Cold comfort

Jason Ford

News Editor

With temperatures predicted fall as low as minus 20 this week, Briefing is heartened to bring news of a slight thaw in manufacturers’ access to credit.

EEF today released its latest access to credit survey, noting that the overall cost of credit has improved in 12 months.

The last quarter’s results show that the number of companies reporting an increase in fees and interest rates has continued its downward trajectory.

In total, almost 20 per cent of companies saw a moderate or significant increase in the cost of credit compared to 30 per cent in the third quarter and 34 per cent in the second.

Nearly 16 per cent of companies saw new lines of credit availability decrease whilst 8.3 per cent saw an increase, which is down 13 per cent in the third quarter.

Eighty per cent of companies with credit facilities in place saw no change in fees, although 0.6 per cent reported a decrease.

Logistics managers will no doubt be keeping abreast of events on Tuesday and Wednesday as the EU Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council meet.

One agenda item will consider whether to introduce a blacklist of airports which would be barred from dispatching freight to EU countries.

Interior and transport ministers are to consider the extra measures following discovery of bombs on two US bound cargo flights on 29 October, with one reportedly hidden in a printer cartridge on a UPS plane that had stopped to refuel at East Midlands airport.

On 1 November Don Arnone, chief executive of Cambridge-based TeraView, told The Engineer that intelligence will play a major role in maintaining air security as even advanced screening technologies are not perfect and checking every piece of cargo would be impractical.

Still with air transport and news that the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) will issue its preliminary report on the incident involving a Qantas-operated Airbus A380, which was forced to make an emergency landing in Singapore last month following an mid-air engine failure.

Earlier in the month The Engineer reported that an oil fire was the likely cause of the incident. Click here to read more.

With snow forecast to move further inland this week, Briefing is double-checking its energy supplier prior to Wednesday when Scottish & Southern Energy increases its household gas prices by 9.4 per cent.

The price increase is reported to affect around 3.6 million customers, following announcement of the price rise in October.

Last week Ofgem called for more clarity from energy suppliers after it found that the margin on a standard dual-fuel tariff had risen by 38 per cent. Click here for more information.

To finish, it gives Briefing immense pleasure to wish The Royal Society a happy 350th birthday this week.

As most of you will know, the Society was formed in 1660 following a lecture on astronomy delivered by Christopher Wren.

Discussions among the 12 men that attended the talk led to a decision to form a society whose fellows include Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Ernest Rutherford, Albert Einstein, Dorothy Hodgkin, and Stephen Hawking.

Fellows from the Royal Society have provided scientific rationale to gravity, evolution, the electron, and the double helix.

Fitting, perhaps, that The Royal Society is hosting the fourth The Engineer Technology and Innovation Awards this week.

The event is designed to acknowledge the huge breadth of engineering excellence that has come about through collaborative projects in areas as diverse as consumer products, energy, defence and security, and sports technology.

A full list of the winners for 2010 will be published online this Friday.