The benefits of commercial sewer and drainage maintenance

If you own a commercial building, you will want to ensure that your sewer and drain pipes are maintained to prevent any serious issues that could affect business operations. 

Places that work within the food, retail, or healthcare industry need to have a reliable drainage system, especially if it concerns public welfare and safety. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the many benefits of commercial sewer and drainage maintenance and why it is important to keep your pipes flowing as smoothly as possible. 

Preventing blockages

An excess of grease, organic waste, oils and other miscellaneous objects can lead to drain blockages, particularly in the pipework of bathrooms and kitchens on your commercial premises. 

If pipes become clogged, this hinders the flow of wastewater to the disposal site which causes further hindrances to the use of toilets or sinks, with a foul smelling odour emitting from the blocked drains as a result. 

You’ll want to address the issue immediately, and frequent commercial sewer and drainage maintenance guarantees that your property’s pipes remain clear and free even during peak times. 

Avoid pipe issues 

Owners of commercial buildings are responsible for the maintenance of their drains and plumbing fixtures, which must be checked and cleaned on a regular basis. Over time, the pressure from a buildup of minerals or waste puts stress on the pipes, leading to breakages and leaks. 

If a pipe bursts or leaks, especially into another site or nearby building, you could be facing a hefty fine for property damage, or in the worst case scenario, closure from the local health department until the issue has been dealt with. 

Protection against biohazards 

Furthermore, commercial sewer and drainage maintenance helps protect your employees and customers from getting severely sick from exposure to biohazards. 

Blocked or damaged drain pipes can cause widespread flooding, plumbing problems, and allow septic water to enter your building, making it unsafe for people to work, dine, or shop. 

Here at hebs, our dedicated reactive teams are equipped with the latest high pressure water jetting rigs to clean, unblock and descale any pipeline or sewer system in case of a drainage emergency on your commercial premises. 

Reducing expenses

This is perhaps one of the biggest benefits of routine commercial sewer and drainage maintenance as it can save time and money on repairs, sanitising contaminated areas, and possibly on new flooring or carpet. 

Adopting a quarterly or annual maintenance regime will help to eliminate these costs and protect your business from any stubborn blockages in the long-term. 

For more information about our commercial maintenance services, contact hebs at info@hebs-group.co.uk or call us on 0151 236 0707 where we aim to keep your sewer or drainage system fully functional all year round.

The importance of drain mapping

Before planning or undertaking any construction project, whether that be performing some kind of excavation, or new extension, it is vital to identify the drainage system in the surrounding area. 

As these run underground, it is difficult to know exactly where existing drains are positioned and in order to gain planning permission, as well as avoid costly mistakes, drain mapping is a key.

What is drain mapping? 

Drain mapping, or asset mapping, is the process of verifying the layout of drains and sewers beneath a property or area of land, including the location of existing foul water networks, manholes and gullies. 

By using cutting-edge GPS data and technologies such as Radio detection scanning and CCTV cameras, this allows us to gather useful information on the size, depth, and directional flow of pipes within the system to produce a detailed site map. 

The main features of a drain mapping survey include: 

  • A site map with a schematic diagram of the drainage system
  • A complete asset list detailing the location, size, manhole access points and use of each drain section
  • The connectivity of all site drainage 
  • A list of recommendations for remedial action to resolve any drainage problems 

Why is it important? 

Drain mapping is a key part of a drainage survey, especially for builders and architects who can use drain maps to visualise the entire network when planning for renovations, driveways or even roofing projects in case new gutters are required. 

Another reason is to safeguard against damage to pre-existing systems that may become more costly to repair down the line. Any cracks, leaks or root intrusions can be discovered and dealt with immediately, making repair work more efficient. Drain mapping is also important for flood risk management and pollution prevention. 

Plus, older properties may have an inaccurate chart of it’s drainage, therefore drainage mapping helps site managers and engineers make an informed decision on whether it needs an alteration or upgrade.

Find out more 

Hebs Flowtech are on hand 24/7 to help you with any pipeline, drainage or sewer related emergency. Contact our experienced maintenance team now on 0151 2360707 and we’ll be happy to help with any enquiries.

The importance of environmental due diligence in construction

There are many reasons to prioritise environmental due diligence in construction, ranging from a desire to protect the environment, through to some directly business-related impacts on costs and finance.

In this article we’ll look at some of the main elements of environmental due diligence in construction projects, and why they are so important to the successful delivery of the work.

 

Why does environmental due diligence matter?

‘Due diligence’ is about meeting your obligations and responsibilities, and reducing avoidable risks. This has benefits for the environment, your business and the specific project at hand.

 

Help the environment

Major construction inevitably leads to upheaval for the landscape, wildlife, plant life and local ecosystems.

Environmental due diligence allows you to identify protected species so they can be relocated, and to minimise negative effects on important habitats.

 

Protect your business

Carrying out environmental audits gives you information you can publish to show stakeholders and members of the public that you take your responsibilities seriously.

This is good practice in any case, but can reflect well on stakeholders and protect your brand reputation in the event of an environmental incident on a job.

 

Deliver projects

Ultimately, environmental due diligence is a way to keep individual projects on track. No interruptions or delays due to discovering a newt on-site, for example.

This has direct cost implications – by keeping projects on schedule and on budget, and by avoiding the risk of fines and financial penalties for disturbing protected habitats and species.

 

What environmental risks to look for

Some hazardous materials are a threat to human life and health, as well as to the environment, so it is doubly important to assess their presence and prevalence.

Examples include:

  • Asbestos
  • Hydraulic fluids
  • Lead paint
  • Mercury
  • Other known contaminants

In addition to these, your environmental due diligence should also consider the impact of construction on the natural environment, both during and after the work is completed.

Things to put on your checklist here include:

  • Archaeological significance
  • Endangered species
  • Presence of mould
  • Rainwater drainage
  • Wetland habitats

A comprehensive environmental audit can take all of these different factors into account, to create a complete picture of the impact your work will have, and mitigate any avoidable environmental risks.

 

Find out more


To get help with your environmental due diligence on construction projects in the pipeline, contact hebs Group today on 0151 2360707 and a member of our team will be happy to discuss your needs with you.

Maintain your commercial HVAC system for summer

The recent hot weather has made it even more important that you put your commercial HVAC system through its annual summer check-up.

With a few simple steps, you can keep your commercial air conditioning maintenance under control and avoid a costly – and uncomfortable – breakdown on a hot summer day.

Here are five ways to keep commercial HVAC systems running efficiently through the summer, and reduce the risk of a breakdown.

 

1. Clean vents and ducts

It’s important not to neglect your ducts, as well as the air vents on your HVAC systems themselves as this is how cool air is delivered around your premises.

Clean, dry ducts reduce the risk of airborne pathogens like Legionella, so should be a part of your regular cleaning schedule for health and safety reasons.

You can also reduce dust and other particles like pollen, which can help to prevent allergies from flaring up among your employees.

 

2. Clean filters

Air conditioning filters get clogged with dust over time, affecting the efficiency of air flow, preventing cold air from being released, and triggering allergies in the room.

Cleaning your HVAC filters should again be a regular part of your planned maintenance, but double checking them during the summer months, relieves the strain on your air conditioning compressors.

 

3. Condenser maintenance

If you have a permanent ducted HVAC system, it’s likely you have a condenser unit somewhere on your exterior wall.

Routine maintenance can keep this crucial piece of equipment running well, so that the heat removed from your interior can be released outside efficiently.

 

4. Check capacity

A commercial HVAC system is designed to work in a room of a certain size, which is why the operating manual often advises you to keep doors and windows closed when your air conditioning is turned on.

But commercial premises can be reconfigured quite easily, by taking down a partition wall or putting up new cubicle dividers.

If you’ve made any changes over the past 12 months – especially new physical divisions and barriers as part of COVID-secure precautions – check if your HVAC systems can cope with your new floor plan.

 

5. Adjust the settings

Last but not least, make sure the settings on your control panels are at a sensible position. It’s not sensible to try to cool a room to 5C when it’s 30C outside, and it puts unreasonable strain on your air conditioning compressors.

Set your target temperature at a sensible intermediate value and, once you hit that, then you can consider adjusting it further if you’re still too warm.


For more information about our HVAC maintenance service, contact hebs at info@hebs-group.co.uk or call us on 0151 236 0707 and we will be happy to help.

Cybersecurity risks for smart buildings

An ever-increasing number of the utilities and facilities installed in commercial buildings, as well as some residences, are connected via the Internet of Things.

A common residential example of this is the use of smart electricity meters, which not only monitor your electricity use, but can be controlled remotely via a smartphone app to turn appliances on and off when you are not home.

In a commercial setting, similar automation can control HVAC systems, as well as ensuring lights are turned off when the last person leaves the building.

But increased connectivity – especially via the internet – also brings with it increased cybersecurity risks.

Here are some of the top risks to watch out for, as well as some sensible steps you can take to protect your premises against would-be hackers and attackers.

 

All-network attacks

Your business may have multiple networks, including a LAN, WAN, public internet connection and Internet of Things (IoT) connection for your appliances.

If these networks cross paths at any point, for example if they run via a single server, router or modem, then they are all vulnerable to external attacks.

For maximum security, any connections with the public internet, including IoT connections, should run on completely separate hardware from business-critical internal networks such as LANs and WANs.

 

Software attacks

One of the other cybersecurity risks is hackers attempting to compromise your networks using software such as spyware, ransomware or a Trojan virus to gain control of computers inside your network firewall.

Make sure you have good policies in place, e.g. to prevent employees from opening unfamiliar and unexpected email attachments.

Back this up with strong sentinel antivirus software, which will patrol your network looking for malicious code and quarantine it before it has a chance to execute.

 

Physical attacks

Smart buildings are at risk from direct physical hacks, if a malicious individual is able to gain access to your premises.

Implement good access control at all external doors, and install alarms on any windows accessible from ground level.

When you need maintenance on smart building systems, always work with a reputable maintenance provider such as hebs Group, who you know you can trust.

 

Get in touch

The hebs Group team is here to help by keeping your smart building systems well maintained and up to date, so that you do not expose them to avoidable security risks.

To make an enquiry about smart building maintenance and cybersecurity, contact hebs on info@hebs-group.co.uk or call our engineers on 0151 236 0707 to find out more about any of our services.

What are the main design management risks in construction?

Design management risks should be factored into project delivery from the outset, to keep construction on schedule and on budget, and to avoid any health and safety risks.

Some elements of design management risk are mandatory for regulatory and compliance purposes, while others are a means to protect investment and ensure the success of the project.

In general, design risk management (DRM) spans three main areas of activity:

  • Design and preparation by the design team and contractors
  • Health and safety throughout the duration of the project
  • Risk management in tenders and pricing

The end goal is to manage risks that may arise not only during the construction phase, but also due to changes in the design and during subsequent use and maintenance of the building.

 

Common risks in construction design management

There are several common areas of risk in construction design management. Some of these are specifically design-related, while others are general problems that might arise on any kind of project.

  • Errors and omissions in the design
  • Delays and missed deadlines during delivery
  • Last-minute changes (including requests from stakeholders)
  • Failure to deliver according to contract
  • Scheduling errors and third-party subcontractor delays

Some common risks arise externally, but should still be anticipated and mitigated as far as reasonably possible, for example:

  • Environmental risk, impact and analysis
  • Public objections and changes in local laws
  • Organisational risks (staff absence, employee turnover)
  • Project management risks and personnel conflict
  • Excess costs and changes in technology

Identifying all the relevant risks that apply to the design of your project, and to the successful delivery of that design, can allow you to manage your exposure to avoidable delays and financial losses.

 

How to mitigate design management risks

A four-step framework is usually applied to identify and mitigate design risks:

  1. Identify risks, working collaboratively with stakeholders and subcontractors across all areas of the project planning and design.
  2. Assess risks on a sliding scale, to estimate potential impacts and to rank the areas of highest priority.
  3. Mitigate risks by developing plans to reduce the chance of incidents occurring and to react to them quickly if they do.
  4. Monitor risks to identify emerging incidents and prevent them from escalating where possible.

Effective project management and design risk management should not be considered a luxury or an additional investment, as it is critical to confident delivery of construction work.

To benefit from hebs Group’s DRM expertise and risk mitigation strategies, contact us today on 0151 236 0707 or info@hebs-group.co.uk.

4 key Facilities Management strategies

Facilities Management naturally involves an element of strategy, for example when scheduling planned maintenance, but by going beyond this you can optimise the outcomes for your organisation.

In 2020, RICS ran an article headed “Introducing Strategic Facilities Management” and outlining several potential approaches to Strategic FM.

Here’s our own pick of four key Facilities Management strategies for 2021 and beyond.

 

Everything Available

Your Facilities Management strategies should look beyond the operational aspects of building maintenance and take a more holistic view of the availability of assets over their complete life span.

For example, Facilities Managers may want to look at assets like heating, ventilation, air conditioning and lighting, and ask how to ensure those essential services and utilities are always accessible to the occupants of the premises.

In this sense, Strategic Facilities Management is concurrent with business continuity planning, where continuity depends on the successful functioning of specific facilities.

 

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

Building Information Modelling, sometimes called Building Information Management, brings together modern trends including computer-aided Facilities Management (CAFM), automation and IT to understand how to strategically deliver FM in the building.

Incorporating BIM into CAFM makes sense, as the two platforms share much of the same information and can streamline the management of assets.

As yet, many organisations have yet to fully achieve this, making it a good prospect to gain a competitive advantage, or to achieve significant efficiency gains that have not yet been made in full or even in part.

 

Soft Landings

Involving FM from day zero on a new commercial property build and fit out can anticipate future problems with assets and resolve them before they occur.

This can mean paying extra fees upfront for Facilities Managers to start working earlier in the project pipeline, but the long-term return on investment more than makes the business case for doing so.

For the successful future of this trend, FMs need to be involved and their opinions given equal weight, so that if they raise any concerns, appropriate efforts are taken to act on their insights and minimise avoidable future maintenance demands.

 

Harmonic Environments

Finally, Strategic FM can focus on health and happiness to maximise productivity by creating harmonic working environments for the human workforce.

This can be achieved by ensuring the assets and facilities in the building meet the needs of the occupants, while ensuring their continued comfort at all times.

In this way, Strategic FM can bridge the gap between the building fabric and the human capital of the workforce within, to deliver even greater productivity and efficiency gains overall.

To find out more about our facilities management services, email info@hebs-group.co.uk or call our team on 0151 236 0707.



The advantages of using a professional commercial fit out company

Working with a professional commercial fit out company can not only make sure your new premises get fitted out without a hitch, it can also provide you with a better standard of interiors, which will support productivity and efficiency for even longer into the future.

Professional commercial fit out contractors work across many premises and are well aware of what makes for a good workplace design, as well as any emerging trends that can help to future-proof your commercial property.

This means you can expect a higher standard of finish, incorporating any relevant technologies that you might not already be aware of, and protecting your investment in your premises by reducing maintenance demand and maximising resale value.

 

One port of call

A commercial fit out company should be able to handle the entire project. In essence, you gain the services of a project manager who will coordinate all the necessary subcontractors to get your premises fully fitted out and commissioned.

You can leave it to the fit out firm to recommend their preferred subcontractors for the various different utilities and services required, with better budget confidence as all the costs are covered by a single contract.

 

Maximise compliance

A good professional fit out company will have plenty of experience and expertise, including a good understanding of the relevant regulations and compliance requirements.

This encompasses everything from building regulations to health and safety. By working with an expert, you can benefit from total peace of mind that these risks are fully assessed and mitigated.

 

Time and time again

Commercial fit out companies don’t only work on new-build premises, as they can also carry out refurbishment of existing workspaces to upgrade the facilities to a modern standard.

Because of this, many clients return time and time again to multiply the benefits they gain from working with a trusted commercial fit out contractor on a series of branch offices, new locations and modernisations.

 

Find out more

If you are planning a commercial premises fit out project and would like to learn more about engaging a fit out firm from the outset, to coordinate all the necessary activities without delay, speak to hebs Group today and we will be happy to help.

Our team has worked on a long list of extremely successful commercial fit out projects, including specific markets like retail, leisure, new-builds and refurbishments, and rented student accommodation.

To find out more, email info@hebs-group.co.uk or call our team on 0151 236 0707.

Flowtech leave Ladybridge gutters and gullies as good as new

The Flowtech team are proud of our ongoing work for the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) as regular readers of our blog will know.

Over recent months and years, we have attended many NWAS ambulance stations to repair leaks, clear blocked drains and restore gutters to as-new condition.

A recent call-out saw us visit the picturesque NWAS Headquarters at Ladybridge Hall in Bolton, which was in need of a little maintenance.

We made the short journey to the premises, which stand in Chorley New Road Conservation Area and are considered of architectural significance to the area’s history.

 

What we did

The pitched slate roofs of Ladybridge Hall slope down to traditional gullies and gutters with custom-built wooden gutter guards to catch larger debris.

Over time, smaller debris and sediment can get through the gaps in the gulley guards, and the Flowtech team responded to a call to clear any residue from the guttering.

We were able to do this and jet washed the gullies to leave them flowing freely, cleared and cleaned just like the day they were first fitted to this historic property.

 

About Ladybridge Hall

Ladybridge Hall was built around the 1870s in a Gothic style, with steeply pitched slate roofs and an irregular pattern of gables, chimney stacks, parapet and turret.

The former mansion is stone-built with ashlar dressings, with a beautiful arched entrance porch that has its own pitched leaded roof.

In recent years, the property has been home to several emergency services, including Greater Manchester Ambulance Service and Bolton Mountain Rescue Team.

It is now the NWAS HQ and provides the ambulance service with a visually stunning base of operations, which the Flowtech team were delighted to visit to keep those all-important rooftop gulleys and gutters flowing freely.

 

How Flowtech can help

Flowtech respond to all kinds of calls for planned and reactive maintenance of drains, gutters and gullies at ground and roof level, including underground drains.

We can clear blocked drain pipes and tackle slow-draining sinks inside premises, to diagnose the location of any clogs and blockages, and use the appropriate equipment to restore freely flowing water.

Our services can be scheduled in advance to fit in with your monthly, quarterly or annual maintenance plans, or we can respond to emergency call-outs in the event of a leak, a serious blockage leading to localised flooding, or any other significant situation.

For more information about hebs Flowtech email info@hebs-group.co.uk or to speak to a team member immediately call 0151 236 0707.

 

How to manage construction compliance for success

As construction projects grow in scale and scope, and regulatory demands increase, contractors of all kinds face the need to manage construction compliance end-to-end in order to deliver a successful project.

With non-compliance comes a plethora of problems for the project as a whole. At best, this can lead to an interruption and delays on delivery deadlines. At worst, enforcement action by the relevant regulatory body could lead to significant financial losses.

 

1. Know your obligations

The first step towards managing your compliance obligations is to identify exactly what they are.

In the construction sector, the most obvious compliance demands are things like building regulations, union agreements and agreed terms with contractors and subcontractors.

Another major area of construction industry regulation is health and safety. By learning the rules that apply to your business, you can see more easily how to implement them on a daily basis.

 

2. Increase automation

While construction is inherently a very human sector, compliance is one area where automation can help to reduce human error.

By digitising your records, you can make sure all your compliance data is ready and can be recalled easily from any location via a secure internet connection.

This also makes it easier to update records when information changes, compared with having a printed document to amend or replace every time.

 

3. Demonstrate compliance

Compliance is not just an internal process. It is also a way to give customers confidence in your processes – and may even be a requirement for public sector contracts.

By implementing a management system certified to ISO 45001:2018/OHSAS 18001:2007 and SSIP you can pre-qualify for the common assessment standards used at the tender stage of public sector projects.

You can also install systems that support significant other standards, such as ISO 14001:2015 for environmental management and/or ISO 9001:2015 for quality management.

This means that by ensuring compliance upfront, you could potentially unlock access to a large and lucrative marketplace, while providing private sector clients with greater peace of mind too.

 

Take a step ahead

If you want to get ahead of your closest competition, a streamlined approach to construction compliance could be the answer, especially if your existing processes have been built up over time and have become complex and woolly.

Contact hebs Group today on 0151 2360707 to find out more about how to manage construction compliance for success on projects of all sizes, for the private and public sector alike, and how to gain that all-important competitive edge by doing so.