16 January, 2019

Special 21st Anniversary Report - Eventful journey

12 December, 2017

personal protective equipment and there is now more of an effort to remove people from operations completely if the tasks they undertake are potentially very dangerous. Instead, more and more companies are now looking at automation or redesigning of the task to some extent so that people don't need to work so close to a machine.”

In terms of filtration, Cuthbert commented that if one looks at the history of ISO 9000 quality management and quality assurance, we had BS5750 in the 1990s, which later changed to ISO 9001. “It started off with the idea of reducing waste and then started to look at failures and putting in place preventative action. Now in 2017, we are trying to assess the risk of things happening before we have even designed them. So, it's now trying to think analytically at the beginning of doing anything in order to determine the future potential risks. For example, in order to improve things such as machine or equipment uptime, improved performance, health & safety and so on.”

Government policy

How has Government policy towards engineering/manufacturing changed over the past couple of decades? Brooks considers that, although governments come and go, it cannot be denied that all have neglected the need for the UK to once again invest in the engineering sectors of the UK economy. “Engineering in all sectors of the UK needs youth and we need our schools to again engage students in the idea that engineering is exciting, interesting, rewarding and fun to be involved with,” he insisted. “The introduction of Trailblazer (apprenticeship) is of course most welcome, but we need to take this to schools and attempt to get students at primary & secondary levels talking about engineering and how it affects our everyday lives.”

Hambrook believes the recent encouragement to take up a trade over degree-related further education is a positive move. He added that the Government could do more to support engineering & manufacturing and our global markets by way of financial incentives/tax breaks for companies investing in modernising their workshops, and exhibiting at national & international trade shows as well as overseas advertising and so on.

Gunter made the point that, for a distributor such as Abdex, it is important for the UK Government to seek to secure a positive outcome during the Brexit negotiations. This, he maintains, will give business people more confidence during the process.

Cuthbert’s view is that Government has never really understood engineering and manufacturing in the same way as it understands financial services. “Many engineers tend to be fairly self-sufficient and set out to achieve their goals anyway without waiting for the opportunity of a handout from Government,” he remarked. “That said, we have received help at various times over the years on things such as exporting, and of course that is always gratefully received. From the point of view of investment in manufacturing, there are often schemes available, and these tend to ebb and flow depending on the colour of the Government and awareness of the Minister at any given time.”

Cuthbert added that the tide is turning away from the old adage that 50% of the population should go to university; something he believes had the effect of sucking many potential new technicians out of the market. “This has now come full circle to a situation whereby not so many people can choose to go to university and more apprenticeships are available,” he said. “I think this is really positive, but it is ironic in that some time ago if a company offered an apprenticeship it would be flooded with applications because

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