The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from VJ Tech is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
43VJ TECH LTD |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
Nathan Vimalan, CEO
Based in Reading, VJ Tech manufactures soil and rock testing
equipment that helps civil and geotechnical engineers
get their foundation designs right – especially for key
building and infrastructure projects. Much hinges on getting
this right, and providing an excellent service is not a matter of
choice for people in this sector. The company has many high-
profile customers, and their services span much of the globe.
Nathan Vimalan is the founder, owner and CEO of VJ Tech. He
formed the company in 1991 from modest beginnings and has
personally overseen and managed its steady growth ever since.
What we do
Our equipment tests for geotechnical factors to help project engineers effectively
manage risks and costs. Samples of soil, rock and/or concrete are taken from
a project site and tested under controlled conditions within our customers’
laboratories. These are either commercial labs, for building projects, or university
labs, for teaching, research and special building projects. This includes testing for
the required foundation designs of skyscrapers, wind turbines, structures around
high-speed railways, tunnels, dams, and buildings in earthquake zones.
Growth has been achieved by concentrating on customers; profit over turnover;
high-end technology at affordable prices; and expanding into the global
marketplace, both for supplies and sales. We now sell our products in more than
VJ TECH LTD
»CEO: Nathan Vimalan
»Established in 1991
»Based in Reading, Berkshire
»Services: Supply of
geotechnical test equipment,
in-house design for hardware
»Services over 85 countries in
»81 per cent of revenue comes
from overseas sales
»Quality management certified
– ISO 9001:2015
VJ Tech Ltd
VJ Tech equipment used to analyse
offshore geotechnical problems
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
44 | VJ TECH LTD
» THREE KEY AREAS FOR SUCCESS
Our company runs with a fairly flat structure of empowered staff, enabling easy access to everyone and all skills. It
enables us to be agile, make decisions fast and quickly go for new opportunities, new markets and new products.
Problems can be dealt with exceptionally quickly. Our flexibility and helpful culture enable us to go above and
beyond in satisfying customer need and creating custom designs.
All our research, development, design, manufacture and aftercare is done in-house, ensuring the flow of quality
from the start of a project to its completion and beyond. This is not just for producing the overall equipment
packages, but for the software, electronics and hardware too. This enables us to focus on the total control and
support needed for the delivery of each specific project and to innovate.
Our reputation for customer service is excellent, resulting in exceptionally loyal customers. We consistently receive
good feedback for our installation and remote support.
Each customer has their own tailored solution, and this personal touch is liked. We listen to customers, are honest
with them and fix any issues that arise, promptly and fully. Profit can even be sacrificed in the short term due to
us being able to take the long view – this creates long-term loyalty and enhances profits.
85 countries across the six main
continents, and because of this, Brexit
is not a fear. Our equipment is used in
a wide range of situations, from the
most advanced countries, to those that
are still developing.
We’re now one of the top five soil
test equipment manufacturers in the
world, when measured by advanced
soil testing product range and quality
of product. We also have a long
collaborative working relationship
with the University of Surrey, Queen’s
University (Belfast), Imperial College,
the University of Texas and more.
As geotechnical professors and
researchers are known globally, this
helps spread the word about VJ Tech.
Our vision statement is “To be the
most innovative geotechnical soil
testing manufacturer in the world,
with industry-leading quality, training
and customer service.”
Challenges VJT has faced
Recruitment is one of the biggest
challenges, as the geotechnical
sector is so niche and there is a
resultant lack of home-grown talent.
To work around this, we develop
our own staff where possible (even
for senior management), making
them appropriately multi-skilled, but
this then makes them a hard act to
follow! Sourcing staff from other
countries, including outside the EU, is
This rarity factor affects other
areas too. There is a lack of local
manufacturing choices for some parts,
so sourcing from overseas is essential.
VJ Tech customers are all
over the world
service is not a
people in this
45VJ TECH LTD |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
Finding suitable distributors in other
countries can be equally problematic
and cumbersome. This is why we make
much of our partnerships with key
customers and universities to act as
a helpful network of mutual support
with their global contacts.
Competing with lower-quality brands
made within other countries can be
an issue. Customers in those countries
often prefer the lower price, but can
get “burnt” by the experience, often
coming back to VJ Tech at a later date
due to our higher quality.
The conservative nature of the
geotechnical sector means that
transitions from old to new technology
can take more effort or time in order
for it to gain acceptance. This means
investing in step changes is risky and
usually has to be done incrementally
instead, usually in partnership with
customers on the back of an order,
rather than speculatively.
Uniqueness and innovation
Many years ago, we were one of
the first companies in the sector to
utilise microprocessors to automate
testing – before which everything was
manual – and we have remained at the
cutting edge of automation ever since.
Automation was a really important
innovation, especially for commercial
labs, as it improved productivity by
about 25 to 50 per cent, speeded
up results output and enabled these
results to be of a higher quality due
to elimination of human error. This
enabled cheaper consultancy prices
and faster results for project designers.
Our ACONS automatic consolidation
device is a classic example of this genre,
helping to make us a worldleader.
Our equipment control software, Clisp
Studio, is unique – we’re world leaders
of this due to its security functions,
back-up ability and user-friendliness.
It’s flexible, accommodating the
needs of both commercial labs, which
undertake tests based on international
standards, and university researchers
who have more complex requirements.
Political and economic factors
We’ve wanted to export to Iran, but
mixed messages of, on the one hand,
“do it if the conditions are right”
(government trade advice) and, on the
other hand, “don’t do it at all” (banks)
cloud matters and cause uncertainty.
GBP exchange rate dropping has
helped with export sales but increased
supply costs of parts. Oil prices affect
offshore testing – which affects the
demand for seabed sediment/rock
testing for the installation of offshore
structures, such as rigs, wind turbines,
pipeline or cable routes, and anchors.
one of the top
five soil test
in the world
» PROJECTS THAT USED DATA FROM VJ TECH
»Jeddah Tower, Saudi Arabia
»Terminal 5 Heathrow
»HS2 high-speed rail
»Jubilee and Queen Elizabeth
»Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
»McLaren Technology Centre,
»London Array offshore wind
farm (world’s largest)
»Airport, metro and harbours,
Singapore and Hong Kong
VJ Tech equipment in
a customer laboratory
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.
In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.
We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.
With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.
And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.
As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.