CEC: focus on communication

New CEC Chair looks to keep the organisation moving forward

After nine months in the role of CEC Chair, Nick Clague talks to Insight about the latest strategic initiatives and his key priorities over his term of office.

Born and bought up on the Isle of Man, Nick Clague then studied chemistry at Hull University. After his PhD in fuels and lubricants detergent chemistry, he joined Ethyl Petroleum Additives and after eight years he took a position as a heavy-duty diesel engine oil formulator at Lubrizol. In 2012 he moved away from additives, joining SK Lubricants as Global Technical Manager for YUBASE and YUBASE plus base oils. As well as his role at SK Lubricants, Nick is the new Chair of the CEC management board.

The presidency of the Coordinating European Council (CEC) rotates among the stakeholder organisations every 2-3 years. In June 2019, Nick took over for ATIEL from ATC’s Frank Stunnenberg as Chair of the CEC an organisation responsible for the development of performance test methods for transportation fuels, lubricants and other fluids. “Our key aim,” Nick explains, “is to develop tests and make sure they are meaningful and relevant to the industry and its stakeholders - whether that test is for fuels and differentiation, for engine and transmission lubricants or bench tests.”

Focus on communication

In his two-year term of office he will to continue to implement change in line with the CEC strategic initiatives. Part of this focuses on improved communication and generating increased awareness of CEC, not only with its stakeholders but also within the wider industry.

Infineum International Limited

Over the last couple of years there's been some misconceptions about CEC not operating very well. So one of the things I want to do is improve communication within CEC, not just within CEC itself, but also to its stakeholders. So part of that is, we're looking to develop a new website, improve roles and responsibilities, and just do some simple things just to improve communication, just to let you know CEC is there and CEC's working effectively.

The Management Board plays a key role in ensuring the future success of CEC and here communication is already working well. “We are lucky to have the ACEA light-duty and heavy-duty chairs as members of the CEC Management Board. This close collaboration not only means we have effective communication but is also helping to make sure CEC is developing the tests that are needed. We also have good communication channels with the other two parts of the triple A - ATIEL and ATC - that allows us to plan and discuss future test needs, and if necessary we can set up CEC special project groups that will help us identify where to move forward in the future.”

In other areas there are still improvements to make – some of which are within CEC itself. “It can be a simple change,” Nick confirms, “from making the minutes of meetings available for our members and stakeholders*, making sure that the groups are all aware of the Management Board’s responsibilities and defining the roles and responsibilities within the surveillance groups and test development groups. I’m also pleased to say there will be a new CEC website coming this year, which will have a lot more functionality that will also help the organisation within groups.”

Another sign of progress is the communication channels that are now open with external organisations including independent testing laboratories and the ASTM – the US standards development organisation.

Infineum International Limited

We are working currently with ASTM liaising together, and part of that is meeting on a global basis to look at where we share tests today to make those tests simpler in terms of costs and sharing of reference fluids and equipment for example. And we're also working with ASTM to make sure that there's no duplication of test methods going forward. So if there's a CEC test, maybe ASTM could adopt that. And if there's an ASTM test, that's already available, CEC doesn't need to develop a test. So it should save some costs within the industry as well.

But, as Nick explains, the future is not without its more difficult to overcome challenges, particularly around the availability of hardware for the engines that are needed to support the ACEA sequences. "As an example, the OM 646 engine, which is used in two tests in the ACEA sequences will be not available much after 2022 and some of the other tests that are in the ACEA sequences today may also not be available much beyond that point."

Test development

One of the challenges for the industry is trying to encourage OEMs to provide hardware that will help in the development of tests that are needed for the future. And, Nick is pleased to report some success on this front.

Infineum International Limited

We've been lucky recently that Volkswagen has offered us the next generation TDI test, which will go into the next ACEA sequences to replace the old TDI test. And we've had support from Toyota to develop the Toyota Turbo Test. And we're working with the industry partners through ACEA to ask OEMs to help us move that forward further. Certainly, on the lubricant side.

Nick clearly feels the CEC test development process is fit for purpose, although he sees a need to update the current guidelines. “We have guidelines in place for test developments and for surveillance groups and those guidelines are fairly comprehensive and cover all the aspects of what's needed. However, there is a lot of duplication and ambiguity within them currently so, later this year, we will be issuing a new guidelines document for these groups and the whole organisation. It's also important to make sure everybody's engaged in the test development and surveillance groups, which means these groups must have strong leadership,” he continues. “We look for strong leaders, both in the chair and officer positions of these groups to help towards successful test development processes.”

As a final point, we asked Nick what he hopes to achieve by the end of his term of office as CEC Chair?

Infineum International Limited

CEC is actually a constantly evolving organisation and it's not like a company where the CEO is responsible and it's a constantly evolving process. So I've set the strategic items for 2020 and 2021 really to focus on communication, moving CEC forward that way. And with the new guidelines and the new website that will be in place, hopefully the next chair will have a good foundation to take things forward.

Successful completion of these activities, that are defined in the CEC strategic initiatives, will not only help to raise the profile of the CEC but also enable it to focus effectively on the timely delivery of meaningful performance tests that are desperately desired by all industry stakeholders.


* Stakeholders and Members of CEC: ATC (Association of European Additive Manufacturers), ATIEL (Association of European Lubricant Manufacturers), ACEA (Association of European Vehicle Manufacturers) and CONCAWE (European Refining EH&S organisation)

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