffic management specialist, with over 400 highly skilled employees, and Ray was very much the everconstant driving force behind the business. His management

style and ethos, as well as the ‘can-do’ attitude he instilled in his employees, helped to create a people-focused route to delivery now referred to as ‘The R&W Way’. Ray’s career has also seen him champion improvements in safety and operating practices, as well as conceiving a number of sector changing innovations, such as the development and introduction of side tipping lorries that fed the concrete paving trains responsible for creating the motorway network across the country. “Ray has been an inspiration and shining light for many years to many people that have worked for him, worked with him or simply come to know him through his reputation,” commented R&W’s MD Andy Theobald at the time of the award being presented. “Despite his drive and enthusiasm, Ray is also an extremely humble and helpful person, and can still regularly be seen jumping into a digger to help on-site when and


profile: R&W Group

if he can. He is a family oriented man who has tirelessly promoted and supported the highways construction industry, championed new and safer working practices, delivered on expectations, and strived for excellence both in himself but also through his ongoing support of others. For more than 40 years Ray has been an encouraging ‘father’ figure and is a deserving person to be recognised with this lifetime achievement award.”

Solid foundations Following on from the above events of 2017, it was in July of 2018 that Ray formally decided to begin his next adventure by passing on the role of Chairman of the R&W Group to its Operations Director, Howard Hutchinson. “I am incredibly proud to take on my new role as Chairman of the R&W Group alongside my operational role in R&W Civil Engineering,” said Howard. “I will continue to ensure that the R&W Group remains strong in our market position, vibrant in our approach to innovation, and passionate about both safety and the service we provide our customers. Most of all, I want to make sure that we maintain the strong R&W family feel that is at the heart of R&W’s success. Over the last decade, Ray has been a great mentor and friend. Working closely with him has provided me with a very solid

foundation on which to continue to help build the Group’s prosperity.” Howard first joined the Group in 2006, quickly becoming an instrumental part of the team and helping to grow it to where it is today. Passionate about training and developing people, and also understanding that the skills gap that exists in the civil engineering industry is the biggest challenge it faces, he threw his support behind an apprenticeship initiative with a group of regional contractors working closely with Fareham College. The initiative, known as the Civil Engineering and Groundworks Apprenticeship (CEGA), sees apprentices complete 20 weeks of college-based intensive training to ensure they are fully qualified to work on site for the next 18 months of their course. The site in question is a bespoke facility known as the Civil Engineering Training Centre (CETC).

Next generation Proving incredibly popular, CETC has been recognised for being at the cutting edge of recruitment and people development when it won the 2018 Constructing Excellence Apprenticeship Initiative Award. At present, there are two intakes of apprentices per academic year, and in the first two intakes it enrolled 66 apprentices. However, due to increasing demand,

it now plans to significantly expand in the next few years, delivering 1665 apprentices to the workforce between 2018 and 2023. Recognising the vital role the initiative plays in driving regional economic growth, the Local Enterprise Partnership has also recently allocated a grant for said expansion for over £2.5 million. With the R&W Group firmly installed as being a key contributor to the education and development of the next generation of civil engineering talent, Ray has a lot to be proud of when looking back on his and his business’ achievements over the years. He has not disappeared into retirement, however, and today continues to chair R&W’s parent company, Chantacre Ltd, as well as being heavily involved in the day-to-day running of R&W, as the Director responsible for R&W Environmental. As Ray stated: “It has been my absolute privilege to have been R&W’s Chairman for all of these years and I am very proud of what we have all built together. I know that Howard will do a fantastic job and I wish him all the best as he embarks on the next stage of his own career.”

R&W Group Services: Civil engineering, traffic management, environmental, rail and plant hire, sales and service


profile: Mecalac


Bright present, promising future Thanks to its continued innovation, which led to the launch of a new cabbed site dumper, Mecalac has succeeded in attracting new customers over the past 12 months


profile: Mecalac


n the year since Mecalac last made an appearance in our magazine, the compact construction equipment specialist has been focused primarily on developing its new MDX cabbed site dumper, which was launched at the Intermat exhibition earlier in 2018. “The design brief that we defined for this product stipulated that we wanted it to be safe, comfortable, easy to operate and maintain, but most of all, to be best-in-class. Having built this machine, we can proudly state that we ticked all the boxes,” begins Mecalac’s Head of Engineering, Satpal Sokhi. “On approaching the machine, the access system is safe and intuitive, resembling walking up a staircase. The integrated cab is comfortable and equipped with optional air conditioning, radio fitment and a suspension seat. We made sure that the machine was packed full of safety features that prevent the operator from performing certain actions during operation – all of them designed to keep them safe at all times.


Satpal Sokhi

In addition, the dumper also incorporates a cast backend counterweight and gull-wingstyle doors to ensure ease of access during maintenance,” Satpal reviews the vehicle’s key attributes.

Award win The addition of cabbed site dumpers to its construction plant range was closely related to Mecalac’s acquisition of Coventrybased Terex Construction Equipment UK, completed 18 months ago. “As it stands, every product in the Mecalac Coventry portfolio is undergoing some form of development – be it legislative engine changes, the incorporation of new features, or a complete facelift. We are really proud of what we have achieved with this side of the business in just 18 months, and a testament to our hard work was the recent award we received for Export at the 2018 Coventry Telegraph Business Awards. “Together with MDX, we have also launched Shield – a safety

pack with operator software for improved safety and telematics checks. One of its features includes an auto handbrake test that can be performed before the start of the shift, to confirm that the handbrake is functioning correctly. It also enables remote adjustment of the machine parameters, so, for example, a site manager could limit the travel speed of the vehicle on a particular site through a Bluetooth-enabled device, like a smartphone or a tablet. Some of the other Shield properties worth mentioning are Stop/Start Control and auto shut off, start and seatbelt interlocks, and a speed limiter on raised skip, to name a few,” explains Satpal. “We managed to significantly grow our market share over the past year, largely due to winning new business with some major UK and international accounts, as well as with some larger regional UK customers,” Satpal continues. “There is a lot going on in the business and the engineering and design teams have been kept

extremely busy as of late. We are getting ready to release a number of new products and updates in the coming months, some of which will be first showcased at Bauma 2019, in April. Our goal is to continue promoting the Mecalac brand and educating the market about who we are. Bauma in Munich is just one of the events we will attend next year, where people will be able to see the strength of our portfolio. In the UK, we will also exhibit at the Executive Hire Show and Plantworx,” he outlines some of Mecalac’s intentions for the future.

2019 prospects The beginning of 2019 will see the company take over production of a range of compact wheel loaders, currently being manufactured by Pichon, after Mecalac completed the acquisition of the French company in July. The range of six wheel loaders will complement Mecalac’s existing range manufactured by its German-based plant Mecalac Baumaschinen, and will be distributed under the Mecalac brand through the group’s worldwide dealer network. With this addition, the company will become one of the largest suppliers of compact wheel loaders in the market. As the year approaches its end, Mecalac is clearly finding itself in a strong position, now dealing with unprecedented levels of demand. “Despite the slow start of 2018 due to the adverse weather conditions in Q1, demand has returned and we even had to increase our production capacity in Q4 to serve our customers’ needs,” Satpal points out. “Both Mecalac and our dealers are enthusiastic about our 2019 prospects and we have put in place some challenging growth plans. Following the launch of our cabbed dumper range, it will also be interesting to see how quickly the market shifts away from the

traditional ROPS dumpers, which we have been manufacturing for 65 years. “If we look a bit further ahead in time, we would like to continue to increase our UK market share, but also see sustained growth in the export of our site dumpers and backhoe loaders. The two ranges are performing really well this year and we expect to carry this momentum into 2019 and beyond. On top of that, we already have a lot of new products planned, as we continually scan the market for further development opportunities,” he concludes.

Mecalac Services: Design and manufacture of innovative compact construction equipment


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profile: Bradfords Building Supplies

Moving with the times

Celebrating its 250th anniversary in 2020, Bradfords Building Supplies is currently growing in a way that will allow the builders’ merchant to trade for another 250 years


radfords Building Supplies is thinking big, but what else can be expected from the oldest independent builders’ merchant in the UK? The company has proven its business resilience and vitality for nearly 250 years now and it is not afraid to claim that its current actions are aimed at ensuring its presence on the scene for another 250 years. Regarding

himself as a steward of the familyowned company, overseeing its development, is its Managing Director, David Young. “My job is to maintain the family ethos across the company and protect and promote the values that have helped it become so successful. I am convinced that the culture and core values that have been established since the early days of the business, have not changed much in present times. Our

organisation is built on trust and loyalty and we continue to work in a way that enables our partners to count on us, while we place trust in each other internally, within the business, so we can grow together and move forward.” The last five years have seen Bradfords diversify its customer base, as the company has gradually begun to open up to bigger contracts with some larger businesses. “Our core business has


profile: Bradfords Building Supplies

Briggs Equipment The Bradfords Group gears up for growth with new Briggs Equipment fleet The Bradfords Group recently boosted its fleet with over 170 new MHE units supplied by Briggs Equipment. This significant investment in the new fleet will support growth through improved productivity and provide the tools to manage the whole fleet with a complete transparency that was previously unavailable, in turn driving cost efficiency for the group. What reinforces the partnership is Briggs’ capability to provide the full materials handling solution; from unparalleled account management through a dedicated team of experts, to flexible asset financing using the in-house solution BE Finance, the provision of BE Portal as an effective fleet management tool, and full engineer backup from a team of over 600 highly skilled mobile engineers.


traditionally been general building, supplying building materials and timber mainly to local builders for works such as small extensions and loft conversions, but we have now moved to dealing with some regional and national housebuilders, too, opening up two additional sales offices to provide support,” David explains. “Three years ago, we also added plumbing and heating products to our portfolio, when we acquired a business in Yeovil called Yeovil Plumbing Supplies (YPS) and we now have a total of 23 plumbing and heating branches in the Southwest of England. It was an example of our ability to listen to what our customers want and react to their needs, thus diversifying the services our company offers. As a result, together with the 23 plumbing

and heating branches, we run another 23 tool hire branches, seven kitchen and bathroom showrooms, as well as a trade kitchen business with two outlets. On top of that, the Bradfords Building division operates 43 sites and we are looking to expand to 60 in the next two or three years.”

Expanding presence The latest of these sites was added in early August when the company acquired Penzancebased Solo Building Supplies. David comments: “It is a great geographical fit for us, providing us with a new customer base and a completely new market. It took us a long time to get the deal over the line, but it was definitely worth it, as Solo shares the same values and principles as us. We are fully integrating the

company in November, because our practice when we buy a business, is to keep it standalone for the first couple of months until we get to know each other a bit better. “We are certainly very excited about welcoming Solo to the family, but the good news is that it is not the first acquisition we have made in the last five years.

In fact, it is the sixth, along with a number of Greenfield sites we have developed in this time. We are planning a few relocations, as well, and we are opening a new Greenfield site in Helston in the spring of 2019, which is just 20 miles from Penzance and will further strengthen our network in Cornwall,” he enthuses. “We have now identified certain core areas where we want to establish a presence. If you look at our branch map, you will see holes that we are looking to fill. It is true that we are holding discussions with lots of other independent businesses, but we are very careful about who we approach, because we want to be sure that these will be the right cultural fit. Meanwhile, I am currently keeping an eye on 15 Greenfield sites. Of course, it



profile: Bradfords Building Supplies

would not be possible to acquire them all at once, but if we can add one or two per year and acquire multiple branch locations, we should be able to reach 60 sites relatively quickly.” According to David, one of the major drivers of Bradfords’ success has been the company’s refusal to stand still. “We are always looking for opportunities and we have never been afraid to put out head above the parapet and try what is new in our market. For example, we have recently invested in ecommerce, because we are seeing the considerable potential it holds. First, we created a non-account website some time ago, and, remarkably, on the day that we are speaking, we have launched our account website, which will enable our customers to sign up, look at prices, place orders for delivery, click and collect, pay their bills, see their invoices, and raise queries. It marks the beginning of a new era in terms of how we trade. While it probably accounts for only five per cent of our turnover at the moment, we project this figure to rise to 20 or even 30 per cent in the years ahead. It will not be easy, though, as our customers tend to be very traditional. Their average age is mid-50s and some of them are computerliterate, but others are not. Still, we already email 65 per cent of

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our invoices, which means that these clients use email and we can expect them to visit our new website, too,” he discusses.

Value-added services With the 250th anniversary of the business fast approaching, there could be no better time for Bradfords’ to outline its strategic approach for the future. Taking into account the changing business environment, David is adamant that the company has to be even more proactive in engaging with clients and

trying to retain them in the long-term. “Our relationship with our customers could be defined as transactional and we need to change this. We need to add more value to our client base and I do not mean just in the sense of selling building materials. We should be able to value engineer their projects, help them save money, and drive innovation, which involves making sure that we have all the latest innovative products available in our stores. Perhaps, we also need to expand our offering to delivering insurance services, structural engineering services, or even selling computer software. In a word, our goal is to make our business personal and even more customer-oriented.” Having defined the importance of becoming its customers’ favourite partner, Bradfords’ overreaching goal is to be the number one builders’ merchant in the Southwest, and David believes that the company holds its destiny in its own hands: “We hope to continue on the growth curve in the next three years and I am sure that if we stick to our plans and deliver on the initiatives we have already set in motion, our future will be bright.”

Bradfords Building Supplies Services: Independent builders’ merchant 91

profile: AC Plc

A class apart Having celebrated three decades in business in 2017, AC Plc has evolved from humble beginnings into one of Europe’s pre-eminent subcontractors



tarting with just seven employees, AC Plc has grown to employ around 100 office- and fieldbased full time staff, with upwards of 450 specialists managed from its Bedfordshire-based head office at any one time. The company’s robust experience in a variety of disciplines remains unmatched; including but not limited to cladding, roofing, flooring, waterproofing, and a variety of bespoke joinery and weld projects. These services are provided through six divisions operating in Europe and the UK, each with their own expertise and specialisation: • AC International - Roofing, cladding and façade installation arm, specialising in Data Centre campuses across Europe • AC Waterproofing - Specialises in roofing, waterproofing, façades, metalwork and joinery, curtain walling, windows and stone work • AC Build – Provides design and build services for new build developments as well as

• • •

refurbishment projects ranging from full envelope construction to high end commercial fit-out AC Interiors - Specialises in the installation of floor and wall finishes, sub floor preparation and levelling screed AC Manufacturing - Offers specialised joinery, metal fabrication and architectural metalwork on an individual project basis AC Developments - Delivers high quality, sustainable projects that draw on existing expertise throughout the business

Vision and ambition Having grown steadily since it was created, it has been over the past four years that AC Plc has really seen exceptional evolution, resulting in the creation of nearly 300 new jobs and quadrupling its turnover. 2017 then saw a substantial expansion of its international turnover from £10m to over £40m making AC Plc a major global exporter of UK consultancy and construction services. Thanks to this dedication to expansion and development, the


profile: AC Plc

AC International and AC Build divisions have been involved with prestigious projects overseas, and the business has been working as far afield as Denmark, Holland, Germany and Ireland with further European projects in the pipeline. Supporting these works are several satellite offices across Europe to and AC has plans in place to open further sites in the future, with France and Sweden at the top of the list. AC plc also opened offices in Central London in January 2018, headed by Richard Caines, 25, AC Build’s director. “To have the opportunity to work with Andrew Laing, a CEO with such far reaching vision and ambition has been unparalleled. The AC commitment to innovation and excellence is enshrined in its commitment to its staff development and recognition of ability, regardless

measured over their latest two years of available accounts. These awards, plus the range of respected accreditations that it has earned, clearly demonstrate that AC Plc works to the highest standards, and this is also reflected in the blue-chip names of its client base. AC Plc has had the privilege of working

with Tier 1 contractors across London and the UK, as well as internationally. Customers include Mace, Skanska, Balfour Beatty, Laing O’Rourke, Kier, Vinci and Brookfield Multiplex – partners that expect nothing less than world-class service. They also demand the most state-of-the-art solutions and approaches, and to this end, AC Plc has always looked for cutting edge design and development technology to aide and assist the completion and quality of projects, regardless of their size. As an early adopter of BIM in design and construction, AC has carried this experience into its design remit on its international data centre portfolio, offering multiple benefits including increased value for money, improved safety, and more efficient construction processes.

of age or background.”

Sustainable systems Design and development Such has been the rate of the company’s sustained international growth, that in 2018 it was presented with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade. One of the most prestigious awards a business can receive, the Queen’s Award for Enterprise is bestowed on those businesses that excel in international trade, innovation and sustainable development. The company is thrilled with the honour; not only does it reflect the incredible amount of hard work and dedication that the team has invested, but also illustrates to the world that AC Plc operates at a superior level – guaranteeing a degree of professionalism and service that is a step above the competition. This was further bolstered by AC Plc’s inclusion at number 40 in The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200, which ranks Britain’s mid-market private companies with the fastestgrowing international sales,


Having examined the operations of AC Plc, the theme of continuous excellence can be found running through every division, from the management team to the project floor – and this philosophy also permeates into the organisation’s total commitment to both sustainable systems, and to health and safety. AC Plc has created an expansive range of measures that ensure responsible environmental management throughout its operations both domestically and overseas. These include a policy of minimal or zero waste placed into landfill, special arrangements with leading manufacturers to collect waste for recycling, and ongoing internal initiatives to reduce and minimise packaging waste. Caring for the environment works hand in hand with caring for staff – and AC Plc’s commitment to Health & Safety in the workplace is exceptional. The company employs its own in-house employed NEBOSH

qualified Heath & Safety division, whose team members visit sites on a regular basis providing feedback on performance and highlighting any other concerns that may be present. Contract managers and site supervisors are sent on relevant courses to keep their sites safe, and all staff, from the top down, are dedicated to ensuring that operations are undertaken in the safest way possible. These policies are crucial when working on the types of prestigious projects that AC Plc is awarded - recent examples show not only the significance of the client and their high expectations, but also the wide variety of skills and services available from AC Plc. The latest case studies available include the cladding and roofing fitted on a state-of-

the-art data centre in Ireland; the installation of highly complex elements as part of an extension development at Exeter College, an extensive scope of works for the brand new, state-of-theart Royal Papworth Hospital on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus; and Soft Flooring finishes packages on a Balfour Beatty development at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore. Further noteworthy sites include Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club, the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, Gatwick Pier 5 at Gatwick Airport, and The Shard in London. As we head towards 2019, over 30 years have passed since the seeds of AC Plc were sown by the founder Andrew Laing, who remains CEO to this day. He has maintained the drive to

grow and improve since those very first days, and he sums up why clients return to the group time and again: “We’ve worked tirelessly to build an outstanding reputation, and our continued involvement with the very best in the industry reflects that. The AC Group has adapted and grown over the years, but our mission has remained the same – provide quality service as part of the most competitive packages. We understand this sector, evident through our extensive portfolio of accomplished projects and the repeat custom we have with our clients.”

AC Plc Services: Subcontractor specialising in various disciplines


profile: Derbyshire Specialist Aggregates

Covering all the bases! One of the largest manufacturers of aggregates in the UK, Derbyshire Specialist Aggregates (DSA) is the natural first port of call for business customers, domestic clients (via its Decorative Aggregates brand) and even celebrity gardeners


aving significantly evolved and grown over the past 34 years, the array of products available from DSA is so extensive that the business can help with projects in an impressively diverse range of areas, including decorative landscaping, flooring, pebble dashing, rubber play and landscaping, industrial and dried minerals, coloured quartz,


thermoplastic and anti-skid surfaces, decorative concrete, filtration or terrazzo flooring. Moreover, DSA has also built an expertise in resin bonded and resin bound applications, adverse weather solutions and roofing. “The rich catalogue of products allows us to operate in many different sectors, which makes us stand out from the competition and gives us a relative robustness against market conditions,�

comments Sam Buckley, Managing Director of DSA. “Over the years, our flexibility and willingness to work together with customers on bespoke projects means we have developed an ability to identify different market opportunities as they arise. This strength of expertise and breadth of knowledge gives us some resilience to potential market changes - if one particular market takes a dip, we can make the most

plant offers custom processing, resulting in washing, drying, screening, crushing and bagging to a variety of sizes. DSA has the ability to package materials in a variety of different ways to suit the customers’ requirements, and this approach requires the company to invest in and maintain the most up-to-date machinery and equipment. The latest investments - a dual bagging line and an automated hooder – have both increased efficiency, helping to ensure that aggregate bags arrive on site in pristine condition. “Over the last three years, we have invested around £4 million in capital, which included the purchase of the bagging line, as well as the construction of a new distribution centre. In addition, we are planning to implement capital projects in excess of £1 million this coming winter,” Sam clarifies.

Aggregate library

of another emerging opportunity and are more than capable of dealing across multiple sectors.” DSA sources materials not just from the UK, but also the rest of the world, meaning that the company can offer an unrivalled range of colours, sizes and shapes to suit all applications – for example, white marble from the Dolomite Quarry in Spain, and calcined flint from plants in Denmark and France. The

business prides itself on offering 100 per cent stock availability at all times and keeps thousands of tonnes of raw material and finished product ready for next day delivery. These stocks are held across five UK sites, including Ryder Point, Bridgend, Port Penrhyn and Garston. These facilities have the capacity to produce many types of industrial and decorative materials, while the Arbor Low

Given the breadth of expertise in aggregates that is on hand at DSA, it was a natural extension for the business to offer a wealth of technical support and experience to its clients, either in-house or on-site. Utilising its large aggregate library and expert staff, DSA is able to assist clients in finding the materials they need and even offer a matching service for existing sites, or provide guidance when embarking on new projects. Furthermore, its specialist processing means that it can tailor-make products for the most unusual or bespoke applications. Thanks to a huge range of in-house samples, DSA can provide a match for virtually any material for any project, as well as create sample boxes for clients to take to their customers, including individual samples of any products required. DSA has full confidence in the benefits of this approach, as the company believes that clients have a vision or expectation of what they need


profile: Derbyshire Specialist Aggregates

- be it technical or aesthetic - and a sample shows their expectations have been met.

Customer requirements DSA’s services also extend to nationwide delivery, where its transport network supports customers across the UK. Thanks to a variety of transport methods through reliable subcontractors, DSA can be flexible enough to adapt to customers’ requirements, making sure they get the right product when they need it, where they need it. What unites all the partners in the logistics network, whether they be quarries, hauliers or contractors, is a passion to deliver quality materials to the customers. “The recent boom in the market is around the resin bound sector,” Sam remarks, moving onto


current industry trends. “We are in a very strong position there, because of our ability to source almost any aggregate to meet our customers’ requirements, and have also become known as the go-to supplier in the industry. For instance, between 2012 and 2014, we worked on the Government’s ECO scheme, which involved supplying thousands of social housing units with dashing grade insulation. We also supply Buckingham Palace and have done work on a number of football grounds. In total, 50 per cent of our business at the moment is taken up by the resin bound sector in the domestic market and our DALTEX brand is fast becoming recognised as the number one choice for resin bound.” DSA has developed a website for resin bound aggregates specifically

- https://resinbondedaggregates. com. This comprehensively answers any question a newcomer

to the sector may have as well as providing experienced installers with the range of products and


profile: Derbyshire Specialist Aggregates

offers a rough, non-draining surface. To ensure that customers find the ideal resin solution for their needs, the website includes advice and videos to help them make informed decisions prior to purchasing. The company is so committed to ensuring the highest standards of resin bound installation are promoted, it has heavily invested in an on-site training centre and offers a oneday training course which is run by independent contractors. One free place is available to every company.

Raising the profile

equipment they require. While resin bound and resin bonded systems sound similar, they look and perform very


differently. Put simply, resin bound provides a smooth surface, which is both porous and SUDS compliant, while resin bonded

Although B2B sales constitute the majority of DSA’s turnover, there is still some 25 per cent that are generated by the business’ ‘Decorative Aggregates’ brand, through which it sells directly

to the consumer. “This business started in 2008, right at the start of the recession when we could see issues coming up with the general market. We have been able to harness the potential of ecommerce, growing the brand through a superb website and a fantastic product offering,� Sam enthuses. When you have a culture of quality and excellence such as that embraced by DSA, staff have to be not only fully involved, but also closely and demonstrably valued. Given the robust environments in which aggregates are created, it is just natural that the safety of employees is of utmost importance to the company. As such it ensures a culture of safety is embedded throughout its operations, with the wellbeing of

be used as a case study for the range of options that is actually available in the market. Whether it is supplying Scottish Cobbles to an Alan Titchmarsh design on the TV programme Love Your Garden, or generously donating resin bound paths to DIY SOS – The Big Build, DSA is raising the profile and reputation of aggregates, demonstrating their wide variety and scope and proving that through hard work, dedication and investment, it is possible to grow an extremely successful and industry leading company - even from humble beginnings in a garden shed! employees, contractors and site visitors viewed as a number one priority. It would be easy to think of the world of aggregates as simply stone and gravel, but DSA can

Derbyshire Specialist Aggregates Services: Producing and supplying specialist aggregates


profile: KES Group

Neat and efficient

Having established its modular buildings division (SmartBuild) just a year ago, KES Group is experiencing major growth, due to its extraordinary in-house manufacturing capabilities, while continuing to develop renewable energy solutions under its Energi division


een on preserving its much-cherished origins, KES Group has its head office in County Tyrone, from where it manages and coordinates the construction of modular buildings and sustainable energy projects. Complemented by an Omagh-based state-of-theart manufacturing facility, where the magic happens, as well as a regional sub-office in Dublin to serve its ever-expanding customer base, KES Group is one of the hottest names in the modular building industry. The business is divided into two very distinct divisions – SmartBuild, which covers the construction side, and Energi, specialising on the supply and installation of a wide range of renewable energy systems and packaged plantrooms to the residential and commercial sectors. Through SmartBuild, set up only a year ago, KES Group has proven its expertise in the manufacture


of ultra-high specification, fully relocatable buildings, engineered with maximum flexibility and efficiency across a number of sectors. These are constructed in the controlled environment of KES Group’s factory using SIPs (structural insulated panels) for greater efficiency and adaptability. The SIPs are pre-insulated wall and roof panels, representing an advanced form of timber frame construction, which enables the off-site construction of SmartBuild buildings. Offering excellent insulating performance from a thinner wall panel with low U-values, reduced cold bridging, and superlative air tightness, they contribute to the cost-efficiency of the constructions, also being an environmentally-friendly option. Certainly, the consideration for the planet’s wellbeing sits high on KES Group’s list of priorities, as the company is adamant that increased performance and competitiveness should

not come at the expense of the environment. The organisation has grown into an industry leader in eco technology for business and domestic use, which allows it to deliver significant savings for its customers, while protecting the Earth for the future generations. It is, therefore, no surprise that it strives to use sustainable materials whenever possible in its processes. Aiming to be an end-to-end solutions provider, SmartBuild covers all bases with its services, including the planning, design, construction, and fit-out of the buildings. The company has become known for its devotion to gaining an in-depth knowledge of the customers’ requirements and the potential challenges to a given project. Emphasising this, it creates bespoke design for every individual initiative it engages with, and upon manufacturing, delivers the building to the site, cranes it into position, and fixes it for complete reassurance. In

addition, each individual steelframed module is fully-fitted with electrics, plumbing, heating, and internal finishes, to complete the experience and give the customer peace of mind. KES Group’s Energi division is, in fact, the older of the two, and the company has garnered a solid amount of knowledge and expertise in the devising of innovative sustainable energy solutions. KES Group supplies a range of biomass boilers manufactured by Austrian biomass experts, ETA. ETA produces classleading boilers and has a global reputation for performance and reliability. Identifying the requirement to house the technology, KES Group has also developed its own range of modular, self-contained plant rooms. It takes pride in its ability to design the interior of a plant room in a way that will facilitate the easy maintenance and monitoring of the equipment stored there. Just like with any KES Group product, the plant rooms are designed according to the individual needs of the client and would normally represent a single or double-skin construction featuring a galvanised steel frame, a steel plate floor, powder-coated aluminium or fibre cement walls and roof, insulation to all external walls, and high-spec doors.

sustainability. Earlier this summer, it received the ‘Excellence in Energy Services to the Public Sector’ award for the work it does across Ireland. Its appetite whetted by the accolade, the company has stated an intention to continue working tirelessly with the public sector to provide even more innovative technologies, which will reduce organisations’ heating

and electricity bills, and create a greener working environment. The most comprehensive way in which Energi’s capabilities can be demonstrated, is by looking at the actual projects it has delivered. One of the recent flagship developments for the business was the design, manufacture, and delivery of several 1MW gas heating package plantrooms to

Solar panels Perhaps better known for its solar PV panels, Energi has perfected their development over time, offering lightweight, quick to install, and low-maintenance panels that deliver efficient, comfortable, and cost-effective performance. Adding extra value to the service, the business performs regular ‘health checks’ to the panels to ensure that they deliver optimum results continuously. Unsurprisingly, KES Group has picked up various awards during its existence thanks to its admirable efforts to promote


profile: KES Group

a project in Dublin, completed over only a six-week construction period in June 2018, due to Energi having all its trades in-house – a clear advantage over its competitors, allowing it to produce ready-to-use buildings. We would certainly run out of space if we had to list all of the contracts KES Group has won since the beginning of this year alone, as there truly are so many of them, mainly for SmartBuild. The company announced the two latest projects it will be part of, in the last days of July, when it revealed that it had been awarded contracts by Bradley Transport and Alpha Accident Management. The former will see KES Group construct a 1033 square foot modular office building, which will house two receptions, a conference room, a kitchen, an accessible WC, a store room, and a large office, while for Alpha Accident Management, it will design and build a 1861sqft modular office space, branded and kitted out with a kitchen, gym, WC/Shower room, private office, sales office, reception, meeting room and accounts office.

Biomass Plantroom

Packaged Plantroom

factory is projected to house eight production lines and is expected to create up to 70 new jobs, becoming a valuable asset to Strabane and the local community. Energetically exploring new opportunities all the time, KES Group looks determined to grow in the years to come, while continually optimising its services, in order to accurately address the needs of its customers, as well as the leading market trends. With a new and modern facility in construction, the company is sending unambiguous signals that it is expecting a lot of work to come its way in the near future.

KES Group Services: Modular buildings and renewable energy solutions

Future opportunities Reflecting the company’s immense growth in recent times was the decision to invest in a new multimillion-pound, purpose-built manufacturing site at Strabane Business Park, which will bring the SmartBuild and Energi Divisions under one roof for KES Group. For the realisation of this goal, KES Group approached Invest NI when it figured out that its current facilities could not support the increased demand for its services. The 40,000 square foot

Bradley Transport External View


profile: Veitchi Interiors

Fit for


One of the largest specialist fit-out contractors in the UK, Veitchi Interiors has established a reputation for delivering a variety of complex projects of all shapes and sizes, on time and within budget, and is Scotland’s only approved Metframe installer


ith an ethos built around providing the very best level of service to its clients via a solutionsbased approach, the Veitchi Group has traded successfully for more than 100 years. Today, the group is able to provide a onestop-specialised solutions service for the construction industry thanks to its four separate trading


companies, Veitchi Interiors, Veitchi Flooring, Veitchi Homes and Richardson & Starling, each of which is a successful business in its own right. Veitchi Interiors is a specialist construction solutions contractor, able to offer a unique turnkey service for the interior fit-out aspect of any project to clients across a range of areas within the industry. “Veitchi Interiors itself is a diverse entity, with specialism

ranging from the construction of complete lightweight steel structures and the fit out of large scale commercial or public buildings, to successfully carrying our single trade work packages such as dry lining,” explains Managing Director, Colin Kennedy. “We enjoy a wide customer base, with clients including large construction companies such as Galliford Try, Robertson, Morgan Sindall, BAM and Kier, as well as

some of Scotland’s largest regional contractors such as Ogilvie and Hart Construction,” Colin continues. “Meanwhile, our fit-out division is not only a strong player in the commercial office space market, but also has gained a reputation for carrying out a series of projects for several hotel chains.” Veitchi Interiors has experienced strong growth, both in terms of turnover and profits, year-onyear for the past five years, and

one of the key drivers of this has been its Metframe offering. “Metframe is a versatile, high quality, yet reasonably simple framing system, which can be used in a number of ways,” Colin says. “When using this system, a lot of work is taken ‘off-site’, meaning we create our panels in a factory located in central Scotland. This provides us with benefits in terms of health and safety, quality, speed of construction and site

housekeeping, as we don’t require lay down areas for excess material to be stored. “Metframe represents a niche field that we have entered into and had great success in as a company. It lends itself to a great many uses, including care homes, flatted developments, hotels and student accommodation. Metframe offers a streamlined framing system that acts to reduce project duration, create tidier sites, and enhance


profile: Veitchi Interiors

operative health and safety. We have also gained a strong reputation for being licensed installers of our Altro hygienic wallcladding system. Altro is another excellent and diverse system that provides good performance for end users and clients, and it is through the selecting of high quality products and providing a fuss-free installation process


that allows clients and principle contractors to turn to us with confidence.� There are a good number of examples of projects that Veitchi Interiors has been involved in that we can shine a spotlight on. One such case study involves the award of a £3.7 million contract by Allenbuild, working in collaboration with Edinburgh Council to

provide affordable and private housing in Leith, Edinburgh. Here, Veitchi was tasked with the design, manufacture, supply, and installation of the internal and external structure using Metframe steel frames. By the end of the project, Veitchi has successfully constructed the three main blocks in this development, ranging from eight to six storeys high and comprising of 344 properties in total. This work required over 8000 linear metres of panels over a total floor area of 3500 square metres, supporting over 500 cubic metres of concrete used for flooring and 300 tonnes of hot rolled steel beams spanning 1.4 kilometres. Another significant, recent completed contract was on Anderson High School in Lerwick, Shetland for Morrison

Construction, where Veitchi Interiors was appointed to install all of the internal partitions and wall linings within the new £42 million complex. As well as undertaking the internal fit-our works on the four-storey school, the company also supplied and installed over 700 timber door sets, together with numerous acoustic/fire rated timber glazed screens and all other general joiner finishings, including atrium seating, performance stage, skirtings, cills and pelmets. “The Anderson High School project was a special one for the company as it went on to be presented with a Gold Award for FIS projects in the UK valued at over £1 million,” Colin beams. “Our people did a fantastic job across this project, with the high standard of work being praised by not only the client but also our peers within the industry. To have achieved this feat in Shetland also adds weight to our accomplishment, what with the logistics of building a school here being far from simple!”

dedication to the industry through the cultivating of new talent. Our focus at Veitchi Interiors is getting the best from our people, and giving them the best in return. We have put a large percentage of our people through further education and will continue to provide the necessary training to mould them into the best employees that they can be. Our in-house training schemes,

charitable endeavours and strong work ethic has positively impacted on people’s lives all around the UK, and another 101 years in business will only add to this positive contribution.”

Veitchi Interiors Services: Specialist fit-out contractors / Licensed Metframe Installers

Positive contributions Veitchi was incorporated 101 years ago and in that time has managed to facilitate positive change in a wide number of areas and, as Colin goes on to conclude, it is the group’s intention to continue this for many years to come. “We intend to go from strengthto-strength with Metframe, continuing to create strong and diverse structures for the built asset needs of clients across the country. Throughout all of this, our continued group focus on our charity efforts through our Veitchi Gives campaign still receives our full attention, with causes such as local food banks, soldier rehabilitation and children’s’ charities, and health research facilities being the main beneficiaries of our efforts. “Meanwhile, Veitchi’s Graduate Training Programme and Trade School demonstrates our


profile: KW Bell Group

Laying the foundations for the future Founded by Keith Bell in 1967, KW Bell Group now encapsulates a number of distinct organisations that together make it an expert in housing developments and construction


here was something a little bit extra special about the end of year Christmas party that KW Bell Group hosted for its employees at the end of 2017. As well as toasting another year of hard work and well-earned success, the party was also a celebration of the 50th anniversary of a business that began life through the work of a solo bricklayer and is today an organisation turning over some £65 million annually, with a workforce totaling some 500 men and women across its four divisions, Bell Plant, Bell Contracting, Bell Homes and Bell Partnerships.


Right: Nicola Bird and Peter Bell

“The 50th anniversary celebrations were the culmination of what was a very strong year for the business as a whole,” begins Nicola Bird, KW Bell Group’s Safety & Business Development Director. “As a part of the festivities we invited lots of past and present employees to celebrate their achievements, as well as presented our longstanding employees of 20 years or more, of which there were 76 in total, with gifts honouring their service.” For Nicola, a member of the Bell family herself and daughter of current Managing Director Peter Bell, the anniversary brought with it a great deal of nostalgia and

As we take the business forward I believe it is important that we do not lose sight of the values and ethics that we have built up over the years, as I see them as being a key factor in what makes KW Bell Group an individual business and I want them to remain at the heart of our activities during the next 50 years pride. “It is amazing to think of how far the business has come since my grandfather started out as a bricklayer, and it is great that he remains involved in the business to this day,” she states. “As we take the business forward I believe it is important that we do not lose sight of the values and ethics that we have built up over the years, as I see them as being a key factor in what makes KW Bell Group an individual business and I want them to remain at the heart of our activities during the next 50 years.”

Funding improvements For KW Bell Group, 2017 was another important year of investment, with the organisation ploughing over £2 million into new plant and machinery, and over £500,000 into new vehicles to assist in the growth

of its house building contracting business. “This investment has been used to further the 3D modelling of the robotics that support our excavators, to increase our use of Cab dumpers, and to investigate the use of vacuum excavators as we continue to push the boundaries of the technology that we utilise onsite and increase safety,” Nicola reveals. “We have also continued to heavily fund improvements in the training, development and well-being of our employees in order to ensure that as we succeed as an organisation they continue to be rewarded accordingly.” The training and development of employees, particularly those that are new to the business, is a hugely important area for Nicola, and one that is all the more relevant in 2018 as KW Bell

Group, and indeed the rest of the construction industry, faces up to the effects of a major skills shortage within the UK. “For me personally, as I look ahead to what the business will be like in five-to-ten years’ time, the biggest challenge that I foresee us facing is this shortage of skills coming through into the industry and it is a threat that I believe we need to be tackling right away,” she explains. “One of the ways we have been doing so is through the development of our own Groundwork Apprentice Programme during the last 12-to18 months.” In partnership with a contracted training provider, the organisation has built complete, on-site training hubs on the site of its headquarters in Cinderford, Gloucesteshire and on a Redrow Homes site in Pentrebane, Cardiff,



profile: KW Bell Group

where it can provide a complete, unique, controlled learning environment for groundwork apprentices to utilise. “These hubs provide the space necessary to build structures up to DPC standards, meaning that they can be drained, concreted and slabbed, and for partial roads to be constructed, so basically replicating the work that can be carried out on an operational working site,” Nicola says. “In addition to giving us a safe environment to take the apprentices on a unique journey through the groundworks process, these hubs also allow us to actually mould our apprentices to the KW Bell Group culture. We have received great support from Redrow Homes, South Wales who have supported us throughout and have supplied us with the space on site to achieve our objective. We’ve also received sponsorship in the form of material donations for the course from Jewsons, Keyline, Bradfords, Wavin, Lapwing and Bluebay, for which I am very grateful for. “Each apprenticeship runs for two years, and at the end of that time I will be interviewing every single one in order to ask them what direction they intend to take with their career going forward. During the course of the apprenticeship they will have the

opportunity to do a role swap, where they can spend some time shadowing engineers, supervisors or directors, and we hope that this also aids them in choosing their desired career path within the industry, which we would then look to support with the appropriate training thereafter.”

Game changer At the time of our conversation, ten apprentices were imminently due to start their two-year course in Cardiff, with a further 12 in Cinderford also taking their

first steps in their respective careers. “This programme represents a real game changer for us and for our apprentices,” Nicola enthuses. “We are now in the process of seeking out a permanent home for our training centre, one that will also be able to offer groundworks plant operations and exercises such as deep drainage, trench work and trench shoring. We also hope to forge links with the NHS in order to provide on-site well-being services to our apprentices.” With its new apprentices hard at work, and a new board of directors made up of both family and non-family members now in place, KW Bell Group is now working towards its goals for the next 12-to-18 months, which is to sustain the growth it has achieved in the last three years or so, while retaining the reputation it has for delivering projects safety and to the highest standards of quality. For Nicola, sustaining this growth means creating more employment opportunities for people coming into the industry, and that will remain a focus for her into 2019. “One of the things I want to see happen is more women becoming involved in the work that we do,” she adds. “I strongly believe that we have to try and tap into the 50 per cent of the population that we are not currently utilising, therefore I want to work with schools to promote this as a strong career avenue. Much like the work we are doing with our training centre, the efforts that we are making now are those that we expect to pay dividends for us in five-to-ten years’ time, which I hope will be beneficial not only for ourselves, but for the industry as a whole.”

KW Bell Group Services: Construction and house building 113

profile: Castle Building Services

King of the castle A highly-experienced provider of engineering and contracting services, Castle Building Services (Castle) prides itself on exemplary levels of quality


stablished in 2002, Castle is a specialist in Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) services, and over the 16 years it has been in business, the company has steadily built up its reputation and skills to the extent that it is now one of the UK’s leading providers. What sets the business apart from the competition, and ensures its customers return time and again, is its dedication to a collaborative approach. By working closely with clients from the very outset of a project, Castle


can establish a true understanding of customers’ requirements, and thus supply a complete package of services targeted to meet their precise needs. In more detail, this means that Castle advises and carries out work for clients right through from initial concept, design, cost planning, budgets, construction, installation and commissioning, to hand-over and beyond. Working on projects in Commercial, Education, Leisure, Accommodation, Residential, MoD/MoJ, Industrial, Retail and Health, Castle focuses on providing outstanding MEP

solutions throughout the UK with an emphasis on environmentally efficient technology. Specialising in pre-fabrication, new installation and refurbishment, in Mechanical services Castle can install heating systems, plumbing and sanitary systems, ventilation, air conditioning and extraction technology, undertake gas installations and process pipe work, as well as having experience with refrigeration, domestic water services, steam and air installations, maintenance, GSHP, solar collection, rainwater gathering and distribution and BIM and 3D co-ordination.

Its electrical services are equally broad-ranging and cover: • Electrical testing and inspection • Small power • Lighting • HV and LV distribution • Fire and security alarm systems • Process control • Maintenance • Cable management • Lightning protection • Security and access control • Generators • UPS • BIM and 3D co-ordination Within these areas of speciality, Castle is always available to provide advice on technical, practical, programming and commercial subjects with the aim of final accounting a project at bid value. The business has found that the integrated team approach is becoming more and more important as building regulations evolve and projects need to achieve stringent targets such as Part L compliance and BREEAM. Thanks to its expertise, Castle can positively influence the building regulation compliance without wasting time and effort later in the construction process.

York will also include recovery areas, interview-discharge rooms, offices and a plant room as well as ancillary spaces. The two-storey endoscopy facility is currently being constructed on top of an existing physiotherapy unit and adjacent to the neuro sciences and renal departments. For that reason, it is a logistically challenging scheme to deliver. According to Castle’s commercial director, Andrew Dawson, the company’s previous experience of working in a clinical environment will stand it in good stead on this project. “We will be working closely with Kier’s team and other project partners to ensure we achieve all our key milestones on the project to bring it in on time and budget, ready to serve the people of York and the surrounding areas who need

the vital services provided by the Endoscopy Unit,” he said. Castle is expected to handover in the second quarter of 2019.

Workforce development It is clear that Castle works with the crème de la crème of the construction sector, and to maintain relationships with clients of this standing requires a workforce that not only understands the need for professionalism and the highest standards, but also has the ability to be open, friendly and efficient. Furthermore, continuous development of staff is a priority, and an illustration of Castle’s approach is its participation in PlanBEE, an industry wide partnership of companies who want people with a new and broader set of skills in their

Key partner Recognising the multitude of benefits that can be gained by working with Castle, principal contractor Kier Construction recently appointed the business to provide a full range of mechanical, electrical and plumbing services on a new seven-suite endoscopy facility for York Teaching Hospital NHS Trust Foundation under the NHS P21Framework. Further to the general building services, the unit requires specialised services to support its clinical function including uninterruptible power supplies and isolated power supplies as well as medical gas installations. This new £9.8 million stateof-the-art healthcare facility in


profile: Castle Building Services

businesses. Established by Ryder Architecture, PlanBEE comprises some of the most recognised brands in the industry and niche SMEs, and they have all committed to work together to shape the talent of the future and inspire people to consider a rewarding career in a broad range of technical and professional roles in architecture, engineering, surveying and construction.

CIBSE Award Castle is the only M&E contractor to sign up to the innovative scheme, which is a clear demonstration of its commitment to training and providing opportunities for trainees and future employees to widen their skills set. Thanks to developments such as the Kier contract and


participation with PlanBEE, 2018 has been an exciting year for Castle – especially when its award-wins are taken into account. One of the most significant occurred in February, when Oriam, Scotland’s National Sports Performance Centre located at Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, was crowned as Project of the Year at the CIBSE (Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers) Building Performance Awards. Castle was part of the team that delivered Oriam, alongside Max Fordham, Reiach and Hall architects, structural engineers Engenuiti, and principal contractor Bowmer and Kirkland. The success of the Oriam project is down to the truly collaborative approach backed by innovation in building

services design and installation. According to Castle Building Services director, Simon Groom, they took on Max Fordham’s design intent and developed that into a detailed working design which the contractor then implemented, installed and commissioned. He said: “The work we undertook on this project is a great example of our ability to successfully adopt a ‘design intent’ and transform it into a compliant working solution. To have that work further recognised with a national accolade from CIBSE is fantastic.”

Castle Building Services Services: Privately owned building services company

Profile for Schofield Publishing Ltd

Construction & Civil Engineering Issue 157 November 2018  

The latest edition of Construction & Civil Engineering

Construction & Civil Engineering Issue 157 November 2018  

The latest edition of Construction & Civil Engineering

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