A Leeds-based engineering specialist managed to complete a contract to fix a bridge, while working remotely from nearly 200 miles away during lockdown. Oilgear designed, engineered and manufactured the mechanism to fix Breydon Road Bridge, Great Yarmouth, from its own base, 198 miles from the bridge.
The specialist hydraulic engineering, pump and valve and manufacturing company, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2021, won the competitive bid in collaboration with Great Yarmouth based Marineserv UK Ltd, to replace the road bridge’s obsolete 20-year old control system in February 2020.
Oilgear’s engineers undertook the commission to design, manufacture and install new controls and get the bridge – which had been stuck in the downward position since December 2019 – fully operational again.
The main equipment was installed a week before the Coronavirus lockdown.
But the on-site engineering team were forced into a retreat when the Government announced the nationwide emergency shut down and welfare facilities for the workforce were closed due to the pandemic.
Undeterred, the Oilgear team set up a “war room” from its office on Burley Road, Leeds, using a large screen connected to the newly installed equipment on Breydon Road Bridge.
Staff worked shifts to complete the project during the overnight closures of the bridge.
With remote access into the control system, Oilgear engineers were able to visualise and program the systems installed on site.
Using remote team meetings the engineers were able to work together from multiple locations to collaborate.
Ivor Evans, sales and engineering general manager at Oilgear, said: “The timing alone for this project was a challenge, however the Coronavirus gave us a whole set of new challenges too.
“We could have waited until we received the all-clear from the Government, instead we decided to find an alternative method of commissioning and continued to work via remote connections and devices.
“Our engineers were able to visualise and understand what was happening in-situ and quickly react to feedback from the remote systems and mechanical operations.
“The engineering team used their skills and expertise to understand the equipment and interpret and anticipate the changes required.”
The project was completed within the six-week lead time and in budget, without the Oilgear team leaving the safety of their own homes and socially distanced office space.
Jonathan Mills, managing director at Marineserv, said: “The challenges presented by the pandemic have required us all to adapt and innovate our working practices, particularly when facing a tight deadline.
“The way we were able to continue working remotely with the Oilgear engineering team on the Breydon Bridge repair, is an excellent example of this.
“It was vital to complete the works on time, as the bridge is key infrastructure for commercial and leisure river traffic and thanks to Oilgear’s commitment we were able to deliver to our project brief.”
Tennants Auctioneers, of Leyburn in North Yorkshire, say they will finally be able to restart live auctions on Friday 26 June, a little over three months after the start of lockdown.
The resumption will begin with the company’s Antiques and Interiors Sale.
Members of the public will once more be able to browse more than 500 lots of art and antiques and bid live in the saleroom, while measures will be taken to ensure social distancing and health and safety procedures are followed.
Since the start of lockdown, the auctioneers has run online only auctions, with bidders across the world taking part in the sales.
While the salerooms are re-opening, Tennants will continue to offer digital alternatives for browsing and bidding.
Auctioneer Jane Tennants said: “We opened our doors for valuation appointments last week, but we are delighted to be welcoming back visitors for viewing and of course on the day of the sale.
“Our online only sales have been very popular, but there is nothing quite like the excitement and buzz of a live auction.”
Representatives of The Leeds hospitality industry, who are among those businesses given the green light to reopen from Saturday 4 July, have greeted the Government announcement with relief.
And they say relaxing social distancing measures from two metres to one metre plus, is the difference between re-opening or remaining closed all summer for many hospitality venues.
Wayne Topley, chairman of Leeds Hotels and Venue’s Association, said: “The Government’s latest announcement means many Leeds hospitality businesses, including restaurant, pubs, bars and hotels can breathe a sigh of relief.
“It’s now down to hospitality businesses to use the outlined Government guidance to make sure customer confidence is met.”
He added these businesses will be ensuring their high-quality service is achieved whilst making sure all hygiene and safety standards are met.
Matt Healy, owner of The Foundry restaurant, said: “It would have been impossible for us to open with a two metre distance.
“Reducing the distance down to one metre means we can just about carry on. What we need is for people to support local businesses, act safely and come see us once we open.”