January 23, 2020

Demolition Services Group – Heading towards a significant milestone

Next year Demolition Services Group will celebrate its 40th anniversary, a significant milestone that underlines its unrivalled reputation for delivering a safe, trusted and quality assured range of specialist enabling services within the asbestos management and removal, demolition, remediation and brownfield land sectors.

Kellingley Colliery demolition

The high standing that Demolition Services enjoys within the UK marketplace has enabled the company to take on a number of significant projects. Last year, for instance, it oversaw the successful explosive demolition of the final 45m steel winding tower at the landmark former Kellingley Colliery site. This followed a two-year period of work consisting of the demolition of a number of structures producing 150 tonnes of asbestos, 12,000 tonnes of scrap metals and the recovery and removal of 300,000m3 of coal slurry.

The year previously, in 2017, the company carried out a £3.5m contract that involved the reclamation and resale of more than 2,000 tonnes of aluminium and the explosive demolition of eight 80m chimneys at the Alcan Aluminium Smelting Plant in Lynemouth.

Regarding more recent projects, the current demolition works at the former Park Campus at Northampton University is presenting some testing health and safety challenges due to the close proximity of occupied dwellings. It was particularly complicated because control of the site in its entirety was not possible. The site is home to more than 800 students all of which are continuing to reside in their halls of residence throughout the year-long project.

This project requires a bus service to access the halls of residence, running through the site every 12 minutes from 6am to 11pm until the new road is constructed. 

Further complications came from the services on the site to again allow residency to continue. A power supply for the halls was required and subsequently provided by a live substation on the campus site. This meant that not only were demolition works being carried out adjacent to a live substation, but also a high voltage cable was to continually run across the site to supply the needs of the accommodation blocks. These hazards require optimum levels of control during all stages of the works. 

Communication initially was key, further supported by a collaborative approach between all relevant parties. Initial planning and pre-start meetings required Demolition Services Group to understand the needs and requirements of the university residents, as well as the client and the demolition works themselves. Applying the requirements of CDM Regulations, a CDM site boundary was formally established and the location of the services identified and marked out. Demolition Services was tasked with securing this boundary with Heras fencing, a mandatory requirement that took some days to complete. Thereafter daily checks were made of the site boundary to ensure that no breaches had occurred.

Students and locals were subsequently notified of the works and the inherent dangers associated with any demolition operation. Communication at this planning stage was essential to ensuring engagement promoted and satisfied a positive interest in the works and questions could be answered in a safe and controlled manner. This line of communication with the university and its residents remains open.

Having secured the physical boundary to the site, traffic management was crucial and where possible students were directed to campus via an alternative route in order to reduce the risks. Demolition methodology was also key and the progressive fragmentation of a building using mechanical excavator was required to ensure maximum control over all debris and demolition arising. Each and every building on the site went through a demolition methodology appraisal and from it derived a risk assessed building specific method statement.

Safe systems of work are required on all projects and the university is no exception. Each demolition excavator or building has an appointed banksman, working outside the exclusion zone and assisting where machine visibility is restricted. Communication is via a two-way radio and the banksman has the authority to stop works should any concern be raised.

Alcan Smelter

Communication, co-ordination and control are not new words but remain true in the safe and timely delivery of any project. Demolition Services has further gained control over the safety of all its sites by the introduction of a new portable electronic reporting system that takes quality control to an industry new level. With real time reporting, and the use of time and date stamping, the company is able to ensure key quality or safety checks can not be overridden and the ability to carry out remote audits as a further control measure has now become a reality.

The ability to carry out such complex and demanding projects has seen Demolition Services build a loyal client base with 65% of its 2018 business conducted with repeat customers, a figure that has been consistent in recent years. This has only been made possible by the company’s ability to demonstrate its emphasis on a quality first ethos, with efficiency in its organisation and an approach to works that ensures that it is always competitive with its pricing.

Although the current marketplace appears to be relatively stagnant, Demolition Services believes interesting times are ahead, with both peaks and troughs to be expected due to the uncertainties surrounding Brexit. In terms of other trends, it highlights that the movement away from ‘price only’ tenders is ever more apparent, with pre-qualification questionnaires and tenders putting more emphasis on quality, something that the company excels in. A shift for the better, and certainly led by the introduction and changes to relevant legislation with CDM specifically putting responsibilities onto contractors and designers to ensure capability and resourcing as opposed to the historical ‘best price wins’ approach, is an arena that Demolition Services is extremely comfortable in thanks to the high standards it adheres to.

In terms of other differentiators that set Demolition Services apart from the competition, as an owner managed family-run business it continues to provide experience, passion and an unrelenting drive to secure the future of demolition for many generations to come. 

It not only has a wealth of knowledge and expertise to draw on, but its continued belief in the business and industry is resulting in ongoing and significant investments in its technology, plant and people.  As a consequence, having its own in-house asbestos license, transport and haulage wagons, as well as a fleet of excavators, plant and equipment, the company remains in complete control of the safe and timely completion of each project. These solid foundations are helping the business to maintain its position within the industry and drive continued growth, whilst also ensuring that the family feel, and control of the company’s operations, remain.

As it edges ever closer to its 40th anniversary next year, Demolition Services Group’s immediate short term goals mirror its long term plans, both of which remained centred around investment. Recognising that the investment in people is as important as the plant and equipment it utilises, it is continuously developing its management team with the employment of new staff as well as supporting those moving up the academic and management tree.