21 August, 2018

It’s not all bad news on the ‘Skills-front’

25 September, 2014
By Chris Buxton, CEO, the BFPA. Britain is very much on the road to economic recovery. Almost universally across all sectors, BFPA members are reporting strong business pipelines with some sectors such as off-shore positively booming. However, servicing this steady increase in business is being hampered by a fundamental shortage of suitably skilled individuals with a good work-ethic. To stay ahead we must consider how best to harness the talents of our unemployed young people. The statistics are well known: • 80 per cent manufacturers are experiencing recruitment difficulties and two-thirds of those say this is because candidates lack technical skills. • 146,200 job vacancies (22 per cent) in 2013 were unfilled because of inadequate skills, compared with 91,400 (16 per cent) two years earlier (UKCES Survey). • 100,000 STEM graduates are needed a year just to maintain the status quo (The Royal Academy of Engineering). • In the UK some 23,000 engineers are graduating every year. (However, India is producing eight times as many; and China 20 times as many). • 830,000 graduate-level STEM experts and 450,000 technicians will be needed by 2020. There is also a human cost to this deficit: • Two-thirds of employers believe that their staff experience increased stress and anxiety as a result of skills shortages (67 per cent). • More than six in ten business leaders believe that a skills shortage results in losing work to competitors. • Employers are increasingly looking to the next generation to help fill the skills gaps that they are facing. However, research also shows that young people – particularly those who are currently unemployed – still face stigma and negative stereotyping from business leaders. • Almost three-quarters believe that the recruitment of young people is vital to avert a skills crisis and more than two-thirds believe that investing in better training for young people would help to fill skills gaps. • Employers are also facing difficulties with succession planning – six in ten admit they are struggling to recruit the leaders of tomorrow. Against this background it is all too easy to become demoralised and despondent. However, there is light at the end of this particular tunnel. Government have recognised the problem and there are numerous new initiatives to try and encourage young people into manufacturing and engineering careers but there is a limit that they can do and in this world it is becoming more and more apparent that “God helps those who help themselves”. One organisation that has helped to set the standard in this respect is JCB. A major end-user customer of many BFPA members. JCB has established the ‘JCB Academy; described by JCB as; an exciting new school for students from the age of 14 who are interested in business and engineering. Jim Wade the company’s principle states: “Our academy is the first of a brand new kind of school in the United Kingdom, focused on delivering high-quality engineering and business education.” JCB’s motto is 'Developing engineers and business leaders for the future' and the company’s aim is to ensure that its students have every chance to achieve success, whether they continue into further education, or move to further learning in the world of work when they leave the academy. In late July of this year the BFPA had the privilege of sponsoring two categories of award at the JCB Academy Awards evening and dinner. The chosen awards were: Student of the Year – Manufacturing Y13 won by Kieren O’Leary; and Achieving Through Action, won by Harry Skipper. Lord Sir Digby Jones presented the awards and also delivered a rousing and motivating key note address. It is this kind of initiative that gives hope to UK employers desperate to meet the demands placed upon them by strong business pipelines and an ever aging work-force. The BFPA is proud to have been associated with the JCB Academy event and wishes JCB and its students the very best of luck for the future. Additional notes The BFPA is also pleased to report that JCB is party to the BFPA Education & Training Task-force currently working to develop a modular educational framework for young entrants wishing to develop a career in the fluid power sector. The BFPA is also sponsoring three students through the Arkwright Trust – a scholarship trust set up to identify, inspire and nurture future leaders in engineering and technical (as opposed to aesthetic) design. This is done by awarding Arkwright Engineering Scholarships, through a rigorous selection process, to high-calibre students in year 11 in England and Wales, S4 in Scotland and year 12 in Northern Ireland.

Strategy Workshop seeks to increase the focus upon end-users

02 September, 2014
One of my favourite sayings is that ‘if you don’t know where you are going – any road will do’. In other words, any Trade Association ‘worth its salt’ has to grow and develop with the changes that inevitably take place in the sector that it represents. That is why, when I first arrived at the BFPA I immediately embarked upon a Strategic Planning exercise to establish a clearer future route for the Association and determine how we are going to best equip ourselves to meet our primary objective of helping members to realise real value from their membership in an ever changing and more challenging business environment. Another popular saying in the Trade Association world is ‘all for one and one for all’. In other words, a good trade association should be run ‘by the members for the members’. That is why, as an integral part of the Strategic planning process, we held a strategy workshop with your BFPA Board and the BFPDA Council to help account for the views and all important opinions of you; the members; in determining the direction in which we take what is your Association. The event was held at the UK’s Manufacturing Technology Centre at Ansty just south of Coventry on 4 July and was a great success. The team discussed and debated a number of key questions including a traditional SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis and more in-depth analyses including an Ansoff growth matrix and an Open Forum to enable free exchange of ideas. The output was an invaluable collection of learning points and good ideas for helping the Association to both grow whilst reducing over dependency on membership subscriptions and bring even greater added value to the membership services. One of the more interesting issues to arise was the desire among member companies to engage more closely with what might be termed the ‘end-user’ community – i.e. their customers. Traditionally the focus of trade associations has been upon the members; the suppliers of equipment, product and services. However, by broadening our focus to include players further up the supply chain, the Association can meet both its traditional remit for the member companies but also some of the expectations of the end-user community. By acting as a broker for re-enforcing the links within the supply chain trade associations can be as valuable to the end-user market as they are already to companies further back down the supply chain. This could be manifest in the creation of a new end-user category of membership. Myself and the Executive Team will now take the data from the work-shop and over the rest of Summer, will embed it into the overall strategic plan which we hope to publish by mid-Autumn. I encourage interested parties to keep an eye on these developments. These are exciting times and there is much good news to follow. Chris Buxton – BFPA CEO.

BFPA Publications

20 June, 2014

Issue 10 of P56 Fluid Power – Engineer’s Data Book is now available. ISO/TC 199/JWG 1. ISO/IEC 17305 Safety of machinery - Safety-functions of control systems - Working draft under development based upon new work item proposal and questionnaire results - Development of a document presenting the work done by JWG1 (‘Outline document’).

Technical services update

20 June, 2014
Revised ‘Blue Book’ published – European Commission – Guide to the implementation of directives based upon the New Approach and the Global Approach. The following European Directives were published on 29 March 2014 in respect of New Legislative Framework (NLF) alignment directives. This creates a more coherent legislative framework for the marketing of products within the EU internal market providing improved traceability and clearer requirements on economic operators, greater accountability in the designation and consistency of performance between notified bodies and the alignment of conformity procedures and commonly used definitions within the conformity assessment process. OJ L96/45 dated 29 March 2014 – Directive 2014/29/EU – SPVD (Simple Pressure Vessels). OJ L96/309 dated 29 March 2014 – Directive 2014/34/EU – ATEX (Potentially explosive atmospheres). OJ L96/79 dated 29 March 2014 – Directive 214/30/EU – EMC (Electromagnetic Compatibility). OJ L96/357 dated 29 March 2014 – Directive 2014/35/EU – LVD (Low Voltage).

Update from BFPA Statistics Service

20 June, 2014
According to the BFPA monthly surveys up to February, 2014 started very well for both hydraulics and pneumatics, with good levels of sales and orders being maintained into February (though the month was not as strong as January). The final monthly survey figures for 2013 have now been confirmed, with the hydraulic index indicating respondent’s UK shipments fell by around 3 per cent in 2013 (the mobile sector grew slightly but industrial fell), while respondents to the pneumatic survey recorded growth of around 2.5per cent for the year. The picture for distribution was a little different for hydraulics, with growth of around 5 per cent being recorded for respondents; pneumatics distribution grew by a similar amount to the pneumatic index respondents. Monthly output was up again in February 2014 as measured by the Office for National Statistics’ Index of Production figures for IOP 28 Manufacture of Machinery and Equipment, and IOP 29 Manufacture of Motor Vehicles and Trailers, suggesting UK engineering industries continued to be busy after a good January, and mirroring the increase in activity seen by BFPA and BFPDA members for hydraulics and pneumatics in the first two months of the year. Please contact Sarah Gardner at sarah@bfpa.co.uk if you have any queries about the BFPA/BFPDA statistics service.

AGM success

20 June, 2014
By popular demand, the BFPA & BFPDA’s AGM returned to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) in London on 8 May. Chris Buxton, present for the first time at the association’s AGM in his role as the association’s CEO, hosted the event, which attracted over 30 member delegates. BFPA president Tony Kay, and BFPDA Council chair Chris Blevins, presented industry update reports, which were followed by two well-received guest presentations. Marie-Anne MacKenzie, deputy director of the Department for Business, innovation & Skills gave a talk on the topic of company law and better regulation. She was followed by Giles Miskin, managing director of The Colour Works, who gave an enlightening practical insight into the world of psychometric analysis, a popular method of determining an individual’s personality, skills and attributes, as well as how different personality types can learn to complement each other better in the working environment. In addition to general association business and accounting issues, the AGM provided an opportunity for members to raise questions on how the association is run.

News from the Technical Department

30 April, 2014
Published Standards: - BS ISO 3320:2013 Fluid power systems and components – Cylinder bores and piston road diameters and area ratios – Metric series - BS ISO 6358-1:2013 PFP – Determination of flow-rate characteristics of components using compressible fluids Part 1: General rules and test methods for steady-state flow - BS ISO 6358-2:2013 PFP – Determination of flow-rate characteristics of components using compressible fluids Part 2: Alternative test methods - BS ISO 19973-4:2014 PFP – Assessment of component reliability by testing Part 4: Pressure regulators E.U. Regulations - Blue Guide on the implementation of EU product rules – 2014 has been published. - BIS WEEE Regulations 2013 Government guidance Notes – March 2014 have been published. The publication of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) of the New Legislative Framework Alignment Package, which includes both the new ATEX and SPVD Directives, took place on 29 March 2014 following the final approval by both EU co-legislators, European Parliament and Council.

BFPA and BFPDA AGMs – Thursday 8 May

30 April, 2014
By popular demand, the BFPA is returning to the IMechE in London. It has secured two highly relevant speakers for this year’s event; one from the Government’s Better Regulation Executive within BIS, and on a lighter but equally informative note, a psychometric analyst and leadership consultant who will be taking a view on our interaction with staff and colleagues in the workplace and in our everyday lives. The AGM is an opportunity to raise any questions on how the Association is run, and also enjoy the chance to network with friends and colleagues within the industry. BFPA CEO Chris Buxton and the BFPA team look forward to meeting you. Coffee and opportunities for pre-AGM networking are available to all attendees from 10am. The AGM officially commences at 11am.

The BFPA delivers at Fluid Power & Systems 2014

30 April, 2014

The British Fluid Power Association (BFPA), incorporating the British Fluid Power Distributors Association (BFPDA), enjoyed a very positive outing at this year’s Fluid Power & Systems exhibition, held at Birmingham’s NEC from 8 to 10 April. The Association’s staff provided a warm welcome to members, prospective members and other enquiring parties on the BFPA Pavilion. The Pavilion provided an ideal opportunity for visitors to network, while resting their feet and enjoying some light refreshments. For those with particular technical queries the Association was joined by fluid power experts who were available to answer specific application questions. All BFPA advisors are completely impartial and as such any advice provided at the event was free of any commercial bias. Association members and their guests were also cordially invited to attend a drinks reception on the BFPA Pavilion on the second evening of the show. The reception, which was kindly sponsored by SMC Pneumatics, began at 5pm and proved a major success. Chris Buxton, CEO of the BFPA, said of Fluid Power & Systems 2014: “As the new CEO for the British Fluid Power Association I was keen that my first Fluid Power & Systems event was a success for both the Association and for our members. I need not have had any fears. The 2014 event was a great success providing visitors with a panorama of the technology and products available to them and the exhibitors with unrivalled access to serious decision makers from the customer community.”

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