BFPA CEO delivers Keynote Address on BREXIT at the Hanover EUROTRANS 50th Anniversary Conference & Dinner

26 Mar 2019

As the CEO of the BFPA, I have often ‘waxed-lyrical’ about the convergence of technology in the Engineering sector and in particular, about the need for the Fluid Power sector to engage more closely with the mechanical and electromechanical drives sector. This is most obviously manifest in the inexorable rise of integrated systems technology within our fluid power sector and the need for technicians to now familiarise themselves not just with hydraulics and pneumatics but also electro-fluid power systems. Indeed, the BFPA has recently reported upon the introduction of its Minimum Educational Recommendations which now cover not just Hydraulics and Pneumatics but also Integrated systems and electronics for Fluid Power engineers.

In other countries across the world, most notably Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany, this technological convergence is far ahead of the UK and I personally feel, with a sense of growing urgency, that if we are to remain competitive, especially post Brexit, we must also embrace this change and put aside our entrenched prejudices against this complimentary technology. We need to start to think, like our European cousins, in terms of motion control solutions whether they be Hydraulic, Pneumatic or electromechanical. All three technologies have their place. We can no longer afford to be narrow minded and stove piped. Sometimes, when I speak with some of our more traditional members I cannot help being reminded of King Canute on the seashore trying to stop the inevitable tide! It worries me, as I want them to succeed in this new world. Indeed, I see it as a responsibility of the BFPA to help them in doing so!

That is why I was particularly pleased that through our work with a variety of organisations, not least of all CETOP and the VDMA, I have been asked to undertake the keynote address at the EUROTRANS 50th Anniversary conference and dinner. The audience will comprise a large body of international engineering companies; all involved in general motion control, some of whom share membership with the BFPA.

“What do they want you to talk about?” I hear you ask. Well – the requested theme is “How to best do business with the UK after Brexit…” Needless to say, I shall have to take a crystal ball to answer all of their inevitable questions but with the work that BFPA has been doing on this subject with UK Government and the EURIS Group, I should be quite well prepared and will certainly have no shortage of material! The challenge will be separating the political rhetoric from the facts!

However, BFPA Members, (both ‘leavers’ and ‘remainers’), may at least be assured of one thing. I shall be ‘flying the flag’ for the whole of UK manufacturing and doing everything in my power to convey a message stating that the UK is still open for business and that we will do whatever is necessary; (irrespective of the appalling performance of our politicians), to continue doing trans UK-European business in as trouble-free a way as possible! This, I am sure we can all agree, is what all of us want! I think it used to be called the common market….

Wish me luck – I may need it!

Chris Buxton
Director and CEO of the British Fluid Power Association (BFPA)