Talented engineers help lifting specialist go nuclear
Some 18 months before starting the KTP, the company had supplied an electro-hydraulic lifting and handling device to Dungeness power station, completed via a third-party contractor. This success helped to identify opportunities to develop their own expertise in nuclear engineering and enabled them to tender directly to the UK’s nuclear power stations. With other markets – particularly for mining-related equipment – in decline in the UK, the need to diversify was crucial.
The company approached Sheffield Hallam with the goal of introducing and embedding nuclear engineering capability into their company. Following funding approval from Innovate UK for a KTP, engineering graduate Simon Pykett was identified as the best fit for the project.
‘Sheffield Hallam has provided and continues to provide excellent support.’- Jessica Penny, General Manager – Sales
The University provided Simon and the company with background material on the nuclear industry, as well as engineering support around design calculations, project management and specialist equipment.
‘Simon has transformed our nuclear business. Without the KTP, and therefore Simon’s input, we would most certainly not be in this position.’ - Richard Short, Sales Director
Simon set to work on the company’s behalf, networking to establish a presence in the nuclear power community, and arranging audits with commissioning organisations.
Working closely with Sheffield Hallam design engineers and physicists he was able to win the tender to design and supply equipment capable of handling waste storage cells at Sellafield. Delivering this £160k project involved researching and developing the capability to lift, handle and manoeuvre spent nuclear fuel. Simon took the lead, in the company, managing the project and coordinating a team encompassing design, manufacturing and strict quality control. The company subsequently became a quality assured supplier to Sellafield, 12 months ahead of target.
Further contracts in the nuclear industry followed, beginning with a £240k contract to design and install a fuel element debris handling facility at Bradwell power station. The company is now a Tier 2 supplier to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which enables it to tender directly to the Site Licence Companies responsible for decommissioning and clean-up at 17 nuclear sites around the UK.
Reaping the Benefits
Simon had a huge impact on Penny Hydraulics’ nuclear business and secured a permanent role on completion of the KTP. He now heads up the Penny Nuclear division, which has expanded rapidly and turns over more than £1m per year. The company is considering opportunities for future KTPs, seeing them as an ideal opportunity to bring in a talented graduate and nurture them through the business, initially via a KTP but then through a development process lasting four or five years.
'Guidance from Sheffield Hallam in the recruitment process was paramount in ensuring that we acquired the best candidate for the job.’ - Robin Penny, Managing Director