Why Does Engineering Not Seem to be a Place for Young People?

Why Does Engineering Not Seem to be a Place for Young People?

Whenever we visit a site, we fully expect to be dealing with onsite engineers who are in the latter stages of their careers. We’re talking in particular about mechanical engineers and mechanical fitters. We certainly never encounter anyone fresh out of school or university and rarely even someone in their 30s.

The issue extends into the computer side of engineering too which is a huge cutting-edge area. Yet, PLC engineers/programmers working with programme logic controllers on site are rarely starting out in their careers. Conversations we have had suggest that younger people prefer sitting at desks coding on PCs, rather than setting up controls in factory and warehouse sites – this one baffles us since we love being out and about in the thick of it!

 

Why there are so many missing engineers

From 1981, British manufacturing faced a really tough time. Jobs in manufacturing declined 21% from 1981 – 1991, 15% from 1991 – 2001, and 33% from 2001 – 2011[1]. Finally, thanks to changes in economic policy, the sector in terms of jobs is increasing but the damage is done. Lots of people saw British manufacturing being passed up in favour of factories in developing nations and stayed away. This created a huge skills gap across these periods.

Apprenticeships also contributed to the shortage. These declined from the mid-70s which prevented a lot of people from gaining the practical skills to become engineers. This lack of skilled technical entrants is sometimes termed the ‘missing middle’.

 

Hopefully things are now on the up

The government is now focusing on a huge STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) drive in the British education system. Certainly, if you talk to many GCSE or A-Level students about what sort of job they would like to do, engineering in all of its glorious forms features heavily in their aspirations. There are also specific initiatives to get more females and diversity into STEM.

In 2022, some 22.8% of degrees in Great Britain were in STEM subjects[2]. Whilst this doesn’t sound too bad, if you compare it to India at 34% or Germany at 36.2% you start to see that we are not quite keeping up the new flow of potential engineers. But it’s better than it was and hopefully this new generation of mechanical, manufacturing, and computer science engineers are employed before all the people we deal with retire!

 

Get in touch if you’d like to chat with us about engineering, conveyors or to see how we could help your operations.

 

[1] Source LSE

[2] Data from Statista

 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

SafeContractor Certification Success

SafeContractor Certification Success

We’ve only gone and passed our annual SafeContractor audit again! This shows our commitment to safe workplaces that protect people and the planet with carefully optimised operations.

The journey towards this health & safety compliance ‘gold standard’ is (to put it mildly) a fairly arduous task. To gain certification there are very strict guidelines around the evidence that you can provide.

Whilst submitting all our documentation, it became even more clear that health & safety is one of the key components to successful project management. It also shows our customers that we care about what we do.

Examples of documents that must be submitted and verified, are:

  • PAT Certification
  • Risk Assessment Method Statement (RAMS)
  • Toolbox Talks
  • Health & Safety Policy
  • Training Certificates
  • Quality Policy
  • Asbestos Awareness

Now our status has been awarded again, there is a reassuring feeling that we are doing things the right way (and relief!) We need to give a big shout out to Anthony in our team for his diligence in making this happen – we are proud to feature him together with the SafeContractor certificate.

Get in touch to see how we work.

Circularity in Manufacturing

Circularity in Manufacturing

Sustainability. It’s not a choice. Especially since, according to World Bank Open Data, manufacturing causes 20% of global carbon emissions. What sustainability looks like will vary from industry to industry, but a common concept is circularity. British manufacturing has circularity high on its agenda to help achieve government net-zero targets. But what changes are we likely to see from this initiative?

 

Goodbye to ‘take – make – dispose’

The concept of ‘take – make – dispose’ should become a thing of the past. We know that extracting resources from the Earth can destroy habitats, cause erosion and contaminate soil/water.  Equally, the concept of disposing makes many of us think of toxins leaching into rivers, wildlife being strangled by plastic and landfill sites emitting greenhouse gases.

Reduce, reuse, recycle is now a household mantra that is also key to how manufacturing operates with circularity.

 

Reducing resources

In manufacturing the ‘reduce’ element typically focuses on driving efficiency and using less to make more. This might focus on using less energy or maintaining equipment properly so it doesn’t need replacing so often. With so much more data available through in-house systems and wider data sharing initiatives, it is becoming easier to understand where inefficiencies lie in processes and even to quantify particular product carbon footprints.

 

Reuse as a concept

Reuse in manufacturing has produced some inspirational examples such as car life spans being extended by having their combustion engines removed and being turned into electric vehicles. Product life cycles are being considered a lot more and we’re seeing a rise in the manufacture of products that can be rented, re-sold and re-manufactured.

 

Pre- and post- production recycling

Recycling can manifest itself in two ways. Responsible sourcing of materials that avoids raw materials wherever possible and industrial recycling for waste that is produced. Thankfully, innovation has resulted in many more products being able to be recycled. However, there is still some way to go on creating a full suite of recycled products that can equal their virgin alternatives in terms of cost and price.

 

Digital and technological advances

It’s a comforting thought that across the world there are teams of entrepreneurs and scientists looking for breakthroughs that will help manufacturers reduce, reuse and recycle. We are keeping our eyes peeled.

Interestingly, it’s not always about the new – sometimes traditional methods make a resurgence. Certainly, we’ve had a lot of recent interest in gravity conveyors which use no electricity, simply gravity to transport items between different floors.

Get in touch for an efficient conveyor, with a long life ahead of it: future-proofed by replacement parts and servicing options.

 

Manufacturing in 2023: 5 Major Changes we’ve Noticed

Manufacturing in 2023: 5 Major Changes we’ve Noticed

We have spent several decades in factories and seen a great deal of change during that time. Here are our recent observations on British manufacturing together with our thoughts on the opportunities and challenges they bring.

 

1) Data is huge

Whilst we work with electrical controls and integrating them into conveyor systems, the sheer breadth of electrical components now in manufacturing processes has given businesses more data than ever before. Dashboards, showing key management information, are something we see on most site visits. This constant reporting means problems are found quickly and can be dealt with.

 

2) A changing shift in the perception of AI

AI is very much becoming the norm in manufacturing and its presence is noticeably modernising manufacturing processes. Inventory management, supply chain management, predicting demand… it all uses AI now. AI is uniting entire supply chains and giving factories the ability to manufacture seamlessly. The fear that initially surrounded AI and its potential to take away jobs is lessening. In fact, seeing cobots working alongside human workforces to make processes slicker and safer is ever more common.

 

3) Predictive maintenance

This is a particular area of AI that interest PJP. Servicing and maintenance are essential to protecting hard-working equipment. And now AI is taking this idea to the next level with predictive maintenance systems helping companies nail the optimum time to replace parts: ensuring components use close to their maximum lifespan and minimising costly downtime caused by wear and tear.

 

4) Reduction in the workforce

Recruitment challenges are huge. The ‘great resignation’ we are still seeing has been caused by the perfect storm of low unemployment rates and high inflation in a post pandemic world where many workers are assessing their work-life balances. It’s a struggle to recruit skilled manufacturing engineers and workers – this is being compounded by many overseas workers now being painfully difficult to attract with new visa requirements.

 

5) Leaving the EU has created greater challenges

Manufacturing businesses buying from EU countries face increased paperwork, time and cost to get the items they need, and this has huge consequences for efficient manufacturing. When selling to overseas customers, mystical duty rates and resulting fines have left many manufacturers scratching their heads wondering just what is going on.

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article. We like to keep our finger on the pulse when it comes to both manufacturing and warehousing. Automating processes with a new conveyor or maintaining existing machinery can be a game changer for manufacturers and we pride ourselves in finding solutions for our customers that provide impressive returns on investment.

Get in touch to see how we could help.

PJP Merchandise Now Launched

PJP Merchandise Now Launched

PJP Director Paul Eden has been a very good sport using his best catalogue poses to demonstrate the new line of PJP merchandise! You’ll see the team sporting these whenever you meet them next.

We opted for a full wardrobe range encompassing polo, sweatshirt, jacket and the all-important high-vis vest for visiting factories.

Could we expand the range any further? Branded steel toe-cap boots maybe…

Safety first.