Retrofit, the Key to Supporting the UK’s Manufacturing Revival?

Les Littlewood, Sales Director at Albion Valves UK Ltd asks, "Is retrofit the key to supporting the UK’s manufacturing revival?”

Les Littlewood, Sales Director, Albion Valves UK Ltd

Les Littlewood, Sales Director, Albion Valves UK Ltd

According to the EEF, The Manufacturer’s Organisation, British manufacturers are planning for improved trading conditions in the year ahead, with export a particularly encouraging growth area and 47- 51% of exporters expecting higher orders this year from both EU countries and beyond.

Economic indicators show manufacturing on the rise in the UK, and a recent EEF public survey shows support for the industry with 70% of adults saying that Britain should aim to be a top five manufacturing nation.

While increased demand for British goods and increased productivity in British factories can only be positive – the economic conditions and volatility of sterling, along with rising commodity prices means that manufacturers must also be mindful of managing production costs in their factories.

Yorkshire based Albion Valves (UK) Ltd, supplies valves and fittings for the buildings services and process industries and is keen to support the manufacturing revival in the UK.

Albion’s Sales Director, Les Littlewood, believes the best way to support increased productivity while managing the budget is to refurbish and retrofit in British factories and production lines.

Les commented: “Many companies are holding back on investment until the economic situation stabilizes, but in the meantime the process industry needs to capitalize on this opportunity for growth. Much of Britain’s process industry relies on equipment and plant that is decades old, at Albion we believe that one solution to helping ensure that process is in good order and can cope with increasing demand while not breaking the bank, is to retrofit.”

A retrofit, carried out in conjunction with taking preventative measures with older systems, can ultimately mean less investment, less operation downtime and less ongoing maintenance issues. For the purpose of refurbishments and renovations, Albion stocks a comprehensive range of valve models and components commonly specified in older buildings.

In addition, Albion’s specialist sales team can also help evaluate the system in question to identify potential technical issues that may arise and recommend the best engineered solutions and products for the job.

Albion’s stock is carefully considered to support the process industry and help ensure the wheels of manufacturing continue to turn. In production lines, solenoids are one of the most widely used valves and are vital to keep machinery running.

Solenoids can be found in almost any process operation that requires measurement, such as grouping and flow control and are an inexpensive preventative measure that can be easily fitted to increase the efficiency credentials of older systems; for example by preventing dripping taps, non-closures and leaks to save water.

The solenoid also drives pneumatic and hydraulic systems, flush systems, control cylinders, fluid power motors and helps control and energize the operation of larger industrial valves. Albion’s solenoid valve range currently includes valves for air, steam, oil, and gas, suiting a number of processing applications.

Pneumatics also play a large role in the equipment used in production lines. Often food processing equipment manufacturers rely on air control valves to make, dispense or preserve their food and beverage products such as wine, condiments, bottled water and other soft drinks.

Albion’s range of butterfly valves are also often specified in pneumatic applications, where gas flow needs to be managed – butterfly valves are simple, clever, reliable and extremely hard wearing. They are designed to control the flow of gases by simple quarter turn rotation of a disk either manually or via pneumatic or electric actuation that either enables flow or prevents it.

Les added: “In any factory, plant or commercial building facilities managers can preempt potential issues with ageing systems by timely retrofitting.”

For example, to upgrade a water system it is not always necessary to tear out all the building infrastructure and pipework. It is entirely feasible for a modern, efficient system to be created using existing materials with a few strategic tweaks. This will result in saving money on energy for a fraction of the cost of a new installation, as well as achieving a short payback period via the savings.

Similarly, if the existing pipework is in good condition, then the terminal units such as FCU’s, over-door heaters and internal water coils are likely to be equally sound. However, to boost efficiency and comfort performance, the controls may benefit from improving speed control on the fan - to optimise airflow over the coil. This small tweak can add years to the system’s service life without a huge cost.

Older factories with ageing equipment always come up against compliance issues. New regulations, directives and adhering to compliance policies to ensure equipment is fit for purpose can cause one of the greatest problems for engineers.

So where compliance is a minefield, Albion has delivered a quick fix to help take the issue away from specifiers and has prioritised approvals and accreditations across their product portfolio assuring that the products they specify are fit for purpose and fall within new legislation.

As with anything the devil is in the detail, but while the opportunity is there, a quick fix or retrofit could be the ideal solution to keep the cogs of industry turning without breaking the bank.

Tel: 01226 729 900

Published: 2nd May 2018

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