Talking pressure vessels, safety, and Brexit with Steve Newall of CPE Pressure Vessels

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CPE Pressure Vessels, Ltd. is one of the founding members of the UK Pressure Vessel Manufacturers Forum (PVMF), a Lloyd’s Register-facilitated industry group that aims to provide a collective voice to influence government agencies and standards settings bodies, as well as share industry knowledge on technical and commercial issues.

The PVMF is supporting “Pressure Testing 2017,” a seminar from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) in December to explore the safety risks from pressure testing, as well as some strategies to address those risks. As Managing Director of one of the leading UK manufacturers of pressure equipment, Steve Newall recently spoke with us about safety and other industry topics ahead of the seminar.

msis-isp-2017-steve newall cpe 300x400How long have you been a member of the PVMF?

From the very beginning. It was 2011 when we received the invitation from Lloyd’s Register to get together with the UK’s 5 other leading pressure vessel manufacturers. We sat down over dinner and discussed the idea of forming a group to lobby on behalf of the UK manufacturers. 

A lot of information has come from the forum. The combined power of the learning and knowledge sharing has been beneficial. Having an understanding of how other manufacturers view the information presented to them from codes and standards setting bodies for instance has been good.

For me personally, building relationships and understanding the sentiment of the industry with other manufacturers has been beneficial too. Going from having a small role in the pressure vessel industry to now being a key member of an industry body, has been a great journey.

You recently discussed pressure testing safety with the PVMF members. What are your thoughts on the outcome? 

Some PVMF members seemed quite shocked when we presented the HSE guidelines on pressure testing.  It was great giving people knowledge to protect them, and to understand that there is a problem in our sector which needs attention.

The PVMF has representation at the upcoming IMechE Pressure Testing event. How do you think that the PVMF can influence pressure testing safety?

Giving a technical view on the documents that are published by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive, UK), an interpretation on what is acceptable. Getting the HSE on board and talking to the members before providng guidance notes, gives a better understanding to the industry.

The PVMF also provides guidance to the standards settings bodies regarding what is working well within the industry. Recently BSI was looking to drop PD 5500 which is the manufacturing specification for unfired fusion welded pressure vessels. Following consultation with the manufacturers in the PVMF who voted unanimously to keep it, BSI have decided to leave the standard live and revise in the normal way every 3 years. 

In my view, the PVMF has saved PD 5500 from being banished. If we can continue to encourage standards setting bodies and organisations to liaise with the PVMF and talk to the members about proposed changes they want to implement, then the PVMF is doing what it intended to set out to do; enabling the UK to carry on manufacturing.

How has the landscape of the UK pressure vessel industry changed over the last 6 years? 

The UK oil and gas industry has shrunk quite quickly, so it has been very challenging to win new business.  Efficiency and quality have been key drivers in winning new business, and although it has been a competitive market, the changing face of the sector is leading to new opportunities.  The nuclear industry offers exciting opportunities in future, but it will take time for this industry to pick up.

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How do you think Brexit will affect your business, and the broader UK pressure equipment sector? 

Brexit is likely to have both advantages and disadvantages for us.  The exchange rate does make us more attractive to overseas clients.  However, as a consequence of the exchange rate, we’ve already seen a significant increase in the cost of raw materials from Europe. With inflation set to rise, production costs are also likely to increase which means that any commercial advantage may not last for long.   We are also concerned that Brexit may limit our access to broader European markets and we need to question whether European manufacturing standards will allow UK manufacturers to remain compatible with Europe.  This is where the PVMF again becomes the voice of the manufacturer.


The IMechE event will be held December 5th, 2017 in London, and includes speakers from the PVMF and Lloyd’s Register. Click here to find out more.

About the PVMF

Formed in 2011 the PVMF brings together the UK’s market-leading pressure vessel manufacturers to share resource and industry knowledge both on technical and commercial issues. To provide a collective voice to influence to government, government agencies and standards settings bodies with regards to the engineering manufacturing environment.

Sponsored and facilitated by Lloyd’s Register, meetings are held three times per year in or around the Sheffield region. Topics and subjects discussed are driven by the members and range from engineering issues such as the introduction of or amendment to codes and standard, fabrication techniques and health and safety to recruitment, procurement and commercial concerns.

Membership of the PVMF is a symbol of integrity and commitment to quality. You can learn more here.