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A Good Blend: Part 1

World Cement,


In July 2013, World Cement visited the UK’s largest cement plant, the 1.5 million tpa Hope plant in Derbyshire. Whilst there, we met with Industrial Director, Ashley Bryan, and Environment, Health and Safety Manager, Alison Shenton, and we were struck by their enthusiasm for team development and methods of encouraging a positive health and safety culture at the plant. This article details Hope’s apprenticeship scheme, training and team building, as well as best practice. An overview of plant operations and Hope’s use of waste-derived fuels will be included in the BMHR 2013 issue.

Hope Construction Materials

The Hope plant became part of the new company in early January 2013, after it was purchased as part of a combined portfolio sale by Lafarge and Tarmac UK. The new company is led by Chairman Amit Bhatia, who was recently named Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 in the Asian Business Awards. Hope Construction Materials encompasses 180 sites across the UK, including the Hope works and related depots, aggregates, asphalt and concrete operations. As the company’s name indicates, Hope Construction Materials has placed the Derbyshire cement plant at the core of its operations.

The new building products manufacturer has a total of 800 employees and 400 owner drivers. According to Ashley Bryan, the changeover to the new owner involved a relatively smooth handover. There were relatively few staff changes, with the majority of employees at the firm’s various sites transitioning across while the central teams were mainly recruited from within Lafarge and Tarmac. This resulted in a strong team across Hope Construction Materials’ operations. “We have a good mix, a good blend and we’re at full strength now throughout the organisation,” commented Ashley. He was equally positive about the changeover itself: “It was a huge project, we’re still changing things now. The actual change went really well and that’s both a credit to the team that came over with Hope Construction Materials, as well as the Lafarge Tarmac team that are supporting us still.”

Training and apprenticeship schemes

Hope visits local schools and colleges, attending open days and career evenings to highlight training opportunities within the plant and possible roles within the construction materials industry. The site currently offers both mechanical and electrical apprenticeship schemes, working in partnership with Stockport-based training college SETA. The scheme has had positive results. In 2013, first year apprentice Greg Mellor was chosen as Electrical Apprentice of the Year by SETA, Charles Cone won SETA Apprentice of the Year Award and first year mechanical apprentice Danny Floyd was recognised with the BTEC Award.

Hope Construction Materials cement business star apprentices outside the offices of the Hope Works.  

Onsite, the apprentices are provided with a structured programme and are assigned a mentor to help them through the 4-year scheme. The apprentices have the opportunity to gain exposure to different departments and are encouraged to pursue training within their specific areas of interest. Hope is also considering expanding the scheme to encompass the Hope Construction Materials organisation as a whole, in order to allow trainees to learn the skills required in other elements of the business, such as ready-mix concrete.

“Apprenticeships are one of those things that you have to constantly keep fresh and constantly revisit to make sure that they are meeting the needs of the modern business,” says Ashley. Hope structures its apprenticeship programme according to future developments within the company and the cement industry. For this reason, it has been encouraging its trainees to consider the handling of waste-derived fuels in addition to the handling of traditional materials within cement manufacture.

In addition to the apprenticeship scheme, Hope offers a control room operator training programme, as well as training technicians to become process engineers. The plant supports those that are interested in studying for an Engineering degree.

Both new employees and those who have worked in the industry for many years are encouraged to visit the site’s ‘Production Coach’, who offers lessons in the cement production process. This system has been in place at the plant for some time, generating a great deal of interest among staff and helping to improve skills.

Part 1 of 2. You can read the rest of the article here.

Written by Louise Fordham

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