A re-organization plan approved by senior committees at the International Lead Association and the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium was approved by ALABC members on September 8. The ALABC is a consortium of more than 70 lead producers, battery manufacturers, research institutes and component suppliers.
The restructuring, which has been in the pipeline for over a year has finally moved out of the steering committee stages — the boards of the ILA and the ALABC had earlier endorsed the proposals and approved sending them to their members — and will now be implemented.
The only bar to their adoption had been the discussion and approval by their members. “We also wanted to make the process as open and transparent as possible,” says Tim Ellis, chairman of ALABC.
The changes will come into effect in 2016.
In this jumble of acronyms, the ALABC, which is a stand-alone entity that has been run by ILZRO (the International Lead Zinc Research Organization) but administered by the ILA, from then on will be run by the ILA.
Andy Bush, managing director of the ILA, says: “From next year ALABC’s management and programme support services will be provided by the ILA. They will form part of ILA’s core budget and will be funded by lead producers through their subscriptions to ILA.”
Effectively, this means that the whole lead industry that are represented by the ILA will support the ALABC’s work. In practice as a lead producer it is no longer possible to be an ALABC member and not an ILA member — and vice versa.
The exact formula for calculating how ILA members will support ALABC through a new fee structure is still being calculated.
ILA expenditure for ALABC will include the provision of: a full-time research programme manager, communications support, administrative support and senior management support.
Of the total support anticipated, approximately 25% will be dedicated to communications.
ILA services do not include any research project costs, including consulting support (technical or otherwise) or specialist advocacy support.
As part of the reorganization two ILA subsidiaries — the ILMC (the International Lead Management Center) and ILZRO will cease to be stand-alone entities but become units within the ILA.
“The changes are as much ideological as they are functional,” says Andy Bush, managing director of the ILA. “For the last year we’ve been looking for a way to deliver a consolidated message for the entire lead industry and we felt that a piecemeal approach with us operating as four separate units wasn’t helping that.”
Bush points out that the ILA’s mandate to promote the lead industry has changed over time — batteries now account for around 80% of all lead used and need to be the major focus of attention.
The existing structures also needed to be updated to reflect a commitment to benefiting the battery industry, he says.
This, in itself is not new, the ILA itself has gone through a couple of name changes reflecting the change of its mandate. (It used to be the Lead Development Association before becoming the Lead Development Association International before becoming the ILA in the early 2000s.
So what does this mean to ALABC members?
Financially this will take two forms.
In the past lead producing members of ALABC paid their membership dues and had the choice of joining ILA. Now, ALABC membership has to be through the ILA — the whole industry is paying for the research work that it undertakes. By the same token the whole industry has the right to propose what forms of research have to be undertaken (see diagram).
Second, the ILA is revising the membership tiers of ALABC as a result of which there will be changes of fees for some contributors.
The core activities of what was previously ILZRO and ILMC will continue in 2016 although under the ILA’s banner.
For ALABC its core mandate to provide pre-competitive research open to its members remains the same.
In the official proposal, “ALABC will maintain the three-year funding cycle that has been followed previously. Also, as with previous programmes, technical input and review of the prospectus has been solicited from all funders of ALABC. The prospectus proposes a re-alignment of the ALABC technical programme towards basic battery research.”
ALABC’s Ellis said after the meeting; “I really hope that after all this ALABC members stay committed to our mission. They need to get actively involved in assuring that the programmes of the ALABC fit their needs.”