Review of 2021, what we learnt

We entered 2021 with such optimism after a tumultuous 2020 but it hasn’t all been plain sailing offering further challenges for individuals and businesses alike. But these are the challenges that help us hone skills and strategies to navigate shocks, they also provide us with a newfound appreciation for the simpler things in life.

In this blog we look at the events in 2021 which have affected both the team here at Energy Technology & Control and also our clients across the globe.

Brexit

The Brexit campaign won an in-out referendum of EU membership which took place on June 23, 2016. The UK then left the Brussels bloc on January 31, 2020, signing a trade deal in December the same year.

The main fallout for UK businesses exporting into Europe has been the time needed to complete additional administration. It is now crucial you have the right paperwork when importing or exporting. Even those companies using a freight forwarder or an agent, still need to accept responsibility for ensuring the right documentation is available. Missing or inaccurate documents cause delays, result in extra costs and in the worst instances can prevent a deal from being completed.

Thankfully at Energy Technology & Control we have experience operating internationally and were already working with customs departments around the world. The paperwork now required for exporting to the EU is in line with the paperwork required for other international locations, so held few surprises for us.

Covid-19

Covid-19 has been an ongoing rollercoaster, there are few people in the world who have not been affected by it. From schools closing, to vaccine centres opening, a pause on international travel and the increasing pressure on health services.

Testing is a vital part of the product development process for us, allowing us to verify the quality and reliability of a new product before it reaches market. When developing new products a member of our team would normally take the product to Kiwa, the global testing, inspection and certification (TIC) specialists in the Netherlands. However without in person travel we’ve been unable to complete this step, leaving some products stuck at the development phase.

As our equipment tends to be small in size and light in weight, we routinely utilise air freight as a quick and cost-effective transportation option. However, Covid-19 caused so many flights to be grounded that demand outstripped supply, resulting in freight being delayed and sitting at airports, sometimes for weeks waiting to be transported.

However, everyone was in the same position. We also struggled to receive orders from abroad for the same reasons, we learnt from this, and we ensure that we have a stock of the parts we require so that we don’t fall into that trap again.

COP26

Following the Cop26 summit, nearly 200 countries made a historic pledge to reduce the use of coal.

Dubbed a “wake-up call” by OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo, the two-week climate conference formally recognised the necessity to phase out fossil fuels. There is no denying that Cop26 marks a turning point for action on fossil fuels but there is much still to be done.

Natural gas – which emits almost 50% less CO2 than coal – is the primary fuel used with Energy Technology and Control products. Natural gas is a relatively clean burning fossil fuel.

Seuz Canal

The Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal was just one aspect affecting an incredibly turbulent global supply chain. The combination of Covid-19, Brexit, the Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal, and catastrophic flooding in Western Europe caused chaos for businesses trading internationally.

The Ever Given disaster struck an immense blow to industries, impacting supplies and, unsurprisingly pushing up the cost of materials and freight rates. The stranded ship held up approximately $9.6 billion of trade per day and was stuck for six days.

The disaster has delivered a lesson to everyone who depends on shipping: don’t take your constant supply of goods for granted. As such we reviewed our policy and now hold more stock to avoid being caught out by similar shocks.

Nature has also made its presence felt this year, with flash floods, tornadoes and wildfires all affecting the global supply chain. In July severe flooding in Western Europe – the most serious in decades – disrupted logistics networks and wiped out some industrial zones completely, operationally affecting the manufacturing supply chain.

There is no doubt that 2022 has much in store for us. But with the lessons we have learned we can face it with more confidence and optimism. We look forward to the new year with quiet confidence and the knowledge that we can use all we’ve learnt from the challenges we’ve overcome to make the business stronger.