A drum is not a drum any more

It’s raining and the skies are grey. We are sitting looking at a video on the lap top of Ludwig Dose. He is showing us the action that goes on in the new Dose Motion drums and demonstrating how despite a slow revolution speed and a very wide self design dyestuff is fully distributed within the drum in less than half a revolution.

As anyone visiting the experimental tannery in the BSLT will see drums have changed a lot in recent years. Power saving, water saving, and chemical saving are all to be considered. Options for materials and internal configuration are many. We do not have a full set in Northampton but quite enough to let students know what the options are.

We are in China. Trade is not so good here in Shanghai at the ACLE and everyone is working out the implications of the changes going in China – rising costs, the implications of the new social contract and the introduction of tax penalties. New opportunities are therefore arising and we are seeing some big footwear investments in places like Bangladesh and Indonesia. Certainly many companies who abandoned Indonesia a few years ago for China are now returning with their tails between their legs.

Most notable right now is the pain in the chemical companies who have been raising prices all year as costs rocket. At the same time, though, margins are suffering as with trade difficult and the retail situation looking so poor there is little room in the value chain to absorb price increases.

Perhaps outside helping tanneries reduce operating costs with new drums education and research is the best place to be right now in the leather industry. If the UK government behave responsibly with visas student numbers should be quite good and as we enter our centenary celebration year demand seems to be growing for M.Sc. courses, short courses and that very important sector of continuous professional development.

Hopefully all the new drums will be up and running for the new session and things will start to move on the finishing side, where the new driers are already installed. Certainly the tannery looks totally different to a year ago and should be in good shape for all the visitors expected next year. If you have not had your mailing about events go to the corium club pages and register or just email me.

Mike Redwood

September 5, 2008

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