49% of UK Engineers want to change jobs in 2016

This is the conclusion of “Investors in People”, the UK organisation that tries to promote better ‘People Management’ in industry. A OnePoll survey of 2000 individuals employed in the Engineering and Manufacturing sectors organised at the end of November found that 25% of employees are currently ‘Quite or Extremely Unhappy’ in their jobs. One in five of the respondents were already actively job hunting. Investors in People consider that 49% of engineers will be looking to move jobs in 2016, as the UK economy improves.

Paul Devoy, Head of Investors in People said: “Small things can make a big difference. Feeling valued, understanding their role in the organisation and how they can grow with an organisation are all big concerns for UK workers.  Saying thank you, involving employees in decisions and giving them responsibility over their work are basic ways to make staff happier, and more likely to stay. Employers also win, with a more committed workforce, higher retention and a clearer view of the future.”

Investors in People have produced a new report “Job Exodus Trends in 2016”, which is available from their website. It shows that one in 5 workers in the engineering and manufacturing sectors are complaining the lack of career progression (21%), a similar number (22%) say they don’t feel valued as a member of staff and nearly a quarter are unhappy with their levels of pay (23%), prompting a potential mass exodus.

The survey tested the respondents’ attitude by asking them to choose between two scenarios – a 3% pay-rise, in line with recent UK increases, or a different non-remuneration benefit:

  • Over a third (36%) said they would prefer a more flexible approach to working hours than a 3% pay-rise;
  • Nearly a third (32%) said they would rather have a clear career progression route;
  • A similar number (29%) would rather their employer invested in their training and development more.

When asked what their employer could do to increase their happiness in their current role,

  • One in 11 (9%) just wanted to be told ‘thank you’ more often;
  • One in 9 (11%) simply wanted more clarity on what their career progression options were.

Without addressing some of these problems, many employers run the risk of losing their valuable, skilled staff, as the economy improves in 2016, concludes Investors in People. See www.investorsinpeople.com/jobexodus2016.

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Climate and UK power changes

It seems that a standard feature in the monthly INSIDER Newsletter now necessary is to review the U-turns and changes of subsidies and policies of the UK Government in relation to future power sources. Solar schemes have used up all the Government allocated finance, and wind has fallen from favour, presumably to allow the big nuclear plants from China and France to take the front position – showered with promises of Government money. Then the rather puzzling announcement came that the Government was to cancel any further spend on CCS – Carbon Capture and Storage – for which two prototype experimental plants are being built in the UK. This ignores the major market requirement for such plants in the developing world once the technology is sorted, but at least Shell has other similar CCS projects in other countries.

So the cancellation of Government support for these green climate saving technologies was a really good precursor to the Climate Change talks in Paris in December. However, one week later, and another U-turn, and solar power subsidies, smaller versions, are re-instated!

The UK policy subsequently seems to be that coal fired plants will be phased out completely, with a target end-date of 2025, to be replaced by solar and gas powered plants. Note the gas plants could also benefit from CCS technology, using up the caverns left empty under the North Sea, but there has been no U-turn there yet! Further offshore wind farm developments will also be allowed, provided they can deliver energy at a lower cost than currently. Plus small modular nuclear plants are now back on the list of possible options, too.

The next part of the Government’s spending review involved cutting out all the funding for the Manufacturing Advisory Service, which is, or was, a well-respected advice service for small manufacturers to get help in choosing the right form of automation systems, to enable them to trade competitively. That seems to have been the major area where it had a positive impact. So they cut that too.

Nuclear plant lifetime economics

TXT 3 Alisha Kasam

At Churchill College, Cambridge, Alisha Kasam, a student from Atlanta Georgia, has just completed an MPhil which was entitled Thermodynamic and Economic Evaluation of the Nuclear Air Brayton Combined Cycle. She is now studying for a PhD in Engineering – specifically the dynamic efficiency of energy and the economic viability of resource sustainability and waste minimisation in the next generation of nuclear plant technology. Just the sort of investigative report that an Editor would like to undertake, but obviously it’s a bit more work than might be obvious. Alisha is fully sponsored at Cambridge University by a Cambridge Trust scholarship and a Churchill Pochobradsky Scholarship combined into one.

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It’s a pity Sir John didn’t put a spare reactor in that boiler house!

Yokogawa finds a niche

Yokogawa, or maybe the Irish firm Schwungrad Energie (I have real worries about the Irish!) have developed a system to store and smooth the intermittent or variable power coming out of wind turbines in particular, or solar farms, using a medium-sized flywheel and a lump of their clever electronics. This enables a stable supply to be delivered to consumers, avoiding brown-outs etc. Their system has been installed in Europe’s first hybrid energy storage plant in Rhode, County Offaly, Ireland. Developed in collaboration with the University of Limerick, the Rhode hybrid demo project comprises two Beacon Power 160 kW flywheels and Hitachi Chemical valve regulated lead acid batteries of up to 160 kW. The plant will have a maximum import capacity of 400 kVA and maximum export capacity of 422 kVA. The flywheel system, with very high cycling ability, can rapidly absorb short-term excess grid energy and generate energy as needed by grid operators.

Yokogawa delivered the FA-M3V high speed controller and the Fast-Tools SCADA software to monitor and control the amount of energy that is stored in the flywheels and the charging/discharging of the lead acid battery. Yokogawa are hoping to strengthen its position in the power industry through the provision of such grid-connectable power storage systems as these, and other solutions that can help to build a sustainable society.

Stop Press!

Not yet confirmed, but the rumour is the latest Government U-turn will be that, because of “global warming, which has led to unseasonably warm weather in the UK throughout December”, the GBP100 Winter fuel supplement paid to pensioners early in December is to be recalled, by a levy on their January pensions. Happy New Year!

Finland LNG terminal automation

Honeywell Process Solutions will provide its Experion Process Knowledge System (PKS) automation controls, with tank gauging systems, to Finland’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal. The imported LNG will be used to supply natural gas to marine vessels and industrial facilities in Finland, helping to replace other fuels that have higher emissions.

The cleaner-burning natural gas will help these vessels and facilities meet emissions regulations in the Baltic Sea and Nordic areas. Honeywell technology (including Enraf tank gauging) is currently being used in about 40 similar LNG import and export terminals around the world.

Additionally, Honeywell’s Enterprise Buildings Integrator (EBI) will connect and power comfort, safety and security systems within the terminal itself, creating a productive environment for workers. With tight integration between the Experion PKS and EBI, operators will have one interface to access and manage all process and facility technology, which improves site-wide visibility and efficiency.
“Honeywell’s technologies offer Skangas Oy an all-in-one solution that will help make their new facility be efficient and productive from day one,” said Pieter Krynauw, vp and gm of the Honeywell Process Solutions Projects and Automation Solutions business unit. “This fully integrated technology will help the terminal maximize its operations with accurate and on time information, precise measuring technologies, safety and security.”
This will be the third LNG terminal equipped for Skangas, one of the largest suppliers of small-scale LNG in the Nordic countries. The company operates similar facilities in Sweden and Norway to provide customers with natural gas for shipping, industrial and heavy-duty land transport needs. The Pori LNG terminal will have a capacity of 30,000 cubic meters and will be completed in the second half of 2016. Honeywell’s tank gauging systems will be used on tanks provided through the Spanish engineering company FCC Industrial e Infraestructuras Energeticas S.A.U.
“Demand for LNG in Finland continues to rise for industrial, shipping and heavy-duty land transport companies,” said Tommy Mattila, Sales and Marketing director, Skangas. “It is critical that this terminal operates at the highest level of efficiency.”
Honeywell technologies that will be used at the facility include:
  • Experion® Process Knowledge System (PKS), the heart of the Integrated Control and Safety Systems (ICSS), which offers more than traditional distributed control systems (DCS) by unifying people with process, business requirements and asset management by enabling integration of all process control, safety systems and automation software.
  • Enterprise Buildings Integrator (EBI) is a building management system that provides a single point of access to information and resources that help monitor, control and protect a facility. EBI will connect fire detection, intrusion detection, access control, video surveillance, and heating and cooling equipment at the new Skangas Oy terminal, and seamlessly share data with Experion PKS.
  • Terminal Manager automates all operations at a bulk liquid terminal, including key monitoring and controlling functions such as product receipt, gate access control and loading.
  • Safety Manager integrates process safety data, applications, system diagnostics and critical control strategies, and executes defined safety applications in a fully redundant architecture.
  • SmartRadar FlexLine is one of Honeywell’s portfolio of high-end radar tank gauges for the assessment of tank contents, tank inventory control and tank farm management.
  • Portable Enraf Terminal is a portable device that enables access and reading of Honeywell Enraf tank gauges regardless of weather or operating conditions.

PROFINET for Process Automation

PI, Profibus International, has published a 32 page paper entitled “PROFINET – The Solution Platform for Process Automation”. This is the PI justification of its view that Profinet will gain more importance in process automation, due to both its actual capabilities, and its newly developed and planned properties. PI says it is working closely with well-known users of process automation to achieve this objective. Siemens has already stated that they are involved in achieving this objective (for example, as reported in the July INSIDER).

The paper details the existing functions and capabilities of Profinet that already meet the demands of the process automation industry, and provides guidance as to specifications that are published, or under development, and could be implemented and utilized in future products.

Explaining the Background

The press release text from PI is well written: it says –

Process-related systems are typically complex in structure, consisting of different sub-systems with numerous devices and differing topologies, manufacturers and technologies. Plant Owners and Operators urgently want this complexity to be harmonized and the data and information systems to be fully integrated and easier to handle with resulting improvements in operational reliability. Profinet fully meets these demands:

  • Profinet is 100% Ethernet and thus provides an ideal environment for interoperability at all levels of a plant. And Profinet is precisely defined in its specifications, which is also a requirement for full interoperability.
  • As a uniform technology in a plant, Profinet also affects personnel costs. There is less training expense, fewer specialists are needed, and plant operation is more transparent and thus more reliable and cost-efficient.

After five more such statements, PI concludes: “The answer therefore to the introductory question ‘Why Profinet?’ is as follows: As an Industrial Ethernet standard Profinet offers plant operators and owners of process automation-related plants a large step forward in terms of standardization, integration, ease of use, security, and cost reduction!”

“PI is working intensively on a comprehensive solution for process automation that includes existing and new PI technologies. The goal is the development of Profinet as the solution platform for process automation.”

Read the PI document on tinyurl.com/oacjzak

Nestling closer to Rockwell

Citing its ability to develop innovative solutions and provide extensive support to commission new factory lines, Nestlé USA awarded Rockwell Automation its 2014 North America Procurement Supplier of the Year award for technical procurement – maintenance, repair and operations (MRO). Nestlé USA also commended Rockwell Automation for its superior ability to communicate its supplier relationship management scorecard throughout the Rockwell Automation organization, using it to gauge its performance as a supplier to Nestlé.

“This award recognizes many years of innovative collaboration and partnership between Nestlé USA and Rockwell Automation,” said Andy Murray, head of technical procurement at Nestlé. “Rockwell Automation is one of our key strategic suppliers, and I’m proud of all our collaborative efforts. Rockwell Automation has innovative ideas, and we would like to see even more. It’s a great pleasure to present this award to Rockwell Automation.”

Keith Nosbusch, chairman and CEO of Rockwell Automation, said “We pride ourselves on working with the best companies in the world, and Nestlé is certainly one. Nestlé was our first global account, and our relationship is the benchmark that we use to measure all others”.

Knick to expand into the UK

Knick Elektronische Messgeräte, based in Berlin and known in Germany and mainland Europe for the manufacture of quality electronic measuring instruments, has decided to increase its representation in the UK market. To ensure access to the complete product range, Knick plans to expand its British distributor network.

Knick also plan to exhibit at Sensors & Instrumentation at the NEC in Birmingham from 30th September to 1st October. There you will have the possibility to see some new Knick products, such as the Portavo, the first portable analyser (for pH, oxygen, conductivity) with Memosens technology for safe or hazardous areas. Also on show will be the Stratos 2-wire and 4-wire process analysers with the latest fieldbus technology for Memosens or analog sensors, in safe or hazardous areas.

The display will also feature their new range of signal conditioners, isolators and transducers, on stand D16.

Back in 1945, engineer Ulrich Knick started manufacturing high-precision zero-point-stabilized DC amplifiers, laying the foundation for the modules product range. These amplifiers also enabled the production of reliable and precise pH meters. Today Knick develops and sells a broad range of devices for industrial analog signal processing. About 50 % of the business volume is generated from analog interface products. The other half are applied in liquids analysis, where Knick‘s high-quality measuring systems have become established in industry and the laboratory.

See more on www.knick-international.com.

AM and 3D printing conference

In a show of support for the additive manufacturing community, global engineering technology firm Renishaw sponsored the internationally renowned, knowledge transfer event focused on production using additive layer-based technologies, the Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing International Conference. This is organised by the University of Nottingham, and was held from 7-9 July, 2015.

The Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing International Conference has been running for almost a decade, and the event was one of the first dedicated to additive manufacturing. Renishaw’s additive manufacturing specialists attended the exhibition, sharing their wealth of knowledge with over 300 delegates from 19 countries.

“Emerging technologies require support, which is why Renishaw has been involved with the additive manufacturing (AM) community since day one,” says Robin Weston, marketing manager of Renishaw’s Additive Manufacturing Products Division. “The industry is seeing new developments every day, so the Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing International Conference is a great opportunity to share knowledge and celebrate achievements.”

The first day of the event was dedicated to scientific advances in AM. Then the next two days provided a conference during which academic and industry speakers discussed industry topics, such as the future materials to be used in AM and applications of AM in the production and construction sectors. An exhibition including some of the highest profile names in additive manufacturing also ran in parallel.

Engineers test-fly 3D-printed aircraft from Royal Navy ship

UAV Launch, Portland Harbour

Separately, Les Hunt, Editor of DPA, Design Products and Applications, carries a report that a 3D-printed aircraft has been successfully launched from the bow of the Royal Navy vessel, HMS Mersey, and achieved a safe landing on a Dorset beach.

HMS Mersey provided the platform for the University of Southampton to test out its SULSA unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Weighing 3kg and measuring 1.5m the airframe was created on a 3D printer using laser sintered nylon. It was catapulted off HMS Mersey into the Wyke Regis Training Facility in Weymouth, before landing on Chesil Beach.

The flight, which covered roughly 500m, lasted less than few minutes but demonstrated the potential use of small lightweight UAVs, which can be easily launched at sea, in a maritime environment. The aircraft carried a small video camera to record its flight, allowing the researchers to monitor the flight.

Professor Andy Keane, from Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton, says: “The key to increased use of UAVs is the simple production of low cost and rugged airframes – we believe our pioneering used of 3D printed nylon has advanced design thinking in the UAV community world-wide.”

It was back in 2011 that University of Southampton engineers initially designed, and flew project SULSA, the world’s first entirely ‘printed’ aircraft.

With a wingspan of nearly 1.5m, the UAV being trialled has a cruise speed of 50kts (58mph) but can fly almost silently.

The aircraft is printed in four major parts and can be assembled without the use of any tools. Watching the demonstration was the Royal Navy’s Commander Maritime Capability (Aviation), Cdr. Bow Wheaton. “The Royal Navy’s Maritime Capability organisation is very interested in conceptual applications of unmanned and highly automated systems,” he said. “We were delighted to assist the University of Southampton with development of their 3D-printed unmanned air vehicle and provide a ship for an embarked launch.”

Southampton alumnus, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas (Aeronautics, 1980) has championed the Navy’s involvement with Project Triangle, which resulted in the opportunity to provide a maritime platform for the test flight.

“Radical advances in capability often start with small steps,” said Admiral Zambellas. “The launch of a 3D-printed aircraft from HMS Mersey is a small glimpse into the innovation and forward thinking that is now embedded in our Navy’s approach. It’s well known that our first squadron of remotely piloted aircraft have proven their worth in the Gulf, providing persistent airborne surveillance across huge areas of sea.”