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The New Science of Plant and Equipment Management

Plant and equipment science is one of the most important and yet least understood or appreciated areas of research work. Modern industry is now heavily reliant upon plant and equipment and the traditional performance indicators of buildability, production, cost and speed of erection would be reduced significantly in the absence of mechanisation. Within the UK construction industry, for example, the financial investment into plant and equipment is valued at approximately 20 to 30 percent of the value of construction output at any given year! In addition, there are over 600,000 registered plant operators (although perhaps only 300,000 actually operate planton a regular basis) and over 200,000 mobile plant items deployed. With a current total employment of 1.4 million workers within construction (circa 2001), plant operators account for 1 in 4 to 1 in 5 of the total workforce population. These statistics and figures are compelling.

However, construction is not the only industry to use plant and equipment. Other sectors include manufacturing, demolition, agriculture, mining and minerals, forestry - the list is almost endless! Developed countries are replacing the traditional labour resource with mechanisation throughout industry!

Despite this prominence, plant and equipment science has not attracted the volume of attention or recognition it deserves. Even today, many managers on construction sites have very little 'formal' plant management training. This is probably due to the fact that the modern machine can be dated only to the 1950(s) (albeit, steam powered machines were in existence during the 1800s).

Conversely, civil, building, mining and agricultural disciplines date back hundreds of years and are well supported by professional institutions. This does not mean that there are no specialists within industry since there clearly are (Engineers, Managers, Plant Manufacturers, Health and Safety Consultants, Training Providers and so forth). Rather, these specialists often work in isolation and sometimes fail to communicate with other members of the plant community.

To overcome this lack of cohesion, the Off-highway Plant and Equipment Research Centre (OPERC) has developed to represent, serve and support all professionals working with plant, machinery and equipment.

The Off-highway Plant and Equipment Research Centre (OPERC)

The Off-highway Plant and Equipment Research Centre (OPERC) is renowned for being the leading international centre of excellence for plant and equipment science, representing both industry practitioners and prominent scholars under one umbrella organisation. This unique combination of pragmatic knowledge and academic research work ensures that information produced by the cooperative is of the highest quality and value to members. Industries subscribing to OPERC include manufacturing, quarrying, retail, construction, civil engineering, defence, agriculture, horticulture, education, transportation and road haulage. A wide range of professionals are also represented, such as, plant manufacturers and dealerships, training providers, national awarding bodies, professional institutions and universities. OPERC has members and branches across the globe, including the United States, South Africa, Australia, the Philippines and Nigeria. By encompassing such a broad range of members OPERC is able to provide the opportunity for an organisation to work with the finest professionals in industry and attain common standards internationally.

OPERC is a non-partisan, non-profit making organisation which has the sole objective of sharing knowledge and enabling professionals to become experts in their field whether this be small power tools, industrial cleaning machines, road sweepers, heavy haulage vehicles or knuckle boom cranes. Funds generated for the association are used to produce and disseminate information that would simply be too expensive and time consuming to produce for a single organisation.

The fundamental aims of OPERC are to:

Assist industry professionals and their employees in the development of best practice educational packages, guidance and codes by which to improve individual and industry performance. 

Act as a dissemination and communication portal through which members can seek free help, advice and guidance on a wide range of issues facing plant and equipment users.

Support industry and governmental bodies in enhancing the training and education of employees. Improve the safety awareness knowledge and training of both machinery managers and their employees and any other professionals working with plant and equipment, in order to curtail accident occurrence.

Share best practice documents and initiatives with members to not only improve business profitability and engender the safety culture but also promote to young people the many benefits of a career involved with plant, machinery and equipment.

And above all, raise the standards, professionalism and competence of all employed within industry.

Become a member and benefit from joining the true professionals

Why not become a member and join the true professionals working with plant, machinery and equipment? To find out more about the benefits of OPERC membership visit the Membership page.