Former Sheffield student heading up £1m division at hydraulics firm

Penny Hydraulics in Derbyshire.

Penny Hydraulics in Derbyshire.

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A former engineering student is forging ahead with his career and already heads up a £1m division at a company which specialises in cleaning up decommissioned nuclear sites.

Clowne-based hydraulics supplies specialist Penny Hydraulics and Sheffield Hallam University signed a unique knowledge transfer partnership - a part-funded government venture to encourage businesses and universities to work together - and engineering graduate Simon Pykett was assigned to work for the firm.

The company has secured new contracts worth around £400, 000 jointly and is now regarded as a key player in cleaning up decommissioned nuclear sites around the UK.

Robin Penny, managing director at Penny Hydraulics, said: “Guidance from Sheffield Hallam in the recruitment process was paramount in ensuring that we acquired the best candidate for the job.”

Through networking, Simon sought to establish a presence in the nuclear power community and arranged audits with commissioning organisations.

This led to a successful tender to design and supply equipment capable of handling waste storage cells at Sellafield in Cumbria.

Delivering the £160, 000 project involved researching and developing the capability to lift, handle and manoeuvre spent nuclear fuel.

The company became a quality assured supplier to Sellafield, 12 months ahead of target.

Further contracts in the nuclear industry followed, beginning with a £240, 000 contract to design and install a fuel element debris handling facility at Bradwell Nuclear Power Station in Essex.

The company is now a Tier 2 supplier to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which enables it to tender directly to the site licence companies responsible for decommissioning and clean-up at 17 nuclear sites around the UK.

Jessica Penny, general manager of sales at the firm, said: “The university has provided and continues to provide excellent support.”

Richard Short, sales director, praised Simon and added: “He had a huge impact on Penny Hydraulics’ nuclear business and secured a permanent role on completion of the KTP.

“He now heads up the Penny Nuclear Division, which has expanded rapidly and turns over more than £1m per year.”