The Lowdown December 2016

peteA word from our CEO

 

Welcome to the second edition of The Lowdown.

As expected there has been a fair bit going on since the last edition, with many additional staff (and vehicles!). We have invested in £1,000,000 worth of equipment and companies in recent months, as we increase both our fleet of standard equipment, but also add in niche specialist services such as the ROBIN mobile mapping system and two slope climbing rigs, enhancing our exceptional and specialist capabilities across the board.

 

It has been a particularly busy period with the addition of our new division ‘Recruitment Central’ headed up by Kevin Crisp who started in early December.  Having a recruitment arm to the business will not only serve our own recruitment requirements as a business going forward, but will also offer an additional service to our existing and new clients as we help them with their selection of candidates for roles across the board, from unskilled labour to highly qualified engineers and experienced project managers both temporary and permanent.

 

There are always growing pains with organisations like ours, but they are significant in CA as the growth rate is exceptionally high and quick.  In a recent industry report, Central Alliance is listed as the ‘first fastest growing company’ in our industry, which whilst I knew we were growing at a fair rate of knots, I didn’t realise we were factually number one! (more on number one later…)

September saw the addition of our new Business Development Manager, Luke O’Dea. Luke joins us from MGS who are a supplier to us on the Geo side and has good experience and knowledge of that side of the business. Luke is responsible for new business for both Geo and Survey.

 

We decided to take on a new business person due to the fact that (somewhat surprisingly) we have done virtually no business development in two years-yes, our rapid growth is down to an excellent reputation and repeat business alone.

 

Luke is busy turning over many stones, and I strongly believe he will have helped us achieve our targets leading up to the end of the financial year.

 

The summer months were as steady as always, then once the holidays were over the larger projects started coming in, however significant meddling from politicians coupled with poor delivery management from the client (Network Rail) left us with a short period of kicking our heels whilst projects had been delayed and postponed.

 

It did give us time to get up to speed with maintenance and other necessities that we haven’t had the time to do previously. However, we have had a great comeback and October has been the biggest month of the year so far.  With our busiest period to come (December to May) things are looking very rosy.

One of the biggest challenges to a fast growing company is the management of cash, which has been done brilliantly by Marta Torchalska in Accounts. Marta took some time off and got married in early September, but since her return has been exceptionally busy and under a lot of pressure.

 

She has been a terrific and highly valued employee of the company since she joined in September 2015 and is without doubt the winner of our ‘Above and Beyond the Call of Duty Award’, showing terrific dedication and loyalty to the company. Great work Marta!

 

Looking forward to seeing you all at the Christmas Party…there were 26 of us last year and we have over 50 people confirmed for this year!  Paivi has organised the venue and it promises to be another good do.  See you there!

 

Pete

geo-3

 

Geo Central has been involved in some prestigious projects over the last 6 months and lots of hard work has been undertaken by both drillers and engineers to satisfy client programmes of work.  Projects include:

 

Eden Brows for Story Contracting – Central Alliance provided a variety of specialist pre-construction services in this difficult to access location. Geo Central carried out detailed ground investigation work including rotary coring using our specialist platform rig mounted on a long reach excavator that safely carried out the investigation on the steep upper slope.  In addition, Survey Central carried out topographical surveys of the site and adjacent land, including a bathymetric survey of the river using a remotely controlled boat with sonar technology.  Laser scanning technology was used to capture information around the scour area where access was not possible and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) were used for aerial inspections that delivered images and video footage that clearly showed the extent of the slope failure.  A perfect example of a client benefiting from ‘the power of one’!

 

Harbury East for J Murphy & Sons – Last year, our senior team were initially part of the Harbury Cutting emergency working party, contributing and consulting from a GI and geology perspective. This year, we installed the permanent monitoring instruments at Harbury Cutting, post-construction, to monitor ground movement and ground water levels. We also completed a very difficult investigation for Harbury East Cutting providing the client with extremely valuable data that they would not have acquired otherwise, without our early contractor involvement. Dave Evans fabricated a new skid mounted frame and mast so that rotary drilling could be undertaken on the difficult to access slope with rope access support. We are happy to say we have now successfully completed this complex and difficult project!

 

Particular thanks from the management team goes to Gareth Fenton, Dave Evans, John Smith, Paul Davies, Ryan Berry, Nigel Everatt, and Ferhat Gungor – great job!

 

We would also like to say a really big thank you to Ben Haswell too for steering the geo ship so well (single handed for much of the time) over the past couple of months – we appreciate your hard work and commitment to Central Alliance during this difficult (and busy!) period.

survey-3

 

A wide range of services have been carried out in the survey division recently with the added excitement around the delivery (at last!)  of the ROBIN – our new mobile mapping system that is set to change the whole industry!  More info here:-

 

Delivered a UAV survey at Darrington Quarry, to produce survey plans and full 3d model, including fly-through – see image above.

 

Completed survey at a further 12 sites for Ubique on the West Sussex station & level crossing programme, with positive feedback from the client in relation to the quality of the work produced – well done Dave Brown, Doug Carmichael and Gareth Rawlinson.

 

Kirkstall Forge Phase 2 Track Monitoring – established monitoring targets and completed rail survey for Wates, to facilitate track monitoring (during de-watering, excavation & piling works) which is now ongoing until late January.

 

Rob Hogg has recently completed 2 concrete slab scanning surveys, to ascertain re-bar details and slab thickness prior to the client  ‘breaking out’.

 

We have taken delivery of the ROBIN Mobile Mapping System – Milen and Jordan will be getting to grips with the system throughout December.

training-3

 

Our Training department has also been busy winning new work and carrying out essential internal training. We have recently been awarded a three year training framework with Essar Oil for all their buried services training in Elsemere Port.

 

We are also the preferred training supplier to Network Rail Tier 1 Contractors, namely Amco and Story Contracting and continue to work with them on an ongoing basis. We have plans to add a few more big names to our Training Programme in 2017!

 

We would like to thank Rob Hogg for delivering such a high standard of training (we consistently receive excellent feedback from our customers) and for his on-going commitment to the training programme of work internally.

 

All our Geo staff are now trained and competent in the key skills required to use the cable avoidance equipment effectively prior to drilling operations. In fact, Rob has completed 30 days/training courses this year – training a whopping 128 personnel! WOW!

Technology update

ROBIN Demo Day

 

robin-demo-day

 

 

We had an overwhelming response to new surveying technology at our Mobile Mapping Demo Day at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park last month.  Over 50 delegates gathered to hear about our ground-breaking ROBIN LiDAR mapping system that allows the user to map a variety of areas via walking, driving or flying.

 

Delegates gathered from a variety of industry sectors across the country to find out more about how this mobile mapping technology is transforming and challenging traditional surveying methods. We have already received a number of inquiries about use of the ROBIN for the rail, highways and we are doing some testing with regard to its capabilities for ecology reporting.

 

Take at look at our YSP fly through here – this survey/data capture only took around 5 minutes!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zN3T59IvhI0

 

Thanks again to everyone involved (particularly Neil Tissington for his excellent presentations) – we hope to do similar technology demo days in 2017 as this was such a successful event for us!

Slope Climbing Rigs

 

slope-climbing-rigs

 

 

The Geo team are excited about the imminent arrival of two unique Massenza slope climbing rigs. These rigs are able to work in difficult to access sites as can be seen here. They are fully remote controlled and self-levelling and have the capability to winch themselves if necessary.

 

One of the rigs is mounted with a CPT mast which is unique in the UK and now gives GEO Central CPT, CPTu and direct push undisturbed sampling capabilities. This rig offers us the ability to measure in-situ pore-water pressures on slopes, often critical in slope stability analysis. This marks a significant step forwards in the quality of investigative information that can now be provided to designers.

 

The second rig is fitted with a conventional dynamic sampling and rotary mast. The rigs have full body and mast rotation enabling us drill holes in the locations and at the same angles as proposed remedial works such as soil nailing and Electrokinetic installations which reduces the risk of encountering unforeseen ground conditions during construction.

 

Paul Davies and Tom Burnett are getting to grips with operating these rigs and are leading the way in integrating them into operations.

H&S Update

hs

 

We continue on our journey to become accredited to ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 (quality, environmental and safety standards) by the end of next year. We are putting in place processes to ensure we are receiving the required documentation from site so that we can demonstrate our compliance with these standards.

 

The Business Excellence Forum has been formed and our first meeting was held in November. The Forum’s remit is to improve everything we do internally so that our Clients receive an outstanding service. Therefore, if you have any suggestions for improvement please let one of the Forum members know or get in touch with me to discuss.

 

We will be introducing a system to check driving licenses on a regular basis due to insurance requirements, our expanding workforce and vehicle fleet. This will need employee input in the form of permission from a data protection point of view but once that is done we will be able to carry out frequent checks without the need to chase employees for permission every time. 

HR Update

hr

 

We will shortly be issuing the new Staff Handbook to all employees which will cover all aspects relating to Company policies and procedures.  This will be circulated to all employees as soon as it is available, where possible electronically.  You will then all be kept informed of any amendments made to the handbook in future.

 

We have recently introduced a trial of a new fuel card which will help us to reduce the cost of running our fleet of vehicles.  Once the trial has completed and proven successful we will be distributing out the new fuel cards to all employees who currently have an Allstar card and removing the Allstar card from use.

 

We are also looking at software available to allow employees to submit their expenses through an App on their phones.  The aim of this is to improve the quality of information captured relating to expenses and also to reduce the time spent by both staff claiming and staff processing the expense claims.  In the meantime it’s important that employees who submit expenses remotely using photographs of receipts ensure that the quality of the photos are good enough to support the expense claim.  If the photos provided aren’t of a decent enough quality then this can prevent the business from reclaiming any VAT from the cost which reduces the profitability of the business as a whole.  Expense claims may be rejected if the quality of information provided isn’t of a good enough standard.

Did you know?

ukriaCentral Alliance has been shortlisted for the prestigious ‘Subcontrator of the Year’ award at the National Rail Industry Awards!

The UK Rail Industry Awards celebrates excellence as well as innovation throughout the industry within 23 award categories.

 

The category of ‘Subcontractor of the Year’ looks at various criteria including “evidence of genuine innovation and creativity that directly relates to a project, product, service or organisation”.

 

With a record number of entries for the UK Rail Industry Awards 2017, we are delighted that the cross industry panel of judges recognised Central Alliance as “a strong, stable and growing pre-construction partner for customers”.  Bring on the awards in February!!

New starters

 

From July this year 14 people have joined the team including:

Kevin Crisp – Director, Recruitment Central

Simon Firmin – Finance Director
Kevin Crisp – Director, Recruitment Central
Jordan Fisher – Land Surveyor
Greg Large – Senior Utility Surveyor
Luke O’Dea – Business Development Manager
James Herbert – Geo-environmental Engineer
Jamie Taylor – Geo-environmental Technician

Richard Shotter – Lead Driller
Chris Everatt – Assistant Driller
Greg O’Connor – Assistant Driller
Gavin Howell – Assistant Driller
Craig Porteous – Assistant Driller
Luke Atkinson – Assistant Driller
Ron Willshire – Assistant Driller

To all the new starters, congratulations on your new role – we are delighted that you are joining our vibrant team at Central Alliance. We pride ourselves on our commitment to excellence in all we do, and your work here will contribute to our continued success.

Spotlight on YOU!

We’re hearing weddings bells at Central Alliance! 

 

In September, our Finance Manager Marta Tylska (now Torchalska) married Blazej in Poland then made a quick escape to Paris!  Can you guess where this photo was taken?

 

Congratulations also to the soon to be married Tom Burnett, our Drilling Operations Manager, who will marry his fiancée Faye on the 28th December. 

 

All the very best to both new and soon to be newlyweds!

We also have sporting news from Stephen Proctor how looks after the Robin Hood Athletic JFC Under 8 Team who are sponsored by Central Alliance and look fantastic in their new kit!

 

We all wish them luck for their cup final match on December 18th!

Thanks for your attention!

Contact me at rmassey@central-alliance.co.uk with anything you think deserves a mention in the next issue!  In the meantime, hope to see you all at the Christmas Party on Friday 16th December!