Non-destructive testing – a food waste reduction opportunity?

13/05/2019
Food waste reduction is a key objective for consumers, businesses and governments seeking to save money, improve food production efficiency, lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce packaging waste and protect the environment. Such issues have enjoyed a high profile in recent years but in this article Dr Abdel Ezbiri from the technology company Cerulean discusses the waste that results from the temperature testing of fresh and chilled foods, and outline the success that some food processors have achieved in adopting non-destructive testing (NDT) technology.

Background
Under food hygiene regulations, the safety of a wide variety of foods is dependent upon the maintenance of correct temperature conditions in compliance with the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP). Generally, temperature is the main factor affecting the prevention of microbial food spoilage. In addition to temperature and storage time, the speed and extent of spoilage is affected by the type of food product, its composition, methods used during processing, contamination during processing and the nature of packaging. Temperature testing therefore performs a vital role in the protection of consumers and in compliance with food hygiene regulations relating to sandwiches, snacks, ready meals, prepared foods, and both chilled and frozen foods.

Temperature testing techniques
Traditional methods involve the insertion of a metal probe into the food product in order to determine the temperature of the food; usually at the probe’s tip. In order to check the temperature of a food product, the probe is inserted so that the tip is in the centre of the food (or the thickest part) and left in place until the reading stabilises. After the reading is taken, the probe must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to avoid cross-contamination between samples.

Crucially, if the food sample is affected by the testing process (for example, if the packaging seal has been broken) it is no longer suitable for consumption and must be discarded.

There are two main types of non-destructive testing methods – remote infrared cameras and microwave thermometry. Infrared cameras are able to accurately measure the surface temperature of objects remotely. Their advantages are that they are non-destructive and fast, but their main disadvantage is that they measure the surface temperature, which is not necessarily the true temperature of the food, especially if the sample is within packaging.

Instruments that employ microwave thermometry have the major advantage of testing the whole product, producing an average temperature for the entire sample, quickly and accurately. Cerulean is the only manufacturer of commercially available instruments employing this technique for food testing, and the feedback from users of this equipment (Celsius range) is provided in the case studies below. New versions of this technology are being developed to improve efficiency and reduce payback periods even further.

Waste from invasive temperature testing
The amount of waste resulting from invasive temperature testing depends on a number of factors. Firstly, the volume of food products being tested will vary according to the type of food and the individual process. Operators will need to be able to demonstrate that the frequency of testing is appropriate and that the samples being tested are representative of a batch. Consequently, the proportion of food going to waste following temperature testing varies considerably between different processing plants.

Once a tested food product is discarded it can be dealt with in a number of ways. It may go to landfill or incineration, or the food may be manually separated from its packaging and used as animal feed or in the generation of energy by anaerobic digestion. However, all options are detrimental from both financial and environmental perspectives, so many food producers are now moving to NDT methods.

Case study:
Labeyrie Fine Foods
Labeyrie Fine Foods produces a range of products for some of the largest supermarkets in the UK. The company began NDT food testing with a Celsius in early 2017 and now tests a wide range of products, including raw, hot smoked and smoked salmon in a range of forms from fillets to sliced and flaked products. Technical & Quality Systems Auditor Stephen Bradbury says: “This technology enables us to ensure that all chilled products are between zero and four degrees centigrade, quickly analysing the temperature of any given product to ensure that the correct controls are in place.”

Staff at the company’s site at Duns in the Scottish Borders (GB) regularly conduct around 50 tests each day. During peak times this can increase to 70 tests per day. Before 2017, the temperature probe method was employed at the site which meant that an extra packet had to be created for each destructive test. There were also occasions when additional checks were required, which led to further packs being tested and then wasted. Following delivery of the NDT machine, the tests for both methods were run in tandem for a month to check the performance of the Celsius, but thereafter all tests have been undertaken by the faster non-destructive method.

The Celsius was purchased for both commercial and environmental reasons. Stephen says: “It helps us guarantee that the entire product within the outer case is at the correct temperature before it is sent to the customer, and as a non-destructive method it enables us to test as many product cases as required.

“From an environmental perspective, the machine helps us to achieve fish and packaging waste reduction every day.”

Stephen has calculated that the company is completing an average of 47 daily checks using the Celsius machine. “This equates to a waste prevention rate of 282 packs per week including 8.4 kg of packaging every week. Annually, this represents 14,664 packs and 437 kg of waste packaging saved.

“Financially, this means there is a product saving of around £564 (€651) per week plus a packaging cost saving of £50.76 (€59) per week, which delivers a total average annual saving of £31,967 (€36,897), before the added cost of waste removal.”

Concluding Stephen says: “There is a calibration cost of £1,000 (€1154) per year and the machine cost £30,000 (€34,620) to purchase. However, the average savings made in year one have covered the cost and we have reduced the average packaging waste by 437 kg annually and food waste by 1,672 kg. We therefore believe that the machine is both economically and environmentally the right choice for Labeyrie.”

Case study:
Joubere
Joubere is a manufacturer of chilled and ambient foods for the retail and food service sectors. The company’s products include stocks, gravies, soups and porridge, which have been tested non-destructively since the purchase of a Celsius machine in late 2017.

Many of the company’s products are sold in pots so the previous probe test method resulted in the wastage of between 2 and 3% of production. Joubere produces around 25 tonnes of food products per day, so this waste represented around 750 kg of food and containers per day. As a result, the payback for the cost of the machine was less than 2 months.

Joubere’s Andy Milne says: “The non-destructive method is faster than the older probe method because we do not have to wait for the probe to equilibrate, but with the dramatic cost and waste savings that we are making, the advantages of this method are clear.”

Summary
Commenting on behalf of WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), Andrew Parry, Special Advisor Food & Drink, says: “WRAP estimates that food worth £1.4 billion ends up as waste from UK manufacturers each year. Together with the IGD we launched the ‘Food Waste Reduction Roadmap’ last year, to encourage more businesses to Target, Measure and Act on food waste – with the aim of helping the UK achieve Sustainable Development Goal 12.3. NDT appears to have the potential to be a significant part of the ‘toolkit’ manufacturers will need to deliver the challenging food waste reduction targets.”

The greatest opportunity in food waste reduction is to find ways for consumers to throw away less waste, but with a fast payback, investment in NDT temperature testing offers an opportunity for the food production and processing industry to avoid the needless waste of food when it is tested.

#cerulean #NDT @_Enviro_News #Food

Survey: The World Market for Flowmeters.

01/05/2019

Flow Research has completed one of the most comprehensive studies ever published of the worldwide flowmeter market. This study is called Volume X: The World Market for Flowmeters, 7th Edition. This All-in-One Study tells you 2018 market size and market shares, and forecasts through 2023 for all flowmeter types used in process environments.

World Market for Flow-meters, 7th Edition

Included in study.
Market size in 2018 of the worldwide market by flowmeter type in dollars and units
Market size forecasts by flowmeter type through 2023 in dollars and units
Market shares for each flowmeter type in 2018
Both worldwide and regional market size and forecast data
Growth factors and market trends for all flowmeter technologies
A technology description and analysis for each flowmeter type, including major competitive strengths and weaknesses
Company profiles with product information for easy comparison.

In addition to Volume X, they are publishing a companion volume called Module A: Strategies, Industries, and Applications. This popular volume gives segmentation by industry and application for each flow technology. It also discusses the underlying growth factors and driving forces behind the different industries and applications. The strategies section shows you how to gain an edge in a competitive market.

Over the past nine months, over 500 questionnaires have been sent to all known suppliers of every flow technology. The questionnaire asked for geographic distribution and revenue information, along with industries, applications, fluid types, and projected growth from the base year of 2018. The results have been analysed and a complete study written of the worldwide flowmeter market. This is the 7th edition of this tudy, which was first published in 2003. At that time, the worldwide flowmeter market was $3.1 billion. The market has grown substantially since that time, and we’ve been there to document its growth every step of the way.

The Flowmeter Market in 2018 Hightlighted
2018 was a very exciting year in the flowmeter market, and it was one of recovery. Some technologies appear to have experienced unprecedented growth, especially in the magnetic flowmeter market. Our new Volume X captures this growth and makes it easy to determine which flowmeter types benefited most from the recovering market in 2018. Volume X captures the growth in all the flow technologies, including Coriolis, ultrasonic, positive displacement, turbine, variable area, and other types. 2018 is likely to be remembered as a year of unprecedented growth.

Volume X makes it easy to compare market size, market shares, and growth rates for all types of flowmeters. We use the bottom-up method of determining market size for each flowmeter type, and then put these numbers together for the worldwide picture. This is the only way to get a reliable picture of the world flowmeter market and to find out how the different flowmeter types compare with each other. For complete details, go to http://www.flowvolumex.com. We have been able to gather this information because we began researching these markets nine months ago.


Air quality monitors at hospitals.

01/04/2019

Ten hospitals in the most polluted areas of London (GB) are to be equipped with new air quality monitors to measure levels of toxic air and help protect patients and staff. Hospital patients, including young children and the elderly, are most vulnerable to the harmful health effects of air pollution, especially those suffering with respiratory conditions.

Breath London Pod

The air quality instruments will be supplied and installed by Air Monitors, one of the Breathe London partners. Air Monitors MD Jim Mills said: “Air quality improvement measures should be targeted to protect the most vulnerable people. Therefore, I’m delighted to be expanding the network of AQMesh pods to include hospital sites. Data from these locations will help to highlight pollution hotspots and ensure the solutions that our partners put in place are working.”

A recent study found 60 per cent of hospitals and NHS facilities in inner London are located in areas that exceed the legal limit for air quality pollutants*.

The Mayor’s new hospital monitors will support the NHS by providing real-time air quality measurements that will allow health professionals to take appropriate action to protect patients and employees – for example, warning patients about high pollution episodes and advising which hospital entrances have the lowest levels of pollution.

The first monitor is already up and running at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, with others due to be installed shortly at the Trust’s other three hospitals The Royal London, Whipps Cross and Newham Hospitals, as well as at Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Royal Free Hospital, Guy’s Hospital and St Thomas’ Hospital and other NHS sites in London.

The monitors are part of Sadiq’s work to deliver the world’s most advanced and comprehensive network of air quality monitors in London to help investigate and improve London’s toxic air.

Sadiq Khan – Mayor of London

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “Vulnerable hospital patients are more susceptible to the harmful effects of our toxic air pollution health crisis that harms lung growth and is linked to asthma, cancer and dementia. I am working with London’s leading hospitals to install air pollution monitors and help find new ways to reduce pollution and protect patients.

“I’m doing everything in my power to protect Londoners from polluted air including cleaning up our bus and taxi fleet, and establishing the largest air quality monitoring network of any major city. We are now counting down to the world’s first 24-hour seven-day-a-week Ultra Low Emission Zone in the central London congestion charge zone, which will help clean our air and reduce NOx road transport emissions in central London, including around many hospitals, by 45 per cent.”

The ULEZ will begin in central London on 8th April. The Mayor’s Breathe London project is using a range of more than 100 cutting-edge fixed and mobile sensors, including two dedicated Street View cars and backpacks for school children, to provide an unprecedented level of detail about London’s air quality crisis and deliver new insight into the sources of pollution. The new hospital monitors will help:

  • NHS staff to be better informed about air pollution, associated health risks and able to give vulnerable patients appropriate advice.
  • Hospitals and NHS facilities to measure the impact of measures they take to improve air quality (for example cleaning up their vehicle fleet or running no idling schemes)
  • Researchers to use on site air pollution concentrations alongside patient records to better understand the relationship between air pollution and health effects

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and Global Action Plan have published their new Clean Air Hospitals Framework and recommended installing air quality monitoring at NHS sites.

Matthew Shaw, Chief Executive of GOSH said, “Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) is delighted to be supporting the Mayor’s Breathe London project. As a specialist children’s hospital, we see a number of patients in our hospital who are impacted by air quality. The ability to get real time air quality data will mean patients and staff will be able to make informed decisions about how they can help reduce their exposure to poor quality air. The project compliments delivery of the GOSH Clean Air Hospital Framework, a pioneering strategy aimed at creating a healthy environment for patients, staff and the surrounding community. We hope other hospitals will be inspired to adopt the Clean Air Hospital Framework so that patients and communities across the UK may benefit.”

Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Air pollution is a public health emergency – it can cause lung cancer, respiratory and heart disease and stunt the growth of children’s little lungs. So it’s not right patients – especially children, the elderly and those with heart and lung problems – are exposed to dirty air that may make their symptoms worse when going to hospital.

“It’s fantastic to see the Mayor’s announcement to install air quality monitors at London’s most polluted hospitals; it will help to protect some of the most vulnerable people in the city. However, our research shows that across the UK, a quarter of hospitals and a third of GP surgeries are in areas exceeding safe limits of particulate pollution. We must now see the rest of the country start to follow London’s lead with ambitious plans such as a national system of air pollution alerts and clean air zones in our most polluted towns and cities.”

Nicky Philpott, Director of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (UKHACC) said: “Air pollution is a public health emergency. Estimates of the mortality burden are as high as 40,000 deaths per year and by 2035 the health and social care costs of air pollution have been estimated to be £18.6 billion. The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, representing over 650,000 health care professionals, support efforts to both monitor and reduce air pollution, this is especially important around hospitals, both because the people visiting them are often the most vulnerable to poor air quality, but also because this is the workplace of our doctors, nurses and other health professionals.“

Chris Large, Senior Partner at Global Action Plan said, “Every year, millions of the most poorly Londoners visit hospitals that are sadly located in air pollution hotspots. Monitoring the peaks in pollutants is an incredibly important tool to help hospitals identify, and tackle the activity that causes dangerous pollution levels to accumulate.”

Study on Climate Change King’s College London and the UK Health Alliance
• The Clean Air Hospital Framework, launched by Great Ormond Street and Global Action Plan is freely available to download here.
@airmonitors #BreathLondon

Quality fresh fruit and veg!

01/03/2019

Creating Gaseous Micro Environments for Packaged Produce to Maintain the Quality of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.

Food has often had a long and arduous journey before it reaches our plates. In the United States, it is estimated that food typically travels between 1500 and 2500 miles1 between the farms where it is produced and the dinner table where it is ultimately consumed. What we think of as ‘fresh’ fruit and vegetables may also have been in storage or travelling for much longer than we think, potentially up to four weeks in the case of lettuce.2

Even for locally-sourced produced with reduced food miles, it is important for suppliers to ensure the maximum quality and freshness for their produce. This is because without careful storage for transportation, the vitamin content of fresh foods can deteriorate3 as well as the appearance of the produce, making it more difficult to sell to consumers.

One very successful approach to preserving food quality during transportation and storage is the use of gaseous microenvironments in food packaging and storage. This is known as modified atmospheric packaging (MAP), or atmospherically modified package (AMP), where the foods are packed in containers with an environment of carefully-controlled gas concentrations.4 A huge number of the foods we buy make use of MAP to enhance their freshness and shelf lives without the need to add preservatives or modify the food itself in any way.

A Fresh Environment
Transportation of fruit and vegetables is usually performed under refrigerated conditions, regardless of the means of transport, typically around 5°C with carefully controlled humidity.5The chilled conditions help to slow the growth of any microorganisms and extent the lifetime of the food, in conjunction with the use of MAP.

Despite the undoubted effectiveness of MAP in preserving produce quality6, optimal gas mixtures for MAP vary from produce to produce. For example, for most plant-based produce, some O2 content in the atmosphere helps the plant to respire, but these needs to be balanced with increased CO2 concentrations to slow the rate of respiration sufficiently to increase the produce lifetime.7, 8 However, there can be subtle differences between the optimum conditions for different types of fruit and vegetables, such as citric fruits which can only tolerate a lower limit of a 5 % O2 concentration, unlike apples and pears that can cope with O2 concentrations down to 1 %.9

Such careful control of the environmental conditions for optimum fruit and vegetable preservation during transportation relies then on highly-sensitive gas sensors capable of distinguishing the smallest of changes in gas concentration. The typical gases used in MAP for fresh fruit and vegetable preservation are CO2, O2 and sometimes N2.

Precision for Freshness
Edinburgh Sensors offers a range of gas monitoring options well-suited to ensuring optimum gas conditions during fresh food transportation. Their range of CO2 online monitoring sensors includes the Guardian NG10, Gascard NG11, the IRgaskiT12 and the Gascheck13, will cover most customer needs for food transport applications.

Where low-cost, highly-robust gas monitors are desirable, the Gascheck is an ideal option. Capable of detecting CO2 concentrations in the 0-3000 ppm range, with a zero-stability of ± 3 % over 12-months and an accuracy of ± 3 % over the full detection range. Depending on the particular version of the Gascheck, the response time can be as low as 30 seconds, with an initial warm-up time of 5 minutes.

Where higher accuracy is desirable, the Guardian NG comes in a range of options with an accuracy of ± 2 %. The Guardian NG also has a convenient interface which displays true volume % readout over a wide range of pressures as well as being capable of displaying historical graphical information over a user-defined period. If necessary, there are built-in alarm systems to warn if gas concentrations deviate too much or the possibly to connect and interfacing with external logging devices.

The Gascard NG comes now in two versions, either as the stand-alone card, or as the Boxed Gascard14 to minimise installation and set-up time. The Gascard is capable of detecting CO2 concentrations in the range of 0 – 5000 ppm and, like the other Edinburgh Sensors products, can also operate in humidity conditions spanning 0 – 95 %. By using RS232 communications the Gascard can be integrated with other control or data logging devices, also with the option for on-board LAN support where required.

Better Produce
Edinburgh Sensor’s full range of instruments comes with both pre- and post-sales technical support and these devices build on their nearly 40 years of expertise in a range of gas sensor technologies. Most of these products are based upon infra-red detection, which facilitates their very high sensitivities for gases such as CO2 or other hydrocarbon species like methane and in systems like the Boxed Gascard, the infrared source is field-replaceable.

Online monitoring of gas concentrations for MAP applications allows maintenance of optimum conditions for fresh fruit and vegetable preservation, which is highly beneficial not just for ensuring better quality produce, but also ensuring less food spoilage and wastage and the cost-savings associated with this.

@edinsensors #Food

References

1. B. Halweil, Home Grown: The Case for Local Food in a Global Market, World Watch Institute, 2002
2. How old are the ‘fresh’ fruit and vegetables we eat, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2003/jul/13/foodanddrink.features18, (accessed February 2019)
3. M. I. Gil, F. Ferreres and F. A. Tomás-Barberán, J. Agric. Food Chem., 1999, 47, 2213–2217.
4. B. Ooraikul, Modified Atmosphere Packaging of Food, Springer, 1991
5. Packing Fresh Fruit and Vegetables, https://www.modifiedatmospherepackaging.com/~/media/Modifiedatmospherepackaging/Pictures/Guide%20%20%20Packaging%20of%20Fresh%20Fruit%20and%20Vegetables%20%20%20PDF%20file.ashx, (accessed February 2019)
6. E. M. Yahia , Modified and Controlled Atmospheres for the Storage, Transportation, and Packaging of Horticultural Commodities, Taylor and Francis Group, USA, 2009
7. Modified Atmospheric Packaging Poster, https://modifiedatmospherepackaging.com/~/media/Modifiedatmospherepackaging/Brochures/MAP-Poster-Guide-2014.ashx, (accessed February 2019)
8. S. Mangaraj and T. K. Goswami, Fresh Prod., 2009, 3, 1–33.
9. A. A. Kader, D. Zagory and E. L. Kerbel, Crit. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr., 1989, 28, 1–28.
10. Guardian NG, https://edinburghsensors.com/products/gas-monitors/guardian-ng/, (accessed February 2019)
11. Gascard NG, https://edinburghsensors.com/products/oem/gascard-ng/, (accessed February 2019)
12. IRgaskiT, https://edinburghsensors.com/products/oem/irgaskit/, (accessed February 2019)
13. Gascheck, https://edinburghsensors.com/products/oem/gascheck/, (accessed February 2019)
14. Boxed Gascard, https://edinburghsensors.com/products/oem/boxed-gascard/, (accessed February 2019)


Who knows? The Brexit dilemma!

01/02/2019
“So what the hell happens now?”(Daily Mirror 25 Jun 2016)

President Junker & Premier May

Here in Ireland we have been watching with growing incredulous and grim fascination the debates in the British House of Commons. We have also watched the more sedate proceedings in the European Parliament but again with a certain incredulity that the members representing the 27 other countries could by and large have a different conception of what Brexit means and the not ungenerous agreement made with the exiting member. Indeed watching the debate in Brussels the other day (29th January 2019) it was difficult to see if the representatives from the 27 (and there were no contributions from the Irish members) and those from the Britain were actually talking about the same thing.

A few days ago an article was published by Nick Denbow, Editor-Emeritus of the Industrial Automation Insider which pointed out the unpreparedness of British for what will happen on 29th March 2019 – whatever it is. He states that “the past year been disastrous for UK industrial investment in instrumentation and control.” He points out press releases from British companies announcing new products have dwindled. This is something we in Read-out have also noticed. It would appear that industry in Britain has by and large been in a state of stagnation – “torpor” is the word he uses – waiting hoping for a favourable and non-disruptive result to the interminable negotiations. This would appear to be confirmed today by Dharshini David of the BBC when he says, “Business investment is stagnant…” (See bottom of page for link). In our experience no native instrumentation and control body or publication, with few notable exceptions, such as Processing Talk and GAMBICA, seems to realise exactly what is going down the line still less really understands what the implications of BREXIT are! The majority seem to think that everything will be alright on the night!

But in reality nobody knows.

Who am I dealing with?

In contrast, Irish industry has been inundated with information on State sponsored events, courses, seminars seeking to prepare us for BREXIT whatever form it takes. From this side of the Irish Sea there appears to be no such thing as a soft BREXIT. It is the very nature of the BREXIT beast to be hard.

In the twenty seven countries still committed to the European Union and the rest of the world there is little of this paralysis either. I&C companies are developing new products and marketing them much as before. There are preparations in each country of course to protect themselves and the Union’s standards to a greater or lesser extend depending on their closeness and inter-activity with Britain. Customs and Excise personal are being recruited and passport controls are being augmented in those countries with direct contacts with British Ports, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain as well as Ireland. As I look from across the sea the preparations in Britain appear to be haphazard. What will happen in Holyhead for instance? David Davis, a onetime Minister for Brexit, recognised in 2017, that there “might” be some complexities there.  Have those been identified and confronted?

Nobody knows?

The Northern Ireland Border (inset:before EU)

Let us take paperwork. Every consignment coming from a third country to Ireland, or any EU country, will have to have paperwork, sometimes quite complex paperwork. These consignments are held until that paperwork is scrutinised and passed at the point of entry. In Dublin, and other Irish Ports, these holding places are being expanded as we speak and this has speeded up as the prospect of a no-deal BREXIT hoves into view. Today I can drive over in my car to Britain and pick up equipment and drive back home with nothing more than an invoice. I remember what it was like before waiting interminable hours in what was known as the “Long Room” to clear good. Driving outside of the Ireland I had to have a “Green Card” for car insurance. This applied also to Northern Ireland. Is this coming back? Will driving licences be recognised?

Coming to an airport near you?

Nobody knows?

Then there is the tax problem. I was speaking to a small business owner the other day who had attended one of these BREXIT meetings in Clifden far out in the west of Ireland and they believe that their cash flow will experience problems and they will have to increase cash availability by about 40% – yes forty percent. A lot of that will have to be available to pay VAT and other duties at point of entry in the event of no agreement. I know of at least one company that went to the wall in the eighties prior to the common trade arrangements because of this requirement. Indeed even if an agreement is arrived at then this could very well be the situation at the end of the additional two year period allowed in Mrs May’s December agreement.

Nobody knows?

The other day we published an article by Dominique Stucki of ABB’s Control Technology unit on maintaining standards in the food industry. These are fostered by the EU funded (€30million) IOF2020 Group  aimed at building a lasting innovation ecosystem that fosters the uptake of IoT technologies. Will Britain as a third party country benefit from this work? What about the many other standards implemented throughout the union?

Nobody knows?

That Britain will survive BREXIT there is little doubt but if it reaps any benefit from it depends on how they manage it. The British Press will blame Europe and the Irish for whatever failure happens, that much is clear. But Europe and Ireland did not ask for BREXIT. That Europe strives to defend its institutions and hard fought for advantages is hardly surprising. Britain as an active member for over forty years contributed much to these institutions and policies. That it should choose to put all that productive work at naught is indeed a great mystery. But Britain – or perhaps it is more accurate to say England – is nothing if not resiliant. It is in for a rough time, we all are, but at the end of the day the various nations that make up the United Kingdom, together or apart, will make a go of whatever happens.

When the result of the Referendum was announced and the Westminster administration fell apart we quoted the comment of the President of the European Commission, former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Junker, “I thought they had a plan!” As we approach the 29th March 2019 the question of what that plan is remains a mystery.

Nobody knows!


• See also Brexit woes, Nick Denbow, (30 Jun 2016)
Brexit, What this means for you and your business. (24 June 2016)
How has business been affected by Brexit so far? Dharshini David, Economics correspondent with the BBC (31 Jan 2019)



Most viewed stories in 2018.

02/01/2019

These are the most viewed stories on the Read-out Instrumentation Signpost website during 2017. The article on Radar Level Management (item 9 on this list) by Emerson’s Sarah Parker,  has consistantly appeared somewhere on this annual list in the last seven years.

As permanent links to the site we list these month by month. Those which were added during the year (2017) and in previous years may be found here!

First past the post!

Tapeswitch are now providing sensors for horse riding simulators to Racewood Equestrian Simulators .


No messing about on river conservation!

06/12/2018

Scientists from the University of Portsmouth have been investigating nutrient concentrations in the Upper River Itchen, in Hampshire (GB), on behalf of Salmon & Trout Conservation (S&TC) to better understand where phosphorus is coming from and how it is impacting river ecology.

The work has been ongoing for over three years and Lauren Mattingley, Science Officer for S&TC says: “Continuous monitoring of phosphorus has improved our understanding of nutrient dynamics in the Itchen. So far, the results from this monitoring have influenced the lowering of discharge limits from watercress companies and trout breeding farms.

“The behaviour of phosphorus in our rivers is relatively poorly understood, and this is often reflected in water quality standards that, in our opinion, lack the scientific evidence to adequately protect the ecology of the UK’s diverse water resources. Research like that which we have commissioned on the Itchen is essential to set informed phosphorus permits to protect our water life.”

Background
The Itchen is a world famous chalk stream; renowned for its fly fishing and clear water. Designated a ‘Special Area of Conservation’ (SAC) the river supports populations of water-crowfoot, Southern damselfly, Bullhead, Brook lamprey, White-clawed crayfish and otters. The upper river does not suffer from wastewater treatment plant discharges, but does support two watercress farms, which have been the focus of initiatives to reduce phosphate concentrations.

S&TC is the only British charity campaigning for wild fish and their habitats. The organisation’s goal is for British waters to support abundant and sustainable populations of wild fish and all other water-dependent wildlife. Within its ‘Living Rivers’ campaign S&TC is seeking to tackle two of the major causes of poor water quality – fine sediment and phosphorus. The Itchen is therefore being treated as a pilot river for their water quality monitoring initiatives.

Phosphorus in fresh water is a major concern globally; mainly because of its role in the formation of algal blooms and eutrophication, which have a harmful effect on water quality and habitats. Under certain conditions, raised phosphate concentrations contribute to the proliferation of nuisance phytoplankton as well as epiphytic and benthic algae. Diffuse sources of phosphate include storm water and agricultural run-off from land, and point sources include septic tanks and wastewater discharges from industry and sewage treatment works. While soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) is the main concern, because of its availability for aquatic organism growth, other forms of phosphate such as particulate phosphate can contribute to nutrient enrichment.

Efforts to improve the quality of water bodies in Britain have been underway for many years. The EU’s Water Framework Directive (WFD) required Britain to achieve ‘good status’ of all water bodies (including rivers, streams, lakes, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater) by 2015, but in 2012 only 36% of water bodies were classified as ‘good’ or better.

In 2013 the UK Technical Advisory Group (UKTAG) published recommendations to revise the standards for phosphorus in rivers, because the standards set in 2009 were not sufficiently stringent – in 75% of rivers with clear ecological impacts of nutrient enrichment, the existing standards produced phosphorus classifications of good or even high status! DEFRA (British Government Department looking after environmental matters), therefore, revised the phosphorus standards to lower concentrations. However, the SRP concentration limits vary widely according to the location and alkalinity of the river.

Recognising a gap in the understanding of the relationship between phosphorus and aquatic ecology, S&TC has a unique agreement with the Environment Agency (EA) in Hampshire in which key environmental targets have been established for the Rivers Test and Itchen to help drive ecological improvements. The agreed targets are set around the number of key water insects that should be expected in a 3-minute kick-sweep sample. The targets are for the middle and lower reaches of the catchment to support at least 10 separate mayfly species and 500 freshwater shrimps (Gammarus) – all of which are susceptible to different forms of pollution so their presence provides an effective measure of the environmental health of the river.

S&TC has also conducted research investigating the effects of fine sediment and SRP on the hatching of the blue winged olive, Serratella ignita (Ephemerellidae: Ephemeroptera) a crucial component of the aquatic food chain. The results found that a cocktail of SRP and fine sediment at concentrations exceeding those found in many UK rivers (25 mg/L fine sediment and 0.07 mg/L phosphate) caused 80% of the eggs in the experiment to die. This work was unique because it showed environmental damage caused by phosphorus beyond eutrophication.

River Itchen sampling and analysis
Five automatic water samplers have been strategically located on the river each collecting daily samples. This generates 120 samples per 24 day cycle, which are collected and transferred to the laboratory in Portsmouth. The samples are split into three for the analysis of Total Phosphate, Soluble Reactive Phosphate (SRP) and Total Dissolved Phosphate (TDP). To cope with such a high volume of work, the laboratory in the University of Portsmouth’s School of Earth & Environmental Sciences employs a QuAAtro 5-channel segmented flow autoanalyzer, from SEAL Analytical.

“The QuAAtro has been in heavy use for over 9 years,” says Senior Scientific Officer Dr Adil Bakir. “It has been employed on a number of academic and commercial research projects, and is also used for teaching purposes. As a 5-channel instrument, we are able to study phosphate, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia and silicate, but our work on the River Itchen is focused on the different forms of phosphate.”

The University of Portsmouth’s Environmental Chemistry Analytical Laboratory provides analytical and consultancy services for businesses, universities and other organisations. Dr Bakir says: “Using the QuaAAttro we are able to analyse diverse matrices including river water, sea water and wastewater, and with automatic dilution and high levels of sensitivity, we are able to measure a wide range of concentrations.”

Creating effective discharge consents
The analytical work undertaken by the laboratory at the University of Portsmouth has greatly improved the understanding of the ecology of the River Itchen and thereby informed the development of appropriate discharge consents for the two watercress farms. Effective 1st January 2016, new discharge permits were issued by the Environment Agency that set limits on phosphate discharges to the River Itchen system. For the Vitacress Pinglestone Farm these limits are set at 0.064 mg/L and are measured as an annual mean increase compared to the inlet sample.

S&TC now works closely with Vitacress, monitoring immediately downstream of the discharge so that the effects of the new discharge limit can be effectively assessed.

Looking forward, Lauren says: “The lessons that we have learned on the Itchen are transferrable, and do not just apply to chalk streams. All rivers have their issues and inputs, so proper diagnosis and understanding of how these inputs shape the biology is essential to the successful restoration of degraded systems.

“In an ideal world phosphorus targets would be bespoke, on a river by river basis, and determined by tailored research and proper monitoring.

“River ecology is impacted by a wide variety of factors and whilst nutrients represent a serious risk, it is important for us to understand all of the threats, and the relationships between them. In summary, without high-resolution monitoring, river standards and river restoration efforts will be blind to their consequences.”

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