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SME Council holds first meeting 01/03/2024

THE MEMBERSHIP of the new Small Business Council was unveiled ahead of its first meeting on 22 February, as the Government reaffirmed its commitment to the UK’s 5.6 million SMEs.

Chaired by small business minister, Kevin Hollinrake, the Council will work alongside the PM’s Business Council to tackle the key issues facing small firms who will be given new levels of access direct to government.

Almost every business in the country is a small business (99.9%) who in turn support 27 million jobs across the UK, accounting for £4.5tn of annual turnover. Almost every billion-pound company, tech giant or multinational corporation started off as small business, which is why this Council has been formed, to help support and nurture the next generation of small firms to thrive and grow.

The Council will include small business organisations such as Small Business Britain, the Federation of Small Businesses and Family Business UK, as well as SMEs themselves.

These include Northern Ireland based furniture manufacturer Environmental Street Furniture who export to 27 countries globally; Midlands-based diamond drill specialists, D-Drill who have been crucial to major projects on the London Tideway and the Silverstone F1 circuit; and London-based superfood manufacturer Creative Nature who found a gap in the market for allergen products and are now stocked by supermarket giants across the UK.

With firms representing all corners of the UK covering sectors including manufacturing, construction, food and drink, the new council aims to truly represent the makeup of UK industry.

The Council will be a powerful voice for small businesses within Government and has been tasked with overseeing three key areas for small firms – Access to finance, skills and support as well as removing barriers.

"Small firms are at the heart of our communities and the engine of our economy - which is why the work of this council is so important. My own experience of working in a small business has given me crucial insights to the problems that SMEs face on a daily basis, from barriers to growth or access to finance," said Hollinrake.

"We’re giving small firms a big voice, so they can directly air their concerns to government without delay - only when we work together can we tackle some of the burning issues SMEs are facing - only then can we help boost jobs and grow the economy," he added.

"This new council is important because it will bring what’s happening at the front line of British business, from our 5.5 million small business owners, right into the heart of Government," stated FSB policy chair Tina McKenzie. 

Alongside No.10’s existing corporate Business Council, the new body will shine a light on the unique challenges small firms face on areas such as finance, regulation and skills. FSB is pleased to join it, and we hope to focus on how to reignite economic growth across our community.

"We are delighted to be part of the new Small Business Council, representing family businesses from across all regions and communities of the UK to highlight the unique challenges they face and the practical new ideas we have for generating economic growth," stated Neil Davy, CEO of Family Business UK.

It is great to see this group reflect the different models of business that make up the UK economy. Family firms offer a unique perspective due to their long-term view, and we look forward to working with the Council to deliver support and advice to help SMEs learn, thrive and grow.

"The diverse, varied and vibrant British small businesses are at the heart of our economy, society and communities and it is vital they are at the heart of policy too. Their needs and skills are often quite different to bigger businesses, so it’s really important that this new Small Business Council has been launched, to hear their unique perspectives and examine tailored solutions," affirmed Michelle Ovens, Founder of Small Business Britain.

"We are looking forward to working with Government to help unleash the massive power and potential of small businesses for the UK."

Thomas Robson-Kanu, founder of The Turmeric Co. noted that since launching in 2018, the company has experienced rapid growth, but securing funding and navigating regulations as a purpose-driven SME presented hurdles. "I’m eager to share our journey and advocate for solutions that unlock growth for UK’s vibrant businesses. Hurdles can truly make or break a SME, and more support around these will make a world of difference," he stated.

Similarly, Julie White, MD of D-Drill and Sawing, said that in light of 'tough trading conditions', "it’s vital that SMEs are given as much support as possible to help them to grow".

Working with business, the Government can help to create the right economic conditions to help us all flourish by ensuring consistent policy, improving procurement and providing support for skills.

The Government is ensuring small firms have the support they need with a £4.3bn package to support SMEs with business rates and extending the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure relief for a fifth year, we are helping businesses navigate challenging economic times.

We are also providing the swift and simple access to finance that SMEs need to start and grow, with the British Business Bank having delivered over £1bn of loans to over 100,000 businesses, and UK Export Finance providing £6.5 billion of support to help businesses export around the world.

In recent weeks, the Government has made a series of announcements to support small business owners. The Lilac Review was jointly unveiled with Small Business Britain - as a major new independent review determined to tackle and overcome the inequality faced by disabled business owners.

And the Help to Grow campaign website has been relaunched and refreshed, as a one-stop shop for SMEs to find the information they need to grow and scale up. This includes helping small firms to clearly identify what funding they can access, helpful webinars as well as the basics of how to set up a business for the first time.

SME Council Members:

Michelle Ovens, founder/CEO - Small Business Britain

Neil Davy CEO - Family Business UK

Tina McKenzie, policy chair - Federation of Small Businesses

Emma Heal, MD - Lucky Saint

Thomas Robson Kanu, founder - The Turmeric Co.

Julianne Ponan, CEO - Creative Nature Superfoods

Peter Davies, MD - James Lister and Sons

Gary Parlett, co-founder -  Answer Digital

Tania Boler, founder - Elvie

Richard Marshall, founder - Pall Mall Barbers

Elizabeth Vega, CEO - Informed Solutions

Tessa Clarke, co-founder - Olio

Jordan Schwarzenberger, co-founder - Arcade Media

Julie White, MD - D-Drill

Mike Bristow, CEO and co-founder - CrowdProperty

Debbie Williams, co-founder - John Williams Heating Ltd

Roni Savage, MD - Jomas Associates

Andrew Bissell, CEO - Sunamp

Alan Lowry, CEO - Environmental Street Furniture

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Spring into Jefferson Tools’ seasonal Tool Up offers 12/02/2024

JEFFERSON TOOLS is celebrating the arrival of nicer weather by reviving its popular Tool Up special offers.

Celebrating the end of yet another cold and dark winter, Jefferson Tools is giving its friends in the construction, engineering, automotive, and agriculture sectors reason to celebrate, thanks to a blooming good range of money saving Spring special offers. The latest Tool-Up promotion includes 22 hand-picked hand tools offers, 8 automotive and workshop bargains, and 9 air tool deals. Here’s a glimpse at what’s new in the red-hot Tool-Up flyer.

The ultimate industrial bundle 

Prepare to be astonished by Jefferson Tools’ most expansive bundle yet - a warehouse starter kit. It’s packed with essentials that make it the biggest Tool Up offer ever. This turnkey solution features an 8” Swivel Head Bandsaw and a powerful 1,100W Pillar Drill for precise cutting and drilling. It also includes an 8” Industrial Bench Grinder for effective material removal and sharpening tasks.

But that's not all. To further enhance your work environment and efficiency, the kit comes with complimentary items: a Small Anti-Fatigue Mat for increased comfort during long working hours, a Weldon Magnetic Drill Bit Holder with Morse 3 Taper (MT3) for secure and convenient drill bit changes, and 2x 200 x 25mm Wire Wheel Brushes for cleaning and surface preparation tasks. Each component of this starter kit has been carefully selected to provide a comprehensive solution for upgrading your workshop. 

Going up in the world

Elevating professional capabilities is much easier with Fiberglass Multipurpose Ladder, the tradesman's dream for versatile and secure elevation. Designed to be easily repositioned and steadfast in stability, it's an indispensable ally for every electrician. Seize the deal: a 4 Tread Fibreglass Multi-Purpose Ladder complemented by a free 300mm Wide Fibreglass Platform - all at an that isn’t sky high.

Smart lighting solutions 

With a focus on efficiency and precision Jefferson Tools presents its smart lighting solutions. This compact 300-lumen torch kit work light, designed for personal use, emits a neutral white light through its modern COB LED. Durable, fully rechargeable, and tailored for quick tasks and emergencies, this pocket-sized solution ensures reliability.

Additionally, the Dual COB LED and Spotlight combo, featuring a floodlight function with a 220-degree rotation, boasts an IPX-4 durability rating. Its power bank capability and versatile working modes make it a great choice for extensive area illumination. As spring ushers in a season of growth and renewal, Jefferson Tools stands ready to provide its partners with the tools necessary for their business to blossom. This offer is a promise to deliver not just tools, but confidence and reliability in every product.

jeffersontools.com

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Reviving legacy systems sustainably 15/01/2024

ACCORDING TO Intoware’s survey, which included more than 1000 UK-based industrial firms, 74% of respondents said that they still rely on legacy systems. Although such equipment plays a pivotal role in the operation of many companies, technology is advancing at a rapid pace and is increasing the need for the integration of modern equipment. Here, Tom Cash, director of Siemens parts supplier Foxmere, explains how plant managers can bridge the gap between old and new technologies sustainably without scrapping their entire existing infrastructure.

Automotive company, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), is gathering attention for planning new battery plants. JLR’s owner, Tata, has recently confirmed it will build a £4bn electric vehicle (EV) battery factory in the UK. 

The recently announced gigafactory will be one of the largest ever investments in the UK automotive sector, helping to grow the economy into clean industries of the future. 

However, building new facilities alone is not enough to solve climate issues, as many old machines and structures are still in use today. 

Retrofitting 

Decommissioning old factories and equipment is expensive and disruptive, plus it can waste resources and energy, thereby contributing to inflation. 

Instead, companies can make existing equipment and processes more environmentally friendly through retrofitting — the process of updating or adding equipment or sensors to existing hardware for the use of new technologies. 

Just look at AGCO, a US-listed manufacturer of farming equipment, that retrofitted its tractors with kit that uses sensors, cameras and artificial intelligence (AI). These kits have helped farmers upgrade their equipment at a lower cost than buying new equipment, reducing costs, waste and even their carbon footprint.

For example, AGCO’s sprayer module identifies plants in the field and automatically adjusts the type and the amount of herbicide applied, cutting chemical usage by 70%. Moreover, AGCO’s grain storage bin kit detects when a crop is overheating and turns on blowers to move the air around to prevent spoilage. 

Scaling up 

Retrofitting is a much more cost-effective option as opposed to buying brand-new equipment, meaning that manufacturers can now scale up to Industry 4.0 quicker and cheaper than ever before. 

For example, Felipe Orellana and Romina Torres, two research engineers at the Universidad Andres Bello in Chile, conducted a study on retrofitting legacy equipment with industrial IoT devices in 2019 to create a more efficient smart factory. 

The study found that after retrofitting legacy equipment in a spare parts manufacturing factory energy consumption was reduced by 17%, projected costs decreased by three per cent and human error was cut by a staggering 70%.

Where to start? 

As Intoware’s survey revealed, there are still a lot of industrial firms using legacy systems today, but the good news is that 82% believe that data is an asset. 

With that in mind, some may require a helping hand when deciding which part of the factory should be upgraded first. 

One step we recommend taking is to improve human-to-machine interaction by retrofitting a human-machine interface (HMI) with an easier-to-use graphical interface, such as a touch screen. 

For example, a HMI could be easily integrated into a system by connecting a USB, RS-232 and RS-485 between the HMI and PLC. If the units have wireless capabilities, it can be even easier. 

Likewise, smart sensors, which can measure vibrations, temperature and pressure, can also be fitted onto legacy machinery. This allows data to be collected and made available across the whole factory network, which can feed into a predictive maintenance strategy to gain insights into machine performance and upcoming maintenance needs. 

If a smart sensor detects that a piece of equipment may break down, the manufacturer can take additional steps to order a replacement from a reliable industrial parts supplier

If you would like assistance in your retrofitting journey or would like to source reliable parts, then please get in touch via the Foxmere website.

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WDS Components extends castor wheel range 05/02/2024

THE LEEDS-BASED manufacturer and supplier of standard parts and components, WDS Components, has extended its range of castor wheels.

Ideal for OEMs or end-users, the broad wheel range covers a variety of designs, materials, and sizes, for an array of industrial and commercial applications. With sizes now including a compact 50mm diameter, through to a 200mm wheel, castors also include brake and adjustable levelling options.

WDS’ broad range of castor wheel unit designs are based around various styles of metal frame. This includes a rectangular plate fitting, available in either a swivel wheel or fixed wheel configuration. Bolt hole frames are also available, fixing with a single bolt. This design is ideal to attach the castor unit to a tube insert, or for applications with limited space. Meanwhile, stud fitting castor wheels feature a threaded stud attached to the top of the frame, enabling fast and simple installation, securing with a nut.

Each of the designs are available with brakes, adding safety by preventing the wheels from rotating on slopes or if pushed, as well as non-brake versions. The designs are also available in adjustable-levelling models, ideal when stability is required on unlevel flooring. These castors include a levelling foot that can be screwed down and adjusted with a finger wheel, or alternatively, for faster and easier adjustment, a ratchet system.

Castor wheel frames are available in either stainless steel, providing optimum resistance to corrosion and wear, or zinc-plated steel that provides good durability and rust resistance across many applications. 

The wheels themselves are available in a range of materials that differ according to hardness. Softer castor wheels, like rubber, are ideal when non-marking is required, or for a low-noise environment. The polyurethane resin wheel is suitable for a wide range of uses with a good balance of softness with durability and strength, while the nylon wheel is the hardest wearing. Phenolic resin wheels are also available, selected for their resistance to heat. These castors can be used in ovens or painting bays and can withstand temperatures up to 280°C, or cold temperatures down to -40°C.

The wheels are available in a variety of colours to suit the environment, including black, blue, white, and red. WDS also provides furniture castor wheels, ideal for office chairs and furniture, made from black nylon with a steel frame. 

The expansion of the WDS range of castors now means that every design is available from a compact 50mm wheel diameter, suitable for smaller machines and low clearance heights, through to larger 200mm diameter wheels. Each type of castor wheel design also typically includes 80mm, 100mm, 125mm and 160mm diameter sizes. 

Now, the expanded range has added new fixing kits for plate frame castors. Comprising all the bolts, nuts, and washers required to fix the frame to its host, the kits make specification and purchasing a faster and easier process. The fixing kits are available in packs of four or packs of 16. 

Full information on the castor range is available on wdscomponents.com. Products can be ordered directly from the website, which includes full specification information including CAD images, as well as non-specialist format 3D images. wdscomponents.com also gives information on availability, with large OEM order quantities available.

www.wdscomponents.com

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New review published on STEM clubs increasing aspirations for engineering and tech careers 07/12/2023

ENGINEERINGUK HAS released a new report which brings together the available evidence on STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) clubs and their ability to increase students’ aspirations for engineering and technology careers. 

This rapid evidence review looks at the delivery mode, evaluation, and key findings from engineering and technology-related STEM clubs. Through summarising the existing evidence, the report aims to draw out learnings on STEM clubs that can be used by STEM outreach providers to raise aspirations around engineering and technology careers. 

"Given the limited presence of engineering and technology in school curriculums, high-quality STEM clubs can play a key role in complementing or broadening the STEM curriculum - thereby expanding young people’s aspirations for engineering and technology careers. So, it’s really important we understand how to make these initiatives as effective as possible," explained Jess Di Simone, senior evaluation manager at EngineeringUK. 

“We hope the learnings in our report will be helpful for STEM outreach providers and will support efforts to increase the number of young people, from all backgrounds, entering the engineering and technology workforce.” 

Some of the key learnings highlighted in the report include: 

  • Engage students through practical activities – get students ‘doing engineering and technology’, rather than passively studying from a textbook 
  • Engage experts in the design of club content – such as educational specialists and industry professionals who can ensure that activities are not only educationally enriching, but also closely aligned with current industry practices and trends
  • Involve role models in club activities - their involvement can expose students to educational or professional STEM pathways
  • Provide comprehensive training to teachers responsible for delivering club content - effective facilitators need to have the relevant skills to lead club activities and provide valuable support for students
  • Consider including competitive elements in clubs - has the potential to enhance engagement and foster a sense of enthusiasm and motivation among students

The full report - ‘Rapid Evidence Review - STEM clubs and their ability to increase students’ aspirations for engineering and technology careers’- is available to download at: www.engineeringuk.com/research-policy/provision-outreach/rapid-evidence-reviews/

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Costs rise for 94% of manufacturers as higher salaries needed to attract in-demand talent 22/11/2023

COST PRESSURES are weighing heavily on manufacturers in the UK, with almost all having to offer higher salaries to attract in-demand talent.

This is according to new research by Visual Components, the developer of 3D simulation software, which has shed light on the range of factors that is adding to the financial pressure for the sector in 2023. In the US, all manufacturers surveyed have had to offer higher salaries.

Alongside the need to offer higher salaries due to skills shortages, the typical cost associated with downtime due to unreliable legacy equipment is between £10,001-£25,000 for a third of respondents (33%). Ineffective utilisation of robots has also led to one-in-five (20%) stating that between £25,001-£50,000 has been wasted due to a mistake when deploying them. Over one-in-ten (14%) report figures of over £100,000.

With almost one-in-five (19%) manufacturers spending over £100,000 in robot deployments over the last 12 months, failing to use robots to their full capability is also a significant financial risk. Almost one-in-three US respondents (28%) say that they have invested over $63,501 in robot deployments in the last 12 months.

In an effort to reduce costs, manufacturers have focused on reducing power usage (31%) in a time of spiralling energy prices, with this an even bigger focus among French companies (40%). Persistently high prices and stubborn inflation in the UK has likely lowered confidence among businesses that they will play a key role in helping the global drive for net zero carbon emissions. This figure is down to 61% from 66% in 2022.

“Economic factors such as skills shortages have driven up costs for UK manufacturers, but organisations are also losing money from ineffective technology deployments. To keep expenditure to a minimum, businesses can deploy simulation software to allow cost-effective and efficient decisions to be made in real-time, while enabling reliable and consistent automated processes that don’t incur any costly mistakes. Organisations can also avoid missing out on potential revenue by programming robots quicker to send items into production and down the supply chain,” said Mikko Urho, CEO of Visual Components.

www.visualcomponents.com

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A modern solution to steam conditioning 16/02/2024

Technical innovation and leading-edge valve design has improved the conditioning of superheated steam used in power generation and other essential industries, says Mark Wheat

MANY INDUSTRIAL activities rely on steam for their processes, including power generation plants, refineries, and paper mills. The means to generate energy using steam have been understood for centuries. The basic principles, using a boiler, steam turbine and generator, remain largely unchanged. However, the pressures and temperatures involved have increased considerably. 

Operational challenges

A steam power plant essentially uses a boiler to generate steam at high pressure and high temperature. A steam turbine converts the heat energy of steam into mechanical energy, and a generator then converts the mechanical energy into electric power.  

Water boils at 100ºC under normal atmospheric pressure [0.101 MPa]. As pressure increases, the boiling temperature of water also increases. When the pressure is increased to 22.12 MPa, and at a temperature of 374ºC, water is directly converted into steam. This is called the critical point. Pressure above this critical point, with a temperature equal to or more than 593ºC, is called ultra-supercritical pressure.

Handling superheated steam at these pressures and temperatures places enormous strain on flow control equipment. Inadequately specified valves could lead to inefficiencies through leakages and unplanned outages. What the 21st century required was a valve that could deliver operational reliability and withstand the extreme operating conditions within modern power plants - particularly during plant start-up, shutdown and turbine trips.

A 21st century solution

The DSCV-SA (Direct Steam Converting Valve - Steam Atomization), addresses the issues encountered by older, base load designed bypass valves when employed on modern high frequency, rapid ramp rate plants. Key to the DSCV-SA’s performance are a number of unique technical innovations developed following extensive consultation with power generation customers. 

Unlike conventional turbine by-pass valves, the DSCV-SA is designed to use high-pressure balance rather than low-pressure balance. This eliminates risk of wear, damage or breakage relating to piston rings and balancing systems, which are a major problem with traditional valves.

When an open command signal is received, the DSCV-SA actuator retracts and the pilot plug is the first to open. This allows P1 steam to flood through the large pilot plug port to the underside of the main plug, which in turn balances it and reduces the actuation thrusts required.

In traditional low-pressure or P2 balancing designs, auxiliary balancing seals such as piston rings and close tolerance sealing surfaces are needed to prevent the high-pressure steam unbalancing the trim. If these seals or surfaces become worn or damaged, it can unbalance the trim and stem loads can fluctuate dramatically, causing the valve to oscillate violently or not open on command. 

When the DSCV-SA pilot plug is open, high-pressure inlet steam floods the underside of the main plug and the steam atomizing unit operates in preparation of the incoming cooling water from the water control valve. The pilot plug shoulder engages with the underside of the tandem cap of the main plug, which then starts to lift and the main seat opens.

Minimising installation space

As the main plug opens, steam first enters the valve via a heavy duty distribution spacer. The steam passes through the spacer by means of numerous holes evenly positioned around the circumference. This distribution spacer is specifically designed to negate any upstream pipework-induced flow disturbance being communicated to the main plug. This is important because long radius bends or isolation valves can be fitted directly to the valve inlet to minimise installation space. The main plug is fully guided by the cage and spacer to ensure complete plug stability through full travel.

After the inlet steam has passed through the distribution spacer, it then travels through the main seat area to the underside of the main plug via large feed ports. With the main plug lifted, the pressure reducing ports of the cage now open to allow the steam to be pressure reduced in a controlled manner. As the main plug opens further, more pressure reducing ports are exposed and the steam flow rate increases. 

Mark Wheat is business unit manager at Celeros Flow Technology

For more information:

celerosft.com

Tel: +44 1909 482323

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EPSRC names new executive chair 20/11/2023

MICHELLE DONELAN, secretary of state for science, innovation and technology, has appointed Charlotte Deane as the new executive chair of EPSRC. She is expected to take up the role in January 2024.

Deane is currently professor of structural bioinformatics at the University of Oxford and chief AI officer at Exscientia. She is also a co-director of the Systems Approaches to Biomedical Research Centre for Doctoral Training, which she founded in 2009.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Deane served on SAGE, the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.

Leading EPSRC

Her appointment to the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) marks her return to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). As deputy executive chair of EPSRC she acted as UKRI’s COVID-19 response director.

She was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2022 Birthday Honours for services to COVID-19 research. Deane succeeds Miles Padgett who has been EPSRC’s interim executive chair.

Bringing a wealth of experience

"I am delighted to welcome Professor Charlotte Deane as EPSRC’s new executive chair. Charlotte is returning to UKRI, having played a key role during our response to COVID-19 as EPSRC's deputy executive chair. She brings with her a wealth of experience and an impressive track record as a leader in both academia and business," said UKRI CEO Ottoline Leyser.

"She will take on the leadership of EPSRC at a critical and exciting time, with the transformative potential for our economy, public services and society from new technologies such as AI and Quantum. As a core part of UKRI, EPSRC's strategic investments can shorten the distance between discovery and prosperity, capturing the benefits for today, while catalysing the discoveries of tomorrow."

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Miles Padgett for his superb leadership of EPSRC as its interim executive chair over the past six months," she added.

Driving pioneering research

"Professor Deane’s return to the Council as its executive chair is excellent news for the sector, bringing a strong record in driving pioneering research in business and academia and having spearheaded UKRI’s Covid response at a vital time for the UK," said Donelan.

"From digital technologies to clean energy, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry, EPSRC-led discoveries impact on all our lives and I look forward to working with Professor Deane to take forward the innovation that benefits the whole country."

Building a vibrant research system

EPSRC is the main funding body for engineering and physical sciences research in the UK. It invests in research that underpins and advances all areas of science ranging from artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum to clean energy, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry.

EPSRC’s discovery science brings value to the UK through new technologies and products for consumers. It also supports world-leading research and skills to advance knowledge and deliver a sustainable, resilient and prosperous UK.

Investing in world-leading research

"The opportunities for EPSRC research have never been greater from machine learning methodologies which touch practically every aspect of the economy and society, to quantum computing and advanced materials to the growing understanding of the importance of EPS techniques for solving challenges from climate change to future pandemics," stated Deane.

"It will be a real privilege to lead the EPSRC at such an important time and I look forward to working with colleagues in UKRI and across the sector to help to build a more vibrant and powerful UK research and innovation system."

The post of executive chair of EPSRC is subject to pre-appointment scrutiny by the House of Commons Science, Innovation and Technology Select Committee. The committee have reviewed details provided by Deane and decided they do not require a pre-appointment hearing for this appointment.

www.ukri.org/councils/epsrc/

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Sustaining sustainability 24/01/2024

GB Lubricants has become the first business to use green energy from groundbreaking Gateshead energy scheme

GB LUBRICANTS is the first private sector company in the UK to connect to and use the Gateshead District Energy scheme; part of the manufacturer’s ongoing sustainability commitment as it looks to achieve net carbon zero manufacturing by 2030.

As businesses face increasing pressure to lower their environmental impact, customers in the industrial sector will welcome the news; that a major supplier of oils and lubricants to the industry is able to manufacture high-quality products, such as gear oils and hydraulic oils, using this a sustainable source of energy.

After considerable investment in groundworks, large scale pipework, electrical infrastructure, monitoring systems and additional capital expenditure, GB Lubricants is now using heat from mine water and will soon be using solar generated electricity. This is all supplied by Gateshead Council’s low carbon, District Energy scheme, which is operated by its wholly owned subsidiary Gateshead Energy Company. 

These green energy sources provide renewable heat and electricity to residents and businesses in Gateshead. This is through a combination of solar power generation, an innovative 6-megawatt mine water heating system, the largest in the UK, all backed up by 4-megawatt combined heat and power engines.

The big switch over

The switch to using this award-winning heat and solar powered electricity will see 100 per cent of the company’s heating and electricity requirements being supplied by the Gateshead Energy Company.  

The heat and electricity are to be used throughout GB Lubricants’ manufacturing site, including the production processes, secure warehouse, technical centre and administrative offices. 

The company’s long-term vision is to reduce its carbon footprint and make continuous improvements to the sustainability of all its operations and across its supply chain. This flows from raw material supply, production through to transportation and customer supply, all underpinned by its EcoVadis Gold rating.

In 2022, GB Lubricants achieved the EcoVadis Gold certification for its corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability improvements for the third year in a row, placing it in the top 5% of all companies evaluated in its sector across the globe. Throughout 2023, the company aims to maintain this standard rating. 

Improving efficiencies and reducing energy use

At a time of unstable and unpredictable energy price rises, the whole of the industrial sector is facing increasing cost pressures alongside concerns around future supply and availability. By using the green energy options from Gateshead Energy Company, GB Lubricants will be securing stabilised prices for green energy, which helps with production and resource planning. However, as Paul Booth, GB Lubricants' MD explains, switching to the new energy provider is about much more than focusing on costs.

"GB Lubricants has been proud to manufacture oils and lubricants from our home here in the Northeast of England since 1877. As a major local employer, it is incumbent on us to support our community in Gateshead and as soon as we heard about the energy scheme, we instantly saw the benefits.

"Sustainability must extend to more than simple energy saving measures. We have a responsibility to our local community, to our environment as well as securing a sound future for the business and our diverse customer base across the globe. Our customers rely on us for oil and lubrication products that ultimately help improve the efficiencies of industrial equipment, modern machinery, hydraulic systems and all other moving parts found within the industrial sector.”

The products that GB Lubricants provides reduce friction, control heat and minimise wear, thereby helping to lower emissions, improve fuel efficiencies, increase reliability and reduce downtime of engines and mechanical equipment.

"Our initial commitment to this scheme is 20 years. It’s another piece of the jigsaw as we continue on our sustainability journey. As the first private business to sign up to and use energy from the scheme, we hope that our actions will encourage more companies to see the long-term benefits and join in supporting the community while also taking responsibility for their own carbon footprint," Booth concluded. 

For more information:

gblubricants.co.uk

Tel: 0191 490 4312

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Your one-stop solution for welding certification 26/10/2023

MAKING SURE your welders and processes meet the required industry and regulatory standards is vital to ensure you deliver a safe, quality product.

Dealing with multiple organisations to manage your welding certifications can create extra work and pressure. That’s why leading assurance provider, LRQA, has partnered with test house WQiC to offer a new service that streamlines the welding certification process.

This new one-stop solution for welding certification means that you can now benefit from a fixed-fee service for your entire weld certification process. The services provided cover witness of welder and weld procedure tests, laboratory testing (NDT and DT), welder and weld procedure certification as well as weld certification management including an expiry reminder service.

LRQA is a leading global assurance partner, bringing together decades of unrivalled expertise in assessment, advisory, inspection and cybersecurity services – underpinned by data-driven insights - to help its clients navigate a new era of risk.

At LRQA we can help to certify weld procedures, welders and welding operators to most of the frequently used national and international codes and standards including EN ISO 9606 series, ASME Section IX, EN ISO 15614 series, EN ISO 15613 and ISO 14732. 

To learn more about this one-stop solutions for welding certification, download the LRQA factsheet here: https://info.lrqa.com/l/12702/2023-08-17/gngk7f

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