INDUSTRY INSIGHTS | Q&A with K Piling’s Commercial Manager, James Downing
Firstly, can you give us an overview of yourself and your career history?
I have been working on constructions sites as a laborer since the age of 18 during the rugby off-seasons. After graduating from university with an engineering degree I went on to start managing projects and specifically piling works.
Some hero projects that I managed that you might know are:
- Coal Drops Yard, Kings cross – BAM (~1.1 mil of specialist piling works)
- Royal College of Music – Gilbert Ash (~500K of specialist piling works)
For the last 3 years, I have worked in contractual/commercial roles and overall division/company management.
Can you tell us about K Piling and how it integrates with Knowles Construction?
Knowles Construction have always done a lot of piling work on their sites, however, the issue with using external piling contractors is, it is very hard to find unity and a clear positive direction as each entity is always looking for the answer that best suits them. Since we are in the same group, we have the same overall goal. By working very closely with Knowles Construction, we have the beneficial opportunity to decrease overall job programs and find ways to minimise overall costs where possible – making us more competitive and appealing to clients.
What projects are K Piling currently working on with Knowles?
50 Hyde Park Gate: Completing a heavily restricted 450mm secant wall and 450mm bearing piles with 2 no KLEMM 702-02 piling rigs.
Private Estate, Berkshire: Completing approximately 550no 450mm diameter bearing/ tension piles to form part of the foundations of the main house and 3no outbuildings. Works being completed with a SOILMEC SF50 CFA piling rig.
AUTO CAVE Scheme, Surrey: Completed a contiguous piled retaining wall in a private residence to retain ground during the installation of a hydraulic car lift/storage.
What are the current challenges you face with piling and how do you overcome these?
Piling, unlike most other elements of construction, is extremely time-sensitive. For example, once you start a pile it must be constructed (reinforced and concreted) that day. This means the usual concrete delays and plant breakdowns you typically get on sites can cause significant challenges to the piling team. We overcome this on-site by always having a plan B and C and ensuring we communicate issues to the wider Knowles team straight away. In a group of companies as large and diverse as the Knowles, the solution is always a phone call away.
How does K Piling keep up with the latest technologies and innovations when it comes to your sector?
We make sure we are always using the latest and most efficient piling rigs and techniques. Safety is always at the forefront of our minds and we ensure we only employ highly qualified and experienced staff who go above and beyond to ensure the most recent safety standards are upheld.
Finally, we put a large responsibility on our engineers who are some of the top in the country, to ensure the latest design methods are used to increase safety and ensure the designs are always valued engineered.
A combination of the above means we can get high-powered rigs in the smallest spaces doing the most complicated piling works possible.