From piling to utilities, Aarsleff Ground Engineering delivers customized solutions across diverse projects 

As a leading ground engineering specialist in the UK, Aarsleff Ground Engineering Ltd (Aarsleff) is dedicated to delivering operational excellence across a range of disciplines and driving value through innovative practices in disciplines such as piling, geotechnical engineering, sheet piling, retaining wall construction, and overall ground engineering. With its headquarters located in Newark, Nottinghamshire, the company has a successful track record of designing and executing some of the largest ground engineering projects in the country. Aarsleff is a subsidiary of Per Aarsleff A/S, a highly regarded civil engineering contractor based in Denmark. Leveraging this affiliation, the business brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to every project, whether it involves small-scale slope retention or multi-million-pound installation endeavors. Aarsleff places a strong emphasis on close collaboration with clients, starting from the concept and planning stage and continuing through to project delivery and handover. Recognizing the significance of speed and efficiency in today’s construction landscape, Aarsleff embeds these qualities into its operations, all while prioritizing safety and adhering to best practices. Holding all major accreditations, Aarsleff is the preferred ground engineering partner for construction projects of any size. Kevin Hague, Managing Director, discusses the developments the company has experienced since last year.

“I think one of our most significant highlights, which I briefly mentioned during our previous interview last year but couldn’t elaborate on at the time is that we’ve been delighted to welcome Cannon Piling into the Aarsleff Group. A specialist bored piling contractor based in Essex with over 30 years of experience, Cannon Piling mainly works with CFA and rotary bored piling but also with the capabilities of bottom driven and mini piling, as well as ground beams. This strategic addition complements and enhances the extensive capabilities of Aarsleff in the UK, particularly in London and the south east region. The integration of Cannon Piling into our group has been a pivotal step in aligning our strategic direction and fostering a cohesive organization. Furthermore, we have invested in business development, with a particular focus on IT and digitization. As part of our growth journey, we have welcomed numerous new talents who have brought fresh perspectives and ideas to our expanding team. Witnessing the company evolve and flourish with their valuable contributions has been truly inspiring,” he begins.

Industry resilience
Kevin provides a compelling account of his professional journey and how it has culminated in his current position within Aarsleff. “I started working at Van Elle Ltd in the year 2000 after completing my studies at Leeds University. Initially, I served as a regional manager and later took on the role of director, which I held for a span of eight years. Following that, I transitioned to Cementation Skanska, where I spent five years as both project and operations manager. Most of my work was centred around the London area, giving me the opportunity to contribute to significant projects such as the Borough Market Viaduct, the Elizabeth line on Bond Street, The Shard, and London Bridge. Afterwards, I joined Bauer Technologies for a year as an operations manager, continuing my work in the London area. This role provided me with a diverse set of responsibilities, giving me valuable insights into senior management within the business realm. Finally, in 2014, I joined Aarsleff as the piling manager under the leadership of Managing Director Chris Primett. Over time, I progressed to the position of general manager, and in 2017, when Chris stepped down, I assumed the role of managing director. Throughout my tenure, I have driven significant changes within the organization, from numerous acquisitions to wide diversification, and a remarkable increase in both the size of our business and the scale of the projects we undertake. It has been an immensely rewarding experience, and I am looking forward to seeing the future growth and development of our company,” he informs.

Throughout his time at Aarsleff, Kevin has witnessed and adapted to numerous developments, challenges, and industry dynamics. With his extensive experience, he provides an account of the current state of the construction industry in the UK. “There has obviously been difficult news lately, including several major contractors going into administration. However, what truly stands out is the remarkable response and support offered in the face of adversity. It is reassuring to witness the public rallying behind affected parties, the creation of new job opportunities, and the industry coming together to offer help in any way possible. This collective response serves as a testament to the spirit of the construction industry. While we may be competitors, we are also deeply engaged and networked. It is undeniable that there is a prevailing sense of uncertainty at the moment, but there are also positive signs that the industry as a whole is resilient and can continue to move forward,” he enlightens.

Exceptional projects
Aarsleff is not unaffected by the labor shortage crisis, an issue that is prevalent across various industries. However, the company has effectively managed to navigate this challenge and continues to operate successfully. “For us, the difficulties have underscored the importance of investing in our workforce. At Aarsleff, we recognize that empowering our employees not only improves retention but also creates development opportunities within our organization. To this end, we have intensified our focus on Early Careers, our training program, acknowledging the significance of bridging the generation gap and implementing succession planning. As a testament to our dedication to upskilling, we joined the 5% Club last year. Our HR team, equipped with extensive knowledge in strategic people management, plays a pivotal role in engaging and enabling our workforce,” Kevin explains.

While Aarsleff remains committed to investing in its workforce and training initiatives, the company also maintains its focus on undertaking exceptional projects. “While there are many remarkable projects that we are unable to discuss, there are a few notable ones that we can share. Earlier this year, we successfully completed our largest piling project to date. This involved the installation of over 15,000 piles at a site in the south west, where a new logistics park was being developed. This project is a fantastic demonstration of our collaborative approach with clients, as effective communication plays a crucial role. Given the magnitude of piles, machinery, and associated logistics, we prioritise the central role of efficient coordination. Our focus lies not only in managing these aspects but also in optimising them for the best outcomes. Handling that many piles, machines, and all the associated delivery places logistics at the forefront of our operations. We place great emphasis on not only effectively managing these logistics but also optimising them,

“Similarly, in the north east, we fulfilled a captivating heritage project within the grounds of Durham Castle earlier this year. The project involved addressing issues with the patio of the Norman Chapel, which happens to be the oldest building in Durham. It was discovered that the patio was causing damage to one of the historic walls. Collaborating with the main contractor, we designed a contiguous piled wall founded on sectional flight auger piles. This design not only met all access and load restrictions but also aligned with the project’s programme and design targets. The execution of this project presented unique challenges. The rig had to be crane-lifted onto the access road before being tracked up to the site. Throughout the process, we operated under the constant supervision of archaeologists to ensure the preservation of historical artifacts. From both a design and operational perspective, this project was truly fascinating. It serves as an excellent example of how early engagement with us means we can design and tailor solutions that effectively address site-specific restrictions and challenges and add value to the project as a whole,” he adds.

Raising industry standards
Kevin’s aspiration for the rest of the year is for Aarsleff to continue wholeheartedly embracing its mission. “We have some thrilling projects coming up accompanied by several events and engagement sessions. One of our biggest projects of the year is nearing completion, on which we will be able to share more soon. Additionally, we are actively diversifying our techniques and offerings. As we approach the start of the new financial year in October, I eagerly anticipate sharing the achievements of our previous year with the team and our stakeholders. This will be a good opportunity to reflect and review, especially as we approach the holiday period,” he ends.

Aarsleff’s innovative solutions and workforce investments are poised to continue raising industry standards for years to come.