Thursday, 5 December 2013


The International Clay Technology Association - Yorkshire Branch

Do we need Shale Gas?
Proffessor Peter Styles , Keele University

12 December 2013 6:30pm
Hatfield Hall/ Normanton Golf Club, Wakefield

Click the link below further details about this event.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Keith Andrews - President, Institute Refractories Engineers

Keith Andrews - President, Institute of Refractories Engineers

Born near Sheffield, South Yorkshire in the UK. Keith is married and has two married children, Dawn and Steven. Following graduation in Metallurgy and a postgraduate Masters degree in Material Science and Metallurgy, he moved to Worcester (UK) in 1973, where he still lives.

Keith was initially employed by BISRA, the independent metallurgical research Institute, in Sheffield, which later became part of British Steel Corporate Laboratories. There he worked on special projects, including; Ladle Steelmaking, Bottom-blown Bessemer Steelmaking and the Metallurgical Properties of Aerospace Turbines.

Keith has been in the refractories industry since 1973 when he joined Morganite Crucible in Worcester as New Products Manager. Since then he has held senior Sales and Marketing positions in several major refractory and metallurgical groups, including; Morgan Crucible, Foseco International, Hepworth Refractories and Vesuvius. He was a senior partner with PACT Consulting for 6 years and latterly been Director and General Manager with a spin-off engineering company from the old  Vickers Armstrong Aerospace Group.

Keith has travelled extensively and has a record of success in International business development in a broad range of industrial and commercial markets, including; Process industries, Petrochemical, Power Generation, Aerospace, Defence, Oil & Gas, and Electronics.

He has been a member of the IRE for over 30 years, Chairman of the UK Midlands branch until 2006 and a member of the General Council since that time.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Presidents Column September 2013

Dear Members

This is quite unbelievably my ultimate column; ultimate, an adjective chosen carefully not only to advise the last but also hopefully the highest and most fundamental.

As etiquette obliges there are many thanks that I must record over the course of my presidency, however,I want to begin with the most poignant issues and associated progress over the last two years.

Every past President wants to leave a legacy; it’s not just a case of adjusting the Institutes “nuts and bolts” or indeed turning up in the right place at the right time. These are both essential (naturally), however there are higher functions to which the President aspires; increasing membership, providing training, creating a successful National Conference, new branches etc. All things which ensure a vital growing Institute with sustained relevance.

Consequently I have been mulling over what my own particular legacy will be and the answer (in my own head) intrigued me.

I wanted to create a new website and bring the Institute’s web presence under one umbrella, this has been achieved, although I am the first to accept that this is still somewhat a work in progress and I intend to continue the site development as Snr Vice President.

Is this my legacy! Well no, the intrinsic legacy for any President is to pass to his successor a strong Institute such that the next incumbent has equal opportunity to leave a legacy and therefore I have to thank the last five decades of Presidents who have given me this opportunity. As I pass the reigns to Keith sure in the knowledge that the Institute is indeed in a strong position, I am also assured the Institute is in the care of very safe hands.

Reviewing the progress over the last two years; we’ve created a new website, introduced SAGE, reviewed and rationalised membership, reintroduced the National Dinner Dance and are in the process of creating an electronic library of all the Journals dating back to 1972.

There are further initiatives to which Keith refers in his column; a membership sub-committee focused on obtaining new members and naturally retaining those already reading this column and a peer review panel to ensure the quality of technical papers submitted to the Journal.

For my attention there is still the creation of an e-Journal and appraisal of ease of use for those on the go in the i-portable world.

So now for the thanks; Jayne Woodhead (Secretary & Treasurer), always determined to get the best deal for the Institute; Ian Gould, IT consultant “par excellence”; Paul Bottomley & Dave Woodhead, the “Past” Presidents who’ve helped me steer; Sam Franklin & Trevor Staton for the training day initiatives plus all those who keep the Institute’s gears running so smoothly.

It is also important for me to thank DSF Refractories & Minerals and specifically Managing Director Mr Neale Parkin who has supported me throughout the last two years affording me both the time and financial backing; advertisements, prizes, exhibition stands etc all of which are invaluable contributions to the Institute.

This leads me to a further vote of thanks to all those companies and individuals who support the Journal, the National Conference, Golf Days and Dinner Dances, your contribution is greatly appreciated.

In October I will officially hand the chain of office to Keith; whilst in some ways this will be a great weight off my shoulders (literally), on reflection though it’s been a very rewarding and unique experience, you cannot repeat it, there’s no practice runs, what has occurred has occurred. A metaphor for life in some regards, only in this case you get feedback!

Lastly I would like to thank you all for the opportunity of being your President, I hope that I’ve represented you all appropriately and please be assured that I will continue to support the Institute for many years to come.

My best regards to you all.

Chris Windle


Finally I have the sad duty to inform all Institute members of the recent
passing of one of the Institute’s former stalwarts, Brian Traynor. Brian was for many years our Secretary, Treasurer, and Journal Editor. At this sad time, all at the Institute send their sincerest condolences to his wife Margaret and her family.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Stoke Branch Meeting 23/10/13 cancelled

Please note that due to unforeseen circumstances the Stoke Branch Meeting on the 23rd October is unfortunately cancelled.

Monday, 2 September 2013


A cheque for £900 was presented to Sarah Montgomery the Managing Director of the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas. The money was raised by having a raffle and auction at the National Dinner Dance.

The Arboretum is built on reclaimed land provided by Lafarge.  Lafarge are still working the quarry at Alrewas and the land will eventually be restored.

We were taken to the Armed Forces Memorial, this was designed by architect Liam O’Connor, the memorial is for those who have given their lives in the service of this country since the second World War.  The Arboretum is a remarkable place of remembrance for those who have lost a service person, and helps them come to terms with their loss.

It is a truly amazing place that words cannot express, I would recommend that you take time to go and visit the Arboretum. There is no charge for entry but a charge for the car park, the money from this goes towards the upkeep.  You can visit the website to look for events or make a donation

I will definitely be going back to spend some more time there.

Jayne Woodhead
General Secretary & Treasurer

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Presidents Column May 2013

Dear Members


Firstly I must draw your attention to the change of dates for the Conference and Training days which are now the 30th and 31st of October due to a clash with the Aachen Conference.

In fact September is an extremely busy month for refractory conferences, UNITECR (Victoria, BC, Canada), September 10 to 13th, Refractory Colloquium (Aachen,

Germany), September 25th to 26th and I’ve just received information on the ECREF seminar which takes place between the 3rd and 5th of September (Hohr Grenzhausen, Germany).

So I hope and trust that if you’re not too exhausted from these conferences or indeed did not attend the above that you’ll join us in Sheffield in October.

We eagerly anticipate the National Dinner Dance to be held on the 11th of May and I extend my thanks to all those who have put so much effort into the planning and preparation.

An executive committee meeting was held on the 29th of April and whilst the minutes are not officially available I think it’s worth noting a few pertinent issues. We are and must accept that there is a global slowing of growth and this inevitably has an effect on the members of the Institute as refractory demand reduces.

We are therefore very grateful of membership and industry support for the Journal and I’m pleased to report that our prediction is that both the Journal and Institute Accounts will be positive at year end.

Over the last couple of years and specifically since the introduction of the SAGE accounting system, there has been greater transparency in regard to our financial position; we’ve absorbed some bad debt, made other provisions and removed “virtual” members, those with whom we’d lost contact, no subscriptions paid and frequent return of the Journal.

We hope that eventually an accurate demographic of the Institute will be possible and I know this is an objective for the Snr Vice President, Mr Keith Andrews, so that we can focus our efforts on a strong membership in the future.

A two year duration Presidency is appropriate for the Institute as from experience this is the minimum amount of time that is required to influence change. My personal focus has been the website and I will continue to expand the website content when I step down later in the year. Specifically I would like to see the forum section in full swing, however I’ve been advised that there’s often difficulty in overcoming initial inertia. An e-journal would also allow greater access to the membership, especially those who travel a lot. It is not the intention to substitute the printed Journal, this publication definitely has an impact that cannot be replicated in an electronic form.

Over the next couple of months I’ll work with our IT consultant, Ian and the Journal sub-committee to construct an e-Journal for review by the Executive and General Councils.

Another objective would be to have an electronic copy of every Journal issued on the website; this is a massive task, however the benefit would be an archive stretching back
over 40 years and possibly one of the richest sources of refractory information worldwide.

So there is plenty of work to be actioned and I hope that you’ll continue to enjoy membership and find it fulfilling. I am aware that we are an international Institute so whilst the Northern hemisphere heads for summer conditions the Southern is autumnal and therefore I would like to wish all members a successful business season.


Chris Windle


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Sheffield Branch News

The Sheffield branch programme commenced on the 17th of October with an excellent paper “CMA 72 a unique multicomponent calcium-magnesiumaluminate binder” presented by Fabien Simonin of Kerneos.

This was followed by a committee meeting in November and a joint meeting with Stoke branch in January. For many reasons I approached the joint meeting with a sense of trepidation, not least of which was the weather, however with the technology “gremlins” overcome, both branches hopefully enjoyed my presentation “Glass furnace Refractories, The Good the Bad and the Ugly” which is to be found in the edition of the Journal.

In February we unfortunately could not run the presentation, however we look forward to the 20th of March when Christian Lengdobler of RW Silicium visits to present a review of silica fume use in refractory manufacture.

A couple more dates for your diary; on the 24th of April the A.G.M will be held at the Harlequin Public House in Sheffield and the Sheffield Branch Golf Day will be held on the 26th of June at Wortley Golf Club. If you require further details please contact

Branch meetings meet new level in technology

Branch meetings meet new level in technology

President Chris Windle recently gave a paper at Ceram Research for Stoke Branch the paper was entitled the Good the Bad and the Ugly, and with the help of Andy Rotherham from Proskills the Institute were able to transmit the sound and images of Chris giving his presentation to the Sheffield Branch.

The Institute considered this to be a milestone and enabled us to have two separate audiences at separate venues. There would be no limit to the number of separate venues, and so in theory one paper could be simultaneously presented to all the Branches throughout the World, the only complication being the time difference. The cost of this was minimal and was transmitted by mobile phones and the internet although the transmission was not perfect we now feel that it can be improved on and will be an experiment that will be repeated in the near future. With Branch attendances being lower than in the past it certainly is a way of increasing the numbers in
the audience and making the work put in by the authors more rewarding. With the opportunity to get their message to a larger audience, it also means that less active
branches could share presentations with the more active branches and help stimulate interest in areas where it is difficult to get good speakers. It was very fitting that on this first presentation it was our current President giving the paper. The Stoke Branch did advertise that they were planning this event with Sheffield Branch and it was quite apt that there biggest audience for several years attended the meeting at Ceram, giving a total audience of almost 50 members. This was the largest audience in the UK for a single paper at a Branch meeting for many years. Our President’s paper is published elsewhere in the Journal.

Jayne Woodhead
General Secretary & Treasurer

IRE Training Day 2013

Institute of Refractories Engineers Training Day 2013

Shaped High Alumina Refractories

31st October 2013 Venue: Kenwood Hall, Kenwood Road, Sheffield S7 1NQ

Use the following link to download the application form

National Dinner Dance

Following the success of the Jubilee Ball last year. The Stoke Branch of the Institute will be hosting The National Dinner Dance on Saturday 11th

May 2013 at the De Vere Wychwood Park Hotel, Weston, Crewe. Book your table now to avoid disappointment. Ticket price to be confirmed.
On the morning of the Dinner, Tee times have been booked for you golf lovers, if you would like to play golf please let me know asap to avoid disappointment it is £30 per head and again numbers will be limited.

Please contact Jayne Woodhead on 01782 310234 or email

National Conference 2013

National Conference 2013

“The Competitive Edge-Refractories for Industrial Processing”

(New products, Installation and Inspection, Energy Efficiency)

30th October. 2013 Venue: Kenwood Hall, Kenwood Road, Sheffield S7 1NQ

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

2013 AGM Conference & Training Day - Date Change

Please note there has been a date change for the 2013 AGM, Conference and Training Day. These will now take place on Wednesday 30th October with the Training Day on Thursday 31st October. More details about these events will be publicised soon.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Presidents Column March 2013

Dear Members

 In my column back in July 2012, I mentioned that we intended to organise a joint technical meeting between the Sheffield and Stoke branches.

The date set was 22nd of January (2013) and despite wintry conditions which made the
Derbyshire-Staffordshire trip somewhat slow, we did manage to achieve it. Many thanks should be extended to Mr Andy Rotherham of Proskills Group for his persistence, patience and use of mobile phone to transmit audio.

At the Sheffield Branch I have been advised that Daniel from the Davy Sports and Social Club was instrumental in boosting their wifi signal through his mobile and I also thank Wade Cooke of DSF for his diligence and calmness when for some inexplicable reason the web hosting site decided to cancel our session and Andy had to re-set the meeting with revised
passwords etc.

Some “teething” problems were inevitable I suppose, however “Glass Furnace Refractories:- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” was successfully transmitted from Stoke (Ceram) to Sheffield (Davy Sports and Social Club); in Sheffield they could see the presentation through the website and audio was very clear via the mobile phone. Apparently the only issue was that questions at the end of the presentation were inaudible in Sheffield although my responses were clearly heard; this is easily resolved by moving the mobile phone! A more detailed report of this lecture can be seen on page 8 of this journal. Those who are experienced with video conferencing or indeed skype may suggest that there are other methods that could be employed to create a joint meeting. The benefit of using this
system is that we’re able to use any room with a good wifi signal and audio is just via mobile phone so it’s merely a case of phoning a number. The mobile phone was plugged into some speakers through 3.5mm jack so that all could hear.

So, in summary it worked well and Andy is seeking to improve the system if we want to try again in the future.

It has become evident that it is increasingly difficult to persuade people to give presentations and I think this is a corollary of the amount of time that’s available for such things in current working life. Joint meetings therefore open up the opportunity of a reduced number of speakers required and naturally for the speaker a wider target audience. So an aim for the Institute should be that when branch programmes are established for 2013/2014, a couple of joint meetings are included. This could include South Wales and probably South Africa which is only 2 hours ahead time zone wise, although I’m not sure what the mobile cost would be!

As for further news from the Institute, I thank Mr Keith Andrews for the summary he gave of the council meeting in the January edition of the Journal. At the moment I have very little to add as the next Executive meeting will not be until the 11th of March.

The council’s attention will be on the National Conference and the associated Training Day. The Training Day programme is virtually finalised, the theme this year will be “Shaped High
Alumino-Silicate Refractories”.

We also have the National Dinner Dance and the organisation of this seems very well advanced.

On a wider note it appears that 2013 continues to be a difficult year for all manufacturing sectors and at the heart of this therefore refractory manufacturers and installers. Every year seems to get harder and sadly a little less enjoyable as all business is hard fought for.

I hope that during these difficult times the Institute provides not only information but a sense of community and most of all helps to invigorate our interest in this complex and ultimately rewarding industry.

Once again 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.

Chris Windle

Monday, 18 February 2013

Stoke meeting @ CERAM 19/02/2013 cancelled

Please note that Stoke Branch Meeting to be held at CERAM on Tuesday 19th 2013 has unfortunately been cancelled.

IRE Sheffield Branch Programme Change

Please note that the presentation on Wednesday the 20th will be Mr Craig Willoughby of Calderys “Tundish Developments”.

We are very grateful that Mr Willioughby has “stood in” at this late notice and welcome you all to attend, please pass this message  on the anyone you think may be interested.

As usual the presentation will commence at 19:30 at the Davy Sports and Social Club (S9 4ER).

Chris Windle

Branch Chairman

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Presidents Column January 2013

Presidents Column

January 2013

Dear Members,

Firstly and foremost, “Happy New Year!”

At long last the website is fully operational and I invite all members to visit it and give the forum a go.

Although we’ve gone to great lengths to proof read the content, if you find an error or omission please let me know and I’ll correct it immediately.

Over the course of my presidency I’ve been very keen to develop the website and this will remain a “work in progress” throughout the remaining months and a key issue for me when I step down to Senior Vice President in September and Mr Keith Andrews takes over the reins.
Please note that we’ve now added the inaugural “The Refractories Engineer” from September 1972 to the website, well worth a trip down memory lane.
We have an Executive and General Council meeting on the 7th of January, unfortunately due to business commitments I will not be able to attend, however two issues will be raised for the benefit of the Institute. Firstly a thorough review of our training capabilities and aspirations will be explored and secondly a continuation of the new feature Institute News will be authored by Keith and hopefully found within the pages of this Journal.

I hope and trust that the Institute will continue to represent and inform you over the coming year. We are a body of individuals with a common interest and it is vital that we provide useful and thoughtful content.

At some point in my column I generally like to refer to the global economy and the inevitable effect on manufacturing and therefore the use/consumption of refractories.

It does however seem to be a confusing picture; rationalisation in some areas, essential repairs in others and whilst there is definitely a slowing in the system the result is not necessarily adverse.

Whilst all this is happening however we must not lose sight of opportunities for change and advancement. Having attended a function recently the guest speaker made a poignant comment that it was too often the emerging economies who embraced new technology, they would be the leaders if we didn’t take this fact on board.

An interesting suggestion, are we stagnating?

Let’s hope not, technology is the route forward for economic advantage.

Once again 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.

Chris Windle


Friday, 1 February 2013