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Challenges & opportunities lie ahead

14 February 2019

Hello and welcome to the first issue of IP&E for 2019 and my first as Editor.


Unfortunately I don't have a crystal ball to know what Brexit will bring in the coming months but in this issue we have plenty of information about the challenges and opportunities that are likely to define 2019, along with some very important dates for your diary.

Of course we don't need a crystal ball to know that smart manufacturing is here to stay but it can be difficult to know where to begin the transformation of making the smart factory a reality, which is why this issue has a special focus on finding a path ahead. Gavin Stoppel, product manager at HARTING, looks at some of the key focuses of smart manufacturing in 2019 including miniaturisation and the rise of 'Big Data' on page 54, while head of product management at Festo, Steve Sands, offers some tips on getting started on page 50. 

Maintenance is another essential focus in this issue. As IP&E consultant editor Andy Pye notes in his preview of the Maintec event on page 42: "These are turbulent times for UK manufacturing and processing businesses, with uncertainties not least over the logistics of obtaining spare parts at short notice. Now more than ever it is vital to keep abreast of all the means available to get the best value out of a manufacturing or processing company’s assets. Maintec takes place at the NEC, Birmingham from 30-31 October 2019 and registration opens in June. 

More imminently April 2019 will see four formidable events being hosted at The Birmingham NEC which promise to tackle some of the most pressing challenges currently facing UK businesses head on. Registration is now open for The Facilities Event, The Health and Safety Event, The Fire Safety Event and The Security Event which take place from the 9 – 11 April 2019, offering visitors an exceptional content programme with CPD hours available, networking opportunities and a comprehensive exhibition, all completely free. See the full preview on pages 44 and 46 which also include details of how to register now for free.  

Finally an issue that I have been personally campaigning about on social media in recent months, the goal of reaching and retaining 1 million women working in core STEM roles by 2020 has become even more important with Brexit threatening a reduction in the labour pool, yet some traditionally male dominated professions have been slow to adapt to the needs of women. In particular many women are still being denied basic PPE that fits, instead being offered men's items in smaller sizes. From different hip to waist ratios to wider forefeet and shorter foot arches, women’s bodies are not the same as men’s so offering women men’s gear in smaller sizes or a unisex range just doesn’t cut it and there is a groundswell of women across several industries who've decided enough is enough. Read the full article on page 76 and follow the debate on Linkedin, Twitter and YouTube at #PPEthatfits. 

As always we welcome your feedback. 

Georgina Bisby



A word from Val

For regular readers wondering where Editor Val Kealey has gone, after working on the magazine since its very first issue over a quarter of a century ago she has decided to take a well-earned rest from editing the title but Val will be continuing to support the magazine as products editor. 

Val says: "I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent editing IP&E; it was a big part of my life for many years and I shall miss it and those who work on it. In particular, I enjoyed visiting factories and exhibitions, which gave me the chance to meet the diverse range of IP&E clients. In addition, it was a privilege to work with several of the sector's leading trade associations. 

"I am looking forward to my new role which, in addition to keeping me in touch with IP&E, gives me a bit of time to do a few of the other things I want to do before I become too decrepit.

"It's a challenging, but exciting time for UK manufacturing. I wish the IP&E team all the very best for the future."