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PDS Case Study

19 August 2020
PDS is a privately-owned SME operating from its head office in Derby England. Founded in 1988 PDS has built a reputation for resilient Control and Monitoring Systems in infrastructure projects.

Striving at all times to continually improve, their ethos can clearly be seen in their ever growing portfolio of certified ISO standards.
It’s very clear that PDS truly value their certification, getting certified by a UKAS accredited certification body to ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001, ISO 44001 and now ISO 45001 aligns with their core values of: Safety and Sustainability; Innovation; Integrity; Collaboration; and Service.
Managing Director, Mike Rose explains “During my early career in sales roles, I wanted certificates on the wall to help us win work. Later in life, as a father, and the man now responsible for 50 staff I understand that all we do is based on our people and that keeping them empowered, motivated and safe is the #1 priority. In order to do this, we need thorough, considered, joined up processes, and to have them tested by experts. Obviously, we seek successful certification at each audit, but of equal value for us is the “opportunities for improvement” identified by the auditor.” 
Their suite of certified standards demonstrates their commitment to be the best in their industry, focusing not just on profit but on their people and doing the right thing at all times.
Mike adds “I remember Giacomo Agostini, 15-time world champion and 168-time Grand Prix winner as a motorcycle road racer who was quoted as saying: “don’t concentrate on being fast, concentrating on riding well and you will BE fast”. That is eminently true in all aspects of life!”

Continuous Journey

PDS are on a continuous certification journey, of which their recent migration to ISO 45001 was the latest step. Along the way they have seen their employees understand that they (with help, guidance and empowerment) are responsible for their own safety. PDS firmly believe in driving a ‘Near Miss’ culture and in turn are seeing an increase in numbers year on year. They are not seeing accident numbers increase which is the most important thing.

PDS have long believed in an integrated approach to management systems, indeed this is reflected in their approach to technology, and the migration from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001 represents the completion of their business systems integration.
“It makes so much sense to look at something once from every angle rather than separately, it is more coherent, and clearly it is more efficient which ultimately makes things easier to manage.” adds Mike Rose.

Pragmatic Approach

The key for PDS when it came to getting certification was to ensure the right member of staff was in place and committed to their business plans.

PDS employed Simon Severn as HSEQ Manager, Simon joined PDS with a broad skill set and pragmatic approach, building on sound knowledge of ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001, Simon introduced us to ISO 27001. Simon has a philosophy of designing systems that are easy/intuitive to comply with and seeks to avoid “bear traps” that invite failure with their complexity.
Simon Severn, HSEQ Manager adds: “We had already aligned our management systems (ISO 9001/ ISO 14001/ISO 27001) to Annex SL, so almost all of our top-level procedures already met the requirements of ISO 45001. Plus having a proactive management team made it easy to implement.”
Simon also adds: “In preparation for the migration, I had carried out lead auditor training for ISO 45001 and already had a good understanding of implementing management systems in general. I also attended a number of NQA webinars and took advantage of the free e-learning training that NQA provide to their customers too”.

Choosing the Right Certification Body

PDS chose NQA because of their range of certification and realistic cost structure, they were identified as a certification body that was “small enough to care, but big enough to make a difference”, and PDS felt they had a similar “go get it” approach to themselves.
A number of PDS’ clients are also certified by NQA; which supported their decision to transfer and ensured they had no reservation about making NQA their core certification body.
“PDS moved to NQA seeking better value for money and a more supportive approach from a likeminded company. It is still early days, but the decision feels like the right one.” Adds Mike Rose.   

Audit During COVID Lockdown

PDS were more than prepared for their ISO 45001 audit and were expecting it to be relatively straightforward, but then COVID-19 lockdown was enforced.
Their audit inevitably had to be done virtually, which as expected meant there were concerns:

  • 3 days is a long time to be on a Teams call

  • How will the auditor get the information he needs?

  • How will we all maintain focus?

Mike adds: “Leading up to the audit I was anxious to discuss the format of the audit, but at commencement I found the auditor well versed and already minded to structure the 3 days with periods of focus and suitable periods off screen for rest or preparation. Our auditor Richard was calm, friendly, professional and pragmatic throughout our audit, making it a much more pleasant experience than anticipated”.
Simon also added: “The first day of the audit included me giving the auditor a virtual tour of our offices, which actually worked really well. And as nearly all our records / documents are held electronically it was easy to share the information with the auditor using Microsoft Teams”.
NQA (alongside a lot of other companies/industries) had to adapt to deliver remote audits at the drop of a hat when COVID-19 struck, it was very clear they had taken to it like a ‘duck to water’, their auditors were prepared, understood the technology and still managed to get everything they needed to ensure our audit was as thorough as it would have been face-to-face. 
“It was a great pleasure to recommend PDS for their migration to ISO 45001 and to be able to assess their systems for the delivery of key infrastructure. Their management systems are highly robust, led & supported by a committed management team. This is reflected in a competent, committed and knowledgeable workforce.” Richard Bowyer, NQA Regional Assessor. (call out quote on pdf)

More about PDS

PDS initially provided SCADA solutions to Road Tunnel control systems, they then took on the integration to (and subsequently the provision of) the specialist subsystems in that environment: plant I/O, video and audio data, systems including ventilation control, lighting, PA, CCTV with incident detection, RADAR,  Linear Heat detection, Uninterruptible Power Supplies and others.
The expertise in ventilation management in that environment led to HV power line underground projects including two tunnels under the 2012 Olympic site. Work on Heathrow Airport road tunnels led to framework supplier status for airport remote telemetry, and subsequently involvement in terminal management systems and the commissioning of passport reading gates.
Now expanded to provide a one stop service shop, PDS is taking on the project management of significant projects with clients seeing the benefit of considering the systems implications early in the process. PDS now regards itself as a Systems Integrator delivering seamless high availability systems to mission critical environments across infrastructure, mostly in the UK, though when our founder recently identified a project in Australia, we were glad to deliver.

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