Charcon Construction Solutions is leading the way in the growing UK offsite construction industry with a comprehensive range of innovative structural products and solutions.
With a wide selection of prefabricated products for roofing, flooring, foundations, lift and stair cores, structural frames and hydro, the company has won work on several large projects in recent years, and with an impressive portfolio lined up going into 2015, looks set to go from strength-to-strength.
Managing Director Andrew Dix is confident that Charcon will come to be recognised as the number one in its industry, setting the standard for lean construction.
In doing so, he expects the company to continue growing with new factories, and an expanded workforce buying into the mentality that has already made the company a leading light in its sector.
This ambition is already being seen in its Morpeth facility, where Charcon has recently expanded both its product range and manufacturing capability, with a significant investment into its T-beam range.
Charcon’s partnership with Aggregate Industries in 2009 represented a collaborative strategy that Dix, former MD of Aggregate, says took full advantage of both companies’ strengths, with start-up Charcon seeking a foothold in a struggling industry during the recession and Aggregate confronting the challenge of corporate entrepreneurship.
Since the joint venture agreement, Charcon Construction Solutions has continued to provide quality cross-sector precast concrete solutions, appropriate to the specific and varied needs of residential, school, healthcare, office and commercial buildings.
Its extensive services include the supply and installation of precast stairs, landings and bespoke builds, and via its network of offices nationwide, the company is able to offer high-profile schemes complimented by focused project management, tailored to the client’s specific construction requirements and budget.
Though it has effectively delivered numerous smaller systems, Charcon’s high-profile projects include works at the Olympic Park for the 2012 Games, where it provided precast concrete for seating and stairs at the Velodrome.
Another £600,000 project at Gravesend Station during Christmas last year showcased perfectly the company’s ability to work in tough conditions and the suitability of precast solutions for quick turnaround times. Over 72 cold and windy hours, three crews installed a complete precast concrete platform, allowing the station to quickly return to full operation.
Charcon’s expertise in designing, planning and installing specialist precast were tested to their limit to guarantee the platform was installed as-designed on-schedule, with the crews working back-to-back 24 hours a day. That the project was delivered so quickly is testament to the months of careful planning and offsite installation which proceeded it; an approach that typifies the company’s attention to detail.
Another fine example of this was seen with Charcon’s skilled work at the £70m Kingston Heights Barge Dock residential development last year. Here the company installed a platform of four concrete heavy load transfer beams to support construction of a new restaurant and accommodation within the development.
Time was a key factor due to the barge dock’s location in a public park, and that the work was completed in a few short hours, causing minimal disruption to locals was an important factor that Charcon certainly delivered on.
Health and safety
Though speed is a defining factor of Charcon’s work, so too is safety. As President of the British Precast Concrete Federation, Dix has made it a priority to promote health and safety standards in the construction industry, and passionately applies this ethos to the wellbeing of the 550 workers Charcon employs across its seven production facilities.
Moving construction away from the potential hazards of the on-site location and into the controlled factory conditions eliminates the most common cause of injury and fatally - fall from height.
Nowhere is this more relevant than roofing work, and it is an area where the company’s innovative MODUROOF solution is helping negate the problem. Built off-site at ground level in the factory before being lifted into position on- site by crane, MODUROOF dramatically reduces workers from these dangerous situations which can be made even more treacherous by factors exclusive to an on-site setting, such as poor weather conditions and other site activities.
The controlled factory environment additionally reduces the risk of injury from repetitive lifting and use of heavy tools in the less predictable on-site environment.
The company is also committed to offering its employees training opportunities to improve their skills and the ability to progress through the ranks. Dix is a firm believer in the promotion of young and local talent, and described how Charcon has recently taken on three apprentices.
As a company, it is keen to play an active role in combating the looming skills gap in the UK construction industry, at the same time as championing the benefits of offsite construction as a member of the organisations Build Offsite and the British Precast Association.
Of course it is not just the staff that gain from Charcon’s approach to construction, but also its customers. With Integrated Solutions, many elements of Charcon’s products and services are designed, supplied and installed as a high performance structural shell. Besides offering thermal performance to code level 6 and passive standards, the system offers time and cost certainty, minimal waste and architectural design flexibility.
With Integrated Solutions, the company’s vision is to create an enhanced living environment which offers better, fresher interior conditions all year round. This is achieved through the quality of the builds, which achieve excellent thermal and acoustic performance, outstanding air tightness and attractive exterior finishes.
Fundamentally important to Charcon’s success has been the long-term positive relationships built up with suppliers local to its production facilities, including Marshalls, Titan Cement and Breeden.
Working closely with trusted partners has been beneficial both to the company and the areas’ industry, with Charcon prepared to pay more to keep the supply chain as local as possible and avoid excess road-miles that damage the environment.
It is an appropriate strategy for a company which takes its environmental responsibilities seriously and manufactures highly sustainable products in energy-efficient facilities, with an emphasis on the use of recycled and reclaimed materials.
With the manner in which the company invests in young talent, and the dedication and positive attitude of its workforce complementing an innovative spirit, responsible ethos and class-leading products, the MD’s ambitions for the future look set to be realised sooner rather than later.