The GAMBICA Association Ltd. is the Trade Association for Instrumentation, Control, Automation, Test and Measurement and Laboratory Technology in the UK.
A Trade Association is a not for profit organisation that aims to give a voice to all their members on the issues of the day and into the future. GAMBICA’s sectors, defined above, include industry players across the board within the UK manufacturing space.
A key activity is engagement with the development of standards and legislation that affects their operations within UK PLC and international markets. There are also activities through education and thought leadership where we open discussions concerning short, medium and long term developments of strategic importance.
The size of each sector and their specific focus dictates the split that GAMBICA has provided and Process Industries continues to be a large group. There are many issues that affect all UK manufacturing but there are also many specific issues that affect the Process Industries.
High Priority National Issues
The national issue of the moment is Brexit. By the time this is published, the election should be over and a new government will be starting the negotiations. Government needs help with their strategy, and that is not a cynical poke, it is a positive recognition that government does not have all the answers and asks industry to assist in setting the agenda. Government does not want to dictate, it wants to affirm. There are two key issues under discussion:
The first is the industry views on the recent Green Paper “Building our Industrial Strategy”. GAMBICA, along with other organisations has worked to develop a response to the contents through discussions with other trade bodies and of course, its members. This enables a structured and informed response.
The green paper is laid out with many sections that include a precis on each question. GAMBICA took this document and developed a questionnaire which was circulated to all members. The answers are being collated and will have been sent to BEIS in April, along with a summary publication of the responses on our website.
Whilst this green paper looks at many local UK issues, it also addresses exports and trade, especially with the EU.
The second, which was actually started first, was an initial response to the Brexit vote and its effect on UK PLC. The graphs below summarise our member demographic who responded and key issues reported by members and no doubt will also appear in slightly different formats in the Green Paper response.
The full report is available on the GAMBICA website
All our members have access to the cross-sector issues but we can now turn to the GAMBICA activities within the Process Sector.
GAMBICA Process Instrumentation and Control Sector.
Process is defined as equipment and services that are specifically sold into industries that manufacture chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, oil and gas, water treatment and anywhere that three term control is required.
Our members provide predominantly process instrumentation, pressure, temperature, flow etc., and control equipment including Programmable Automation Controllers (PAC) and Distributed Control Systems (DCS). Services include configuration, installation, support and maintenance installation by these companies for their specific equipment. The following sections look at areas of work done on behalf of process sector companies.
On an annual basis, we prepare and publish market reports for each type of equipment manufactured in the process sector in the UK. The data is produced by members under the strict guidelines of Competition Law. The key benefit of these reports is that they do not produce league tables like other “helicopter” reports that can be purchased, but provide information to participants concerning actual market size and trends.
In order to receive these reports, a company must participate in the initial data gathering. Unlike a paper bag, you actually take out more than you put in. This year’s report was published in March and covered a UK market worth close to £600m.
We produce two annual surveys around salaries. A Salary Intentions Survey collates data from members concerning the level of increase (or decrease) as a percentage they intend to make. We also collect actual salary data based on job descriptions. In most cases, the data comes directly from our members HR teams. Unlike surveys on the web where respondents will no doubt inflate their salaries, these reports are based on actual data.
Standards are key to the success of product development in a global market. It is unlikely that a company will develop products just for the UK market as they will always have an eye on exporting. Standards, and the UK input to them, especially as Brexit looms, remains high on the agenda, item 3 as shown on the above graph.
GAMBICA is represented on 27 working groups at the BSI level that affect the development of over 100 standards for process instrumentation and control.
Each working group, which is a mirror of European and International teams, is responsible for the standards that effect their area of expertise. Standards address specific issues and thus there is unlikely to be one standard against which to develop a product.
For example, if you are developing a new product in the gas detector market, the BSI working group EXL/031/01 is responsible for this area. There are at least 12 specific standards that affect this area of design. These include amongst others; the EMC standards and the output from the LV directives, communications protocols if your equipment will be networked, and protection should your equipment be put in an explosive atmosphere.
In most cases, standards are published Globally accepted with European and UK versions that remain close to the originals with minor changes in language, but not technical content. This is indicated by the initial letters of a standard e.g. ISO (Global) EN (European) BS (UK) 9001, most commonly referred to as ISO 9001 – Quality. Consequently, the work completed by GAMBICA involves us at the international level of standard development attending meetings and working groups with international partners.
GAMBICA does not have engineers and scientists from its own staff on all these working groups. We can provide people from member companies who act as experts on behalf of ourselves and report back to all members. GAMBICA is placed second by BSI for the support provided to the standards markets.
What are the benefits of using GAMBICA for representing the process industry on standards committees? Members have a voice, can comment and be able to plan and manage product development as requirements change as opposed to being reactive.
Thought Leadership and Innovation
Thought leadership can be used to spark lateral thinking. Innovation, often seen as ways to make changes pushes development.
The process industries are lagging in innovative ideas in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). This is a statement made on discussions and research over the last 12 months. However, process companies have been applying most of the technologies for probably 20 years based on DCS solutions and specific third party applications enabling integrated ERP, predictive control and asset management.
Unfortunately, most of these tend to be bespoke and thus an end users becomes locked in to one major supplier and thus cannot benefit from the best of breed in specific areas.
GAMBICA has been suggesting ideas that could improve uptake of the additional benefits of Industry 4.0. For all manufacturers, the questions they should be asking first is which, of the available directions identified in I4.0, should I invest my development budget in to bring the greatest uptake and return.
For example, product or process. Should all my devices now support a communication protocol and if so which one or should my internal systems become automated within a supply chain cloud?
Alternatively, what part of I4.0 should I invest in within my own organisation to gain the best returns for example, more robotics.
Once these are identified, the next step can be taken in reviewing their own “digital readiness” for which there are several companies offering support and tools.
GAMBICA reviews many strands of information which can be presented as papers and organise or support events that bring people together to discuss these ideas, something that on their own, they may not have the time or resources to review.
Once identified, companies can access support, most notably, for the process sector,through the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) in Wilton, the Catapult Centres and Innovate UK.
Other Hot Topics
This has been an issue for the last century and the UK has muddled through. However, it is now becoming critical as the technologies become more complex. We need well trained individuals in STEM subjects and apprenticeships across the board. GAMBICA works with companies, colleges and universities to develop approved curricula and delivery methods for this. We also work with companies to explain how they can recover some (or all) of the apprenticeship levy the government is now taking at source.
There are many topics that do not receive high levels of publicity. These include areas including the Circular Economy, Conflict Minerals and understanding the customer’s barriers to adopting new automation amongst others. The key guidance for our investigation into these areas comes from our members. We address these at our board meetings that set the direction we follow, and the Process Council that extracts those directions relevant to everything process. Both these committees are run by and chaired by members.
GAMBICA is involved with a raft of issues affecting the Process Industries. Our key purpose is to improve the operational environment for the UK manufacturers. If you would like to find out more, please visit our website www.gambica.org.uk where our contact details are posted.