British Ceramic Confederation appoints new policy officer

The British Ceramic Confederation (BCC) has welcomed a new team member who brings with him plenty of experience within the industry.

Andrew Bowker, who has lived in Kidsgrove most of his life, has been appointed as a new Policy Officer, working closely with BCC’s technical team.

The BCC represents the collective interests of all sectors of the UK ceramics manufacturing industry. Its sector experts provide wide-ranging professional advice to members, covering topics including health and safety, energy, emissions, planning, waste management, international trade, employment law and education and training.

Andrew said: “I am very proud of the area’s ceramic heritage and have always been proud that I worked within the sector. I am keen to see the industry continue to do well and flourish.”

Andrew, 57, started his career in the ceramics industry in 1986, working for Royal Doulton initially as a management trainee. He remained with the company for 15 years and in that time progressed through various production management roles at different sites, with the final 8 years working as a factory operations manager.

He then joined the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as an inspector, based in Newcastle-under-Lyme, where he stayed for 17 years, focusing initially on factories and then construction sites. For two years, he was the HSE lead inspector for the minerals industry, and regularly liaised with the British Ceramic Confederation.

In 2019, Andrew joined the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and worked as the lead inspector for the industrial safety of UK operating nuclear reactors, based in Merseyside.

He added: “It is great now to have the opportunity to return home. It feels like I have come full circle and hopefully, I will finish my career in ceramics.”

BCC Chief Executive Rob Flello added: “We are delighted to welcome Andrew to the team. His passion for the UK ceramics industry is clear and he will be a great asset as he brings with him such a strong skillset. His expertise will prove invaluable in supporting the UK ceramic sector.”

New member for the British Ceramic Confederation

The British Ceramic Confederation has welcomed another new member – the fourth this year – as Heatcatcher joins the trade body for the UK ceramic industry.

As a member, the company can benefit from the advice, information and support available from sector experts, covering topics such as health and safety, energy, emissions, planning, waste management, international trade, employment law and education and training, as well as the Government and key stakeholder engagement and representation work of the trade body. 

Heatcatcher offers expert support on the heat decarbonisation journey. The company has extensive experience of integrating best available proven heat recovery technologies into manufacturing industries operating kilns, furnaces, incinerators, and ovens.

The company is supportive of BCC’s flagship industry decarbonisation conference and is once again acting as a sponsor, having also supported last year’s inaugural event. This year the Delivering Net Zero for British Ceramics conference takes place on 13 September.

Heatcatcher CEO Darren Bryant said: “We are delighted to become a member of the BCC having supported several of its members with waste heat recovery designs and project implementation. We look forward again this year to sponsoring the BCC event Net Zero Business Advocate Award and bringing our experience to assisting others on their Net Zero journeys”

BCC Chief Executive Rob Flello said: “UK ceramics has a major role to play within the country’s decarbonisation journey and so we look forward to working closely with Heatcatcher and supporting them with their business. Representing almost every UK ceramic business, the BCC’s collective voice continues to safeguard the interests of UK ceramic manufacturing.”

Heatcatcher is based at the Sussex Innovation Centre, situated on campus at the University of Sussex.

Funding success for two-year hydrogen research project for UK ceramic sector

The British Ceramic Confederation (BCC) is delighted to announce it has secured around £6million of UK Government funding to support further research into the use of hydrogen as an alternative fuel for the UK ceramics sector.

The Department for Energy Security & Net Zero has awarded the funding through Phase 2 of the Industrial Fuel Switching Phase 2 Competition, as part of the £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP), which supports innovation in the development of pre-commercial fuel switch technologies to help industry switch from high to lower carbon fuels.

The Industrial Fuel Switching funding will allow Phase 2 of the ‘Hydrogen for the Ceramics Sector’ project to be taken forward.

The two-year project will deliver the first-ever demonstrations of 100% hydrogen-firing technologies for the two main types of kilns (batch and continuous) used predominantly across the more than 150 manufacturing sites of the BCC’s 90 member companies; thus providing a key route to help decarbonise the UK ceramic sector (pending availability of sufficient volumes of hydrogen to each site).

The Phase 2 project follows a successful six-month study, conducted last year, which demonstrated the potential for firing a range of ceramic products using 100% hydrogen, without affecting product performance or properties.

Phase 2 will be supported by 15 ceramic manufacturing companies, spanning all subsectors of the UK ceramics industry (bricks, roof tiles, drainage pipes, floor/wall tiles, sanitaryware, tableware, refractories, and technical ceramics). Following on from the work they carried out for BCC in Phase 1, further support will be provided by the not-for-profit research and technology organisation, Glass Futures.

BCC Deputy Chief Executive Andrew McDermott said: “Phase 1 answered a lot of questions about the feasibility of hydrogen as a fuel for the ceramics sector and the next phase will build upon these outputs. It will evaluate a far greater range of ceramic products, gaseous blends and firing atmospheres in a bespoke pilot kiln, as well as conducting demonstrations on production kilns, to build understanding in using hydrogen within an industrial environment.

“As for achieving net zero by 2050, the UK ceramic industry’s pathway to meet that target remains uncertain, with many of the technologies that will enable deep decarbonisation, such as hydrogen, electrification, carbon capture and bioenergy, either commercially unviable or simply unavailable.

“Therefore, we expect Phase 2 to demonstrate a key route to help decarbonise the UK ceramic sector.”

BCC Chief Executive Rob Flello said: “UK ceramics play a pivotal role within the net zero journey and are key to decarbonising society.

“Without ceramics, the production of renewable energy is hampered as, without refractories, there is no steel for wind turbines and no glass for photovoltaic panels. Ceramics are needed for electric vehicle batteries. Without high temperature industrial processes, there are no durable homes or commercial properties. There is no heat from waste without advanced ceramics.

“This is a vitally important project, and it is reassuring that the Government is supporting it and believes in the UK ceramic industry’s commitment to decarbonisation.”

Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said: “Britain has a long and proud history of pushing the boundaries in science – and our backing with over £80 million for these cutting-edge projects today will help make way for the next era of innovation.

“The transition away from fossil fuels presents a huge opportunity for our growing green energy sector and we will continue to make sure UK business can benefit from its full potential.”

Clay Quarry Managers CPD Seminar

The annual Clay Quarry Managers CPD Seminar has taken place with a capacity number of delegates once again.

Clay quarry managers from across the sector attended the seminar, at the DoubleTree by Hilton, in Stoke-on-Trent, which provided an opportunity to network and discuss relevant topics.

Lauren Darby, BCC Safety, Health & Environment Director, said: “The seminar supports people with clay quarry responsibilities with their continual professional development and once again our excellent speakers have certainly provided plenty to think about.”

The programme included a presentation on the management of contractors from Eversheds Sutherland, plus a look at mineral extraction and climate change adaptation presented by the Environment Agency.

The seminar also included three workshop sessions covering Quarry Emergency Response, Quarry Site Inspections and Vehicle Safety within Quarries, presented by MRS Training and Rescue, MinExp and GPS Inspections Ltd.

New British Ceramic Confederation President announced

The trade association for the UK ceramics manufacturing industry, the British Ceramic Confederation (BCC), is delighted to confirm that Alan McLelland will be its new President.

Alan, who is Vice President of Technology at Morgan Advanced Materials, succeeds Edward Naylor, Chief Executive of Naylor Industries Plc, for a two-year term as President of the BCC Board of Directors.

Alan said: “I am honoured to take up this role and look forward to working even more closely with the BCC team. It is a challenging time for UK ceramics, and the team will continue to support and represent this essential UK industry, providing a strong voice for the sector.”

The BCC will also welcome its first female vice president onto the Board, as Hannah Ault, Managing Director of Valentine Clays Ltd, has agreed to take up the role.

Hannah, who grew up in the ceramics industry and is a third-generation leader in clay manufacturing, said: “I am delighted to represent an industry that I’m incredibly proud of. Ceramics impact on all our lives, and my mission is to continue to build awareness and increase nationwide support, especially through education and skills.”

Rob Flello, BCC Chief Executive, said: “We are grateful for the expertise and knowledge that all our Board members bring to the British Ceramic Confederation.

“As we welcome our new President and Vice President, we continue to be supported by people who are passionate about the UK ceramics industry and who bring a wealth of experience to these roles. We look forward to what the future will bring as we continue to raise awareness of the UK ceramic industry’s needs.

“I thank Edward for his leadership during challenging times, especially as the energy crisis bit, and for his commitment, understanding, and guidance.

“Having our first female Vice President is also quite an accolade in this forward-thinking industry. It is a significant milestone for an organisation that has been supporting the UK ceramics industry for nearly 100 years.”

Edward, who will remain on the Board as Deputy President, said: “The past two years have certainly been busy, especially as BCC welcomed a new Chief Executive. There is plenty of work ahead, and I look forward to continuing to support BCC.”

The Board rotation also means that Keith Barker, Managing Director of Wienerberger UK, will now step down as Deputy President, having previously served as President and Vice President.

Rob added: “Keith has dedicated six years to the BCC Board and has helped to set the course for UK ceramics during that time. We cannot thank him enough for his dedication, counsel, and wisdom.”

The bi-annual Board rotation was confirmed at the BCC’s Annual General Meeting.

The BCC is the trade association for the UK ceramic manufacturing industry, representing all sectors of the industry. Its member companies cover the full spectrum of ceramic manufacturing, including the supply of materials, and comprise more than 90 per cent of the industry’s manufacturing capacity.

Coronation of King Charles III

BCC’s giftware members have been hard at work bringing an extra touch of creative magic to their designs as we come together to celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III.

The nation has always had a soft spot for royal memorabilia, so we are taking a closer look at some of the giftware our members have produced to mark this historic occasion, and the design inspiration behind them. Discover more.

Many thanks to Royal Crown Derby, Moorcroft, Spode, Dunoon, and Emma Bridgewater.

The British Ceramic Confederation would also like to pass on our congratulations and best wishes to His Majesty on his Coronation. Long Live the King!