The sound of industry continues to ring out from our workshop and into the late summer evenings.
The workshop is now running at “full chat” again. It’s been a long time since we were at capacity with manpower also being deployed locally and internationally.
It’s testimony to all the diversification effort and work that has been put in.
Our diversification programme continues to seek out new opportunities and it is pleasing that the key drivers of our recent success pivot around the evolution of working practices, company culture and innovation.
The message we are hearing from across all sectors is that our customers and clients want to embrace the small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) culture, with the mutual benefit of challenging the norm and breaking away from legacy working practices to truly deliver innovation that makes a difference.
In the last few weeks we have had to increase our staff levels by 10%, bringing in new blood to our Blaze family.
In some cases these people are at the very start of their careers and their journey with us will no longer depend on oil and gas, which has dominated for most of my adult career.
Blaze has invested in the latest “PointSense Plant” systems, providing our design workforce with the latest tools and training for pattern recognition from point cloud data.
It gives the designers the ability to move directly, laser scanning into their familiar AutoCAD based plant design programs.
For the business, this has seen a 40% increase in productivity, delivering very tangible client benefits, such as reducing the number of people needed to undertake a survey, as well as safer surveying work methods and greater accuracy, free from human error.
At Blaze, we have further invested in our people to achieve these goals and this has been recognised by the industry with Andrew Johnson making the final shortlist for the Northern Star “Rising Star” category.
The next generation of our workforce is shining through.
These are interesting times and we are now seeing many of the household names breaking away from heavy oil dependency.
Volvo has said “no” to more diesel engines – the future is electric.
We have seen the cost of batteries drop by 80% over the last six years to below $200 per kilowatt hour.
And so, industry awakes to the third element in the Periodic Table of the elements abundant in Earth’s crust – lithium. Currently, 160,000tonnes a year are produced, which is expected to rise to 400,000-500,000 per year, bringing 25,000tonnes of supply online annually.
That’s the equivalent of a new mine opening each year. Thus, 10 new mines are needed for the next 10 years.
It would seem the “lower forever” argument for oil and gas will prevail, reinforcing the adage that “the Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the Oil Age will end long before the world runs out of oil”.
This is the most transformative period in energy history, which will ultimately redefine the energy business as we know it, heralding a new industrial revolution.
Those in the supply chain who react fastest will reap the rewards.
There is a major challenge coming within oil and gas. What will the supply chain look like in the years ahead? Today’s model cannot continue to deliver the results the operators require.
Supply chain managers need to become more engaged with SME’s and start looking for those who will support them in late life and, ultimately, decommissioning. These relationships need to be happening now, but still the SME is being held at arm’s length.
At present, the pool of resources and suppliers is ever diminishing as we look to alternate ways of filling the oil and gas vacuum. That said, it will continue to make up a sizable portion of the revenue stream open to us as a local business and whilst all that noise in the workshop resonates, a good proportion of it will be utilised here in the UK and within oil and gas.
Howard Johnson is managing director of Blaze Manufacturing