Kevin Glass gives his Presidential address.
Mr Glass started by thanking outgoing president Steve Gill for his contributions, in particular the formation of the Women in RACHP Group. “For many years, there was a large group of industry members who didn’t feel part of the industry. Today, however, this new group is building a support network and opening up new opportunities that widen our appeal as an industry and make us more relevant to each other and society. It can only strengthen our collective endeavours as it develops in the months and years to come, and will continue to have my full support.”
He spoke of the industry as coming out of hiding, referencing the BBC2 program ‘Britain’s Greatest Inventions’ as helping to make refrigeration more visible. He said: “Of course, there remains more to do. However, I believe we have come a long way since our predecessors rued that refrigeration, the silent service, was one of the world’s best kept secrets. The secret is now out, and the task we have is to build on it.”
Acknowledging that Brexit and how it unfolds will fall squarely within his tenure, Mr Glass commented: “With negotiations coming to a head over the next few months, the final settlement between the UK and EU will have consequences and continue to reverberate for decades to come. Given our industry’s historic trading relationships and the interdependency between the UK and our European partners, it is vital that frictionless borders are retained - in as far as this is possible - post Brexit. Our ability to maintain the nation’s critical cooling infrastructure depends on the vital flow of equipment, components and services. We should be under no illusion about the potential negative impact of a so-called hard Brexit, and interruption to flows of goods and materials at our borders.”
Top of the industry’s unresolved technical issues and challenges list remains refrigerants for which there is no easy answer. Mr Glass said: “Everyone wants a return to simplicity and a settled order in relation to refrigerants. However, of necessity we continue to navigate our way through a multiplicity of options. Just when the focus appeared to be narrowing, a new left-field option recently sprang into view and we have a new possibility on the table, and a new validation challenge. It could also open the door to other, potential new options in the future.”
However, the future is not all about negative challenges. Mr Glass explained: “One of the big opportunities opening up for the industry centres on the new generation of intelligent plant now coming on-stream. This offers the ability to capture and harness huge amounts of data. Online monitoring and control of plant has been available for some time, and is often built into today’s systems. The skill and the challenge, of course, is in interpreting the almost infinite flow of terabytes of raw information in order to extract actionable insights that will improve plant performance and efficiency.”
Mr Glass went on to say: “Our ability to harness the potential of the digital revolution depends on having the people with the right skills and knowledge. We have struggled as an industry in the past to recruit and retain the talented people we need. It goes without saying that our potential talent pool for new industry entrants should not be limited to the friends and relatives of those already employed within it. As in most sectors, this is of course a perfectly good and valid starting point.
“However, we need to project our story and our appeal onto society as a whole, to capture the attention and imaginations of young people looking for stimulating and rewarding careers. There is some great work being done by the Institute in promoting the industry in schools, and I applaud the initiative in taking this vital issue forward. Our message is no longer: ‘We keep things cold’. It is: ‘We are totally cool, join us!’”