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It’s an exaggeration to say that the future of the British construction industry depends on the development of its manufacturing base – but not much of one. Anybody who has followed the developing crisis in training and recruitment, and observed how far off-site manufacturing in this country is lagging behind Europe and Japan, will be aware of the pressures and dangers that the industry faces.
Fortunately, Hotchkiss presents the rest of the pack with a model of best practice. It is working to exploit the possibilities of CAD-CAM, and to this end has begun a specialist training programme for all of its draftspeople to make the most of the firm’s investment in the latest manufacturing technology. It is not just a question of the amount of training that is undertaken: the quality is underpinned by one-to-one sessions and a rewritten syllabus that sets out the company’s own standards for 3D CAD drawings and CAM in terms of manufacture. As a result, Hotchkiss can transfer information straight from its drawing office to its factory, thereby reducing lead-in times, saving cost and placing Hotchkiss at the forefront of ductwork manufacture.
Roof manufacturer Kalzip has invested in its own purpose-built training facility at its headquarters at Haydock, Merseyside. Although this is equipped to the highest standards, what’s really commendable is the company’s appreciation of the role of training in protecting the value of the brand. This is important enough with any product, but absolutely vital in roofing: one drip and all hell breaks loose. Many of the firm’s clients see the training as a key advantage to specifying Kalzip, largely because all of its teams contain one member who has successfully completed the general operators course.
Mcmullen architectural systems
McMullen Architectural Systems of Northern Ireland is a designer, maker and installer of facades. It has turned itself into a Glass Qualifications Authority-approved centre and has successfully introduced NVQs for its workshop-based fabricators and site installers – the only firm in the province to do this. Full marks to McMullen, too, for understanding the multiplier effect of training. As it says itself: “We have found that trained employees are better motivated and production levels have improved.”
Southern electrical contracting
According to the Health and Safety Executive, 90% of accidents at work are caused by unsafe human behaviour. Ergo, tackle the behaviour and you could potentially save many lives. But how do you change behaviour? Southern Electrical Contracting has come up with an answer to that: by training in what the firm calls the “injury prevention process”, carried out from the boardroom to the site. The results have been dramatic. SEC’s injury frequency rates have shown steady reduction between 2001 and 2003, and they are now a small fraction of the industry average (see the health and safety category on page 13).
Wilson James is a company familiar to readers of Building magazine, which has often cast an admiring eye at the logistic firm’s handling of personnel issues. So, no surprise that it is breaking new ground in the area of training. Its in-house training team has been working to develop an NVQ in site logistics, and it has set itself the target of providing all its managers with a certificate in management from the Institute of Leadership and Management. The company has also committed itself to the concept of lifelong learning, and one of its directors, Gary Sullivan has become a recognised authority in the field.
Specialist Contractor Awards 2004
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