GAI Education Awards show an industry facing a confident future

The door and window hardware industry’s rising stars were celebrated this month at the 40th annual Guild of Architectural Ironmongers’ (GAI) Education Awards.

Held at the Royal Lancaster hotel, London, on November 7 2019, the awards celebrated the architectural ironmongery professionals who have achieved their GAI Diploma and recognised the highest achieving students. The awards were sponsored this year by ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions UK and Ireland.

This year, exams were sat by 390 learners across all three stages of the GAI education programme. Students came from 26 different countries, with just under half of them based outside the UK. There has been a particularly high number of learners from United Arab Emirates (UAE), China and India.

At the awards, Gold, Silver and Bronze medals were awarded to the highest achieving students at the GAI Diploma level and there were also prize awards for the top three students from the Certificate in Architectural Hardware (CiAH) level.

This year, the Diplomas and awards were given to students by former Top Gear Stig, Ben Collins.

The full list of Education Awards winners in 2019 is:

The Pinnacle Award, sponsored by Eurobond Doors:

  • Bala Vignesh, ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions Middle East

GAI Diploma:

  • Gold – Bala Vignesh, ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions Middle East
  • Silver – Craig Birch, ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions
  • Bronze – Bernadeth Prometidos, Consort Middle East LLC

CiAH Prize Winners:

  • First place – Andrew Marshall, ASSA ABLOY New Zealand
  • Second place – Ian Tisdale, Carlisle Brass
  • Third place – Michael Hunt, More Handles

Dave Timson, technical sales director at Eurobond Doors, presented this year’s Pinnacle Award to Bala Vignesh, specification consultant at ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions Middle East.

Bala Vignesh said of his career and Diploma success:

“I had been working in the door and ironmongery industry for eight years and wanted to get to grips with all the essentials of architectural ironmongery. I wanted to be able to walk into meetings with customers with confidence, knowing that everything I’m specifying is up to code and is the best choice of product.

“At the moment there are technical and regulatory changes everywhere. Locks are changing from mechanical to electrical, 2D drawings are becoming 3D models, and the way that we specify is also evolving. It is important that we stay up to date, and the GAI Diploma programme has prepared me for this.”

Julian Newman, president of the GAI, said:

“The scrutiny of the skills, qualifications and competence of everyone in the building industry has never been higher, and each part of the supply chain needs to prove its worth. The GAI Diploma makes this possible in our sector. It is the only recognised programme in the world that leads to a qualification in architectural ironmongery to British and European standards.”

The awards recognised the industry’s rising stars at each stage in the GAI education programme.

While the Diploma is the primary qualification for professional architectural ironmongers, the Certificate in Architectural Hardware is particularly useful for those working in related warehouse and trade counter roles, procurement, scheduling and estimating, customer service, technical support, sales and administration. Comprising two stages with 24 online education modules, the Certificate covers the product knowledge required by these roles.

Following completion of the Certificate in Architectural Hardware, students can progress to the GAI Diploma. The Diploma builds on product knowledge and enables the writing of accurate hardware specifications and quotations. This qualification is particularly suited to those in customer service, contract management, scheduling and estimating, technical and sales. To become a full GAI member, a company must have at least one employee who has passed the GAI Diploma.

ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions sponsored the GAI Education Awards.

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2019 brings milestone birthdays for GAP Hire Solutions and Kubota UK!

2019 has seen Kubota UK turn 40, giving us a chance to reflect on how the construction industry has witnessed significant change over the last few decades; whether that be through technological innovation, shifts in the economic climate or changes in how to hire the right skills. But one of its oldest partners also has cause for celebration this year.

Our friends at GAP Hire Solutions have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the company throughout 2019. Over the last half a century the company has grown to become the UK’s largest independent plant, tools, equipment and vehicle rental firm. Established in 1969 by Gordon Anderson, the family-owned and run business operates from over 140 depots and employs over 1,800 people nationwide. GAP has remained a family-run business, ensuring that the same family principles on which the company were founded continue to this day.

GAP and Kubota UK have worked together for many years, with the former selling over 500 construction machines since the partnership began, and for much of their partnership, Kubota UK has been GAP’s sole supplier of mini and midi excavators. To celebrate this milestone and its longstanding relationship with the hire company, Kubota has gifted GAP with a gold Kubota machine. For the next year, 50% of all hire revenue from the golden machine will go to The Lighthouse Club, a charity which provides financial and emotional support to the construction community and their families. The most recent rental of the machine secured £180 for this organisation.

To support this initiative and local charities affecting the construction industry, Kubota has pledged to match the money GAP raises through the golden machine.

Ken Stewart, Head of Procurement at GAP Group, said:

“Here at GAP, we run a large fleet of Kubota excavators ranging in size from 800kg to 8.0t. When looking at the types of products we want to buy, price is and always will be an important factor. But we also look closely at factors such as the cost of ownership, reliability, after sales support and general market acceptance. In our opinion, the Kubota product continues to tick all the boxes and is well received by both our customers and our UK depot network.

“We have a strong affinity with Kubota in general with their engines being used in so many of our other products such as compressors, tandem ride on rollers, dumpers, lighting towers and generators to name but a few.

“We look forward to working with Kubota UK for the next 50 years and beyond!”

Glen Hampson, Business Development Manager Construction Division at Kubota UK commented:

“GAP is Kubota UK’s largest independent customer, and this is a testament to the strength of the relationship that we have built with the team over the last few years. We know that our machines are well suited to GAP’s needs as they provide reliable, well designed and robust solutions to withstand the rigours of the hire industry. What’s more, our responsive dealership network has allowed GAP to rapidly respond to customer and depot requirements. From all of us at Kubota UK, we would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all our friends and colleagues at GAP. We can’t wait to see what they do next!

GAP has launched a commemorative book in celebration of the company’s 50th anniversary, which chronicles the development of the company from its inception to its plans for the future. The various contributions throughout the book have come from the Anderson family as well as GAP’s employees, customers, suppliers and friends of the family and company. You can find this here:

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AFI becomes Film & TV’s ‘Albert Sustainable Production’ recommended Supplier

The AFI group of companies has become a recommended supplier to the UK Production & Broadcasting Industry by the prestigious BAFTA Albert Consortium. AFI were able to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to reducing the environmental impact that their specialist powered access equipment has on film and media production processes. Posted via Industry Today. Follow us on Twitter @IndustryToday Continue Reading

Concrete Canvas used as part of improvement works for Scottish Canals


Concrete Canvas used as part of improvement works for Scottish Canals

Earlier this year Mackenzie Construction installed over 2000m2 of Concrete Canvas to provide an erosion protection layer for an open canal, which is the only formal water supply to the Union Canal which runs from Falkirk to Edinburgh. The Almond Feeder is just 3km in length and has four masonry tunnels on the route which was opened in 1822.

After the Union Canal was closed in 1965, it reopened in 2001 and as such the canal feeders are routinely checked to ensure their structural security. When the Almond Feeder was checked, it was discovered that there were visual signs of ground movement which raised concerns over the stability of the channel. In order to protect the channel, remedial works were deemed essential, as without the Almond Feeder, the Union Canal would dewater. This would cause significant environmental, public, economic and navigational issues for the areas it flows through.

A solution to protect the channel long-term was needed. Initially, the idea of lining the Almond Feeder with HDPE was considered. However, it quickly became apparent that there were multiple issues with this idea. The main one being, it was not possible to completely dry out the channel, as a result thermally welding the material would have been very difficult.

One solution which was identified as being able to provide the necessary long-term protection against erosion, while also improving the impermeability of the channel was Concrete Canvas. Developed by two students while still at university back in 2004, this material is filled with a dry concrete mix and needs only to be hydrated and left to dry to form a fibre reinforced concrete layer. Produced by Concrete Canvas Ltd, the geotextile is available in a number of thicknesses, and for this project CC8TM, the 8mm thick product variant was used. When compared to HDPE, Concrete Canvas is more durable and is also resistant to UV exposure.

The installation of Concrete Canvas differentiates it from traditional concrete solutions, such as poured or sprayed, in a number of ways. Firstly, it requires no plant or mixing equipment on site, which for projects that may have restricted access is hugely beneficial. Secondly, as the fabric arrives on site rolled and ready to be installed, it can significantly reduce the overall project time. Only hand tools are needed to cut the material into the desired length so they can be installed. Compare this to sprayed concrete, and it is a much more efficient process with significantly less waste. Furthermore, Concrete Canvas uses a high early strength concrete mix which allows it to reach performance strength just 24 hours after hydration. Particularly useful in projects where water is present, Concrete Canvas cannot be over-hydrated and can even set underwater.

For this channel lining project, this was critical as the Union Canal needed to continue receiving water from the Almond Feeder. Sections of the channel were dewatered, during which time the CC8 was installed and then hydrated, after which the water was allowed to run through the section.


The lengths of CC8 were laid transversely across the channel and the ends fitted into a pre-dug anchor trench to secure them using 250mm ground pegs. The anchor trench was then backfilled with either clay or excavated soil. All leading edges of CC8 at the masonry tunnels were captured in poured concrete to provide extra protection against undermining. Additional sections of fabric were then installed with 100mm overlaps and sealed using a bead of Soudaseal Adhesive sealant. These sections were then screwed together at 200mm internals with stainless steel screws.

It took only four weeks to install the Concrete Canvas along the whole channel. The work included channel excavation to remove debris and was completed by just a 5-man crew. 2,125m2 of Concrete Canvas was used along the 3km channel, and the project finished on schedule. Mackenzie Construction were able to install over 40 linear metres of the GCCM per day, demonstrating just how fast Concrete Canvas can be installed.

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Why Crane Maintenance Needs To Be Your Top Priority

Cranes are an integral part of your construction site, which is why they must receive regular maintenance and service. Otherwise, they aren’t going to be able to function correctly and as efficiently as you want. But, crane maintenance isn’t just about function; it serves other purposes as well.

The Importance of Crane Maintenance

Here are three reasons why crane maintenance is so essential.

1. Safety

Construction sites can be dangerous places to work, but this risk is dramatically increased when machinery isn’t operating correctly. Therefore, by maintaining your cranes, you can be assured that your site is as safe as possible. If you opt to disregard maintenance and scheduled inspections, then you are far more likely to have to deal with equipment failure which, in turn, increases the likelihood of accidents and injuries happening onsite.

2. Inspections

At this point, you are probably well-aware that inspectors come to check (at regular intervals) on the safety and risk management of your construction site. If your machinery (including cranes) aren’t up to standard, then you could quickly find yourself in trouble.These inspectors are looking to ensure that your site is compliant with Occupational Safety and Health Regulations and that you are providing a safe place for your workers.

Therefore, they will look at the design of the crane, its compliance with maintenance programs, and the presence of ladders and other accessibility assistance tools that are required for repairs. Furthermore, they will want to see thorough records of the crane maintenance, testing, and inspection, as well as operator training and license requirements.

3. Efficiency

The last thing you want is for your construction project to be delayed because of an equipment failure on the construction site. However, if you aren’t maintaining your cranes, then you are much more likely to run into an issue.

By committing to regular maintenance, you are prioritizing efficiency and preventing the need for extended lost-time due to crane repairs. Reduced productivity is not a good sign for a construction firm, so not only will this affect the current project, but it will also affect your reputation and the chance of building your business.

How To Maintain Your Crane

Now that you understand the importance of crane maintenance, you are probably wondering what the best practices for making it happen are. To realize the benefits listed above, you want to be following these four crane maintenance tips.

1. Keep track of crane maintenance activities.

One of the best crane habits you can start is to keep a log of all crane maintenance activities, observations, repairs, and inspections. By doing this, you can quickly look back and ensure that you are staying up-to-date with the manufacturer’s recommendations for the servicing of the crane.

Additionally, a written record of crane maintenance activities enables your onsite team to observe the maintenance of the crane easily. Plus, when an issue does (inevitably) arise, you have a clear log of what has been done that you can present to the crane hire company or the manufacturer.

2. Focus on preventive and routine maintenance.

When it comes to maintaining a crane, there are two types of maintenance that you want to provide: preventive maintenance and routine maintenance. These two forms of maintenance vary in regards to scale. Generally, routine maintenance incorporates smaller tasks, while the goal of preventive maintenance is to bypass repairs and possibly hazardous situations when the equipment is in operation.

Both types of maintenance should follow the equipment manufacturer’s recommendations which is why you or your crane hire company must be fully aware of the needed maintenance procedures and service intervals for each specific crane.

3. Create a schedule for routine checking.

As with most things in life, by setting a schedule for when routine checking will happen is the best way to ensure that it actually gets done.

During this regular checking, you want to ensure that fundamental maintenance tasks (such as lubrication and adjustment) are observed. This simple monitoring will make a significant difference when it comes to reducing the damage of crane components, limiting sudden work stoppages, and maintaining the performance of the equipment.

Work With a Reputable Crane Hire Company

Looking after a crane is a big job and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you work with a reputable crane hire company that hasthe tools and expertise to perform thorough maintenance practices.

Opting for a tower crane rental means that the responsibility of continually maintaining you crane is shifted from you to the crane rental company. This, in turn, provides you and your workers with a lot more peace of mind and a lot less obligation. Doing so also gives you more time and headspace to focus on the things that really matter – like getting the construction project completed on time.

What do you think about crane maintenance? Do you have any tips and tricks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Hermann Buchberger is the Founder and CEO of Active Crane Hire (ACH). He’s taken the company from start-up to Industry Leader offering the largest fleet of construction cranes in Australia. ACH launched a new type of crane previously unheard of in the Australian market: electric tower cranes. The company’s infrastructure and associated services now comprise a fleet of trucks and trailers, a crane-rigging team, mobile crane technicians, a fleet of service vehicles, and an extensive range of crane spare parts.

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Pasquill invests over £6.7million

Pasquill, one of the UK’s leading supplier of roof trusses, has invested over £6.7million in its manufacturing plants and design centres over the last five years.

This year £2.5million has been invested in equipment, technology and infrastructure as part of a long-term strategy to improve performance, sustainability and efficiency.

Most notably, Pasquill’s site in Chorley, Lancashire, is currently undergoing a multi-million-pound redevelopment, delivered via a five-phase plan that will cement its position as the leading roof truss manufacturer in the north west.

The infrastructure works began in November 2018, and Phases one to three will be completed by the end of November 2019. Included in the three phases are the refurbishment of the cassette and spandrel production buildings, the sawmill building and welfare facilities on site, allowing Pasquill Chorley to increase its capacity by approximately 50%.

Meanwhile, Pasquill’s Bodmin site in Cornwall has received an investment of over £200k, which allows for additional storage and yard space, plus a doubling of metalwork room space. The site has also received state-of-the-art equipment, including an AV Birch Uni-roll Posi press machine which will increase output by around 40% and support the increase in demand for its customers.

The equipment replacement programme also continues with over £200k investment for two new semi-automated EC800 single blade saws at Pasquill’s Stoney Stanton and Chorley factories.

Gabriel Prior, Continuous Improvement Director for the OSS Division, said: “We are continuously investing in all our sites across the UK to ensure they are running efficiently and performing at the cutting edge. These investments will allow us to design and manufacture quality products more efficiently, giving our teams the tools to bring our clients’ visions to life.”

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Nearly a quarter of small building firms shedding staff

Small building firms remain nervous about hiring new staff and are reducing the size of their workforces.

Carpenters and joiners have overtaken bricklayers as the trade that is hardest to recruit

Firms said they were holding off hiring because of ongoing political uncertainty and rising wage and material costs.

According to a survey from the Federation of Master Builders, the number of small to medium-sized reducing workforces has risen from 21% to 23% in the third quarter, while the number of members saying they were expanding dropped from 19% to just 15%.

This was despite construction workloads improving with over a third of firms reporting rises, up from just over a quarter in the previous quarter.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The fact that SME firms are having to lay people off and are holding off taking new people on is worrying.

“Skilled workers are scarce in the construction industry, and it is critical we keep people employed in the sector.”

He said that builders were tired of the continued political uncertainty blighting the UK economy.

Berry added: “Stagnating staffing levels is a concerning sign, and if this trend continues, we could see the capacity of the industry shrink at a time when builders are needed more than ever.”

He also warned that fast-rising input costs were hitting firms.

Berry said that 86% of his members anticipated a rise in material prices, up from 77% in the previous quarter.

More firms are also predicting salaries and wages to increase than previously.

Berry said: “Small building companies are also having to contend with eye-watering material prices, and these are set to continue to rise.

“This coupled with continued wage inflation, driven by skill shortages, is leaving many firms to have unsustainable profit margins.

“Ultimately this could see some firms having to close. The Government needs to carefully consider the impact of new regulations that will impose extra costs and cash flow restrictions on the sector such as reverse charge VAT.”

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