The surge for pre-prepared cladding after lockdown

Signs are strong for a quick resurgence in the pre-prepared cladding market once the UK’s national lockdown ends in the coming months.

As more of the most vulnerable individuals receive their vaccinations against COVID-19, activity should begin to increase across the construction sector, especially once the national lockdown officially ends.

In previous periods of easing restrictions, we saw a surge in pre-prepared cladding activity, and this is likely to be repeated as the vaccine programme progresses.

This is in part due to continuing efforts to replace Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding that does not meet building regulations, in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

But it is also a hallmark of the industry’s appetite to continue new construction, refurbishment and other work on building fabric, despite the challenges that the pandemic has presented over the past year.

Major milestones in making buildings safe

The end of 2020 saw some major milestones reached in replacing ACM cladding, as the government published figures for the progress achieved so far:

  • 100% of social sector high-rise buildings have work underway or completed
  • 95% of all ACM-clad high-rise buildings have work underway or completed
  • More sites with remediation underway than ever, despite COVID-19

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: “This is a big step forwards. While there is still more to do, we are helping make the highest risk buildings with dangerous cladding safer, more quickly.”

The government is also funding the replacement of other kinds of unsafe cladding, and by January 15th nearly £100 million of the available £1 billion Building Safety Fund had been allocated to remedial work.

Significantly, the government has also stressed that work should carry on during the pandemic, on sites where it can be carried out in a COVID-secure manner.

Post-pandemic plans for pre-prepared cladding

Pre-prepared cladding has advantages for COVID-secure construction sites, as it reduces time spent cutting panels and installing brackets on-site, which can also reduce the number of personnel who need to be in the work area at any one time.

But even as we move into the post-pandemic era, the cost benefits, time savings and ease of installation of pre-prepared cladding will continue to present a compelling proposition for building contractors.

If you would like to know more about the benefits of pre-prepared cladding for your building project, please contact hebs Group by calling 0151 2360707 and we will be happy to discuss the options with you for new-build, refurbishment and retrofit work.

What to know about AI-based maintenance

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an emerging trend across many areas of business and AI-based maintenance stands to become a valuable technology in the years to come.

Already, AI is enabling smarter maintenance and facilities management, especially by optimising scheduled maintenance and identifying a need for reactive and responsive repairs.

The true value of AI goes beyond simple automation, as machine learning allows systems to become more and more sophisticated over time, as well as becoming more attuned to the specific needs of your equipment and your estate.

As a result, AI-based maintenance can spot complex patterns and predict the ‘unpredictable’ failures that simple computer programs and human monitoring would miss.

This maximises uptime, as well as allowing maintenance resources to focus on the genuinely unavoidable outages to restore equipment to working order faster and with less cost involved.

How AI-based maintenance benefits from Big Data

Assets and equipment generate more data than ever before, much of it fed back to base automatically via the Internet of Things (IoT).

But manually monitoring the IoT across a large estate can represent a significant administrative burden for facilities management – which is where AI can help.

AI-based facilities management uses intelligent analytics and iterative learning to analyse Big Data returned via IoT devices over the cloud, and can highlight any emerging causes for concern before they can lead to a costly business interruption.

This enables benefits by keeping equipment working, but it’s not as simple as a binary ‘on/off’ state. Equipment can be flagged for attention if it is performing inefficiently, enabling a pre-emptive tune-up that cuts down on wasted energy and lost productivity.

Manual maintenance vs. automated interventions

AI-based maintenance can be both manual – using automatically generated status reports and failure forecasts to identify where human attention is required – and automated, for example by adjusting demands across multiple devices to balance the load.

This delivers ‘best of both’ benefits, by eliminating human intervention where it is not needed, and making best use of human capital in facilities management and maintenance when manual repair is essential.

At hebs Group our complete maintenance services include careful monitoring of mission-critical equipment and estate-wide facilities management.

This ensures we can take pre-emptive action against any emerging faults, providing manual maintenance and emergency repairs by skilled engineers where necessary, so that you can avoid business interruptions and maximise your productivity and profit over the long term.


Call us on 01512360707 and a friendly member of our team will be happy to help with your maintenance enquiry.

Flowtech clear a channel to fix blocked drains in Broughton

The hebs Flowtech team were recently called out to fix blocked drains in Broughton at the premises of the Local Medical Committee (LMC) on Garstang Road.

Although the leafy suburb north of Preston is a scenic location for Broughton Ambulance Station, the surrounding trees mean fallen leaves present a constant risk of blocked drains.

In this case, an accumulation of dead leaves and other debris had built up over time on the roof of the building, including in the drainage channels that run the length of the sloping roof.

This led to a further problem, as the downpipes were also blocked, leaving nowhere for rainwater to go in a controlled way.

Flowtech’s engineers were called out to assess the situation and take the necessary action to restore drainage to the Broughton LMC’s roof.

How to fix blocked drains on a roof

The problem in this case was not difficult to diagnose, thanks to the build-up of fallen leaves on the roof of the building and especially in the drainage channels.

As a result, we were able to quickly take action to clear the blocked channels, as well as to restore free-flowing drainage into the downpipes.

We removed the debris and dead leaves from the channels, as well as from the rest of the roof, to ensure it is as long as possible before it can begin to build up again.

In addition, the Flowtech team jetted the downpipes to make absolutely certain they were clear of any partial blockages, to maximise the amount of water that can drain from the roof of the LMC.

Don’t neglect blocked rooftop drains

It’s easy to overlook blocked rooftop drains, including roof surface drainage channels and the downpipes they empty into, especially if you don’t regularly access the roof or have a direct view over it from above.

Look out for any signs of rainwater overflowing the roof edge, instead of being guided into the downpipes as intended.

Overflow may occur in the same or similar place each time it rains, as the excess water finds the lowest point of the roof edge, and this can lead to damp problems as parts of your building’s masonry receive a regular soaking.


If you have any concerns about roof drainage, downpipes or run-off water removal from anywhere on your premises, contact hebs Flowtech today on 0151 2360707 and we can arrange a visit to fix blocked drains in Broughton and the surrounding area.


Top 2021 trends in facilities management

The full year of 2020 was disruptive for businesses around the world, as the novel Coronavirus gained global attention soon after New Year’s, developing into the COVID-19 pandemic by spring.

It’s not yet clear whether we can expect a return to normality in 2021, although the availability of multiple COVID-19 vaccines should mean restrictions can ease in the coming months.

As businesses return to normal levels of productivity and profit, what will this mean for facilities management? Here are some of the top trends in FM for 2021.

FM Outsourcing

Outsourcing often starts small, with a single task outsourced to a specialist third-party provider. But over time, organisations recognise the scalability of outsourcing and the combined benefits of appointing a single provider to oversee multiple tasks.

FM outsourcing in particular is a good way to achieve this, and experienced Integrated Facilities Management (IFM) providers like hebs Group can handle complex needs to relieve you of the burden.

This will likely be a hallmark of the ‘Build Back Better’ trend in 2021, as businesses look to reduce their time and money spent on non-core activities, so they can focus on what they do best.

Health & Safety

The COVID-19 pandemic put health & safety far out in front as the number one priority for all workplaces, with the advent of the concept of being ‘COVID-secure’.

As we move beyond the pandemic with the help of vaccinations, businesses of all sizes will be more aware of the risk of infectious disease, as well as the operational impact of employee absence.

While health & safety does not necessarily fall within the remit of FM, the boundary will only become more blurred in the post-COVID era, a trend that is likely to emerge noticeably over the course of 2021.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is nothing new for FM but in recent years it has reached true maturity, with more assets than ever equipped with wireless connectivity.

IoT allows equipment to automatically report back data, including fault reports and maintenance requests, as well as efficiency data like power consumption and unscheduled downtime.

After the events of 2020-21, with many companies opening a greater number of smaller, more remote premises, the IoT has the potential to come into its own as a way to bring together FM across entire estates and reduce the admin burden.

Want to know more?

This is just a snapshot of some of the biggest trends in facilities management in 2021 – if you’d like to discuss your specific needs and how hebs Group can help you this year and beyond, get in touch today by calling 01512360707.