Year: 2012

Choosing the right bank for your business

Martin Seabrook from PROjEN, a specialist engineering project management company, based in Preston Brook, Cheshire, argues that choosing the organisation with which you bank should be given far more consideration than most companies currently give it. It’s easy to choose a bank which gives the best commercial rates – especially when times are good and when you don’t really need them. It’s when things aren’t so good that a hasty decision can backfire.

Like many in business, I have heard a number of horror stories about the “originally friendly bank” turning the screw with unsustainable demands when market conditions change – and usually at the time you need the bank the most. When choosing a Bank you are looking for stability, a good history of lending and naturally you also have to consider commercial terms and any added value services the Bank provides. However, because most Banks offer the same basic service, choosing a bank usually comes down to more “touchy feely” criteria such as trust, their understanding of your business, potential business contacts they can offer, the ability to challenge and offer ideas in a positive way and most of all for the Bank to be consistent in their approach. The culture of the Bank should reflect that of the business wherever possible.

Without sounding too obvious the choice of a bank should also be looked on as a long term commitment. The most common quotes I hear from other businesses disappointed in their banks are “we only see them when times get tough”; “they’re happy to lend when we don’t need money but won’t lend when we do need it”; and “at the first sight of problems our rates go up and their stance becomes much tougher making it even more difficult to trade”. All these are symptoms of a poor banking choice and/or relationship where neither side fully understands where the other is coming from.

If we are to emerge from this current tough trading environment, then the banks need to work closer with the engineering and manufacturing sector and understand the importance of investment in securing long term prosperity. Without a partnership approach, the banks could leave the sector non-competitive in a global market.

PROjEN continues to invest in the future of UK engineering

PROjEN, the UK’s leading project management and engineering solutions consultancy, is investing in the future of UK engineering by continuing its excellent community work with local schools, colleges and universities through the latest 12 month placement of a university undergraduate. PROjEN has a long history of investing in the local community, supporting the next generation of engineers and raising funds for local charities through numerous fund raising activities.

Jordan Palmer has completed his second year at the University of Salford studying a BSc Hons in Project Management in Construction and joins PROjEN to work alongside project manager Stephen Townsend on a number of exciting management and consultancy projects for Akzo Nobel. Ultimately reporting to head of projects Simon Forshaw, Jordan will be working at PROjEN’s head office in Preston Brook, Cheshire until January when he will move to one of the UKs biggest manufacturing sites at Ashington in Northumberland working on the £100 million Project Fresco for Akzo Nobel.

This placement is a great opportunity for Jordan; working with a leading project management company on such a prestigious project and will greatly enhance Jordan’s career prospects when he graduates the following year. Jordan said “I am so excited about starting work and so grateful to be given this opportunity to work on one of the Uk’s biggest projects, I’m really enjoying putting everything I have learnt at University into practice – I love learning on the job. I couldn’t believe it when I heard that I had been chosen and I am really looking forward to working with Stephen and Simon. I believe that a 12 month placement in your degree is a real step up to gaining the experience and putting the knowledge from university into real practice”.

PROjEN’s Managing Director, Martin Seabrook said: “we are delighted to welcome Jordan to PROjEN and we are sure both PROjEN and Jordan will gain a lot from the placement. Jordan has all the attributes you look for when investing in key team members, even though he is still completing his studies, we can see the potential in him for the future. We always try, where possible, to help out the next generation of engineers as they are our future and we hope Jordan is not the last of a long list of successful project managers and engineers to come through the doors here.”

What’s the biggest challenge facing business today?

Martin Seabrook from PROjEN, a specialist engineering project management company, based in Preston Brook, Cheshire, argues that it’s not simply the downturn in the world economy and subsequent austerity measures that has made the business marketplace more challenging. Although both have a major impact, Martin also believes that changing corporate attitudes and the lack of investment in relevant training at our schools, colleges and universities have also had a significant effect.

We hear much on the news about the inability to raise funds from the banks but without demeaning the issue, there are equally significant business challenges we all face. For example the general economic uncertainty that surrounds us has a knock-on effect on the ability of businesses to plan. Many organisations are reticent to commit to their Capital Expenditure budgets and we find too much emphasis is on today and not the longer term.
Not all businesses are constrained by survival mode – but many are sitting on cash and unwilling to spend without a much higher than usual level of confidence of being able to meet that investment debt. Consequently the amount of time required for an investment to pay back has much reduced and short term measures are taking precedence – e.g. it costs much less to repair pot holes than resurface the whole road, but they will need doing more often thereby making it costlier in the long-term. However, doing something now rather than wait to do the job right gives a false impression of management activity and action.

Another challenge is the continued lack of good people in the market – especially in the Engineering industry. The average age of an engineer is increasing due to a lack of engineers being trained in our schools and colleges. Although specific skills are highly sought we also find that attitude can be an issue. At the risk of sounding old there is a “something for nothing” malaise which has developed in certain quarters, which doesn’t seem to have abated despite the lack of opportunities in some areas.

To find out more about Martin Seabrook and PROjEN, visit

PROjEN’s exceptional Health & Safety record continues benefiting a local Stevenage charity

PM PROjEN, a specialist engineering Project Management Company, based in Preston Brook, Cheshire is pleased to announce the safe delivery of yet another successful project at GlaxoSmithKline’s Stevenage R&D Pilot Plant. This success has also benefitted the Stevenage Community Trust with a donation of £530 via PROjEN’s Safety Incentive Scheme.

PROjEN has been providing a professional project management service for GSK and been involved in the delivery of over 200 projects with a capital value in excess of £100 Million. The latest “ADAPT Laboratory project” saw PROjEN successfully complete 16,000 construction man hours without a single minor, major or reportable incident. To raise Health & Safety awareness many projects that PROjEN manage are delivered under a Safety Incentive Scheme through which money is donated to local charities and good causes following good safety performance. PROjEN have completed almost 900,000 man hours of work with zero reported injuries to PROjEN personnel and donated thousands of pounds to good causes – on this occasion the Stevenage Community Trust benefitting to the tune of £530.

The ADAPT Laboratory project consisted of the major demolition, remodelling and refit of a redundant process module to provide laboratory facilities over three floors. PROjEN worked closely with the end users to develop the most suitable layouts then managed the installation of specialist laboratory equipment and multiple trades to provide the service infrastructure required to support all laboratory activities and safety requirements.

PROjEN acted as Principal Contractor and delivered the project with excellent Health & Safety performance to match all preceding projects completed on site and within both budget and schedule. The benefit to the GSK business was to increase available laboratory area without increasing overall footprint.

Stevenage Community Trust is an independent charitable trust, which raises funds and promotes charitable giving in order to enhance the quality of life of people living in the Borough of Stevenage and its surrounding villages. It was formed in 1990 from an idea by the then Mayor of Stevenage, Councillor Hilda Lawrence. It is based on a concept of Community Foundation schemes that have been running for almost 50 years in the United States. The Trust is unusual in the fact that it is a small organisation but it is locally based with all the local knowledge and contacts. The Trust has given out over £770,000 in grants since it started, as well as building up an endowment for the future.

PROjEN’s Managing Director, Martin Seabrook comments:

“PROjEN is pleased to have been involved in yet another project at GSK. The team has been party to numerous success stories and is regularly marked top in GSK’s table of service providers. Like many projects I know this assignment was difficult but its success was the result of much hard work and commitment. I’m particularly pleased that we maintained the high level of Health and Safety awareness on the projects we manage. Our exceptional Health and Safety record of 11 consecutive RoSPA Gold Awards is the result of consistency across a number of sites”.

PROjEN Helps Healthcare Giant Boost Business

PM PROjEN, a specialist engineering project management company, based in Preston Brook, Cheshire, has supported healthcare manufacturer Sanofi launch a multi-million pound manufacturing project at its Holmes Chapel site.

PROjEN has been instrumental in assisting Sanofi in the development of an existing manufacturing process to produce a brand new asthma inhaler.

Drug developer SkyePharma has invested £5m to help build a facility for the manufacture of Flutiform, a new type of aerosol inhaler which received European approval earlier this month and which will be prescribed to patients aged 12 and over and to adults whose symptoms are not adequately controlled by other available medications.

PROjEN was involved at the introductory stage and helped Sanofi with a multitude of process modification, improvements and enhancements. The work carried out by PROjEN contributed to the project being delivered on time and on budget with minimal impact on the existing Aerosols processes.

PROjEN’s Managing Director Martin Seabrook commented:

“We are delighted to be in involved in this ground breaking development programme and to work closely with one of the leading and most innovative healthcare manufacturers in the world. Our links with Sanofi go back some years and we have developed a great working relationship with them. We look forward to building on this foundation as we assist with future projects.”

It is understood that the dedicated Flutiform workforce is expected to double over the next few years as demand increases for the drug. Sanofi’s Holmes Chapel Site will be the sole Global Manufacturing site for Flutiform.

PROjEN shortlisted for Prestigious Cheshire Business Awards

PROjEN, a specialist engineering project management company, based in Preston Brook, Cheshire is proud to announce that they have been shortlisted for the Employer of the Year category at the Cheshire Business Awards 2012.

Now in its 9th year, the Cheshire Business Awards are highly respected amongst the Cheshire business community and beyond. For the Employer of the Year award, the judges are looking for those employers who could best demonstrate how their leadership and human resource policies support staff development, engagement and satisfaction creating a positive and supportive workplace with a well motivated and well trained team. The winner of this award will be seen as more than just a good company to work for, their culture will deliver commercial results and they will be an inspiration to other businesses. The prestigious awards ceremony will be held at Chester Racecourse on Friday 5th October.

PROjEN has a successful track record in business awards and has been successful in being voted the Vale Royal ‘Business of the Year in 2006 and also winning the first ever High Sheriff of Cheshire Award for Enterprise in 2007. Other awards include three European Construction Institute Awards and in 2012 PROjEN secured their eleventh successive RoSPA Gold Award for outstanding Health & Safety performance, and in 2012 obtained the Presidents Award from RoSPA for the second time.

PROjEN’s Managing Director Martin Seabrook is delighted with the company’s success:

“It is a great honour to be shortlisted for this prestigious business awards in a category we have not previously been entered. We have worked extremely hard in making PROjEN a good place to work and where everyone has a voice. We are all delighted with our Health & Safety records, our extremely high client retention and the fact that we have been able to grow our business in such difficult times. Being shortlisted for an award in the local community is also important and reflects our employees pride in working here and willingness to recommend us as a place to work with their friends.”

PROjEN Leads The Way At National Anaerobic Digestion

PROjEN, a specialist engineering project management company, based in Preston Brook, Cheshire, took centre stage at the annual Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham.

The event attracts the biggest names in the anaerobic digestion (AD), biogas and process industries and PROjEN was invited to chair seminar sessions over the two days and run the farming consultancy stand where it provided free consultancy to farmers considering developing on-farm AD plants. The sessions held by PROjEN included ‘feedstock pre-treatment’, ‘ensuring high standards of operation’ and ‘training and safety’.

The company was also able to introduce existing and potential new clients to all aspects of the design and build process including planning and permitting, detailed design, construction, commissioning and training aspects. As well as project management and design and build services, the company exhibited supplementary services such as DSEAR/ATEX support, functional safety, laser scanning/3D visualisations and Hazop chairing.

PROjEN’s BioEnergy Manager, Shane Pugh, said: “This is the second time PROjEN has attended the ADBA exhibition, which is growing in popularity year on year. We were delighted to see a huge increase in the number of people who attended and that the focus was how the UK is developing in terms of AD and Biogas projects.

“At PROjEN, project management is our day job and we have more than 30 years’ experience of process plant design and build. Along with our leading AD and biogas knowledge and our lack of ties to any particular technology, we’re able to offer a flexible, innovative and effective approach which clients appreciate. ”

PROjEN’s Managing Director, Martin Seabrook, said: “Since 1978 we have been involved in thousands of projects and our reputation is second to none in both project delivery and health and safety.

“We were delighted to be at the show and found the number and quality of enquiries to be better than most other exhibitions we’ve experienced. The AD and biogas industry has really raised its profile in the last couple of years and the number of installations is set to increase rapidly – it’s now being seen the ‘no-brainer’ solution to our energy and waste treatment needs.”

Humber Focus | PM PROjEN News

Bioenergy experts from PROjEN are helping the UK’s manufacturing sector to become more sustainable, in line with the government’s policy on tackling climate change.

Dr Les Gornall, a process consultant for PROjEN and a specialist in anaerobic digestion, is closely involved on an on-going basis with Humber Chemical Focus (HFC), which is investigating opportunities for the Humber region to lead the way in anaerobic processing, a process which creates a biogas which can then be used for industrial or domestic purposes to release energy and manage waste. Dr Gornall, one of the country’s leading experts in this special type of chemical processing, is working closely with HFC to create a biogas processing centre, which is seen as a highly effective energy-producing alternative to wind and solar power.

Dr Gornall said: “The Yorkshire and Humber region could be anaerobic digester heaven, due to its plentiful arable land and the number of large companies that create waste products as a by-product of their manufacturing process.” He believes that anaerobic digestion could contribute up to a quarter of the government’s 2020 renewable energy targets and added: “Energy security is paramount and we absolutely must seek and support energy regeneration from every renewable technology we can find.”

Biorenewables are expected to make up a third of the UK’s total renewable capability by 2020. Also known as biomass, they cover anything made from plant or animal material which can replace non-renewable materials made from petrochemicals and minerals.

PROjEN Supports AkzoNobel in Creating World Class Paint

PROjEN, the UK’s leading project management and engineering solutions consultancy, is working in partnership with the world’s largest manufacturer of paint to create a world class manufacturing facility in the North East of England.

In March 2008 PROjEN began working with AkzoNobel – the globally recognised paints and coatings company, major producer of specialty chemicals and manufacturer of iconic brands.  Their product range includes Dulux, Polycell and Cuprinol. The new £100 million state of the art plant, which was approved earlier this year, will treble AkzoNobels’s current North East manufacturing capacity and it has been designed to enable the company to deliver the most efficient supply chain, reduce operating working capital and accelerate its response to changing market and customer demands.

The paint plant’s revolutionary design incorporates many advanced systems and involves the integration of a variety of processes.  Key areas included a bulk storage tank farm for raw materials, bulk storage silos for powders, a slurry manufacturing area, a medium and large size batch mixing area, an area dedicated to blending small batches, a packing hall, lids and containers storage and handling area, despatch and by product recycling areas, a utilities block and offices.

A team of four senior engineers from PROjEN were involved in the Concept Study Phase, and subsequently they were joined by a project manager and six more engineers for the FEED (Front End Engineering Design) Study phase, alongside specialist consultants contracted in by PROjEN. The team’s key tasks during these phases were to complete a study report which included schematics and preliminary designs for the above areas alongside a cost estimate for the development that would provide AkzoNobel with the confidence to proceed with the project.

PROjEN’s Managing Director, Martin Seabrook said: “We are delighted to be involved in such a ground-breaking project as this. AkzoNobel has invested hugely in a major manufacturing plant in the UK which is incredibly positive in terms of job creation and demonstrating a real commitment to manufacturing in this country.”

“The initial phases of the project were challenging due to the size of the project and the new technology being adopted. The main objectives of the study were to define a layout and overall footprint for the new site and to provide a cost estimate for the design, procurement and construction of all elements in such detail that the client could have total confidence in the outcome. Working in partnership with the Client was essential and being able to harness our design and project management experience to fulfil the brief was a perquisite.  The outcome was a testament to the excellent combination of skills, teamwork and open communication.”

The plant in Ashington, Northumberland is due to be opened in December 2014 and PROjEN will be involved in the development process until the site is fully operational. The factory will reduce energy consumption per litre of paint produced by 60 per cent compared to today’s operations by employing cutting edge manufacturing technology and the latest in building design whilst also making large sustainability improvements by recycling and reusing waste and water.

PROjEN secures major project at Cabot Carbon Limited

PROjEN, a specialist engineering project management company, based in Preston Brook, Cheshire is pleased to announce their selection as delivery partner for Cabot Carbon Limited’s Fumed Silica Expansion project at Barry, South Wales. PROjEN have had a long working relationship with Cabot that stretches over 5 years and a number of sites including the Cabot Italiana plant in Ravenna, Italy.

Cabot Carbon Limited’s parent company is Cabot Corporation, headquartered in Boston, USA, and the group is a global speciality chemical and performance materials company. Cabot’s major products are carbon black, fumed silica, inkjet colorants, aerogel, capacitor materials, and cesium formate drilling fluids.

The project at Barry will expand Fumed Silica production capacity by 25% and will be completed in 2012. The expansion is part of a three year plan to expand Cabot’s global fumed metal oxide capacity by 35 to 40% and is an extension of Cabot’s long-term partnership with Dow Corning. Fumed silica is an ultra-fine, high-purity particle used as a reinforcing, thickening, abrasive, thixotropic, suspending, or anti-caking agent. The material is highly versatile and used in a wide-range of end-market applications for the automotive, construction, microelectronics and consumer products industries. Fumed silica helps improve the performance of adhesives, sealants, cosmetics, inks, toners, silicone rubber, coatings, polishing slurries, and pharmaceuticals.

Cabot’s Facility General Manager Richard Anderton said “The Barry manufacturing site is one of Cabot’s largest in Europe and this project is a major boost for the Company and the local community. When choosing a supplier to deliver this important project we looked for a partner who shared Cabot’s values. In PROjEN we have a company that shares a passion to deliver quality, in a straightforward and open way and with safety foremost.”

PROjEN’s Managing Director, Martin Seabrook comments: “PROjEN is pleased to be involved in yet another project at Cabot. Working with clients who share our business culture is a key business driver for us. Cabot’s willingness to endorse a true teamwork approach has promoted the innovation and ownership that is needed to deliver this project.”