EDF Energy Somerset Chamber of Commerce SWMAS Business West
  1. This has been about transforming our business

    September 19, 2018

     

    For hundreds of South West businesses, the HPC project presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform their companies forever.

    This is perfectly demonstrated by Somerton-based steel fabricators Pitney Fabrication which, in the last five years, has positioned itself to be in just the right place to reap the rewards that come from being a supplier to Europe’s largest development.

    This is remarkable considering just 24 months ago the land where Pitney’s brand new, 40,000 sq ft industrial unit stands was just an empty, muddy field with a “for sale” sign.

    “Following a period of growth we’d simply outgrown our old premises,” explains Tim Walrond, director.

    “At the same time, we knew that, in order to present ourselves as a genuine supplier to the Tier 1 firms at Hinkley Point C, we had to up our game and really show the project and the rest of the construction sector what we are capable of.”

    The family-run ‘Pitney Fabrication’ (Tim’s fellow directors are his brothers Martin and Andrew) was founded in 1992. Following a difficult time in the early ‘00s, when the whole construction sector experienced its own mini-recession, the company has since gone from strength to strength, supplying increasing quantities of steel for use in commercial and industrial developments, with a work base encompassing most of the regions of southern England.

    When the HPC project was announced almost a decade ago, the Pitney Fabrication team, recognised it as an amazing

    opportunity for local businesses to plug into the site’s supply chain and help the development as the nuclear power station was constructed.

    “We knew that in order to impress the Tier 1 contractors we had to present ourselves better,” continues Tim. “So, we started growing our team and expanding the services we offer, going from half a dozen people to our current team of over 56 members of staff.”

    He adds: “As well as making our premises fit for purpose to supply large projects such as HPC, we are also continuing to encourage and support the upskilling of our team, with the help of funding from European social funding.”

    “This last 24 months or so has been about transforming our business to ensure we can react to the opportunities presented to us from our client base.”

    So far Pitney Fabrication has completed one contract associated with HPC – installing the steelworks for the site’s caterers, Somerset Larder.

    “Following the move to our new site we’re now in the process of quoting for more contracts at HPC and with our new facilities and expanded team, we are also looking at supplying other large-scale national projects, such as HS2,” explains Tim.

    He adds: “None of this happened overnight, it’s been a process over six years or so to get where we are now, and all in all it’s a very exciting time for everyone connected to Pitney Fabrication.”

    Find out more about Pitney Fabrication


  2. The South West Nuclear Fabrication Group is ready for business

    August 29, 2018

    Under normal circumstances most business owners and managers wouldn’t open up their premises for one or more of their competitors to walk in and observe their processes but, for a group of South West companies operating and occasionally competing in similar sectors, it was an essential process in order to progress their business development opportunities within the fast-growing nuclear sector.

    The six companies – Arc Energy Resources, Bristol Steel, FLI Structures, Jordan Manufacturing, Ledwood Mechanical Engineering and Technical Inspection Services UK – have all come together under the banner of the South West Nuclear Fabrication Group (SWNFG), thanks to the support through the Hinkley Supply Chain Programme.

    SWNFG offers nuclear grade QA levels 1-4 radiographic-quality welding and fabrication, project & welding engineering management, on-site fabrication teams, full NDT (non-destructive testing) services, CNC machining, milling and turning, heat treatment, shot blasting, specialised coating & painting, carbon & stainless-steel stockholding.

    Many individual members of SWNFG have already won work at Hinkley Point C, for instance FLI structures was contracted to erect a communications tower on-site, and Technical Inspection Services has been carrying out NDT work on metal piles bound for the site’s jetty.

    However, in order to win even bigger, potentially transformational, contracts, the Hinkley Supply Chain Team, suggested they form a consortia, leading to SWNFG’s formation.

    Nik Brown, Supply Chain Consultant at SWMAS, who together with Somerset Chamber of Commerce and Business West form the Hinkley Supply Chain Team, explains: “By liaising closely with the Tier 1 contractors at HPC we are ideally placed to uncover the kinds of work package opportunities that are appropriate for regional businesses to bid for.”

    Several of these consortiums have proved extremely fruitful in the years since work at HPC began, such as Somerset Larder which delivers catering facilities to the entire site, and SWNFG is primed to emulate that kind of success.

    By working in partnership, SWNFG is a £74m combined turnover organisation boasting:

    • A workforce of 400
    • Over 200 years’ experience
    • 80 coded welders
    • Qualified European welding engineers and project management specialists
    • Over 11 acres of production fabrication space
    • Flexible lifting capability up to 200te.

    Dave Cook, head of business development at one of SWNFG’s member businesses, Gloucestershire-based Arc Energy Resources, says: “What we have established is a group of experienced engineering companies sharing an inherent nuclear safety and quality culture and with the capacity and capability to deliver highly-complex quality fabricated projects, de-risking the awarding of large volume and highly compliant work packages for Tier 1 & 2 contractors at HPC.”

    He adds: “The Hinkley Supply Chain team were instrumental in bringing us all together, and we now have a superb collaborative offering which is ready to bid for Tier 1 tenders.”

    Nik Brown continues: “What has been really rewarding is watching how all the member businesses of SWNFG have had the vision to see what can be achieved collaboratively and the commitment to make that happen.

    “Not only do they meet regularly to identify the most effective way of working together, they have also taken the time to visit each other’s premises and understand how their collective capabilities and resources best serve the market.”

    He adds: “What is all the more remarkable is the fact some of the group are competitors, yet they have put that to one side in order to present a united front when approaching the task of winning contracts at HPC.”

    Whilst the consortium was originally created to look at work packages connected with Hinkley Point C, the group’s members are already planning how they can generate new business opportunities beyond the nuclear sector.

    Dave Cook continues: “What we have is a rich proposition to take to the marketplace, where our combined experiences, knowledge and resources make us a formidable organisation across many sectors requiring the skills and capabilities we offer.”

    Nik adds: “It has been fascinating and hugely rewarding to watch this group of companies on their journey towards forming SWNFG and we will continue to support and advise them as they look to leverage their size and scale to win contracts at Hinkley and beyond.”

    The companies have been supported thanks to the funding put in place by EDF Energy, Heart of South West LEP, West of England Combined Authority and Welsh Government. Support is available to companies in these regions to access opportunities linked to Hinkley Point C. Interested companies should ensure that they have registered on the Hinkley Supply Chain Portal in the first instance and make contact through one of the team.

    Find out more about South West Nuclear Fabrication Group


  3. Mike Morgan Electrical Services

    August 15, 2018

     

    For Bridgwater-based MMES the path to success at HPC hasn’t always been plain sailing, and is an important lesson in persevering to achieve your goals.

    MMES, or Mike Morgan Electrical Services, has served Somerset and South West customers since 1989, delivering high quality electrical, plumbing, gas heating and renewables services.

    When construction started at HPC, MMES picked up some work on the associated developments surrounding the main site, including the traffic control system around Bridgwater, installing power supplies as well as doing inspections and testing on new roadside cameras.

    However, MMES’s first attempt to win major contracts at HPC, focusing on the FM (facilities management) opportunities on site, was unsuccessful.  Despite valiantly attempting a successful regional collaborative solution to source the demands of the contract, EDF Energy had no option but to select a national provider for this contract.

    Although initially a blow for the company, their interest had nevertheless put them on the radar of other organisations and businesses linked to HPC.

    Managing Director Mike Morgan said: “We’d put in a lot of groundwork to make ourselves ‘HPC ready’, investing time and money to project a positive image in order to showcase our capabilities.

    “Unfortunately it became apparent that the FM opportunities we’d been so keen to pursue weren’t going to go to a local lead, so in many ways it was back to the drawing board.”

    Throughout MMES’s interest in HPC the company had been working closely with the Somerset Chamber of Commerce and Hinkley Supply Chain Team, attending the various networking opportunities and training events, such as the “Raise Your Game” workshops.

    “It was the Chamber that suggested we go in for the construction and utilities contracts,” said Mike.

    Led by Tier 1 contractor Wessex Water MMES and other local businesses formed the Construction Operations Management Alliance – or COMA for short – in order to present a united group capable of managing HPC’s many utility requirements within its construction operations.

    COMA was successful in winning the construction utilities contracts, and to date MMES has, in partnership with the rest of the group, completed several large electrical projects with many more in the pipeline.

    For instance, MMES is responsible for electrical works on 400v, 230v and 110v power distributed systems and associated equipment.

    “We’ve worked so hard as a company,” continued Mike, “there have been disappointments along the way but it’s all paying dividends now as we grow and start to win more and more contracts outside of COMA and HPC.”

    MMES’s workforce has almost doubled in the last two years, with around 60 employees out of a total headcount of about 80 now working full time at HPC.

    Mike said: “Our contract with HPC has brought in almost £2m in revenue, which is a huge boost to a relatively small business like us.

    “However the bigger picture is that we have gone from a company that, just a few years ago, would have struggled to bid for contracts of £300-400k, to one that can now confidently look for projects that are worth millions as we have the experience, track record and man-power to deliver,” he added.

    For other Somerset and South West businesses keen to win work at HPC, Mike’s message is simple.

    “Persevere and be resilient,” he said. “Also make sure you get to know the Hinkley Supply Chain Team because they worked hard and diligently to help us win work at HPC and they will do all they can to help you too.”

    Find out more about Mike Morgan Electrical Services


  4. “We’re thrilled to have supported such a high-profile project”

    June 29, 2018

    For many, the kudos that comes with being attached to the Hinkley Point C project and its suppliers delivers far reaching benefits underpinning their business development aspirations.

    Yeovil-based IT solutions provider CETSAT has enjoyed steady growth since it was founded in 2001, and even opened a London office 10 years ago in order to properly service its burgeoning client base in the capital.

    Further Somerset satellite offices followed, including Bridgwater and Taunton, and when the HPC project began to gather momentum CETSAT’s management team registered their interest in becoming a supplier.

    Through various networking events, organised by EDF Energy and Somerset Chamber of Commerce, in 2014 CETSAT was introduced to the fledgling consortium created to supply catering services to HPC, Somerset Larder.

    “Today Somerset Larder has about 200 employees, but in the early days the team was only a handful of people,” said Mark Grindrod, Operations Director at CETSAT.

    “Once they found out about our capabilities, including our services developing bespoke software, they engaged us to develop an order processing procurement platform which they needed to help with their HPC tender.”

    The software provided by CETSAT allowed the various suppliers that make up the Somerset Larder consortium to upload their stock availability – be it dairy produce, meat or baked goods – to give full stock visibility for the HPC-based team to order whatever they needed.

    Somerset Larder has since gone on to be one of the HPC supply chain’s big success stories, with the team at CETSAT supporting it throughout its progression.

    “It’s been really fun to be a part of,” continued Mark. “As they (Somerset Larder) have grown, so too has the amount of work and services we provide to them.”

    In addition to the original procurement software platform CETSAT has also provided a range of IT solutions and infrastructure capabilities including network cabling, firewall installation, CCTV and servers.

    Just recently Somerset Larder opened its brand new Central Production Kitchen off-site near Junction 24 where it prepares even more meals to meet demand from the rising number of people working at HPC, with CETSAT on hand to make sure all the IT systems were in place and ready to go.

    At peak construction there will be a workforce of 5,600 people to feed and already over 3,000 are working at the HPC site each day.

    “Somerset Larder is a fantastic success story,” said Mark, “and we are thrilled to have been able to support such a high-profile project.”

    “There’s no doubt that due to the success of our London office there was a perception here that we weren’t interested in working with smaller clients in the South West,” he said.

    “However, nothing could be further from the truth. Whilst we have done very well from our London office we are proud to be a Somerset business and we take our experience working for large banks and insurance firms on projects like Canary Wharf and apply those skills to our many clients throughout the South-West.”

    He added: “Our involvement with Somerset Larder has definitely helped us to combat that perception and prove we are just as committed to our local clients as to our London business evidenced by the significant contracts we are winning with South West businesses.”

    And Mark’s advice for businesses eyeing the HPC project for new business opportunities?

    “It’s all about building relationships,” he said. “Engage with the Somerset Chamber and Supply Chain Team and get yourself noticed. Also, don’t go looking for quick wins, because there aren’t any really, so look to be in it for the long haul and never lose sight of what you want to achieve.”

    Find out more about CETSAT


  5. Astron Fire and Security wins eight-year contract at HPC

    May 21, 2018

    A common misconception about the vast HPC project is that you have to be a huge business in order to win contracts at the site.

    Whilst it’s true that a handful of very large companies, a group known as the “tier one contractors”, are the main operators at HPC, there are no barriers whatsoever to local SMEs (small to medium sized enterprises) winning major contracts at the site.

    One such firm is Astron Fire and Security, a tight-knit team of experienced fire and security systems specialists led by Greg van Laun and based in Portbury near Bristol.

    Greg ran a successful security systems business with 3000 Clients in his native South Africa before emigrating to the South West 20 years ago and starting Astron in 2010.

    Since then Astron has grown steadily, building a portfolio of domestic and commercial clients throughout the region providing ongoing maintenance and “troubleshooting” cover for fire alarm/extinguisher, CCTV, access control and intruder alarm systems, as well as nurse call and staff attack alarms.

    “We have six directly-employed engineers, and a pool of trusted sub-contractors we use as and when required,” explained Greg, adding: “We only employ the very best, most experienced and knowledgeable people, with great communication skills, meaning our clients know they are always receiving the very best service possible.”

    Six years ago, Greg signed his business up to the online HPC supply chain portal, registering his interest in being a supplier to the Hinkley project.

    At the same time, he joined the Somerset Chamber of Commerce, and made it a priority to attend as many “meet the suppliers” events and other networking opportunities as possible.

    “I have to admit I did wonder if Astron would be too small to win work at HPC,” he said, “but everyone was really supportive and encouraging so I stuck at it as I could see there could be good opportunities for us.”

    Then, in 2016, Greg was introduced to the Directors of HOST, the company responsible for running the two world-class accommodation campuses for HPC workers and visitors.

    After travelling to 72 events across Somerset and attending 37 one to one meetings, earlier this year, Astron signed an eight-year contract with John West (Contractors) Ltd. to provide round the clock fire and security systems maintenance services at the HOST campus facilities – one adjacent to HPC itself and another in Bridgwater.

    “Most of the contracts we sign are for a year,” continued Greg. “so, to win a contract for the next eight years is a remarkable development for us and will play a huge part in our ongoing business growth plans in the South West.”

    In addition to the financial benefits of winning the work – Greg and his team estimate the contract will be equivalent to about a fifth of their annual turnover – they also believe the prestige that comes with being a supplier to one of the most high-profile and security-conscious construction projects on the planet will help their wider business ambitions.

    “The fact we have been selected to do this work over our larger competitors is a huge endorsement of the skill, experience, all-round ability of our team, and our commitment to the local area” said Greg.

    “It’s by no means a simple task to win work at HPC,” he added, “but our experience should give any South West business owners, no matter what size their company is, confidence that if they are good enough then the opportunities are there.”

    Greg said: “My advice to anyone thinking of winning work at HPC is to get out there and do the work meeting people, making key contacts and generally getting your face seen by the decision makers.”

    He added: “I can’t praise the Somerset Chamber and Supply Chain Team highly enough. Their proactive approach and excellent focus on matching the larger contractors with local suppliers has really helped us and, no doubt, countless others.”

    Find out more about Astron Fire and Security

     


    Information

    • The Industrial Partners Supplier Steering Group

      EDF Energy and the Somerset Chamber of Commerce have recognised that for the Somerset and South West businesses to take full advantage of the opportunity to supply goods and services during the construction of HPC, there is a need for collaborative working between NNB HPC as the client, the major Read more →

    • The Site Operations Supplier Steering Group

      Operating since October 2013 this group, co-chaired by EDF Energy and Somerset Chamber has been briefing targeted suppliers on a series of site operations work packages at Hinkley C. These work packages service the needs of the construction teams that will build the power station – they include catering, campus Read more →

    • The South West Hinkley Supply Chain Team

      EDF Energy continue to fund the Hinkley Supply Chain Team managed by Somerset Chamber of Commerce which is identified as the single point of contact for both the regional supply chain seeking contract opportunities and main contractors seeking capable suppliers. Some 4000+  suppliers are registered on the portal with their Read more →

EDF Energy Heart of SW West of England LEP North Somerset Welsh Government