J&D PIERCE CONTRACTS IS ONE OF THE UK’S FOREMOST STRUCTURAL STEELWORK CONTRACTORS. HEAVYTORQUE VISITS THE COMPANY’S EAST KILBRIDE FACILITY TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ITS OPERATIONS, THAT ARE SUPPORTED BY A SPECIALIST TRANSPORT FLEET AND NINE MOBILE CRANES.
In just under 50 years, J&D Pierce Contracts has delivered measured and substantial business growth to become a leading UK structural steelwork fabrication and erection specialist. What started out as a sole trader business, working from a small workshop attached to the house, has now grown into a market-leading concern employing almost 600 staff at several sites across the UK. J&D Pierce’s mobile cranes are supported by a varied transport fleet that includes a group of specialist articulated combinations and over 30 vans, along with 22 cherry pickers and other pieces of plant.
Jim Pierce, chairman and joint managing director was the man who started out in that small workshop in 1975. Initially he carried out light fabrication jobs and blacksmith works to a small customer base, while forming positive working relationships with local clients. Jim was joined by his son, Derek in 1982, immediately after he left school.
MOVING GOODS AND PEOPLE AROUND CITIES EFFICIENTLY IS CRITICAL TO THEIR ECONOMIES, ALLOWING BUSINESS ACCESS TO A WIDER CHOICE OF RAW MATERIALS, LABOUR AND CUSTOMERS. HOWEVER, MOST INFRASTRUCTURE
PROJECTS ARE PLANNED IN RELATIVE ISOLATION, REGULATED BY DIFFERENT PERMITTING BODIES, SO MAINTAINING URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE BECOMES A CONSTANTLY MOVING TARGET. MAMMOET, THE HEAVY LIFTING AND TRANSPORT COMPANY, TELLS THE STORY.
As these structures age, their usage patterns change and city centres themselves grow denser – how can construction take place efficiently? With their apparent permanence, it’s easy to take the roads and rails around us for granted. But like any piece of manufacturing, every bridge, tunnel, and highway were designed with a specific usage and lifetime in mind. As time passes, infrastructure shows signs of age and is scheduled for replacement; a situation that has been worsened in many countries by burgeoning urban populations creating higher than expected levels of use.
ESTABLISHED IN 1950, STOCKPORT-BASED TW BOWLER HEAVY HAULAGE IS A FOURTH-GENERATION FAMILY-RUN BUSINESS. HEAVYTORQUE FINDS OUT ABOUT THE SECOND MAN TGX 8X4 250 TONNE TRACTOR THAT HAS JUST ENTERED ITS SERVICE, AS WELL AS HEARING ABOUT OTHER CHANGES THAT HAVE TAKEN PLACE WITHIN THE OPERATION.
Every business goes through certain step changes as part of its development – even long-established businesses can be taken in new directions. Often this is as a result of the influence of a younger generation coming into the business, bringing new ideas and ways of working to the operation, ultimately putting their own stamp on things.
This most certainly is the situation with TW Bowler Heavy Haulage from Stockport. when HeavyTorque last visited in 2018, John Bowler had not long taken up the reins after his father Nick had to step back from the front line due to serious health issues, leaving John, and his mother Lyndsey to run the show.
AFTER SPENDING SEVERAL YEARS WORKING IN AND AROUND THE WIND TURBINE INDUSTRY, IAIN RITCHIE, THE DIRECTOR OF RITCHIE SERVICES IN NEWARK-ON-TRENT, SPOTTED A BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY TO OFFER SPECIALIST ENGINEERING EXPERTISE TO HEAVY HAULAGE COMPANIES. SINCE THEN, HIS PORTFOLIO HAS EXPANDED EVEN FURTHER. JON HARLE HAS BEEN TO MEET HIM.
“I sort of arrived here by chance,” Ritchie explains as we talk, standing either side of a packing case in the middle of the company’s new warehouse. “My background, from the age of 16, was in gas turbines. I did my apprenticeship with Siemens in Lincoln, and worked with them, installing gas turbines, all over the world. In 2012 I got married and wanted to start a family, so I started to look for opportunities closer to home. So, I transferred to Siemens Wind Power, which was based in the UK, and it meant I got home at weekends! After a few years, I was managing major installation contracts. On my last project, in 2016, I had full construction responsibility for a 225-million-pound project in Wales. But I decided I fancied a change.”
HC WILSON TRANSPORT HAS MANY YEARS OF EXPERIENCE WITH THE MOVEMENT OF OVERSIZE LOADS IN EUROPE AND FURTHER AFIELD. HEAVYTORQUE MET UP WITH SECOND-GENERATION BOSS SIMON WILSON TO HEAR ABOUT ITS PRESENT-DAY OPERATION, THE EQUIPMENT IT RUNS AND HOW IT DOES THINGS IN THIS DEMANDING SECTOR.
Transporting oversized loads within the UK can be a demanding task at the best of times but taking these types of cargoes throughout mainland Europe and beyond is a whole different ball game. Complex regulations both national and international make it a minefield for the uninitiated – night movement bans in some countries, daytime bans in others, local restrictions, axle weight and spacing limits which are lower than in the UK make it difficult to use some equipment specified to meet our home market rules. Height is a critical factor with a strict 4m limit in many countries – the only way to compete in this sector is to run the correct equipment and have a thorough understanding of the rules.
All of this creates added pressure and responsibility for the planning and routing staff, furthermore the drivers at the sharp end require full knowledge of limits and restrictions, invariably this only comes with experience.
HEAVY HAULAGE DRIVER GARY FORMBY IS CURRENTLY WORKING FOR L LYNCH PLANT HIRE AND HAULAGE, AND IS BASED IN NORTH LONDON WHERE A HIGH VOLUME OF BUILDING AND CIVIL ENGINEERING PROJECTS ARE TAKING PLACE. HEAVYTORQUE TALKS TO HIM ABOUT HIS LIFE IN HEAVY TRANSPORT.
The traditional route to a career as a heavy haulage driver was invariably starting out as a mate on a heavy outfit, learning how to load and secure heavy cargo, becoming totally familiar with the trailers and associated equipment, often steering bogies as part of a long-load outfit, which in days gone by, meant standing on an exposed platform in all winds and weathers, wrestling with a manual steering system. As time went by, the mate was able to have a supervised spell behind the wheel – both official and unofficial in some instances. When old enough to hold a licence, they were then let loose on a lighter weight outfit and only working their way up the ladder onto a heavy outfit after proving themselves over a long period. Now for many, this route is no longer an option. The second man– or woman – in many cases is now driving the escort vehicle and communicating with the driver via radio, often only working together for a day or two at a time. Huge improvements in both vehicle and trailer technology made all of this possible. But it does limit the opportunity for youngsters to gather vital experience before getting behind the wheel.