Supply chain developments

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Our cover feature reveals the opportunities available to UK manufacturers, OEMs and sub-contractors, resulting from a huge research project (ITER) that is expected to be the launchpad for commercially viable electricity generation via nuclear fusion. That's fusion not fission (current technology). Fission is splitting atoms; fusion is driving them together, just as happens at the sun's core. For a list of benefits of fusion over fission, and of its 'green' credentials in general, visit and

More recently, Machinery was highlighting supply chain opportunities within the rail industry, while previously, we have done the same for wind power, nuclear power, and for the oil and gas sectors, too. As it happens, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Milliband mentioned the development of a wind energy supply chain only recently, on the Sunday Andrew Marr show, and this claim is repeated in the Government's Low Carbon Industrial Strategy (download from In fact, within this document, the phrase 'supply chain' generally crops up around 70 times in some 90-odd pages. On wind power, it is difficult to reconcile such public pronouncements with what has panned out, though. As some readers might recall, we only recently highlighted the WindSupply activity which had come to a halt following the ending of funding – see 18863/Dead-calm-at-WindSupply.aspx. There is no strong wind power supply chain effort that Machinery can detect, while any activities are disjointed and regionally based. But the Vestas Isle of Wight factory closure appears to underline a lack of UK demand, anyway. As for ITER, the UK's supply chain activity is focused on a single person at UKAEA's Culham, Oxfordshire, facility, while the rail opportunities supply chain development activity is similarly a very small operation. Both, at least, are nationwide, however. This is not to demean the efforts of those involved, only to highlight the Government's big talk and apparent small delivery on 'low carbon' supply chain development. But the Government is talking big on nuclear power – that's fission, not fusion – and also on the development of the supply chain for the UK's aero-engine industry, accelerating the development and introduction of low carbon aircraft engine technology. Roll-Royce is the common link, in both of these cases. Machinery is very pleased with these announcements in the Low Carbon Industrial Strategy, and will watch keenly and report eagerly on developments. We hope also that the profile we give to other, smaller, supply chain activities will prove positive, and we will continue to seek these out, too. First published in Machinery August 2009