Phenomenal four-day response from Portakabin provides classrooms for 480 children

When the Royal High School of Edinburgh had to be closed for urgent remedial building works, Portakabin, the UK’s leading modular building specialist, responded with 16 classrooms to enable 480 children to resume their studies – and in just four days from the initial enquiry.

The local Portakabin Hire Centre team in Edinburgh provided the exceptionally fast response – sourcing 16 buildings for high quality classrooms, transporting each building to the school, and putting in place external power connections to generators, emergency lighting, fire alarms and extinguishers, and access steps and ramps.

The Portakabin building solution allowed the school to re-open and most importantly, with all children at Royal High School on their original site. This avoided the need for any displacement which would have been very disruptive to the running of the school and the children’s education.

Andrew Kerr, Chief Executive of the City of Edinburgh Council said, “I am delighted that Portakabin was able to meet our requirements at such short notice, particularly given the scale of the project – getting 16 buildings ready for the pupils in just four days is no mean feat!”

“It was great to see such collaboration, commitment and focus on the urgency of the project to ensure the school could re-open so quickly. We have received only positive feedback from the school about the quality of the classrooms and could not have asked for a better service.”

Pauline Walker, Head Teacher at the Royal High School said, “We cannot believe what was achieved in the timescale. The experience has completely changed our perception of interim modular buildings. The quality of the classrooms far exceeded our expectations and the teaching facilities are completely different to the temporary accommodation we had to endure as children.”

“The site team could not have done more to get our school up and running again. Portakabin was on site within half an hour of the initial call and their performance was exceptional. We also have the impression that their team really enjoys a challenge!”

She added, “Being able to have all the children in one location has made a huge difference to the running of the school. This is a really good solution which has delivered robust, comfortable and secure classrooms. We would definitely recommend the approach to other schools in a similar situation.”

Portakabin has delivered a further project for the City of Edinburgh Council while remediation works and quality checks are completed at Gracemount High School. Eight buildings were installed over a weekend to provide welfare and classroom facilities for 260 children.

In the event of any urgent situation, such as fire, power failure, flooding or the discovery of asbestos, Portakabin can assist with:

  • The rapid delivery of buildings to an organisation’s site from its national hire fleet. This allows core operations to be up and running again very quickly.
  • A bespoke, longer-term accommodation solution developed to an organisation’s exact specifications if the original building has been so severely damaged that it will be out of use for a number of months.
  • Contingency planning – the preparation of up-to-date disaster recovery plans, which can cut an emergency response programme by up to two weeks.

For further information about interim modular buildings for urgent applications, visit, email or call 0845 401 0010.


Five Tips: Cutting Energy Spend, Efficiently

JVR-(1)By Joan Vidal, Energy Solutions Development Leader at Honeywell Building Solutions

When it comes to improving your building’s efficiency, knowing where to start and how to maintain a successful, long-term programme can prove challenging given the array of systems and processes that impact energy use. Robust energy management is about striking a balance between business needs and operational effectiveness. This entails taking a holistic view at how energy is both consumed and purchased, and the resulting gains can be significant.

Here are five things to keep in mind as you look for savings beyond the lights:

  1. View your building as an interconnected ecosystem that should run in sync
    Ballasts, bulbs and thermostats are just the tip of the spear. The building is an extensive collection of equipment that should all be working in concert. By viewing it as a living ecosystem, you’ll be better equipped to gather, analyse and act on data. You can then uncover connections between the building’s performance, comfort, safety and energy costs to make more informed adjustments in the future.

  1. Understand your utility’s pricing structures and available incentives
    Utility pricing, tariff mechanisms and incentives for participating in programmes, such as the UK National Energy Efficiency Action Plan,that help solve transmission and distribution issues all present opportunities to trim your spend. Understanding how you pay for energy gives you the ability to develop and implement strategies for things like peak pricing, points in time that can make or break an energy management programme. Even if you’re using an outside consultant, stay informed and engaged.

  1. Establish your base and peak load benchmarks
    To better respond to external factors like utility pricing, take an inventory of your building equipment and establish a baseline of performance at all times of the day. Improving efficiency is all about determining how to manage a building’s base load and making adjustments when grid-wide energy use and costs peak. It’s not one or the other.
    With this insight, you can ensure your building is only using the amount of power necessary at specific times, helping to squeeze out as much energy savings as possible.

  1. Don’t ignore the obvious when looking for improvements
    In your busy day-to-day life of managing a building, it’s easy to fall into a mode of responding to the most urgent needs and overlooking seemingly minor tweaks. However, what initially looks insignificant can potentially be a gold mine for energy savings. Take HVAC system alarms for example which are so routine they’re often ignored. These alarms, however, not only highlight a concern that needs near-term attention, but analysed in aggregate they can show patterns that indicate much larger issues and opportunities.
    Using technology to your advantage can ensure you don’t overlook the obvious. And now, cloud-based software like Honeywell Attune can help ease the burden of synthesising data generated by your building and accelerate the discovery process to provide smart, targeted recommendations for efficiency improvements.

  1. Assume energy efficiency opportunities are always available
    While it’s true that a newer building may not have as many savings opportunities as an older building — or one that’s been poorly managed — all buildings will display some level of degradation, and steps can be taken to mitigate or slow that process. It’s important to adopt the mindset that there are energy-efficiency opportunities in all buildings. For example, we’ve seen new buildings that weren’t properly commissioned from the outset. As a result, we uncovered significant efficiency opportunities, catching what was initially missed.

Whether you’re managing a school campus or in charge of a hospital site, improving energy efficiency is likely an ongoing theme in your daily operations. Use these pieces of advice as a starting framework to give these efforts the necessary, holistic attention they deserve.

However, also keep in mind that improving efficiency is more than just following a series of steps. It takes establishing a culture that believes there’s always a better way to do things — and a culture that is committed to uncovering the insights necessary to make those improvements.


Assa Abloy Security Solutions supplies hospital

A South Yorkshire District General Hospital has been supplied with a range of hardware by ASSA ABLOY Security Solutions, a UK division of ASSA ABLOY, the global leader in door opening solutions.

South Yorkshire hospital is a 500-bed hospital, run by Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Each year the hospital treats around 150,000 patients along with 95,500 A&E patients.

Foris Solutions worked closely with the Estates and Facilities team at the hospital to explore a range of hardware solutions. ASSA ABLOY cam action door closers were supplied, to ensure that the doors within the hospital are light to open while retaining closing power; ideal for use by disabled people. This assists in helping to meet the requirements of The Equality Act, specifically BS8300 and Approved Document M of The Building Regulations.

In addition, ASSA modular lock cases were supplied, which are engineered to offer a smooth performance in high usage areas over a number of years, ASSA classic lever handles were also provided.

Simon Barrett, Capital Projects Manager at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “South Yorkshire hospital has a historic relationship with ASSA ABLOY Security Solutions, and ASSA products are specified throughout the hospital, so it made sense to specify hardware from a brand that we know we can trust.”

Mark Thompson, Director at Foris Solutions, said: “ASSA ABLOY Security Solutions have a wealth of experience working within the health sector, we knew that they would be able to provide a reliable hardware schedule, which will be able to stand the test of time, regardless of the high frequency of use.”

Sean Falkinder, Regional Sales Manager at ASSA ABLOY Security Solutions, said: “Public-sector budgets are being squeezed hard as the government strives to deliver its planned reduction in the Budget deficit. Facilities managers in hospitals are charged with the difficult task of prioritising budgets for all areas of maintenance in hospitals. We are increasingly seeing the longer-term cost of projects becoming more of a priority; we supply quality products that offer good whole life costing, through reducing maintenance, repair and replacement expenditure.”

For further information on the full range of products from ASSA, please visit



One seating range – infinite possibilities

In response to the growing demand for flexible seating solutions, Komac – by Boss Design – has unveiled a new and diverse range of upholstered modular furniture. Completely flexible and reconfigurable, this versatile collection provides specifiers and designers infinite layout configurations.

Complete with eleven linkable seating units, three privacy screens, side tables and arms that accommodate power, a series of modules can be created and combined to suit any shape desired for complete flexibility. Together with an infinite choice of fabric configurations and vibrant leg finishes, Myriad is guaranteed to revive any interior space.

Private ‘huddle’ spaces, together with stunning ‘islands’ and ‘chain’ modules form the basis of Myriad’s infinitely flexible design. Whilst huddles assist with collaborative working, islands facilitate touchdown connectivity. Complete with or without backs, and integrated power modules, islands also support the ‘work anywhere’ philosophy. Meanwhile, Myriad’s chain modules enable the furniture to be mixed, linked and easily moved around, thereby offering endless possibilities for a more dynamic and collaborative workspace.

Commenting on this market changing design, Julie Skipp at Komac says: “Myriad sets the benchmark for flexible seating in the corporate, hospitality and education sectors. Thanks to its infinite versatility, specifiers can not only meet the brief for multiple design configurations from one dynamic collection, they can also satisfy a wide range of users and environments.”

Myriad also boasts an extensive line-up of extras that may be mixed and matched to enhance each configuration. These include laptop tables, privacy screens, linking arms (with or without power), portable media units, freestanding tables, coffee tables and multi-purpose chairs.

For the ultimate in comfort, Myriad boasts solid plywood internal frames, moulded foam seats and backrest foam and sprung seats. A wide choice of leg frames and finishes are also available to provide the ultimate design solution.

For further information contact Komac Headquarters: +44 (0) 1384 455570 or the London Showroom: Tel.: +44 (0) 20 7253 0364. Alternatively, visit


Losing the ground war against food contamination

In the high-pressure environment of food service, lapses in hygiene make casualties of customers, reputations and even businesses. James White of Denis Rawlins Ltd focuses on a forgotten front in the war against food contamination where outdated methods abet the enemy.

Safeguarding food safety is a constant battle, requiring consistently high standards in processing and storage, personal hygiene, staff training and supervision, and cleaning.

One slip – not washing hands, under-cooking food, failing to chill it properly, cross-contaminating cooked ingredients via a surface or knife used for raw meat – and the consequences for customers and the business can be catastrophic. So in the heat of the kitchen, it’s not surprising if the surface that staff stand on is not seen as a major risk.

Yet the contaminants lurking beneath our feet can easily be transferred to hands and utensils. The risks from poorly cleaned floors are not so well appreciated. And this is where the battle against the ever-present threat of germs and pathogens can often be lost.

Kitchens generate greasy soils that coat floor surfaces. In this warm and damp environment bacteria multiply, especially in crevices and grout lines between tiles. Workers’ footwear also tracks dirt and invisible microbes from other areas, including toilets and washrooms, into cleaned areas. So, whether floors look clean or not, they can end up harbouring a stomach-churning mix of microbes.

Studies in the US and elsewhere have shown not only that floors can become reservoirs of health-threatening pathogens, but also how staff have many direct and indirect contact with floors every day. This could be tying a trailing shoe lace, picking up a dropped utensil, gathering an electrical cord from the floor, or lifting a carton of food that had been placed there.

It’s estimated that 70% of all floors in the UK are still mopped by hand, and that includes many kitchens as well as dining areas. The obvious problem with mopping is it spreads rather than removes soil. Even if cleaning solution and mop heads are changed frequently, mopping inevitably returns some of the soils to the floor. And a mop cannot be expected to dislodge dirt ingrained in crevices.

This whole process – mopping with a degreaser or bleach, and then rinsing with ‘clean’ water – is as laborious and time-consuming as it is ineffective. Moreover, in this constant war against germs, mopping is effectively aiding and abetting the enemy. Hence the Denis Rawlins campaign to Chop the Mop.

In kitchens, or any environment where hygiene matters, cleaning has to remove soil, leaving a sanitised surface. For floors, this means dispensing fresh cleaning solution and recovering the liquid along with soils, by suction or squeegee. Whether this is achieved mechanically by a scrubber dryer or other machine, it’s also essential the floor is left virtually dry and thus safe to walk on.

Food factories test work surfaces to check they’re not contaminated. We too advocate science-based cleaning, and have extended this to floors and touch points, including those in washrooms. Like the food industry, we use ATP meters to measure the universal (adenosine triphosphate) marker for animal, bacterial and mould cells. We test before and after cleaning to show how effective the process is. And we have researched the global market for cleaning equipment to identify the most hygienic and cost-effective methods.

We were impressed by a comparatively low-tech cleaning system that achieves very high standards. As a supplier of wide range of cleaning equipment, we were struck by how this modular system could match more sophisticated, and expensive, technology.

This was borne out by a three-way test by university scientists who compared manual microfibre mopping, a scrubber dryer and the OmniFlexTM system. Based on a patented trolley bucket, as components are added it can be configured to dispense and vac, spray and squeegee, or spray and vac.

The tests involved a solution of Escherichia coli (the E. coli organism responsible for many food poisoning outbreaks) with ‘before’ and ‘after’ measurements using ATP monitors and bacteria plates.

The microfibre mop at best removed less than 51% of the soil, but that dropped to 24% as the plates revealed how the mop dragged bacteria from dirty areas back into cleaner parts of the floor.

By contrast, more than 99% of the bacteria were removed by the scrubber dryer. Significantly, the same standard was achieved by the AutoVac – which is the OmniFlex unit with a drop-down squeegee head.

The Food Service Dispense and Vac uses the same technology as the AutoVac, is simple to use, even for kitchen or casual staff with minimal training. It has proven its effectiveness and productivity cleaning hard floors in the manufacturer Kaivac’s native US, becoming a staple floor cleaning machine in the food service sector.

Studies show the OmniflexTM Dispense and Vac is 30-60 times more effective than a mop and bucket. At least one fast food chain halved its cleaning time while achieving superior cleaning results for no more than its annual spend on mops and buckets.

Given our Chop the Mop mission this is compelling, as it means that food processors and outlets using traditional methods can save money while raising the standards of hygiene in their premises.



Updated heating system improves efficiency at top school

Founded in 1991, Thomas Telford School in Telford, Shropshire has been singled out as a “remarkable school”, by Ofsted and as a “beacon of excellence”. The mixed ability school has consistently ranked as oneof the top performing comprehensive schools inEngland and was first to achieve a GSCE pass rate of 100% A-C grades.

With such high standards in terms of an educational environment, Thomas Telford naturally wanted to maintain these conditions when it came to the heating provided to both staff and students. As an existing25 year old heating system was proving unreliable and often broke down, site manager Darren Crook enlisted the help of contractor McQueens M&E Ltd to provide an alternative. Darren said, “we wanted a like-for-like replacement that would improve efficiency and would ensure the comfort of students and staff throughout the school. A reliable, local company whose products could easily integrate with minimal disruption would be perfect”. McQueens M&E Ltd were happy to recommend Viessmann Vitocrossal commercial boilers for the school, as they were confident the standards and requirements of Thomas Telford would be met.

Three 500 kW floor standing Vitocrossal 200 CM2 boilers were installed in the third storey plant room to provide heat for the large site which includes; over 250 radiators, 9 science labs, 21 classrooms, 5 learning bases, 12 toilets, a hospitality suite, library and kitchen. The new 1.5 MW Viessmann system provides heating only for the school and has easily replaced the 70% efficient previous system, integrating seamlessly with 4 gas fired direct hot water heaters and existing BMS system.

With improved efficiencies now up to 98%, the floor-standing boilers utilise the Inox-Crossal stainless steel heat exchanger to provide high operational reliability, leading to long service life. The stainless steel surface not only improves the performance of the boiler, but creates a self cleaning effect, leading to lower maintenance.

As a result of the new installation, Thomas Telford School is now saving 40 % on it’s annual heating bill, equating to over £36,000 per year. This is mainly because of the advanced technology available in Viessmann boilers, including a modulation range from 33 to 100% and the MatriX radiant burner which ensures particularly quiet and economical operation. Darren Crook, site manager for Thomas Telford School commented, “we are extremely happy with the new heating system, which combines the best quality available with the best deal for the school.”


Stop leaks fast with the ‘water stopper’ Vandex Plug from Safeguard

The Vandex Plug from Safeguard Europe – the UK’s leading specialist in damp- and waterproofing, and masonry repair solutions – is a fast-acting cementitious mortar that will stop leaks and seepage through, and seal cracks in, masonry, concrete, earthenware and stone in seconds. It can also be used as an installation mortar for fixings in wet areas, and even underwater.

Examples of applications for the Vandex Plug would include: plugging leaks in clay pipes; caulking tunnel segment joints; installing fixings in water structures requiring immediate use; installation of steel elements in concrete or masonry; erosion resistant shoring of canal sealing – and as a general erosion resistant mortar for elements affected by rain.

For optimum results, substrates for application must be clean, sound and free of surface contamination such as salts or algae. Leaks must be cut out, leaving an appropriate ‘chase’ for the plug.

Setting time is largely dependent on the quantity of mixing water used: standard value at 200C is 1kg of plug mortar to 0.25 litre of water. The plug must be added to the water and mixed quickly – mixing time is about 15 seconds, with setting taking place in about 30 seconds. Vandex Plug from Safeguard is available in 15kg resealable plastic tubs, and has a storage shelf life of around 12 months.


“Office of the Future” in Dubai is first office produced by 3D printer

Siemens building technology provides surveillance, access control and fire protection

The world’s first office building produced by a 3D printer has just opened in Dubai.  The 250 square metre “Office of the Future” was built using a 3D printer measuring 20 feet high, 120 feet long and 40 feet wide and is erected near the Emirates Towers in Dubai.  The building technology with access control and surveillance systems was provided by Siemens and is integrated into a central building management platform.  The technology ensures low operating costs and reduced energy consumption.

“We are proud to be participating in this pioneering project and supporting Dubai’s Smart City strategy by providing state-of-the-art technology for intelligent, digitalised building automation and controls,” said Matthias Rebellius, CEO of the Siemens Building Technologies Division.

The key components of the “Office of the Future” are integrated with the help of Siemens’ Desigo CC management platform.  The platform enables the control and optimisation of the building’s technical infrastructure, surveillance, air conditioning and access control systems from a central location.  A customised platform displays the status of the various systems in real time, enabling operators to accurately monitor and control the building’s performance.

The “Office of the Future” concept uses a Siemens video surveillance system with high-definition cameras and web-enabled access via apps and web clients and an access control system based on biometrics and smart cards.  Siemens also supplied fire protection technology for detection, alarms and control, including multi-sensor detectors which can adapt to changing environments, analyse signals for false alarms and protect against hazards such as the presence of carbon monoxide.  The system can also be analysed, evaluated and diagnosed remotely for more efficient maintenance.

“Integrating key functions into an intelligent building management system has clear safety, cost and efficiency benefits and Siemens is a leading company able to combine the management of all building disciplines in one integrated platform,” continued Rebellius.  “Desigo CC gives building operators a precise overview of their assets, not only allowing them to be managed more efficiently and transparently, but also ensuring flexible usage and energy conservation.”

The Desigo CC building management platform is also able to accommodate a wider range of building systems including heating, ventilation and air conditioning, power, lighting and shading, and components can be added when requirements change.

Worldwide installations of Desigo CC have led to reductions in building operating costs of up to 20 percent.


Wilson Access Truck Mount In Action At Reading FC

The largest truck mount in the Wilson Access fleet was signed up for Reading FC’s Madejski Stadium to help with the installation of a new state-of-the art video screen.

The 57m Palfinger P570 was hired by the management team at Reading FC to help installers to dismantle 65 individual screens that made up the existing screen and to replace it with 35 larger screens that comprise the new high definition screen.

The maximum working height of 57m and 41m horizontal outreach of the Wilson Access truck mount gave the installation team easy access to erect the new video screen, which is positioned high up above the seating areas in the 24,161 capacity stadium. To prevent any damage to the football ground’s turf, the 26 tonne truck mount was positioned on a trackway system laid out on the pitch’s surface.

The Palfinger P570 has an x-jib feature that enables the platform to go up and over buildings so that an operator can work on a rear fascia of a building whilst the vehicle is parked at the front.



Wales chapter of School of Hard Knocks Charity opens

Charity supported by rugby giants Scott Quinnell, Will Greenwood MBE, Brian Moore & HRH Prince Harry, heads to Wales to open a new chapter

The School of Hard Knocks – a charity that uses rugby and boxing, to tackle social exclusion by getting unemployed people back into work – has opened up in Wales.

The charity is aiming to find jobs for at least 50% of those joining its programme and helping 90% of its school joiners to stay on in school by its self imposed deadline of September 2017; to be self sustaining in Wales by September 2017; and to assist no fewer than 500 beneficiaries a year.

SOHK Wales will be headed by Catryn Grundy, Programmes Director, Cymru. One of her team is brilliant local success story, Liam Mackay, who turned his life round with SOHK help and landed a job with Arriva Trains before returning to SOHK as a full time  coach, helping others to take the journey he has taken.

SOHK Ambassadors include rugby giants Brian Moore, Will Greenwood MBE and Wales and British & Irish Lions Legend Scott Quinnell. HRH Price Harry is also a keen supporter, attending SOHK training matches and taking part in training games.

For the past nine years School of Hard Knocks has been shadowed and filmed by Sky Sports for an ongoing TV series featuring Will Greenwood MBE and Scott Quinnell. The programme takes 40 unemployed men, most of whom have never played rugby before, to form a competitive team. The players are also given the opportunity to attend a special jobs fair after their 8 weeks of training.

At the heart of this four-year-old charity – which uses rugby and boxing to get unemployed people back into work – is a belief in tough love. Jack Lewars, Director of Operations at SOHK, says: “if what we teach is bought into by participants, then the self respect, self belief, teamwork and discipline learned can and does lead to at least 50% of those that stay the eight week course finding jobs. You might say that what we do is take people out of hopelessness via sport and give them a life.”

This is why money and support is flowing into SOHK from wealthy private individuals, from companies and from the Government and from the Royals too.

SOHK is the brainchild of Ken Cowen, a teacher by training, who found that a few sessions on a rugby pitch in Liverpool was the surest way of instilling some discipline and control into tearaway pupils about to be excluded from school.

SOHK is helping many desperate people to get off the sidelines of life and turn the job market into something that looks less like a scrum with a little help from the Royals, bankers, corporates and many private individuals who see that rugby can be so much more than a game.