Rope and Sling Targets Crane and Rigging Inspection Growth
Eight Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd. (RSS) employees recently passed a mobile crane inspection refresher course, as managing director Steve Hutin looks to raise further the percentage of business gained from such work across the company’s six UK-based depots.
Hutin predicts that approximately 25% of the firm’s current revenue is generated by Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) and other specialist testing / inspection activity. A small team of professionals currently fulfills such duties, but two-pronged investment in their skillsets and training additional personnel will be initiated in line with increasing demand.
Hutin said: “We test and inspect all types of cranes and rigging gear, but we also carry out specialist tests on items used for the nuclear or construction sectors. Further diversification will inevitably lead to greater demand. Additionally, as customers place repeat business and we earn work via word of mouth, we must ensure we are equipped to respond to enquiries.”
RSS has locations in Heathrow, London; Aylesford, Kent; Rotherham, Yorkshire; Warrington, Cheshire; Grangemouth, Scotland; and Bridgend, Wales, the company’s de facto headquarters. Hutin said the geographical spread—he wants 10 sites one day—allows the company to tailor equipment and services to the lifting activities of a region. The eight employees who took the latest refresher—Mick Gill, Gary Coleman, James Garrish, Tony Mills, Stephen Conroy, Graham Dawson, Dan Hooke, and Christopher Williams—are all Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA) qualified and work across those geographies.
Hutin explained: “We are very strategic about where we locate our depots; we understand the importance of location to our customers, who often find peace of mind in working with local suppliers that offer back-up equipment and service a short distance from their jobsite. It works the same with testing and inspection, where all [RSS] sites are involved in a similar volume of inspection activity, but the work varies greatly. In London, major projects like super sewers demand our services, while in Rotherham [nuclear and heavy engineering] and Wales [steel] it will be other sectors.”
Hutin acknowledged that, while testing and inspection aligns with company policy to play an integral role in making the industry safer, there is a strong business case for growing the percentage of inspection work. Charging per item, for a contract, or daily, depending on a customer’s preference, RSS can generate income without sourcing, manufacturing, shipping, or maintaining product that erodes profit margin.
He concluded: “End users are becoming more wise not only to periodic testing and inspection, but the requirement to visually examine lifting and rigging gear before each use. While our LOLER-based work is typically tied to six-monthly inspections, if an item is in regular use or even 24/7 operation, a risk assessment specific to that place of work should state a requirement for shorter inspection periods, say, every three months.”
RSS is also welcoming increased demand for a range of courses covering key areas of interest to end users of lifting equipment, as developed by LEEA members, which are then audited and accredited by the association. Member companies, like RSS, present them to an agreed syllabus and timescale.