Ross-shire Engineering: Aiming High
With its latest modular water treatment plant having hit new heights in terms of scale and ambition, Ross-shire Engineering is now seeking to put its offsite modular build expertise into action throughout the UK
by Robin Hackett
Ross-shire Engineering (RSE) has spent the last 30 years developing its reputation north of the border, establishing an extensive track record of work with Scottish Water. Now, the company is seeking to build on its profile further afield.
RSE has been honing its expertise in modular offsite construction for over a decade, handling an array of multi-million-pound projects for the national utility at its headquarters in the Highland village of Muir of Ord.
With AMP7 around the corner, director Jamie MacGregor believes it is time to spread the word further throughout the UK.
“The Scottish Highland way is to deliver a good project and then move onto the next one,” MacGregor says.
“You don’t read a lot about multi-million-pound awards that we get. We don’t put it in the local press – we focus on delivery and client satisfaction – but I think part of our challenge now is to raise the profile of our products.
“We’ve got a mature range of water treatment plants that are transportable. We’re at the leading edge of off-site modular construction.”
To demonstrate RSE’s capabilities, MacGregor hosts a tour of its largest transportable plant to date: an £8.75 million project for Scottish Water that is due to be delivered to Lochmaddy in the Outer Hebrides later this spring. Covering a total floor area of 870m2, the two-storey construction is made from 16 discrete units, with the majority weighing around 20 tonnes each.
“Once it’s onsite and assembled, people would never imagine it’s offsite build,” he says. “Looking in our modular plants, there’s an awful lot of technology in there, a lot of equipment. It wouldn’t really occur to most that you could fit all that into a water treatment works built on an offsite basis.”
The company has designed, built, installed and commissioned over 30 modular nanofiltration water treatment units throughout Scotland so far, alongside multiple modular chemical dosing and UV plants, with all the construction and 90 per cent of the commissioning completed at its bespoke modular fabrication facility in Muir of Ord.
“It’s all within our own grasp, from the 3D design, the base fabrication, the box steel for the carcasses right through to the cladding, the assembly, the mechanical and electrical fit-out, the software, the process, the commissioning,” he says. “We do that all in-house so we’re not relying on third parties. We’ve not got overlap that we can’t control.”
The Lochmaddy plant will be fully tested at RSE HQ before being dismantled and transported by road and sea to North Uist, where it will replace the existing plant on the island.
“The transportable plants are just that,” MacGregor says. “We can make them here and install them all over the world.”
BIM and 3D walkthrough design and optioneering minimise rework and revision prior to construction, and the operational technology in the plants means they can be monitored remotely after delivery.
The focus is primarily on building up the company’s presence south of the border, and MacGregor says there have been good indications that its products will be popular.
“We do see an opportunity in the market in England now,” MacGregor says. “We’re seeing quite a lot of interest from water companies running the AMP cycles, whereas before we were purely Scotland-based. Now we’ve got three plants ordered from Northumbrian Water, and we’ve been successful in winning a framework with Yorkshire Water.
“Our products are mature, they’re proven and they do very much what they say on the tin – they’re transportable and they deliver the water quality we aim for. These things will be attractive to the water companies in the UK, so we are looking at the AMP cycles and where we can strike up strategic alliances with tier one contractors and where we can direct deliver to the water companies.”
RSE, which has additional bases in Glasgow and Edinburgh, plans to make an acquisition in England.
“We’re actively considering investment opportunities for growth and acquisition south of the border,” MacGregor says. “We want a smaller version of ourselves, with experience delivering to water companies and a core of expertise in the electrical and mechanical space, ideally with a design capability.”
The immediate focus, though, is on trying to get a foot in the door with more companies ahead of AMP7, with MacGregor keen to highlight the many advantages modular build can offer, including reduced cost, shorter and more reliable timescales, and improved worker safety.
Offsite methods can also provide a substantial reduction in carbon footprint, and RSE has made a concerted effort to ensure it adopts environmentally friendly working practices.
“Offsite build saves multiple journeys and movement of materials,” he says. “We also monitor our fuel and electricity usage and we have targets for recycling waste. When we test the transportable plants, we use our 30,000-litre closed-loop water system to preserve the water. Our workshop has got solar PV on the roof and a biomass boiler for underfloor heating. We don’t only say we want to promote environmental benefits – we actually do that.”
As PR19 approaches, Ross-shire Engineering believes it has the right approach and is ready to seize the moment.
“There’s no question that in the new AMP cycle there’s a focus on offsite build, on reducing your carbon footprint, on environmental awareness,” he says. “No question. Our plants are low carbon in the build and low carbon in the operation. If we can demonstrate that we’re committed to the environment, what’s not to like?”
-This article appeared in the May 2018 issue of WET News.
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