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BCAS urges industry to consider nitrogen as an alternative to CO2 07/10/2021

THE BRITISH Compressed Air Society (BCAS) is urging food producers to consider the benefits of on-site nitrogen generation, to help mitigate the risk of CO2 gas shortages in the future.

Recent news reports have focused on the impact that the rise in wholesale gas prices is having on the production of carbon dioxide. This is an essential gas used in the drinks industry for soft drinks and some beers, and in packaging to extend the shelf life of fresh food products. 

Although the Government has introduced emergency support measures to ensure ongoing production at CF Industries’ Teeside and Cheshire fertiliser plants, where CO2 is produced as a by-product, supply chain issues remain, which are leading to some shortages in shops and a rise in food prices.

However, in several applications, nitrogen gas, which can be generated as part of an existing compressed air installation, can be used in place of carbon dioxide.

Vanda Jones, executive director at BCAS explains why operators may want to consider alternatives to carbon dioxide, which can help to lower operating costs and ease supply chain issues. She says: “Our manufacturing members have been promoting the benefits of on-site nitrogen generation for several years now, and the recent carbon dioxide supply issue, coupled with the numerous opportunities where nitrogen can be used safely in place of CO2 make this an ideal time for food producers to look at alternative solutions.

“As an inert gas, nitrogen can be used in place of carbon dioxide in smaller breweries, to remove oxygen when purging tanks, thus preventing oxidation and contamination. It can also be used for clean-in-place (CIP) pipework and vessel purging, for assisted filling to increase process speed and during bottling to help extend shelf life. 

“Elsewhere in the food processing industry, modified atmosphere packaging is used to replace oxygen with nitrogen, significantly slowing down the process of decay by inhibiting oxidation and the growth of microbes.

“Unlike carbon dioxide, nitrogen can be produced cost-effectively as a by-product of the air compression process, which can reduce the cost of bought-in gas, in cylinders or in bulk, by as much as 90%.  Compatible with standard industrial compressor systems, many manufacturers now offer nitrogen generators, in which pre-treated air is filtered, and the oxygen, water and carbon dioxide removed. This leaves pure nitrogen, which can be captured at source, and reused for other processes.

“With only minimal investment in an on-site nitrogen generator, this process enables companies to match their production to help meet gas demand, providing greater control over the volume of gas required.

“With some customers of BCAS members quoting pay-back periods of as little as one year when replacing bough-in cylinders with an on-site nitrogen generator, it is certainly worth speaking to your supplier to discover whether nitrogen gas could offer an alternative to an existing CO2 supply. 

“Not only could this help improve on-site productivity and ease the logistics of gas storage, but with forecasters predicting that energy prices will continue to rise, it could help to mitigate against future supply-chain issues too.”

Food producers keen to learn more about on-site nitrogen generation can download a factsheet from the BCAS website at https://rebrand.ly/BCASnitrogen or contact their BCAS supplier for further information.

https://www.bcas.org.uk/

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Compressed Air and Vacuum Technician apprenticeship ready for candidates 21/09/2021

The British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) reports that EAL, part of the Enginuity group, has been selected as the end point assessor organisation (EPAO) for the new Compressed Air and Vacuum Technician apprenticeship, meaning employers can begin enrolling candidates.

WORKING WITH its members and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Education (IfATE), the BCAS Training and Development Committee has been instrumental in the development of the new apprenticeship. It recognises the vital importance of developing the specific engineering skills required in the compressed air and vacuum industry, helping to release funding to develop the engineers of the future.

During the three-year apprenticeship, candidates will learn how to commission compressed air and/or vacuum equipment and their associated systems, alongside service and maintenance, fault diagnosis, repair and system optimisation.

Delivered via a network of engineering training colleges across the UK, the first year of the course will be mainly college-based, with some practical engineering experience. It will include the development of transferrable skills, which can be provided via BCAS training courses including working safely with compressed air and compressed air treatment technology to name a few

The following two years will be more focused on developing the key engineering skills required by the industry, including installation, commissioning, service and repair of compressed air and vacuum systems.

Robust assessment

At each stage of the candidate's development, EAL will provide rigorous and robust end-point assessment that validates the quality of the training received.

Roy Brooks, technical development officer at BCAS, comments: "Our research demonstrates a shortage of qualified engineers in our industry and, with the average age of a qualified engineer currently at 48 years old, we need to act now to secure the skills required for the future. We are delighted that the new apprenticeship is now ready to be delivered to our engineers of the future, helping to plug this skills gap."

Mathew Gould, elected chair of the BCAS Training and Development Committee and the Compressed Air and Vacuum Technical Apprenticeship Trailblazer group, adds: “I am delighted that following the hard work completed by the committee, our apprenticeship standard has been approved for delivery and that the EPAO has been appointed.

“This standard ensures we have an industry-specific pathway for the introduction of the next generation of professionals, providing standardisation of their skills, competence, behaviours and safe working. The standard ensures that upon successful completion, the apprentice achieves a national apprenticeship, academic qualifications and may apply for the professional recognition of EngTech with The Society of Operations Engineers.

“I encourage all employers in our industry to consider the recruitment of apprentices into this standard and, the committee very much looks forward to hearing about their progress and success.”

To view the full occupational standard, visit: https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/compressed-air-and-vacuum-technician-v1-0

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

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BCAS: Providing support in challenging times 29/10/2021

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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Legislation in a post-Brexit landscape 30/09/2021

Post-Brexit, we are in a new legislative framework. Here, Vanda Jones looks at some of the early opportunities for the manufacturing community, and some of the changed priorities for businesses placing goods on the UK market and working within the health and safety arena.

This new new legislative framework brings changed responsibilities and new opportunities to influence the shape of legislation that impacts our industries

Replacement of CE marking with UKCA marking:

This is a mark that recognises conformity to legislation and for many manufacturers has been one of the early challenges.

Preparing for the changes that were originally planned for the end of 2021 presented both cost and logistical challenges. Through our association with the Engineering and Machinery Alliance (EAMA) and other bodies, we lobbied for delayed implementation and are pleased to report that this has been successful. You can read about this in the article by Tim Preece, BCAS technical officer, later in this publication.

Eco Design / Energy related products:

We have written previously about the ongoing work in Europe regarding lot 31 of the Eco design legislation, which covered standard compressed air, low pressure and oil free technologies. BCAS and its members have spent years and some significant investment in lobbying and providing the study writers with an understanding of our technologies.

This work has been undertaken through a joint working group with our European sister association, Pneurop – and we are able to report that the lot 31 proposal will not move forward into European Legislation at this time; the European commission citing lack of resource and low potential energy savings as reasons.

We now have a further challenge in the UK with the Energy Related Products initiative and a report prepared for BEIS by the consultants ICF. Annexes 8,9 and 10 cover these technologies and look at potential energy savings and product labelling benefits that may be available with compressor technologies.

BCAS, and its members, have been involved in providing information and are pleased that the final study report, which is now available on the ICF project site, reflects some of the considerations put forward by the team. This will be a project that BCAS will be following closely, as it has direct implications for many of the industrial product ranges of our members.

OPSS call for evidence – Reform of product safety regulations and enforcement:

This call for evidence has potential impact on important pieces of legislation such as the UK equivalents to the Machinery Directive and the Pressure Equipment Directive to name just two. The study has looked at areas including ease of understanding of the current framework, product safety regulations strengthening or improvement, targeting of the regulations, new models of supply, new product lifecycles and enforcement considerations.

Once again, an industry team including BCAS was drawn together and a submission made, including input from EURIS to provide a broader, collective view of our sector. We keenly await the outputs of this regulation review.

Elsewhere, there are ongoing reviews around personal protective equipment (PPE) and we await an F-Gas legislation call for evidence.

In conclusion

The review of our legislative and safety arena post Brexit continues at pace, giving opportunity for improvement and challenge to the existing framework.

The potential for divergence from European legislation, either by deliberate change to UK legislation, European review and update or just through a drifting of our alignment is clear. This is not to judge the perceived rights or wrongs of the situation, but more a signal to manufacturers to appreciate that we are currently in a position of influence and must use this time to work with government to impact our future landscape positively.

Looking to the past and reiterating the ‘no divergence’ message will not alter the pace of change. As a colleague commented last week, we are ‘in this now’ – so let’s move forward to help influence safety and energy efficiency improvements and take our industrial partners on the journey with us.

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

www.bcas.org.uk/

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Standards matter: Keep up-to-date with requirements 29/10/2021

FROM 1 JANUARY 2021, UKCA marking replaced CE marking as the conformity assessment mark for goods placed on the market in Great Britain. Here, Tim Preece explains what this means for UK businesses

Northern Ireland has specific guidance and either CE marking or combined CE/UKNI marking will be required to place goods on the Northern Ireland market (as well as for Northern Ireland goods placed on the GB market, depending on the assessment body location)

To allow time to adjust to the new requirements, businesses will still be able to use the CE marking until 1 January 2023 in most cases, but after this date, application of a UKCA marking will become mandatory,

The technical requirements (‘essential requirements’) you must meet – and the conformity assessment processes and standards that can be used to demonstrate conformity – are largely the same as they were for the CE marking.

The harmonised standards cited in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) for CE marking have become ‘designated’ standards - the list of standards allows businesses to show compliance with legislation (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/designated-standards).

The office for product safety and standards is responsible for product safety and is owner of the policies. Full information can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/product-safety-for-businesses-a-to-z-of-industry-guidance

Points for consideration

1. Product safety regulations for business bringing product into the UK ('placing on the market') will require any organisation to have either an authorised representative or an importer. Importer rights can be accrued – so if a business imports direct from Europe where there is no GB representation, it risk being legally responsible for the importer obligations.

2. From the 1st January 2021, the products should have the details of the UK authorised representative or importer as part of the labelling of the product. Currently this can be on accompanying documentation.

The government guidance states - As an importer, you’ll need to make sure that:

a. goods are labelled with your company’s details, including your company’s name and a contact address. Until 31 December 2022 you can provide these details on the accompanying documentation rather than on the good itself if you import certain goods from the EEA (and in some cases Switzerland). After 31 December 2022, your details must be affixed to the product or, in circumstances where the legislation allows, on the packaging or an accompanying document. See https://www.gov.uk/guidance/placing-manufactured-goods-on-the-market-in-great-britain

3. CE marking will only be possible for placing goods onto the market in Great Britain while the regulations are the same – which is currently the situation. A call for evidence has been issued to review these regulations.

4. Products can be dual marked with CE marking and UKCA marking provided the regulations remain the same and therefore, compliance is the same for both UKCA and CE marking. The marks must have the appropriate address on the marking - so, for example, the GB address for UKCA marking. Businesses should remember that when exporting to Europe, they will need an authorised representative or importer inside the EU for the CE marking.

So, while businesses are able to use the CE marking for goods imported into the UK, to fully comply it is recommended that you read the Government’s easement alongside the product safety regulations that apply to your product.

Machinery Directive: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/supply-of-machinery-safety-regulations-2008

Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pressure-equipment-safety-regulations-2016

While the Government has provided easement for goods imported into the UK, allowing the use of the CE marking during 2021 and 2022, the product safety regulations came into effect 1st January 2021.

Tim Preece, is technical officer at the British Compressed Air Society.

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Compressed air gun use in machine workshops 30/09/2021

A RESEARCH study has been carried out in an aerospace machine workshop to understand why machinists rely on compressed air for cleaning work and whether increased awareness of health and safety risks would result in them adopting different cleaning methods if these were suitable and safer? Claire Bailey reports on the findings.

Machinists are at risk of developing occupational skin and lung disease from exposure to metalworking fluids (MWF). The risk of inhaling small droplets of MWF is raised during high speed machining and when using compressed air guns to clean machined components and cutting machines. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2011 published research showing that operating compressed air guns above 15.0psi released large numbers of MWF droplets small enough to be inhaled, including larger droplets depositing on an operator's upper body and face (Scaife et al, 2011).

HSE expects workplaces to reduce their reliance on compressed air guns and to consider suitable alternatives (see ‘Metalworking Fluids’ section of HSE’s website and 'Are you wasting your money and exposing your employees?' Compressed Air Matters, Issue 56, pg16).

The study:

A research study was conducted in an aerospace machine workshop. Some 30 employees participated in focus groups, or interviews with shop floor managers. Apprentices, 'new starters', and experienced machinists discussed questions about their use of compressed air guns, perceptions of health and safety risks, and their willingness to consider alternative methods of cleaning. Personal, social, professional and organisational influences on their attitudes, were analysed to identify intentions and behaviours according to the 'Theory of Interpersonal Behaviour' (Triandis, 1977).

Why use compressed air guns?

Machinists’ consistently stated that compressed air guns were an essential, effective, and versatile tool to clean machined components and machines. Managers also considered their use essential for high quality surface cleaning of machined components.

Risk of exposure to MWF mist?

The apprentices recognised that they could be exposed whilst using compressed air guns, and some modified their behaviour, e.g., looking away when using them. They were more aware of the safety risks due to the training they received when attending local colleges, but less aware of the health risks. In contrast, experienced machinists were more likely to be sceptical about the risks posed to their health, and accepted any risk as part of the job. Managers were aware of the risks; but considered the use of compressed air guns only part of managing the overall exposure to MWF, which includes emissions from cutting and grinding machines.

When the study participants were shown photographs showing clouds of MWF mist released when compressed air guns are used, some participants changed their stance. For example, some apprentices admitted holding their breath when using a compressed air gun, and an experienced machinist then agreed they could present an exposure risk.

Use of alternative cleaning methods

The apprentices were most willing to consider using new methods, but said they lacked the expertise and confidence to suggest their views to experienced machinists. Whereas, the experienced machinists were the most sceptical that other cleaning methods were viable alternatives, preferring the simplicity and effectiveness of compressed air.

Interestingly, 'new starters' who had experience of using alternative methods from previous employment had suggested alternatives, but their suggestions had not been adopted.

The managers' greatest concern was that alternative cleaning equipment is often bulkier, more expensive, and could introduce new health and safety concerns. Whereas, compressed air guns can be located at every workstation and their use increases productivity.

All participants were concerned that alternative cleaning methods may damage the quality of cutting equipment, machined components, and their business reputation.

Overall while apprentices and ‘new starters’ were willing to consider alternative cleaning methods the use of compressed air guns was considered best practise. This was endorsed and encouraged by the experienced machinists. However, they and the managers were willing to consider improvements to the design and operation of air guns to reduce exposure risks. Experienced machinists and managers stated that more evidence on the effectiveness of alternatives was required before adopting new methods. They also considered the use of compressed air guns only part of a larger air quality management problem.

Key messages for users of compressed air guns

• Machinists preference for using compressed air guns is grounded in concerns about machining quality and risks to business reputation. Introducing alternative cleaning methods should take into account these concerns.

• Challenging fixed views: Managers implementing alternative cleaning methods should involve staff who are open to trialling new practices.

• Alternative cleaning methods: For alternative cleaning methods to be willingly implemented, machinists need to be convinced that quality and productivity standards will not be undermined, in addition to there being improvements in health and safety.

• Education and training: Education would raise awareness amongst apprentices and experienced machinists of the risks to health from excessive use of compressed air guns. Images of mist droplets generated by compressed air guns may help machinists’ and managers to understand the health risks.

• Improving safe use of compressed air guns: There are still options for manufacturers and end users to improve the design and safe operation of compressed air guns (see article, 'Are you wasting your money AND exposing your employees?' Compressed Air Matters Issue 56, pg16).

References:

Scaife, H, Pocock, D, Bennett, A & Evans, G, S. (2011). Mists created by the use of compressed airlines for the removal of metalworking fluid: Assessment of the possible exposure health risks: HSE Research Report RR904. Retrieved from: www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr904.pdf

Are you wasting your money AND exposing your employees? Compressed Air Matters Issue 56, pg16: www.hse.gov.uk/metalworking/index.htm

The abstract and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

Claire Bailey, Health and Safety Executive, HSE Science and Research Centre, Buxton

© Crown Copyright 2021

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Navigating the ISO 8573 air quality standard 30/09/2021

In a typical compressed air system, there are a wide range of contaminants that require treatment if the system is to operate safely, efficiently and cost effectively. Here, Roy Brooks outlines the basic principles of ISO 8573, the international standard for air purity (quality).

COMPRESSED AIR quality is not confined solely to stringent, hygiene critical applications in the food and beverage or pharmaceutical industries, but rather is a factor that should inform the equipment selection and testing methods for any compressed air installation.

Selecting the right compressed air treatment equipment is essential as it can affect everything from maintenance schedules to the ongoing costs associated with achieving the required standards.

The BCAS Best Practice Guide 104 gives details of the 10 main contaminants that typically need to be removed from compressed air or reduced to acceptable levels. These tend to be combined into three distinct categories: particles (including viable and non-viable microbiological organisms), water and oil. ISO 8573-1 refers to the main contaminants in this format.

When selecting purification equipment, it is important to note that contaminants will be in one of three different phases (states of matter). For example, water and oil in a compressed air system will be found in liquid form, as an aerosol (fine mist) and in a vapour (gaseous) phase and a different purification technology will be required depending upon the phase of the contaminant.

Different standards

Depending on application, there are number of different compressed air standards and best practice guidelines which can assist you.

ISO8573 series is the most commonly used standard for compressed air (excluding breathing air or medical air). It is made up of nine separate parts. Part 1 refers to air purity (quality), while parts two to nine provide details on the equipment and methodology to be used to measure for different contaminants in a compressed air system (and meet the air purity (quality) classifications shown in part one).

These include:

• ISO 8573-2:2018 – Specifies the test method for oil aerosol content

• ISO 8573-3:1999 – Specifies the test method for measuring humidity

• ISO8573-4:2019 – Specifies the test method for particle content

• ISO8573-5:2001 – SpecifIes the test method for oil vapour and organic solvent content

• ISO8573-6:2003 – Specifies the test method for gaseous contaminants

• ISO8573-7:2003 – Specifies the test method fir viable microbiological contaminant control

• ISO8573-8:2004 – Specifies the test for solid particle content

 • ISO8573-9:2004 – Specifies the test method for liquid water content

• ISO8573-1 – International Standard Relating to Compressed Air Purity (Quality) ISO8573-1 provides guidance on specifying the air purity (quality) required for the entire compressed air system and/or for individual usage points, based upon application requirements. It specifies the amount of contamination allowable in each cubic metre of compressed air and, as mentioned above, should not be used in isolation, but should be used in conjunction with parts 2 to 9 , to ensure that comprehensive indicative testing and/or validation has taken place.

In addition, there are specific requirements for compressed air such as HTM02-1 for medical and surgical air and HTM2022 for medical gas pipelines and dental air.

BS EN 12021:2014 is the standard for breathable quality compressed air, indicating maximum permitted contaminant levels for BA both in the UK and the EU.

Defining air purity requirements

Whether designing new systems, or reviewing existing systems, the first step should be to define the precise compressed air purity (quality) requirements that the application requires.

A robust air sampling policy should be implemented to ensure that accurate measurements are recorded, whether that uses full or partial flow sampling. Full flow sampling is typically employed where the testing equipment can measure at the system’s or the sample point’s flow rate. Alternatively partial flow sampling can be used where the test equipment has a maximum flow rate lower than the flow rate at the sample point.

To achieve the degree of air purity (quality) specified by ISO8573-1, a careful approach to system design, commissioning and operation must also be adopted.

Best practice is to treat compressed air prior to entry into the distribution system and at critical usage points and application, to ensure that contamination already in the distribution system is removed.

Purification equipment should ideally be installed where the air is at the lowest possible temperature, i.e., downstream of air receivers, but also protected from freezing. Point-of-use purification equipment should be installed as close as possible to the application.

To allow correct sizing and selection of purification equipment, make sure you have the following operating parameters to hand:

• Maximum compressed air flow rate into the filters/dryer

• Minimum operating pressure into the filters/dryer

• Maximum operating temperature into the filters/dryer

• Maximum ambient air temperature where the equipment is to be installed (required for some dryer technologies)

• Required dewpoint (dryers).

Individually, each of the primary operating parameters can influence product sizing; collectively, they can have a major impact on product sizing and performance.

Many manufacturing plants only need a proportion of the compressed air to be treated to a very high purity (quality). In these cases, excellent savings are achievable by treating all the generated air to the minimum acceptable level and improving the purity (quality) to the desired level at the usage point.

If most of the compressed air is needed at a high purity (quality), it can make sense to treat all the compressed air to the level required by the highest purity (quality) application.

BCAS workshop

Companies wishing to learn more about the air quality regulations can benefit from BCAS’s blended learning workshop for ISO 8573: http://bit.ly/BCAS-ISO8573, which is now available with 25% off course fees for customers of BCAS members*.

The course is aimed at typical industrial compressed air applications operating at low pressure, with a range between 7 and 20 bar g and provides guidance on the differences between indicative testing and air quality verification, which is a key component of compliance with the ISO 8573 standard.

Learners complete a self-study e-learning module followed by a virtual classroom with a BCAS tutor to help cement their learning and help them understand the most frequently asked questions. The course is completed with an online examination leading to the BCAS certificate in ‘Understanding ISO 8573 – The Compressed Air Quality Standard.’

Roy Brooks is technical development officer for the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS)

* The free associate membership and 25% discount offer is only available to end-user customers of BCAS members. Trade customers are not eligible for the offer.

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

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Training: Pick a place and a pace to suit yourself 16/09/2021

Wherever your work takes you in these uncertain times, you can rest assured that BCAS training is on hand to help – at a place and at a pace – that works for you; whether that’s the office, or the comfort of your own home.

THE BRITISH Compressed Air Society (BCAS) is now offering its new eLearning portal. With a wide range of specialist courses that are tailored to the needs of industry professionals, customers and suppliers, BCAS courses combine safe working practices with industry-specific guidance on all aspects of compressed air performance.

The Society’s specialist eLearning portal provides practical training for compressed air and vacuum users

The Society’s specialist eLearning portal provides practical training for compressed air and vacuum users, alongside a host of health and safety tutorials and includes:

Certificate in working safely with compressed air (WSWCA)

Both employers and employees have a responsibility for safety in the workplace. The hour-long course covers the hazards of compressed air as an energy source, the use of personal protective equipment, employer and employee responsibilities with respect to health and safety when using compressed air, and a list of safe working practices to be followed.

Certificate in compressed air treatment technology (CATT)

This course details where contaminants come from and how to remove them using some of the air treatment processes available. It is of relevance to manufacturers, distributors, installers and any business that requires clean and dry compressed air systems.

Certificate in compressed air system technology (CAST)

CAST provides a comprehensive introduction to the main principles of compressed air systems and is highly relevant to anyone needing to know more about compressed air production and use, relevant health and safety issues, legislation and energy efficiency.

Employee certificate in maintaining a Covid-19 secure workplace

This course is based on the Government guidance on understanding how to safely work during the coronavirus pandemic. It covers workplace types identified by Government, including outdoor work, factories and warehouses, offices, branches, and vehicles, and is designed to fulfil the employer’s requirement to provide information and training to their employees in maintaining a Covid-19 secure workplace.

Blended learning courses:

CPD-approved, blended learning courses combine online tutorials and training with guided learning and assessment by a BCAS qualified tutor. This helps delegates to learn at a time and place to suit, combining at-home study with invigilated examination.

Certificate in understanding the Pressure Systems’ Safety Regulations (PSSR 200 S.I. 128)

This blended learning workshop covers the written scheme of examination in relation to compressed air systems. It provides knowledge of the Pressure Systems’ Safety Regulations (S.I 2000 No 128), related standards and codes of practice.

Certificate in understanding air quality (ISO8573)

This blended learning workshop details each part of ISO 8573, the air quality standard. The course explains the importance of considering all parts of a compressed air system, for suppliers, consultants, service providers, or users of compressed air.

Diploma in Compressed Air Management (DipCam)

This qualification provides a comprehensive technical grounding in the principles of the operation of compressed air systems. It has been developed and produced to meet the needs of people who have responsibility for a compressed air installation and who wish to attain a level of technical knowledge.

There are also courses available for understanding breathing air and compressed air systems’ testing and examinations.

Special discounts

Training courses start from as little as £4.99 and BCAS has created a host of special discounts to help make training employees more affordable still. These include an exclusive 25% discount off the full range of CPD-approved training courses for customers of BCAS members, plus free associate membership of BCAS.*

Customers should first contact their BCAS member to receive their unique booking code and then visit: e-learning.bcas.org.uk/ where they will be able to select from the full range of courses – all with 25% discount.

For further information about the full range of BCAS training courses on offer, email: training@bcas.org.uk, phone 0207 935 2464 or visit the dedicated eLearning portal: https://e-learning.bcas.org.uk

*The free associate membership and 25% discount offer is only available to end-user customers of BCAS members; trade customers are not eligible.

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Under Pressure? Getting to grips with the PSSR 15/09/2021

The aim of the Pressure System Safety Regulations (SI. 2000 No 128) (PSSR) is to prevent serious injury from the hazard of stored energy as a result of the failure of a pressure system or one of its component parts. Roy Brooks discusses what this means for owners and operators of compressed air systems.

ACCORDING TO the HSE, Pressure systems are defined as:

- A system comprising one or more pressure vessels of rigid construction, any associated pipework and protective devices

- The pipework with its protective devices to which a transportable pressure receptacle is, or is intended to be, connected

- A pipeline and its protective devices.

The HSE states that ‘everybody operating, installing, maintaining, repairing, inspecting and testing pressure equipment should have the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out their job safely’, meaning suitable training is essential.

A written scheme of examination is required for most pressure systems

In particular, a written scheme of examination is required for most pressure systems, which should be drawn up (or certified as suitable) by a competent person – and the system should not be operated or hired out until the scheme is in place and the system fully examined.

Terminology

The PSSR defines two distinct categories of personnel that may be responsible for pressure equipment – a user and an owner.

A ‘user’ refers to the person or business who has control of the operation of the pressure system or such a vessel. Once a pressure system is installed, the primary duty for compliance rests with the user.

An ‘owner’ refers to the person who owns the pressure system or his/her agent.

The PSSR also places duties on designers, manufacturers or any person who supplies equipment intended to be part of a pressure system. This is to ensure that it is fit-for-purpose, in order to prevent danger. As a user or owner, these issues should have already been addressed by a competent service provider and the equipment should be fully compliant.

Key obligations

The Pressure System Safety Regulations define the legal responsibilities of users and owners and these are many and varied.

For example, before a system can be designed or installed it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that the safe operating limits are specified (and that they are subsequently reviewed and kept up to date).

This is where it is advisable to consult with a proven service provider, such as a verified BCAS member – who can help to determine which of the regulations apply to the pressure equipment subsequently provided.

In addition, the user of an installed system and the owner of a mobile system must ensure that the system is kept properly maintained and in good repair, to prevent danger.

Written Scheme of Examination

A key component of the PSSR is that a Written Scheme of Examination (WSE) is required and the legislation quotes the following:

‘The user of an installed system, or the owner of a mobile system, shall not operate the system or allow it to be operated unless a Written Scheme of Examination for periodic examination by a competent person is in place. The aforementioned scheme shall also be drawn up by a competent person.’

The process of drafting a WSE is laid out in the regulations, as is the process for periodic examinations, reporting and record keeping of pressure systems.

Also detailed are the attributes required for the persons that are permitted to certify and carry out examinations under a Written Scheme of Examination. In both instances, these are referred to as Competent Persons.

Competent Persons

The term ‘Competent Person’ refers not to the individual employee that carries out duties under the Regulations, but to the body which employs the person charged with those duties. Thus, the definition of competent person makes it clear that the legal duty to comply rests with the employer, and not with an individual, unless that person is self-employed.

To be considered a competent person for the purposes of carrying out the examination or certifying the Written Scheme of Examination, the engineer should have sufficient practical and theoretical knowledge and actual experience of the type of system under examination. This will then enable any defects or weaknesses to be identified and an assessment made of their significance in terms of the integrity and safety of the equipment.

It is important to remember that where certification of a Written Scheme of Examination is required, the regulations state that suitable, competent persons are qualified to incorporated of chartered engineer level. More information can be found in the BCAS Factsheet 315.

In all cases it is the responsibility of the owner/user to ensure the scope of the scheme is appropriate, yet it may well be the case that this is outside of their experience.

CPD-approved training course

The British Compressed Air Society is advising end users to ensure that all employees who are responsible for maintaining compressed air systems are fully trained on the requirements of the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations – and to consult with a registered BCAS member for advice and assistance.

Member company, Cambs Compressor Engineering has trained its team using a mix of online learning and virtual classroom teaching. Mark Fryer, managing director, explains: “It is really important to our business that our team is trained fully in all aspects of compressed air safety and performance if we are to offer consistent advice that can help reduce costs and improve safety for our customers.

“This is particularly the case when it comes to the PSSR regulations, which have such a direct impact on the safe and efficient use of pressure systems. When BCAS launched the new PSSR course, we were really keen for our engineers to take part and gain this valuable CPD-accredited certification, to help support the written scheme of examination service that we already offer to all new customers.

“The blended approach has been an excellent way of learning for our teams. An online e-learning module allows each engineer to train at a pace that suits them, supported with the virtual classroom sessions where delegates come together to interact and learn from each other, before the final online examination.”

The Society is currently offering 25% discount on its ‘Certificate in Understanding the Pressure Systems’ Safety Regulations’ course

The Society is currently offering 25% discount on its ‘Certificate in Understanding the Pressure Systems’ Safety Regulations’ course (available to customers of BCAS members only, excluding trade) to help businesses train their staff.

This blended learning workshop, one of a number of specialist training courses in the BCAS portfolio, covers the written scheme of examination in relation to compressed air systems. It provides knowledge of the PSSR, related standards and codes of practice and is designed to provide the understanding required as a user, manager or provider of written schemes of examination.

To find out more about the PSSR training course, visit: https://rebrand.ly/BCASPSSR. To find a BCAS member who can assist with your obligations under the PSSR, visit: www.bcas.org.uk/directory/default.aspx

Roy Brooks is technical development officer at the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS).

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Supporting strong UK supply chains 16/09/2021

To further strengthen its support for manufacturers and suppliers across the UK’s engineering market, the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) continues to work with Reshoring UK and its other industrial engineering partners. Here, Julia Moore, chief executive at Reshoring UK explains to AirUser how this unique collaboration of 33 leading industrial engineering associations is continuing to grow.

AT RESHORING UK, we aim to connect manufacturers with trusted, accredited UK suppliers capable of providing technical support, specialist products and niche services. Our role is to evidence the skills and resources of our supply chains to help those manufacturers that are considering domestic production for new projects or when relocating other work programmes onshore.

Shorter supply chains in the UK mean faster parts delivery and therefore faster customer deliveries. There is also rising public popularity in 'Made in Britain', with many consumers championing the ‘buy local’ message, and a tangible sense of support for local companies during an incredibly tough 2020.

However, while public support may be high during these challenging times, we cannot ignore the very real impact that the Coronavirus pandemic has left in its wake.

For this reason, we found that we were receiving increasing number of enquiries and requests for support during for the first lockdown in March 2020. It proved a real test for many manufacturers, as vulnerabilities in their supply chains were exposed, such as a high reliance on overseas suppliers.

We understand how challenging it is to set up new supply chains, but manufacturers need to be conscious of the risks to their businesses when the shipping of key components is delayed. It is important that the risks are addressed by manufacturers to avoid the impact that future shocks may have on production and deliveries.

Local sourcing

The price benefit of outsourcing production to overseas economies is no longer as advantageous as it has been, with industry now starting to see costs creep steadily upwards.

The price benefit of outsourcing production to overseas economies is no longer as advantageous as it has been.

This, alongside other factors such as longer lead teams, higher quality expectations, local supply infrastructures and the ease of face-to-face interactions are driving an upturn in UK supply.

We are not expecting that all UK manufacturers will shift entirely to local sourcing, but we strongly encourage them to consider dual sourcing. Unforeseeable events, such as the current pandemic, could happen again and we must devise strategies to mitigate their negative impact in the future.

Reshoring in action

The proof, as the saying goes, really is in the pudding and during this tough year, it has been really encouraging to see many manufacturers take advantage of the support available from Reshoring UK member partners to add greater resilience to their supply chains.

Recent highlights include:

- Thomas Keating, an experienced designer and manufacturer of space flight hardware and systems won a share of a contract to design, manufacture and qualify three components for the Microwave Sounder Instrument (MWS) Quasi-Optical Network, which forms the front end of the MWS.

- Automotive parts’ manufacturer, Albert Jagger, reshored production of almost a quarter of a million fastening components from China. The firm was able to produce fastening components which had previously been imported for between 20% and 50% of the cost. In addition, the company has slashed stockholding costs by 50% and created space in the factory for future growth.

- British children’s bicycle company, Frog Bikes, a Queen’s Award winner for Enterprise for International Trade in 2018, has also looked local. ReshoringUK helped the business connect with UK-based suppliers for some of its key componentry, instead of using dominant Asian suppliers.

- BEC Group in Hampshire, a manufacturer of specialised technical mouldings has helped several customers with technical mouldings that had been sourced from abroad to overcome common problems: long lead times, quality and, more recently, border delays caused by Brexit – by buying locally instead.

The manufacturing sector now needs to increase its networking, across sector, to realise its true capacity

In conclusion, the manufacturing sector now needs to increase its networking, across sector, to realise its true capacity. More of this kind of lateral thinking and cross fertilisation of capacity would make UK supplier 'clusters' a stronger proposition for OEMs that need quality components in volume.

Advice and support

BCAS continues to provide advice and support to its members and the wider manufacturing industry. This has included lobbying for flexible furlough to better support service providers, advising on other Government support available, such as the Chancellor’s super tax incentive and helping the industry navigate changing regulations and standards post Brexit.

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

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