Assessing industrial risk
Inspection and maintenance of industrial procedures
are vital to prevent damage to safety, health, the environment or
economic activity. The RIMAP project seeks a European risk-based
best practice for inspection and maintenance in petrochemicals,
chemicals, steel and power, which could also apply to other industries.
Part of FP5's Growth Programme, RIMAP has an RTD phase, a demonstration
phase and a new thematic network involving NAS members. Phase 1
will examine present inspection and maintenance planning in the
four industrial sectors, and define a common framework. Practical
plans for each industry, and maybe a European standard, should follow.
The demonstration phase will test the RTD results,
and the thematic network will collect, analyse and disseminate information.
The NAS will contribute their own experiences of industrial practices,
and RIMAP will help them restructure their practices towards accession.
Network coordinator Professor Alexander Jovanovic, of Stuttgart
University, feels that input from the NAS will enable adaptation
of technologies without the constraints of western infrastructure.
"Our technology," he says, "will become more robust and more applicable
worldwide by building on the experience of the NAS."
Modern freight, ancient streets
Bestufs, a thematic network in the Growth Programme,
links freight transport user groups, national, regional and local
administrations, urban transport experts and interested cities.
The original project team from three EU countries and Switzerland
has been joined by Hungary, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland,
the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia. "The aim," says network coordinator
Dieter Wild from PTV Planung Transport Verkehr in Stuttgart, "is
to bridge the gap between national information and the use which
could be made of it by other countries. It is an extremely good
example of how an existing project can gain value for existing members
by bringing in new partners from the candidate countries, and also
offer a great deal to the new ones."
Bestufs focuses on themes such as the impact of
tolls on road users, how e-commerce and night deliveries are affecting
goods transport, and ways of reducing congestion and pollution.
The information gathered is being analysed by a steering committee
whose recommendations will be disseminated via workshops, conferences,
newsletters and the internet.
When selecting fresh fruit or vegetables, the
customer is most interested in the quality of the inside flesh,
which is not visible and has proved difficult to assess in a consistent
manner. To help solve this problem, the NIQAT project, part of FP5's
Quality of Life Programme, is developing near infra-red spectroscopy
methods to determine the quality inside fruit and vegetables. Used
with a photometric camera, the method can detect internal blemishes
or diseased areas, alongside factors such as maturity and flavour
development. NIQAT, coordinated by the Canning Research Institute
of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, has partners in Finland and the UK.
Another food-related project, Novacsal, concentrated
on one of the most serious sources of food-poisoning: salmonella
infection. The three-year project in FP4's FAIR programme has been
completed by experts from animal health research institutes in the
Czech Republic and Hungary working with five EU Member States. It
built on the observation that oral inoculation of young chickens
with wild-type salmonella or live, attenuated vaccines resulted
in intestinal colonisation and resistance to other salmonella strains.
Studies in inoculated pigs had demonstrated development of a similar
non-specific immunity, their intestines showing none of the damage
suffered by non-inoculated pigs following salmonella infection.
Novacsal studied the mechanisms involved in generating
immunity, both at a theoretical level and as a practical means for
salmonella control, including an assessment of how effective inoculation
would be under field conditions in preventing infection by a highly
virulent salmonella strain.
Protecting Europe's cultural heritage
The candidate countries, with their rich cultural
history, are playing a key and growing role in protecting Europe's
heritage from environmental degradation. Three partner organisations
from these countries took part in FP4, 29 contributed to FP5 and
even more are expected to participate in FP6.
Two projects from very different research programmes
are currently contributing valuable knowledge to the preservation
of Europe's cultural heritage:
Arcchip is the first centre of excellence for
cultural heritage in Eastern Europe, and is part of FP5's INCO-2
programme. Based in the Czech Republic's Institute of Theoretical
and Applied Mechanics, Arcchip is a centre for the study of state-of-the-art
techniques for protecting cultural heritage, gathering the latest
information and promoting the exchange of best practice. By June
2002 it had organised 12 workshops on key aspects of conservation.
Each event establishes a core network of experts for future studies.
Milos Drdácky, Arcchip coordinator, feels that the project's major
contribution has been to bring together participants from 50 to
60 countries at these workshops: "The Arcchip centre of excellence
programme was intended to support the dissemination of results rather
than research itself, although the networks it established have
helped create new research projects."
Enviart, an FP4 project, was finalised in 1998
and focused on the restoration of artificial or stucco marble which
consists of gypsum mixed with natural glues and pigments, laid down
and polished. The technique was perfected around 1700 and became
an important feature of baroque church and palace architecture in
central and southern Europe. But changes in humidity and temperature,
along with the leaching and crystallisation of minerals, has resulted
in serious deterioration. Enviart studied weathering damage to the
stucco marble of the Dukes' Chapel in Krzeszow, Poland. Scientists
from three Polish institutes worked alongside experts from Germany,
Austria and Belgium to define the factors involved and to develop
Nastec, a two-year project in the
FP5 Information Society Technology (IST) Programme,
has been set up to build confidence and trust in the
application of electronic networks in e-commerce, e-administration
and teleworking. It will also contribute to the use
of EU technology and services by helping the uptake
of common European standards for authentication and
secure transmissions. The project links partners in
Slovenia, Poland and Romania with EU Member States Germany
Nastec will establish a public key
infrastructure with certification and registration rules.
This will guarantee the security of basic services including
messaging by signed and encrypted mails, anti-spamming
devices, and secure data transactions. Further work
could include the validation of electronic transactions,
on-line administration services and, most importantly,
dissemination and training aimed at NAS professional
organisations, industry and business.