Central Piling MD talks compassion in leadership

Seeing yourself as a brand and identifying how you want to be seen by others, are fundamental aspects to career profession, according to Central Piling MD Steve Hadley.

Steve was presenting a talk on “Compassionate Leadership in Practice” for the FPS’ Early Careers Group (ECG) session in February which was hosted by David Major from Laing O’Rourke.

The session was attended by members from Expanded, Murphy, Keltbray, Keller, Roger Bullivant, Bachy Soletanche, Bauer Technologies, BAM Ritchies, Cementation Skanska and FK Lowry.

Steve began his presentation by asking why members had chosen to attend this session and the main responses were wanting to learn more about leadership and wanting to hear about a career journey.

So, Steve explained how he has been able to experience different departments within a piling business throughout his career and how important it was in the early stages to be Chartered. He encouraged members to explore and seize opportunities for their development, and to try new roles and experiences, as it helps them grow as individuals.

He then moved onto what it takes to be a leader, explaining that leaders need to be “comfortable with being uncomfortable”. He emphasised that in his experience, caring about your role and your duties is a sign of strength and not weakness, as so often perceived by people.

Steve defined other leadership qualities as:

  • Being able to listen to people
  • Providing praise, as it helps to motivate
  • Being compassionate and flexible to face challenges

Steve was keen to stress that anyone can become a leader, and that it is not title specific. The group were encouraged to get excited about being engaged with their jobs and to welcome honest feedback from colleagues to help them develop. Steve also reminded them that to grow professionally they had to be prepared to sometimes fail.

Throughout the presentation, Steve provided the group with reading material recommendations including “The Chimp Paradox” by Professor Steve Peters and “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell.

Judging from the lively Q&A session, the presentation was extremely well-received. During this part, Steve talked about recognising the triggers for stress and taking yourself out of a situation if required.

For a copy of the presentation, contact David Major on DaMajor@laingorourke.com.


Future ICE President talks green with Central Piling MD

Changing the civil engineering industry to benefit both planet and people cannot be achieved without collaboration from all stakeholders.

Changing the civil engineering industry to benefit both planet and people cannot be achieved without collaboration from all stakeholders.

That’s according to Anusha Shah, future President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). The Director of Resilient Cities at Arcadis was interviewed by Central Piling MD and FPS chair Steve Hadley for the organisation’s February podcast.

Anusha, who has worked on-site, explained to Steve how her work in India has influenced her love of the natural environment, and consequently her work on the environment and sustainability.

The industry needs to take a hard look at how it plans, designs, operates, maintains and demolishes infrastructure, she said, and now is the time for real action on changing the industry to benefit both planet and people.

She was keen to point out what lessons can be learnt from pro-active projects around the world, such as how The Netherlands is constantly redeveloping its flood defences rather than reacting once a flood has happened, and how New York integrates its solutions into what also benefits society, such as green spaces and parks.

The interview explored Anusha’s work with the Thames Estuary Partnership and how working together collaboratively with all stakeholders improves the river for all inhabitants, including the ecosystem, recognising that no one organisation holds all the answers.

On the subject of diversity and equality, Anusha talked about how those leaders who are making a difference are coming from all areas of society and how economic growth with poor social outcomes is actually failure!

The podcast can be listened to via https://tinyurl.com/y6cx9j3s


A preview of the FPS’ 2021

The mental health and wellbeing of people in the piling industry will continue to be a focus for the FPS in 2021, according to the organisation’s chair and Central Piling MD Steve Hadley.

In his first blog for the FPS in 2021, Steve says the arrival of the virus, and all it has impacted, has brought much introspection on the ways the industry works, but particularly raised the profile of mental health and wellbeing.

He said he likes to think that some of the taboos surrounding the issue have been removed but assures readers that mental health and wellbeing will be a backdrop to a lot of what the FPS does this year.

On a related theme, he says the FPS will continue its work with Fatigue Science and will publish a Best Practice Guide to Fatigue Management.

The FPS will also publish documents on labour-only best practice and dust suppression. Working group discussions for the former have started and the reports should be drafted soon, for adoption into company processes.

On the latter, volunteers have come forward to share experiences and these should help steer the guide on this that hopefully will be circulated to the wider industry as well as the FPA membership.

A document that has recently been completed is that on Restricted Zones which should be published later in the year. This emphasises the need for principal contractors to respect the space around a rig so their site operatives do not walk through working areas.

Steve’s first FPS blog of 2021 also includes updates and thoughts on:

• Concrete pumping guidance
• Rig operator training
• FPS audit
• Environmental sustainability working group and webinars
• Ground Forum mentoring scheme and degree apprenticeships
• FPS ‘live’ social events

For the full article, please go to https://www.fps.org.uk/news-views/post/the-way-ahead/.

Central Piling starts 2021 with a quadruplet of contract wins

Contract wins worth over £2.6 million take the contractor happily into the New Year.

Specialist piling contractor Central Piling has announced four new CFA contract wins

Work has already begun on an eight-week contract for regular customer JB Structures at Axe Street, London, where Central Piling is installing more than 300 450mm-diameter piles to 29m for a luxury apartment block. Central Piling is using Soilmec SF65 rigs.

The company will start work early January on a 12-month contract for Countryside Properties in South Oxhey, Watford, Hertfordshire. This will involve a Soilmec SF50 rig installing 1,500 350mm-diameter load-bearing piles to 16m for the final phase of the South Oxhey Central development, incorporating the demolition of buildings and construction of 345 new homes, 18,500ft2 Lidl store, and 4,000ft2 of retail space.

Work is also due to start on a nine-week programme for Galliard Homes at Soho Wharf, Birmingham, where three of Central Piling’s Soilmec SF65 and SR75 rigs will install almost 1,000 450mm-diameter load-bearing piles to 28m, with the deepest piles founding in rock to support the loads from the luxury apartment blocks above.

Central Piling will start test piling this month on their fourth new contract win for Weston Homes at Abbey Retail Park, Barking, London. The main work will begin in March, when they will be installing more than 520 450mm, 500mm and 650mm-diameter CFA piles to 29m for a luxury apartment block, using their Soilmec SF65 and SR75 rigs in the tough ground conditions associated with Thanet sands.

Central Piling wins Investors in People

Central Piling has won the prestigious Investors in People accreditation.

And far from resting on its laurels, is already aiming for the next level up – silver – a process which usually takes three years.

The company already met 75% of the criteria when it signed up for the scheme and introduced further measures in a bid for continuous improvement. These focused on improved liaison with its 60 permanent staff.

The measures included the launch of a quarterly internal newsletter, safety meetings and alerts, and annual one-to-one performance reviews which give the employee an opportunity to feedback on the company and vice versa.

Central Piling also introduced a company “values”, using five words as its axis of philosophy – Safe, Compassionate, Diverse, Profitable and Professional.

HSQE and operations manager Colin Newman said:
“It was a very interesting process. Some of the techniques and initiatives that we’ve introduced to help us achieve the award have undoubtedly improved employee engagement and their job satisfaction.”

Ruby Waxes lyrical about mental health

Central Piling MD hosts podcast on mental health in the construction sector.

Since becoming chair of the FPS (Federation of Piling Specialists), Central Piling MD Steve Hadley has launched a series of podcasts on industry issues.

In his most recent October podcast, which Central Piling sponsors, the subject was about mental health in the construction workplace.

Featuring the highly successful comedian, presenter, author and prominent mental health campaigner Ruby Wax, and James Rudoni, MD of the mental health charity Mates in Mind (MiM), the special edition podcast explored why construction has such a mental health problem, how to manage fear, and what we can all do to help others

As FPS chair, Steve hosted the podcast and kicked off the discussion by exploring how Ruby became involved in the issue of mental health, how it led to a Masters degree from Oxford, and how her studies concluded with a show built around the issue.

The podcast also discussed how and why mental health impacts construction disproportionately to many other industries, and particularly topically, Ruby expressed her thoughts on how mental health could be the next pandemic.

Steve then brought James into the conversation and after James explained the origins of Mates in Mind, and why it was needed in the construction sector, Ruby quizzed him on how it supports construction. James talked about how the charity is changing the culture in the construction sector to remove the stigma attached to the words “mental health”, at which point Ruby suggested the word “mental” may actually be more harmful than calling it “a brain illness” – a condition just like any other physical illness.

To listen to the podcast, please go to https://tinyurl.com/y2kq58et.

Confronting racial discrimination

Central Piling MD Steve Hadley shares his views on tackling unconscious bias.

Following his appointment as chair of the FPS (Federation of Piling Specialists) earlier this year, Central Piling MD Steve Hadley has written a series of blogs on industry issues.

Steve had pledged to speak regularly during his two-year tenure about issues close to his, his company’s, and the FPS’ heart, and one was about racial diversity.

In it, Steve claims we cannot proclaim to live in a post-racial society in the UK and it’s reasonable to assume that the prevalence of racial discrimination is at least as strong within the foundation industry.

And he cites the example of a friend, an experienced black Chartered Civil Engineer who runs his own geotechnical consultancy, who entered the building of the Institution of Civil Engineers and was challenged as to why he was visiting it. While he was happy to show his membership badge, he did ask why he had been singled out when other well-dressed individuals like him hadn’t been challenged?

He perceived it was because of the colour of his skin, and this was apparently reinforced when he was approached by two young graduate engineers who thought he was a security guard.

“These anecdotes are reflective of an endemic problem – that of stereotyping due to unconscious bias,” believes Steve.

In 2009, the Equality and Human Rights Commission carried out its own inquiry on race discrimination in the construction industry and noted that numbers of non-white construction workers were not improving, and they were particularly under-represented at managerial levels. They proposed the following ways forward:

  • Prominent leadership from industry heads and professional bodies, pulling together the different drivers for racial equality in the industry
  • Promotion of good practice through the Sector Skills Bodies
  • Diversifying the supply chain – public bodies should monitor their current supplier base and set targets to encourage more ethnic minority-led businesses to tender for opportunities
  • Increased participation of ethnic minority trainees on work-based learning programmes and apprenticeships
  • Development of an industry standard for equality monitoring in both the workforce and membership bodies
  • Ongoing evaluation of positive action campaigns and feeding back impact to the sector and the public, with prominence given to ethnic minority role models

Little progress in rectifying this problem has been observed in the past 12 years since the report was written. Unfortunately, following the completion of a STEM subject at University, BAME persons are still 2.5 times more likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts. For trade apprentices the statistics are much worse as BAME persons are 5 times more likely to be unemployed.

However, the FPS, via its association with the Ground Forum and Construction Industry Council, has been involved in producing the inclusive www.roadmapforchange.org.uk website which provides resource tools for individuals and businesses in the built environment looking for career opportunities and best practice guidance.

For more information on the actions that Central Piling and the FPS is taking to address this issue, and for this article in full, please click here. https://www.fps.org.uk/news-views/post/confronting-our-prejudices-how-ground-engineering-can-act-on-racial-diversity/


It is important we accept there is a problem, which will lead to very difficult conversations which may result in awkwardness or people feeling uneasy,” said Steve. “But with a change for the better, that feeling will pass and, in many situations, what will be left is a better understanding of how, for instance, the impact of careless stereotyping and words of prejudice can be harmful.

Central Piling provides piling solution to major housing regeneration project

The first stages of a major flood defence and residential regeneration project is underway in West Sussex, with the installation of piles for a new river wall.

Central Piling was appointed by civil and marine engineering contractor JT Mackley & Co Ltd. to install 274 concrete piles as part of the enabling works for Southern Housing Group’s Free Wharf development in Shoreham-by-Sea. Southern Housing intends to build 540 new homes on a former aggregate-processing site on the western arm of Shoreham Harbour, but building work cannot start until a new river wall has been built to replace the existing sheet piled wall.

National developer Wates Residential, who are undertaking the £5.5m enabling contract, for Southern Housing, appointed Mackley to carry out the river wall element of the works. This Includes the construction of a new reinforced concrete structure that will eventually form both the new river wall and a podium slab for a public realm area, and will also tie into an underground car park beneath the apartments.

The concrete structure is founded on a line of bearing piles designed and installed by Central Piling.

Central Piling arrived on site in June 2019, and completed the work in 25 days using a Soilmec SF50 continuous flight auger drilling rig. The piles are 350mm and 450mm in diameter, and vary in depth from 11.6m to 19.5m. They have been designed to cope with vertical loads ranging from 300kN to 900kN, and lateral loads of up to 100kN.

The piles were installed through made ground into the underlying chalk, with Central Piling making use of an existing concrete slab to support the drilling rig – something that had been specified by Wates at the tender stage.

Wates Residential undertook a site investigation and assessment to ensure the existing slab would suitable as a piling platform. The contractor then cored through the slab in all the pile locations to enable the piles to be installed, and also probed down ahead of the piling to make sure there were no obstructions.

The enabling works – including the river wall – are due to finish in late 2019. Construction of the new homes will require a further 2,000+ piles to be installed for the building foundations.

Central Piling provide solutions for tallest residential building in West London

Piling solutions from Central Piling help to save time on excavation works on a new prestigious residential development in West London.

Central Piling is providing piling solutions on a massive basement car park and foundations for four residential towers at a prestigious new development which will include One West Point, which will be the tallest residential building in West London.

The Portal West development is being built by O’Shea Construction. A mixed-use development in North Acton it consists of four blocks rising between nine and 42 storeys. The towers will be set around communal courtyard gardens and sit on top of a 6m deep communal basement. When complete, the new development for City and Docklands Property Group will provide 578 new homes as well as new pedestrian routes, public open space, commercial premises and new amenities for the local community.

Central Piling is installing the contiguous piled wall that will facilitate the excavation of the basement, and also the large-diameter bored piles for the deep-piled raft that will support the high-rise buildings.

The company was brought in as the piling specialist sub-contractor by O’Shea Construction. This enabled Central Piling to be involved in the project from an early stage, providing advice and support in choosing the piling solutions.

Central Piling began work on the £1.25 million geotechnical contract in November, with construction of the embedded basement retaining wall, which is formed of 600mm diameter continuous flight auger (CFA) piles. The installation of the rotary-bored bearing piles began soon after, with the entire contract scheduled to be complete by the end of February (2019).

The tallest of the four towers, One West Point, is a 42-level tower situated in the prime position of the centre of the North Acton/Old Oak Regeneration area. When complete, the building will be the tallest residential landmark in West London, with the highest private sky garden and terrace bar in the whole of the capital.

Steve Hadley, managing director of Central Piling, said: “High-rise buildings such as this require large-scale foundation systems capable of transferring the loads to suitable ground. The 1050mm diameter bored piles, with depths of 35m, are a first for us and our Soilmec SR-45 and SF-75 rigs are working to their maximum capacity.

“Given the magnitude of the compression loads, we undertook a preliminary pile load test on a 750mm diameter pile loaded to over 10MN which produced satisfactory results. This validated both the design assumptions and the installation technique proposed for the bearing piles.”

Central Piling, who offer a full range of geotechnical services as well as pile design and construction, also undertook an additional 44m deep borehole to complement the site investigation works and to obtain more information about the ground conditions.

Despite the 6m deep excavation which is surrounded by important buildings, including the Consulate of Algeria, the wall design allowed for a cantilever solution for the construction stages, with a minimum amount of locally-installed temporary props and a significant programme saving on the excavation works.

The optimum solution of a temporary cantilever retaining wall formed of 600mm at 750mm centres and large diameter 1050mm and 750mm rotary-bored piles for the piled rafts was the result of a significant amount of pre-construction and design work.

A day in the life of … Lee Durrant

Lee Durrant, 39, joined Central Piling as a banksman 12 years ago. He’s also been a rig driver. Here he describes a typical (or not so typical) day as an operations supervisor, his job for the past two years.

I have worked my way up to my current job role with the help and support of the company and my favourite aspect of it is that no two days are the same.

As an operations supervisor I can be responsible for overseeing anywhere from two to eight sites at a time, and this involves setting up the jobs from a pre-start meeting all the way through to the completion of the piling works. I am constantly in touch with the clients and the piling crew to try and ensure a smooth running of our works.

Monday morning is my most regular routine as I generally start in the office which means I don’t need to get up until 6am. This allows me to have breakfast with my son Bradley who has a strict routine of up and breakfast done by 6.30am because he hates being late for school!

It takes me about an hour to drive the 30 miles to the office from our family home in Harwich so before I leave at 7am I always wake up my wife Annmarie and my daughter Teaghan as they prefer to have a little more sleep than Bradley.

Once I arrive at the office and warm up the computer my first task is normally catching up on all the piling logs which have been sent to me from the rig drivers running the live sites that I am currently supervising.

Along with making sure my sites are up and running this takes about an hour and takes me up to our weekly toolbox talk which is delivered by the Health and Safety manager Colin Newman. The subjects vary week by week but this weeks was on drugs and alcohol, being as we are in the run-up to the festive season. Everyone who is in the office and yard must attend the toolbox talk and sign in to show attendance.

After the toolbox talk we try to hold a weekly contracts meeting which I actually managed to attend this week. This is a general sit down between departments to discuss the upcoming week and jobs and to share any relevant information that may need to be shared.

This week’s meeting was fairly straightforward and gave me enough time to join Roger Cox (contracts director), Sam Nicole (contracts manager) and Colin at the local café for breakfast before I need to leave for a client meeting. I like Mondays - it means no sandwich on the go for lunch!

After breakfast I hit the road, allowing enough time to make my site meeting with one of our more regular customers to discuss the Health and Safety and logistics plans of an upcoming contract in Hackney. The meeting lasts about an hour and I got all the relevant information I needed to put together a site visit sheet and logistics plan for the transport and buying department so they can start planning deliveries for the job.

We already have a live site which I am supervising in Hackney so I decided to pop over and surprise them with a cheeky little five-point safety audit. Everyone loves a safety audit! We try and do these once a month on each of our sites so we can ensure our sites are running efficiently and safely.

We are coming to the end of this contract so space is disappearing quickly but the crew are working well. I spent roughly two hours on site because I like to watch how the boys are working as opposed to filling out a form and leaving. This took me nicely up to about 4.30pm so I left site and started making my way home.

Luckily for me traffic was kind to me and I made it home with enough time to grab a snack, hug my kids, kiss the wife and run out the door to go to rugby training at my local club where I also coach an under 13s side. This is definitely my favourite pastime and makes my Sundays a pleasure to wake up to.

So there you have it, a not-so-typical day in my life at Central Piling.