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BCAS Executive Director report 31/07/2020

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.

About BCAS

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.

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BCAS reiterates air treatment advice for COVID-19 concerns 29/07/2020

Following ongoing enquiries, the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) is reiterating its advice to compressed air users to adhere to air treatment best practice during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Early in the pandemic there were claims that compressed air may be a potential source of Coronavirus COVID-19, requiring the installation of sterile air filters (or more frequent filter sterilisations and element changes) to prevent the contamination of food, beverage or pharmaceutical products.

At this time, BCAS issued a statement of guidance quoting the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) position that Coronavirus COVID-19 was not an airborne virus.

On 9th July 2020 the WHO updated its guidance to include the possibility of airborne transmission of the virus, stating that: “Short-range aerosol transmission, particularly in specific indoor locations, such as crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces over a prolonged period of time with infected persons cannot be ruled out.

“However, the detailed investigations of these clusters suggest that droplet and fomite transmission could also explain human-to- human transmission within these clusters. Further, the close contact environments of these clusters may have facilitated transmission from a small number of cases to many other people (e.g., superspreading event), especially if hand hygiene was not performed and masks were not used when physical distancing was not maintained.”

BCAS has updated its guidance to include the possibility of airborne/aerosol transmission

BCAS has therefore updated its guidance to include the possibility of airborne/aerosol transmission, but would like to reassure users that this does not impact or change the previously stated advice about the risk and management of Coronavirus in relation to their compressed air system.

The simple facts:

- Compressor rooms are well ventilated.

- There is minimal risk of short-range aerosol transmission at the point of compressor intake.

- At the point of compression, the air temperature is high, the heating time is short and with the compression processes, viruses do not tend to survive.

- During compression, the compressed air temperature is higher than the temperature needed to kill COVID-19. It is documented that heat at 56oC kills the Coronavirus.

- Appropriate downstream purification systems typically treat the compressed air to aerosol sizes significantly smaller than those referenced by the WHO (human generated aerosols <5 micron, good filtration down to <0.01 micron)

- The compressor has two-stage filtration (panel and intake filter) prior to compression. Air is drawn into an air compressor, through panel filters and then through intake filters on its way to the compression chamber. Ambient air contaminants would have to remain in aerosol form to pass through panel and intake filters in order to enter the compressor intake.  This is highly unlikely, but even if panel and intake filtration was compromised, the contaminant would not remain in aerosol form during compression.

Best practice guide 102

BPG102 includes guidance on the installation of appropriate inline coalescing filtration and its regular maintenance, as these will remove multiple contaminants include micro-organisms, oil and water aerosols.

In addition, the guidance recommends using a dewpoint of -40 oC to inhibit the growth of micro-organisms, and filtration to reduce the micro-organisms and particulate.

The specification requires the installation of a minimum of two aerosol reduction filters (down to 0.01mg/m3 of oil aerosol and particle reduction down to 0.01 micron).

These protective measures will ensure that, in the unlikely event that the COVID-19 or other virus still survive the heat of compression, aerosol reduction filters in the compressor room combined with a very low dewpoint and point-of-use dry particulate filters will remove the risk from compressed air.

To see the previous guidance, please visit https://www.bcas.org.uk/article/covid-best-practice-84.aspx.

BPG102 is available for free download from the BCAS website. Visit https://www.bcas.org.uk/websiteform/food-beverage-grade-compressed-air-best-practice-guideline-102-5.aspx

For further information please visit the BCAS website at www.bcas.org.uk or call the technical helpline on 0207 935 2464.

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Update on compressed air standards & regulations 31/07/2020

The British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) provides an overview of the voluntary standards and the mandatory, technical regulations that have an impact of compressed air users.

Standards and regulations that have a direct impact

BS/ISO 8573-1 (Classification of air quality/purity):

This standard is applied for any process requiring compressed air to be delivered / used at a pre-defined purity specification. The standard allows for a consistent purity level to be defined and measured against. Note that the dated revisions of the standard define the purity specification at the time of specification, and care should be taken to note the date of the standard referred to, as the permissible solid particulate levels were revised. For example:

Air purity compliant to ISO 8573-1:2001 Class 1:2:1 defines maximum permissible amounts of contamination as: Particles at Class 1 (100x 0.1 to 0.5 micron/m3 & 1x 0.5 to 1 micron/m3 & 0x 1 to 5 micron/m3), Water at Class 2 (-40°C Pressure Dewpoint), Oil at Class 1 (0.01 mg/m3 Aerosol + Vapour)


Air purity compliant to ISO 8573-1:2010 Class 1.2.1 defines maximum permissible amounts of contamination as: Particles at Class 1 (20,000x 0.1 to 0.5 micron/m3 & 400x 0.5 to 1 micron/m3 & 10x 1 to 5 micron/m3), Water at Class 2 (-40°C Pressure Dewpoint), Oil at Class 1 (0.01 mg/m3 Aerosol + Vapour)

BS/ISO 11011:2013 (Energy efficiency audit for the entire compressed air system):

This existing standard is applied to provide a structured plan to carry out an exhaustive survey on an existing system to identify areas of improvement. This is not limited to finding and fixing leaks. It also focuses on eliminating waste, optimising control of compressors (where more than one compressor is used) and addressing point of use inefficiency.

PSSR:2000 (Pressure Systems Safety Regulation):

This well-established piece of legislation states that a user (or owner, in the case of a mobile system) of an installed compressed air (or ‘relevant fluid’) system with a stored energy capacity greater than 250 bar litres is required to have a Written Scheme of Examination in place. This WSE will define the required examination scope and period, along with the expected maintenance interventions and period.

F-Gas regulations (restriction of supply to market of harmful HFC products):

The phase-down process is ongoing, and the benefit of ‘reclaiming and recycling’ is being promoted as a method to reduce the impact of increasing costs due to restricted supply. The promotion of lower GWP refrigerants is also being encouraged to increase end-user awareness. This regulation is continually evolving, and it is important to stay abreast of the latest obligations.

For example, from January 1st, 2020, virgin R404a refrigerant was outlawed (although operators can still use reclaimed gas), and new restrictions (refrigerant with GWP >2500 and a system with equivalent to 40 tonnes or more CO2) apply to supplying / populating systems with virgin refrigeration gas.

ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental management):

From a compressed air perspective, compliance with this standard will focus on waste oil disposal, including air treatment consumables and drain condensate disposal. Operators are advised to check the credentials of their service provider and be confident that latest best practices are being adhered to.

Standards and regulations that have a indirect impact

ISO 1217 (Manufacturers’ (Positive displacement compressor types, only) reference standard for performance measurement):

This standard allows comparison of the efficiency performance of different positive displacement compressor technologies from different suppliers.

BS/EN 1012 (Manufacturers reference standard for safety of compressors):

The standard provides assurance that the delivered compressor is ‘fit-for-purpose.’

ISO 18623-1 will soon be published with the intention to supersede the existing BS/EN 1012 (which was published in 1997 and revised in 2010).

BS/ISO 12500 (Manufacturers reference standard for performance of air treatment products):

BS/ISO 12500 enables comparison of the performance of compressed air filters for compressed air for three different filter / contaminant types:

- Part 1 covers coalescing filters for the removal of oil aerosols

- Part 2 covers adsorbent filters (such as activated carbon) for the removal of oil vapours and odours

- Part 3 covers particulate filters for the removal of solid particles

PED/SPVD - Regulations

The PED (Pressure equipment directive) and SPVD (Simple pressure vessels directive) are European Directives intended to avoid technical barriers to free trade and to guarantee safe use of pressure equipment across the European Union.

The revised PED and SPVD Guidelines were published in October 2018. A further revision of EN 286-2 and EN 286-3 is ongoing to achieve compliance with SPVD to aid harmonisation.

Machinery directive - regulation

The Machinery directive (MD) is the core European legislation covering mechanical engineering products. Machinery must be supported with a technical file and is subject to an assessment process to ensure compliance with the MD. A declaration of conformity (or Incorporation for partially completed equipment) is produced and the machinery has CE marking before being placed on the market.

WEEE2 ‘Open Scope’

The previous incarnation of the WEEE (Waste electrical and electronic equipment) directive contained specific exclusions which stated that compressors, pneumatic tools and dryers were outside of the scope of this directive. However, as of 15th August 2018 there has been in place an ‘open scope’ on WEEE. Prior to this the scope was limited to 10 defined categories, but after this date all electric and electronic equipment is included unless explicitly excluded.  This means that virtually all electric and electronic products now need to provide information on recyclability of products.

Orgalim has published a guide: “A practical guide to understanding the scope and obligations of Directive 2012/19/EU on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)” to help companies navigate the open scope which can be supplied to BCAS members on request.

REACH / SCIP database

REACH (registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals) is a harmonised European regulation intended to manage the safe management and use of chemicals. The ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) in Helsinki manages a centralised database on all chemicals and restrictions on their use.

For compressed air users, the significance was applied to the selection of suitable oils (for cooling and lubrication). As of 5th January 2021, the supplier of an article (or product) containing a candidate list substance (>0.1% w/w) has to submit data to ECHA (see ECHA Website) for inclusion in a database intended to enable the waste treatment operators to identify the substance and to manage its disposal appropriately.

Eco-design directive

The Ecodesign directive is a set of European requirements aimed at encouraging manufacturers to produce more energy efficient products from a complete life cycle perspective. Initially targeted toward all ‘energy using products’ which consume electric power while in standby and off modes, the scope was extended to include a range of industrial products, including air compressors (known as Lot 31).

The directive is not expected to impact products placed on the market until 2021, with the most likely impact for end-users cited as the ability to compare different products for energy efficiency.

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Compressed air & energy efficiency 23/07/2020

Compressed air is used extensively as a safe and versatile source of power. Often referred to as the fourth utility, 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 per cent of a site’s total electricity bill, asserts Vanda Jones, Executive Director, British Compressed Air Society (BCAS)

According to a report entitled ‘Compressed Air Systems in the European Union’, when looking at the most important energy saving techniques available to compressed air users, ‘the energy savings amount to 32.9 per cent, achievable over a 15-year period.’

The drive to cut energy

Stringent environmental legislation sets limits on carbon emissions, encouraging all users to take steps to reduce their electricity consumption to create a cleaner and greener manufacturing environment.

For example, the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy for meeting the UK’s legally-binding carbon commitments, aims to help businesses decarbonise. Part of the Strategy includes the ‘Industrial Decarbonisation and Energy Efficiency Roadmap Action Plan.’ The action plan will seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and become more energy efficient while remaining competitive during the UK’s low carbon transition.’

Yet, while compressed air energy consumption represents a considerable overhead for manufacturers, its performance and efficiency can often be overlooked, and improvement programmes delayed.  This can be counterproductive, because, as illustrated above, there are many simple ways that users can reduce their energy usage, without investing in new capital plant and equipment.

Simple ways to cut energy

The best place to start, when considering upgrading an existing compressed air system, is to speak to an expert. BCAS members can advise on the best equipment and system for your needs. This could include incorporating fixed and variable-speed drives or a combination of both as well as efficient downstream equipment. Where suitable, sophisticated control systems can help proactively manage the supply of air.

Equally, BCAS members can conduct a full system audit and advise on some of the simpler, low cost ways that energy usage and wastage can be reduced.

BCAS’s ‘whole system approach’ article discusses some of the specific ways that users can cut wastage and thereby improve energy performance in more detail, including:

- Fix leaks - Just one 3mm hole could cost over £600 a year in wasted energy. A leak survey can help to size the issue – and to tackle the largest leaks first

- Heat recovery - As much as 95 per cent of the energy consumed by a compressor is converted to to heat and, unless captured, will be wasted to the atmosphere. Many manufacturers offer heat recovery systems, which can often be retrofitted.

- System design - When discussing efficiency and the potential savings that could be realised, it is important to take a full, system approach. – from generation to air treatment to distribution and finally, the point of use.

- Improve control - Reducing pressure at the point of use, switching off compressors when there is no demand for air and installing energy management systems can all help you identify wastage and take action

- Manage air downstream - Excellent savings are achievable be treating all the generated air to the minimum acceptable level and improving the purity (quality) to the desired level at the usage point.

- Behavioural change - You can make substantial efficiency improvements by implementing new processes and encouraging staff to use compressed air more efficiently and safely.

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Taking a whole system approach 24/07/2020

For manufacturers and processors considering upgrading or improving, it is essential to take a full, system approach. Concentating on only one aspect of compressed air generation can reduce the potential for energy savings and users should consider all aspects of system design – from generation to air treatment to distribution and finally, the point of use. Vanda Jones, Executive Director, British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) reports

A compressed air system is just that; a system, and every element of it impacts on its energy consumption.

Identify wastage

An ideal place to start is to identify some of the key areas where compressed air can be wasted.  

For example, even if the most efficient compressor available is installed, but it is connected to a system with a 30 per cent leak rate, then all the benefits are lost.  Operators should aim to improve the overall system efficiency. Efficiency in the generation of compressed air is one aspect but targeting avoidable waste in the system is even more important.

Many actions will require elements of maintenance or equipment/system upgrade, but the human element should not be overlooked. Substantial efficiency improvements can be made by implementing new processes and encouraging staff to use compressed air more efficiently and safely.

Detect and fix leaks

Reducing air leaks can have the biggest impact on overall system efficiency. Leak rates in industrial systems are typically between 20 and 40 per cent, meaning the compressor has to work harder, and therefore consume more energy, to compensate for the pressure loss.

A tiny leak of just three millimetres can cost more than £700 a year in wasted energy, but an out-of-hours survey can identify leaks easily. Opeartors should walk the site listening for leaks and then confirm the location using an ultrasonic leak detector, a leak detection spray or event a soap solution brushed on to pipe fittings.

Once the leaks have been identified,  an improvement programme can be implemented. First, the leaks should be tagged and recorded on a site plan. Next, the leaks should be graded in priority order, fixing the largest leaks first and as soon as practicable.  Finally, it is important to make this a collaborative process by encouraging staff to report leaks as soon as they are discovered.

Once the leaks have been repaired, it is important to check the pressure drop from the compressor to each point of use, as it may be possible to reduce the generation pressure and save further energy.

Air leaks should equally be considered as part of any wider system adjustments. For example, turning down the compressor can have an impact on the performance of air treatment. It is worth taking advice from a reputable supplier or service agent to help determine the demand placed on the compressor to supply the system and therefore its energy consumption.

Switch off

Even when off-load, compressors can consume up to 70 per cent of their full load power, so units should be switched off overnight where there is no demand for air.  The time switch settings should be checked regularly to ensure that running hours are optimised, as this can also help to reduce maintenance costs.

Where appropriate, install energy management systems to turn compressors off when they are not being.

Recover heat

As much as 95 per cent of the energy consumed by a compressor is converted to heat and, unless captured, will be wasted to the atmosphere.  Many manufacturers offer heat recovery systems, which can often be retrofitted. This allows users to recycle this excess heat; re-directing the hot oil to an oil-to-water heat exchanger.

Reduce the pressure

Compressed air is often generated at around 8 bar, (116 psi) even if the point of use only requires 6.5 bar (94 psi).    Turning down the pressure can often help to save energy and therefore, cost.

Pressure drop can also contribute to inefficiencies. This should be less than ten per cent of the compressor’s discharge pressure, as measured from the compressor outlet to the point of use.  Thus at a pressure of 7 bar, the pressure drop should be less than 0.7 bar.

Review compressed air usage

Compressed air is energy intensive to run, and cheaper options exist for certain jobs. For example, there may be more energy-efficient alternatives for drying and ventilation. However, for applications where there are risks of explosion or electrical interference, compressed air remains the best option.

Train and involve staff

BCAS recommends simple awareness sessions to advise staff about the costs and safe use of compressed air. For example, not allowing benches or equipment to be cleaned down with compressed air will save a significant amount of air being vented into the atmosphere.  It is far safer to carry out such cleaning using a vacuum system to reduce the risk of injury.

Optimise compressed air use

If compressed air is appropriate for the job, could it be delivered more efficiently? If air knives feature open-ended pipes, fitting a venturi-type nozzle can use 30 per cent less compressed air. By making the operation much quieter, it will improve the working environment too.

Air distribution network - zoning

Not all parts of the network operate to the same hours or the same pressure, so it is worth separating the compressed air system into zones. At the same time, redundant pipework should be isolated. When replacing piping, consider all the alternatives to the usual galvanised steel.  Aluminium and plastic pipes do not corrode and also have a much smoother internal finish causing less pressure drop and thus saving energy.

Don't over treat air

Treating air to remove dirt, water and oil is necessary but can use a lot of energy. Many processes only need a proportion of the compressed air to be treated to a very high purity. In these cases, excellent savings are achievable be treating all the generated air to the minimum acceptable level and improving the purity (quality) to the desired level at the usage point.

Service and maintain

Low cost, regular maintenance will help retain low leak rates and reliability of equipment.  Users should consider a policy that specifies that energy efficient options are purchased when replacing all equipment – whether it is a basic drain valve through to the actual compressor unit itself.  

Finally, it is important to specify the manufacturer’s genuine spare parts and avoid the temptation of cheaper alternatives, realising significant savings in excess of 25 per cent.

Further reading

BCAS’s Reducing Energy Consumption from Compressed Air Usage’ best practice guide

BCAS’s ‘The Filtration and Drying of Compressed Air’ best practice guide


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International trade update 24/07/2020

With the initial shock of coronavirus having been absorbed, international trade issues are coming more into public discussion and reporting. Jack Semple Engineering & Machinery Alliance secretary gives us an update

Michael Gove, the de facto Brexit minister says he is concerned but not surprised by internal government figures showing that 61% of firms have made no preparations for the end of the Brexit transition period.

The government is to launch a transition advertising campaign next month under a £4.5 million contract with PR firm MullenLowe. The website Politico has reported on the communications plan.  This summer, the campaign will nudge people to take action, by warning of the “consequences and opportunity” ahead. 

In the autumn, the campaign will use an approach designed to “shock and awe”, the term used by the US military to describe the intended impact on the enemy of its military forces in the Iraq War. The contract is for 12 months and the campaign could go on well into 2022.

In December, the campaign will focus on “loss avoidance”, then switch to ‘”opportunities” in January. 

Government research is reported to have shown firms are complacent and that they are reluctant to act without certainty.  Some are more likely to prepare because they are worried about the impact of Brexit and these firms “will not respond well to overly positive messaging”.  Brexit voters are “less likely to prepare as they don’t believe in any potential negative consequences of leaving”.

Gove, speaking to the Northern Ireland select committee last week, said the planned campaign was needed “to make sure people aware of the both the challenges and opportunities as we prepare for life outside the EU and outside the single market”.

“There are a number of actions businesses have been encouraged to take, for example acquiring the wherewithal to be able to export to European countries once we are outside the customs union and single market, and to take advantage of free trade agreements and opportunities elsewhere,” Gove said.

Comment: Public and political discussion of preparedness has been one-sided, in that it has tended to focus on  administrative and process issues – what the UK government will do and require, and what businesses will have to do in response.  Much of this remains unknown, in detail.

Much less discussed is what companies are already doing in terms of their business relationships.  On the one hand, there is the potential for work to come back to the UK, on the other for it to move abroad.  Anecdotally, we have heard of UK firms losing EU business, and losing UK customers who have, or are in the process of, relocating outside the UK; and we hear of reshoring initiatives.  Here, there is little information, and such as there is, is not collated.  In the past three months, these issues have been eclipsed by the Covid crisis.

Similarly, attention has focused on government actions about the flow of goods into the country, because that is what government controls.  There is little discussion to the issue of exporting to the EU, which is - arguably - even more important.

Tariff pledge to Northern Irish firms

Michael Gove has said that secondary legislation would be brought in to re-imburse firms in Northern Ireland, should tariffs be payable because of a lack of agreement with the EU. That would be a unique arrangement and would be in place by the end of the Brexit transition period in December this year, he told the Northern Ireland committee.

Gove was unable to give other details of how arrangement for Northern Ireland would work.

Customs plan to be published next month

Meanwhile, next month, the government is expected to publish some details of how the customs and border controls will work.  HMRC is revisiting the UK ports over the next couple of weeks to re-appraise what is there and what will be needed.

This June HMRC announced a further £50 million funding to support customs intermediaries (customs agents, forwards etc) to gear up for post-transition processes, then implementation of which some of which has been postponed until July 2021.

UKCA mark – call for longer implementation period

The UKCA mark (UK Conformity Assessed) is due to come into force at the end of transition.  Various business organisations, including the Engineering and Machinery Alliance (EAMA), have written to the government urging a delay in implementation.  They have told government that there is insufficient time for firms to make the necessary changes needed in the certification and manufacturing process.  There is currently no government guidance on the UKCA.

EU trade talks

The UK has floated the idea that an agreement could include the EU imposing tariffs on UK goods, where the UK deviated from EU rules.  EU officials are reported to have described the idea the basis for a relationship of constant disputes.  The idea first appeared in The Spectator magazine, which used to be edited by Boris Johnson and where Dominic Cummings is a commissioning editor.

While both sides have sought to inject new urgency into the talks, there is little indication of substantive progress.

US trade talks

There is growing concern among UK trade bodies over the direction of US trade talks.  The US is reported to be determined to force acceptance of US standards, which are incompatible with current EU/UK standards, on subjects ranging from chlorinated chicken to electrical wiring. US standards are also widely seen as lower and undesirable. 

The UK government is determined to have freedom to adopt its own standards, or those of others, especially regarding new technologies.  In practice, this is likely to mean a towards US standards, although other global influences may also be relevant.  The challenge would be to maintain UK levels of influence, as influence within Europe would further diminish.

Dehenna Davison MP, who worked for Jacob Rees-Mogg for a year when a student (she is now 26), called on the Conservative Home website for “a new international trading order built on the foundations of the special relationship”.

In the first legislative controversy linked to a future US trade deal, the Agriculture Bill will allow chlorinated chicken to be sold in the UK.  Eighteen Conservatives voted against that part of the bill, including Theresa Villiers, a former Northern Ireland secretary and Treasury minister.  She is reported to have been blocked by the government from sitting on the intelligence and security committee because of defying the party whip.

Japan trade talks

Japanese trade negotiators appear to have dismissed UK ambitions for an ambitious, comprehensive trade deal, set out by trade secretary Liz Truss when the talks started two weeks ago. Japan’s chief negotiator said that the deal would have to be wrapped in a just a few weeks, in time to be ratified by the Japanese parliament and be in place for the end of the Brexit transition period.

Renewed talks could subsequently take place, if the UK wanted to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it is reported. 

New Zealand and Australia trade talks

Talks with both countries have been launched by PM Boris Johnson, with a photo opportunity highlighting the opportunity for the British to have Australian Tim Tam biscuits.


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Any time, any place, anywhere 24/07/2020

Roy Books, Technical Development Officer, British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) gives an overview of the Society's new e-learning portal, which enables delegates to learn at a pace and place suited to them

The Coronavirus pandemic has challenged many of industry’s established norms. Business leaders continue to adapt to the reality of managing their workforces remotely as restrictions on movement and social distancing measures continue to remain in force.

Yet, ensuring engineers are equipped with the latest skills remains a key priority for all sectors of industry, in a bid to ensure that best practice, changes in legislation and standards are all adhered to.

Recognising this need for training to be delivered to suit the needs of a dynamic and changing workforce, BCAS has recently invested in a new e-learning portal, allowing delegates to learn at a pace, and from a location, that suits.

BCAS is recognised within the industry as a provider of training and development for engineers, technical professionals and users of compressed air. Working with our members we develop training based on industry standards and best practice. These include specialist courses that are tailored to the needs of industry professionals, end users and suppliers; that combine the safe working and understanding of compressed air with its multiple uses.

25% discount on e-learning products for our members’ customers

BCAS has a primary objective of informing and creating a best practice culture within the compressed air and vacuum industry, for both suppliers and users of this important energy source.

In a unique move, the Society is offering free associate membership to customers of BCAS’ full members – which also allows a 25% discount on all BCAS training courses. If you use a BCAS member to support your compressed air system (visit the BCAS members directory www.bcas.org.uk to check). If so, email training@bcas.or.uk to enquire about this great value offer.

Here is an update on the latest courses on offer via the new e-learning portal:

Working safely with compressed air (WSWCA)

Both employers and employees have a responsibility for safety in the workplace. Compressed air users must know how to work safely and understand the risks involved if good practice is not followed. Undertaking this course will help fulfil employers' health and safety obligations and provide evidence, via the online assessment, that the individual has understood safe working practices and their responsibilities.

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.

Compressed air system technology (CAST)

CAST provides a comprehensive introduction to the main principles of compressed air systems. It is a unique qualification to meet the needs of employers for compressed air training.  

This course is highly relevant to anyone needing to know more about compressed air production and use, relevant health and safety issues, legislation and energy efficiency. It is of relevance to manufacturers, distributors, installers and for any business using compressed air equipment and systems.

Maintaining a Covid-19 secure workplace

The course is based on the Government guidance on understanding how to safely work during the coronavirus pandemic, issued 11th May 2020.
It covers the workplace types identified by Government, including outdoor work, factories and warehouses, offices, branches, 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

An introduction to PSSR 2000

This course provides the candidate with a comprehensive understanding of the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000, which cover the safe design and use of pressure systems.

The single aim of PSSR is to prevent serious injury from the hazard of stored energy (pressure) as a result of the failure of a pressure system or one of its component parts.

If you are an owner or user of a compressed air system this course is highly relevant. It will guide you through your obligations under the regulations and demystify some of the terminology used when required to implement the regulations.

It will help to clarify the written scheme of examination process and how competent persons are defined.

This course is applicable to anyone needing to know who has responsibilities under PSSR 2000 and its relevant health and safety issues, and legislation. It is of relevance to manufacturers, distributors, installers and for any business using compressed air equipment and systems.

An Understanding of IS08573 – Compressed air purity verification or indicative testing

This course provides the candidate with a comprehensive understanding of ISO 8573 - the compressed air purity standard.

Compressed air is an essential part of many aspects of food/beverage and pharmaceutical production and processing, with ever increasing demands for improved health and hygiene in these production chains. This course will explain how the standard should be used and implemented, outlining the specific need to use all the parts.

As compressed air is considered a utility, this course is beneficial to anyone who has responsibilities for pre-requisite programmes and their elevant health and safety issues, and legislation. It is of relevance to manufacturers, distributors, installers and for any business requiring clean and dry compressed air systems.

An introduction to air treatment

There are a wide range of compressed air applications that require very different levels of purity and therefore need different air treatment equipment and methods.

For example, clean air is not needed for tyre inflation on a garage forecourt, so very little would be invested in air treatment equipment. If however, the air is to be used in a micro-electronics process or a medical application, all contaminants must be reduced to very low levels and therefore, sophisticated air treatment systems are required.

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

Diploma in Compressed Air management (DipCAM)

Have you taken your DipCam exam with BCAS in the past? We are currently loading all our paper records onto our new online learning system, which will mean that you will soon be able to download your certificate directly.  

If you have moved employers or work for a business that has merged, it is important that our records are up to date. In particular, we need your current email address to be able to register you.

In any doubt, please email training@bcas.org.uk

For further information about the full range of BCAS training courses on offer, including class-room based training, please email training@bcas.org.uk or call
0207 935 2464

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Determining new supplier partnerships 23/07/2020

Vanda Jones, Executive Director, British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) takes time to consider the concept of reshoring

At the end of 2019, BCAS announced its partnership with Reshoring UK, a new platform designed to connect manufacturers and suppliers across the UK’s engineering market.

Developed through a collaboration between over 20 leading industrial engineering associations, the platform supplies businesses with a wealth of information that they can use to successfully determine a new supplier partnership.

Since then, the Society has been working closely with the other organisations involved to encourage engagement in the manufacturing supply chain and to recognise the strength, skills and innovation available.

The following information, provided by UK Reshoring, highlights the growing importance of the need to strengthen and simplify UK engineering supply chains, especially in the wake of the Coronavirus economic impact:

Everyone behind the Reshoring UK platform appreciates the complexities involved when transferring manufacturing from overseas. The website portal has been created to help re-establish the capability required to meet manufacturers demands and those businesses that have used it in this current crisis have realised just how much capability and competence is available within the UK.

We know it is a myth that the UK no longer manufactures anything, but it is often repeated and needs to be dispelled. In reality, prior to this pandemic we were the ninth largest manufacturing nation in the world contributing 10 per cent of the UK Gross Value Added (GVA). The sector plays a vital role as an employer, with a workforce of around 2.7 million, and an innovator accounting for 70 per cent of all business Research and Development (R&D) spend.

Paradigm shift

Even before the global threat from COVID-19 there was a paradigm shift from OEMs looking at the benefits of reshoring, as highlighted by the Lloyds Bank report ‘Business in Britain: Manufacturing’. A sponsor of the Reshoring UK facility, research from Lloyds Bank showed more than a third (37 per cent) of firms asked said they were planning to move manufacturing processes back to the UK that had previously been offshored to territories like Asia and eastern Europe.

The prime motive for this, cited by 71 per cent of those with these plans, was to improve quality – a telling endorsement of the high standards that British manufacturers and workers uphold, which also has extremely positive implications for UK supply chains.’

Baroness Burt of Solihull, Patron of Reshoring UK commented: “With so much value to be gained for both sides, large manufacturers only need to look more closely at what is already available to them in this country, in terms of  innovation, technology transfer across sectors, and quality. www.reshoring.uk  urges the manufacturing sector to seize this opportunity to increase its UK supply chain.”             

Vanda Jones, Executive Director for BCAS, concludes: “In a world of constantly changing legislation and standards, it pays to work with a supplier that can offer the right levels of support, backed by engineering and technical expertise. 

“As the only UK technical trade association open to manufacturers, distributors and end users of compressors, vacuum pumps, pneumatic tools and allied products, it is an approach we have always advocated - helping to connect our members with industry end-users to help specify, install, maintain and service their equipment.

“We are therefore delighted to continue partnering with Reshoring UK to help businesses source the right engineering expertise, that can help avoid downtime, save costs and maintain the highest safety standards.

“This facility will support the high value and technical requirements of such industries as aerospace, automotive, rail, marine, energy and medical from conceptual design to complete product delivery for companies searching for UK-based support for their businesses.”

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90 years of reliability & expertise 23/07/2020

In its 90th year, Vanda Jones, Executive Director, The British Compressed Air Society, looks at the Society's activities over the past 12 months

2020 marks the 90th anniversary of the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS). Throughout these nine decades, the Society has played a crucial role in upholding standards and advising its members about changing legislation and standards, to ensure compliance and safety within the industry.

Alongside offering an independent source of technical advice to ensure that compressor equipment is energy efficient, compliant and safe, the Society acts as a reliable and reassuring voice in the wake of changing market requirements.

This has been particularly apparent in recent months, as the Coronavirus pandemic has challenged the industry to adapt to new methods of working, under very difficult economic circumstances.  

Throughout this time, BCAS has been providing advice and support to its members affected by the downturn, lobbying Government to ensure the best outcome during this uncertain time.  

Key worker status

Despite the stringent lockdown measures, much of the manufacturing industry has continued to operate during the Coronavirus outbreak, albeit it with a limited workforce and with reduced output in some areas.

BCAS recognised that manufacturing employees must continue to work during the crisis and was instrumental in gaining recognition for their importance to the UK economy.

This work has allowed employees to demonstrate their status as key workers, which enables them to continue working while their children attend school.  This includes the installing, commissioning and maintenance of equipment that is deemed crucial to critical sectors including public services, food processing and distribution, transport and utilities.

Close proximity working

The Society has also issued specific guidance for those needing to undertake essential site work, where the social distancing guidelines cannot be adhered to.

Health and scientific professionals have warned that the pandemic is unlikely to be a short-term crisis and that Covid-19 could circulate in the human population for the long-term, possibly causing periodic epidemics.  As further scientific recommendations have been issued, these guidelines continue to be adjusted to ensure the latest advice is followed.

BCAS would always recommend complying with the social distancing guidelines.  For an essential activity where social distancing guidelines cannot be followed, the first steps are to take all possible mitigating actions to reduce the risk of the transmission of Covid-19 between those taking part in the activity.

Covid-19 secure workplace course

BCAS has also spent time creating a new training course for businesses and employees concerned about safe working practices during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Delivered via the society’s new online learning portal, the ‘Working safely during Covid-19’ course costs just £4.99 per delegate and details the Government guidance for maintaining a secure workplace, issued 18th May 2020.

It covers the key workplace types identified, 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 its employees.

The comprehensive course identifies the ways in which Covid-19 is spread from contaminated surfaces or respiratory droplets and provides some practical workplace hygiene rules to help minimise risk.

Furlough advice

Another key benefit that the Society has been offering is to advise its members on interpreting the Government’s furlough guidance.  BCAS had been highlighting the restrictive nature of some of the furlough arrangements, explaining how peaks and troughs in demand for service provision had made it impractical to furlough engineers in three-week cycles.

The Society has particularly welcomed the new scheme arrangements that came into effect in July, enabling employers to bring engineers back on a part-time basis to meet their customers service and maintenance requirements.


BCAS is key member of the EURIS Taskforce, an advisory body that examines the potential impacts of the changing relationship between the UK and EU for the UK Government, manufacturers and the media.

The Society is continuing to lobby to avoid a cliff edge in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario and is campaigning for a viable customs arrangement that minimises costs and delays and to ensure that the UK industry remains involved in the future development of European regulations and standards.

Building better for the future

Despite these immensely challenging times, BCAS, like many other organisations, has used this time as an opportunity to reflect on and question some of its own standard procedures.  For example, the Society is looking at options to run future committee meetings, which can involve multiple participants from locations throughout the UK, remotely – saving travel time and expense.

Its new e-learning platform is also proving popular with engineers working remotely, providing valuable training and ensuring skills are maintained, even when face-to-face learning is not a viable option.

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WEEE2 directive update 03/06/2020

Tim Preece, the British Compressed Air Society’s Technical Officer provides the latest update on the WEEE2 Directive 2012/19/EU (amending Directive 2002/96/EC) on waste electrical and electronic equipment

The previous incarnation of the WEEE directive contained specific exclusions which stated that compressors, pneumatic tools and dryers were outside of the scope of this directive.

Summary: It is the position and interpretation of BCAS and Pneurop, the European trade association of the compressed air, gas and vacuum industry, that compressors, pneumatic tools and dryers are excluded from the scope as listed in the Annex 1A and 1B of the WEEE Directive and the provisions of the RoHS Directive.

Products: Therefore, for the products listed there is no compliance required to meet the provisions of the WEEE or RoHS Directives.

However, as of 15th August of 2018 there has been in place an ‘open scope’ on WEEE.  Prior to this the scope was limited to 10 defined categories, but after this date all electric and electronic equipment is included unless explicitly excluded, meaning that virtually all electric and electronic products now need to provide information on recyclability.

Orgalim has published a guide: ‘A practical guide to understanding the scope and obligations of Directive 2012/19/EU on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)’ to help companies navigate the open scope.

Most compressors are now included within the scope in most EU countries. The only possible exclusion would be for ‘large-scale industrial equipment/tools’, but the definitions are different depending on the definitions included in the transposition at Member State level.

Equipment is excluded from WEEE2 if it is classified as a LSSIT (Large Scale Stationery Industrial Tool). In order to exclude from WEEE2 as a LSSIT (Large Scale Stationery Industrial Tool), the following criteria have to be satisfied:

(i) assembly of machines, equipment, and/or components, functioning together for a specific application (‘tools’);
(ii) permanently installed and de-installed by professionals at a given place and used and maintained by professionals in an industrial manufacturing facility or research and development facility;
(iii) and large size (>2 tons & >15.625m3).

All three prerequisites must be met for the exclusion to apply.

Further, the Orgalime guide (June 2018) states: ‘Electrical and electronic tools are essentially machines, stand-alone or assemblies, often with moving parts, and used for example for the treatment or manufacturing of materials and work pieces. Tools can also be electrical pumps, power generators and compressors.

Only if a tool is a LSSIT it is excluded from the WEEE2 scope.’

Check https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/waste-electrical-and-electronic-equipment-weee-public-registers to see if your company has already registered on the EEE Producer Public Register.

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