Importance of UKAS Accreditation

The importance of UKAS Accreditation

There are a many reasons why you should use a UKAS accredited testing laboratory. Here are some of the most important:

  1. Demonstrate credibility – A UKAS accredited laboratory is able to demonstrate a full audit trail fortheir full service.
  2. Keep your reputationintact – Confidence in your product is enhanced if clients know it has beenthoroughly evaluated by an independent, competent testing facility.Increasingly customers are relying on independent evidence, rather than simplyaccepting a supplier’s word that the product is fit for purpose.
  3. Minimise your risk – While risk can never be removed altogether, employing the services of a UKASaccredited testing company means you have chosen a technically competentlaboratory, thus minimising the risk of producing or supplying a faulty service/product.
  4. Reduce ongoing costs – precompletiontesting of buildings can be expensive and time consuming, even when they aredone correctly the first time. If not done correctly, then the cost and timeinvolved in undertaking the re-testing can be even higher if the product hasfailed to meet the specification and building signoff cannot be achieved.  
  5. Defend against litigation – The use of a UKAS accredited sound testing laboratory is a powerful demonstration that you have exercised all due diligence in the selection and appointment of a supplier.

 APT is a multi UKAS accredited company to undertake pre-completion testing; here are some links to our UKAS accreditation:

If you would like more information in regards our acoustic design service or UKAS sound insulation testing services, please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call APT Sound Testing Direct on 07775623464. Alternately, If you would like more information on how to prepare for your sound insulation testing please download our sound test checklist.

Wages Rises Accelerate to Fastest Pace since 2008

Wages Rises Accelerate to Fastest Pace since 2008
The BBC are reporting that Wages are continuing to rise at their highest level for nearly a decade, the latest official Office for National Statistics figures show.

Average weekly earnings, excluding bonuses, went up by 3.3% in the three months to October, the biggest rise since November 2008.

Average weekly wages are £495, £25,740 a year, the highest since 2011, once adjusted for inflation.

Wages Rises Accelerate to Fastest Pace since 2008

The number of people in work rose by 79,000 to 32.48 million, a record high. That is the highest figure since records began in 1971.

Unemployment increased by 20,000 to 1.38 million, although the total is still lower than a year ago. The number of unemployed men increased by 27,000, while the number of unemployed women fell by 8,000. The reason both employment and unemployment have increased is a result of the UK’s rising population and more people joining the labour force, such as students and older people.

Sound Insulation Testing in London

Sound Insulation Testing in London

With many living in the overcrowded environment that is London, it is essential that noise transference between adjoining properties in kept to a minimum for the occupant’s wellbeing. One way of ascertaining that a building is in compliance with Building Regulations Part E for the prevention of noise transference, is to undertake Sound Insulation Testing in London.

We have undertaken thousands of sound insulation tests throughout London and the South East on all types of projects from simple flat conversions to large developments containing hundreds of flats. We also undertake Sound Insulation Testing where a lease holder dispute has arisen, i.e. where the buildings lease stipulates that wooden floors should not be used instead of carpets and as a result of the change of floor finish the noise levels have increased – especially the impact noise. We can also undertake sample sound testing to highlight the existing noise levels so a targeted acoustic design can be undertaken.

Tapping Machine for Impact Sound Testing

Currently we are also experiencing a rise in the amount of sound testing required to existing blocks of flats, such as existing council stock. This is hardly surprising as the amounts of noise complaints have more than doubled within the last 10 years due to residents experiencing excess noise between the dividing wall and floor partitions.  By utilising our extensive knowledge of different materials and construction we can forward a simple, explanative cost effective solution for wall and/or floor upgrade. Where our clients have followed our advice they have achieved a 100% success sound test pass rate, ensuring compliance with Part E of Building Regulations.

The Sound Testing procedure is fairly simple and our engineer will be happy to explain this on site. Essentially, for party walls there is one type of sound insulation test which is airborne sound test and for compartment floors there are two types of sound insulation tests which are airborne and impact sound insulation tests. The airborne sound insulation test is carried out by means of a loudspeaker emitting a steady source of noise on one side of the partition (wall or floor) to be measured. The corresponding sound level is measured on the other side of the partition. Impact sound insulation tests are carried out by means of a tapping machine placed on the floor sample to be measured and the noise measured in the room or space below

All our engineers carry out the sound test measurements in full accordance with the measurement procedures of BS EN ISO 140-4:1998[3] for field measurements with a single figure DnTw and LnTw in accordance with BS EN ISO 717.

Ongoing problems with airborne and structure borne sound are often associated with direct noise flanking transmission through floors and supporting walls and other associated structures. One common cause of noise flanking is often associated with the inclusion of lightweight blocks within the construction of the building envelope and/or blocked cavities. It all cases it is essential to establish if your problem is due to direct transmission, flanking transmission or a combination of both so that the most cost effective remedial treatment can be chosen.

Unwanted noise travelling along flanking paths will make the building structure vibrate which causes the sound to radiate into your room. One simple cost effective solution is to build another wall or ceiling in front of the original, but not connected to it (often called an independent wall or ceiling) so it provides isolation between materials.

One way to reduce the chance of flanking transmission is through careful consideration to the design at the start of the project.  Unfortunately, by simply specifying high performance wall and floor partitions it is no guarantee to adequate sound isolation and successful sound testing.

APT Sound Insulation Testing offer both preconstruction and post construction design solutions if a project has failed the sound testing. We also offer onsite inspection services to ensure that the sound insulation elements are being installed as per manufactures guild-lines.

If you require pre-completion sound testing and/or you would like acoustic design advice on your project, please contact us now at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk.

New Homes ‘Crumbling Due to Weak Mortar’

New Homes ‘Crumbling Due to Weak Mortar’
Hundreds of new properties have been built using weak mortar that does not meet recommended industry standards, the Victoria Derbyshire show has found. There are reports of homes with the fault on at least 13 estates in the UK.

The full extent of the industry-wide problem is hard to measure as some homeowners have been asked to sign gagging orders to claim compensation. The industry says mortar performance is a complex issue and can be affected by a number of factors.

One of those homes was owned by Vincent Fascione, 70. He says he was watching football on TV one evening in 2016 when he heard a loud cracking noise from the external walls of his house.

The next morning, he found a sand-like substance all over his front path and driveway. Photographs and video from the time appear to show growing cracks in the mortar holding his bricks together.

Mr Fascione, from Coatbridge outside Glasgow, bought his semi-detached property in 2012 for £112,500.

He complained to the homebuilder, Taylor Wimpey, and to the NHBC, the industry body that signs off and provides the warranty for most new-build houses.

Under NHBC guidelines, mortar in most areas of the UK should be made of one part cement to 5.5 parts sand.

The BBC‘s The Victoria Derbyshire Programme has heard about new build properties in at least 13 estates from Scotland to Sussex, built by different companies, with what appears to be a similar problem.

In one single estate in the Scottish borders, it is thought Taylor Wimpey has agreed to replace the mortar in more than 90 separate properties. The homebuilder says an assessment by engineers found “no structural issues” with the homes.

“This is both widespread and serious,” says Phil Waller, a retired construction manager who has blogged about the problem.

“It cannot be explained away by the industry as a few isolated cases.”

Exactly why the weaker building material may have been used is unclear.

In some cases, the housebuilder may have simply used the wrong type of mortar. In other cases, errors may have been made mixing and laying the material on site.

Some construction experts also blame the switch to a new type of factory-mixed mortar, which might pass a different strength test in the laboratory but not always be strong enough in the real world.

Faced with what could be an expensive repair bill, many homeowners have been told by their own solicitors not to go public until the issue is resolved. In some cases, customers have ultimately had their houses bought back by either the homebuilder or the NHBC.

Data Problems Hit O2 Mobile Network

Data Problems Hit O2 Mobile Network
cO2 has 25 million customers, but also provides services for the Sky, Tesco, Giffgaff and Lycamobile networks which have another seven million users. Many users took to Twitter to complain about the difficulties, which were first reported at about 05:30.

Data Problems Hit O2 Mobile Network

An O2 spokesperson said a software issue identified by a third-party supplier was to blame for the outage.

“We believe other mobile operators around the world are also affected. Our technical teams are working with their teams to ensure this is fixed as quickly as possible,” she said. “We’d encourage our customers to use wi-fi wherever they can and we apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

O2 is the second-largest mobile network in the country, behind EE.

Voice calls are unaffected by the problem.

The outage is having knock-on effects for other services that rely on the O2 network, including Transport for London’s electronic timetable service at bus stops, which has stopped working.

 

UK’s Richest Man Eyes North Sea Oil and Gas Fields

UK’s Richest Man Eyes North Sea Oil and Gas Fields
Britain’s richest man Jim Ratcliffe is hoping to extend his grip on the North Sea by buying oil and gas fields from US giant ConocoPhillips. Mr Ratcliffe’s company Ineos and ConocoPhillips have both confirmed that they are in exclusive talks.

Among the assets up for grabs is Conoco’s 6.5% stake in the Clair field, west of Shetland. The field potentially has 7 billion barrels of oil in place, according to BP’s chief executive Bob Dudley.

BP recently bought a 16.5% stake in the Clair field from ConocoPhillips, giving the UK oil giant a total holding of 45.1%.

Reports suggest that the assets ConocoPhillips is selling could be worth as much as $3bn (£2.3bn). They do not include the company’s oil terminal in Teesside or its commercial trading group based in London.

The North Sea is still a relatively new area for Mr Ratcliffe and Ineos.

The billionaire, whose £21bn fortune makes him the UK’s richest man according to the Sunday Times rich list, has traditionally invested in speciality chemicals businesses.

Ineos owns the Grangemouth oil refinery site in Scotland which manufactures a range of petrochemicals that are used in a wide range of products including bottles, food packaging and in the pharmaceuticals industry.

Ineos first acquired a number of North Sea gas fields in 2015 before it buying up the oil and gas business owned by Denmark’s Dong Energy for £1bn two years later.

The Sunday Times reported that Ineos had put down a deposit in exchange for three months of exclusive talks with ConocoPhillips.

Ineos declined to comment.

Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn Arrested over ‘Misconduct’

Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn Arrested over ‘Misconduct’
The BBC are reporting that Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn has been arrested over claims of financial misconduct, the carmaker has said. Mr Ghosn, a towering figure in the car industry, will be sacked from the Japanese firm after a board meeting on Thursday, its chief executive said. He has been accused of “significant acts of misconduct”, including under-reporting his pay package and personal use of company assets.

Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn Arrested over 'Misconduct'

Nissan said it was unable to give further details on the offences.

Japanese prosecutors have yet to comment on Mr Ghosn’s arrest.

Nissan is the world’s sixth-largest carmaker and its site in Sunderland is the UK’s biggest car plant.

“I feel despair, indignation and resentment.” said Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa at a news conference. As the details are disclosed I believe that people will feel the same way as I feel today,” he added.

Mr Saikawa said Nissan would now try to “stabilise the situation, and normalise day-to-day operations” for staff and business partners.

It said it had been conducting an internal investigation for several months, prompted by a whistleblower.

According to Japanese media reports, which have not been confirmed, he under-reported an amount totalling 5bn yen ($44m; £34m) over a five-year period from 2011.

Mr Saikawa said he believed the misconduct “went on for a long period”.

From 2010, Japanese firms have been required to disclose the salaries of executives who earn more than 100m yen.

UK Retail Sales Hit by Mild Autumn

UK Retail Sales Hit by Mild Autumn
Retail sales fell by a worse-than-expected 0.5% in October, after a mild autumn hit sales of winter clothes. Sales at household goods stores fell 3% following a particularly strong August and September, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

For the three months to October, retail sales rose 0.4% – a considerable slowdown from the 2.3% increase recorded for the three months to July.

Analysts said October’s fall suggested shoppers were cutting back spending. Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics said the drop was the “first real sign that consumers are tightening their purse strings due to uncertainty about Brexit”.

Non-food sales fell 1.3%, with a 1% decline in clothing sales, which he said could not be blamed on the weather.

“Consumers’ confidence already has weakened in recent months due to concerns about the economic outlook and we doubt households are feeling any surer that a no-deal Brexit will be avoided after this week’s political turbulence,” Mr Tombs said.

“Unless the government miraculously manages to force the current withdrawal agreement through parliament soon, growth in consumers’ spending will weaken markedly in the fourth quarter.”

Thomas Pugh at Capital Economics said some of October’s weakness may reflect consumers delaying spending ahead of “Black Friday” discounts this month. “High oil prices also weighed on the volume of fuel sold. As such, we suspect that there could be a rebound in sales volumes in November a

Royal Mail Profits Halve

Royal Mail Profits Halve
Half-year profits at Royal Mail have tumbled after the company failed to cut costs as quickly as hoped. Pre-tax profit more than halved to £33m for the six months to 23 September despite a 1% rise in revenues to just over £4.9bn. Revenue from its GLS European parcel operations was up 9%, offsetting a 1% fall in the UK parcels and letters.

Royal Mail Profits Halve

Chief executive Rico Back said Royal Mail had put a “range of actions” in place to improve performance. “There will be a greater emphasis on how we connect customers, companies and countries through our domestic and international businesses. There will be a clearer focus on financial performance and management accountability,” he said.

Growth in online shopping helped drive a 6% rise in revenues for the UK parcels business, but total revenue from letters was down 7%. Adjusted pre-tax profit was down 27% to £183m.

Royal Mail warned on profits at the start of October in an unscheduled update after revealing that cost savings would be just £100m this year rather than the £230m forecast, sending shares down almost a fifth.

The company reiterated its commitment to the £100m target for the 2018-19 financial year and Mr Back said the management team was “focused on pulling all the short and medium-term levers at our disposal to improve our performance”.

It said it would update investors on its strategy in March next year.

“This is a great company with great brands. We have, by far, the best delivery network in the UK: our ability to deliver most of our letters and parcels together is a major asset,” said Mr Back, who took over from Moya Green as chief executive earlier this year.

“Royal Mail has been in existence in one form or another for over 500 years. We have transformed ourselves many times before.”

 

Time to Move into Middle Management

Time to Move into Middle Management
Many people find that they are stuck within roles that they have been in for too long due to a lack of openings within their current company even if they are capable of performing at a much higher level but the amount of time it takes to find an alternative role and attend interviews off-putting so they become disheartened and remain unsatisfied in their roles, however others choose to use the services of a recruitment agency to help them find their next career opportunity.

If you feel over qualified for your current role, stuck in a rut and ready for a new challenge maybe it’s time for you to consider taking a step up the ladder to middle management and start looking for a new job so why not contact a specialist recruitment agency and find out what they might be able to offer you? Generally signing up is a simple and straightforward process and they will start looking for your next role in middle management straight away, making sure that they match you to roles that will really make the most of your skills.

One of the major benefits of using a recruitment agency to help you with your search is that they will often have good working links with many existing clients so will have the chance to fill many new roles before they are advertised elsewhere, another great advantage is because the recruitment agency will already have your cv and know your circumstances you won’t waste time looking into roles that won’t be suitable for you.

Signing up with an executive recruitment agency is also a really good idea if you if you are just starting out, returning to work after a break or looking for a more flexible role with such a wide range of job opening becoming available with them daily it isn’t likely to be long before you are attending you first day in a new middle management position and possibly climbing the ladder sooner than you thought.