Flannery Plant Hire turned fifty this year, the company has come a long way since Patrick Flannery Senior started the business with one machine (a JCB 3C Excavator) in 1972.

The company now partners with world-leading manufacturers, including Cat, Komatsu, JCB, Volvo, Bomag and Wacker Neuson, and have built the business from their first yard in Feltham to depots across the country and a purpose-built head office next to Wembley Stadium.

In 2022, the hire fleet contains close to 5,000 machines with 1,450 operators supporting clients on projects nationwide. At its core, Flannery remains very much a family business with strong values focussed on people, safety, innovation, sustainability, and creating value.

Working, Learning and Improving Together – Creating a Sustainable Future

To ensure the industry has a sustainable future for the next 50 years the company is committed to contribute by reducing its carbon footprint and creating a sustainable working environment to secure a better future for the next generations.
Sustainability is clearly an issue that the industry is working hard on with so many elements that all need attention in order for the sector to successfully impact the amount of waste caused by the impact of construction.

Flannery Plant Hire are working hard across all of these areas, actively tracking their carbon imprint, investing in the latest machines and managing existing machinery to reduce the waste of manufacturing new. All to ensure that company is doing all it can to help create a safe and healthy working environment for its clients’ sites.

Going one step further

Having the latest machinery and innovative equipment to positively impact the companies carbon footprint is vital, but this doesn’t make that much difference if those using the machines don’t have the correct skills set and knowledge to optimise these important features.

Launched last year the Operator Skills Hub in Birmingham, is a purpose-built indoor and outdoor training area and machine training facility designed by a dedicated training team in a safe but realistic format.

The simulator zone offers four Tenstar consoles providing an alternative for machine training in a low-pressure environment, eliminating any safety risks in a sustainable manner, with the classrooms used for essential theory-based training.
The Operator Skills Hub has firmly established itself as one of the UK’s leading providers of plant and construction related training. With major projects around the UK increasingly realising their digital ambitions by equipping operators with the tools and knowledge they need to support digitally enabled construction sites.

Flannery and the Skills Hub weren’t happy with only offering this training solution at their Birmingham site, believing that, for training to make as much of a difference as possible, it needs to be accessible for potential operators across the country.
With that in mind, the company have launched a transportable training fleet allowing the Operator Skills Hub to take what they know, where it is needed anywhere in the country.

Two trailers, fully equipped with Tenstar simulators has been assembled. The second of these trailers being launched in partnership with EKFB (Eiffage, Keir, Ferrovial Construction and BAM Nuttall), who the Skills Hub have also partnered with to open a second training site at the A422 Compound in Northamptonshire.

These portable training options also include two Luton vans, fitted with a simulator and learning area enabling them to attend school and career events in addition to sites across the country. Training the next generation to sustainably use plant whilst actively encouraging them to consider a career in the construction industry.

Recent winners of Training Excellence at the Construction News Awards, its clear Flannery will keep striving to provide the best training for apprentices, qualified operators and managers in a safe environment – with the company happy to say that the virtual learning environment also puts the fun into delegates learning experiences, too!

Aaron Davis, Head of Skills and Training at Flannery Plant Hire, commented: “It’s clear that there are things we can do better as an industry to help with our carbon output and to be more sustainable. Delivering ‘Eco-Operator’ training to all of the operators on our books, but also extending this offering to non-Flannery operators across sites in the UK is something that it’s exciting to be a part of. Whether it’s giving people the knowledge of how much something as simple as reducing machine idle time can make a difference, or going more in-depth to teach them how to use machine data to analyse how efficiently they’re using each machine for the task at hand, these courses are actively making a difference.

We’ve seen carbon emissions and fuel usage being reduced across our clients’ sites when this training has been delivered, and I’m optimistic that this momentum will continue as we’re able to access more areas to train operators across the country”.

Attracting the next generation

Flannery are proud to announce that they have gained government funding and are now offering a Skills Bootcamp in Plant Operations as an option for those entering a career in construction plant.

This offering is aimed at new entrants to the sector and existing machine operators and is now actively recruiting new learners. Whether an individual is a learner keen to enter the construction sector, or a current operator looking to enhance their skills, the Skills Bootcamp provides valuable knowledge and know-how with the promise of a guaranteed offer of a job interview, upon completion of the training program.

The Skills Bootcamp is free to join and offers a flexible training schedule. New entrants receive a CPCS card on achievement, after receiving enhanced ‘site ready’ training that is designed to build up sector-specific valuable skills, based on local employed demand. The course comes with full wraparound support, and new entrants are also offered a chance to follow up with an accelerated apprenticeship interview, linked to the new skills they’ve gained.

For those looking to upskill, the Bootcamp offers the chance to enhance skills on additional machine categories and gain GPS training. Upon completion, there is also the opportunity to secure sustainable work and contracts, boosting earning potential.
The overall aim of the Skills Bootcamp in Plant Operations is for all successful learners to receive an offer of a new job or have access to new opportunities and contracts that utilise the new skills they have acquired. These skills include how to work sustainably and having the next generation of operators already trained when coming on site for the first time will further improve carbon emissions within the industry.

The Skills Bootcamp in Plant Operations offers a flexible approach to training delivery, so each machine category that entrants are trained on, is determined by what local employers are in need of. This provides all learners with the greatest chance of employment and offers employers, operators that meet their requirements from day one.
Skills Bootcamp is open to those that are self-employed, unemployed or those looking to return to work after a break as they are aged nineteen or older, have the right to work in the UK and live in England. This training is being delivered at the Operator Skills Hub sites both in Sutton Coldfield and in the brand-new site in Westbury, at the EKFB A422 Compound.

Going for gold

Flannery have recently been awarded ‘Gold Status’ with the Supply Chain Sustainability School.
The award demonstrates the actions that the company have taken in plant innovation and the training of its operators all resulting in lower emissions, improved air quality and a cleaner working environment.

Pleased that they have been recognised for their work the company is keen to encourage others to follow in its footsteps and work together as an industry to create a better environment across all sites of all sizes.

The plan is clear is to continue focusing on its customers with a continuing programme of events and innovations supporting ‘Flannery Future’ – a scheme which has, to date, included a number of innovations surrounding machine data and productivity management, alternatively powered plant and capability training of the company’s plant operators.

“As a company, we reiterate our commitment to reducing emissions on site through the continued rollout of our sustainability plan. We’re proud of what we’ve worked towards with the Supply Chain Sustainability School so far, but we recognise that there’s still a lot more work to do for us to collectively reach our net zero goals as an industry. We aim to be trendsetters within construction and will continue to actively invest and support innovations across the industry that lead to more efficient usage of plant on site. This efficiency will not only make sites safer and reduce both time and costs for our clients, but it will create a more sustainable environment with a cleaner air quality for the communities surrounding these sites. Creating a safer, cleaner and quieter environment for those both directly on site and those living around it is important to creating a sustainable future for the next generation – and as a business that will always be centred around family, this will always be at the forefront of our company decisions.” – Patrick Flannery, Managing Director of Flannery Plant Hire.

Knowledge is power

A lot of work has clearly gone into the company’s sustainability plan within the last year, the business summarises its beliefs as to how it can best improve with the phrase ‘knowledge is power’.

A statement from Flannery concludes by saying; Collectively, the biggest names within our sector have all published promises to work towards ‘net zero’ sites, across the country, by a certain point. For this to be possible, we need to all work together to ensure that everybody knows how best to use their skillset in an environmentally friendly way.

We’re not making these changes to be seen as the best in the field. However, Flannery recognise that we’re a leader in the industry and are working with other leaders, including direct competitors, to ensure that there is a future for this industry.
Our work with clients such as EKFB, SCS and HS2 means that we’re able to access many operators across high-profile sites in the country, and we will continue to work with our clients to best meet their needs, delivering this training directly to their sites in order to help them meet their sustainability goals.

We will also continue to upskill our operators independently, ensuring that they are always equipped with the knowledge and therefore power, to use plant wisely, limit idle time and influence other operators on the sites they’re working on, to do the same, and also undertake these training opportunities.

Chief Executive of the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA), Kevin Minton, heard of our recent efforts and had this to say:

“The hard work of companies such as Flannery is fundamental to the future of the construction industry, and specifically in the areas of the industry involving plant hire. As a sector, we’re working hard to reduce our emissions and to create cleaner air on sites – with many high-profile businesses and joint ventures aiming towards net-zero. Flannery’s approach of using education to support this challenge is innovative and cost effective, and – most importantly – it’s working.

“The positive results are clear, and I’m hopeful that these outcomes will result in others across the industry paying attention and adopting these steps that can be taken now. The time for change is now, and everybody needs to face that this needs immediate action, as well as continued effort for generations to come. Companies such as Flannery inevitably have a carbon output due to the nature of the business, but to see them actively putting steps in place to reduce this – ultimately to net zero – is something that gives me confidence in the future of our industry and acts as a clear example for other sectors to follow.”

Protecting the environment from the effects of our daily activities is at the very heart of what we do. As an organisation, we feel passionately about making sure our activities go as far as possible to protect the public and, beyond that, enhance the environment and encourage biodiversity.

We know there’s still work to be done and that net zero is still a long way off, but we’re dedicated to reaching it and will continue to educate ourselves and others in the best and most innovative ways to do so. We’re also always happy to collaborate and discuss new ideas with anybody who’s willing to change with us. A lot has changed within the last year, and we know that there’s more to come in 2023 – but we’re excited to see what waits around the corner for us and we’ll keep working with our clients to strive for net zero for as long as it takes.