One of the North-East’s leading information and communication technology specialists has shown its ability to operate on a truly national scale after successfully completing work on a £56m project to deliver five state-of-the-art schools on the Isle of Wight.
UCS Technologies, based at Riverside Park in Middlesbrough, won the contract to deliver the technological infrastructure in two primary schools and three secondaries on the island – installing copper and fibre cabling, telephone systems, core and edge switching and data infrastructure.
And the company won praise from the Department for Education (DfE) for its professionalism, delivery and quality of work on the showpiece three-year project.
Alistair Wilcox of the DfE said: “From the first to the last school, UCS operated as an integrated part of the design and implementation teams.
“They took care to understand the needs of the school and the requirements of the DfE and ensured these were fully incorporated into the building designs.
“Simon of UCS took the lead in developing detailed designs in partnership with the schools and managed the full ICT implementation process through to school handover.
“At handover, all schools received full training on the new systems and comprehensive documentation covering the design, configuration and ongoing support arrangements.”
The “Simon” the DfE is referring to is Simon Close, director of UCS Technologies, and the man who founded the business in 2010. He is delighted that the company has marked such an important milestone and accomplishment.
He told Tees Business: “We have specialised in education over the years and have built up a reputation for what we do, but the batch of schools in the Isle of Wight was something of a statement for UCS Technologies as a company.
“It showed everyone that we could take on the biggest, showpiece projects – projects about as far away from the North-East as you could be in this country – and still deliver successfully.”
The work of UCS now encompasses the whole of the business spectrum – from traditional builds, as exemplified by Sir Robert McAlpine’s traditional build, as could be seen in the Isle of Wight, to the modular builds typified by Elliotts.
Simon said: “We want to be as versatile as we can be for companies – that means being equally at home providing the technology infrastructure to traditional as modular builds – but perhaps our best USP is that we design solutions and implement them.
“With many projects, one company will design the infrastructure and another will be given the job of implementing it – at UCS we both design and install and that dovetails nicely with the ‘cradle to grave’ approach we take when it comes to delivering for our clients.
“Design is the key and we make ourselves a one-stop-shop for getting these projects done as seamlessly as possible.”
Each project has to be bespoke because each comes with challenges.
“These schools had to function and continue operating while we built around them,” said Simon.
“That brought its own challenges because you’ve continually got to find a way to complete the install while not stopping the pupils from being able to use other parts of the school.”
By far the biggest challenge for UCS Technologies, though, was the geographical one.
“It’s a long way away from the North-East,” smiles Simon. “We had two project managers there working on the contract and I was flying down regularly to oversee and make sure things went smoothly.”
All that hard work has been worth it because, having proven its worth, UCS Technologies is very much in demand in the education sector.
“We are currently working on 14 schools, doing the same work as we did on the Isle of Wight,” said Simon.