Concept Engineering Consultants has firmly established itself in the ground investigation market by accepting challenging assignments. Twenty five years
on, the company is pursuing “deliberate growth”.
Ground investigation technology has been a rapidly developing element of the construction supply chain in recent years and major players are well established as early adopters of new techniques. Today’s engineers can generally take for granted that they will have critical, high-quality data at their fingertips to inform their designs.
It has not always been so. Concept Engineering Consultants has been at the forefront of these developments since its inception 25 years ago. The company is now expanding beyond its London roots, spreading its reputation for a quality approach to delivering the most technically challenging projects to a growing customer base.
The origins of the concept were in subsidence and other soil-related structural issues. He then moved on to consumer site surveys. It is now a go-to choice for complex site investigations on challenging sites, with an approach that combines consultancy with outsourced services specializing in geotechnical, structural and geo-environmental services.
A UK Accreditation Service (Ukas) accredited ‘superlab’ in Coventry now complements the original London operations, providing an overnight turnaround in the analysis of soil samples, which proves invaluable for the High Speed 2 (HS2) program. Another new office in Yorkshire could also be on the cards.
The company now employs 106 people. Of these, between 40 and 50 are site drillers and other skilled workers. Around ten people work in the laboratory and there are around twenty geotechnical engineers, in addition to structural engineers and administrative and commercial staff. Turnover was flat at £6-7m when based in London, but doubled thanks to HS2. The target for 2022 is £12.3m as the company pursues “controlled and targeted growth”.
Growth so far has been internally funded, but resources are focused on research and development and this is usually in collaboration with customers and universities.
“It tends to be confidential, so we don’t talk about it much, but the investment helps ensure that the service we can offer customers remains state-of-the-art,” says Natalie Bews, Managing Director of Concept . More recently, Concept has developed an articulated “arm” for sampling materials behind retaining structures.
The market that Concept serves now obtains more value by reducing financial and other risks by investing in specialist field investigation from the outset.
“Things have certainly come a long way since Anastasia Savidu and Milan Dedic saw the need for specialist services like ours and founded the company,” says Bews. “They found that customers were often unaware of what services were available beyond the most rudimentary soil testing.
“Educating customers about what was available, and even what to ask for to get the best surveys, was part of the strategy from the start.”
Bews is a geological engineer with a background in business development. She has been in the industry for over 25 years having started in the laboratory. She joined Concept in 2018 when the founders were deliberately looking to grow and expand their business outside of London.
His enthusiasm for the role and for the industry comes through strongly in the conversation. She has a wide range of improvement ideas in areas as diverse as helping customers get more for their money and attracting people to
Educating customers on what was available, and even what to ask for to get the best surveys, was part of the strategy
The skills crisis is a priority for Bews. With more and more construction projects in the UK likely to take place on brownfield sites, the demand for complex site survey specialists will only grow. The analysis has become more sophisticated over the years, now encompassing the impact of structures on the ground as well as measuring the impact of ground conditions on existing structures.
“Both must be studied in depth, we must understand the pathology of a structure, so that the most effective engineering designs can be produced. Proper investigations save money and are a proven key to management risks,” explains Bews.
Much of the company’s work takes place in tunnels and other places where Concept’s “stealth investigation” approach comes into its own.
“Working on the Jubilee Line remediation was one of our first projects where we were drilling through the tunnel liners during possessions to establish the cause of the movement,” Bews explains.
“We can drill from the highway to great depths in very congested sites, with minimal impact to the public or businesses. We are entrusted with possessions of tunnels where we attach our equipment to the sides and walls of the tunnel, allowing intrusive investigation in all directions. We also use parallel seismic geophysics along with other non-destructive techniques, to ensure that we get all the data our client needs the first time.
Other complex work can take place in deep basements. “These technically challenging projects where there are always time and financial constraints can only be completed by fully collaborative construction teams. Our spirit is that anything can be done. Just tell us what you need and we’ll find a way to get the data for the designs.
Having established a solid reputation in London, Concept decided to expand by opening a new office in the Midlands, mirroring the operations set up in London.
“One of our strengths in London has always been our local workforce, who can all return home with their families at the end of the working day,” says Bews. “We think it’s important and we didn’t want to start sending teams of drillers and engineers to remote locations, so we decided to open in Coventry.”
Big hit on High Speed 2
This development was accompanied by major success on HS2 where Concept had up to eight active rigs. “Our revenue has doubled with HS2,” Bews says. “Bottlenecks tend to occur during major investigations in the labs rather than on-site, so establishing a new geotechnical lab in the market was key to growth plans and the ability to meet demands. program and market.Now samples are received daily at the new superlab in Coventry, which is fully accredited for soil and rock analysis.
“On HS2, we took a flexible approach where we moved our teams to another part of the project or even to another contract if access was not readily available as per the contract schedule.
“It’s the kind of collaborative and dynamic approach the company is built on, and we’re sure it will support our next stage of growth.”
- Published in collaboration with Concept
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