Tuesday, 28 October 2014


Tick lists ... the curse of the modern age?

I don't know about you or your business, but I am sure you spend a lot of time on the constant need to verify everything over and over again to a seemingly endless variety of industry sectors, safety authorities and quality organisations ... and keep doing it every year!

And, no year seems to be as short as the twelve months between ISO audits. By the time you have analysed the auditor's report, debated the corrective actions, revised the paperwork and made the necessary adjustments, there may be time to do a couple of paying jobs between the internal quality audits, procedural reviews and document updates ... then it's time for the next annual audit.

OK, so I'm exaggerating a little ...

Nevertheless, it is true to say that maintaining a meaningful quality control system requires a lot of work. We have a small admin team at the A&E UK office, with regional responsibility for Enviropeel & Alocit sales and manufacture, imports and exports as well as logistics for a projects department which, although it is usually based in the UK, travels extensively locally as well as internationally ... usually with quite a lot of equipment, all of which has to be checked and certified.

In order to work in many industries, offshore for example, it has become mandatory in Europe to be ISO certified, so all A&E paperwork, policies and systems have to comply with our ISO audited quality system. Obviously, in order to function properly, any office has to be well organised, but a comprehensive auditing system like ISO creates a considerable administrative overhead, as the need for oversight means every action has to be recorded and filed. Together with the obligation to review and improve systems on a regular basis, it's a full time job, just keeping up with the paperwork.

Above: an artist's impression of the A&E quality management file retrieval system

And it's not just ISO ...

As well as ISO, other industry sectors require additional auditing. For the UK project team and their work in the electricity generating and transmission industry, this means Achilles

Achilles works internationally, across a wide range of industry sectors: Automotive, Construction, Oil & Gas, Transport and Utilities, providing validation of supplier management systems in key areas such as Corporate Social Responsibility / Sustainability, Health & Safety, Environment, Carbon Emissions, Factory Assessment, Quality, Business continuity and Human Resources. For A&E, the relevant sector is Achilles UVDB, the largest sector within Achilles, representing Utilities, Airports and Ports. UVDB measures suppliers against the above-mentioned criteria and then awards them a percentage score to indicate how well they are doing. Buyers can then assess individual suppliers and make choices about who they will use. At its most basic, a supplier's presence on the database gives confidence that it has the necessary capabilities to meet a customer's needs. In the UK, 6,700 suppliers are listed on the UVDB data base and UVDB auditors inspect every supplier, every year. 

For A&E in 2014, customers viewing the A&E profile will see that we did rather well. Quality manager Cathy Frost, ably assisted by Danni Scott, oversaw an improvement on 2013 with well above average results, a tribute to the hard work of both admin and projects personnel.

   82.5% Health and Safety Management
   86.3% Environmental Management
   100%  Quality Management

   90.9% Site Health and Safety Management
   93%    Site Environmental Management
   100%  Site Management

So, having described the pain, we come to the gain ... what does all this mean for A&E and its customers? 

Well, it certainly doesn't mean we never make mistakes. What it does mean, however, is that mistakes rarely happen and, if they do, we rectify the problem, modify the system so that errors are less likely to happen and continue to provide the best possible service in a less than perfect world. So customers are assured that we have the products and systems that can reliably and cost-effectively solve their problems.

Otherwise, what would be the point?

Friday, 3 October 2014


Charles Darwin never made it to the part of Australia that now bears his name. Even now, the Northern Territory and its capital are off the beaten track for most people - but the region enjoys a thriving international tourist industry and a rich resource-based economy with a large mining industry and a rapidly growing interest in oil and gas.

Charles Darwin on his way to
the ACA Conference
In September, Darwin became the focus of Australia's corrosion engineers as it hosted the annual Australian Corrosion Association Conference, Corrosion & Prevention 2014. The conference exhibition was a sellout, with exhibitors from around the world as well as from the Northern Territory. For the A&E Group, Chris Harrey from our Perth office and Technical Director Simon Haycox were our natural selection to represent the Group at the conference and, armed with tasteful giveaways, they kept visitors entertained and informed throughout the three day exhibition.

Of particular interest to visitors was a unique opportunity to see how well Alocit performs underwater by trying it for themselves. A specially constructed stainless steel and glass tank was filled with seawater and anyone who wished to was able to take a brush and apply the material for themselves. 

The photo on the right shows the tank in use, and it wasn't long before Darwin had a number of 'experienced' Alocit applicators. All of them were amazed to find how easy it can be to apply a coating straight from the can and on to wet and submerged steel - seeing is believing!

Everyone who tried Alocit was treated to an Alocit designer classic ... their very own Alocit Corrosion & Prevention t-shirt.

Visitors were also very interested in the history of Enviropeel in Australia and the role that Australia has had in the development of Enviropeel as a product that can survive and protect in some of the most difficult conditions in the world. It's not often that a product has the impact that Enviropeel had on corrosion prevention for BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto (see blog from April for details or click this link ).

Next year's conference is in Adelaide, we look forward to seeing you there!