Richard Childs

How often do you seek the opinion of others? From a simple “how do I look?” (always fantastic, if it’s the wife asking…), to “can you recommend a good restaurant?” Maybe you consult trip adviser when booking a holiday, or check a when you finally relent and pay someone to do the jobs you haven’t got round to completing? When shopping online, we pour over product reviews to see how many stars those who have purchased before us, award the coffee machine we so desperately need in our lives. We rely on feedback every day, often from those who have experienced what we are looking to buy, or have been where we are looking to go.

I often wondered why this approach didn’t seem to apply when I was working on site as a bricklayer. On many occasions, I would witness product representatives arrive on site with their latest innovation and head straight for site agents to ensure its specification. Bypassing those of us who would actually install and maintain the product, often meant they were selected from a technical perspective or to manage costs. Without garnering the opinion of all those involved, there were often many questions left unanswered. With representatives long gone, never to be seen again, products were dismissed simply because they were not appropriate or, even more disconcertingly, because we didn’t know how to use them!

There were many factors that influenced my decision to join NAL three years ago. The role on offer, Business Development Manager, ticked all the boxes and ensured I could utilise my background in construction. In addition, the appeal for me lay in how NAL placed great emphasis on feedback from customers, gaining perspective from engineers and designers through to site operatives, in order to develop and provide complete solutions. Via various means, including Product Demonstration Days, Lunch and Learn sessions and on site Toolbox Talks, they ensured audiences were full of people who’s opinion mattered and were able to use both positive and negative feedback to develop products of benefit to all.

This reliance on feedback came to fruition very recently. Upon realising the demand within the smart motorways sector for chamber covers to have LPCB level security, I researched existing options available with this type of lock, before we began developing a prototype. From meetings with the peer to peer groups within the smart motorways industry, I was able to quickly establish a predominant trend in opinion; the lock on existing options was extremely difficult to use. Utilising input throughout our development process, NAL was able to arrange the manufacture of a solution, designed with a simple locking system, deemed by site operatives as “easy to use with maximum effect.” This lock is now available as an LPCB option across the entire range of ductile iron covers we supply, has been LPCB approved to level 4 and continues to be specified widely throughout the motorways sector.

Due to the current situation we now find ourselves in, many of you will be aware all of us here at NAL, have been working hard to adapt our services to accommodate the restrictions working from home have presented us with. With social distancing in place we are, at present, unable to run our Demonstration Days, Lunch and Learn sessions and the Toolbox Talks that we rely so heavily upon, for your opinions. We have however, modified our presentations and over recent weeks have been delivering them as a series of webinars. It has been fantastic to ‘see’ so many of you in attendance and due to demand, we have been busy developing additional content. I will be running a presentation next week (details below) surrounding our approach to product development and how our reliance on your input, has allowed us to produce many solutions. These sessions are not only informative, but have provided us all the opportunity to remain connected during this surreal period of isolation. If you wish to attend this particular webinar or, one of the others we have on offer, you can do so simply by clicking on the link provided or, alternatively, by visiting our website, and as always any feedback after the session, will be acted upon and much appreciated!

Richard Childs, UK Business Development Manager, Motorways and Facilities

Why Engineers, Designers and Installers should always feedback to product providers? – 6th May 13:00

EV Charging – 7th May 13:00

Smart Motorways – 13th May 13:00

Foundations – Cast-in-Situ versas Precast – 14th May 13:00

Traffic Signals – 20th May 13:00