Experience is everything

As a proud UK oil mist filters manufacturer for over 50 years, Filtermist is well placed to provide expertise in the field of oil mist extraction and LEV systems, but it is the experience of its dedicated and knowledgeable team that truly sets the company apart.

’Competency’ and how to demonstrate a person is competent to undertake a specific task is a subject which has been, and is still, frequently discussed in a number of industries.

The HSE’s definition of ‘competence’ is as follows:

Competence can be described as the combination of training, skills, experience and knowledge that a person has and their ability to apply them to perform a task safely. Other factors, such as attitude and physical ability, can also affect someone's competence.

Filtermist ensures its employees are competent in a variety of ways – all new recruits are carefully vetted to make sure they are the right fit for the job, regular training is offered – both in-house and externally, operating procedures are documented as part of the company’s ISO accreditation and regular performance audits are undertaken to check procedures are being followed.

Installation, Service and LEV Engineers have their skills, practical qualifications and length of experience documented on a skills matrix, and all are actively encouraged to undertake P600 qualifications from BOHS.

Completing courses and passing exams is highly valuable, but there is no substitute for time spent on the job. Filtermist is privileged in that many of its employees have worked at the company for a considerable length of time – CEO James Stansfield first joined Filtermist in 1998 and he still works with at least ten colleagues who were with the company when he first started.

Installation Team Leader Neil Morgan joined Filtermist 25 years ago, and Applications Engineer Nigel Hicks has spent the past 23 years assisting customers and global distributors with technical enquiries.

We spoke to Neil and Nigel to find out more about their day-to-day roles and the benefits their experience offers to customers:

Neil Morgan (Moggy)

Neil, who celebrated his 25th anniversary of working for Filtermist earlier this year, is responsible for overseeing all UK installations of Filtermist units. He travels throughout the UK overseeing a team of five engineers that install Filtermist oil mist filters for end-users, machine tool manufacturers and their distributors.

“I began my career at Filtermist on the assembly line which means I know every inch of the Filtermist unit, how it’s constructed and how it works which has stood me in good stead for my current role. I’ve spent the last 17 years out on the road – first with the service division and now our installations department. Whilst most installations are fairly standard, we offer a wide range of installation accessories and mounting options to ensure each unit is configured as well as possible for every individual customer and their specific requirements.

“Some people think fitting an oil mist filter is just a box ticking exercise to keep the HSE happy, but that’s the wrong attitude. Investing in extraction that works can make a huge difference to the working environment and the morale of the workforce.

“Working with existing customers year after year means you get to see the changes that take place in the industry first-hand. Awareness of the potential hazards of oil mist in the air has been increasing since the HSE introduced COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) regulations back in 1988, but it’s only really the last ten years or so when it’s become such a hot topic. For me, I love meeting customers and helping them make sure they’ve got the best extraction for their needs and the paperwork to back it up.

“We produce a comprehensive commissioning report with every installation which acts as a benchmark for future LEV TExT inspections. This means our customers can be sure that the system we’ve installed is fit for purpose and protecting employees from exposure to potentially dangerous airborne oil mist particles.”

Nigel Hicks

Nigel joined Filtermist back in 1998 as an installation and service engineer. He is now the company’s go-to technical expert and supports customers in the UK and overseas. Pre-covid, Nigel would regularly meet with Filtermist’s global distributors to help them find the best solution for specific oil mist related issues their customers were facing. The pandemic has meant Nigel has been able to spend more time supporting customers in the UK and he regularly drives all over the country to offer customers the benefit of his experience.

“Working in this industry for as long as I have means there’s very rarely an extraction requirement that I haven’t experienced at one point or another. Some customers initially think that any oil mist filter will do regardless of the application that it’s being used on, but that isn’t the case. There are a number of factors which need to be taken into consideration to ensure every filter specified is the best one for the specific application.

“These include the type of machine tool and coolant that’s being used, the coolant pressure, the application itself – milling, grinding, spark erosion etc, the number of air changes needed, customer preference on siting – whether it can be direct mounted or if they’d prefer for it to be mounted on a floor stand or wall bracket, whether fire dampers are needed and many other factors.

“I really enjoy the problem-solving aspect of my role. Helping people to identify the best solution for their specific set-up is always satisfying - especially when I know I’ve made a personal contribution to ensuring the air in their facility is clean and safe to breathe.”

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Source for the HSE definition of competence: https://www.hse.gov.uk/competence/what-is-competence.htm