A group of metal fabrications suppliers from Somerset is teaming up to bid for work relating to Hinkley Point C worth tens of millions of pounds, with assistance from the Hinkley Supply Chain Team at the Somerset Chamber of Commerce.
The Somerset Chamber’s Hinkley Supply Chain Team has been engaging with EDF Energy and its Tier 1 contractors over recent years to understand the requirements of the Hinkley Point C development and identify areas where local suppliers can get involved, putting Somerset businesses in a strong position to benefit from the project.
Since 2013, Tier 1 contractor BYLOR – a joint venture of Bouygues TP and Laing O’Rourke – has been working with the Somerset Chamber and local companies to identify suppliers in Somerset that could be valuable to service a range of metal fabrication requirements identified in the main civils work package for the Hinkley Point C project.
Through a series of structured workshops involving BYLOR, the local supply chain has been given an insight into the opportunities available, as well as the challenges they will face and the support available to them through the Hinkley Supply Chain Team and the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS).
Following one of these workshops in January 2014, where considerable details were discussed regarding the scope, scale and standards required for the project, a group of owner-managed Somerset metal fabrications suppliers have joined forces under the banner of the . Supported by BYLOR, MAS and the Hinkley Supply Chain Team, they have been working together to provide a ‘one stop’ solution that will enable them to take on the Hinkley challenge and speak as one voice to the main contractors and EDF Energy.
Bill Haley from The Haley Group, one of the suppliers within the Somerset Steel Fabricators Group, explains, “We have formed a steelwork fabricators group who have all come together to share knowledge, experience and marketing. Although we’re all engaged in steelwork, we specialise in different things so we complement each other, which is good because it means we can cover all the demands they have at Hinkley for metalwork – and beyond as there will be other power stations following on from Hinkley too.”
Outlining the Hinkley opportunity, Jason Rigby from Taunton Fabrications, another member of the Somerset Steel Fabricators Group, explains, “It’s a huge opportunity – the biggest thing to hit the South West for decades and there is an awful lot of steelwork involved in the project. We’re aware that they would prefer to use local companies if local companies can provide what they want at the right quality and price, which gives us a good head start.”
Nigel Ball from Matravers Engineering, which is also part of the group, said, “The opportunities do look very good and from our discussions we are hopeful that some of the work will come to Somerset businesses. There is a real capability within Somerset. From a general steelwork point of view, there shouldn’t be anything within the Hinkley requirements that between the group we couldn’t supply.”
Detailing the size of the opportunity from a metal fabrications perspective, Bill Haley states, “In total there seems to be about 20,000 tonnes of metalwork and in Somerset we have some very good companies qualified to do this. The way to look at it is that in Somerset we have a project bigger than the London Olympics being built at Bridgwater. In total the budget is something in the order of £16 billion and the budget for the Olympic Games was about £9billion, which gives you an idea of the scale of what’s required. It’s a huge construction project and will last for almost 10 years. We estimate that the project will require something in the order of £50 million of metalwork and all of that work has a possibility of being done in Somerset.”
The Hinkley Supply Chain Team and MAS have been instrumental in providing the support required by the group to get ‘Hinkley ready’. With their assistance, the companies are going through the processes and accreditations required to make sure they have all the documentation in place, from ISO 9001, which many of them already had in place, to the new CE marking and the rigorous ‘Fit for Nuclear’ industry assessment programme managed by the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
Speaking about the challenges of the project, Nigel Ball from Matravers Engineering says, “The biggest challenge for us will be able to align ourselves to the stringent demands in terms of paperwork and procedures of the nuclear industry. While there is no work to currently let out, we’ve been advised that businesses should be using this time in preparation and getting themselves aligned with the requirements, so I think that would certainly be the advice I’d pass on to others.”
Bill Haley from The Haley Group agrees, saying, “One of the things that will be required on the engineering side is traceability of materials and workmanship. We need to record every step of the process, from having mill certificates for the steel, welding procedures, welders’ qualifications, material certificates for the welding consumables, and more. In terms of actually making things out of steel, that’s very similar to what we do already. In terms of proving that what we’ve done is absolutely correct for the safety of the project, there is understandably a lot of work involved. It’s not just making the steelwork, it’s proving that we’ve made it safely and have the records. That’s the big challenge.”
For Taunton Fabrications, Jason Rigby says that the challenge is also around the resources required. “Making sure we keep our existing customers happy as well as trying to do as much work as we can over at Hinkley Point. We’ve identified that that’s going to be an issue so we’re looking at new buildings, new factory space, taking on extra site installation staff – but until we’ve got a firm idea of dates and requirements, we can’t make any firm plans.”
Regardless of the challenges, the opportunity is vast and is not to be overlooked by Somerset businesses. Jason Rigby says, “This has got huge benefits for local businesses and if you don’t jump on board, you’re not going to see any of those benefits. I would say to any local businesses, have a look at it, don’t dismiss the opportunity, and if you’re not confident about the standards that are required then speak to us or any of the other companies within the group for some advice. If there are other companies out there that want to become part of the group, they just need to get in touch with us via the Somerset Chamber of Commerce and the Hinkley Supply Chain Team.”
Bill Haley adds, “Be proactive, it’s no good waiting for opportunities to come to you. You have to go ahead and find the opportunities. No contracts have been let yet. It’s still at an early stage, so it’s up to you to make sure you’re registered with the Hinkley Supply chain Team, make sure you go to meetings where the Tier 1 contractors explain what they’re doing, and make sure you follow up. It doesn’t matter what your business is, Hinkley is going to have an impact. There will be a lot of good jobs going at Hinkley so you need to keep hold of your workforce. Hinkley is both an opportunity and a threat – you don’t have a choice, you’ve got to be involved.”
From the Tier 1 perspective, Paul Dickinson, Procurement Leader for BYLOR, summarised, “Our requirements for the Hinkley Point C development will include, amongst other things, a diverse range of metalwork structures and components, including embedment plates, walkways and platforms, steel monorail beams, galvanised open grid flooring, handrails, balustrades and access ladders. These will form a significant part of the engineering requirements on site, providing a very real opportunity for local businesses.
“The Somerset Chamber of Commerce provides a vital link between BYLOR and the local business community. Through its business network and the Hinkley Supply Chain Team, it delivers a platform upon which our strategy and future needs can be addressed.”
There’s still time to register on the Hinkley supply chain portal. Click here to find out more.