Bookings open for PCA structural waterproofing conference

Bookings are now open for a national structural waterproofing conference, which has become a significant event in the industry’s calendar.

The Property Care Association’s fourth annual International Structural Waterproofing conference takes place at The Slate, University of Warwick, Coventry on 17 July, 2019.

A dynamic programme – which includes a knowledge sharing hub, where experts and the audience debate key industry issues and best practice – has seen the event gain increasing recognition within the architectural, civil engineering and construction industries.

As well as professionals from these sectors, the event also attracts surveyors, lawyers, public authorities, geologists, ground engineers and academics.

Last year’s conference included insights into high-profile projects underground, technical details and an overview of liabilities and responsibilities, with speakers including academics, practitioners and industry experts.

It went on the record books as the PCA’s biggest one-day conference to date, with over 160 delegates attending.

Last year’s conference was also the first to be supported by specialist event technology – the PCA Structural Waterproofing app – which helped amplify the conference’s knowledge-sharing agenda.

This system played a key part in the proceedings, allowing delegates to ask questions to the speakers throughout the day and in advance of the Q&A sessions and panel debate.

The conference is of appeal to both members and non-members alike.

James Berry, technical manager of the PCA, said: “The structural waterproofing conference goes from strength to strength and the speakers lined-up and the subjects being covered in 2019 are set to make this year’s event a success too.

“The participants share a deep interest in this technical subject, and in turn that creates the atmosphere for an interesting and thought-provoking debate.

“Early booking is advised, as last year we were at capacity.”

Booking information for the event – priced at £100 plus VAT for PCA members and £150 plus VAT for non-members – can be found at

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Access North Ltd celebrates tripled turnover with new office and team growth

In the wake of tripled turnover and the launch of a brand-new division, West Yorkshire-based Access North Ltd is marking its biggest financial year to-date with an office relocation, following a recruitment drive which has seen the team double in size.

Company owners, Berenice and Daniel Northcott, credit the new Access North Build division – launched in 2018 – as the driving force behind the financial uplift, which has seen the group generate £1.75m of revenue over the past 12 months.

To facilitate a marked upturn in service demand, the firm has made eight new appointments since March 2018 and – having recently celebrated its eighth birthday – has now outgrown the base it has called home since 2013.

As a result, the 13-strong team recently moved to a larger space at the Park Valley Mills Business Park in Lockwood, Huddersfield – the local regeneration project complimenting the firm’s own commitment to breathing new life into existing spaces.

With a trio of team members having been appointed in October 2018, a further three new faces have joined the growing team of specialists in recent weeks. These include, Sales Project Manager, Paul Crawford, Procedures and Operations Manager, Louis Aspeling, and Business Admin Apprentice, Naomi Collins.

Access North Ltd managing director, Berenice Northcott reflected on a positive year: “It goes without saying that it’s been a brilliant year for us. With additional team members joining us and an office move, we have high aims for the next 12 months.

“Access North Build has enjoyed a fantastic start. Our work at Alsager School in Cheshire saw the team pioneer an industry first – a lightweight steel space frame supporting an ETFE membrane – while our work at Haggerston Castle in Northumberland has breathed new life into an inspiring space.”

Established in 2011, Access North Structures specialises in the installation, inspection and maintenance of complex structures, ETFE facilities and tensile fabric canopies, via rope access techniques.

Meanwhile, Access North Build specialises in the design, engineering and construction of ETFE, lightweight tensile fabric structures and structural glass roofs and facades – across a variety of construction projects.

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Brexit uncertainty puts more UK businesses into significant distress

Grimsby-based Forbes Burton, a company rescue and insolvency specialist has warned that ongoing uncertainty over Brexit means more companies could be facing financial difficulties in the months to come.

This warning has come as new figures from risk management specialists Red Flag Alert and The Insolvency Service have been revealed, showing that almost 1 in 5 UK businesses are classified as being in ‘significant distress’.

Rick Smith, Managing Director at Forbes Burton says: “This is a real concern and should be taken seriously. For example, in the Yorkshire and Humber area, companies with Critical Problems (companies with County Court Judgements totalling £5,000 or more) rose from 130 Q1 2018 to 172 Q1 2019 and in the East of England, which includes Lincolnshire, the figures were up from 155 to 168 over the same period.

“The impact of the uncertainty around Brexit is really starting to take hold now and we may see even more increases in the number of businesses facing problems in the future.”

The construction industry, usually used as a ‘bellweather’ for the UK economy showed a 9% increase in businesses in financial difficulty. The East of England specifically showed a 6% increase from the from Q4 2018 to Q1 2019.

Rick added: “The hotels and leisure industry have also been hit hard by Brexit uncertainty. The reduced labour supply as the number of foreign workers falls and the cost of a 5% increase in the national living wage has pushed 9% more hotel businesses into financial distress as last year.”

Rick explains that the lack of business travel could have had the biggest impact on hotel profits, as businesses cut back on travel in light of the uncertainty over whether or not the UK can scramble together a Brexit deal.

Premier Inn owner Whitbread also recently reported a 40% decrease in annual sales since the Brexit referendum and blames lack of business travel as a major factor.

Rick continued: “Many businesses have been preparing for a no-deal Brexit for a while now, but if you haven’t, now is certainly the time.

“A no-deal Brexit has the potential to seriously disrupt business in the UK for an extended period. Every business should be ensuring that it has good cash flow and that all financial accounts are up to date. Should the country hit a period of even more economic uncertainty, it is essential that you know how healthy your business is and how well you can weather out the Brexit storm.”

“It’s also a good idea to check on your suppliers. I would always recommend you keep your options open. If your most trusted clients start to feel the pressure, ensure you can fall back to another more stable supplier. It’ll help keep your business strong and prepared for the future.”

It isn’t too late for businesses in the UK to find themselves back out of financial distress, as Rick explains: “The UK economy is generally in good shape and we are seeing a record number of people in employment. Hopefully, the government will be able to provide greater certainty around Brexit over the next couple of months which should increase confidence.”

To find out more about Forbes Burton, visit

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A growing workplace specialist is making an impact in sensor-based office space management, as firms seek better returns on real estate and new ways of working and retaining staff.

Hundreds of corporations worldwide have introduced Abintra’s WiseNet system to monitor and manage the use of desks, meeting rooms and other office spaces.

The patented system, two years in the making, relies on industry-leading sensors that detect if anyone is occupying a desk or a seat in a meeting room. The Wisenet software then delivers a real-time visual display of space usage floor by floor. Crucially, it gathers statistics over time that can be used to make space saving decisions such as implementing desk sharing, how many desks are required and rationalisation of office space. This in turn creates opportunities to introduce new ways of working with wellbeing spaces, such as break out and cafe areas.

Once a desk sharing system has been implemented, the system delivers information on communal screens so that employees can locate free desks, meeting rooms and other spaces.

Meanwhile, for managers, it allows for ongoing review of space usage and for dealing with that trickiest of tasks, managing use and abuse of meeting rooms. It displays information about how many people, if any, are in a meeting room against booking information for a better understanding of space requirement.

Abintra says Wisenet sets the standard in space utilisation systems. Unlike competing solutions, it doesn’t rely on employees to log on to a computer, upload an app to a phone or carry a sensor around with them to sense that someone is using a space. Methods like these have obvious drawbacks because they fall down if the employee accidentally or on purposes fails to use them. They also raise the spectre of employers spying on employees whereas the Wisenet sensors effectively record that someone is in a space without reporting on what he or she is doing or his or her identity.

Wisenet also scores against systems using off-the-shelf sensors, because its purpose-built devices are more precise and more discreet because they can be mounted underneath and at the back of a desk rather than close to the edge. That precision is important because it enables monitoring of other kinds of spaces than desks, notably individual meeting room seats. Wisenet says other systems can’t match its reliability in those areas and often amazed how companies get talked out of this most important requirement.

Tony Booty, director at Abintra, says: “Most organisations know they could reuse some space, probably a lot of it, but fear staff won’t understand how that can happen without them being cramped together. We can help. Instead of corporate real estate managers being seen as the enemy by building users, we give you a way to prove what will best support the requirement. Once people understand the statistics, they will understand the solution, which can be a better environment with a variety of spaces, better suited to the changing world of work.”

Wisenet maintains that any organisation can benefit from reviewing its space utilisation, but the company is typically called in when a corporation is going through a reorganisation, restructure or merger, or when it is considering moving offices.

“Once you have the data, you might discover you do not need to move to bigger premises, after all, but if you do, you will have a much better understanding of how much space you need in the new location,” says Tony Booty.

Banks, insurance companies and local authorities are among those who have used Wisenet to inform decisions about real estate, sometimes making huge savings in space usage and associated costs. Another significant benefit that Abintra points to is staff retention and reduced HR costs, by allowing customers to reconfigure floors for agile working with collaborative spaces and even coffee shops.

When the system was used to reconfigure one floor of an insurance company’s building, it opened the door to staff welcoming a move to new offices where they knew all floors would be configured that way.

There are other uses for the data, including risk management, providing information on how much space would be needed if an operation has to relocate because of an emergency such as a flood. It can be used to plan efficient security routes and to reduce energy costs and carbon footprint by managing heating and air conditioning based on utilisation. The sensors record temperature as well as occupancy.

Perhaps the feature that resonates most loudly with customers is accurate meeting room scheduling. Unlike button systems or paper trails, the system reports on how many people, if any, are in a meeting room at any time without those people being required to do anything. One customer discovered a senior executive was routinely using a large meeting room as an annex to his office. Another found that staff were regularly booking pricey hotel meeting rooms in Belgravia when, contrary to what their Intranet was telling them, there was meeting space free in the office.

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Apprentice accolade puts Kris on the career fast track

An apprentice, who was among the first to take part in a trade body’s pioneering training programme within a specialist area of construction, has been named one of the best trainees in the country.

Kris Marriott, aged 33, has won the Southern Counties Apprentice of the Year accolade at the recent Southern Counties and London Master Builder Awards.

From Biocraft UK – based in Reading – Kris will now go up against other winning apprentices from across the UK for the chance to win the coveted National Apprentice 2019 crown, as well as a cash prize of £500 from the Federation of Master Builders. The result will be announced in September.

Kris was among the first group of trainees to join the Property Care Association’s NVQ Level 2 diploma in Insulation and Building Treatments (Wood Preserving and Damp Proofing) apprenticeship in December 2015.

The cohort took two years to complete their training, with a programme including 21 days of offsite training held at the PCA’s dedicated educational facility in Huntingdon.

Supported and funded by CITB, the programme has gone from strength-to-strength since Kris and the others in the first cohort were inducted.

It has an industry-high retention rate of 91 per cent, with 18 students having passed the NVQ and a further 17 currently going through the training.

The programme provides a springboard into an area of construction not always considered as a career option and draws in trainees from companies based across the UK, in both PCA member and non-member organisations.

Jade Stocker, the PCA’s Training Manager, said: “We are delighted that Kris’s work has been recognised at this level.

“It is a well-earned achievement and we wish him luck in the next stage of the contest.”

According to the PCA, new recruits to the property maintenance and preservation sector are vital, to ensure the skills in this specialist area of construction are retained and fine-tuned for the next generation.

They say the apprenticeship is a valuable way of addressing a skills gap within the property care industry.

The programme covers important skills necessary to preserve and protect properties, with insight into subjects including wet and dry rot, wood boring insects, rising damp and timber treatments.

Kris Marriot said: “I am really pleased to achieve this award.

“Previously I had been a labourer with several other companies and when I joined Biocraft UK, I asked Martin Fosbrook, the managing director, about an apprenticeship to improve my job prospects.

“The apprenticeship was almost a return to education for me. It was daunting starting the training, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and never looked back.”

Kris has worked for Biocraft UK for 10 years and the company has an award-winning approach to staff development.

Last year the business secured the Training and Staff Development title, at the PCA’s annual awards, held at The Slate, University of Warwick, as well as a Highly Commended accolade in the Outstanding Customer Service Category.

Run by Martin and Jill Fosbrook, Biocraft UK carries out specialist damp-proofing, timber treatments and basement waterproofing and conversions across Berkshire, Surrey, Hampshire and Oxfordshire.

Martin said: “We are very proud of all that Kris has achieved.

“Apprentices are key to the development and success of our business. Kris’ award is testimony to the opportunities and career satisfaction in our company and in the industry.

“The PCA apprenticeship is an excellent industry specific programme that meets the needs of our business.”

More details can be found at

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Hard Asset Vendor Team Grows at Henry Howard Finance

The newly created Hard Asset Vendor section at Henry Howard Finance have increased their team with two new appointments, to support companies who offer finance solutions to their business customers.

Ben Bennet, Senior Account Manager at Henry Howard Finance, joins the team from DLL. Prior to this Ben held financial roles spanning 25 years, at GE Capital.

Simon Dodd, Account Manager, has over 30 years financial industry experience, and also previously held a role at GE Capital.

The Hard Asset Vendor team specialise in working with dealers and manufacturers in the Construction, Materials Handling and Transport sectors.

Henry Howard Finance provides dealers and manufacturers access to industry leading technology, a dedicated sales support service and innovative funding facilities, offering instant credit approval decisions within their online leasing portal ‘HowApp’.

The Hard Asset Vendor team is spearheaded by Marie Dunkley, who joined Henry Howard Finance in September from her role as UK Sales Director for Construction, Transport and Industrial at DLL. Prior to this Marie held senior roles at Hitachi Capital and GE Capital and has previously won the NSA Sales Director of the Year Award.

Marie says: “I’m delighted to be heading up the Hard Asset Vendor Team at Henry Howard Finance. The company’s forward-thinking approach, customer centric ideals and growing own book lending is already making waves in the industry, and I am excited to be part of their journey to establish a stronger presence in Vendor Asset Finance. The experience Ben and Simon add to the team is exceptional, and, coupled with our flexible approach, we are looking forward to supporting even more companies across the UK’.

To find out more please contact 01633 415222 or visit

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UK-Based Procurement Company Saves Interserve £10million

The pioneering procurement software company Market Dojo has saved international support, construction and equipment services company, Interserve, £10 million with the use of its software. Market Dojo provided software which enabled Interserve to run an eAuction on fire and security services alongside Per Angusta, which delivered remarkable results.

With a gross revenue of £3.7billion and a workforce of circa 75,000 worldwide, Interserve is a leader in innovative and sustainable outcomes for its clients and is one of the world’s foremost construction equipment and services companies.

The team at were approached by Interserve representatives at an international procurement event, here they purchased a single £500 monthly licence with Market Dojo to run an eAuction on Fire and Security Services.

Following their early success with the tool, Market Dojo, alongside 30 other competitive solutions were invited to a major tender to compete in providing an enterprise solution that would be easy to adopt at all levels across the Interserve organisation. Interserve landed on the decision to place their trust in Market Dojo following the tender and a speedy start-up meant that the international company saw near-immediate results from the plan implemented by the MD team, in co-operation with Per Angusta.

Foregoing a traditional “Full-Suite” approach, Interserve instead elected that the team at Market Dojo would take charge of e-Sourcing and category planning, with Per Angusta providing Pipeline and Savings tracking respectively.

As a result, Interserve now has in excess of 80 active users on Market Dojo and has saved over £10 million in the first 18 months since using the procurement software company’s services. Post-implementation, the business has been able to host a variety of Facilities Management tenders, including maintenance, public displays and Health & Safety.

The solutions have negated the need for users to enter information multiple times in more than one place and, due to their intuitive user interface, very few training or skills materials were needed, cutting down on wasted time.

Rob Barlow, procurement systems and process manager for Interserve commented:

“Market Dojo, in collaboration with Per Angusta, has exceeded our expectations, with a strong customer focus, continuous innovation and proactive communication. We have already seen a number of enhancements to both platforms in line with our needs, completing such projects within a matter of months. We continue to have regular workshops and review sessions and have already seen numerous success stories across the business.”

Nick Drewe, Co-founder for commented:

“Interserve is such a fantastic business and we were ecstatic the results and return on investment were very evident. It has been great working alongside them. We (alongside Per Angusta) managed to implement a plan that was highly effective with a quick turnaround. We are incredibly proud of the results we have seen and truly think they prove how impactful our service can be.”

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Construction Connectivity – Getting Back to Basics

The European construction industry is continuing to demonstrate encouraging growth, with Deloitte forecasting that the market is on track to grow at a steady rate of 2.5 per cent a year to 2022. With this continued growth, firms face increasing pressure to deliver against rising demand, but it’s widely recognised that the construction industry has a reputation for often delivering projects later than expected and significantly over-budget. Large scale projects in particular can typically take 20 per cent longer to complete than planned and can be up to 80 per cent over budget – so how can the industry adapt to fulfil these ever-expanding expectations when current efficiency levels often leave a lot to be desired?

The adoption of new technology and smarter processes can deliver tangible benefits for construction firms, but there remains a fundamental stumbling block for those organisations looking to capitalise on new innovation – a frequent lack of high speed, portable and reliable Internet connectivity. It is therefore imperative that the industry addresses these key issues as a matter of urgency so that firms can gain access to the connectivity they need at new sites from day one.

The construction site of the future

With rapid advances in technology and the advent of cloud based solutions, the way we work and interact has drastically changed. Technology innovation has led industries to continually strive to be more efficient, productive and cost effective. Yet, when it comes to the world of construction, investment in IT has remained low in comparison to other industries. The market has been hampered by technical challenges relating to projects that can be large, complex and geographically dispersed. Combined with varying proficiency and maturity levels of smaller subcontractors, advancing at scale has been difficult and has subsequently led to the slow progress of the digitisation of the construction industry.

Despite these challenges, the available technology in construction has advanced rapidly and we are now starting to see examples of how advents in digital technology can deliver efficiency and productivity opportunities at the start of all projects – truly revolutionising the construction sites of the past. Drones, robotics, 3D printing and augmented reality are no longer works of fiction but can be adopted by forward thinking firms looking to capitalise on the benefits that embracing innovation can bring to the construction site.

Connectivity is essential

Connectivity is a necessity for businesses in virtually every industry and construction is no exception. Crucially, this is still one fundamental hurdle that the industry must overcome if it is to create a solid foundation for all new innovation.

Technology that is crucial for the industry to innovate and keep up with demand, cannot function without high speed, portable and reliable internet connection, but gaining access to connectivity can be a challenge for new sites, particularly those that are located in a Green or Brownfield location where there is typically no existing connection. Often, a fixed line is simply not an option and the reliability of 4G is still patchy, even as talk around the possibilities of 5G continue to dominate the headlines.


The construction industry cannot continue to utilise outdated processes and management methods but instead must embrace digital advances and adopt smarter processes and technology to stay competitive. But there is no way that the construction sites of the future will ever become a reality unless the industry can conquer the basics of connectivity.

So, how can construction firms ensure that a strong and stable connection is established quickly at a new site to ensure lack of connectivity does not negatively impact on projects? By working with an ecosystem of experienced and trusted providers who can supply the connectivity and IoT services that sites require. The industry will then be able to continually benefit from the opportunities that the latest advances in innovation present. The potential rewards to firms that capitalise on digitisation will be instantaneous.

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How to Install a Range Hood and Vent

Range hoods help you to ventilate your kitchen workspace. Ventilation is particularly important for homeowners with gas stoves since it helps to dissipate gases and smoke for the sake of safety, as well as grease and odours in the kitchen.

Many homeowners rely on their over the range microwaves to vent smoke and odours. This is excellent for kitchens that are low on space and need their appliances to do double duty. However, a nice hood vent tends to rank high on many homeowners’ kitchen remodelling wish list.
Hood vents have a stylish appeal that can draw attention and make a statement in the kitchen.

Check out the rest of the guide here

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Design Team Appointed to Lead National Manufacturing Institute Scotland

Friday 19 April 2019: Scotland’s international centre of manufacturing expertise is a step closer to being realised following the appointment of the design team.

The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), hosted by the University of Strathclyde, aims to make Scotland a global leader in advanced manufacturing. By bringing industry, research and the wider public sector together it will drive productivity and skills development.

HLM, a leading design and architecture practice with studios in Glasgow, has been appointed to lead a design team including Waterman Civil & Structural Engineers, Davie + McCulloch Building Services Engineers and Robinson Low Francis LLP Cost Mangers, whilst HLM will also be providing landscape architecture and interior design services. Turner and Townsend have been appointed as Project Managers under the University’s Framework Agreement.

As an industry-led international centre for manufacturers, NMIS, adjacent to Glasgow International Airport, will include a Digital Factory 2050, Manufacturing Skills Academy and collaborative working spaces; complementing the existing University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC).

It will offer Scottish businesses access to expert services, advanced demonstrator facilities and training programmes focused on innovative manufacturing. As a national hub, it will be available to companies of all sizes and sectors, enabling them to be more globally competitive.

It will be the anchor for the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS), which will benefit from a £39 million investment to provide the enabling infrastructure, funded through the Glasgow City Region Deal.

Ross Barrett, Associate HLM, said: “HLM and the design team are excited to be working closely with the University of Strathclyde and their partners to develop the new NMIS facility. This is a huge opportunity to create an innovative, flexible and collaborative environment which will help inspire and attract industry partners and academics alike, reducing barriers to innovation.”

The £65 million plus investment includes £48 million from the Scottish Government and £8m from the University of Strathclyde as well as £9 million in the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre which is a first phase of NMIS. The phase 1 construction value is expected to be in the region of £38 million.

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