Plant & Works Engineering
Rapid boiler feed pump repair ensures power generation reliability

At a time when national electrical grids are under extreme pressure, unexpected outages can prove to be a considerable challenge. When a power plant in Germany experienced the sudden failure of a boiler feed pump, output dropped by more than 40%, which affected both the local grid and company profits. Needing to resolve this situation urgently, Sulzer was called in to repair the asset and conduct an investigation to secure the reliability of the power station.

Battery management
Government failing to promote UK manufacturing

The Government is failing to promote UK manufacturing and remains more committed to the financial sector than UK industry, according to a poll commissioned by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Investing in the future

 A recent survey on investment shows asset finance an increasing part of company plans. PWE reports.

Signs of manufacturing activity picking up

The UK manufacturing sector is showing signs of bouncing back from the fragile conditions seen at the end of 2011 and start of 2012, and sentiment has improved for the first time in a year, the CBI said recently.

International Conference on Condition Monitoring and Machinery Failure Prevention Technologies

The eighth International Conference on Condition Monitoring and Machinery Failure Prevention Technologies will take place at St David’s Hotel, Cardiff Bay on 20-22 June 2011.

Protection for automation

In order to provide the lower prices and shorter lead times that customers demand, manufacturing businesses have increasingly turned to automated production systems and backed their decision with significant investment.  It can take a good deal of time and money both to design and install the right automation system and to maintain it effectively, so it is therefore crucial that the system is protected as powerfully as possible.  The cost of providing internal engineering teams is not always viable for some organisations and even when it is there is still a pressure to manage maintenance as cost-effectively as possible.  Whatever the budget, one of the best ways to reduce demands on maintenance is to apply a solid, reliable vibration monitoring programme.

New programme of support launched to help SMEs

IfM Education and Consultancy Services (IfM ECS) Limited, the dissemination arm of the University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), has launched a UK-wide programme of support for small and medium sized manufacturing businesses, following the success of recent projects in the Midlands and East of England. 

Helping top keep on the straight and narrow

Symonds UK, a provider of products and services to the retail and industry sector in the UK, wanted a new browser-based CMMS solution to improve and integrate existing systems in job tracking, communication and offer a “cradle to grave’’ service for their customers’ assets. The company has worked with Maintenance Management System specialists SoftSols Group for a number of years. Previously benefitting from using the IMPACTxp system.

Government manufacturing strategy questioned in survey

A report launched today highlights the fact that over 90% of UK manufacturers surveyed do not believe that the Government currently has a specific manufacturing strategy in place. This supports a wider consensus across the industry that the sector remains neglected at policy level, while competitor economies such as Germany, Norway and Japan reap the benefits of continued investment in their industries.

Nuclear deal may not be good for Britain

Dr Tim Fox, Head of Energy at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers said in response to the recent nuclear power deal between the UK and France: “Although it is welcome news that the UK is pressing ahead with the development of new nuclear reactors to secure affordable low-carbon electricity generation, this is not necessarily the best deal for securing UK jobs and skills.

Launch of European Offshore & Energy 2014

The inaugural European Offshore & Energy exhibition (, taking place between 8-10 April 2014, NEC Birmingham, UK, brings the upstream energy market together under one roof. It will provide visitors with the ideal opportunity to learn about the industry’s latest product innovations, solutions and services. And as well as the extensive range of offerings showcased across the exhibition floor, European Offshore & Energy will also feature EnergyDialogue, a three-day conference covering a host of energy issues together with product/solution analysis. EnergyDialogue will ensure delegates receive all the information they need directly from leading authorities, policy makers and expert practitioners.

£125m boost to UK advanced manufacturing supply chains

A new initiative of up to £125 million is being set up to improve the global competitiveness of UK advanced manufacturing supply chains, Business Secretary Vince Cable announced recently.

‘Most beautiful car ever made’ wins Engineering Heritage Award

The Jaguar E-type has been presented with an Engineering Heritage Award by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

The renaissance of UK manufacturing

GAMBICA and Intellect will be holding a joint event in February 2012 in London to promote the concept of automation and its benefits in the manufacturing chain. Called Automated Britain – The Renaissance of UK Manufacturing the event will also explore whether there are any perceived obstacles that discourage industry from making more investments of this type.

Engineering must remain a rigorous option

Respected qualifications in engineering must remain available to 14 to 16-year-olds in England and should be actively promoted by Government as a rigorous complement to mathematics and science studies - not as a second rate vocational option, the Royal Academy of Engineering has warned.

EEF - the manufacturers' organisation monthly news comment by chief executive, Terry Scuoler.

After the recession and in the present choppy period of recovery what our economy needs most is sustainable growth. This means a more balanced economy, driven more by investment, innovation and exports, with manufacturing playing a greater role than it has previously.

New boiler guidance

Drafted by the Combustion Engineering Association (CEA), SAFed and the HSE, the new guidance advises that boiler operators and managers achieve the national industry standards from leading training providers like Spirax Sarco.

Urgent action needed to stop future engineering skills shortage

Future engineering projects including High Speed Rail and the scaling up of UK nuclear power could be fatally undermined by a dangerous shortfall in engineering graduates, according to a report launched by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Automation Fair celebrates its 20th Anniversary

Manufacturers, machine builders, partners, industry analysts and media from around the world will meet Nov. 16-17 at McCormick Place in Chicago, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Automation Fair event hosted by Rockwell Automation. The Automation Fair event provides manufacturing business leaders the opportunity to learn about smart, safe, sustainable solutions that can help optimise plants, improve machine performance and manufacture products in a more sustainable manner.

Energy red tape must be scrapped or simplified

Businesses are concerned that current UK energy regulations will not raise the investment needed to ensure the country’s low carbon future, and are calling on the government to either simplify or scrap some existing legislation to ensure targets can be met.

EEF chief executive regular news comment

I have been representing industry as the manufacturing ‘champion’ as part of the Government’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ this autumn. The cost of regulation is a big issue for manufacturers and whilst growth is stalling, the regulations weighing down on the UK economy continue to mount up.


A  precision engineering firm has invested heavily in new equipment and launched a recruitment drive after an encouraging start to 2011.

Thermal imaging from FLIR for just £895

The new FLIR i3 is the lowest priced ever, fully-featured thermal imaging camera. Priced at just £895, it allows you to see electrical or mechanical faults in an instant, and is very easy to use too - simply point, capture and discover.


A new decade - a new reality: rethinking acoustic practice for the austerity decade, 14-15 September 2011, Crowne Plaza, Glasgow.

BMW & Nissan give major boost to UK

With BMW and Nissan both announcing they are investing heavily in production in the UK, the news is being seen as a major vote of confidence in British Manufacturing and in UK innovation and skills in the highly-competitive automotive sector. The news comes at a crucial time in the recovery.


Calls for training at “all levels”


Safe maintenance is good for business

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work is the main EU reference point for safety and health at work, set up in 1996 by the European Union. Andrew Smith, head of communications at EU-OSHA, presents the Safe Maintenance Campaign.

Lithium ion revolution?

Standfirst: At the recent CeMat show in Hannover, Germany, there was a considerable amount of interest shown in a power source technology that many believed could revolutionise the forklift truck industry. Gus Whyte, sales director – National Accounts and Systems at Hoppecke Industrial Batteries – puts the hysteria into context. 

Reduce your carbon footprint


Twenty five years in thermal imaging

What a difference 25 years has made to thermal imaging and Flir Systems’ Kevin Ellis has witnessed it every step of the way.  PWE takes a looks back over his 25 career to see how things have changed.

Hertz Kompressoren Ltd becomes a full member of the BCAS

Hertz Kompressoren Ltd has become a full member of the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS).  BCAS executive director, Chris Dee, recently visited Hertz to present the company’s BCAS plaque.

Positive news from across the manufacturing sector

EEF’s latest report continues to bring positive news from across the manufacturing sector.  The official statistics have now shown six consecutive quarters of expansion in manufacturing output and our latest Business Trends Survey points to another three months of growth in the third quarter.
The momentum behind the sector’s recovery appears to have been maintained in the first half of 2011 and the performance of manufacturing is set to continue to outpace that of the wider economy.  Our recent surveys have begun to point to a gradual improvement in confidence with positive investment intentions maintained and recruitment plans translating into the first increase in manufacturing workforce jobs since 1998.
A key driver of growth remains robust demand from overseas markets.  The balance of responses has been considerably higher than the long-term average for over a year as companies capitalise on strong growth in world markets.  Official statistics show that emerging Asian markets and the Middle East have been significant sources of export growth over the past two years.
However the pattern of exports to Europe reflects the two-speed recovery, with demand holding up in France and Germany compared with a much less positive outlook for exports to periphery economies.  While the gap between export and domestic orders balances widened further over the past three months, responses on UK orders are still elevated compared with long-term trends.
While manufacturing and its contribution to export growth remain one of the bright spots in the UK economy, challenges to growth that many companies have been navigating since the end of the recession are unlikely to recede in the coming quarters. In addition other challenges remain closer to home, in particular the ability of companies to access finance at competitive rates. For the first time since the recession ended, manufactures are reporting improving access to finance which provides a glimmer of hope the situation may be easing. Hopefully, this will translate into better news on new lending in the coming months. But availability is only part of the story and we also need to see costs coming down.
Ensuring companies have access to the finance needed to invest and grow is critical for the recovery. We need to see a sustained improvement before concluding that the actions taken by banks and government are bearing fruit and that no further measures are required.
Overall manufacturers remain optimistic about output and order books in the short term, but some downside risks have increased.  For example, commodity prices are likely to be high and volatile for the time being, access to credit remains difficult or costly for some small companies and the path of the global recovery could yet hit a bump in the road.  Nevertheless, 2011 has got off to a solid start and we should see above trend growth in the sector this year and next.

Access forum


Exploring the options for safe roof access

Marco Norman, managing director of Safetyworks & Solutions takes a look at the various roof access systems available, and their most suited applications.

Rapid roll doors

Union Industries, manufacturer of industrial rapid roll hi-speed doors, has completed a major installation at The Co-operative’s new Scottish Distribution Centre in Newhouse.  PWE reports.

The pressure is on!

 The pressure is on everyone to save energy and resources, both for environmental reasons and to save money. For steam users, reverse osmosis (RO) can deliver a step-change in energy efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint, says Mike Griffin, Spirax Sarco’s UK technical manager – Steam Systems Conditioning. 

Unfreeze the assets in your cooling system

Too often under-performing cooling systems are replaced in the name of energy saving.  Nigel Hallett, managing director of process cooling specialist IsoCool, argues that this approach can be a false economy. 

Cutting fluid problem solved


Sensing Technology 2011

The latest sensor and sensing system products, developments, technical innovations, seminars and workshops will ensure Sensing Technology 2011 is a must-visit exhibition. Developed in response to sector demand, Sensing Technology is the UK's only dedicated national sensor industry event and will take place at the NEC, Birmingham, on 27-28 September 2011. PWE reports. 

Helping business leaders of the future

Students from Solihull College have been pitching their business ideas to industry experts as part of their course where they learn how to set up a small business. General manager of Mattei, Andy Jones, was asked to take part in the process, sharing his knowledge on running a successful and growing business.
Around 20 students went in front of the panel of judges earlier this month. The students, who are currently on a BTEC First Diploma in Business, received feedback about positive aspects of their business plans and also areas of improvement, which will benefit them in their future studies.
Andy Jones, general manager of Mattei, an engineering company based in Warwickshire, commented: “It was a pleasure to be invited into the College and offer my knowledge and support to the students. I remember what it was like at their age trying to start off in the business world, so I am pleased to offer some guidance and pass on my expertise to our future business people.”
Student Michael Bristow, whose business plan was to connect manufacturers with sole traders, commented: “It was a nerve-wracking experience but definitely worthwhile. The feedback I received from the business experts was really positive and beneficial, and the whole experience has boosted my confidence in delivering presentations.”
After completing their course this summer some of the students are hoping to progress onto the Diploma in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, which is a new course being delivered at Solihull College with the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy. This new and exciting programme will allow learners to develop the skills and knowledge required to start their own entrepreneurial career.

Technician apprentice training

 Sandvik Coromant recently welcomed two highly driven young technician apprentices Ninetta Cataldo and Harrison Waters to a four year technician trainee apprenticeship programme that includes a 12 months ‘off the job’ training course through the EEF Technology Centre followed by a three year ‘on the job training’ by Sandvik Coromant in Halesowen, UK.

Manufacturing at the heart of the UK’s wellbeing

“Manufacturing is at the heart of the UK’s economic wellbeing”, commented John Cridland, CBI Director-General, at the recent British Fluid Power Association (BFPA) AGM in Birmingham. He added, “heads now nod far more vigorously than before the financial crisis”.

Software guide: Selecting the right CMMS

 Standfirst: Managing maintenance effectively and keeping equipment running is vital to business success and the right CMMS is the best way to do that. David Hipkin, managing director of SoftSols Group, has been in the CMMS business for nearly 30 years since starting his career working with a mainframe based CMMS developed for BP. Here he looks at how to pick the right system and how to get the best out of it.

Electrical Maintenance

Solution to problem of bearing inner ring fractures

NSK has developed TL (Tough and Long Life) bearing material, to overcome the problem of damage due to inner ring fracture encountered on spherical roller bearings in the dryer sections of papermaking machines. In addition to its primary function of preventing inner ring fracture, TL also contributes to an increased surface hardness on the bearing raceways, and provides enhanced dimensional stability under high temperature conditions.

Next generation safety relays

 Rockwell Automation has expanded its portfolio of machine safety devices to help simplify choice.

EEF – the manufacturers’ organisation monthly news comment

EEF – the manufacturers’ organisation monthly news comment

Food and drink processing: why take the risk?