An olympian effort was required from some East Anglian automation engineers to upgrade the control panels of a laboratory that dope tests athletes’ samples for performance enhancing drugs, just at a time when their own company was undergoing profound corporate change.

Panel builders SCS of Great Yarmouth had just decided to cease operating as a stand alone company and join forces with nearby industrial automation specialist Softstart UK, when the rush order came in.

“One of our local bio-science companies was suddenly put on standby to undertake literally thousands of urine analyses through the first two weeks of August, and needed to upgrade its facilities to meet the challenge,” explained Tim Scales who lead the operation.

“There was a massive expectation riding on this – failure was not an option.”

Scales and his colleagues cleared their diaries and got stuck into checking existing equipment, installing and networking new equipment and making sure there were multiple back-up systems in place.

“We were thrown a bit of a curved ball when it was decided to extend the laboratory quite considerably, when it was realised that a staff of 100 would be required to provide a 24×7 service. This meant additional work for us in terms of wiring, building services and air conditioning. But there was a tremendous feeling of camaraderie, working for the greater good and never giving up.”

While all this was going on Scales was also in negotiation with Stuart Harvey, Softstart’s managing director.

“We’ve worked with the SCS team for years, and have often talked about combining our operations,” said Harvey. “The distribution side of our business gives us a national and international presence, plus access to some of the best technology in the world.

“With the new team on board we now have the full complement of skills in-house, from analysis and design, through assembly and panel building, installation and commissioning to maintenance and lifecycle management for automation and control systems.”