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Belgian compressor firm opens UK base 19/01/2022

BELGIUM BASED air-compressor controls firm CMC is expanding its presence in the UK and Europe, opening a UK office and recruiting two compressed air professionals.

CMC is opening a new UK office in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. The Belgian-based air compressor controls expert, is delivering on plans to expand its presence in Europe and the UK following its decision to open a UK office and appoint two compressed air professionals to its growing team.

Ex-Ingersoll Rand strategic account manager Gareth Lees joins CMC as business development manager. Working across CMC’s key brands including Airmatics, Scadar and Metacentre, Gareth is responsible for identifying and building on in-market opportunities, developing new strategic partnerships and taking new products from CMC’s expanding portfolio to market.

Gareth will also be responsible for building the firm’s Energair brand in the UK. California-based Energair Solutions Incorporated, which is responsible for rolling out Energair throughout the US, has had success with supporting companies on their journey towards carbon neutrality by providing cleaner alternatives to traditional compressed air management. 

On joining the global firm, which is now approaching its fourth decade, Lees said: “This is an exciting opportunity to play a role in building a series of brands that have huge potential and that are already commercially successful across a number of diverse territories. With a UK presence firmly established I now look forward to identifying new markets and developing those we already have in place.”

Joining CMC’s technical division is Qasim Khan, who has been appointed CMC's technical support engineer. He will provide aftersales and technical support to customers including training and troubleshooting services.

Graham Coats, sales director at CMC, adds: “The UK market has grown steadily over the last two years, particularly following the launch of Airmatics, our cloud-based air compressor monitoring, performance and control solution. Given the global shift towards carbon neutrality coupled with the solutions we have in place to help manufacturers reduce the carbon footprint of their compressed air systems, we’re confident that the next two years will be a period of significant growth. Gareth and Qasim will influence this and I look forward to working with them.”


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Is YouTube damaging Health and Safety? 18/01/2022

SOCIAL MEDIA has changed the way people access information, bringing specialist knowledge that was previously the domain of industry into YouTube videos, viral TikToks and "life hacks". But can bad information be damaging to workplace safety?

We've all seen them: the hints and tips from experienced (and often inexperienced) people that let ordinary people learn and understand the tricks of the trade. With the continued popularity of the "maker" movement, machinery that was once the preserve of industry is now finding its way into consumer hands: hobbyists making etched glass windows with abrasive blasting, cutting plywood with CNC laser cutters or making resin-set tabletops. But many of these online sources are not showing best practice, the health and safety lessons that would be taught in the workplace.

For instance, in one YouTube video, someone making a Victorian-style etched mirror uses compressed air to clean the residual abrasive from the glass, and is not wearing protective gloves. In another, we see someone setting beer bottle caps into a table with a two-part epoxy without wearing any respiratory protective equipment (RPE) or emphasising the need to work in a well-ventilated space when using reactive chemical processes. Videos will often have links to equipment underneath, to which the video makers get a cut, taking viewers to products that aren't always compliant with the relevant standards for their sector or location. At the recent AirUser Live conference, organised by IP&E's parent company, 

Are bad habits learned from social media making their way into the workplace? We have posted a YouTube video on our LinkedIn channel in which a "maker" (who actually has a degree in mechanical engineering) unloads a 180kg saw from the back of an MPV, without a forklift, whilst wearing open-toed sandals. As observers of the industry rather than active participants and, admittedly, having some admiration for the ingenuity of the maker's solution, there are a number of moments in the video where we were shocked by the potential dangers. So what do you think? Have you found people in the workplace bringing "life hacks" into the workplace? What do you think is wrong with the handling method described? Take a look at the video on our LinkedIn channel and leave your thoughts …


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New CEO for intralogistics maker Agilox 17/01/2022

AUSTRIAN INTRALOGISTICS maker Agilox has appointed a successor to outgoing CEO Franz Humer.

Helmut Schmid takes over as CEO of Agilox this month (January 2022), as successor to the previous CEO Franz Humer. Schmid will continue the AMR manufacturer's plan for increased global market share. As the sole managing director of Agilox, he also adds three new authorised signatories to the management team: Josef Baumann-Rott, Klaus Pucher and Robert Mayer.

Schmid, an internationally experienced managing director and robotics enthusiast, who was head of Germany and Western Europe at cobot market leader Universal Robots for many years, before becoming managing director of the German cobot pioneer Franka Emika in Munich.

Schmid is a specialist in growth strategies, business development, change management, internationalization, sales and marketing. In his long career, he has already founded several companies, managed them profitably and, in particular, implemented scalable business models, often developing new sales processes and structures and implementing new go-to-market strategies in a targeted manner. The aircraft engineering graduate has also made a name for himself as co-founder of the German Robotics Association and Robotics Ventures. Schmid said: "Agilox is a brand with a strong base and an equally high market potential. I look forward to contributing my experience to the company in order to continue to develop it profitably and position it durably on the market."

"With his years of experience in the robotics environment, Helmut Schmid brings in-depth technical as well as management expertise, and now as CEO of AGILOX, can further develop the company from its excellent starting position and support our planned growth with the goal of becoming the world's leading AMR provider," said Dr. Thorsten Dippel, managing director of the Carlyle Group, which has been a key partner of Agilox since June 2021.

Daniel Haider, managing director of Raiffeisen Invest Holding, said: "We are very pleased that such a renowned expert in robotics is putting his trust in Agilox. With Helmut Schmid as our new CEO, we are continuing the drive for dynamic growth at an international level."

Schmid's predecessor, Franz Humer, is also pleased with the new top manager: "It was particularly important to us as founders that the new CEO continues Agilox's successfully established strategy for the future, while furthering our brand DNA. In Helmut Schmid, Agilox is getting a CEO who will develop the company progressively and keep us on the right track for the future."

Humer is joining the board of Agilox as executive chairman and will prepare the company’s next strategic steps, notably in the area of product development and organisation in the US.


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Entries open for 2022 Hire Awards 14/01/2022

ENTRIES ARE now open for The Hire Association Europe Event Hire Association (HAE EHA) annual Hire Awards of Excellence, which are due to take place on Saturday 7 May at Grosvenor House, London and include a brand new category open to all.

Entries are now open for The Hire Association Europe Event Hire Association (HAE EHA) annual Hire Awards of Excellence, which are due to take place on Saturday 7 May at Grosvenor House, London and include a brand new category open to all.
The awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of hire and supply companies across the UK's plant, tool, equipment and event hire industries, and give the opportunity for recognition to individuals who have consistently stood out from the crowd by achieving some of the highest standards in the industry.
After the last two years’ awards were forced to be held as virtually, excitement is building for this year’s awards, which will be hosted by comedian Jo Caufield. There are 16 categories altogether, including Hire Industry Product of the Year, Best use of New Media and the coveted Hire Industry Supplier of the Year Award. A complete list of all this year’s categories and the entry requirements can be found here.
New for 2022, HAE EHA has introduced the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative Awards. Any company wishing to enter this latest category will need to demonstrate how its organisation sets the standards for diversity and inclusion within the industry, going above and beyond to facilitate improvements and inspire change. Entries that cover one, some or all aspects of diversity provision within the hire sector are welcomed.
A range of sponsorship options is also available this year including individual category sponsorships as well as larger packages, providing the opportunity for sponsors to tactically position their brands at this prestigious event.
The closing date for entries is 28 January, with judging taking place in February and the finalists announced in March.

Applications can be made online at: www.awards.hae.org.uk

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Digital Catapult selects "net zero" startups 14/01/2022

DIGITAL CATAPULT has selected four cleantech startups to work alongside giants of Indian industry to transform the future of net zero manufacturing and supply chains, as part of its Industrial Net Zero cohort for FutureScope, the new home for startup and scaleup acceleration. 

The Build UK – India programme, the first of its kind from Digital Catapult, has been designed to partner innovative UK tech startups that are developing net zero solutions for industry, with leading Indian corporations including Tata Steel, Johnson Matthey and Godrej Aerospace.

The startups will work closely with technology and business experts from Digital Catapult, before receiving grant funding of up to £45,000 to build demonstrators in response to challenges set by the industrial partners. 

David Pugh, head of sustainability at Digital Catapult said: “Without the entrepreneurial spirit that exists within innovative small businesses, the global targets set at COP26 will not be met. These four companies represent the leading-edge of UK cleantech startups set to reshape the future of industry by tapping into the power of advanced digital technologies to help large businesses reduce waste, reduce emissions, and reduce harm to the environment. 

It’s a credit to the industrial partners we’re working with that they are willing to overcome barriers to adoption and work with the startups to positively contribute to the global effort. We can’t wait to see the end result of this unique international collaboration programme.”

With India’s renewed commitment to meet global net zero targets, and on the back of the UK Government’s Net Zero Strategy that focuses on clean energy for a green and sustainable future, the four startups typify the innovation required to make strides towards meeting those goals, making them leading examples of cleantech startups to watch in 2022. 

The startups selected are:

Additive Flow - Disrupting the advanced manufacturing sector, Additive Flow focuses on optimising the additive manufacturing process, to help companies achieve their sustainability goals through our repeatable workflows. Previous work has already seen 50% cheaper costs in aerospace components, 35% increase in product efficiency, and accelerated production speed by 50%. Formerly part of Digital Catapult’s Machine Intelligence Garage programme.

Ascalia - Helping manufacturing companies, Ascalia is an integrated end-to-end Industry 4.0 system for factories, giving them process traceability and optimisation, predictive maintenance and AI-enabled quality control. Ascalia has successfully raised more than £1 million in funding and is currently raising another £800,000 to support the company’s growth, with Sainsbury’s a key client. Formerly part of Digital Catapult’s Made Smarter Technology Accelerator programme.

Remade Group - Through an innovative trading platform, the Remade Group will be Europe’s first online market place for remanufactured goods providing customers with ethical, environment friendly products that come with quality levels and warranty that match those of new products. Using blockchain technology to verify the history of products, products will retail at 40% below new value with up to 80% saving in energy costs.

Intellegens - With NASA, GKN Aerospace and Rolls-Royce already as clients, Intellegens’ artificial Intelligence toolset, Alchemite™, helps scientists and engineers to optimise products and processes while reducing the amount of experimentation time by up to 90%, getting products to market faster and at lower cost. Starting off by designing a novel alloy for aero engines, Intellegens have gone onto drug discovery, batteries, and optimising manufacturing processes.

The programme will conclude with a final showcase in March 2022, where the startups will be able to share their progress with an audience of investors, large business and press before beginning their journey of entering into the Indian market.


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Material handlers take aim at Archies 14/01/2022

UK MATERIAL Handling Association (UKHMA) is transforming its annual Awards for Excellence for 2022.

The UK Material Handling Association (UKMHA) has announced Saturday 15 October 2022 as the date for its new Awards for Excellence. 
Representatives from across the industry will gather at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole to pay glittering tribute to companies, teams and individuals for their innovation, their raising of standards and the work they have done to help operators work more effectively and safely. 
“The Awards for Excellence has been a staple in the material handling calendar for over 30 years, but with UKMHA acting as the new leading voice for the industry, we felt now was the perfect time to put a new stamp on the event and bring it up to date,” said Tim Waples, chief executive of UKMHA. “Every year, entrants seek to win the ultimate accolade: a hand-cast Archie statuette, which we modelled on Archimedes — the father of engineering. 
“The award has become the symbol of distinction within the material handling sector, so to honour this most coveted prize, the event will henceforth be known as The Archies.” 
The Archies 2022 will be the inaugural awards event for UKMHA, but the name is not the only thing that has changed. 
“We have revamped the format and will be introducing some brand-new award categories,” said Tim. “The Archies will represent the entire spectrum of material handling, celebrating the ingenious products and invaluable people that make our industry what it is today.” 
The Archies will of course maintain the fun and showmanship audiences know and love. A celebrity compere will host the evening, which will also include a three-course dinner, entertainment and dancing well into the night. 
“Recent events meant we understandably had to change our awards proceedings, but in 2022 we’re hoping to go back bigger and better than ever,” said Tim. “Events like these are only ever made possible thanks to the generous input of our sponsors. We currently have a number of sponsorship opportunities available, and we are encouraging businesses to get involved in what will undoubtedly be the most exciting night of the year. 

“With hundreds in attendance, sponsoring an award at The Archies is a great way to raise your profile in front of some of the biggest names in the business.” 
Categories for The Archies will be open for entry in spring 2022. Entry is free, with nominee shortlists selected by a jury of industry experts. More information on how to enter will be released in due course. 

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Plastic eating microbes target pollution 06/01/2022

MICROBIAL ENZYMES with the ability to degree plastic are more numerous in areas with high levels of plastic pollution, according to a Swedish academic study.

The number of microbial enzymes with the ability to degrade plastic is growing, in correlation with local levels of plastic pollution. That is the finding of a new study from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, that measured samples of environmental DNA from around the globe. The results illustrate the impact plastic pollution is having on the environment, and hint at potential new solutions for managing the problem.

The problems of global plastic pollution are all too widespread, as mass-production of plastic has exploded in the last 70 years or so – from around two million tonnes per year to around 380 million. This has given sufficient evolutionary time for various microbes present in the environment to respond to these compounds, and many different enzymes have been discovered in previous studies with the ability to degrade different plastics.

The new study, recently published in the scientific journal mBIO, analysed samples of environmental DNA from hundreds of locations around the world. The researchers used computer modelling to search for microbial enzymes with plastic-degrading potential, which was then cross-referenced with the official numbers for plastic waste pollution across countries and oceans.

“Using our models, we found multiple lines of evidence supporting the fact that the global microbiome's plastic-degrading potential correlates strongly with measurements of environmental plastic pollution – a significant demonstration of how the environment is responding to the pressures we are placing on it,” said Aleksej Zelezniak, associate professor in systems biology at Chalmers University of Technology. 

More enzymes in the most polluted areas

In other words, the quantity and diversity of plastic-degrading enzymes is increasing, in direct response to local levels of plastic pollution. In total, over 30,000 enzyme ‘homologues’ were found with the potential to degrade 10 different types of commonly used plastic. Homologues are members of protein sequences sharing similar properties. Some of the locations that contained the highest amounts were notoriously highly polluted areas, for example samples from the Mediterranean Sea and South Pacific Ocean.

“Currently, very little is known about these plastic-degrading enzymes, and we did not expect to find such a large number of them across so many different microbes and environmental habitats. This is a surprising discovery that really illustrates the scale of the issue,” said Jan Zrimec, first author of the study and former post-doc in Aleksej Zelezniak’s group, now a researcher at the National Institute of Biology in Slovenia.

Potential value for fighting the global plastic crisis

Every year around eight million tonnes of plastic escapes into the world’s oceans. The natural progresses for plastic degradation are very slow – the lifetime of a PET-bottle, for example, can be up to hundreds of years. The growth and accumulation of plastic waste in the oceans and on land is a truly global problem and there is an increasing need for solutions to manage this waste. The researchers believe that their results could potentially be used to discover and adapt enzymes for novel recycling processes.

“The next step would be to test the most promising enzyme candidates in the lab to closely investigate their properties and the rate of plastic degradation they can achieve. From there you could engineer microbial communities with targeted degrading functions for specific polymer types,” said Zelezniak.

The article, Plastic-Degrading Potential across the Global Microbiome Correlates with Recent Pollution Trends, is published in the journal mBio. It was written by Jan Zrimec, Mariia Kokina, Sara Jonasson, Francisco Zorrilla and Aleksek Zelezniak. 

Images: Chalmers University of Technology

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ETG Expands Sales Team 05/01/2022

WELLESBOURNE BASED ETG welcomes back Jon Mannion as its regional sales manager for the East Midlands.

The Engineering Technology Group (ETG) has appointed  Jon Mannion as regional sales manager for the East Midlands, including Sheffield, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire and Suffolk regions. Jon had previously spent eight years working for Wellesbourne based ETG and is delighted to return to the machine tool company.
Starting his engineering apprenticeship in 1978, Jon has spent his career in the machine tool industry. Jon has academic and shop floor experience as well as decades of sales engineering expertise from over 30 years experience with many of the world’s leading machine tool manufacturers.
Welcoming Jon back to ETG, group managing director, Mr Martin Doyle said: “Jon has proven to be a very successful and dynamic sales engineer down the years, and we are delighted to welcome him back to the ETG family. Not only is Jon a talented sales engineer, but his vast industry experience also gives him a complete understanding of how to meet the exact needs of manufacturers by delivering bespoke solutions for customer requirements from ETG’s extensive product portfolio.”
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SHW Live Manchester rescheduled to May 2022 06/01/2022

SAFETY, HEALTH and Wellbeing LIVE event has been rescheduled because of the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

Safety, Health and Wellbeing Live’s Manchester event has been rescheduled because of the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant and will now take place on 23-24 May 2022 at Manchester Central.

The decision to move SHW Live Manchester to the new dates comes following consultation with the event’s advisory council, founding partners and the venue. Among those consulted were the Health and Safety Executive who are collaborating with the SHW Live team and will also be delivering CPD seminars at the event.

Following these discussions, the organisers have received overwhelming support to reschedule SHW Live – Manchester Central to 23-24 May 2022. If you haven’t already registered, you can do so for free at www.safetyhealthwellbeing.live.

Explaining the move, SHW Live founder Tim Else said: “The ongoing situation is likely to continue for the weeks ahead, directly impacting our ability to serve the industry in the best possible way.

“With that in mind we have taken the decision to reschedule SHW Live at Manchester Central until 23 and 24 May. The team at Manchester Central have worked hard in difficult circumstances to find this new date for us which allows a significant amount of time for the impact of Covid to dissipate, avoids school holidays and maintains a balance with our Farnborough dates, which remain as 28 and 29 September 2022.”

CPD seminars announced

SHW Live promises a packed line-up of industry leading exhibiting brands along with a wide range of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) sessions for all delegates across two theatres – the SHW Keynote Theatre and the SHW Knowledge Hub.

The Health and Safety Executive will be hosting the morning sessions in the SHW Keynote Theatre on day one following an address by HSE Chair Baroness Sarah Newton. These seminars will focus on 'Tackling Respiratory Disease', 'Work-related stress and its impact on Mental Health' and 'Taking the risk out of MSD Risk Management', as well as a 'Building Safety Regulator Update'.

The packed agenda complements numerous networking opportunities for professionals and exhibitors in a relaxed, enjoyable, and Covid-secure environment, all of which is included as part of free entry to the event. The full list of sessions for both the SHW Keynote Theatre and SHW Knowledge Hub can be found at www.safetyhealthwellbeing.live.

Whether your priority is workplace safety, occupational health or mental health and wellbeing, SHW Live presents a unique chance to stay up to date with the latest legislation alongside unrivalled networking and procurement opportunities for those within the Safety, Health and Wellbeing industry.

SHW Live takes place at Manchester Central on 23rd-24th May 2022 and you can register for your FREE badge at www.safetyhealthwellbeing.live

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Liquid absorption tech to prevent contamination 21/12/2021

SPILLAGE PREVENTION products from ISS help prevent environmental contamination by absorbing spills and aiding subsequent product recovery.

Industry Superstore (ISS), a stockist of  adhesives, sealants, technical spays, surface wipes, sanitisers, tools, hand driers and dispensers has announced the availability of the Wolftank-Adisa range of environmental protection products for the prevention of contamination in industrial plants, facilities and soil. 

Leaks and spillages of liquids and hydrocarbons are disruptive to companies’ operations, costly to clean up and damaging to a business’s environmental reputation. A range of products to absorb spillages is now available from ISS,. Spill absorbent materials and products from Wolftank-Adisa – for whom ISS is the sole UK distributor, –are claimed to be eco-friendly, being made of natural fibres with nano reinforcement. The absorbent socks, pillows and booms can recover up to a claimed 99% of spilled liquids. Absorption is fast, and the fluids can be easily extracted from the pillows through compression after recovery is complete: not only is disposal cost reduced, but in many instances spilled product may be recovered and reused. 

Suitable for use with a wide range of liquids and hydrocarbon products including oil, petrol, diesel, mineral oil, solvents, coolants, paints, alcohols and agricultural chemicals, the absorbent materials used by Wolftank are said to be up to three times more effective than standard spill absorption products. A single gram of the natural fibre with nano reinforcement material can absorb up to a claimed 50 grams of spilt liquid, which means a 300 gram pillow could absorb up to six litres of fuel. And because the material is hydrophobic, only the hydrocarbon is absorbed, not water. The absorbent socks, pillows and booms can be reused three to four times, and the nano fillers themselves are biodegradable. 

Wolftank has many case studies of successful uses of the pillows and booms in real world spillages. Where there have been fuel spillages, rather than just cover them with sand there is now the ability to absorb, recover and resell the fuel, bringing significant economic benefit. In offshore applications, absorbent booms have been distributed in the sea to recover oil after a spillage – because the booms absorb only the oil, not the water, the oil can be easily recovered, and the booms reused. 

It is not uncommon for many plants and facilities to accept slight leakage from valves as a fact of life, because a small leak doesn’t justify the cost of the downtime incurred in replacing the valve. Wolftank pillows not only absorb the oil, but also let rainwater pass, effectively acting as an oil-water separator. In other applications customers have used the pillows to remove the oil from an oil-water separator without having to take the separator out of service.

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