Adding value to pharmaceuticals – CEI

One Irish engineering company that has played a role in the success of the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland is CEI.

Founded by the late Tom Buckley in 1988, CEI Cork was established to meet the electrical, instrumentation and communications, needs of industrial, commercial and residential developers in the southwest region.

Over the years, however, the company has grown from being a small business to a medium-sized enterprise that now serves clients across the country and trades under the name CEI.

In the last five years, it has enjoyed annual increases in turnover of about 20%, thanks largely to its work with the pharmaceutical industry, which accounts for about 60% of business revenue. However, CEI also does a large amount of commercial and industrial work. In the financial services sector, its clients include: Ulster Bank, AIB, Bank of Ireland and the Irish League of Credit Unions. In the food and drinks sector, clients include: Heineken and PepsiCo. CEI also lists dozens of other commercial and educational institutions among its client list on its website.

The pharmaceutical sector is noted for seeking long-term business relations with its suppliers and this is particularly true of CEI’s relationship with GlaxoSmithKline in particular, although the company lists Pfizer as a major client also.

“We have had an ongoing presence at GSK Cork’s Currabinny site for the last 20 years,” says CEI’s managing director Derek Byrne, who started his own engineering career as an apprentice with CEI working at the Currabinny plant.

“Currently, we employ about 110 people and over half the work force are working on pharmaceutical projects as project managers, contract managers, engineers, technicians, electricians and apprentices. Depending on the amount of capital works projects in GSK, we would have up to 90 people working onsite at any one time.

“Recently, we have started to offer design and build packages, so that we can compete at different levels and offer alternative cost saving solutions.

“We have also grown into the area of providing value engineering – for example last year GSK needed a new document management building, which contained some admin offices but its primary purpose was to house on site documentation. They were over 25% above budget post tender stage, when we got involved to provide value engineering on the project. We proposed alternative engineering solutions, which included CEI acting as main contractors for the works. The project is now complete and the Comhar building meets all the customer’s needs and is finished to an extremely high standard. The final budget met the original GSK target in the region of €4m.

“One thing about GSK is that they are great at giving us the opportunity to show them ways of providing commercial savings and of allowing alternative engineering solutions.”

Work of this kind is in line with CEI’s motto ‘Thinking the future through’ and it is also in keeping with CEI’s plans to offer energy efficiency solutions to its clients.

“In the current environment we see that our pharmaceutical partners need to save money rather than spend it,” said Byrne. “These pharmaceutical companies have huge utility bills and our challenge would be to design ways of significantly reducing their energy costs. We will be thinking of solutions ourselves, before we approach a company looking for energy efficiency consultancy work.

“One of our biggest challenges is that our resource turnover is quite dynamic – the number of people involved in on-site work at GSK, as mentioned earlier, can change dramatically in the course of a year and we have to put a lot of thought into ensuring that we keep our senior personnel and strongest human resources. Having and keeping the best people available is key to our mission of bringing the best expertise to all projects to deliver and exceed expectations.

“We strive for innovation in all aspects of the process and place our customer needs as paramount.”