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Kleen sweep for engine components 23/09/2021

When PETRONAS Lubricants International embarked on a project to test new lubricant products for internal combustion engines it was vital that any oil contaminants were removed from the parts prior to testing. Safetykleen provided the solution

PETRONAS LUBRICANTS International (PLI) is a global manufacturer of industrial and automotive lubricants; its high-quality products make it the ideal partner for the extremely competitive world of motorsport, where PLI is very active.

In such extreme and competitive driving conditions, motor oil performance, efficiency and reliability really makes a difference, and striving for excellence is a necessity. For this reason, PLI invests a great deal in innovation to maximise the synergy between engine and product, and to help its partners stay ahead of the competition.

The expansion of its site in Santena (Turin, Italy) and the creation of a new Engines Room dedicated exclusively to testing and developing new lubricants fit into the picture perfectly. To test and evaluate the efficacy of lubricants in improving engine performance and endurance, the products need to be used in extreme conditions so that both engine and oil are under pressure. This is one of the main activities carried out in the Engines Room.

Once the test is over, all engine parts need to be checked – through visual inspection, rating, spectrographic analysis, and metallographic examination – for damage or wear. For these tests to be performed accurately, all the components need to be clean, and this is when Safetykleen’s all-in-one parts cleaning service comes into play.


Components in engines used at top speed and/or for long periods of time become extremely dirty and end up covered with a tough contaminant which is quite difficult to remove. This is because the lubricant oil – when subjected to high temperature and strong physical forces for long – changes.

To achieve the level of cleanliness required for testing, Safetykleen provided two Aquakleen Automatic parts washers and one Jetkleen parts washer. These have been positioned in a specially designed Washing Room. The machines are used sequentially to match different soil removal requirements.

The first Aquakleen Automatic parts washer is used to carry out an initial washing cycle that removes most of the contamination, while the second one is dedicated to a more thorough finishing cycle. If an even more in-depth cleaning is needed, parts can be washed with the Jetkleen machine that – thanks to its high pressure and manually directed cleaning jets – provides a quick and accurate cleaning of complex components, such as pistons, connecting rods and cylinder heads, with difficult to reach areas.

All the washing activities are performed with non-hazardous, water-based detergents that provide high-quality cleaning without any risks for the operators’ health or the environment, and that avoid the safety issues related to the use of dangerous substances like solvents.

Non-stop parts cleaning

Parts cleaning is a fundamental part of testing, and so it is crucial that the parts washers are always ready to perform without unexpected stops or problems with the availability of cleaning chemistry. Safetykleen regularly services the machines and replenishes the chemistry to guarantee continuity of operations.

Safetykleen’s complete solutions also include the management of any waste produced by parts washing. PETRONAS Lubricants International is now able to step back from waste management paperwork (waste consignment notes, waste transfer notes etc) and focus on its core business while Safetykleen – which is now the sole subject legally responsible for disposing of the waste – takes care of everything in compliance with environmental regulations.

The commission of two automatic parts washers has resulted in a dramatic reduction of the labour costs associated with cleaning activities, which are now 80% automatic and leave the operators free to work on other tasks once the washing cycle starts.

Using automatic machines provides repeatable cleaning levels. And this is a very important feature of cleaning related to testing because it eliminates a potential variable that can affect results.

The use of non-hazardous water-based detergents for all cleaning activities positively affects PETRONAS Lubricants International’s environmental impact. In contrast to the alternative solutions traditionally used for oil removal, these products are free of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which improves the safety level on site and for the team at PETRONAS.


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Site upgrades: The high cost of correcting errors 24/09/2021

WHEN BUILDING a new manufacturing site or upgrading existing premises, UK manufacturers are paying a high price as a result of having to correct errors that should have been spotted at the design phase, according to new research commissioned by Visual Components.

Almost all (97%) of decision makers said that their organisation had made at least one mistake when implementing robotics or automation.

The study revealed that mistakes and/or associated downtime in the manufacturing process costs organisations £98,000 on average, with 2% of respondents saying they incurred costs in excess of £1 million. With the cost of failure so significant, the acknowledgement that 59% of mistakes or faults could have been avoided with the use of simulation software shows the technology’s potential in helping organisations save significant sums of money.

The importance of simulation software in providing visibility to manufacturers is further supported by the fact that 30% of respondents noted that errors in implementing robotics or automation were due to focusing on the wrong area or process, leaving the problem unsolved.

Steve Morris, country manager UK & I at Visual Components, comments: “Our study results show that with an average of £2.5m spent on correcting errors in the building of new or upgrading manufacturing sites, organisations need to adopt simulation software to better visualise a project during the design phase and ensure costly mistakes don’t occur.”

These costly errors arrive at a time when the sector is already facing external cost pressures, with 17% of organisations citing Brexit, Covid-19 or the inability to secure funding as the primary challenge to upgrading an existing manufacturing site. Almost a fifth of respondents (19%) identified cost management as an important technology in the building or redesigning of the factories of the future.

Visual Components will be on stand C32 at the PPMA Show 2021 (28-30 September).  https://www.visualcomponents.com/resources/events/ppma-show-2021/

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Funding boosts UK’s future in quantum manufacturing 22/09/2021

GRANTS WORTH a total of £425,000 have been awarded by Innovate UK to Ionoptika and the University of Surrey to expand their research into new manufacturing technologies for quantum devices.

Quantum technologies are expected to create impact across multiple sectors from more secure online communications to personalised medicine. However, to date only a handful of companies, such as IBM and Google, have successfully built a basic quantum computer because of the extreme challenges to manufacture and operate these devices. This new Innovate grant will open up new scalable manufacturing methods to researchers in the UK and around the world.

The project, called 'Rapid and Scalable Single Colour-Centre Implantation for Single Photon Sources', was recommended for funding by a panel of independent assessors, who concluded that: “This is an innovative project by two expert partners. If it is successful, it will lead to a unique product that may possibly revolutionise quantum computing.”

Ionoptika, together with the University of Surrey, will use beams of ionised atoms to create quantum devices one at a time using rare earth elements such as erbium and ytterbium. Ion beams are used widely in the scientific and manufacturing sectors, from the production of computer chips to medical diagnostic instrumentation and cancer treatment.

The technique, known as ion implantation, has been used for decades to make modern computer chips and benefits from being much quicker than other manufacturing methods. The main limitation of the technique for quantum applications has been the inability to precisely control the location and numbers of implanted ions at the single-ion level. The new tool from Ionoptika, called Q-One, solves this problem yet is still fast enough to implant one thousand quantum bits (qubits) every second.

The funding comes on the back of more than $1bn in government funding for quantum technologies research. It is expected to help Ionoptika expand, creating 20+ highly skilled STEM jobs in the Southampton area over the next 5-10 years, and injecting £6m+ into the UK engineering supply chain.

Paul Blenkinsopp, managing director at Ionoptika, comments: “Quantum technologies are set to drive the next generation of innovation and technologies. Ionoptika is delighted to be working with the University of Surrey on developing the tools and infrastructure that will be needed to realise many of these exciting quantum applications.”

Dr David Cox, from the University of Surrey, adds: “The University of Surrey through the National Ion Beam Centre is delighted to work on this project with Ionoptika. The ability to precisely control the implantation of ions at the single-atom level offers enormous potential to the newly emerging quantum technologies that are set to revolutionise the world.”

Manufacturing state-of-the-art ion beam systems for labs around the world, Ionoptika, a UK SME based in Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire, has contributed to research from fields as diverse as cancer research to quantum computers.

For more information visit: www.ionoptika.com

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Safety engineering guide published by Institution of Mechanical Engineers 20/09/2021

A NEW guide from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers looks to update safety guidance for engineers on how to reduce risks to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP).

The guide was written by the Institution’s Safety & Reliability Group after it became clear that in recent years courts and regulators have taken different approaches towards the calculation of risk and new guidance was needed for engineers.

Keith Miller, lead author of the report, explains: “The Safety & Reliability Group recognised that developments in both safety engineering and the law had rendered much of the existing ALARP guidance obsolete, even to the extent that it would be inadmissible in court.

"The time had come to combine the lessons from different industries and produce a more objective, scientific, and systematic process that would be legally admissible and convincing. The document debunks some myths and unsound practices and provides practical alternatives, which are backed up by plenty of examples."

The project involved contributions from law firms, regulators, consultants, statisticians, academics and other engineering institutions.

A copy of the report 'ALARP for Engineers: A Technical Safety Guide' is available to download.


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Bridging the gap between academia and industry 23/09/2021

THE UK Manufacturing Forum (UKMF) has published a new report setting out five key recommendations to address the barriers to fostering collaboration between academia and industry.

Particularly in high growth areas such as advanced manufacturing, successful collaboration between universities and industry is key for a country to succeed in a globally competitive and constantly evolving landscape.

The Bridging the Academic-Industrial Gap: Recommendations for UK Collaboration and Funding report is based on workshops and consultations with key stakeholders and the wider community between 2019 and 2021.

The High Value Manufacturing Catapult was commissioned to produce the report in December 2019, following a workshop and subsequent conversations with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Innovate UK commercialisation leads.

Insights and ideas

The UK Manufacturing Forum collected a wide variety of insights and ideas from communities across the UK, to identify the barriers, opportunities and consequences to strengthening the collaboration between Catapults and academia.

The collated information includes views from government (in particular, BEIS), funding bodies (including Innovate UK, UKRI and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, EPSRC), the HVM Catapult and other research and technology organisations (RTOs), and leading academics in engineering and manufacturing-related disciplines.

Key recommendations

According to the report, the commercial impact of UK academic discovery could be greatly enhanced through a more coordinated use of existing capabilities – in research, translation and commercialisation. This can be achieved by more effectively incentivising stakeholders to work collaboratively across different stages of a technology life-cycle, from early stage discovery to late-stage scale-up.

The report sets out five key recommendations to increase the coherence of the research and innovation ecosystem:

  • Simplify and standardise rules for all Innovate UK projects
  • Provide funding for accelerating the translation of research in joint projects between universities and Catapults
  • Invest in people to build 'bridges' between Catapults and Universities
  • Allow Research Council-funded academic projects to include Catapults and other RTOs as collaborators
  • Create opportunities for larger-scale collaborative research and development (CR&D) projects, covering a broad range of technologies and without geographical limit

Whilst there are already signs of some changes in response to the recommendations, there is an ongoing imperative to do better and more, to truly seize the opportunities granted by the UK’s world-leading research.


The UK Manufacturing Forum (UKMF) was created in 2018 by the HVM Catapult in partnership with the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing (IfM). The Forum is a thriving community of academics, researchers, engineers and industry representatives with a driving purpose to create a real-world impact through collaboration.

The HVM Catapult and IfM have continued with that ethos by organising and hosting UK Manufacturing Forum events.

Including people from the innovation community across the country, the UKMF mission is to identify practical actions which will help to maximise the impact of investment in the UK’s research and innovation ecosystem.

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Bespoke compressed air solution 17/09/2021

Lentus Composites (Lentus), a leading manufacturer of composite products, assemblies and systems, has benefitted from a bespoke compressed air solution from CompAir, which is expected to cut the business’ compressor maintenance costs by 80%

THE LENTUS team develops and manufactures new composite products for a variety of applications. From kinetic energy recovery system motors and retention sleeves used in the motorsport industry, to cryogenic suspension systems for MRI scanners and composite parts used in the structural components of medical equipment, Lentus requires high-quality and consistent compressed air when manufacturing its composite solutions.

Based in the UK, the company was previously using three 15kW compressors from a competitor brand, which had been installed at its site in Eynsham, Oxfordshire, in 2013. These compressors were unreliable, with a range of issues often arising, leading to unplanned downtime in order to resolve these. When the addition of two new autoclaves, used for high pressure cures of composite parts, also resulted in an increased demand for compressed air, BCAS Limited (BCAS) identified that savings could be made by upgrading the old system, with CompAir technology ideally suited to meet the site’s demands.

Supplied by BCAS, the new solution consists of a CompAir L45 fitted with desiccant dryer system and new filter pack, which will supplement the three existing compressors, with the main load now on the L45. The entire specification process and installation was completed by BCAS, with the installation including all pipe work and downstream equipment. The compressor was installed primarily for use within the moulded composites department, where it will provide high quality clean air to the company’s finishing room to power a range of air tools and additional air capacity for the autoclaves. A link valve into the rest of the factory system was also installed, improving pressure ramp rates throughout the site.

Efficiency and reliability

The CompAir L series range of lubricated screw air compressors have been designed to deliver the highest levels of efficiency and proven reliability. Lower energy costs can be achieved thanks to the high output compression element, which operates at low rotational speeds. In addition, the innovative design of the fail-safe shaft integrated oil filter and oil regulation valve, ensures external hoses are reduced to a minimum to guarantee the highest levels of quality and reliability are achieved. The controls on the CompAir L45 air compressor can also be linked to multi-compressor control systems allowing you further control and potential further energy savings.

Lentus group manufacturing engineering manager, Anthony Roberts, said: “The quality of the new CompAir compressor and the services provided by BCAS, including the support of their specialist compressor engineers, has resulted in an energy efficient and cost-saving solution. The new L45 compressor will help us meet both our current and future compressed air requirements. In comparison, the previous system, which was running at full capacity, was no longer fit for purpose, and we will be saving around 80% of our yearly maintenance costs by upgrading to this new compressor.”

In addition to the CompAir L45 unit, Lentus also recently invested in a Hydrovane H45 compressor for a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at its Eynsham site. Specified by BCAS due to its small footprint and high reliability, it has been fitted with remote diagnostics like the CompAir system, so that Lentus can benefit from the insights and efficiencies gained from continuously monitoring the compressors’ operational parameters. This can help reduce running costs and unplanned downtime, by anticipating any potential issues before they arise.


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Advanced materials research and innovation hub opens 10/09/2021

UKRI CHIEF executive, professor dame Ottoline Leyser has opened the Henry Royce Institute Hub building, the UK’s advanced materials research and innovation hub.

Based at The University of Manchester, the £105 million Royce hub building hosts state-of-the-art equipment and facilities for biomedical materials, metals processing, digital fabrication and sustainable materials research.

The new facility, which has been supported by UKRI’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), is designed to catalyse industry engagement, and accelerate the development and commercialisation of advanced materials.

Professor Leyser unveiled a plaque to mark the official opening of the building, which will be home to 400 researchers, PhD students and staff.

Professor Leyser comments: "The Henry Royce Institute will play a key role in the UK’s research and innovation ecosystem, bringing together industry and academia to connect innovation and discovery in advanced materials, and develop the material science skills needed for the innovation economy.

"This Institute will deliver impact across the UK – from the new materials needed to realise our net zero ambitions to novel biomaterials for personalised medicine."

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng adds: "The UK has a globally competitive advantage in advanced materials and manufacturing and our new Innovation Strategy sets out our ambition to capitalise on our unique capabilities to fire up our economy.

"Backed by government, this new multi-million-pound centre at the Henry Royce Institute will provide state-of-the-art facilities for the UK’s most innovative researchers to drive forward advanced materials research and commercialise new technologies and products that could help transform whole industries, from life sciences to renewable energy."

EPSRC executive chair, professor dame Lynn Gladden, says: "Advanced materials are integral to the UK’s net zero future and economic growth, through zero-carbon and resource-efficient technologies that will impact on everything from our electronic devices to aeroplanes.

"The government’s Innovation Strategy highlighted advanced materials as one of the seven key technology families, and the Henry Royce Institute will be at the forefront of efforts to deliver on the strategy’s ambitions."

Professor David Knowles, Henry Royce Institute CEO adds: "The Royce Hub offers a unique combination of materials science expertise, state-of-the-art laboratories and fantastic collaboration space. We can now start working with the whole UK community, developing the next generation of materials scientists, driving innovation with industry and engaging with the public, supporting the UK in sustainable growth and development."


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Manufacturing M&A shows positive signs after Covid lockdowns 08/09/2021

LEVELS OF M&A involving UK manufacturers increased by 5% in the first six months of this year compared to the second half of 2020, boosted by greater interest from US buyers, according to analysis by Irwin Mitchell.

The law firm has analysed Experian’s MarketIQ database and found that in the first six months of this year, 655 UK manufacturing businesses were the target of M&A activity. This compares to 620 deals in the 2nd half of 2020 and 608 in the first six months of last year.

In 2021 the vast majority of transactions (56%) were acquisitions compared to around 40% last year. Reflecting the turbulent and challenging economic environment, around 9% of deals in the sector last year were related to refinancing.

MarketIQ reveals that during the last five years the percentage of deals involving US buyers stood at around 10%. In the first half of 2021 this figure stood at 9.4%, compared to 8% last year.

Irwin Mitchell’s analysis also shows that the UK has some way to go before replicating the 798 deals that were completed in the first half of 2016.

Emma Callow, a Corporate partner and manufacturing sector specialist at Irwin Mitchell, says: “It is not surprising to see that deal flow reduced at a time of significant economic uncertainty and when manufacturing output fell so sharply.

“Although the fall in M&A activity might not be as significant as some may have predicted, it is important to recognise that the type of deal did change in 2020. Over the last five years it was common to see acquisitions accounting for more than half of completed transactions, followed by development capital deals and management buyouts. However during the peak of the pandemic, the proportion of acquisitions fell to around 40% with refinancing transactions increasing significantly.

“It is however encouraging to see deal levels increasing at the start of 2021, particularly as much of the economy was still in lockdown at this point.

“We’ve certainly seen deal flow continue at pre-pandemic levels since the start of 2021. My manufacturing and engineering clients have been busy and even in the automotive sector, I’m seeing an appetite to acquire which certainly hasn’t been there over the last 18 months.”

Callow adds: “These statistics certainly highlight the resilience of the sector but there’s still a way to go before we see the levels of M&A witnessed in 2016.”

Additional research by Irwin Mitchell has revealed that across all sectors of the economy, UK businesses are currently the target of a significant number of approaches by overseas buyers.

It found that the volume of deals involving the 10 most active countries involved in UK M&A stood at 399 in the first half of 2021. This compares to 336 in H1 2020 and 339 deals in H2 2020. Transaction levels were at 402 in H1 2019 and 393 in H2 2019.

Callow continues: “Generally deal activity is increasing and it seems that the manufacturing sector, like many others, is benefiting from this increase, particularly from the US.

“It is too early to see whether the increase seen in the first half of this year will continue, but from experience, we are seeing strong demand for UK businesses both inside and outside of the UK. Confidence levels have and continue to increase and as they do, I’d expect the appetite to transact will increase.”


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Research reveals germ hotspots in Britain's offices 07/09/2021

RESEARCH BY a leading international brand of professional cleaning materials has revealed the germ hotspots in Britain’s offices.

COVID-19 and the long term effects of the pandemic have meant that businesses are more conscious of the need to keep  communal areas safe for workers. Chicopee says it is important to understand the danger areas for harbouring germs and bacteria. 

The brand, which specialises in microfibre cloth that removes 99.99% of bacteria, swabbed the main touchpoints in offices to test for aerobic bacteria, yeast and mould. The swabs were then incubated and tested to find the amount of colony-forming units per cm2, revealing the worst offending areas for high levels of viable bacteria and fungal cells. 

The germ hotspots of the office as revealed by the study were: 

  1. Computer mouse (580 combined colony forming units)

  2. Kettle (336.6 combined colony forming units)

  3. Fridge (295 combined colony forming units)

  4. Laptop (264.8 combined colony forming units)

  5. Bathroom lock (188 combined colony forming units)

  6. Hand sanitiser bottle (175.5 combined colony forming units)

  7. Printer (100.5 combined colony forming units)

  8. Light switch (99 combined colony forming units)

  9. Desk phone (96.5 combined colony forming units)

  10. Kitchen cupboard (67.9 combined colony forming units)

The research found that the computer mouse was the dirtiest touchpoint in the office, ranking the highest of all the tested areas for bacteria colonies per agar – a staggering 250. In addition, 225 yeast colonies were identified on the surface of the mouse, almost double the level of all other areas tested.

The kettle was the second dirtiest area within the office environment, due to the high levels of mould present on the surface, and 200 colonies of yeast.

On the fridge, 130 colonies of bacteria were present on the swab sample, making it one of the most infectious areas in the workplace. 

Other key areas which saw a high level of germs and bacteria included a laptop, bathroom lock and hand sanitiser bottle. The hand sanitiser bottle came top for the level of mould formation following the incubation period. 

Interestingly, the toilet seat did not even make the top ten germ hotspots, with the toilet swab actually producing 11 times less combined colony forming units than a computer mouse. 

Potentially the most common touch point in the office is the desk but compared to other areas, the desk swab actually produced the lowest amount of combined colony forming units, 4.8 in total. That’s 120 times less bacteria, yeast and mould than found on the computer mouse and 36 times less than the hand sanitiser bottle. 

Overall, across the 13 touch points tested, the swabs found a total of 1644 colonies of yeast and bacteria.

Eileen Calder, product manager wipes, EMEIA at Chicopee, says: It was no surprise that touchpoints that are contacted by multiple people and warm, humid environments, such as the kettle, are a breeding ground, but these are spots that could potentially be missed during a robust cleaning regime.

“The research has revealed just how important it is to keep office environments clean, using quality products multiple times a day to minimise risk. We recommend wiping down areas such as kettles and kitchen spaces after every use to stop the spread of bacteria and keep build up of cells to a minimum, and ensuring everyone in communal spaces has access to effective and easy-to-use cleaning products.” 

To find out more about the study, visit: https://whatsonthesurface.chicopee.com/

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Tomorrow's Engineers Week scheduled for November 06/09/2021

THE NINTH Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (#TEWeek21) will take place from 8 to 12 November 2021, it has been announced.

With the 2021 edition of the Week coinciding with the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow, Tomorrow’s Engineers Week will place an emphasis on demonstrating how engineering careers can contribute to tackling climate change and achieving net zero.

A packed calendar will see engineering institutions, employers and schools come together to deliver inspiring activity to give young people the opportunity to discuss solutions to the climate crisis.

The Week will feature a 'Schools COP' where students around the country will come together to discuss the vital importance of achieving net zero.

The event will also explore how the engineers behind technological and scientific breakthroughs will be at the heart of the world’s response to climate change in the coming years.

Details of how young people, schools, parents and employers can take part in the Week are available on www.teweek.org.uk or for any more information, email hello@teweek.org.uk

In the past three years alone, Tomorrow’s Engineers Week has seen over 130,000 young people take part in interactive engineering activities, almost half a million views of inspiring films about engineers on a mission to make the world a better place, hundreds of millions of social media content views and widespread media coverage.

To find out how to get involved, visit: www.teweek.org.uk

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