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Craning in training

MMC Crane delivery at Bedford College

Trainees will have an industry-standard crane in the new Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) training centre at Bedford College.

The gantry crane, of the sort used within manufacturing facilities to lift components of pre-manufactured properties, was itself hauled into position in Cauldwell Street on Friday (February 26th) by a specialist spider crane.

Installation of crane at the new MMC at Bedford College

The gantry crane being installed was manufactured in the UK by Street Crane Company Limited. The crane has cost £25k plus VAT and is an essential element of the new MMC.

It will safely lift loads up to 3.2Tonne  and it will have a working span of 20.2m.  College staff will be able to operate the crane using a wireless control pad. Work has been underway on Bedford College’s £4.3million MCC since before Christmas and will be completed by September 2021.

Pre-manufacturing homes, or at least part of them, and then shipping them to a building site, has been identified as the most efficient and cost-effective way of meeting the huge demand for housing.

To keep up with the skills demand from the construction industry, Bedford College has been awarded money to upgrade its existing facilities in Cauldwell Street.

The riverside campus already houses the Brundtland Building, which leads on modern “eco” infrastructure training, and the Advanced Engineering Centre, which houses a Virtual Reality construction ‘cave’, funded by the Connolly Foundation. Digital engineering technologies and the use of computerised-aided design (CAD) equipment is already part of the wider college curriculum offer. There is a huge synergy now between engineering design and the construction industry, which opens up a whole new world of employment.

This new funding will see the single storey building which sits alongside the Brundtland Building on Cauldwell Street being upgraded to include a facility to construct dwellings and component parts like kitchen and bathroom “pods”.

Dave Wilkins, Director of Construction, said:

We will be working closely with leading employers in the construction industry regionally to get input about the skills they need to fast-forward these modern methods

“There are huge opportunities here for training young people for great jobs in the future – be it 16-year-olds embarking on apprenticeships, those undertaking the new T-Levels, others progressing on to degree-level Higher Education courses, and those in the industry who want to modernise their skills.”

“There will always be a demand for more traditional construction skills and we will continue to offer those courses across all levels.

Gantry crane installation at Bedford College's MMC

Ian Pryce CBE, CEO of The Bedford College Group, said of the Modern Methods of Construction Centre:

The funding to refurbish our Construction centre at the Bedford College Cauldwell Street campus will support our provision of high-quality learning environments for students in the region.

This refurbishment has been supported by the Getting Building Fund which is especially welcome in these times which are seeing a renewed focus on the construction industry. The refurbished centre will support construction training, making it possible for young people to move into skilled and professional careers via apprenticeships or gain promotion through further qualifications.

The project has received £2.9 Million in funding as part of a Getting Building Fund for infrastructure projects designed to stimulate jobs and support economic recovery across the county.

The South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP), which covers Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire, has been allocated £27.3million of the pot – more than £15.1 million of which has been allocated to fund six projects in Bedfordshire.

Hilary Chipping, SEMLEP Chief Executive, said:

We are delighted to have secured more than £27m from government to support the economic recovery from COVID-19 in this area.  These projects will support key priorities including skills for young people, the green recovery and innovation, which all generate jobs.

In July 2019 we published our Local Industrial Strategy, laying out the priorities and interventions we needed to invest in to realise innovation, further improve connectivity and achieve sustainable growth. These Getting Building Fund projects meet these priorities and the needs of the local economy as we strive to recover economically from this pandemic.

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