Tuesday, 20 November 2012

November 2012 Presidents Column

Dear Members,

As this is my 7th column, I’ve reached the anniversary of my first communication last November. Certainly it seems that in regard to the Institute that a lot of “water has passed under the bridge” and now is the time to commence tying the loose ends to ensure stability of the Institute going forward.

The Annual Conference was attended by around 48 people, with the prize for best paper awarded to Johan Richaud from Vesuvius; an excellent paper demonstrating that design has significant influence on refractory performance, if only refractories can keep up!

The evening meal at the Kenwood Hall was superb, not only from the point of view of the service etc; but also the conversation and conviviality, it was with much regret that I retired early to prepare for a trip to the US.

This unfortunately meant that I missed the training day with an attendance of nearly 50 people plus trainers. There’s been a lot of good feedback and I’ve found it particularly pleasing that my team have been challenging some of our established statements on data sheets and other literature.

The training day continues to be a focus for our training activity and we trust that this will be sustained for many years into the future.

Unfortunately it appears that the course at Swansea University will not run next year due to a withdrawal of funding, a great disappointment for the Institute and I thank all those who’ve worked so hard to make it a success.

It is therefore fundamental that the training day maintains our presence in the training environment. At Executive and General Council meetings a consensus has been reached that the Institute’s training focus will be the training day.

This is not “written in stone” and if suitable opportunities are presented we will certainly consider them, however I appreciate that within the Institute membership are consultants and other organisations providing training regarding refractories and therefore we do not want to hinder their activities.

This is a sensitive issue; there is a balance between the objectives of the Institute, legacies of past initiatives and a genuine desire to act in the interests of all the membership.

It would be appropriate however to look at “growing” the training day and perhaps include site visits and enhance the practical aspect; this potential requires review by the relevant personnel and I hope that in the very near future we will hold an extraordinary Executive meeting to cover these aspects.

Unfortunately the evolution of the website has been delayed chiefly due to business travel, however I have confirmed with the Executive council that the old site will cease at the end of November.

Regarding other Institute news; Mr Keith Andrews has been appointed Senior Vice President and therefore assumes the responsibility of organising the 2013 Conference on the path to the Presidency; we all wish him the very best and naturally I’ll help him as much as possible in his new role.

The Journal continues at six editions per year and although challenged by cuts in advertising budgets and increased postal costs; it has effectively managed to remain cost neutral which is a significant achievement by the Journal committee.

The Journal content is consistently high quality and at this point I would like to extend my thanks to all the companies and organisations which support it both with advertising and editorial content, you are all intrinsic.

In regard to the UK branches, the programmes for Sheffield and Stoke are now in full swing and I hope that a South Wales meeting will be organised shortly. Overseas we are encouraging the re-energising of the activities of the South African Branch and I hope to hear shortly of the activities in Australia.

Please note that if any branch has news items or event notices, John May will gladly include it in the Journal.

Dates for your diary; National Dinner Dance 2013 will be held on Saturday the 11th of May at the Wychwood Park Hotel, Weston, Crewe and the National Conference & Training Days on the 25th and 26th of September at  Kenwood Hall in Sheffield.

Wishing you all a successful conclusion to business in 2012 and albeit early, my best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Chris Windle


Friday, 16 November 2012

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Refractories Engineer Issue 1 1972

We have recently created an electronic copy of the 1st ever edition of the Refractories Engineer.

Dated September 1972, the forty year old journal makes for interesting reading.