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Archive for September, 2009

Councils invited to bid for 1,200 homes cash

September 29th, 2009 Comments off

Housing minister announces plans to create 3,000 more apprentices as council home funding is released

Housing minister John Healey has invited councils to bid for funding to build 1,200 council homes.

Addressing the Labour conference in Brighton, Healey said he was inviting bids by the end of next month, and hoped to give the go-ahead for successful schemes before the end of the year.

He also confirmed plans previously announced to make the use of apprentices a condition of public funding for any housebuilding, whether by developers, councils or housing associations. Healey said the move would see the creation of 3,000 more construction apprentices over the next two years.

Healey said: “We believe we have a duty to help when people are struggling. we believe in using the power of government to protect the poorest and disciplned in the market. We believe in the progressive power of public investment.”

He added: “If the Tories had their way, there would be no special help on mortgages, no extra jobs and apprenticeships, no boost for building affordable homes.”

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Scandal hits UK construction firms

September 29th, 2009 8 comments

Some British construction firms including building giant Balfour Beatty have been fined for ripping off taxpayers in a price-fixing scandal.

The 103 companies rigged the bids on projects such as hospitals, schools and universities, an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has found.

The firms were accused of ‘cover pricing’, a scam in which bidders offer inflated prices for work.

Fooling local councils into believing projects cost more than they did also increased the risk of firms lining their pockets with the excess taxpayers’ cash, the findings suggest.

The investigation, one of the biggest undertaken by the OFT, found six cases where bidders conspired to ensure the firm with the winning tender paid ‘compensation payments’ to the losing bidders.

Simon Williams of the OFT said: ‘Bidding processes designed to ensure clients and in many cases taxpayers receive the best possible choice and price were distorted, creating a real risk of increased prices.

‘This decision sends a strong message that anti-competitive and illegal practices, including cover pricing, must cease.’

The UK Contractor’s Group hit back at the fines, saying they would be hard for building firms to absorb and will cost jobs.

UKCG director Stephen Ratcliffe said: ‘These fines could not have come at a worse time for the industry and are unfair.

‘The industry is going through its sharpest downturn on record with huge falls in demand, employment and profits and on current trends is expected to contract 20% by the end of 2011.’

The firm fined the most is Kier, which was ordered to pay GBP18 million.

Closely following it is the Midlands’ Interserve Project Services on GBP12 million and the stock-exchange listed housebuilder Galliford Try on GBP8 million. Balfour Beatty was also fined GBP5 million.

The OFT found the companies to be in breach of the Competition Act.

The investigation began after the OFT received complaints about the deal to build the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham.

It then spread throughout the East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside taking in thousands of projects.

The number of firms involved allegedly accounted for 6 per cent of the country’s construction industry.

Balfour Beatty was involved in plea-bargaining deal with the OFT to reduce a fine. The company said it performed an internal review last year and is now confident it is fully compliant with the Competition Act.

The OFT investigated 112 firms. Of these 37 firms, including Balfour Beatty, applied for leniency while 40 unnamed companies admitted participation in bid-rigging actvities.

Although a few of the companies involved are multinationals, many are small firms.

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National Traffic and Transport News, Construction work on Britain’s roads is needed

September 28th, 2009 2 comments

Large scale construction work on Britain’s roads and highways could be needed following the results of a recent poll.

The Institution of Civil Engineers’ (ICE) public satisfaction survey revealed that public satisfaction with the state of the country’s roads had fallen for the third year in a row.

Just 54 per cent of respondents said they were satisfied with the current state of the UK’s roads, which is a reduction from the 58 per cent in the last quarter and 62 per cent in the quarter before.

ICE director general Tom Foulkes said there was an estimated £1 billion backlog in road maintenance construction work and “too many” roads that have long been in need of “proper repair”.

“Funding for maintenance tends to focus on quick-fix reactive work which rarely tackles the underlying cause of damage and fails to prolong the life of the road,” he said.

“The focus needs to be on planned, preventative maintenance programmes that provide better value for money and long term solutions.”

Earlier this month, the ICE welcomed the European Investment Bank’s decision to loan the Crossrail project £1 billion.

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25% of UK Construction Projects Achieving Goal to Halve Landfill Waste

September 26th, 2009 Comments off

About a quarter of construction projects in the United Kingdom are projected to comply with an government objective to cut the industry’s landfill waste in half.

The government’s Strategy For Sustainable Construction (PDF) was released in 2008, and the corresponding government construction industry council recently put out a progress report (PDF).

The report shows that the nearly $200 billion UK construction industry is making progress on new construction, but that existing buildings need to be revamped to help meet the government’s carbon-reduction goals, which include reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050, compared to a 1990 baseline.

The UK Green Building Council said the government is right to pressure the construction sector to help tackle climate change and other sustainability challenges, including use of water, production of waste and impact on biodiversity.

But Paul King, Chief Executive Officer of the group, said the industry needs more direction. “If we’re honest we don’t as an industry have a really clear idea of exactly how far we need to go to create a genuinely sustainable built environment, by when and how we’re going to get there,” King said, reports Property Magazine International.

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Cheapest Borescope on the market with LCD Screen and SD Card slot

September 22nd, 2009 11 comments
Cheapest Borescope on the market with LCD Screen and SD Card slot

Cheapest Borescope on the market with LCD Screen and SD Card slot

Brand New to the market, just in time for the new Asbestos Regulations, the South Borescope – SS-100-ALSD from ONLY £134.00

See It:
Clearly in a narrow spot, total darkness or even underwater
Find It:
Fast, no more struggling with the mirror and flash light
Solve It:
Easily, speed up the solution with extended accessories
.
  • 2.4GHz wireless inspection camera with recording monitor
  • CMOS, 380TV lines
  • 3.5″ TFT-LCD wireless monitor with rechargeable li-battery
  • SD card slot for recording (Max. SD card: 16GB)
  • Mini Waterproof camera with 1m flexible extendable tube
  • Night vision range for camera: 1.5m
  • Waterproof level for camera: IP67
Comes complete with 3 useful accessories
  • Hook
  • Magnet
  • Mirror

Options

1 metre extension probe
Two versions are available:-
.

The importers, Mobile CAD Surveying currently have a Special Offer, by two units or more and save £5 on every unit purchased, for under £130.00 that is a fantastic offer.
.
With New Asbestos Regulations coming into force very soon, and non-destructive and less evasive methods being necessary, the timing is perfect.
Now they have a full endoscope range available to cover all aspects. See other articles for endoscopes.
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Virtual reality building site is a first for UK construction training Part 2

September 22nd, 2009 Comments off
Virtual Construction

Virtual Construction

Follow up to our recent story:-

The training facility will recreate, in precise detail, an actual construction site using virtual reality. The three-dimensional computer simulation of the construction project is projected on to a 12-metre panoramic screen in the Simulation Centre. Trainees use a control stick to ‘walk round’ the site and view the construction work in close-up, down to individual nuts and bolts.

Trainees work in fully-equipped site cabins of the kind found on any building site. They are then presented with challenging site management scenarios – based on real-life situations – with site personnel, colleagues, and members of the public played by professional actors. Supervisors observe their behaviour via cameras and then work with trainees to give feedback and pinpoint areas for development.

“The simulated scenarios are all based on the kind of situation that site managers regularly face, such as having to lay off a member of staff, talk to an angry resident or reason with a subcontractor threatening to walk off the job,” says ACT-UK managing director Michiel Schrijver. “The depth and detail of the simulation means that the experience goes beyond mere role playing and allows trainees to test themselves fully in a safe, controlled environment. We find that people very quickly forget they are taking part in a simulation because they become so wrapped up in the experience.”

For leading construction company Balfour Beatty, one of the companies which is currently working with ACT-UK to develop courses that will be run at the new centre, it is the realism of the environment created by the simulation and the training scenarios that is one of the centre’s main attractions. “The situations typical of a site encourage ‘natural’ behaviours under realistic pressures which can be observed, fed back and commented on, with alternative ways of handling situations explained and even tried in second attempts at the scenario,” says Jeff Keer, group training and development manager for Balfour Beatty. He believes the centre could prove especially valuable for people who find it difficult to relate the experience of being on a training course to their normal working environment.

The centre has already sold nearly 800 course days to UK construction companies and training organisations. The centre’s potential to enable companies to develop and uncover the talent of their people is also attracting interest from other industries, including companies in the transport and building services sectors.”

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Virtual reality building site is a first for UK construction training

September 21st, 2009 1 comment
Building Site VR

Building Site VR

A group of Coventry construction workers have become the first employees in the UK to train on a virtual reality building site simulator.

Costing almost £9m, the ACT-UK Simulation Centre uses computer reality simulation to create a virtual construction site in exact detail, right down to fully-equipped site cabins like those found on any building site.

The pilot three-day training course for construction company Balfour Beatty was undertaken by 12 delegates.

Dariusz Mrugala, a 27-year-old Balfour Beatty sub-agent, said: “This is the best training I have ever had – I really enjoyed it. In the next 10 or 20 years this type of training will be standard in the industry.

“Normally you have people talking to you within a group exercise – I liked the fact that you are working on your own. I had never really thought before about the type of person that I am and that I can use my passion, imagination and power. The supervisors and actors showed me new ways to work and new ways to manage people.”

And Adam Parker, HR director for Balfour Beatty Construction Scottish and Southern, said: “This takes our development and training to a different level. Using VR enables us to put our trainee project managers in a live environment without exposing them to any risks. This kind of cutting-edge training also makes us a very attractive proposition for graduates looking to come into the industry.”

The course, which uses a combination of computer simulation and professional actors, has taken two years to develop and Balfour Beatty says it includes the latest in current practice.

To make the training experience as lifelike as possible, trainees have to deal with demanding site management scenarios – based on real-life situations – with site personnel, colleagues, and members of the public played by professional actors.

The centre, which is the second of its kind worldwide, includes a three-dimensional computer simulation of a construction project projected on to a 12-metre panoramic screen showing virtual reality simulations modeled using thousands of photographs from two actual construction sites: a housing development and a high-rise office block.

Trainees use a computer joystick to tour the virtual site and view the construction work in close-up and supervisors observe trainees’ behaviour via cameras and work with them to help identify and develop their talents and strengths.

The simulation concept is based on an idea from maritime simulation training and its designers say it shares similarities with the aviation simulators used to train airline pilots.

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UK Border Agency arrests eight labourers for working illegally

September 19th, 2009 3 comments

Eight men have been charged with offences under the Identity Cards Act 2006 after being found working illegally at the Media City site.

The men were arrested during a UK Border Agency operation to Connolly Construction Facilities, Media City, 111 Broadway, Salford M50 2EQ at 0930 on Monday 14 September.

As a result the men were charged under the Identity Cards Act for using false documents to gain employment. They were remanded in custody to appear at Manchester Magistrates Court yesterday (15 September 2009).

The arrested men, who were working as labourers on the site, were of various nationalities and ages and included one Gambian, four Ethiopians and three Eritreans.

The operation went ahead with the co-operation of the construction company, who will face no further action over the arrests.

Commenting on the arrests, UK Border Agency Regional Director for the North West, Eddy Montgomery, said:

‘Foreign nationals must obey the laws of this country in the same way as everybody else, and those who have committed criminal offences here are therefore subject to the same legal processes as anyone else in the UK.

‘Anyone breaking the law, irrespective of whether they are a British citizen or a foreign national, can expect prosecution and, where appropriate, a custodial sentence.’

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Reconditioned & Ex-Hire Total Stations for SALE

September 18th, 2009 11 comments

Recondtioned Total Stations

Reconditioned Total Stations

If you’re looking to lower your equipment purchasing costs then a reconditioned or ex-hire Total Station, Theodolite or Laser Level could save you hundreds of pounds.

The Reconditioned Total Stations website is updated daily with the latest reconditioned or ex-hire surveying and construction equipment available in the UK and ready for shipping worldwide. Save up to 60% off the price of buying the equivalent equipment new. All units are fully tested and calibrated by a qualified engineer and all units come with either a 6 or 12 month warranty.

Further to this, If you’re looking to trade in or sell your Total Station, Theodolite or Laser Level then now is the time. Reconditioned Total Stations have customers waiting for certain makes and models of equipment so call or email today for a buy price.

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Samsung Q1 Powerbank Extended Battery

September 15th, 2009 Comments off
Powerbank Extended Battery

Powerbank Extended Battery

Samsung Q1 and Q1 ULTRA Powerbank Extended Battery

Gives approximately an extra 9 hours survey or working time

Also acts as a charger for the onboard battery and fits neatly into your pocket while surveying.

Samsung exemplifies technological determination and progressive ideals. From technology to business to the philanthropy, Samsung has become a world leader for which the possibilities are truly endless.

Samsung Q1 Powerbank Extended Battery

Product Line Samsung Power Bank Extended Battery Pack

A fantastic add on to your Mobile Surveying Solution, giving up to 9 hours extra surveying time on site. Can also be used to power your Q1 and Q1 ULTRA for playing DVD’s and general computing works.

These batteries are traditionally very hard to get hold of for some reason, but we found that Mobile CAD Surveying have them in stock most of the time and if they are not in stcok can usually get hold of them within about 7 days.

Samsung Q1 Powerbank Extended Battery

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