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  • Businesses in favour of financial aid for energy efficiency

    A survey by the British Chamber of Commerce and British Gas shows that UK businesses want the government to do more to accommodate the cost of the introduction of energy efficient measures into work environments.

    Of the 2,100 companies surveyed, 36% of them said they felt that the introduction of grants to help with the cost of fitting new energy efficient measures would be the most significant measure the government could make. Financial aid was favoured by 43% in the manufacturing sector, while 19% of businesses felt tax breaks could be the solution.

    However, a lack of funds and a lack of available information were also cited as reasons for not investing in energy efficiency measures at work.

    Commenting on the survey, Director of Research and Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, Mike Spicer, stated:

    “These results demonstrate that getting the economics of investment right for energy efficiency is crucial to promoting take-up. At a time when businesses face growing upfront cost pressures from other sources, grants and tax breaks have an important role to play in offsetting the cost of new energy efficiency measures. On its own, more information won’t do the job.”

    Government Targets

    The government has targets in place and it is keen to improve energy efficiency where it can in order to improve fuel security in the future and lower pollution. However, while energy use in industry has declined in recent years, many firms have still be left not knowing the best approach in order to make efficiency savings, or they are concerned the measures they adopt will not deliver the promised cost savings.

    Wholesale prices

    Many of the companies surveyed felt they hadn’t benefitted from changes in the wholesale gas prices. Of those surveyed, approximately 36% stated that the fall in wholesale prices had yet to be reflected in their energy bills, while 37% had noted little change in the price they pay for energy, despite the fall in wholesale prices.

    According to the survey, micro-businesses have been impacted the most with 74% of them stating that there had been either no change or just minor changes in the cost of their bills.

    Energy Efficiency and the Manufacturing Sector                

    In the manufacturing sector, firms seemed less concerned with greater energy efficiency; their main focus is investing in the maintenance and enhancement of their manufacturing facilities. However, the number one reason for not making investment in energy efficiency was the concern that it wouldn’t deliver the promised energy savings.

  • Cardiff is one of the most energy efficient cities

    Householders in Cardiff are the most energy efficient in the UK according to a new survey by British Gas. More than 50% of the people surveyed said they are taking steps to save energy around the home while  87% said that they would change their habits if it meant saving money on their bills; 37% of householders stated they wanted to make energy efficiency a priority.

    The survey also showed that many people are completely unaware of just how much their energy bills cost them every day. Many householders estimated their energy spend cost them an average of £2 a day while others assumed the daily energy spend was anything from £3-£6.

    The survey was conducted as part of the British Gas Energy Saving Challenge, which sets out to help people save money on their energy bills.

    Lydia Campbell. Regional Director for British Gas in Wales, said:

    It’s great to see that so many people from Cardiff are looking to make changes to save energy and get their bills down.

    “The 60 Second Energy Challenge will help people living in Cardiff be more aware about how they use energy, it offers simple and practical tips to reduce their energy use."

    As part of the challenge, a survey was conducted and it revealed how little some householders understand about the simple measures they can take to save on energy around the home.

    Only 3% of the people interviewed were aware that by installing insulation they could make significant savings on their bills, and despite the fact smart meters are soon to be rolled out across the country, many consumers did not know that installing a smart meter could help them save money on their bills and gain a better understanding of which appliances were using the most power.

    Smart Meter Roll out

    While 500,000 smart meters have already been installed around the country, the full roll out will not begin until later in 2015.  The government is currently working with the energy industry to ensure that the roll-out goes ahead within the scheduled time frame.

    It is the gas and energy suppliers that will be held responsible for the planning and installation of smart meters; the roll-out will end in 2020. The method of installation will vary from company to company and the Department of Energy and Climate Change will oversee the management and implementation of the programme as well as carefully monitoring the roll-out.

  • CMA issues Energy Market report

    A recent report by the Competition and Markets Authority has delivered its findings on the challenges that are limiting competition in the energy market. The report highlighted concerns that many customers have not considered changing over their energy supplier and this could be costing them over £100 every year.

    It was found that the far too many consumers were paying too much for their energy bills and it is thought that one of the reasons customers do not switch over is due to the fact that they find billing difficult to understand; regulators have introduced a four tariff system to try and make billing clearer, however, the report concluded it had not been as successful as hoped.

    Moreover, the report revealed that a lot of customers were reluctant to change over suppliers because they were concerned over the complexity of the process and they were unaware of what deals were available to them.

    Roger Witcomb, who chaired the investigation, said:

    “Whilst competition is delivering benefits to increasing numbers of customers, mainly through the growth of smaller suppliers with cheaper fixed-price deals, the majority of us are still on more expensive default tariffs. Many customers do not shop around to see if there’s a better deal out there – let alone switch. The confusing way energy is measured and billed can make comparing deals understandably daunting”.

    Mr Witcomb also noted the high level of customer complaints about companies in the Energy sector.

    Concerns over industry transparency

    Another issue addressed in the report was concerns over the lack of transparency in the energy industry and the distrust that this can cause among consumers.

    CMA Referral and Report

    The energy industry was referred to the Competition and Markets Authority in 2014 with the aim of establishing whether or not competition in the energy sector was working well for customers. It was also hoped that an investigation would help to make the energy market clearer for consumers to understand, and that this would result in a greater level of fairness for customers.

    As a result of the report, a number of possible remedies have now been drawn up; a final report is due to be issued by the Competition and Markets Authority by the end of 2015.

    Companies have been invited to submit their comments regarding the authority’s initial findings and these can be submitted until the end of July 2015.

  • Consultation opens over new interconnectors

    Ofgem has opened up a consultation over plans for a number of new electricity interconnectors. If the proposals go ahead, Ofgem say they will be built by 2020 and will provide an increase of 3.4 GW of electricity.

    Ofgem states the new electricity interconnectors would help to create cheaper energy generation thus helping to reduce energy bills for customers in the UK; another benefit would be better energy security for the future, and it would help to boost Britain’s energy supply.

    As well as saving the consumer money, interconnectors, which allow electricity to flow between two different countries, can also help to reduce the carbonisation of energy, thus producing greener forms of energy supply.

    Commenting on the proposals, Martin Crouch, Ofgem’s senior partner for electricity transmission, said:

    “Ofgem is helping to deliver greater interconnection. These three interconnectors would further boost Britain’s energy security and reduce pressure on bills. To date, under our cap and floor regime, we are looking at adding around 5GW to Britain’s energy supply.”

    If the plans go ahead, Ofgem says the new interconnectors could offer up to £8 billion worth of benefits to consumers over a 25 year period.

    Four projects under consideration

    The proposals set out explain two of the interconnectors will connect Britain’s electricity system with France and the third one with Denmark

    The FAB project will link Britain and France via the island of Alderney; the project is under development by Transmission Investment and RTE.  If it goes ahead, the interconnector will produce 1.4 GW of electricity.

    The proposed IFA2 project will also establish a connection between Britain and France, but would only produce one gigawatt of electricity; this project is a collaboration between National Grid Interconnector Holdings and RTE.

    Also under consultation is the Viking project, which would mean a 1 GW interconnector transmission link between Denmark and Britain; this would be developed by NGIH and Danish company Energinet.dk.

    In addition, a fourth and final project, which is known as Greenlink, is being considered. The 500 MW interconnector would run between Ireland and Britain; this project would be developed by Element Power.

    Current Interconnections and Consultation

    Currently, there are four interconnectors in place between Great Britain and Europe; they are located in France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Northern Ireland; this produces 4 GW of electricity and accounts for 4% of Britain’s energy supply.

    The consultation will remain open until May 2, 2015.

  • Contracts for World’s biggest interconnector awarded

    Contracts worth €1.5 billion have been awarded to build an electricity link between England and Norway. When it is complete, the interconnector will be the longest in the world; NSN Link Limited gave the contracts to Nexans and Prysmian, who will be responsible for constructing the 740 km route.

    The England and Norway link will be the first time that two countries have shared a direct energy system; the project is a collaboration between the National Grid and Norwegian company Statnett SF.

    The cables will run from Blyth in Northumberland to Kvilldal in Norway. It will require almost 1500 km of cable to complete the project and there will also be a 10 km offshore route.

    Prysmian will be providing 950 km of the submarine and land cables; they will also be responsible for installing them. Prysmian will manufacture the cables in a factory in Naples and they will use a specially designed cable laying vessel, which is called the “Giulio Verne”.

    Nexans will be providing cabling for the Norwegian side of the connection; they will manufacture the cables in their Halden-based factory.

    Commenting on the project, Alan Foster, National Grid’s director of European Business Development, said

    “There is a huge programme of work for us to undertake over the next five years to deliver what will be the world’s longest interconnector.  Our contractors will have a big part to play in that successful delivery. But the benefits to both UK and Norway are also huge and when completed the link will deliver low carbon electricity for the UK and also add to security of supply for Norwegian consumers.”

    Håkon Borgen, Executive Vice President of Statnett, added that the project was vital for the future of the energy system in Europe.

    The licence that will allow the project to go ahead was first granted in 2013 when the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy gave permission for the interconnector to be built. Preparation work at the site will begin in 2016 and will continue into 2017 when construction will get underway

    The link between the two countries will have numerous benefits including helping to provide a more secure power supply for both the UK and Norway, and the construction work will help to provide jobs. When the link has been finished it will have the capacity to produce 1400 MW of power.

    It is expected that the work would be completed in 2019 and the interconnector will be operational by 2020.

  • EDS electronic pressure switch

    minicomb eds smallest

    EDS electronic pressure switch now available with pressure ranges up to 600 Barg

    With the success of the MINICOMB-EDS in lower pressures. The new MINICOMB EDS/HP has been introduced with ranges of 40, 60, 100, 160, 250, 400 & 600 bar.

    The pressure switch features the same robust design as the lower pressure MINICOMB EDS with a highly functional user friendly operating system featuring a multilingual plain text menu which clearly explains the selected menu item, ensuring a rapid and hassle-free installation is ensured.

    With the option of 1 or 2 switch output models or the 1 switch & 4 – 20mA output model a range of applications can be covered.  

  • Exports stall for small and medium sized manufacturers

    While small and medium sized manufactures in the UK have announced new job opportunities, increased orders and more domestic orders, they are still struggling when it comes to exporting goods.

    According to the statistics from the CBI SME Trends Survey, domestic orders remained steady, but export orders show little sign of picking up. It is also predicted that domestic orders will continue to increase in the next quarter, but small and medium sized manufacturers remain pessimistic about the future for exporting.

    A quarter of the 426 businesses surveyed stated their exports increased, but 28 per cent said they have fallen. These statistics are the same as the last quarter and companies expect the export market to remain unchanged in the near future.

    Moreover, there was less optimism surrounding the future for exports in the coming year, and a number of firms expressed concerns over how the exports would be affected by political and economic conditions.

    Export Challenges

    There are several factors making exports a challenge for UK-based businesses. The increase in the Pound against the European currency means UK firms are less competitive, while the on-going financial problems in Greece are causing continued concern.

    Katja Hall, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:

    “Smaller manufacturers are reporting solid increases in output, orders and jobs. While growth was a little slower this quarter, they expect a pick-up in activity in the next three months.

    “However, prospects for exporting to the rest of Europe remain a concern. Sterling’s recent rises against the Euro may mean more money in the back-pocket of holidaymakers, but it makes it that bit tougher for British manufacturers to stay competitive and sell inside the Eurozone.

    “Business will also be keeping a close eye on how the Greek situation develops in the coming weeks.

    New Government

    However, with a new government about to be elected, firms are hopeful there will be a more concerted effort to develop a long-term export strategy for the future, and businesses hope that this will be adopted sooner rather than later, as the CBI makes it clear exports are key for helping to keep economic growth on track.

    Employment Prospects and Output

    Nevertheless, despite the continued negative outlook for exports, employment prospects are looking up. Job creation in the manufacturing sector continued in the last quarter and at better than average rates. Moreover, job creation is predicted to grow in the next three months as well.

    Output was also on the increase; this trend is expected to continue into the next quarter.

  • Government announces licenses for 27 onshore blocks

    The Oil and Gas Authority has announced that 27 onshore areas of land or blocks, are to be offered to businesses as part of the 14th Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round. The announcement of the fresh licensing round was first made in 2014.

    Other blocks of land that were applied for are to undergo further assessments to establish the environmental impact of the applications, and when this has been completed licenses will then be offered to the companies. The announcement regarding the remaining companies that have been awarded licenses is due to be made later in 2015.

    Commenting on the new licences, Lord Bourne, the Energy Minister for the UK, stated:

    “Keeping the lights on and powering the economy is not negotiable, and these industries will play a key part in providing secure and reliable energy to UK homes and businesses for decades to come.

    “It’s important we press on and get shale moving, while maintaining strong environmental controls

    The Government said that close to one hundred companies had applied for the initial licenses for shale gas exploration, and chemical company INEOS has revealed that it is one of the successful applicants.

    With three licenses granted for shale gas exploration in the East Midlands, this opens up brand new opportunities for INEOS Shale, who pledged a £640 million investment into shale gas exploration last year.

    Gary Heywood, CEO for INEOS Shale said:

    "We are keen to move quickly to evaluate the potential of this resource, and determine if we can economically produce gas from our licenses.  This will depend on the pace of planning approval. If we can, it will provide a local source of competitive energy and raw materials to support manufacturing jobs in the UK.”

    Ministers say that the new rounds of blocks are essential to secure UK energy supplies into the future, and that they will also be a vital part of the continued UK economic recovery by creating new jobs.

    Controversy

    Shale gas has its opponents and there has been controversy caused by plans to allow shale gas exploration in the UK. However, others argue that it is important for finding fresh sources of energy and it is vital for job creation, and for ensuring energy production into the future. The Government predicts that investment in shale gas could be worth as much as £33 billion, and it could assist in the creation of more than 60,000 jobs.

  • Government draws up draft regulations for fracking

    The Government has drawn up a set of draft regulations that set out which areas will be protected from underground fracking.

    The regulations also detail the additional protections that will be given to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, World Heritage Sites, and National Parks etc.; when fracking is permitted in these areas, restrictions will be put in place to protect them.

    Despite this, environmental groups have reacted angrily to the announcement that areas such as National Parks could be used for fracking. However, in a statement, Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom said:

    “The UK has one of the best track records in the world when it comes to protecting our environment while also developing our industries – and we’ve brought that experience to bear on the shale gas protections.

    “We need more secure, home grown energy supplies, and shale gas and oil have a vital role to play – much better that we use what we have at home than relying on supplies from volatile foreign imports.

    Ms. Leadsom added that the fracking industry would be “developed safely with world class environmental protections, creating jobs and delivering better energy security while safeguarding of some of our most precious landscapes.”

    Task Force on Shale Gas

    The draft regulations from the Government come at the same time as the latest report from the Task Force on Shale Gas, which examines the possible health implications and environmental concerns that could be caused by the shale industry in the United Kingdom.

    In its report, the Task Force detailed a number of recommendations to make the fracking industry safer. This includes companies providing full details of the chemicals that are used as part of fracking and regular monitoring from the Environment Agency to ensure that chemicals are kept at safe levels.

    The Task Force also suggested that a National Advisory Committee should be formed so that data could be collected and monitored, making it possible to analyse any possible impact that fracking could have on health and the environment.

    Commenting on the report, Lord Chris Smith, who chairs the Task Force on Shale Gas concluded by saying that:

    “Only if the drilling is done properly and to the highest standard, and with rigorous regulation and monitoring, can shale gas fracking be done safely for local communities and the environment.”

    Fracking has long been used in the U.K, but it gained more prominence when proposals were announced to use the method to extract shale gas; efforts are already being stepped up by several communities to prevent fracking in their local areas.

  • Growth remains steady, but manufacturing faces challenges

    New figures from the CBI show that there is encouraging news for the economy. Growth in the UK continues to remain steady, however, the CBI predict that it might level off slightly during the final quarter of the year.

    Despite the positive news of steady growth, the CBI did sound a note of caution and stated that: “Expectations for growth are not as strong as earlier in the year”.

    Commenting on the latest growth indicator figures, Rain Newton Smith, Director of Economics for the CBI, said:

    “This shows a continuing story of solid growth.

    “Previously pent-up demand delivered a strong boost to growth during the first half of the year but this effect may be fading. The UK is continuing to expand on a healthy trajectory, returning now to steadier and more sustainable growth rates.  

    “Domestic political uncertainty is an issue for businesses but the global backdrop is a greater concern. The Eurozone is weak, with a real risk of deflation, growth in emerging markets has slowed and geo-political tensions in the Middle East and Ukraine are the biggest threats to confidence.”

    Manufacturing Industry

    One of the strongest performers was the service sector, but news wasn’t all good for the manufacturing industry. Economic indicators from the CBI showed manufacturing growth was still weak, but it has performed better in the last quarter with 15 of 18 of the manufacturing sectors reporting an increase in output. However, the reduced demand for exports meant that the growth in the manufacturing sector was stalling when compared with figures from earlier this year.

    Mixed outlook for manufacturing

    421 manufacturers were surveyed by the CBI and most indicated they expect output volumes to remain low in the near future. The majority of sectors stated export orders remained low, with the mechanical engineering sector suffering the most.

    Manufacturers also expect their output prices to increase over the next quarter due to price inflation.

    In addition, there  were mixed views on the possibility of growth in the next three months; 28% manufacturers think orders will increase while 18% predict they will fall.

    Moreover, there was a mixed picture for output in the last quarter; 36% of those surveyed said that output had increased in the last quarter, and 22% stated it had fallen.

    The CBI stated that manufacturers were facing many challenges in the export markets such as slow growth in the Eurozone and greater competition from countries like China.

  • Improved manufacturing performance in last quarter

    Manufacturing growth ended on a high in 2014, according to the latest figures from the British Chamber of Commerce; statistics from the Quarterly Economic Survey were positive news for the manufacturing industry following a period of slow growth in the sector.

    Nearly 7,000 companies were interviewed for the survey and the results showed a marked increase in growth for the last quarter in 2014. Analysts say that the strong performance of the last quarter is a good sign of continued economic growth throughout 2015, however, this will only be possible if U.K businesses get the support that they need from the government.

    Strong Growth and Job Creation

    The figures from the Chamber of Commerce show strong growth all round with an increase in domestic and turnover confidence. Export sales were also on the increase, however, they were still slow. According to the statistics, there was an increase in the number of firms investing in training in the last quarter of 2014, and an increased amount of manufacturing firms are now operating at full capacity. The figures are also good news for future job creation as many companies indicated that they intend to recruit new staff members and were actively searching for new employees.

    Commenting in a press release, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chamber of Commerce said:

    “British businesses are well placed to grow in 2015 – a testament to their hard-work and resilience. It is particularly pleasing to see the manufacturing sector bounce back, despite signs of a slowdown in recent months. However we must aim for growth that is sustainable for the long-term, rather than settle for second best.”

    “With employment and investment intentions at historically high levels, businesses are gearing up for a big year in 2015. It is now vitally important that firms are able to convert their growth ambitions into reality. Strengthening our business finance system, which constrains the growth aspirations of too many firms, will remain a decisive factor in securing a sustainable recovery. Low interest rates and reduced regulation will also go a long way to creating an environment that encourages enterprise and wealth creation.”

    Economic Recovery

    Despite the positive news, Longworth also added that the U.K. economic recovery still faced many challenges, and while businesses are “bouncing back” he warned that the economic recovery might face a set back “if political point scoring outweighs sound economic policies” Longworth also urged politicians from all parties to outline what they will do to make sure that business investment and growth continues over the long term.

  • Industrial Valve Summit to be hosted in Italy in May

    The Industrial Valve Summit, which is held in collaboration with ISA, the European Commission, NACE International, the European Sealing Association and other organisation, is set to get underway on May 27th, 2015. The two day event will be held in Bergamo, Italy, and it is open to individuals from a wide range of industries including the power generation and co-generation, food and beverages, chemical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology, oil and gas distributions industries, and many other manufacturing businesses.

    The summit, which attracts some of the best-known names in the valve industry, is aimed at allowing attendees to share their expertise and experience with other people from the same field.

    In addition, the summit provides a forum for those working in the industrial valves industry and allows people to network with experts and specialists. Another benefit to attendees is that it is a way of allowing companies in the valve industry to keep up-to-date with the latest technologies and news.

    Typical products that will be exhibited and demonstrated include valves, pipes and fittings, leak detectors, lubricants and software.

    Opportunities and Demonstrations

    At the Industrial Valve Summit, there is ample opportunity for anyone involved in operations, management or maintenance to review and compare a range of new products from exhibitors, and to watch demonstrations to they can gain a better understanding of how the newer technologies could aid their business.

    Focused Market

    Another aim of the Summit is to allow exhibitors to reach a focused market to gain new clients and to network with already existing customers. Both managers and specialists can use the Summit as a way of gaining important information about valve products and also gives them access to a “knowledge hub” of hundreds of attendees that would not normally be gathered together.

    Changing Trends and Contacts

    Visitors to the Industrial Valve Summit can also benefit from identifying possible trends in the valve industry when they attend the event and it can help visitors to find valuable contacts for their new and existing valve products; attendees that exhibit at the Summit also have the opportunity to take part in promotional packages to promote their existing and new products.

    Attending the Summit

    Although the Summit is some months away, organisations that are interested in attending are invited to sign up as a visitor to the summit in advance. Further information can be found about this by going to the official website at http://www.industrialvalvesummit.com/

  • Jordan Sliding Gate Valve Seats

    Jordan Sliding Gate Valve Seats

    Simple Concept, Superior Performance

    Straight Through Flow

    The control element in the Jordan Valve sliding gate design is perpendicular to the flow, unlike the traditional globe style design. With the straight thru flow design, the sliding gate design reduces turbulence & provides superior trim life.

    Short Stroke, Fast Response

    The total stoke length of a sliding gate valve is just a fraction of the equivalent globe or rotary style valve. In pressure regulators, the length is typically 1/3 that of a globe valve, reducing the amount of droop (deviation from set point) in the regulator. In the Jordan control valve, the stroke length can be as little as 1/6 that of a conventional globe or cage guided design. This allows the use of smaller actuators, reduced air consumption & weight. 

  • Majority of businesses unconcerned about power cuts

    A new study shows that most small and medium sized enterprises in the UK aren’t worried about winter power cuts. The research by British Gas Business indicated that 83 per cent of SMEs don’t view power loss as a threat to their business, and just 17 per cent of the 500 UK-based SMEs said power cuts were a concern.

    Senior managers working in small businesses said they had lost an average of two working days in the last five years due to power cuts, while larger businesses with turnovers of £50 million or more had lost six days due to black outs. 

    However, small and medium sized enterprises are being warned against complacency, and they are being urged to put an action plan in place now rather than risk losing access to heating or hot water in the winter.

    Testing procedures and maintenance

    The survey also indicated that only a limited amount of companies carry out testing procedures, and 72 per cent of businesses don’t have a maintenance plan in place. Moreover, 41 per cent of senior managers revealed they hadn’t organised annual services for boilers and other appliances; this figure was higher in smaller companies.

    James Bennett, Managing Director of Business Services at British Gas, said:

    “With winter fast approaching, now is the time for small businesses to make sure they have well maintained heating and hot water systems. Companies with annual servicing or maintenance plans in place are better positioned to focus their time on creating revenues and growth.” 

    Employers are also reminded of their legal requirements to keep gas appliances, flues etc., well maintained.

    Reduced risk of winter black out threat

    However, there is less chance of black outs this winter, according the National Grid’s latest outlook report. The National Grid has taken steps to increase power capacity after warnings in the summer about the record low levels of spare capacity.  

    The Telegraph reports the National Grid invested £123 million into ten power stations so they would stay open as part of an emergency scheme. Extra payments would be made to the power companies if the back-up support is needed.

    Eggborough reprieve

    The news that the Eggborough power plant in Yorkshire is to stay open has also resulted in extra capacity for the months ahead. The plant had originally been scheduled to close in March 2016, but the agreement with the National Grid means it has got a reprieve, and the plant will supply power under the Supplemental Balance Reserve scheme should capacity fall this winter.

  • Majority of businesses unconcerned about power cuts

    A new study shows that most small and medium sized enterprises in the UK aren’t worried about winter power cuts. The research by British Gas Business indicated that 83 per cent of SMEs don’t view power loss as a threat to their business, and just 17 per cent of the 500 UK-based SMEs said power cuts were a concern.

    Senior managers working in small businesses said they had lost an average of two working days in the last five years due to power cuts, while larger businesses with turnovers of £50 million or more had lost six days due to black outs. 

    However, small and medium sized enterprises are being warned against complacency, and they are being urged to put an action plan in place now rather than risk losing access to heating or hot water in the winter.

    Testing procedures and maintenance

    The survey also indicated that only a limited amount of companies carry out testing procedures, and 72 per cent of businesses don’t have a maintenance plan in place. Moreover, 41 per cent of senior managers revealed they hadn’t organised annual services for boilers and other appliances; this figure was higher in smaller companies.

    James Bennett, Managing Director of Business Services at British Gas, said:

    “With winter fast approaching, now is the time for small businesses to make sure they have well maintained heating and hot water systems. Companies with annual servicing or maintenance plans in place are better positioned to focus their time on creating revenues and growth.” 

    Employers are also reminded of their legal requirements to keep gas appliances, flues etc., well maintained.

    Reduced risk of winter black out threat

    However, there is less chance of black outs this winter, according the National Grid’s latest outlook report. The National Grid has taken steps to increase power capacity after warnings in the summer about the record low levels of spare capacity.  

    The Telegraph reports the National Grid invested £123 million into ten power stations so they would stay open as part of an emergency scheme. Extra payments would be made to the power companies if the back-up support is needed.

    Eggborough reprieve

    The news that the Eggborough power plant in Yorkshire is to stay open has also resulted in extra capacity for the months ahead. The plant had originally been scheduled to close in March 2016, but the agreement with the National Grid means it has got a reprieve, and the plant will supply power under the Supplemental Balance Reserve scheme should capacity fall this winter.

  • Manufacturing industry needs more innovation

    There need for more innovation in the manufacturing industry has been highlighted by new research.

    Just 11 per cent of manufacturers have a system in place to enhance innovation; this could put the UK at a distinct disadvantage in the future due to the many challenges the manufacturing sector is currently facing, according to RSM, who conducted the survey.

    RSM found that more than half of the manufacturers interviewed said they do intend invest in business systems at some point. However, these efforts are mainly concentrated on technology to improve the way the business is run, boost efficiency and productivity, but many UK manufacturers are neglecting to invest in innovation.

    Discussing the research, Mike Thornton, head of manufacturing for RSM, said:

    ‘As many UK manufacturers prepare for a potential surge in competition and uncertain trading conditions, harnessing technology could be the answer to future success. Technology will play an important role to help the sector become more efficient, productive and, in turn, more competitive, but this requires significant investment into the right software, equipment and talent to drive change.’

    Lack of innovation not limited to manufacturing industry

    Experts say that innovation is crucial if the UK manufacturing industry is going to be competitive post-Brexit and if it is to keep up with cheaper manufacturing bases like China.

    However, the manufacturing sector isn’t the only industry struggling when it comes to innovation.

    A study from PWC found that relatively few of the UK-based companies interviewed (32 per cent) viewed innovation as important, with most companies preferring to prioritise technology instead.

    Government initiatives to improve innovation in manufacturing

    Although a considerable percentage of manufactures admit that investing in innovation isn’t their priority, government agency Innovate UK say UK manufactures do still rate as a ‘major driver of innovation’.

    The agency also explains how new technologies that involve digitisation, like the Internet of Things and cloud based data, have the power to transform manufacturing.

    Digitisation is where a new generation of ideas and products is most likely to come from in the future, and progress is being made in this area. Research shows that most UK companies plan to have invested in digitalisation by 2021, although they don’t plan to invest quite as much as other countries.

    And to encourage fresh innovations in the sector, government agency Innovate UK has opened the third round of funding competition, which is designed to encourage manufacturers to come forward with new ideas.

  • Mixed news for manufacturing

    New figures from the CBI and Markit, show mixed news for the manufacturing sector. According to figures released from the CBI, manufacturing output and exports have shown a steady growth in recent months, however, manufacturers are less optimistic about the near future.

    While output, employment and domestic orders were showing signs of improvement in the last quarter, post-Brexit, manufacturers are less optimistic moving forward.

    CBI Chief Economist, Rain Newton Smith, said:

    “Manufacturers picked up the pace over the second quarter, with output growing solidly. We’re also seeing encouraging signs of a boost to export competitiveness from a weaker sterling.

    “But it’s clear that a cloud of uncertainty is hovering over industry, post-Brexit. We see this in weak expectations for new orders, a sharp fall in optimism and a scaling back of investment plans.”

    UK Manufacturing PMI

    The UK Purchasing Manufacturing PMI was also down to 48.2 for July, with production and consumer orders only experiencing a modest rise, which is thought to be largely due to the uncertainties surrounding the aftermath of the Brexit vote. The figures are the poorest for three years, but export orders received a boost.

    Senior Economist, Rob Dobson from Markit, said:

    “The final PMI came in at 48.2, down from the earlier flash print of 49.1. The pace of contraction was the fastest since early-2013 amid increasingly widespread reports that business activity has been adversely affected by the EU referendum. The drops in output, new orders and employment were all steeper than flash estimates.”

    The demand for manufactured goods in the UK also appear to have been affected both prior to the vote and afterwards, and the PMI figures were also bad news the value of the pound, which fell sharply following the announcement.

    Production and employment

    The figures highlight concerns over employment figures in the manufacturing sector. Further job losses were recorded in July, and there are worries that the trend is set to continue. Production experienced the worst decline since 2012 and contractions were noted across the consumer, investment and intermediate goods sectors.

    Recession fears

    The poor performance of manufacturing had been expected following the Brexit vote and the uncertainty surrounding it. However, the PMI results were lower than predicted, and this has led to fresh concerns over a recession.

    David Noble, Group Chief Executive Officer from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply stated that without new orders coming through, the downward trajectory in the manufacturing sector is likely to get worse in the short term.

  • New electronic pressure switch from PINTER

    minicomb eds smallest

    With the MINICOMB-EDS PINTER has introduced a new and innovative electronic pressure switch for the fluid technology market.

    The pressure switch features a robust design combined with a highly functional user friendly operating system. With a ergonomic 3-button control panel, the pressure switch is operated with a menu according to VDMA standard. In addition to the standard menu the MINICOMB-EDS features a multilingual plain text menu which clearly explains the selected menu item, ensuring a rapid and hassle-free installation is ensured.

    Reviewing set parameters is easy - even when password protection is active.

    The various menus, parameters and settings are displayed on the monochrome high-resolution full graphic OLED display. The 180° rotatable display allows for excellent readability even under direct sunlight or large angles.

  • Offshore wind industry adds more than 900m to economy

    New figures recently issued by RenewableUK shows that the offshore energy wind industry added £906 million to the UK economy in 2014.

    The latest statistics were compiled as part of a report conducted by BiGGAR Economics on behalf of RenewableUK.

    Benefits to Local Regions

    Local regions are also benefiting from the drive towards renewable forms of power generation. In Yorkshire and Humberside, 379MW of onshore wind is being used to help power more than two hundred thousand homes.

    Employers, manufacturers and consultants from the region are also benefiting from the trend towards green energy supply with local firms. The South West and East of the country were also beneficiaries of the offshore wind industry.

    Commenting on the figures, RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Maria McCaffery, said,

     “The British onshore wind energy industry is adding over £900 million a year to the national economy, so the benefits to the UK are clear to see. This report also shows that £7 of every £10 spent on onshore wind projects is invested here in the UK. Onshore wind powers local economies, bringing £199 million of investment into the local communities that host wind farms and creating jobs across the supply chain. The industry is helping to propel Britain to a brighter, cleaner and more secure future – onshore wind is already the lowest cost of all low carbon options and is set to become the least cost form of all electricity within the next five years.

    Wind Power in Wales

    The figures published by RenewablesUK shows that Wales is likely to gain £799 million of economic benefit from onshore wind power over a lifetime. 559 megawatts of wind power is already being used; Mid Wales and South Wales are the most active in this area.

    Wind Power in Scotland

    Scotland has also benefited from the move towards green energy. Figures released by RenewableUK show that Scotland will gain £7bn worth of economic benefit over a lifetime due to onshore wind power.

    Scotland has been at the forefront of wind power and it has 4,918 megawatts of onshore wind power in use. This is enough to produce enough power for more than 2.5 million homes in Scotland.

    South Lanarkshire, the Highlands and the Scottish Borders are the areas using the most wind power, and Scottish companies such as Scottish Power Renewables, Natural Power and SSE are among those helping to facilitate the supply of wind power.

  • Orders stabilise for SMEs

    The latest figures from the CBI shows that orders for small and medium manufacturers stabilised over the last quarter, and SMEs say they have a greater optimism regarding export orders as the year develops.

    However, the survey of 426 companies showed that orders were flat during the last quarter; there was also a fall in export orders, and a significant reduction in export prices, but it is predicted that domestic orders and exports will grow in the near future.

    Despite this, the companies surveyed expect to spend more on training and investment throughout the next 12 months, and employment growth is steady.  The CBI SME Trends Survey also indicates that manufacturers intend to invest more in product innovation and training.

    Commenting on the survey, CBI Director Rain Newton-Smith said:

    “It’s encouraging to see smaller manufacturers’ optimism and orders stabilising, although the picture remains fairly flat across the board with many firms treading water.

    “But there are expectations that domestic orders and exports growth will pick up in the next quarter and many smaller manufacturing firms also plan to invest more in their staff training.”

    Key Statistics

    The key statistics show that 24% of SMEs report a greater optimism, while 25% were less so; 30% of firms reported an improved output, while 23 % noted a fall. In addition, 21% of SMEs reported an increase in export orders, while 25% stated there was a decrease.

    UK Economic Growth

    Looking at the wider picture, there was a weakening of economic growth in the last quarter according to the 759 manufacturing, retail and services companies surveyed as part of the CBI Growth Indicator.

    Rain Newton-Smith stated:

    “Manufacturing and business and professional services have struggled to make a mark, but a healthier picture can be seen in the household-focused consumer services and retail sectors.”

    Government initiatives and the future of manufacturing

    While manufacturing struggles to gain momentum, there have been a number of government innovations to help improve the fortunes of the sector, including research and development tax credits.

    However, a recent survey from the EEF showed that 60% manufacturers felt the government could do more to improve business access to scientific research, and while the introduction of Catapult centres, which aim to enhance access to research and development facilities for the sector have proven popular, the majority of manufacturers (69%) feel the government could do more when it comes to commercialising technology.

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