17 September, 2021

STEM and the gender issue

01 September, 2021

Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, manufacturing and engineering (like so many most other professional spheres) have been male dominated – and they continue to be so. Nevertheless, it is highly encouraging to witness major strides in the direction of greater gender parity. 2019 statistics from the UK Government point to just over a million women (1,019,400) in our STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) workforce. This illustrates an increase of over 350,000 women (24%) taking employment in these spheres of work. Positive news indeed, but there remains some distance to travel before there is evidence of gender equality in these industries. 2020’s target was reached and 2030’s target of 1.5 million women in STEM occupations would equate to 30% of this workforce filled by women.


Automation and the COVID-19/Brexit effect

29 June, 2021

Automation has much to offer industrial and mobile companies from the perspective of, for example, improved productivity, increased accuracy and traceability and – largely as a consequence of these benefits – reduced costs and a fast ROI. Nevertheless, the finger has been pointed at the UK regarding its relatively slow uptake of the automation technologies available when compared with certain European nations and the US. It would appear things are moving in the right direction, however, spurred on by a couple of key drivers.


Missing the point

07 May, 2021

In November last year, the Prime Minister announced the Government’s ambitious tenpoint plan for a green industrial revolution. However, the British Pump Manufacturers’ Association (BPMA) points out that the contribution of pumps to global warming is not being addressed in the plan, despite the UK’s past commitment to tackle the issue and the fact that liquid pumps and related equipment are the single largest user of electricity in industrial and commercial applications.


Safety must be sacrosanct

22 March, 2021

With all the pressures of modern manufacturing, there is a need to ensure the right machinery is sourced and kept operationally efficient and well-maintained in order to sustain productivity and avoid unforeseen downtime. However, the means by which operators and maintenance personnel are kept safe when going about their daily tasks is, of course, of equal, if not greater, importance. Machinery safety was one of the key discussion topics during the latest Talking Industry web event held earlier this month.


The start of the deal

05 February, 2021

UK businesses – indeed, the UK population in general – were kept on tenterhooks right up to the 11th hour last year regarding a deal-or-no-deal Brexit outcome. In the event, an agreement was struck, although many of the ramifications for the overall economy and specific business sectors are still being pored over. Tariff-free and quota-free access to the EU marketplace was one of the major achievements of the deal, something that stretches beyond the EU’s arrangements with Canada and Japan. Moreover, Brexit offers the potential for many firms to explore new markets beyond the EU. For UK companies exporting goods overseas, greater trade freedoms could be at their disposal, and the devalued pound that came about largely due to the uncertainties surrounding Brexit could work to their advantage and prove to be attractive to foreign buyers.


Goodbye 2020 – And good riddance

01 December, 2020

One thing’s for sure, much of the year 2020 will be reflected upon in infamy as long as annals of history exist. However, as we have previously reported, amid the adversity has arisen some tales of laudable endeavour within our industry. While the pandemic – without mind or purpose other than to continue to proliferate in a spirit of brazen biological abandon – continued to wreak havoc throughout the globe, many businesses, trade bodies and educational establishments inter alia within the fluid power industry and  related disciplines re-strategised in order to play their part in the cause against the unseen menace.


Probing the security issue

26 October, 2020

Data is playing an ever larger and more important role within manufacturing and related industrial and mobile disciplines through the increased use of connectivity among embedded systems and other types of IT, automation and robotics solutions. In the UK, the journey towards greater levels of digital transformation has for several years been overshadowed by many of our foreign counterparts. However, the current pandemic could provide the spur for more UK firms to investment in automation technology and embrace the concept of digital transformation to a larger degree. And as this move gets more traction within UK industry, the importance of data will come even more to the fore. However, along with greater reliance on system data for business, operational, control and analytical purposes etc., comes a potential threat; one that can become highly debilitating for a company if not managed effectively. The threat in question is, of course, security. Therefore, how to manage the security of data is rightly a key area of discussion for many companies.


Homing in on the work issue

24 September, 2020

Before the current pandemic, home working was becoming increasingly prevalent within various industry and business sectors. Now, in many cases as a means of necessity, the level of home working has increased substantially. Some industries, of course, cannot function without the physical presence of at least some sizeable level of personnel within the workplace – manufacturing, construction, agriculture, on- and off-shore oil and gas, warehousing, logistics, healthcare and brick and mortar retail being just a few examples (although automation and remote diagnostics and control is becoming more prevalent in some instances). So, with the huge rise in home working, just how effective is this regime proving to be for the individuals involved and the companies they work for?


Being mindful of mental health

24 August, 2020

Since as far back as January we have had to face up to a particularly vexing nemesis – COVID-19 – something that has affected us both professionally and socially.


Industry doing its bit

23 June, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has proved to be a particularly formidable trial for people from all walks of life. People haven’t been able to attend loved ones’ funerals, friends and family are often only able to communicate face-to-face via some kind of digital conferencing service rather than personal visits, and many business are feeling a pinch that the simply never saw coming. However, many firms, universities and associations are rising to the COVID-19 challenge.Those operating within the engineering, fluid power and other related sectors are a heartening case in point.


Widening the debate on digital transformation

07 May, 2020

Some countries may be more ahead of the curve than others, but the continuing rise of digitally transforming technologies within the industrial and mobile workplace is going to continue as the manifold business and operational benefits on offer are increasingly recognised. Indeed, three quarters (72%) of employers believe technology helps to improve workflow and overall staff productivity. This is according to a recent survey of 2000 professionals carried out by staffing business Walters People. Other reasons companies state the case for a more tech-centric workplace include the potential to strengthen collaboration between staff and improve communications (58%), remain competitive in an increasing digitally-focused global environment (54%), help track results and streamline decision-making (22%), and attract and retain talent (17%).


Maintaining a keen focus in challenging times

26 March, 2020

Barely anyone can avoid being affected in some way by the current Coronavirus pandemic, whether socially, domestically or professionally. Moreover, we are now hearing reports of the catastrophic damage it has already done to the global economy and will continue to do so even long after the virus has abated. So, it would appear that there needs to be a radical rethink in terms of how companies operate in order to best ensure they are able not only to survive but also to prosper. One aspect to give due consideration to has to be technological investment. Indeed, a new white paper by global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research titled ‘Taking stock of COVID-19: The Short- and Long-Term Ramifications on Technology and End Markets’, looks at the current and future ramifications of COVID-19 across technologies and verticals. ABI Research analysts also offer recommendations to weather the storm and strategies to help companies rebound and prosper after the pandemic has slowed.


Embracing the future with technology

13 February, 2020

When watching films or TV shows of a certain vintage, one can’t help noticing how ubiquitous the street phone booth was for everyday ‘real-time’ communication. And there seemed to be an awful lot of paper on desks in episodes of The Bill, accompanied by the incessant clatter of manual typewriters. Needless to say, things have moved on in leaps and bounds from a technological perspective in today’s business and social world (maybe except for the reams of paper that still seem to be on quite a few office desks). Nevertheless, a new global report finds that close to half (40%) of all SMB employees who participated in the study are dissatisfied with their work environments as an increasingly mobile workforce shapes employee expectations for access to technology that enables co-working, shared spaces and better work-life balance and integration. According to the Lenovo-commissioned report conducted by Forrester Consulting, SMBs appear to have fallen behind the curve on delivering positive employee experience (EX).


The Automation debate

06 December, 2019

There has been debate recently about whether the increasing level of automation in manufacturing and warehousing environments is posing a threat to people’s jobs. Ostensibly, this might seem to be a rational concern. So, what’s the truth? Although expensive to set up, Sophie Hand, UK country manager at automation parts supplier EU Automation, maintains that highly automated ‘lights-out’ manufacturing comes with a series of advantages, the first of which is increased profitability. “Generally, robots work more slowly but more consistently than humans, since they don’t get tired, bored, distracted or sick,” she says. “As a result, autonomous robots can help manufacturers maximise productivity to meet increased demand.” She adds that lights-out manufacturing can enable businesses to save on energy and operational costs. “A fully automated factory can run ‘with the lights out,’ since human necessities such as lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning are eliminated. Robots can also operate in significantly smaller work cells, reducing the costs related to an adequately spacious plant floor,” says Hand. Moreover, she states that robots represent the perfect workforce in dangerous industrial environments, where toxic fumes, rapidly moving machinery or hot surfaces can pose serious health and safety threats to human workers.


Partnering to success

30 October, 2019

When it comes to technology it is normally the larger multinational companies that dip their toe in the water and, in some instances, take a full body plunge at an early stage. This is understandable insomuch as it is normally the larger companies that have the more generous budgets that can be set aside for such adventures in modernity. The smaller to medium-sized companies, on the other hand, might consider that they don’t have the money available to make such investments – or maybe feel they only have the wherewithal to push the technology envelope so far. Another reason for some SME’s lack of focus in the direction of the latest tech may be simply because they are so busy keeping their head above water with the orders coming in and the books to balance that they don’t feel they have the time and resources to give too much thought to the automation revolution that’s happening all around them.


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