BCAS Executive Director report
23 October 2020
Last year, we wrote about how the uncertainty created in the wake of Brexit negotiations was bad news for business. Fast forward a few months and little did any of us foresee the challenges that Covid-19 has brought to the industrial sector!
During this crisis, many organisations have had to change their focus and BCAS is no different. On the 16th of March, along with many other businesses, we closed our London office and the team started working from home.
With this change, it soon became clear that what our sector needed from BCAS was clear and concise interpretation of the Covid-10 guidelines. I am pleased to say that we rose to the challenge and have improved our links with Government departments in the process; finding them very responsive to the industry challenge and keen to listen, learn and adapt.
Building back better
The choices very early on in the pandemic were to furlough or not to furlough and fortunately, with the support of the Board, most of the BCAS team has continued to work. We took this time as an opportunity to renew our commitment to member support and an interpretation of guidance as well as lobbying for the clarity and changes our sector required on a daily basis.
Indeed, it is in times of challenge and change that trade associations come into their own, offering impartial support and advice - not only to their members but to the wider supplier and end-user community.
Improving our online training and producing new technical advice and guidance materials for end users was our second key deliverable during this time. We have delivered a new learning management system and by the time we return to our routine committee and standards meetings in September, we will have transferred all of our learning modules online. This will provide easier access for our members and a host of valuable online materials for users of compressed air, vacuum and downstream air treatment products. A great investment for the future supporting best practice and creating a safer and better-informed customer and industry at large.
A quick bounce back?
Our industry statistics are always an excellent barometer of industry performance. They use order volumes for our manufacturing sector and revenue figures for our service delivery sector, to provide an instant indicator of where the broader economy is heading.
The sharp downturn in the equipment orders is unsurprising, as is the fact that the service sector suffered less. Our industry did not stop working during the crisis. Key sectors still needed service support and our engineers did a sterling job in keeping industries such as health, utilities, food and beverage as well as manufacturing working safely.
Building on the past
For many years BCAS has been the secretariat for many standards’ committees, producing technical standards for our industry on a broad range range of products and services. BSI and ISO for example, depend on industry participation to ensure these standards are balanced, workable and add value.
Standards are core to the trade association and as we move into the post EU era, it will be critically important to ensure members and users are well informed of any changes and potential divergence in this important area. As well as the day-to-day standards development work, we are working closely with BSI to ensure that our industry key players are well represented at this important crossroad. We are a ‘go-to’ service for standards’ interpretation in our sector and this new era brings with it challenges that we are ideally placed to support.
Working in the present
As we get used to working in our new normal, we are refocussing on the industry’s requirements. We have now left the EU and uncertainty still abounds as we advise our members to prepare for a hard Brexit. This is primarily on the basis that business needs time to prepare and that is simply a commodity that we don’t have as we near the end of the transition period.
We continue to work together with other trade associations in our sector to ensure that the voice of the sector is heard in the most efficient way.
Support for the future
Often referred to as the fourth utility, it is estimated that 10 per cent of global industrial energy usage is used to compressed air. It is therefore incumbent on BCAS, and its members, to ensure that we use our planet’s valuable resources wisely.
The UK’s 2050 net zero target is one of the most ambitious in the world. Net zero means any emissions would be balanced by schemes to offset an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as planting trees or using technology like carbon capture and storage. These new schemes require industry input and at BCAS we are rising to the challenge, working with the Energy Related Products directive through our colleagues at Pneurop and understanding how this will be implemented or amended to the UK’s requirements.
BCAS has long held ambitions to demonstrate the ability of users to cut their carbon footprint by using a safe and efficient approach to the whole compressed air system - as well as providing a comparative structure for users of air to clearly understand their systems’ energy requirements and how to reduce them.
Just a 10 per cent reduction in leaked/generated air usage would have a significant and positive impact on the climate for future generations to come. The BCAS board and our members recognise that this has to be a strategic focus in the coming months.
With increased emphasis on the value of using a responsible supplier, the BCAS website is there to provide a wealth of practical, free advice. Once you have downloaded the energy reduction guide (https://www.bcas.org.uk/websiteform/reducing-energy-consumption-from-compressed-air-usage-form-8.aspx), use our ‘find a member’ section to source your partner in this energy challenge. All members adhere to our code of conduct, so you can be sure that you are receiving trusted advice.
BCAS is the only UK technical trade association representing manufacturers, distributors and users of compressors, vacuum pumps, pneumatic tools and allied products.
The society actively represents the interests of the compressed air industry to the UK government as well as to many European and other overseas institutions. The society and its members have an active input into all proposed compressed air systems’ energy and environmental legislation and standards through its membership of EURIS taskforce, the European body PNEUROP, and by its association with the prime voice of the EU engineering industry, ORGALIME.
The society’s mission is to be the united voice of the UK compressed air industry, serving as the unbiased authority on technical, educational, promotional and other matters that affect the industry and its customers.