When I left the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) after 10 great years as a vehicle mechanic I had no idea what civilian life had in store for me.
Following a decade where fixing tanks and running up and down hills in combat boots was the norm, it would be fair to say that I didn’t know what the future held for me. In retrospect, I hadn’t given it enough thought and I really didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do in my new career.
I tried several different jobs, ranging from bar work to being a HGV driver but nothing seemed to flick my switches in the same way that the army had. Something was missing and I knew it, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
I was having a beer with an old squaddie mate of mine one evening and as we chewed the fat we got talking about how different things are between life in the army and civvie street.
I was having a good old moan about the day job, how nobody understands my squaddie sense of humour and how everyone is just there for the pay cheque, not giving 110% and not helping each other out. It seemed that all I heard day after day was “It’s not my job mate!” or “I’m knocking off in half an hour!” Nobody at all wanted to be part of something bigger than themselves. As far I could tell, there was a real lack of commitment or camaraderie in the civilian workforce.
I was therefore surprised when my friend found himself in disagreement with my views. He told me about his job as a crane operator and as an appointed person working for the largest crane hire company in the country – Ainscough Crane Hire.
He told me more about what his job entailed and then told me that there was a job vacancy and that he thought I’d be the perfect candidate. I had experience working with cranes before in my army days and I was pretty familiar with how to safely work with just nuts, bolts and wires. It occurred to me that if I could fix a Challenger 2 Main Battle tank then I might also have the right skills to fix a crane.
I was really impressed with the working environment my friend had described. I took the plunge and applied for the job, and was very pleased to be invited for an interview.
When the interview took place, I felt confident and I presented myself well. In the army you learn the importance of always speaking clearly and considering what you want to say before you open your mouth. Once the formal introductions were out of the way the interview started to become more relaxed and I felt positive that I was in with a good chance of landing the job.
I didn’t have to wait long to find out. Within a week I was informed that I had been successful and within a month I was ready for my first day as a crane fitter.
Ainscough’s induction process was brilliant and soon I was right into the swing of it – the full hammer and tongs. So many of my trade skills were transferable from my time in the (REME). What made the job even better was that lots of my colleagues were also from a military background.
It was great to find a job where your colleagues shared such an important experience, something that brought us closer together. I began to put my finger on why I was enjoying life at Ainscough so much – that thing that was missing was no longer missing at all. I was back where I belonged.
It’s no secret that it can often be difficult for ex-military personnel to adjust to civilian life. It is therefore a huge credit to Ainscough that it has created an environment that is so welcoming to people who have served, and provides them with the chance to forge rewarding careers with great opportunities for progression.
There are many similarities between working at Ainscough and being the in the army – both demand exceptional standards and place a big emphasis on team work, and it is up to the more experienced members of staff to show leadership to help new recruits find their feet.
Key to Ainscough’s success is the pride each member of staff takes in the work we do – our depots and facilities are maintained to the highest standards, as are our cranes and support vehicles. This approach mirrors the army values and standards that were engrained into me by those training corporals all those years ago. That’s what makes Ainscough the right choice for me, many of my ex-army colleagues and anyone who is looking to join a company that gives you a sense a pride and camaraderie on a daily basis.
“Make the Safe Choice.”
Gary Wood (Crane Fitter)
Ainscough Crane Hire has revealed details of its new depot in Invergordon, which will allow the UK’s leading crane company to better serve both existing and new customers.
The new site, located on the Highland Deephaven Industrial Estate in Evanton, sees Ainscough move from its previous Invergordon site, expanding our capability as it looks to grow its wind energy offering while continuing to deliver a superior service for clients across a range of other sectors in the Highlands.
The 27, 852 sq ft facility is fully under cover, allowing superior protection for the depot’s fleet of cranes and a better working environment for Ainscough’s staff. The additional space provided by the site has enabled the creation of a crane workshop and garage. This will allow the depot to be fully self-sufficient with the ability to service, inspect and maintain its own cranes.
Like all of Ainscough’s depots, the new Invergordon site has access to the company’s full fleet which comprises over 400 cranes including everything up to a 1000t. Located adjacent to the A9 trunk road, the depot is also highly visible and easily accessible for potential clients.
The investment in the new and improved depot reaffirms Ainscough’s commitment to supporting Northern Scotland from our existing framework customers to the renewable energy sector. In recent years the sector has continued to expand, with both large and small scale wind farms becoming increasingly popular. Ainscough has been involved in the construction, lifting, transport and installation of over 3,000 wind turbines.
The new depot will additionally allow Ainscough’s Scottish operation to expand its work in infrastructure, where it already supports customers with replacement and expansion projects in electricity generation and distribution through substation works and pylon erections and replacement. The team also regularly undertakes work for national construction firms at numerous sites across the Scottish Highlands and Moray.
Rebekah Tippett, manager of the new Invergordon depot said: “Everyone at Ainscough Crane Hire is very proud to be able to open this fantastic new depot in Invergordon. This represents both Ainscough’s commitment to the wind energy sector and our determination to continually improve the service we offer new and existing clients across a wide variety of industries.
“We are aware of the complexities that many construction projects entail, and as well as our new location we are further exploring what we can do to innovate in the sector. Additionally, our co-operative network of cranes is spread across a wide geography, meaning we are easily able to access the remote locations in which such projects are often located. The wind energy sector will prove to be increasingly important in the years ahead, and we anticipate that Ainscough will play a key role in helping to bring dynamic and innovative schemes to life. This, combined with our ongoing work on other significant construction and infrastructure projects across the region, means this is a hugely exciting time for Ainscough and our clients in Scotland.”
Ainscough Crane Hire has delivered a complex derigging job on behalf of contractor Multiplex, which is currently building 100 Bishopsgate, one of London’s most exciting new office developments.
100 Bishopsgate is located within the City of London, and when complete will comprise approximately 950,000 sq ft of premium office and retail space across two buildings. The development consists of a 40 storey tower and a seven storey podium, incorporating a green roof terrace on level seven.
Multiplex is pre-construction advisor, design and build contractor and CDM coordinator for the £450m development on behalf of the 100 Bishopsgate Partnership, owned by Brookfield Property Partners.
After the original tower crane was dismantled from 190m to level 8 by Multiplex Plant and Equipment, Ainscough was appointed to derig the remaining 90m tower crane.
The derigging of the tower crane was a complex operation that required weeks of planning. Due to issues arising from concurrent gasworks that were taking place in the same area of the City of London, the derigging was rescheduled multiple times in line with safety precautions.
This left Ainscough with an increasingly short window of time to complete the operation.
Alison Mills of Ainscough’s London Regional Hire Centre secured the partial and full road closures that were required to ensure the work was completed successfully. Once on site, Nationwide Traffic Solutions managed the closures and ensured the disruption to vehicles and pedestrians was as limited as possible.
The tower crane commenced with the dismantle from level 8 on the first weekend, using a 450t crane on luffing fly jib complete with reduced outriggers and reduced ballast slew removing the A-Frame front jib and ballast blocks, with NTS deploying a live traffic lane to keep the traffic flowing. The following weekend a 500t crane was used to derig the remaining 60m of the tower crane but this time on a full road closure due to the configuration required.
The completion of the dismantling coincided with a particularly busy weekend for Ainscough in the City of London, with work taking place two streets down from Bishopsgate at Devonshire Square, where Ainscough was using another 450t to lift generators on to Premier Place, a refurbished office building being delivered by Greycoat Real Estate.
Bob Beardmore, Heavy Cranes Technical Manager, said: “This operation was a textbook demonstration of how teamwork can deliver a complex lift successfully. Throughout our team was focussed on careful planning, managing possible hazards and finding solutions to possible problems.
“Dismantling a 90m tower crane in the heart of the City of London work represented a real challenge for our team, but I’m happy to say it is one we rose to. From Alison’s sterling work in securing the road closures to our crane operators that delivered the dismantling under significant time pressure and in a tight location, this was truly a collective effort and I’m very pleased we were able to deliver such an exceptional service for Multiplex.”
Ainscough Crane Hire has worked with electricity network operator Western Power Distribution (WPD) to replace a transformer on a busy road in the popular Devon village of Beer.
WPD carries our regular inspections and maintenance of its electricity network, and during a recent inspection in Beer it became apparent that a substation would need to be replaced.
Due to the restricted space in the compound and the condition of a retaining wall, WPD needed to excavate in front of the substation in order to temporally disconnect the high and low voltage cables.
With all the apparatus disconnected, WPD then needed to remove two items from the compound in order to build new plinths as well as a new retaining wall.
The heaviest item within the substation weighed approximately 3.5t, and as a result of the substation being located 40 metres along a footpath, it was decided to engage Ainscough’s Exeter depot to undertake the lift.
The lift posed some logistical challenges for Ainscough, as the Liebherr 150t crane had to be parked on Fore Street, the main road for coming in and out of Beer.
To counter this, WPD timed the work out of tourist season, and was also granted permission by the council to close Fore Street to allow the crane to be in situ.
Once Ainscough’s team removed the substation’s apparatus, WPD undertook the required civil engineering work before Ainscough lifted the new apparatus into place. WPD was then able to start re-connecting the new apparatus back to the electrical network.
While the operations took place WPD ensured that the low voltage overhead power lines were disconnected. Both lifts were carried out in late evening to further minimise the disruption to local residents, business owners and commuters.
Ryan Dobson, Ainscough’s Exeter depot manager said: “We were happy to be appointed by WPD to help ensure Beer’s electricity network continues to serve the needs of the village’s residents. We had to deliver the lift in a tight and enclosed space, but the forward planning of WPD and the skill of our team ensured the work was carried out successfully and with minimum disruption.”
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