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TALKING POINT

The new chairman of the Federation of Piling Specialists, Ken Cromwell, sets out some of his objectives.

The FPS is made up of the majority of piling contractors in the UK and I am keen to build on its successes such as the introduction of auger cleaners and the working platform initiative. These have greatly improved the safety and efficiency of all piling companies, even those who are not FPS members.

Its audited membership scheme makes the FPS a leader in trade organisations. Members have decided to get the audit method accredited by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) to show the market it is a fair and reasonable system.

The FPS already has more influence than its size would suggest, and one of my objectives is to increase its influence within the industry. To do this it is important to get non-members to join the federation. I believe this can be achieved by showing them the bene. ts, activities and objectives such as:

identifying and influencing industry trends

benefiting from sector initiatives

obtaining market information via FPS order analysis

networking with colleagues at all levels

sharing and receiving information on safety and related topics

FPS safety statistics

training and related information

contracts and commercial information and influence

technical information and influence in relevant developments

the registration scheme that 'differentiates' members

the confidence of knowing a company's views/actions are in line with industry best practice generated by all of the above.

While the safety record of piling has improved, I wish to encourage

members to improve it further. Several have started to look at the reasons behind incidents and how the culture of safety can be instilled into the whole workforce - this needs to spread throughout the rest of the members.

It was decided the existing 'toolbox talks' were becoming outdated, boring and were not having any effect on the workforce. Over the last two years the safety and training forum has updated the talks, to the benefit of all.

Another area of activity is the federation's relationship with Network Rail. I have encouraged the setting up of a working group and an initial meeting with Network Rail to discuss future recommendations.

I would also like the federation to develop even better relationships with both the Major Contractors Group and Civil Engineering Contractors Association - without their support on site it would be very difficult to improve standards and working practices.

Equally, the FPS must not ignore those other important clients who are in their own institutions and associations and those who operate individually.

So over the next two years I intend to encourage closer relationships and to find out why clients use members.

Reasons such as the ability to carry out work safely and on time; excellent technical expertise; reliable plant with good backup; professional, friendly manner; and value for money need to be checked. Other, less tangible, but equally important reasons, must also be considered.

To this end the FPS commercial committee intends to carry an informal survey of clients to see what they know about the FPS and why they prefer FPS members to other piling contractors.

Other areas the FPS is working on include a technical review of the Institution of Civil Engineers' Specification for piling and embedded retaining walls (SPERW); the technical committee's work on pile load testing, sustainability, schedule of attendances and National Vocational Qualifications.

As the ICE is updating SPERW, it needed the FPS to relook at its schedule which is included in the specification.

This involved a lot of work by members within the committees, but is now virtually completed - ahead of time.

Ken Cromwell is managing director of Rock and Alluvium.

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