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Rising to new and exisiting challenges

07 August 2020

Welcome to the 2020/21 edition of AirUser - Your independent guide to Air Powered Systems brought to you by the team behind the market leading Industrial Plant & Equipment magazine.

It’s not often that you can say we are in unprecedented times - but 2020 really does mark one such occasion. Market uncertainty seen over the last few years fueled by Brexit and the deteriorating trade relationship between the US and China suddenly seemed to pale into insignificance in the face of the Covid-19 global pandemic.

Of course like almost every other industrial sector, the compressed air market has been widely impacted - it would be ridiculous to pretend otherwise - however, as  the UK begins to move out of lockdown and take stock of the situation, things are starting to pick up again. Indeed, although it might have seemed otherwise, MAKE UK’s Covid-19 Manufacturing Monitor found that although most businesses have seen a sharp decline in orders, nine out of ten continued to operate during the crisis.

If the pandemic has shown us anything, it is that people and businesses are adaptable and innovative - qualities that will be invaluable going forwards as new challenges  such as social distancing and trade as a non-EU member have to be dealt with. And of course, the pre-Covid challenges like climate change have not gone away.

These factors are evident in the range and quality of articles included in this year’s AirUser. As ever, huge thanks goes to BCAS for its valuable contribution, in particular Vanda Jones. In the Executive Director report on Page 10 she outlines how the Association strived to clear and concise interpretation of the Covid-10 guidelines, and improving links with Government departments which were, she asserts, very responsive to the industry challenge and keen to listen, learn and adapt.

On Page 23 Roy Books Technical Development Officer at BCAS, gives an overview of the Society’s new e-learning portal highlighting how important it is that engineers are equipped with the latest skills to ensure that best practice, changes in legislation and standards are all adhered to. Perfectly suited to socially distanced learning, the portal means delegates can learn at a place and place suited to them. Furloughed staff can undertake training, so it could be good opportunity to engage in some career development before the furlough scheme finishes at the end of October.

Moving beyond Covid-19 to what things might look like after the Brexit transition period comes to a close at the end of the year, on Page 28 Jack Semple, secretary of the Engineering & Machinery Alliance gives us an update on international trade, while on Page 32 Vanda Jones looks at BCAS’ partnership with Reshoring UK, a new platform designed to connect manufacturers and suppliers across the UK’s engineering market. The article highlights the growing importance of the need to strengthen and simplify UK engineering supply chains, especially in the wake of the Coronavirus economic impact.

The perennial and hugely significant issue of energy efficiency is addressed on Page 26. As we know, compressed air is often referred to as the fourth utility and manufacturers and processors rely on its availability to power mission critical processes 24/7. However, it is not free and generating compressed air can be very energy intensive, representing between 5-30 percent of a site’s total.

Health & Safety hasn't taken a back seat this year either, with an article from Fiona McGarry, H M Inspector of Health and Safety and Health and Safety Executive lead for engineering and metalworking fluids, and an overview of working safely with compressed air from Roy Brooks.

As ever, we hope you find the guide interesting and that it will prove a useful reference tool. If you have any comments or would find it useful for us to cover any particular areas in next year’s issue, please do get in touch.

Charlotte Stonestreet

Managing Editor