G R Carr: A Journey in Fit for Nuclear

For nearly 50 years the Essex based fabrication firm G R Carr limited has been serving high-quality markets – such as petro-chemical, oil and gas energy – with piping and structural steel fabrications and maintenance services. Employing some 90 staff the company operates from a substantial 4.5 acre site at Basildon.

GR Carr site at Basildon

The company built its position in these demanding markets through quality and on-time delivery of projects. The core philosophy of G R Carr is investment : in technology, in craft-skills of its work-force and diligence in processes and procedures. underpinning this philosophy are industry standards such as ISO 9001 -2005, OHSA 18001, ISO 14001 and BSEN 1090.

However, director John Riley notes:

The success and competencies built over 45 years is not necessarily a guarantee for the future of G R Carr. We recognised an opportunity with the expanding nuclear power generation programme in the UK .  And so in December 2015 we embarked on the Fit for Nuclear (F4N) programme. Our aim was that F4N would not only open up new opportunities, but even more important, would be a catalyst for change’  

An initial F4N assessment of G R Carr, and subsequent gap analysis, generated a detailed set of recommendations and action plan projects.  So over two years the F4N journey of G R Carr has created significant improvements and generally raising standards all round.on-going-management-training

Fellow director Stephen Gilliland adds:

‘At the centre of F4N is the message: “why nuclear is different”. This has driven all our developments: from leadership and management skills and strategy through to quality, supply change management and then on to adopting selected methods of continuous improvement.  A key feature is the change of culture at G R Carr. A notable part of this change is that all our operations staff now take even more responsibility for every aspect of making improvements, particularly the drive for quality and health and safety: both here at Basildon and on-site at our customers’ premises’.

Quality Manager, Dave Jefferies, outlines the staff development programme :

‘F4N has helped us formalise and plan training and development for the present as well as the future . It has guided our specialist and general skills needs. So we have two senior mechanical engineers now on the path to charted engineer status; one of our quality engineers is taking the Chartered Quality Institute Diploma and one person is just completing a MSc in welding engineering. Alongside this training all staff now have personal development plans that include core training in Continuous Process Improvement methods. Also, in meeting the needs of our strategic plan, we have recently employed a Safety Manager who has 14 years of experience working in a nuclear power station.

The quest for F4N was achieved in May 2018 when the company was granted F4N status by the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Centre in Rotherham. However, a further accolade awaited G R Carr. In October 2018, at the Engineering and Construction Industries Training Board (ECITB) awards in London, it won the prestigious  SME of The Year Award. ECITB have worked with G R Carr for a number of years in all its training needs.  And so this award was in recognition of the continuing development of staff workforce.


Director Stephen Gilliland receiving the award at the ECITB ceremony

John Riley summarises:

The journey towards F4N has been both demanding yet rewarding for everyone at G R Carr. It has certainly raised our standards and abilities; and we are already seeing benefits and attracting attention from the upper levels in the nuclear supply chain. Indeed, we are in advanced discussions for potential nuclear projects with a number of companies.

But alongside this we are very aware that we cannot be complacent. The most significant point we have learned being forward-looking and adapt to the changing needs of our clients if we are to retain the right for F4N’.


Directors and staff at the ECITB award ceremony in Bloomsbury Hotel London.

Article supplied by: Dr John Coleman, October 2018