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BCAS: Providing support in challenging times

29 October 2021

VANDA JONES explains how the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) has risen to the challenges posed both by the pandemic and by Brexit, adapting its focus to ensure its members continue to receive the best possible support

“In times of adversity, trade associations excel.” This quote from my predecessor when introducing me to the world of trade associations is not only true for trade bodies, but also for business – and these past 12 months have demonstrated this theory

Unlike many sectors, which have seen a decline in sales, the compressed air and vacuum industrial sector has continued at pace; a vital lifeline to those industries that are so dependent on compressed air and truly, the fourth utility service.

From food and beverage processing to healthcare, pharmaceuticals to manufacturing, the need for compressed air equipment and service provision has been greater this last 12 months, and half year numbers to June reflect this uplift, without simply recouping some of the impact of 2020’s lower figures.

Future-ready

While our members were facing the numerous challenges of working through the pandemic, our association and its board had some swift decisions to make. Our traditional work with committees and standards came to a halt as members focused on increased customer demands and new processes. And like many businesses, the board took the proactive decision to focus on the challenges ahead and ready the Society for the future.

Working remotely was instigated quickly, and member engagement became an even higher priority. A regular stream of information was established, interpreting Government advice into a format that was digestible and useable for business. The key focus was on allowing our members to service their customers with leading edge information. We also acted as a conduit for messaging, mainly to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), ensuring that our industry could be represented at the heart of government.

During this period, we have also navigated through the Brexit process and now we work in a new landscape. Like many UK businesses, we have worked with our European Trade partners over the years, supported by both Pneurop and Orgalim to help influence the legislative process. This has helped legislators to understand the effect on industry, plus tracking any changes in standards and legislation and advising business of the impact.

Now, we find ourselves in a new arena and the full process needs to be digested by the Society and its members. At BCAS, we are exceptionally fortunate to have a very strong team with diverse skills and never has this been more important than during these changing times.

Development projects

We are therefore undertaking numerous development projects from legislation tracking, to influencing the developing ErP legislation plus ongoing consultations with the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) to support the legislative landscape into the future.

The compressed air industry certainly would not have asked for divergence from European legislation, as more than 80% of the capital equipment is produced in Europe – but we are now in a new era and we must work to influence our future.

This is where a proactive board of directors helps support our sector. It is a very positive reflection of the shape of the industry that we have so many forward-thinking leaders that are able to turn challenging times into opportunities for development and excellence.

There is no doubt that the British Compressed Air Society has come out of this period stronger, with greater member engagement and this can only be a positive outcome for end users. Using a supplier that is a member of a trade association demonstrates that the business is well informed and can pass this knowledge onto the customer with leading-edge support.

Vanda Jones is executive director, British Compressed Air Society (BCAS)

For more information, visit: https://www.bcas.org.uk/

 
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