Global name, global knowledge


The familiar name of Hanson has been replaced by Heidelberg Materials. This is not just a name change, though. It’s a bid to bring the full resources of a multinational building-materials group to bear on major industry issues such as decarbonisation, recycling and digitisation.

Hanson has for many years been part of Heidelberg Materials, but the previous policy was to leave established local names in place.

That has changed, says commercial director Andy Murphy, as “it’s become apparent over the past five or six years that the global megatrends at play around decarbonisation, the circular economy, recycling and digital make it more logical to be global while also local.

“Our view is that we’re better off unifying the activity that’s happening on a global basis, and leveraging the knowledge around that.”

Although the name change does not mean the services offered will change immediately, one new focus will be on how recycling can help contractors. The firm recently bought specialist recycler A1 Services Manchester.

Murphy says: “Our main interest is demolition and construction waste. What we’re going to do with that is extract the valuable elements that we can put back into our processes and turn them into new products and materials.

“Also, we can make aggregate from spoil that’s been taken away from building sites, so we’re giving ourselves another raw material stream for our products.

“Over time, customers will see a lot more recycled content, which means that our impact on the extraction of virgin aggregates will be significantly reduced – and so will the impacts on the environment – because rather than throwing these materials away or landfilling them, we’re going to reuse them.”

Murphy says this is partly a response to pressures for ‘greener’ processes. “But more than anything, it’s just the right thing to do,” he says.

“If you’ve got a pile of rubble that can be crushed and used in construction materials, why wouldn’t you do that when the alternative is to dig some fresh stuff? It’s just obvious, really.”

Heidelberg Materials is also pushing for lower carbon globally, and the company’s Brevik site in Norway will be among the world’s first large-scale carbon-capture projects for cement.

“Carbon attached to the cement manufacturing processes is being captured and stored in a former gas field under the sea,” Murphy explains. “We’ve got a pretty much equivalent project in north Wales, and the fact we’ve got this knowledge and capability developed in Scandinavia is helping our projects elsewhere and it’s creating this fantastic network of knowledge which is so valuable to us across the group.”

Heidelberg Materials digital innovations are intended to make its capabilities “so easy to use that people will be saying, ‘what’s the point of not doing it that way?’”.

Rolling out digital tools globally has become easier and quicker across an integrated group and Heidelberg Materials hopes that customers will find their digital experience the same no matter where they are in the world.

The new identity means that instead of explaining Hanson to global-scale clients, Heidelberg Materials will be instantly recognised – “and when we’re talking to clients and specifiers about our capability, it’s just going to be easier for me as a commercial guy to say ‘this is the collective power of what we can do’”, Murphy concludes. “It will really mark us out from our competitors.”

Related articles