Tag Archives: Engineering


The FT Transformational Conference

The FT Transformational Conference

The idea behind this conference is to understand, city by city, who is leading transformational change.

Perhaps city leaderships also need to set out a vision for the change still needed. Here are some suggestions for at least the “Smart Living” component, as I do not have the scientific qualifications to comment much on environmental objectives:

1) Wealthy to commit to directly helping the unemployed – a moral responsibility
2) Ideas capture and management, building an IP development centre – the Chinese have a head start
3) Understanding emerging and local skill strengths and weaknesses – Australians give us a lead here
4) Capitalise on UK engineering and design strengths – UK commerce and UK universities to “bridge the gap”
5) Community to foster citizen participation – build the means to socially engage, guide and reward local contributors
6) Startups need affordable, results driven advice – an infrastructure that supports learning through others’ mistakes

As suggested in the brief, items 1 and 5 are social, the remainder are to do with efficiency.

I hope to ask FT Live to consider asking these questions as part of the morning session.


CITE – UK Innovation in Engineering

CITE - UK Innovation in Engineering

Some good firms at CITE, all that I spoke to innovating and showing the way forward:


Platipus – A family firm providing water drainage solutions: landslide prevention, stabilising vineyard water levels, shoring up wall structures eg bridges and London Underground, stabilising electricity pylons. Employing females? Applicants accepted on attitude as well as skills, full training provided. But a lack of female applicants – are universities attracting sufficient numbers of women?


BattCables: A cable importer and distributor, selling designated lengths to cable installers in conurbations, eg city office blocks, from mains to office desk. Female employment is on the rise, perhaps now 80:20, but a lady representative said “the best opportunities for females are in marketing and sales”.


TenCate: A new synthetic underlay for rail track: better durability, reducing track maintenance overheads. Employment of female consultants has risen from 5-10% years ago, now standing at better than 30%.


CACI: Smart graphics to show employee productivity, still to discuss the advocacy of training for those employees who are struggling. Other uses included showing managers where whole team productivity is struggling, and geographic hot spots identifying “unusual behaviour”.


Webro: New splicing kit, manual not powered, 12% of the cost and no downturn in operational execution. Recent female employment included two females, one in marketing one in sales. Still no great technical skills among women. They experienced considerable overheads and costs employing these personnel, and are as yet to encounter the usual recruitment agency pitfalls, including tick box recruitment and the very rare ability to pick on positive attitude rather than simply skills.


BROKK: Radio controlled demolition machines: significant risk reduction in risky conditions, including construction on the Channel Tunnel.


Swann Engineering: A British firm, making standard and bespoke telephone masts and high level tech fixings. They are taking back assessment and replacement of some less robust masts produced cheaply in Europe when the rush to provide coverage began. On employment, they are collaborating with Southampton University, including student sponsorship, and this includes one female currently under the apprenticeship scheme. One of Swann’s issues continues to be ambivalent NIMBY’s: avid mobile users but keen to avoid telephone masts in their locality, who thereby disrupt the planning and installation processes needed to change foundations or exceed the 15m “standard” height limit.


NTS Premier Services: They train about 25 people a week through one of their service provisions to go into National Rail as effective employees. This includes Health & Safety, which on a railway service is both critical and extensive, and also general education about some of the complexities staff are likely to encounter. Also a responsible employer, prepared to give staff a chance to shine despite previous mistakes. Women are gradually coming into the rail workforce, and NTS Premier staff even encourage their own family to join up and get a job “on the rail”.


Light Green Power: A power unit 70% lighter than it’s diesel equivalent. A little more expensive, taking the diesel paraphernalia into account, and slightly more on running costs if the cost of diesel stays static. On man power though, only needs 2 to deploy, as opposed to 6, a significant saving. Some light here on female employment: installation’s often a hot, smelly job, which takes a special kind of woman to like!


DWG UK: Among other products, they provide a fast fix resin that runs into concrete joints and fixes the concrete, even in hair line fractures. Also great for fixing railway sleepers and road surfaces.

Besides these, there are many other suppliers to the telecoms and rail and road and construction industries. So go along tomorrow, as the 22nd May 2014 is the last day.