Civil Engineering

GRAHAM Graduates get it ‘Right First Time’

GRAHAM Graduates get it ‘Right First Time’ image

A quality training programme, designed to eradicate concrete related Non-Conformances, has made an instant impact for GRAHAM’s Civil Engineering division.

Over 20 graduates from a range of sectors attended the action-packed day of theoretical and practical learning on May 10th.

Remarkably, zero Non Conformances (NC) relating to concrete have been reported since the course was completed three weeks ago.

Prior to the informative training session, analysis of non-conformance trends revealed a concrete related NC was identified on average every five days, resulting in increased costs and inefficiency.

Committed to getting it ‘Right First Time’, GRAHAM has strategically restructured its graduate training programme to empower its emerging talent to make better decisions and understand that every decision in the process matters.


Commenting on the success of the inaugural hands on quality training session, Leo Martin, Civil Engineering – Managing Director, said:

“Our non-conformance trends were analysed and we looked at these with a view to concentrating on areas of weakness. From there we targeted core construction activities.

“We made a conscious decision to follow a back to basics approach. We believe that there is great value in learning by doing and that is what the new update to the graduate programme is all about. We recognise that graduates are our future and we are committed to investing in their development.

“The restructured training has already proven to be successful and we are looking forward to the positive results emanating from future sessions.”


The engaging training day consisted of two core segments.

The group, led by Head of Quality, Lorna Hagan, and Quality Manager, Emma Harrison, who developed the course, enjoyed a hands on session hosted by key supply chain partner Lagan Concrete.

Initially, the graduates visited the concrete batching plant to understand the process from raw materials, production control and batching. They saw how workability of concrete is estimated and verified and discovered how important good communication between site and batching plant can prevent issues occurring.

The group visited the testing Laboratory and participated in practical exercises incorporating slump tests and concrete cube creation. This was followed by cube testing in the Laboratory, which demonstrated the difference in compressive strength of a well-compacted cube compared to one which was made incorrectly.

The conclusion of the day was a visit to the A6, where GRAHAM is upgrading 30 kilometres of highways between Londonderry/Derry and Dungiven.

On site, GRAHAM’s Engineering Director, Philip Brown, and Project Manager, David Slevin, stressed the importance of understanding the entire engineering process from specification, and the criticality of concrete testing through to the analysis of the results.

They explained how the data directly impacts temporary works and the safety of the structures GRAHAM builds.

Feedback from the day saw 91% of participants stating that the skills they learnt “better prepared them to work effectively with concrete”.

Head of Quality, Lorna Hagan, was delighted with the outcome of the session.

“It was a very enjoyable and informative day and I would like to thank our supply chain partners for working collaboratively with us in the development of this important practical training course,” said Lorna.

“The training provided practical experience for people new to the industry so they can understand how their decisions can make a difference to the overall success of each project. These practical graduate training days provide structure and context for sharing the wealth of knowledge within GRAHAM in a fun and engaging environment.

“Our ‘Right First Time’ strategy means giving confidence to graduates in their decisions, based on learning and experience. The training allows our emerging talent to be nurtured in order to fulfil their potential.”

As a result of this successful course, the graduate programme has been updated to include more practical modules with ‘Setting Out’ and ‘Surveying’ scheduled for June 2018, and a restructure to the programme to include seven new modules starting September 2018.