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Batched on Site Association News

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Government decision awaits £210m industry in early 2016

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The Batched on Site Association (BSA) expects the UK Government to rule on proposed legislative changes to the sector in early 2016. The proposed changes include a plan to impose a 32 tonne maximum weight limit on Mobile Batching Plants, which has been strongly opposed by the BSA.

Competition concerns
Last year an independent report by Regeneris Consulting found that the volumetric industry is worth £210m per year to the UK economy, accounting for an estimated 3,150 jobs. There are fears that a move away from design weight could severely restrict the operating capabilities of Mobile Batching Plants, giving large multinational readymix companies a monopoly over the sector.

“Mobile Batching Plants are unique machines that spend the majority of their day stationary on site delivering materials,” said Chris Smith, Chairman of the Batched on Site Association. “Often, there is simply no other way to get this sort of site access for materials. These machines are specially designed to provide that, having been manufactured to accommodate the sophisticated machinery required to deliver mix on site materials. They are currently allowed to operate at design weight, which is generally around 42 tonnes, and any impositions to restrict that further would severely impede their ability to operate and effectively hand this sector of the industry over to the big readymix companies.”

Not a safety issue
The BSA has emphasised that the proposed weight changes do not refer to safety concerns. Jared Dunbar, National Co-ordinator for the Batched on Site Association added:

“This is not a safety issue as the vehicles are specially manufactured to operate at higher weights than HGVs and have suspension, tyres and brakes which are designed to carry the weight of the complex volumetric body. At our recent AGM, members were advised that the BSA had supported the majority of the proposed Government changes which would bring about improvements in safety levels including regular testing, examination and greater regulation.”

The Association prepared its own industry charter in 2013, which has been regularly updated. It has been working in close consultation with the Department for Transport throughout 2015, and held its final consultation with the department in November. A decision on all new legislation updates is expected at the beginning of 2016. 


The importance of mobile batching plants

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With the winter weather upon is, it’s worth remembering the damage and danger caused last year by sinkholes, as well as the crucial part that Mobile Batching Plants play in repairing them quickly and safely.

Already this year a huge sinkhole has opened up in St. Albans in the South East of the country, as reported last month by the BBC. The 20m diameter hole spread across driveways and left 50 homes without power. To tackle this emergency job the local council called upon the special capabilities of volumetric mixers, who pumped around 520 cubic metres of quick drying concrete into the hole immediately to repair the street.

This sort of emergency work can only be tackled so swiftly and efficiently by volumetric machines, due to their nimble chassis’, flexible working style, and their ability to mix and deliver materials such as concrete directly from truck to trench. In this instance the Easymix machines were able to arrive on the scene quickly and repair work was safely carried out.

It’s another good example of the good work done by Mobile Batching plants on UK roads, especially where turnaround time needs to be fast and flexible. Without this type of technology, the risk is that this sort of emergency work will be much more expensive for Council Tax payers, or even worse conducted in a way that is less safe or effective.

It’s worth remembering the unique part that this machinery plays in the construction ecosystem, and the importance of maintaining its presence on UK sites. 


Batched on Site Association Featured in Concrete Magazine

The Batched on Site Association was last month featured in Concrete Magazine, as the story surrounding the Government’s proposed legislative changes to the sector heats up.

In his opening column the Magazine’s Editor, James Luckey, spoke about the fine line to be had between regulation and killing off competition, as reducing the overall weight limit of volumetric machines would surely hand an advantage to the Industry’s major ready mix concrete suppliers.

In a separate article within the same issue of the magazine, Chris Smith, Chairman of the Batched on Site Association said:

“We have serious concerns about the Government’s current consideration to reduce the operating weight of these machines to 32 tonnes. This would significantly reduce capabilities to the point of putting the majority of operators out of business, threatening a £210m sector of the UK economy that has grown even in spite of the economy and accounts for an estimated 3,150 jobs.”

An online version of James Luckey’s commentary on the story can be read here

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BSA Featured in Quarry Management Magazine

Batched on Site Association Chairman and Mixamate Managing Director, Chris Smith, spoke to Quarry Management Magazine this month, about the proposed weight limit that the UK Government is considering imposing on Volumetric machines. 

The proposed changes come as part of wider industry legislation governing the mobile batching plant sector, for which the Batched on Site Association acts as a self-regulatory body working in close communication with Government to maintain the interests of, and promote high standards within, the batched on site sector. 
 
As Chairman of the Batched on Site Association, Chris has been keen to point out the industry impacts that lowering the weight limit of these unique set of vehicles could have, particularly on industry employment and productivity: 
 
“The BSA works in close consultation with the Department for Transport to improve the safety, service and environmental footprint of the sector. However, we have serious concerns about the Government’s current consideration to reduce the operating weight of these machines to 32 tonnes. This would significantly reduce the capabilities to the point of putting the majority of operators out of business, threatening a £210m sector of the UK economy that has grown even in-spite of the recession, and currently accounts for an estimated 3,150 jobs.”
 
Last month Chris met to discuss the issue with local MP, Kate Osamor, who visited the Mixamate offices. The BSA recently wrote to the new Minister for Transport, Andrew Jones, who has responded by setting up a meeting with the organisation in September.
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BSA Chairman Meets with Kate Osamor

Last week Mixamate Managing Director, Chris Smith, was visited by the Labour MP for Edmonton, Kate Osamor, who visited members of the Mixamate team out on site and sat down to discuss the proposed Government legislative changes affecting the entire Batched on Site industry.  

In addition to being Managing Director of Mixamate, Chris is also the Chairman of the Batched on Site Association (BSA), which was set up in 2007 to help protect the interests of Volumetric operators and maintain industry standards. The Association recently warned that up to 3,150 jobs could be lost in the UK Construction sector if new Government legislation is introduced. The sector accounts for approximately 10% of the 21.7m m3 wet concrete market in the UK, and is worth an annual £210m to the UK economy.

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The BSA recently wrote to the new Minister for Transport, Andrew Jones, who has responded by setting up a meeting with the organisation in September. The Association has voiced its concerns over certain aspects of the proposed changes, and continues to work closely with Government bodies and other Associations to help ensure that the best interests of the entire industry are maintained. 


New Government Legislation Could Cut 3,000 Construction Sector Jobs

The Batched on Site Association (BSA) today confirmed that up to 3,150 jobs could be lost in the UK Construction sector, if new Government legislation is introduced. The proposed policy change includes the implementation of a maximum 32 tonne operating weight limit to all Volumetric concrete machines, which would significantly impact on Operators’ ability to service the industry at current levels.

A £210m Industry
Volumetric machines are operated across the UK by independent operators and large multinational readymix companies. An industry report published earlier this year by Regeneris Consulting found that the Volumetric sector is worth an annual £210m to the UK economy, and creates an estimated 3,150 jobs through direct employment, supply chain, wage expenditure, etc. The sector accounts for approximately 10% of the 21.7m m3 wet concrete market in the UK.

Changing Technology
During the past 5 years the concrete industry has undergone considerable change, with increasing demand for Volumetrics. Multinational readymix companies are expanding their fleets of Volumetric machines, while 87% of independent Volumetric operators have experienced turnover growth in the past five years, and 93% expect turnover to grow over the next five years.

Mobile Batching Plants (MBPs), or ‘Volumetrics’ as they are colloquially known, spend the majority of their working day stationary on site mixing fresh concrete. This requires sophisticated on-board machinery and specially designed chassis that have previously been taken into account by the Department for Transport’s regulations, allowing MBPs to operate at design weight, which is typically 42 tonnes.

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The Batched on Site Association has serious concerns that a reduction to a 32 tonne weight limit would deeply impact the output of the sector, increasing operating costs, reducing productivity, and ultimately incurring heavy sector losses and job cuts in predominantly small, privately owned UK businesses.

“The Batched on Site Association works in close consultation with the Department for Transport to constantly improve the safety, service, and environmental footprint of the sector,” said Chris Smith, Chairman of the Batched on Site Association. “However, we have serious concerns about the Government’s current consideration to reduce the operating weight of these machines to 32 tonnes. This would significantly reduce capabilities to the point of putting the majority of operators out of business, threatening a £210m sector of the UK economy that has grown even in-spite of the recession, and currently accounts for an estimated 3,150 jobs. We welcome the proposal to improve the safety of the sector by implementing mandatory annual tests and routine inspections, something which the BSA’s members have been voluntarily carrying out.”

The Batched on Site Association launched its own Charter in 2014, aimed at ensuring greater standards within the industry and including initiatives such as recommending voluntary roadworthiness testing and regular maintenance inspections, and implementing significant steps to help improve the safety of vulnerable road users, such as requiring BSA Members to include underrun bars for the protection of cyclists.


Batched on Site Association Writes to New Transport Minister

The Batched on Site Association (BSA) this week announced that it had written to the new Minister for Transport, Andrew Jones, for a response on the proposed legislative changes that are due to take place in the concrete industry.

The Batched on Site Association first approached Parliament 7 years ago, for help in its self-regulation process of the Batched on Site sector, which is currently worth an estimated £270m per annum to the UK economy. Since then, talks have been on-going between the Department for Transport and the BSA, who maintained a strong working relationship with the previous Minister for Transport, Claire Perry.

With the formation of a new Government last month and undoubtedly a new set of priorities for the Department, the Association was keen to ensure that its case remains at the forefront of the legislative agenda.

The BSA welcomes some of the changes proposed by the Department, accepts others, and in very specific circumstances is requesting the amendment of certain clauses in order to represent the interests of its Members, and protect competition in the concrete industry at large.

For more information on our new Industry Charter click here