Howell Cummings has a plug and play time

There was no summer break for Spennymoor-based Howell Cummings Catering Equipment this year, as it was hard at work transforming a local school’s kitchen facilities.

The distributor was first called in by Toft Hill Primary School and Durham County Council in October 2014 to discuss a possible project.

The Bishop Auckland-based faculty was built over 100 years ago and was running out of staff and teaching space, while it also needed a new kitchen and extract system.

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“The existing facility and system lacked practical space and was not up to modern standards,” recalled Howell Cummings’ MD, Paul Surtees.

The dealer was able to quickly come up with a modular build design scheme to meet the school’s needs. The proposed scheme would create both additional staff and teaching space and also release part of the existing school, currently being used as a staffroom to convert to a modern school production kitchen.

All the work had to be carried out and completed within a strict 5 week timeframe over the school’s summer holiday between the end of July and the beginning of September. Therefore a lot of preparation had to go into ensuring all processes were meticulously scheduled.

Pre-commencement discussions took place with the school and local authority, approximately 6 months prior to the £50,000 outfit. “We are a hands-on, pro-active sub-contractor which places emphasis on early planning and co-ordination, and providing high quality information and pre-commencement information,” said Surtees.

It was agreed that Howell Cummings would reconfigure the existing kitchen into a wash up and clearing area and convert the existing school staffroom into a modern school production kitchen. The latter required new extraction, ventilation, hygienic wall cladding, vinyl flooring and suspended ceilings, as well as new mechanical and electrical services.

The electrical services and other infrastructure had to be upgraded in order for the new facility to operate. The dealer also provided stainless steel benching and specified and installed catering equipment. [[page-break]]

It also had to put its modular building skills to good use by manufacturing new ‘flexikitchen’ units to form a new class/staffroom complete with internal finishes, and tea point.

The design criteria laid down by the school were that the new modular building had to look similar to the existing school entrance and reception building; Siberian Larch timber cladding was selected for its appearance and durability.

The modular units were designed to be able to be delivered to site through the school gates and craned into position on pre-prepared foundations on the existing school yard.

Howell Cummings had to work closely with the local authority and electrical provider whilst the electrical infrastructure was upgraded, to be able to resource the new works. As the existing electrical supplies were running at full capacity, loading and usage tests were carried out to ensure sufficient supplies would be able to meet the needs of the school and its future expansion plans.

“To be able to provide a speedy modular solution as opposed to a timely traditional build was one of the highlights of the scheme,” commented Surtees. All works were completed within the school shutdown, in time for the reopening on 3 September.

The school’s headteacher, Janice Stobbs, was said to be delighted with the way Howell Cummings had set about and undertaken the works: “Howell Cummings was easy to work with from design to delivery and it has the ability to adapt to client requests or design changes. I found them efficient, helpful and particularly conscientious.”

The dealer is no stranger to its flexikitchen construction, having recently been awarded framework status with East Ayreshire council to manufacture and install facilities at its school premises, the first two being positioned at The Grange Academy and St Josephs Academy near Kilmarnock.

The modular units can be used to extend schools in the form of new kitchens, dining areas, classrooms, toilets/changing facilities or additional meeting rooms.

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