Based in Gloucester, Downton is one of the South West region's leading distribution and storage companies. The company’s multi-client warehouse in Hardwicke, a small town sandwiched between the M5 and the Severn Estuary, was purpose-built to serve the needs of one of the company’s biggest clients - a leading UK-owned electrical household products manufacturer.

Ireland’s largest independent Temperature control and logistics company, Castlecool, has seen a marked increase in available storage space at its Castleblayney facility since it took delivery of an Aisle-Master articulated forklift.

James Roper, industrial brand manager for Durapipe UK, discusses the need for innovation in the design of valves in the industrial sector. 

The manufacturing sector is one of the fastest growing sectors of the UK economy and helping the nation’s recovery from recession. It is critical that it is – and remains – globally competitive. Barry Weller of Mitsubishi Electric looks at the role robots are assuming in helping modern production reduce costs and become adaptable for future changes.

With equipment budgets growing ever tighter in the current tough financial climate, more and more firms are putting greater emphasis on the business case for procurement before investing. Nigel Brown, Microlease CEO, explores the options available to businesses requiring test and measurement equipment. 

Reducing energy consumption is one of the most important requirements today when modernizing machines and systems. Often, there is great potential for saving energy – which, in the end, means saving money. While retrofitting a transportation system, Vienna-based Coca-Cola Hellenic Austria used the Movigear mechatronic drive system from SEW-EURODRIVE. This reduced energy consumption by 75%, which is equivalent to an annual reduction of 41 tons of CO2.  PWE reports.

Electrical Arc Flash Mitigation is becoming an increasingly important element of safety management within any industrial setting and forms a central part of ensuring site security and minimising lost time. PWE reports.

John Meale, managing director of loading & unloading equipment specialists, Thorworld Industries Ltd says spending time to choose well designed and properly manufactured quality loading bay and materials handling equipment can pay dividends in making the goods in/out process more efficient, more cost-effective and even safer.

The loading bay is a vital link in the production and distribution chain. If the loading system fails, goods cannot be despatched or received, causing knock-on delays in the production/distribution cycle. Choosing the right supplier and equipment is therefore crucially important in ensuring trouble free operation - minimising costly downtime and maximising productivity.
So what do you need to consider when looking for loading and unloading equipment? The following pointers should serve as a helpful guide to choosing the right loading bay and materials handling equipment, accessories and safety aids.
Talk to well-known and established suppliers whose experienced sales engineers should fully understand your needs and who will help you achieve a continuing drive for increased efficiency by supplying products, which fully meet your specific requirements - both short and longer-term.
It's also worth checking if they are members of an appropriate trade or industry association. My own company is an active member of the Association of Loading & Elevating Equipment Manufacturers (ALEM), which itself operates under the auspices of the British Materials Handling Federation (BMHF).
After the sales engineer has suggested a specific product or group of products, ask for details of existing users. You can then talk to them direct, or possibly visit one or more together with the potential supplier to see the equipment in action and to check on customer satisfaction levels.
It's often worth considering a single-source supplier who can provide all your main loading and unloading equipment requirements, together with the necessary accessories – particularly if they have the relevant experience and a proven track record in the sector, as well as offering the vitally important after-sales service and maintenance facility.
Make sure all the equipment suggested by suppliers or manufacturers is produced under strict quality controls that ensure the highest European health and safety standards.
It's worth remembering that an estimated 25% of factory and warehouse accidents occur in and around the loading bay. High levels of personnel and mechanical traffic, often combined with a low appreciation of the risks involved, mean that loading bays can, potentially, be extremely hazardous places in which to work.
It's a fact that an increasing quantity of materials handling equipment that does not carry the official CE mark or meet European quality and safety standards and legislation is now coming into the country, particularly from Eastern Europe and Asia.
For example, I have seen a new loading ramp made in Eastern Europe that was totally unsafe to use. In my view, the ramp, which did not have the CE mark, was a major health and safety hazard.
Using inferior materials handling and loading bay equipment could pose a threat to the health and safety of your personnel. So before you buy, always double check with the supplier that all their equipment is CE marked and has been made to EU quality, design and safety standards; don't just assume it has been.
It really is a false economy to buy 'cheap' substitutes if they are not totally safe to use, as an inferior product could lead to a serious accident and won’t generally provide a satisfactory or lengthy working life.
You also need to be confident that the supplier can offer a fast and reliable maintenance or replacement service, should something go wrong with the equipment. You cannot afford to have extensive and expensive downtime because of a breakdown or damage.
If the need is temporary, perhaps seasonal, there are significant financial benefits to be had by renting rather than buying some forms of loading equipment. As rental can be paid from income, companies can save precious capital for other expenditure.
To summarise, to bring about improved efficiencies and increased cost savings in and around the loading bay it pays to do your homework. Always talk to established experts in the industry before leaping in and buying equipment that may not be right or safe for the job. And remember that 'cheap' products more often than not cost far more in the end.

Engineers could be missing an easy win when it comes to energy and cost savings. Chris Rice at Optibelt reports. 

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Education and Skills, joined VT Flagship, part of Babcock International Group, on the first day of National Apprenticeship Week 2011, to see apprenticeship training in action and talk with employers and other stakeholders about the role of apprenticeships in building a successful UK economy.
Babcock’s Training business is one of the largest in the UK, and the Secretary of State’s visit was to HMS Sultan in Gosport, where Babcock’s Engineering Training Academy, through the VT Flagship brand, delivers engineering training to EDF Energy, Network Rail and Southern Water.  There are currently 356 apprentices in training at the site, all of who are working on a three-year programme.  The Network Rail, EDF and Southern Water programmes are run on similar lines, with bespoke elements to meet the requirements of each individual employer.  The apprentices gain technical, academic and vocational qualifications at Levels 2 and 3, alongside advanced technical certificates and other accredited training such as leadership & management, life skills and key skills.
The Secretary of State toured the site, seeing state-of-the art training facilities and equipment, including a facsimile power station used by EDF apprentices and a fully working section of railway line with multi-engineering applications, housed in a hangar and used by Network Rail apprentices.  He met and spoke with apprentices in training and found out more about their experience of the apprenticeship programme and their ambitions for the future.  Following the tour, he joined employers and senior executives from Babcock along with other stakeholders, including Rachel McKellar, South East director of the National Apprenticeship Service, to listen some of the issues around apprenticeships and to answer questions.
Alex Khan, managing director for Babcock’s Education and Training business, said: “Apprenticeships are crucial to the future of the UK economy and for enabling British businesses to be competitive in global markets.  Vince Cable’s visit to Babcock’s Training Academy at HMS Sultan has underlined this fact and we were delighted to show him apprenticeship training in action.  Babcock is very pleased be part of the countrywide Apprenticeship Week celebrations and to highlight our own positive experience, both as the UK’s leading training provider and as a major employer of apprentices.”
Babcock International Group’s Engineering Training Academy was recently rated Grade 1 – Outstanding by Ofsted across all 5 areas of the inspection framework.  This rating ranks Babcock as one of the very best in the UK training market for engineering.

Three apprentices from Salford-based clean technology business ENER-G have restored an historic engine that powered the post industrial revolution.
For the past two years the trio have worked alongside retired engineers at the Anson Engine Museum, in Poynton, Cheshire, to restore a 1943 Brotherhood Engine, which is the size of a transit van, and was last in use more than 20 years ago to power beer making at Kirkstall Brewery in Yorkshire.
The apprentices invited ENER-G group chairman Tim Scott to the museum to celebrate the completion of the project and demonstrate the working engine. 
“This was the first time we’ve seen the engine working, so it was fantastic to get it running and to show it off”, said Dean Mellor, aged 20, who has recently completed his apprenticeship and is a qualified production fitter with ENER-G.
He added: “We’ve gained a fantastic education from the other volunteers who have years of experience in traditional engineering and have passed on to us the techniques and skills that they’ve been using all their working lives. It’s given us a deep understanding of engines and made us so much better at engineering.”
Each Tuesday for the past two years, the apprentices have taken it in turns to work at the museum, working with other volunteers to strip down the type R63/8 371 kW (500 bhp) engine and completely restore it to working order.
In their day-to-day role within ENER-G, they manufacture renewable and energy efficient technologies, including combined heat and power systems that create low carbon energy for global customers, including the Royal family at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.
Peter Wood, volunteer coordinator for Anson Museum, said: “This is the first time we have involved apprentices and it’s been very successful. We’re all getting on in years so it’s been really nice to have young people around. It’s been a two way relationship in that we’ve benefited from their help, and they’ve learnt valuable skills from qualified engineers with years of experience.”
ENER-G started its engineering apprenticeship scheme in 2006, and trainees complete a four-year programme spending one day a week studying for ONC and NVQ level 2, and then HNC and NVQ level 3.  The company works in partnership with Salford and Trafford Engineering Group Training Association (STEGTA) and Trafford College Technology Centre.  ENER-G is also planning to launch an administration apprenticeship scheme.
ENER-G presented the museum with a donation of £1500 to thank them for hosting the apprentices.

Ann Watson, managing director of specialist awarding organisation, EAL, has responded to the recent publication of Review of Vocational Education – The Wolf Report on the 3rd March, 2011. She commented:  “I fully support the findings of Professor Wolf’s Review of Vocational Education – qualifications will only lead to long-term career opportunities if they incorporate an element of work-based experience and are more closely tailored to the needs of industry. Training should not be about getting bums on seats but preparing learners to make a valuable contribution once in the workplace.
“I especially welcome Professor Wolf’s view that employers taking on 16-18 year old apprentices should be eligible for payments; worthwhile investment in an apprentice is a big consideration for employers, particularly in these times when the cost of running a business seems to be risings with little material return or gain. For too long now employers have been paid lip service, with no financial incentive or reward for their input into training – this must change.  I would, however, also like to see employers incentivised to take on the 19 plus age group, many of which are desperately seeking support to start their careers.  With youth unemployment pushing the one million mark, the Government cannot afford to allow the UK’s economy to rest with the training of 16-18 year olds only.  
“I am heartened by Professor Wolf’s recognition and support of the NVQ level 3 as a target standard of attainment. The vocational route doesn’t hinder alternative careers, especially when we consider sectors such as engineering, where transferable skills obtained in maths, science and management are core components. Look to any role within the manufacturing industry and you’ll find a range of skills being developed which only strengthen their employability. Understanding this is crucial if vocational education is to be seen as a credible option for young people, and vital in securing a skilled workforce.”

Proskills has welcomed the continuing focus on improving the skills of the workforce as the Government reveals the plans for its latest funding pot. However, process and manufacturing leaders are urging the Government to put funds where they will make the most difference for employers still struggling to recover from the recession. 

Buying a fake watch may be illegal but it is unlikely to be life threatening.  Supplying fake personal protective equipment (PPE) however could be the difference between life and death.  The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) has recently stressed the importance of ensuring quality CE approved PPE is used, thereby protecting lives. PWE reports.

PWE takes a snap shot look at some of the highlights taking place at this year’s Hannover Fair between 4-8 April 2011.

Exide Technologies has launched a new traction battery rental solution; ‘Power Gap’ offers managers of materials handling equipment fleets the opportunity to bridge any gap they may have in their energy requirements without a major investment in capital equipment.
Power Gap is designed for certain peak times of the year, such as the run up to Christmas, when customers need to increase their battery fleet. Alternatively, they may have reached the end of a long term lease contract but do not wish to take on the commitment of another long term contract at that point in time. In such instances Power Gap can provide be the ideal flexible solution.
It is also claimed to give customers the reassurance they are getting a reliable product supported by the backup of the UK’s largest motive battery provider. A package can be tailored to the customer’s exact requirements who is then charged a fixed weekly cost – helping with planning and cash flow as assets are not tied up in capital equipment.
An Exide technician will provide a professional evaluation of the client’s requirements and a package recommended which will include regular on-site inspections and maintenance calls as well as any required replacements at no additional cost. 24 hour standby maintenance offers additional reassurance to maximise uptime. Should power needs change, Power Gap can be adjusted accordingly.

For further information please visit:

Barcode reading for effective data entry operations

Mark Beauchamp, European Marketing Manager for Citizen Systems Europe, explores the benefits of the latest generation of barcode and label printing technologies particularly in production engineering applications.

Carl Knight, Fulton Limited’s sales and marketing manager, looks at water treatment for steam raising plant, and the benefits of an effective water treatment programme.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned that despite improvements over recent years, the number of workplace accidents involving fork lift trucks remains too high for complacency. This view is shared by Dean Mansell, engineering standards manager at Briggs Equipment. PWE takes a look at how the company believes a fresh, bespoke approach to training can save firms tens of thousands of pounds as well as reduce the risks of accidents.

 In the current economic climate no manufacturer can afford substantial waste product and the costs associated with it. However, many companies have to deal with scrap and re-work as a direct result of out of tolerance manufacture. In an ideal world, manufacturing engineers would have sufficient input in the early stages of the design process to minimise such quality losses. PWE spoke to Martin Raines, a director of Tolcap, who explains how manufacturing engineers can help mitigate the problem by applying the correct software tools. 

When it comes to maintaining valve populations, plant engineers often wish they could see into the future. Since valves touch on all major areas within a plant, when they don’t perform well it can have a negative impact on tier-one assets. A small glitch can quickly escalate into something more serious that compromises plant efficiency and functionality, or even results in an emergency (and costly) shutdown scenario. Euros Jones, primary services manager at Severn Unival reports. 

Bristol-based steam boiler specialist Fulton Limited has supplied Advanced Plasma Power (APP) with one of its Electropack EP60 steam boilers, which is said to have almost tripled the steam capacity at the company’s Swindon-based Gasplasma test facility.

The emphasis this year is going to be on using technology, servicing and clever tried and tested techniques to improve efficiencies and achieve these goals, according to Mike Baker, burner division director for Nu-way.  Here, he looks at how to save money on energy bills, while keeping a close eye on carbon emission levels. 

The Access Industry Forum (AIF) Knowledge Base, taking place at the Safety & Health Expo from 17-19 May 2011, is back by popular demand after a successful launch last year. This year the Forum is sponsoring three distinct areas: the Working at Height Knowledge Base, Demonstration Area and Information Centre. In combination they will provide thought provoking comment, best practice advice and showcase the latest access equipment in action.
"Falls from height remain the most common kind of workplace injury and fatality”, says Peter Bennett for the AIF. “There is no room for complacency, which is why the Forum will again be focusing on safety, standards and best practice when it comes to working at height. In particular, this year's Knowledge Base represents a unique opportunity to hear thought provoking contributions from senior representatives of all the major UK health and safety organisations."
Knowledge Base highlights include panel discussions between representatives from organisations such as the HSE, IOSH, RoSPA, IIRSM & the British Safety Council. One such discussion will be a ground breaking session on the second day entitled ‘How to achieve the Holy Grail – no more working at height accidents – ever!’ featuring contributions from: AIF Chairman and PASMA MD, Peter Bennett; Nigel Bryson OBE of the British Safety Council and Bryson Consulting; Nick Johnson LLB representing the Health & Safety Executive; Barry Holt of the IIRSM; John A. Holden from IOSH and Roger Bibbings, Occupational Safety Adviser at RoSPA.
Another highlight is set to be ‘Design vs. Cost vs. Safety – Successful planning techniques to work at height’. Featuring contributions from AIF, the Association for Project Safety, the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors this session will attempt to establish a happy medium between creative flair and safety at height.  While building specialists including the Chartered Institute of Building and UK Contractors Group will join forces to discuss how to best balance health and safety demands in ‘Maintaining effective WAH policies in a tough economic climate’.
A poignant reminder of the importance of health and safety procedure whilst working at height will be presented by Jason Anker who was paralysed from the waist down in an avoidable workplace incident. ‘The impact of my life after a fall – a victim’s perspective’ promises to have a powerful impact on those listening as Jason has been unable to openly discuss his experience until very recently.  Expect a raw and emotional talk taking us back to the day of this tragic incident.
The Information Centre will provide guidance on safety and practice from AIF member organisations together with details of the latest membership publications and training programmes. Running alongside the Information Centre and returning in a new format will be a dedicated Demonstration Area devoted to practical demonstrations of the latest access equipment and systems.  
Alongside these keynote sessions, member organisations of the Forum will talk about the latest developments in their respective specialisations. PASMA, the trade association representing the mobile access tower industry, will explain the findings of its year-long review into fall protection methods, and the Ladder Association will make clear the continuing role and relevance of ladders and stepladders in the workplace and the growing recognition for the need for professional ladder training.
IPAF will describe the latest developments in powered access and ask the question ‘Are your MEWPs safe?’ and NASC will talk about the recent developments in scaffolding guidance including SG4:10 and the new TG20:08 interactive guide.

For further information please visit:

Site and safety managers can now use the PAL Card (Powered Access Licence) online verification tool at to check if a card is genuine. A valid PAL Card issued by the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), or by its North American subsidiary AWPT in the US, is proof that the cardholder has been trained to operate powered access equipment safely and effectively.

The new Taski by Diversey swingo 1850 walk-behind scrubber drier incorporates a number of design and ergonomic features to promote economical operation, ease-of-use and life-long sustainability. Its large water tank and patented water control system ensure that the machine can clean areas up to 2500m2 between refills for maximum productivity. This makes the scrubber drier ideal for high performance conventional and daytime cleaning in retail, healthcare and general applications.

For many years now Fengrain has always relied on the Big Brute vacuum cleaners to aid in its stringent cleaning routines and with the expansion and construction of further silos an additional vacuum cleaner was called for.

A novel, handheld vibration monitoring system has been developed, which enables maintenance engineers at Siemens Mobility to check train traction motors for early signs of damage to the bearings. PWE reports. 

Safety at height contractors, Safetyworks & Solutions, who manufacture and install a range of fall protection and access systems predominately for building, estate and facilities managers, surveyors and the construction industry, will be exhibiting its product range and services at Safety & Health Expo, held at the NEC 17-19th May 2011.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) senior policy and technical advisor, Jill Joyce, discusses slips, trips and falls. 

As companies emerge from the recession and reassess their supply chain models in an attempt to maximise efficiency, warehouse automation is back on the agenda - but the agenda has changed, says Steve Richmond, general manager of Jungheinrich UK Ltd’s systems and projects division. PWE reports. 

The UK recycling sector demonstrates an ever-increasing thirst for plant flexibility and increased efficiencies, with future-proofing considerations now becoming increasingly important during the investment decision process.

PWE takes a look at this year’s Sustainabilitylive exhibition – the UK event for the environment, water, land, energy and sustainable business sectors. 

Large-scale users of energy, manufacturing and process industries are under particularly strong pressure to deliver a programme of action to reduce CO2 emissions and meet Government targets. This pressure has manifested itself in a constant stream of legislation, standards and regulations, so it is little wonder that many premises and facilities managers and factory owners may be confused by this myriad of rules and regulations.  Here, Simon Keel of Daikin UK, looks at some of the key requirements and contradictions of carbon reduction legislation for air conditioning and how managers can best meet them. 

The trend toward lean, J.I.T. (just-in-time) manufacturing and concession stockholding requires among other things, effective and flexible storage systems which optimise space. With this in mind storage specialists Stakrak Ltd has introduced its Kanban line side storage racking system, which facilitates the storage of components at the point-of-use, on the production line.
The Kanban system is robust, yet lightweight and can be adapted and modified to fit most requirements and is an ideal solution for smaller components, such as fasteners and fixings. For example, the system can have sloping shelves, to present containers for easy access and at the right height for operatives. Options include all metal shelves with plastic bins, or racks with particle board decks complete with plastic bins.
This two-bin arrangement simplifies stock rotation and replacement. Both bins can be loaded with stock, when the front bin is empty it can be simply removed to allow the second bin to slide into place while the other bin can be replenished with stock on the next visit. Bins can be colour coded to enable easy identification of different components helping to speed-up the assembly, manufacturing process. 

For further information please visit:

A new braking roller for carton live storage lanes ensures that both empty and fully-loaded bins and containers stocked in the same lane will move to the picking face at the same speed. The new braking roller, from BITO Storage Systems Ltd, achieves this by adjusting the lane incline according to the weight of the empty containers to allow smooth and undisrupted forward movement of all containers irrespective of their weight. No auxiliary aids, such as hooks, are required. This is a particularly important capability in automatically serviced flow lanes.

Conveyors are one of the most useful and widespread types of equipment in the manufacturing process. Controlling conveyors brings its own challenges and variable-speed AC drives are ideally suited to meeting them. PWE reports.

The British Fluid Power Association (BFPA) has launched a new ‘Hose Assembly Skills Training Programme’. PWE reports. 

 Following recent HSE Safety and Health Awareness Days (SHADs) for the bakery industry, Nederman is offering free site surveys to companies considering dust control.

Two bespoke fume extraction systems using TEKA extraction equipment with four specially designed hoods from Flextraction Ltd, suppliers and manufacturers of Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) products is helping Network Rail in Bristol to train and certify future operatives in the techniques of aluminothermic welding, as well as Manual Metal Arc (MMA) and semi automatic and automatic flux cored arc welding (FCAW) techniques as used in rail welding operations.

Standfirst: Andrew Copson, managing director of Sharpak Yate, Bridgwater and Holland, argues that industry, the Government and schools must work together to revitalise the sector and bring more young people into work. Central to this is tackling the disturbing lack of understanding young people have surrounding manufacturing. 

ESAB supplies welding electrodes against a tight deadline to enable cement kiln repairs to be completed within a scheduled shutdown 

Instrumentation specialist Ashtead Technology has launched a new range of commercial packages at MCERTS 2011 - the dedicated air monitoring event - created to both expand the availability of the latest technology and to reduce costs.

Aggreko, the temporary power and temperature control solutions company has provided power for First Hydro to test a newly manufactured generator stator (the stationary part of the generator that houses the rotor) at the Ffestiniog plant in the Snowdonia region of Wales. First Hydro, which operates two power stations in North West Wales, is part of a joint venture between International Power plc and Mitsui & Co. Ltd. and this work is part of a planned refurbishment at the power station.

David Tuffin, technical support manager at shentongroup looks at fears over future power shortages, which highlights the requirement for standby power and CHP. 

The organising team behind the inaugural Motion & Control Industry Awards are delighted to announce that the ‘Call for Nominations’ will open in August.

Sign up for the PWE newsletter

Latest issue

To view a digital copy of the latest issue of Plant & Works Engineering, click here.

View the past issue archive here.

To subscribe to the journal please click here.

To read the official BCAS Compressed Air & Vacuum Technology Guide 2018 click the image


"What is the most important issue for UK manufacturers during Brexit negotiations? "