Smart use of plant may be a key tactic for piling companies attempting to weather the economic storm, as Margo Cole reports.
The recession is making piling and foundations companies think innovatively about how they use their machines, including modifying and adapting equipment so it can perform in a wider range of situations. While work is scarce, the major firms are moving into new or nontraditional areas, and they need kit that can perform.
“Our mix of work has changed considerably, so we’re always adapting and always involved in research and development,” says Bachy Soletanche depot and purchasing manager Ian White.
The company has a strategy to always undertake at least two research and development projects a year and, White says, it hasn’t curtailed that commitment because of the current tough economic climate. “It’s something that’s developed over the years and we sit down every quarter to decide what projects to pursue - both operationally and from a plant point of view,” he says. “On the plant side we’re always looking to stay ahead of the market.”
Adapting to the climate
Managing director of Dawson Construction Plant Dave Brown has noticed a willingness among piling companies to look at innovative ideas since the start of the recession. “People are trying to become more competitive, and innovation is one way of doing that,” he says.
His company is weathering the downturn quite well thanks to the fact that it has various strands to its activities. Not only does it manufacture and import specialist equipment for sale to piling companies, it can also supply rigs on a plant and labour hire business, as well as acting as a piling contractor itself.
Brown has noticed an upturn in enquiries linked to sustainability, particularly silent piling and removable piles.
“Removal of piles is becoming far more prevalent,” he says. “It’s been talked about for a long time but now people are doing it.”
Dawson equipment is being used for silent piling removal in Ireland, and the company has recently won a contract to install steel piles for motorway gantries that are designed to be removable and recyclable.