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.

How thermally driven air conditioning works

Thermally driven air conditioning is an alternative to conventional HVAC systems which makes use of solar energy as a way to drive the cooling effect.

It reduces reliance on energy from the mains grid as the primary method of powering the system, which in turn makes it a good candidate in remote locations.

But it’s also finding favour in areas where mains power is easily accessible, but you’d like to reduce your spending on energy or cut your carbon footprint.

While the technology has been around for years already, ongoing research has improved the processes to a point where it is now a highly cost-efficient way to tackle energy consumption, carbon emissions and potentially to help combat climate change in business.

 

How thermally driven cooling works

Thermally driven air conditioning is sometimes referred to as liquid desiccant evaporative cooling, or just thermally driven cooling.

In hot and humid areas, it brings dual benefits, as the process not only cools the air, but also dehumidifies it.

This is achieved using a liquid desiccant to draw moisture out of the air, which is then evaporated to get rid of excess heat.

If you’ve ever used a portable air conditioner or a cheap domestic air conditioner, you’ve probably used a basic version of the same principle, by filling a tank with water or ice which is evaporated to lower the ambient air temperature.

 

Benefits of thermally driven air conditioning

To summarise the benefits of thermally driven air conditioning we’ve already mentioned above:

  • Can be used in remote locations or to reduce reliance on mains power
  • Reduces energy consumption and carbon footprint
  • Lowers ambient humidity as well as air temperature

Combining these qualities, you can see that thermally driven cooling is not only good for the comfort of the people inside your premises, but can be good news for your business and the environment too.

This is why, especially at a time when more organisations are doing what they can to prevent climate change, thermally driven AC is seeing growing awareness and interest from businesses of all sizes.

 

Find out more

If you’d like to know more about thermally driven cooling and AC, please contact hebs Group by calling our team on 0151 2360707 and we will be happy to discuss the technology with you.

We can give you an honest assessment of whether solar driven air conditioning suits you, or make recommendations of other more appropriate methods of HVAC for your premises if needed.

The benefits of using living materials for construction

The idea of using living materials for construction has been around for many years, yet it is still relatively unusual to see green roofs and living walls on buildings in the UK.

But as we move through the 21st century and face a variety of environmental challenges, there are several good reasons why using living materials in construction could offer a partial solution.

We all know plants are good news in terms of reducing the amount of CO2 in the air, but the benefits of biological building materials go beyond that.

 

Capturing carbon

The ability of green roofs to capture carbon is already well known, but using living building materials in urban areas is especially beneficial.

Roofs and walls offer large areas where biological matter like grass, moss and small plants can be cultivated in a deliberate way.

In dense urban areas like city centres, this can vastly increase the amount of CO2 being scrubbed from the air – improving air quality and the health of local residents and workers.

 

Reducing flooding

Green roofs can act as sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS), especially when the correct kind of breathable and water-permeable membrane is used as a base layer.

They add an element of control to the way rainwater runs off the roof – often the first hard surface rainfall hits, which can raise the risk of flooding on premises where the run-off is not well controlled.

In this way, green roofs can reduce the flow of water to a more manageable level during a downpour, as well as guiding run-off into the gutters and drainpipes, and ultimately into the sewers so it leaves your property quickly and safely.

 

Thermal control

Finally, in this list one of the big benefits of living materials in construction is thermal control of the building’s interior.

Organic matter has a naturally insulating effect. That means living walls and green roofs can help to keep interiors cooler on hot summer days, and warmer on cold winter days.

If you’re thinking about intelligent building controls, solar shielding and other systems to reduce HVAC spending and cut carbon emissions from business premises, green roofs and living walls should be on your list to at least consider – the argument in favour is persuasive.

 

To find out more about any of the above, contact hebs Group today by calling 0151 2360707 and we will be happy to talk you through our capabilities in this area, to bring your premises up to date for the 2020s.

How CRMs are helping to manage your roofing projects

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is the name given to software packages that help companies interact better with past, present and future customers.

More generally, CRM can refer to those interactions themselves and any other supporting technologies, but most often it is used specifically to talk about the software used.

At hebs Group we believe strongly in using the latest technology to deliver services better, whether that’s hardware and equipment, or software that underpins service delivery.

Good CRM platforms can help businesses to coordinate activities, prioritise clients whose needs are greatest, and deliver better results across the board.

Roofing projects are no exception, as CRMs can help to manage the delivery of projects on time, on budget, and with the best outcomes for clients.

 

How does CRM help roofing projects?

The benefits of CRM software are a naturally good fit for roofing projects. You can store all your active and upcoming projects in one place for a better overview of what’s coming up.

You can prioritise projects with the tightest deadlines, or those with other priorities – such as where a roof is leaking badly and needs to be repaired as an emergency.

CRM ensures smaller customers don’t feel neglected just because they don’t shout as loud as bigger brand-name clients.

At the same time, you can gain better visibility of the largest projects, managing issues like project planning, ordering materials, and carrying out multiple phases of work (e.g., roof fabric, roof-edge drainage and so on) in a logical progression.

The list goes on and on – regardless of the size of the project, its financial value or its delivery schedule, roofing CRMs help to deliver it to the highest of standards.

 

CRM benefits for repeat roofing customers

The ‘R’ in CRM is important. Roofing CRM software doesn’t just allow companies to interact better with customers on a single project, it can also support better client relationships over the long term.

And this is where CRM really comes into its own, by charting the progression of customers over multiple projects, and allowing roofing contractors to focus on delivering better and better results.

So roofing CRM is multi-dimensional:

  • Raise standards on individual roofing projects at any one time
  • Extend these improvements across all current customers
  • Continue to improve service delivery for clients over time

 

To find out more about how hebs Group provide the best service levels to all our customers, and how CRMs for roofing projects help contractors to meet the highest standards, contact us today on 0151 2360707.

Jet washing services make Christmas merry and bright

If you’re dreaming of a green Christmas because of a mouldy path or passageway in dire need of professional jet washing services, hebs Group can help.

Jet washing doesn’t need to be messy or leave a flood to clean up at the end. When you call in the hebs team, we will take care of everything – including the clean-up afterwards.

We pride ourselves on a job done well, with the minimum of disruption to your day, and we always aim to leave behind a scene that looks as good as new.

It’s especially important to get any moss and mould cleaned away from paving during the winter months, when wet weather can make it very slippery and create a health hazard.

That’s why, in the run-up to Christmas, New Year and beyond into winter 2021, we will be out and about blasting away unwanted greenery wherever we are needed.

A clean Christmas for Church View

One recent call-out was to Church View, who were dealing with an outside area where heavy mould had built up over time.

The worst affected area was around the drains, so the hebs Flowtech team put their expertise and equipment into getting it clear again.

Flowtech provide professional jet washing services using the latest machinery to physically blast away any surface growth like moss and mould, without causing any damage to walls, paving or concrete floors.

We cleaned the area thoroughly, and you can see from the photos how much of a difference it makes, both visually and to the safety of walking through the area.

If you’ve been living with a slippery space outside, whether in an enclosed passageway or anywhere on your premises, hebs Flowtech can help by washing away any surface biofilms and other green growth. Call us on 0151 2360707 and let’s make a fresh, clean start to the year.

A very merry Christmas to all

As we near the end of this unusual year, everyone here at hebs Group would like to wish our customers and suppliers a very merry Christmas, however you are celebrating it.

This year brought challenges we have not faced before, and hebs Group have been proud to help all our clients rise to the task of making premises clean, safe, and hygienic throughout the course of 2020.

We are all hopeful for a more positive year ahead in 2021. So, whatever your plans, we hope you have very happy holidays, and look forwards to working with you in the New Year.

The benefits of hebs Group’s modular building fit-outs

Back at the start of 2019 we tipped modular construction as one of the modern methods of construction (MMC) we believed would gain traction over the course of the year.

Nearly two years later, hebs Group supply modular buildings and containers with bespoke fit-outs that deliver many benefits to our clients.

Modular building has been an area of focus for the UK government since at least 2017, when the Housing White Paper identified it as an “exciting and effective area” for British companies to take a global leadership role.

And as we move through the new decade, the benefits of modular building remain persuasive as an MMC for the 2020s and beyond.

Why choose modular construction?

Modular construction involves manufacturing and building individual rooms or multi-room modules off-site, and then delivering them to their permanent position.

This can speed up construction significantly, allowing many modules to be manufactured at once, including all the floors of a multi-storey building such as apartments, office blocks and hotels.

Rooms within each module can be fully fitted out and decorated – even down to the carpets and curtains – so once they are dropped into place, there is the bare minimum of work left to do.

Where is modular construction used?

Modular building methods are used across the full range of properties, from residential to commercial, and from the hospitality sector to offices and mixed-use developments.

Because the benefits are built into the very fabric of the building itself, any large development stands to gain from a modular approach – this is not a sector-specific method of construction by any means.

Modules can create self-contained living spaces complete with en-suite facilities for hotels, student accommodation and other residential blocks, or working spaces such as private offices and meeting rooms.

Find out more

Whether you are in the initial planning stage or you have a clear idea and are ready to proceed with the building phase, hebs Group are here to provide essential consultancy and construction services for modular premises and across the full range of traditional techniques too.

By nature, modular building lends itself to larger construction projects, and no job is too big for hebs Group – we have the experience and expertise, as well as the equipment, to deliver modular premises at scale, fully fitted out and ready to occupy.

To find out more about modular construction and how hebs Group can help you with the construction and fit-out of modular buildings, contact us today on 0151 2360707.

 

Black Friday: retail maintenance guide

Black Friday marks the start of the busiest time of year for retailers, and although 2020 has been uniquely challenging for the sector, we’ve put together a Black Friday retail maintenance guide to help you get your premises ready for the November-December rush.

With the UK emerging from a second national lockdown on December 2nd and different regions facing different restrictions thereafter, it’s important to understand what you can and cannot do, and to be ready to trade on any days when you are allowed to open.

The continued precautions taken over the course of 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 mean many households have yet to start their Christmas shopping. While some will do so online, we are still likely to see socially distanced crowds on high streets and retail parks in December.

Entrances and Exits

People need to be able to come and go from your premises safely, so give some attention to your entrances and exits, especially if you haven’t already done so in 2020.

It’s a good idea, if possible, to have one door for entering and a different door for exiting, without people having to cross each other’s path – so remember to put the exit adjacent to your tills and checkout lanes.

You might also want to establish a designated queueing area outside your shop, either using physical barriers or markers on the ground, in readiness for any particularly busy days.

Flexible Fitout

It’s good to incorporate some flexibility into your retail fitout, with modular shelving and display units that are easy to reconfigure, so you can adapt to any changes to social distancing.

As an example, the initial two-metre rule was quite quickly lowered to just one metre in shops, where customers who are able to wear a face covering should do so.

Shelves and units that can easily move around to create more or less space will not only benefit you during these current Coronavirus times, but also in future years so you can show off your products in the best light on Black Friday and in the run-up to Christmas.

Reliable Roofs

Finally, Black Friday also signals the start of the worst weather of the year as we move through autumn and into winter – so get retail roofs checked for any signs of leaks or damage.

A minor repair can protect against all kinds of risks, from a collapsed ceiling to water damaged products, and it’s important for the safety of your staff and customers too.

 

If the events of this year have forced you to delay your usual planned maintenance or building fabric checks, contact hebs Group immediately on 0151 2360707 and we can schedule an inspection as soon as possible.

Improving facilities management and workplace safety with thermal technology

Thermal imaging technology has come to the fore in 2020 as a means to rapidly test individuals for elevated body temperature before allowing them to enter a public space, ranging from restaurants and theme parks in the UK, to political rallies in the USA.

But thermal technology is not new, and it has plenty of other roles to play in enhancing workplace safety and improving facilities management, even during times when there is not a pandemic illness that has fever as a defining symptom.

As we move beyond 2020, thermal technology will continue to provide benefits for those organisations who invest in it – in this article we’ll look at how thermal imaging can help you too.

Why use thermal imaging for security?

First of all, thermal imaging offers a useful alternative to conventional video surveillance at any time of day or night, in varying light levels and other environmental challenges. Thermal cameras can ‘see through’ some obstacles, making it more difficult for intruders to hide.

Thermal cameras offer high contrast, and by design are a method to detect warm-blooded human trespassers against a cold inanimate backdrop. They can be coupled with other technologies, such as motion sensors, to further enhance this capability.

Why use thermal technology for safety?

Just as thermal cameras can spot human intruders, they also offer advantages for protecting the safety of authorised individuals. Again, by detecting body heat, they naturally highlight the presence of people in potentially hazardous or unauthorised areas.

If the operator needs to be able to identify individuals remotely, a visual camera can also be installed, along with such floodlighting as may be necessary to light the area at night for visual identification. By combining the different methods, you can ensure comprehensive coverage for all purposes of safety and security, no matter what time of day it is.

Ask us about thermal technology for safety and FM

If you would like to know more about how thermal technology can enhance your site safety and facilities management, contact hebs Group today by calling 0151 2360707 and we can discuss the different options, from thermal field surveillance to high-contrast close-up thermal cameras.

At present, many enquiries relate to COVID-19 and detecting fever in individuals; however, as we move into 2021, we expect to see more general interest in thermal imaging as a useful technology for the long-term future.

Whatever the driving force behind your interest, we can make sure to put in place a thermal technology solution that will serve your needs in the immediate future, while also offering substantial benefits in the years ahead.

Responsive architecture: The future of building design

An increasing amount of automation is common in modern building design – a simple example of this is the use of smart electricity meters in homes and other premises, to adjust power usage in response to the time of day or demand on the energy grid.

Responsive architecture takes this kind of automation a step further, allowing buildings to automatically reconfigure – even change their shape – as the surrounding environmental conditions change.

The reasons for this can vary, from environmental responses, to those driven by societal needs. Ironically, in some cases change is necessary in order to keep the building’s interior as constant as possible, for example when the interior temperature must be very steady.

How does responsive architecture work?

Responsive architecture can use any kind of technology to adapt the building in response to an environmental or other external stimulus.

One example might use motors to automatically open the windows when an increase in interior temperature is detected, or to automatically reposition solar panels in response to the changing position of the sun throughout the day.

In general, the aim is efficiency. Better, more natural lighting, heating, cooling, and ventilation; better generation of renewable energy; better use of other resources across a building or an entire estate.

Where do furniture, fixtures and fittings fit in?

The fitout of responsive architecture can have a direct impact on occupier comfort and on the operability of the architecture itself.

Office furniture has evolved substantially even in recent history, with much greater use of standing desks and reconfigurable workstations, to allow employees to adopt a position they find most comfortable and avoid repetitive working conditions.

The Internet of Things has seen many more devices become network-enabled, allowing entire buildings’ lighting and heating to be automated and/or adjusted remotely, as well as responding immediately to sensors like motion detectors and thermostats.

Some of these technologies are familiar, while others are relatively new, but again they all combine with a common goal: to improve efficiency, conserve resources and enhance comfort.

Find out more about responsive architecture

If you would like to incorporate responsive architecture into the fit-out of your offices or other commercial building, hebs Group can help.

Contact us today on 0151 2360707 to ask about intelligent building controls, smart sensors and remotely adjustable devices including HVAC systems.

We can guide you through the entire process, working out exactly what to install – from sensors and systems, through to controls and networking equipment – to give you truly 21st century premises that run efficiently and offer maximum comfort at all times.