GUEST EDITORIAL: CECOF Smooths Bumpy Road for European Thermoprocessing Industry
European Committee of Industrial Furnace and Heating Equipment Associations (CECOF) was founded in 1972 by major European furnace manufacturer trade associations to conduct activities on behalf of its members in areas where associations could not individually do the same job. Associations from Austria (FMS), Belgium (Agoria), Czech Republic (ATTZ), France (MTPS), Germany (TPT/VDMA), Great-Britain (BIFCA), Italy (CICOF) and Switzerland (SWISSMEM) represent more than 150 companies in these countries, together representing close to $US 4 billion in sales, or more than 80% of total European furnace production and a 60% share of the corresponding world trade.
CECOF members represent the design, manufacturing and marketing of all the segments of industrial thermoprocessing including:
- Industrial furnaces and heating equipment for industries including ferrous and nonferrous metals; glass, ceramic, cement, lime and gypsum; pulp and paper; chemical/petrochemical; food processing; and others.
- Heat-recovery equipment
- Protective-atmosphere equipment
- Components and accessories for industrial furnaces
CECOF activities involve representing member interests worldwide and supporting their marketing and technical research and development efforts. CECOF is a major participant in the European standardization process. Originally, the free circulation of goods in Europe was affected by existing country codes (DIN in Germany, BSI in the UK just to mention two national bodies). This created nightmares for designers/manufacturers who had to tune their furnace designs based on the final product destination. CECOF immediately became involved when the EU, in a so-called new-approach, launched the "directives" projects to improve safety and to facilitate the free circulation of goods within the member states. This was indeed the basis for producing better equipment (which always had been the concern of CECOF companies). But these projects also were forcing the harmonization, or conformity, of the various existing standards.
CECOF became the operating body of TC186 (Technical Committee for Industrial Thermoprocessing Equipment); most officers and experts in the Working Groups were CECOF members. This work was spread over several years and generated the EN 746 series of standards, as well as EN 1547(Noise Test Code). EN 746 is the harmonized European standard for industrial furnaces (similar to NFPA 86 in the USA), consisting of 8 documents (or parts):
1. Common Safety Requirements
2. Combustion and Fuel Handling
3. Generation and Use of Atmosphere Gases
4. Hot Dip Galvanizing
5. Salt Bath
6. Liquid Phase Treatment
8. Quenching Equipment
Parts 1-3 were ratified and implemented in 1997. Parts 4, 5 and 8, as well as EN 1547, were ratified in 2000 and should be implemented shortly. Parts 6 and 7 are still in progress.
CECOF also supports exhibitions and symposia in the field of industrial furnaces; for example, Thermprocess in Düsseldorf in June 1999, Metal and Metallurgy China in Beijing in May 2000, Ankiros/Annofer in Istanbul in March 2001 and Metals Engineering in Birmingham (UK) in October 2001.
The CECOF organization is run by a president, two vice presidents, a general secretary and an executive committee, involving the secretaries of the member associations, as well as the presidium. The president of the committee is elected for a three-year term. The current president is Mr. Mike Debier (Eclipse/Agoria), and the general secretary is Dr. Gutmann Habig from the German TPT/VDMA association. The general secretariat is the only permanent body of the organization, as most of the work is being done at the level of the national associations. For that same reason, CECOF does not normally collect funds from either member associations or the companies themselves.
CECOF shares associated members with IHEA (Industrial Heating Equipment Association). The synergy between the two organizations is not limited to participation in the annual meetings but also on commission work in international and standards commissions.