Monday, 14 May 2018

Presidential address

Presidential address

It is an honour and a privilege to accept the office of President of the Institute of Refractory Engineers. Something that would never have crossed my mind when I joined as a member, many years ago in South Africa. Moving to the UK has given me a new perspective of the importance of the IRE and made me even more aware of the need for this institute to exist. Countries like China and India are getting more actively involved into refractories, mainly because the industry has largely moved into those areas. However, the UK is still seen as a major contributor to the standards relating to refractories and we should still be very proud of that.

The IRE has been surviving over the last 20 years even though every presidential speech mentioned declined member numbers and difficult times. Just another testimony that the institute has an important part to play in the future of the refractory industry.

Over the last number of years great efforts have been made by every newly elected president to try and make it more relevant for the current times. We think of the introduction of the website and the efforts made to have a chat room for members to share their views and experiences. Then later, the expansion of the website to include advertising. Increased energy had to be put into ensuring a successful conference is held every year, as well as trying to revive the branches which seems to become less attractive in today's lifestyles.

New ideas are coming forward regarding the use of social media as many nowadays live with their mobiles in their pockets. However, time is precious for everyone and even though social media may be utilised to extend the reach of the IRE, the way in which it needs to be set up and maintained will be the challenge I foresee during my time in office. New strategies will have to be found to promote the objectives set out by the IRE, objectives that are still just as valid, in my mind, as 50 years ago. Objectives such as to foster and promote the skills and science of refractories engineering. All I know is that exciting times lie ahead of us, and I am looking forward to the changes that will most certainly take place.

Jan DuPlessis

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The 10th Institute of Refractories Engineers Convocation & Training Seminar. (Australian Branch)

The 10th Institute of Refractories Engineers Convocation & Training Seminar. (Australian Branch) 

20-21st November 2017 
Mercure Sydney Airport Hotel, Wolli Creek

Following the success of the first Institute of Refractories Engineers (Australian Branch) Conference held in 2001 interest and support for this informative and dedicated refractories event has continued to grow. The focus on practical rather than theoretical aspects of refractory engineering will appeal to industrial practitioners both domestically and internationally. Not only does this event enable delegates to learn more about refractories technology, it also provides a networking opportunity through participation with manufacturers, installers, researchers and a variety of industrial end users. This is the 10th such convocation..........

For more information please follow the link below

The 10th Institute of Refractories Engineers Convocation & Training Seminar. (Australian Branch)

2017 IRE AGM Agenda

Please find attached the Agenda for the 2017 IRE AGM

2017 AGM Agenda

Thursday, 1 June 2017

President’s Column

Dear Members and Colleagues

Almost half way through 2017 and it has been a much better start to the year than 2016 already with many of us starting to see a recovery in our end user markers and a generally improved situation for many of us in our industry as a result.

So today I find myself torn between thinking about what the rest of this year will bring for our industry and thoughts of my summer vacation which is just next week. Whilst none of us like to admit it, I am sure many of us get to this point and silently wish for an extra week to work on those last details that just can’t be left unfinished.

At the start of the week my ears pricked up at the news of a mild oil price recovery. I’m in two minds as to how important this is for our industry today as whatever action is taken by OPEC will likely be counted by increased shale production over the coming years. The more positive news has to be the firming of the support base for the current oil price which may indicate a little more stability going forward.

Then my mind wandered to warmer weather and if there would be decent, stable wifi to be able to check my email whilst I’m on holiday.

Stability. That is a word used a lot around the world these days as the political and business landscapes change, in some places quite radically. This sea change in politics seems to me to be driven primarily by social media. Social media is great for us all and provides a platform for our voices to be heard, yet it is also a dimension where facts are often distorted at best and fabricated at worst. Even reality is sometimes claimed to be fake. Professional networks, such as LinkedIn, are no different. There seems to have been a big increase in the number of “professionals” who have shifted from being generally professional to pandering to a base level of nonsense and providing “advice”. Some of 

this “advice” would probably see most companies finish an interview prematurely or even impacting negatively on a customer situation. Sadly, as with other social media in these situations, it is the loudest voice which gets heard. This is normal however, we all know a loud voice is not always the most sage. So what relevance does this have on us and our industries? Well, probably none but I hope that any impact politically is only positive but time will tell. Socially, it can only bring us together and the wealth of information out there is wonderful both socially and professionally.
One such type of information are reports and papers on market conditions. I have ready many of these types of things over the years and there are two things I can conclude. Number one, they all say the same thing, namely “things were bad but will improve”. Number two, they are almost immediately out of date and useless beyond their commentary for the present and maybe first year which can give us a little insight or support for what we already thought we knew. After that they are all useless, such is the pace of change internationally. Internationally, I’m thinking about my vacation again!

For sure, some of our industries’ end user markets have seen a bit of a recovery in 2017 and, if we believe the forecasts, a recovery in our industry will continue to be led by end user markets such as cement, non-ferrous metals, glass and incineration. Of course, iron, steel and ferrous foundry are the largest market and any recovery here, however small, will be welcome news for everyone.

On that happy and positive note, it’s time for me to spend a little more time looking forward to my vacation next week and how on earth I’m going to be able to pack clothes in around all the gifts for friends and family that we have to cram in the cases. You just can’t forecast first world problems like that!

Callum Arthur
Institute of Refractories Engineers 

Wednesday, 31 May 2017







IRE Training Day 2017






Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Stoke & Sheffield Branch Meetings, 1st March

Unfortunately the meeting for Stoke & Sheffield Branches scheduled for the 1st March have had to be rescheduled. Details are to be confirmed.

Apologies for the short notice.