Spotlight: Malone Group

Note from the editor

For the April edition of Spotlight, CJ and I went to visit Paul Bunyan, the UK Managing Director at Malone Group in their Burton offices, located on Centrum 100. Headquartered in Ireland and founded over 20 years ago, Malone Group has offices across the UK and in North America. They work with leading brands to manage and deliver high value, business-critical projects. In the interview, amongst other things, we talked about robots, cannabis and the promising engineering talent pool in Burton and the Midlands – enjoy!

Fact File: Malone Group

Malone Group facilitates smart, efficient, and safe full-service project delivery for international organisations. They provide expertise around the full project lifecycle, from engineering design, project management, to validation. They are trusted internationally by global organisations to deliver projects safely while managing technical compliance and risk.

The sectors they work in include, food and beverage, oil and gas, pharmaceutical, consumer health, energy, and commercial. Their core services consist of Project Management Delivery, Engineering Design, Automation and Control, Building Services, Safety Management and Engineering Recruitment.

They have a range of esteemed clients including Heineken, National Bank of Canada, Cadbury’s, Heinz, Diageo, AMGEN, Allergan, Macquarie Group, Molson Coors, Smurfit Kappa, Weetabix and Greene King to name but a few.

An interview with …

Paul Bunyan: Managing Director of the UK

Millie: “Paul, what is your professional background and what is your role here at Malone Group?”

Paul: “I’m the UK Managing Director for Malone Group and I am responsible for the UK business operation from both a technical and financial perspective, whilst ensuring Group strategies, development and culture are respected. Personally, I’m a Chartered Chemical Engineer, and I have worked for over 30 years mainly in the food and drink industry, and in the brewing and dairy industries in particular. My previous role was MD of FMA Process Engineering based in Lichfield.  In 2017 Malone Group celebrated its 20th year in operation, as part of their expansion plans for the UK, FMA were brought into Malone Group in August of 2017, which is when I joined. This has marked a big step up for the company over the last two years. We relocated to Burton in Nov 2017. Within Malone Group we do have regional strengths; here in Burton we have a centre of excellence for process engineering and control and automation, in Dublin they have a very strong Health and Safety offering, building services and pharma experience, and in Canada with our office in Calgary their work is centred around oil and gas, and in Burlington, near Toronto, they are very much focussed on food and drink.”

Millie: “How would you best summarise what Malone does and the problems you solve for your clients?”

Paul: “Our role is to implement projects for our customers and to help them realise their growth plans. We go right across the board from simply helping them project manage projects if they know what they want to do, right the way through to taking a blank sheet of paper and designing a new factory from concept and managing that to completion. On the one hand, these projects could involve what we call capital projects, such as building a new factory or expand an existing factory capacity, which will be a one-off venture. On the other hand, we undertake revenue projects; these are generally smaller projects that might involve looking at better efficiencies in water or energy usage to reduce a company’s operational costs for example.

“A lot of work we do at the moment is around obsolescence of automation and control systems. At Molson Coors, like many breweries now it’s highly automated and they have well developed obsolescence plans, but many companies still operate on control systems that are obsolete and unsupported. Because they are bespoke and often the instructional documentation and knowledge of how to run it is gone, it’s very hard to replace them when they break. Some pieces of control equipment are so specialist and rare, you’ll actually only find them on eBay! We go in and implement an up-to-date control system to replace the old one, while keeping them in production and ensuring they do exactly what they used to do, giving them another 20 years of life whilst often improving management information. Another thing we do, and a part of the business that I believe will grow significantly, is Health and Safety Services. Whilst a lot of our customers have a good understanding of the Construction, Design and Management (CDM) Regulations, there is still a significant minority that haven’t, and also the ones that need to appoint a Principal Contractor and/or a Principal Designer, often don’t have the knowledge or resources internally to do. We can provide them with those services they don’t have internally as they are focussed on production not projects, as we are at the moment for customers such as KP Foods and Weetabix. In Ireland, they have a team of 18 people working in Health and Safety, here we have three, and I am convinced we can grow that considering the size of the market, which is one of my tasks.”

Millie: “What would you say makes you different from your competitors?”

Paul: “We are completely independent, we aren’t pushing any particular equipment supply as we work with many as trusted partners, so we take a holistic and independent view of a customer’s requirements. We are a people-driven company, and we are passionate about developing our engineers; nobody is too old to learn new things. Our CPD programme (Continuous Professional Development) is accredited by Engineers Ireland, so every employee will have a CPD plan, which will help them to develop their skills further. Subsequently, we are able to offer a highly skilled, highly knowledgeable workforce to design and develop solutions. Another thing that differentiates us from quite a lot of our competitors, is that we have a very advanced and experienced software and automation offering in-house, which a lot of our competitors would typically sub-contract. We provide a comprehensive offering, and with more than 110 employees, we are big enough to do most projects, but small enough to be flexible. What we deliver is a solution the customer wants to ensure ownership, not what we think they should have.”

Millie: “You work in many sectors with some leading brands and global businesses, are there any impressive clients or exciting projects you have taken on recently?”

Paul: “Princes Soft Drinks have a control system in one of their factories that was installed 25/30 years ago and it isn’t fit for purpose anymore, and there are few people that understand it so it is a business risk. We have been commissioned to complete an automation upgrade which will involve reverse-engineering and writing new software into a more modern system. Additionally, two software companies OMRON and B&R have approached us to partner with them, and for B&R we are only one of only two in the UK that they have chosen to partner with. They have a lot of exciting technology coming through that we are starting to use in and across different industries. For example, we are helping MEIYUME (previously called LF Beauty) – who produce health care beauty products for well known high street shops and brands – to achieve significant growth, by harnessing OMRON technology. They have a huge number of products and it is very much batch driven; the new mixing technology coupled with the control technology will provide them with a layer of information management across their whole production site, moving towards Industry 4.0, which will give them much better visibility and increase their efficiencies and production capabilities. To the same end, both OMRON and B&R also implement robotics and cobots, robots that work side-by-side with humans, into factory production lines. MEIYUME have thousands of lotions and potions in bottles of all different shapes and sizes, and it’s quite manually intensive to keep track on a production line, but co-bots can work beside humans to alleviate this workload. With OMRON and B&R we are incorporating that technology into customer projects and helping factories with complex operations to embrace Industry 4.0, which is quite cutting-edge stuff in terms of control and automation management.”

Millie: “You have expertise in plant mechanical services specifically with regards to cannabis production. Of course, cannabis has been legalized in Canada, do you see this happening in other countries soon?

With offices in Canada, we have relationships and in-house expertise in legal guidelines as you rightly say Cannabis is legalized in Canada, also in the design of grow operations, CO2 extraction, handling and packaging. Our work includes plant mechanical services expertise to assess needs and design optimised supply of light cycles, nutrients, heat for operations and whilst this is fine in Canada it has the potential to cause issues when we work in the US as they have very draconian drug legislation, so you have to be very careful if crossing the border.  It’s very early days globally in medicinal cannabis and I think it will remain a relatively small part of what we do at Malone Group, but if we are in at the forefront, we have the expertise if it does expand.”

Millie: “Davies + Scothorn built a new website for you, how was the end product received?”

Paul: “From my background and my time at FMA, I’ve had a lot of dealings with marketing agencies and web builds, and I think this is a very good website. The previous website was, what I would call engineering-led, and filled with industry terminology, which didn’t resonate with everyone hitting the site as we are not all engineers. I think in order to draw people in, you need something that is interesting and that tells a story of how we can help our customers implement their plans and also resonates across all disciplines and seniority levels, and I think that’s what we’ve got now. Davies + Scothorn have taken it to the next level, it’s got some great features and it’s something to be proud of.”

Millie: “You recently added recruitment services to the services you offer as a company, what motivated you do this and how does it complement your existing business?”

Paul: “When managing projects, often customers need additional resource for a one-off capital project, but don’t want to employ someone, then we can actually source interims for them. Simon Mason our current Client Services & Recruitment Director was MD of a company called Mason James Appointment, and they were integrated into the group in 2017. We help some of our customers such as Weetabix, KP Snacks, AB Mauri with some of their capital work by embedding engineers on temporary contracts. In turn, we can also help customers to recruit permanent staff; because we actually work within the industries that we recruit for we know exactly what to look for and we have a lot of contacts. One of the reasons we are expanding the service in Burton is due to the strong local network some of our staff have and the promising engineering talent pool in the area. It complements what we do as a business; when we are busy we can pull people in if we hit some peaks, or if we need a particular skill set we can bring them in a temporary basis.”

Millie: “Why did you choose Burton for your office and what benefits has it brought you?’

Paul: “We moved here to Burton for three reasons really. One, it’s associated with the brewing industry, so it marries up nicely with the work that we do in the food and drink sector. Two, it’s centrally located in the UK, it’s easy access for many of our clients who stretch from Glasgow down to Corby, London, across to Wiltshire. Three, Burton is a growing town with a lot of investment going in with Colmans and Unilever to name just one, and there are some highly skilled engineers in Burton and the surrounding regions we would like to utilise.”

Millie: “Lastly, a lot of your staff work out of the office and on-site, how do you keep in communication with everyone and what systems do you use to ensure that everything is running smoothly?”

Paul: “As a group of companies, we work across jurisdictions when we do projects, pulling people in to form project teams from different locations, so here in Burton we spend quite a lot of time using the video conferencing to speak to people in other Group locations. We have a global document, email and project management system called PRISM. All emails, timesheets and project information is published on it referenced against projects and customers, all design issues and approvals are tracked through it, which is key for capturing important design information that can be accessed by multiple people in locations across the globe. Effectively, we all operate on one platform whether you are in Calgary or Dublin. For contacting people out and about on site we use Skype for business. We are very conscious that we are not just companies that happen to be part of the same group, we do actually work as one. We have staff members that have moved abroad to work in our offices in North America and Ireland, and vice versa, so we are very integrated and as a collective, with our range of skills, we can cover all bases by utilising the technology available to us.”

If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about how we might be able to elevate your brand or business, then please feel free to get in touch.

Email: millie@daviesscothorn.com

Or give the office a call on 01283 532780.

Alternatively, come in for a chat and a coffee, our address is:  192 Horninglow St, Anson Court, Burton-on-Trent, United Kingdom, DE14 1NG

Get in touch

Drop us a line if you are keen to find out more.