Apollo has had a strong growth trajectory since we began in 2010. The Apollo structural team has always been strong, but recent years have seen a continued growth to the team’s knowledge base and across the energy sector we have strengthened our capability in structural engineering.
We caught up with Keith Archibald, who heads up our offering covering structures to share with you his background, his vision for Apollo’s Structural capabilities and what that means to you, the client.
I had a practical upbringing with my father getting me involved in fabrication projects from a very young age, generally as the gofer but often I frustrated him with coming up with practical ideas which were better than his!! I started working in structural engineering in 2002 after graduating with a 1st Master’s degree in Structural Engineering with Architecture from Heriot-Watt University. After an initial period with Buro Happold in the onshore industry, I moved into the Oil & Gas sector in 2004. Since then, I have covered a full spectrum of brownfield modifications through to concept & detailed design of greenfield work, plus on and offshore resident engineer roles.
Until I joined Apollo 3 years ago, I worked directly for a major operator and tier 1 contractors. In the short period with Apollo, I have had exposure to a vast spectrum of projects hugely expanding my knowledge base and appreciation for other sectors, such as renewables.
I thrive on solving a problem and thinking out-of-the-box to get maximum efficiency in design and construction.
I won a global award whilst working for Shell for a novel solution to install two new caissons, originating from a scale model of the concept that I built in my garage!
This was a large-scale challenge to solve but I’m equally as enthusiastic to solve the smallest challenge as well.
The Apollo team are very dynamic, reactive, driven and enthusiastic, so it’s satisfying to lead the structural team. The overall organisation has the same attributes. There are no barriers to individuals making suggestions on how we execute scopes within Apollo, so a newcomer in the business suggesting a tool to make things more efficient and consistent for our delivery is always welcome.
I am always developing and love learning new ways to do things. Apollo is an ever-growing environment and with that comes opportunities to expand your knowledge, understanding and improve the ways we deliver engineering solutions, which is something that I’m very passionate about!
There are a number of reasons, the main one being the close relationship between everyone here – from upper management down through the ranks. The MD and Operations Director love getting a pasting on the squash courts from any of the team and they respect that nobody holds back because they decide on the bonuses!
Management always have the time to listen to suggestions and enjoy socialising with the wider team. The diversity of work is another key reason for enjoying life at Apollo. No day is the same, generally, no day is spent working on the scope you plan to work on! There is no clock watching in Apollo life!
When I joined Apollo, I saw a lot of good practices and procedures already in place, but there was a difference between working in the major operator and tier 1 contractors –Apollo are a size and attitude that they are open to change where each individuals vision is considered if there is a better way to do things we are keen to hear it and improve on standard practices. As everyone does in their career, they pick up tools and methods to successfully execute work. I’ve managed to take what I consider to be the good tools and incorporate them to streamline work. I’ve also had the opportunity to drive the building of a calculation template database to allow consistency and efficiency in engineering deliverables, which allows the engineers to focus on the fun part – solving the problems – well I think so anyway! These drives have not been possible in previous employments.
More generally Apollo feels like a great place to work, and prior to joining, I got the impression that they cared about creating an enjoyable working environment for its employees.
When I joined Apollo I was assigned a workscope with a primary focus to repair a caisson at a subsea guide. The reality was that the repair was the easy part of the scope! The caisson had an internal bundle which required to be removed and then replaced once the swage repair was complete. The tight lifting constraints on site along with the unknowns in geometry and integrity below the head flange led to multiple challenges at every turn to be resolved! It was very much a case of solve one to create another! A close rapport was built with the client team to determine the solution to best execute the scope with the given unknowns. The challenges rolled over into the construction phase with curveballs from the swage vendor and caisson straightness. I realise it’s not everyone’s cup of tea to have constant challenges in a workshop, but I thrive on problem-solving, the bond with the client team and the successful completion of the work offshore made for a very satisfying scope.
My role as Structural Manager means I can allocate resource appropriately for a given client work scope. I will place a blend of experience and inexperience on a scope, which means it will be delivered efficiently and economically whilst internally building knowledge gaps.
I personally will cast an eye over work scopes to see how solutions are being developed and particularly if fabrication and construction are being fully considered. The team will not hesitate to ask for an opinion and I will act accordingly to deliver the correct solution for all parties. I will be involved in proposals for all structural scopes to ensure the scope is accurately estimated and also the narrative gets the workscope set off on the right foot for both the client and Apollo.
Internally I co-ordinate a robust training plan for the engineering team. The course is designed to push the engineers out of their comfort zone, by increasing their knowledge beyond the work scopes they’ve completed in their career to date. Scenario-based exercises pushing them to solve a challenge are my favourites!!
I feel that blending our broad-ranging experience sets us apart from some of our competitors and makes Apollo an attractive, flexible and dynamic option for our clients. As our business model and tools allow us to be flexible to suit our clients need, we can tailor our approach to suit, ensuring we always are a competitive and attractive option.
I am looking forward to growing the Structural department further, creating a team that builds strong relationships with clients, resulting in the award of future work due to successful delivery in the past.