22 May, 2022

A fair cop for robots

10 May, 2022

In most cases, humans have accountability in the workplace, whether in terms of quality standards, health & safety practice, treatment of other members of staff and so on. Therefore, decision making and the execution of practices that follow those decisions need to be carefully and professionally considered within current legal frameworks. Interestingly, as the use of robots becomes more prevalent within various professional spheres, a question that hitherto hasn’t been addressed to any major degree is what level of accountability should our high-tech friends have for their actions during their allocated hours of work?


Don’t let your security guard down

24 March, 2022

With the current global situation and greater risk of malicious actors posing a threat to companies’ data and internet security, it is sobering news that web malware (47%) and ransomware (42%) now top the list of security threats that organisations are most concerned about. This is according to the latest survey by Menlo Security – for which Sapio Research questioned 505 IT decision makers across the UK and US including CIOs and CISOs during February. Yet despite the growing risks, less than a third (27%) have advanced threat protection in place on every endpoint device that can access corporate applications and resources. The Menlo research, ‘The state of threat prevention: evasive threats take center stage’, explores what steps organisations are taking to secure themselves in the wake of a new class of cyber threats – known as Highly Evasive Adaptive Threats (HEAT).


Automation and the journey to net zero

08 February, 2022

The government’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by 50% on 1990 levels by 2025 and to net zero by 2050 is now a firm commitment and mantra. In the words of the prime minister, the UK’s strategy for net zero is to lead the world in ending our contribution to climate change, while turning this mission into the greatest opportunity for jobs and prosperity for our country since the industrial revolution. But is enough being done to encourage the deployment of the types of technology capable of helping companies to realise this end? Robotics and automation, for example, certainly have a substantial part to play, but how can more firms of all sizes be encouraged to embrace this type of technology? Mike Wilson, chief automation officer at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), believes it is largely about strategy. During the recent DFA Manufacturing Media webinar ‘Talking Industry – Robotics & Advanced Automation’, he encouraged businesses to develop an automation strategy in the same way that they develop a business plan. “You figure out where you want to be in 10 years’ time and determine how to get there not only in terms of the equipment you are going to use but also in terms of how you’re going to develop the workforce, their skills and so on – and undertake that as a business improvement strategy and in relation to the net zero.”


25 years on and still going strong

13 December, 2021

This edition of Hydraulics & Pneumatics marks the publication’s 25th anniversary. As editor, I first settled into the hotseat in 2005. From the outset, I realised the magazine had considerable value as the only true publication dedicated to the fluid power industry in the UK. Looking back over the years, it is gratifying to remember many highlights – including forming ever stronger links with industry trade bodies such as the British Fluid Power Association and the British Compressed Air Society, and launching exhibitions complementary to the journal – Air-Tech in 2006 and Fluid Power & Systems in 2014, shows that remain firm calendar fixtures for our industry.


Share and share alike

02 November, 2021

Two topics that are being put increasingly in the spotlight are health & safety of the workforce and data security. And rightly so, of course – themes that are equally applicable to all industrial and mobile sectors. One of the most common questions regarding these themes is how do we ensure we are being as efficient as we can be vis-à-vis our safety and security plans? It has now become more or less a no-brainer that digitalisation has a major role to play here. Moreover, there is growing evidence that the sharing of data related to these and other themes can benefit all parties concerned. With this point in strong focus, a new guide released by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) states that manufacturers of construction products will need to start sharing their data digitally to support a safer and more sustainable construction industry.


Finding the right starting point for going digital

29 September, 2021

We all hear much about digital transformation and the business and operational benefits to be had within manufacturing and engineering. However, in order to get the ball rolling companies of all sizes need to decide on an initial point of entry, and what elements of the digital journey to home in on in the first instance. As Aaron Blutstein, editor of Smart Machines and Factories, said during the recent DFA Media organised Talking Industry webinar on Digital Transformation, one of the biggest issues regarding the topic is getting people on board because some companies are so entrenched in their daily routine that there can be a challenge in getting them to recognise that something needs to change.


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.


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