The Electrical Instrumentation trade involves the installation, testing and commissioning of various wiring systems and services within the commercial and industrial sector. The work also includes the maintenance and repair of all instruments used in the measurement and control of process variables (e.g. in the chemical industry to measure and control the temperature, pressure, level and flow, as appropriate, in various points of the process).
Companies specialising in this area carry out installation, maintenance and calibration of measuring instruments, sensors, transmitting and controlling devices and systems associated with the measurement, control and protection of physical quantities found in these industries. The measurement and control of these quantities enables products to be produced to specification, taking account of the safety of personnel, plant and equipment and the protection of the environment.
For this month’s edition of Building Ireland, we profile one of Ireland’s leading instrumentation companies, Instrotec Limited and speak to the company’s managing director Donal Johnston about the services that they provide and how they have achieved such success over the years.
Instrotec Limited provide services and support to the growing Pharmaceutical, Power, Semi-Conductor, Food & Drink and Water Treatment sectors.
First let’s take a quick look at the history behind this Westport head-quartered business which started from humble beginnings.
“Having served my time in Westport, I then went to Dublin to work for Mercury and at that time a guy called Frank Matthews was my boss. I left the company but was asked back in 2000 and having spoken to Frank I wanted to come back in working for myself. I had seen that there was nobody specialising in instrumentation and Frank agreed. Instrotec was then established. Fortunately, everything went well for me on that first project in Intel and we have been working with Mercury ever since,” said Donal.
“Frank was a great help in those early days and he still is. He’s a man that you have to admire and if he hadn’t given me the chance that time, I don’t think we would be where we are today.”
As the workload increased, so too did the work force and from having started as a one man operation, the employee tally peaked at 311 back in July-August 2017.
“The company has managed to grow alongside Mercury and 90% of the work that we do is for them, but we would work with other major companies. Our work has brought us not only over to the U.K and mainland Europe, but to places like the U.S and Israel.
“One of the first jobs to really put us on the map came in just our second year of business when we carried out the instrumentation and mechanical work on the Wyeth development in Grange Castle Business Park. Forty lads worked on that job and thankfully we delivered on that.”
Through the strength of Mercury, Donal and his team were able to continue working and although like everyone else they did feel the effects of the economic downturn, the blow was softened by being involved with such a prestigious company.
“Of course, the recession did affect us, but we were fortunate to be working with Mercury and another couple of major companies. Some of our work was outside the country at the time, but it meant we still had work.”
The Corrib Gas project came about at the same time and this afforded Donal the opportunity to move his family back west having spent a number of years living in the capital.
“I’m from Achill Island originally and my wife Donna (who is a company director also) is from Westport. When the Corrib project came up, it allowed us to move back to Mayo and we are now living in Westport.”
To keep the dynamic of the company in order, Donal and his management team place a huge emphasis on taking on apprentices and training them to the company’s standards.
“We would have a number of apprentices on the books at all times. A lot of the guys who serve their time here stay on with us, which is a major plus, but for those who have served their time in electrical instrumentation and want to travel, they really can go anywhere in the world and use their trade.”
Current projects that Instrotec are involved in include Facebook (Clonee), Royal Hospital (Edinburgh), Intel (Leixlip, Israel and Georgia, USA), Microsoft (Dublin).
“We have a number of projects ongoing at the moment. The latest to start was Fab Ten in Intel. I’m delighted with the direction that the company is going. Certainly the workload has increased especially around Dublin in the last couple of years.”
One of the major issues within the construction industry at present is health and safety, which has been totally transformed since when Donal started out as an apprentice in the early 1990s.
“There has been a massive change in the attitude towards health and safety over the years and rightly so. As a company, safety is paramount for us. We pride ourselves on the fact that we have a very good safety record and we invest a lot of money in this area. As a company, we have moved with the times in this regard and it is important to do so.”
A broad range of staff has helped the company achieve the success it has gathered over the years and these include Project Managers, Cost Engineers, E&I Engineers, Electricians, Technicians, Instrument Fitters, Safety Officers and Material Controllers.
Donal admits that there are always challenges to be dealt with but stressed that it is all part of running a successful business.
“Little did I realise back in 2000 where we would be today. Of course, there are many issues to contend with, but as I said we are delighted to be where we are and that wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the loyal workforce that we have.”
Westport, Co. Mayo.
Phone: +353 (0)9856555
Email: [email protected]
Taken from Building Ireland Magazine, July 2018, Vol 4 No 6