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The power of specialist expertise

30 September 2020

Steve Dampier leads the Interserve PTS division, which is looking to expand its highly specialist operations.

Amongst the broad range of areas of focus within the FM sector, one of the more prominent common denominators is that of health and safety and the need to ensure compliancy throughout each facility is a major driving factor within this.

These requirements can often be seen to make the running of each facility a complex operation, frequently requiring the need for outsourced expertise. One of the many strengths of the industry is the number of service providers who are able to deliver the necessary support, ranging from day-to-day duties to highly technical services.

One example of the latter is that of the Interserve Professional Technical Services (PTS) team, which is led by Steve Dampier, who recently spoke exclusively to PFM via an online video call.

Having worked for the company previously, he returned in 2018 as head of engineering on its extensive contract with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), before taking over the running of the PTS division on 1 March this year.

“I was lucky that I managed to meet all my colleagues in the team before the Covid-19 lockdown occurred a few weeks after I started,” says Mr Dampier.

“I love the detailed engineering aspect of my role and the PTS offering and we have identified a number of areas where this can be expanded in the near future.”

The PTS division consists of nine highly-skilled engineers, each of whom are required to have incorporated engineer status as a minimum. Mr Dampier says that even though individuals have succeeded in achieving this, they will still be required to undergo extensive mentoring and training of up to a year before working independently within the business.

Team members are required to provide the necessary level of support at a range of facilities that include high voltage electrical distribution, mechanical plant and equipment or fuel installations, such as those required for the refuelling of aircraft or general road transport operations.

Not only are these highly complex, but also carry an obvious necessity for the health and safety of both on-site workers and the people that use or benefit from their operation.

“The sites we work on can be located anywhere around the world,” Mr Dampier continues. “This means that not only are our engineers highly skilled and professional, but also need to be able to spend a great deal of their time travelling and attending these sites.”

Services provided include electrical grading and protection and the engineers’ high level of skills are used to ensure practices such as working at height or working in confined spaces or the licensing of each facility are well established and are completed according to the necessary guidelines and regulations.

In addition to the technical details involved, the team is continuously involved in the appointment, training and support of on-site personnel. Although the Coronavirus pandemic has reduced international travel considerably, PTS engineers travelled a total of approximately 700,000 air miles last year while visiting sites in 90 countries.

Recent travel restrictions have seen the team quickly adapt to provide their support in other ways.

“We’ve been unable to visit many of our overseas sites this year, which has seen the team providing support through the online monitoring of plant and equipment, combined with the use of historical data and the information from the most recent visits,” says Mr Dampier.

“Where site audits are involved, we have had to assess risk, working closely with governing bodies and our clients. This may mean deferring on site visits or carrying out desktop audits, but we continue to use the information we hold to make sure each one remains compliant and has a safe system of work in place.

“There are obviously a wide range of tasks involved in our operations, which can range from something as simple as overseeing the repainting of fuel tanks to the replacement and installation of complex systems,” he continues.

“Our collective expertise I think is unparalleled in the UK and that is why we not only serve Interserve contracts, but also work directly with our own customer base who call upon our experience.”

Mr Dampier further explains that his division is not allied to any one contract and also ensures that regular communication is continued between PTS engineers and on-site responsible personnel to maintain high standards throughout.

Each engineer receives the necessary support to allow them to keep up to speed with essential requirements such as continuous professional development (CPD) and the regular changes to legislation in each country they are required to work in.

He further states that the emergence of the Covid-19 virus has driven changes in many of the facilities that PTS provides services to, such as the need for more fresh air within buildings.

“This has seen reduced recirculation of either warm or cold air and could be a challenging factor in achieving the UK government’s zero carbon aims.

“However, following the announcement last year that the UK is aiming to achieve net zero carbon by 2050, we’ve seen more demand for carbon neutral solutions and use of renewable energy. I also manage the environmental and waste services provided by Interserve, which provides more scope to add further aspects to PTS services, although we’ve seen considerable change to this area as well, due to Covid-19.”

With regard to the opportunities to expand the PTS division, Mr Dampier says that these have been identified both within the various contracts overseen by Interserve and areas outside of the business. In addition to further extending the auditing work it provides, the division is also keen to expand its training provision.

“We already provide the training support for our authorised personnel to help them manage their sites and we’re confident that we can further extend this aspect, too.

"Due to the high levels of skill within PTS, we can tailor any courses to the specific requirements of each site or client, which makes it a very attractive offering.

“We also have the advantage of being able to deliver these as an online course or we can self-deliver on site as part of an audit being completed by our engineers,” he says.

“We’re additionally having regular business development meetings to identify all the opportunities where we can further expand.”

Mr Dampier is continuing to consider the issue of recruiting new personnel that meet the exacting demands of the PTS operations and states that this is being assisted due to the wide scope of the Interserve business.

“In addition to looking at some of the company’s contracts to see where we can include PTS in them to grow our business, we also try to identify the engineers working on them who could join us.

“We have an aim to expand our range of services to both internal and external clients and our team numbers by an intense period of investment over the coming 12 months,” he says.

Steve Dampier’s recent roles

2006 - 2009 Interserve contract manager for South East Regional Prime Contract and operational project director for the Ministry of Defence Airfields FM contract

2009 – 2018 Operations director for a variety of business in a number of business sectors, including healthcare and local councils

2018 – March 2020 Interserve FM head of engineer and compliance for Department of Work and Pensions contract

March 2020 Interserve FM Engineering and Business Services sector director. In addition to his PTS responsibilities, Mr Dampier also oversees the company’s Business Systems, Energy Environmental and Waste and Security Services divisions.

Mr Dampier’s first role was as an indentured electrical apprentice for Lyons Tetley in Greenford, West London in 1980, with the intervening years providing extensive experience in engineering and many areas of the FM sector.

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