16 September 2016
As a centre of nuclear excellence, Cumbria has become an incubator for a highly skilled workforce. This home-grown expertise is coveted by organisations around the world. Craig Hatch, Head of Asset Management at WYG, leads the Cumbria business based in Cockermouth and sits on the company’s UK Board. He describes how his team of asset management specialists in Cockermouth exemplifies this sought-after talent. The skills they have honed in the region’s energy sector have given them the edge to attract business from international blue chip companies and government organisations alike.
In the early 2000s, WYG’s asset management team in Cumbria was among the local companies appointed to conduct decommissioning, inspection and measurement work at the Sellafield site. It started with engineering and traditional topographical surveys. Over the years, the process evolved through a specific focus on developing greater efficiency, and introducing the latest innovative technologies, thereby adding value. The arrival of aerial surveys, for instance, significantly reduced the time it took to assess a vast expand of land, from weeks to a matter of days. Along with other emerging technologies, such as 3D object scanning and drone capabilities, the level of niche skills available in the region has also developed.
The asset management team is subdivided into six main specialist areas, which cover strategic asset management, asbestos, geospatial, building surveying, safety management, as well as energy, mechanical and electrical asset management. Each work stream employs highly skilled individuals and complements one another to produce a service offer not replicated elsewhere. These days, WYG’s asset management experts are based not only in Cumbria and in offices around the UK, but can also be found often in remote locations half way around the world. Clients for whom international services are provided include MOD, Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), Nokia, Government of Canada, to name but a few.
The geospatial team was recently contracted by the FCO to travel to Beijing, where they undertook laser scanning to produce the detailed plans to enable building refurbishment. They were also appointed to missions in Turkey and Cyprus. Asbestos specialists have also been working for the FCO, surveying and reporting on their assets around the world in many far flung countries such as Nepal, Afghanistan and the Congo.
Two engineers in the mechanical and electrical asset management team are currently at the Canadian Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, where they have successfully solved a serious energy issue and provided a maintenance programme. The Government of Canada has appointed the team as local provider to their London based service centre, which oversees the whole Middle East and Africa. For these experts, this means regular deployment to this region, with two of them currently preparing for a mission at the Canadian Embassy in Algeria. Last year, they were approached by an international telecommunications provider to assess the company’s critical plant infrastructure over 20 sites. The result was a ten year cost plan that enabled the managers at the firm to adopt an informed replacement strategy for the future.
The Cumbria team has also expanded the reach of its expertise throughout the UK. In 2015, they were awarded a five year structural inspection framework for Research Sites Restoration Ltd (subsequently incorporated within Magnox Ltd). The building surveyors have subsequently undertaken condition and structural assessment surveys on two designated sites at Harwell, Oxfordshire, and Winfrith, Dorset, containing over 500 assets, introducing significant innovation and experience honed by the Cumbria experts involved in delivering similar services at Sellafield.
“We believe that what stands us apart from our peers,” Craig concludes, “is that we have recognised the skill base unique to Cumbria and used this to lead a significant part of our business. The skills within our teams in Cockermouth and Carlisle are generally acknowledged as being of the highest standards allowing growth and jobs creation at all levels within the team.” And WYG has to thank experience from the Nuclear sector in Cumbria for much of this valuable know-how.
This is one of the reasons why it has chosen to support the inaugural Cumbria Nuclear Conference in Carlisle on 21-22 September, to promote the rich technical talent available in the region and ensure it is perpetuated in future years.
This article was first published in In Cumbria magazine.