Cornwall Manufacturers Group Award for ELIQUO HYDROK

Sponsored by Make UK, the 2021 Cornwall Manufacturers Group (CMG) Awards were presented at an Awards ceremony held at the Eden Project in November 2021.

ELIQUO HYDROK were one of the shortlisted finalists in the Large Manufacturer of the Year category and were judged by the judging panel to be top of the finalists and were announced as Winners at the event hosted by CMG.

Like many businesses, Covid-19 has brought many challenges to ELIQUO HYDROK, 2020 being especially tough coinciding with the Water Industry’s 5-year AMP cycle ‘dip’ year.  However, the company chose to invest further in their Cornish infrastructure and staffing, taking on a second factory unit opposite the existing St Columb head offices and factory. In addition, the company embarked on a recruitment drive to meet the demand market indicators and experience forecasted and had begun to materialise.

Many of their competitors in the Water Industry choose to outsource their fabrication to various companies, including outside of the UK – enabling them to reduce their expenditure during quieter spells.  ELIQUO HYDROK do not follow this business model instead as CEO Lewis O’Brien put it “We pride ourselves in manufacturing our solutions ourselves and keeping our production and much of our procurement where possible, Cornish.  We’ve actively chosen to invest in R&D and other improvement initiatives plus invested in growing our fleet of hire units during our quieter year, keeping our skilled staff productive and ready for the busy period we’re now entering.

A key feature of the ELIQUO HYDROK strategy has been to deliver ‘financial innovation’. The UK water companies generally spend in 5 year, AMP cycles. The first 2 years are more focussed on consulting and planning, followed by 3 years of manufacturing and delivering equipment. This gives a ‘boom and bust’ workload for companies within the industry, which has been an issue ever since the AMP cycles were created.

To tackle this, ELIQUO HYDROK have instigated new financial mechanisms, and standardisation of many of the key technologies, where clients can order large batches of equipment early in the AMP cycle, safe in the knowledge it will be deployed to specific projects later in the AMP period as required. The additional introduction of a Production Slot Reservation scheme, enabling clients to reserve production in the peak AMP years when they know they will need the equipment, but at present are not yet ready to commit to specific items to order.

Lewis further explains, “The technologies we design and manufacture serve to improve the quality of water and wastewater for the good of our collective environment, but beyond their primary function being for environmental benefit, our ethos has been to deliver these technologies in an environmentally friendly, low carbon approach since our inception, well before Net Zero Carbon was hot topic. Expanding further he added, “We make extensive use of intelligent structural engineering to maximise functional strength and minimise material use (e.g. using in-house formed lightweight sections rather than heavy gauge material).  We systematically engineered-out carbon-intensive concrete civil structures in favour of lightweight stainless-steel structures with much lower embodied carbon whilst the technologies themselves set the benchmark in our industry for low operational energy consumption. A good example is our EloVac product which reduces greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater treatment.

Judge’s commented, “Considering the challenges that ELIQUO HYDROK faced in the last 18 months we were very impressed with how they reacted and adapted and still prioritised business growth. We were also pleased to learn more about their ethos around employment, particularly the success they have had with their 8 new apprentices – ELIQUO HYDROK are a well-deserved winner of the award.”

Commenting on receiving the award Lewis said, “This is a prestigious local award, voted for by a judging panel from MAKE UK (the national manufacturer’s organisation). This award is recognition of the progress and achievements the company has made despite what has clearly been the toughest of economic and social backdrops. This is truly an award recognising every person in every role!”

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