A fresh look at industry Q4.17
01 CLEANING UP:
GTECHâ€™S NICK GREY IS AN ENTREPRENEUR WITH PLENTY TO SMILE ABOUT
ARE DARK KITCHENS
THE FUTURE OF TAKEAWAYS?
COMES TO PECKHAM
IN THIS ISSUE...
Q4.17 ISSUE.01 This magazine has been created by the people behind Slough Trading Estate. It reflects their passion and commitment to industry in the UK and worldwide
Editor: Clare Dowdy Editorial Consultant: Tim Watson Art Director: Sweeta Patel Sub Editor: Chris Bourne Marketing: Ed Little Marketing & Digital Design: Ben Cotterill
MADE IN UK: Who’s behind the new Elizabeth line station at Tottenham Court Road?
INTELL: The latest industry insight
furnacemag.com @furnace_mag Furnace Mag furnacemaguk
ENTREPRENEUR: Nick Grey’s Gtech – the unstoppable ideas factory with global ambitions
THE APPRENTICE: Tom Gentry gets to grips with electro-mechanics at Rosemount Measurement
SECTOR REPORT: Dark kitchens, the trend of separating restaurant chefs from their punters
NEW ARTISANS: A bold young trio of knife-makers in south London
PHOTO STORY: One woman’s epic adventure to chart Scotland’s manufacturers
33 34 36
UNSUNG HERO: The fruits of a metal-worker’s labour
WHAT IF...: The fascinating future of machine maintenance
GO FIGURE: Industry stats
elcome to the first issue of Furnace, the digital magazine that champions industry. We have launched Furnace to focus on the people who make things, and who make things happen. Manufacturing may have declined since its 1970s heyday, but this year the UK moved up one place to become the world’s ninth largest manufacturing nation, according to the manufacturers’ organisation EEF. British industry now employs 2.7m people and accounts for 45 per cent of total exports. The Office of National Statistics puts industry’s sustained growth down to factors including a betterquality workforce; improvements in IT; a shift in production from low- to high-productivity goods; more investment in R&D; and a more integrated global economy. Furnace will hunt down these success stories, and ask where such businesses go from here. In this issue, homegrown entrepreneur Nick Grey reveals that he is on the cusp of going global. On our visit to his Worcestershire HQ, we discover that in five years he has gone from launching his first AirRam cordless vacuum cleaner – with 30 staff and turnover of £4m – to a five-fold increase in employees, a projected turnover of £90m, and a leap into robotics. We will also shed light on up-and-coming sectors which are set to make an impact. In issue 01, we focus on so-called ‘dark kitchens’ and the effect they could have on the home delivery market. While apprenticeships are back in the national headlines, changes are afoot to the way they are designed, delivered and funded. We will support apprentices by featuring them regularly and getting their side of the story. These articles and others will give fresh insight into fascinating makers and doers across the country and further afield. We hope you find the reading as rewarding as we found the writing. And we hope Furnace fires up your imagination. Clare Dowdy firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHEN ARMSTRONG WRITER Armstrong, who reports for Furnace on the emerging trend of dark kitchens, writes extensively for The Sunday Times and Wired. He contributes to The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, and appears on Radio 4 and TV clip shows. His fifth non-fiction book is out this autumn. Inevitably, he has a screenplay in development, where he confidently expects it to remain.
TRENT McMINN PHOTOGRAPHER McMinn combines portraiture, documentary, interiors, and still life photography to produce editorial and commercial content for magazines and brands. His clients include Monocle, British Vogue, Matchesfashion.com, Made.com, Telegraph Luxury, Financial Times How To Spend It, The Guardian, Victorinox and Lexus. For this issue, he shot Gtech’s Nick Grey, our apprentice story, and our ‘unsung hero’.
VERONICA SIMPSON WRITER Simpson has more than two decades’ journalistic experience investigating interesting people, events and evolutions in design, architecture and art for consumer and specialist titles. Her passion is uncovering the mechanisms by which design can make a difference. She is a regular contributor to Blueprint, FX and Studio International. In Furnace 01, she interviews a champion of Scottish manufacturing.
SIGNAGE A J WELLS & SONS ISLE OF WIGHT
BRICK PANELS â€“ EXTERIOR TECHCRETE EAST LINCOLNSHIRE
TRACK BRITISH STEEL SCUNTHORPE
PLATFORM SCREEN DOORS KNORR-BREMSE WOLVERTON
MADE IN UK
DUCT WORK E & S HEATING VENTILATION EAST SUSSEX
CLADDING, GLAZING & EXTERNAL LOUVRES DESIGN RATIONAL BEDFORDSHIRE
GLASS-FIBRE REINFORCED CONCRETE PANELS GRC UK – CLAD THE TUNNEL DONCASTER
Tottenham Court Road Station Elizabeth Line By Clare Dowdy
ARCHITECTURAL GLASS PANELS INDEPENDENT GLASS GLASGOW
Inside Tottenham Court Road’s new Dean Street station, a dozen or more men in hard hats and high-vis suits trudge down the stationary escalator with a long ribbon of shiny black rubber over their shoulders. They install this as the moving handrail, in preparation for the station’s opening in December 2018. This is part of the station’s £1bn transformation, masterminded by London architects Hawkins\Brown, in anticipation of Crossrail, which will be known as the Elizabeth line when it opens. The new railway links 40 stations over 100km, from Heathrow and Reading (via Burnham) in the West, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the East. Its aim is to speed up journey times and reduce congestion for London’s growing population. Along with Tottenham Court Road, nine other new stations are being built and 30 upgraded. At £14.8bn, Crossrail is Europe’s largest infrastructure project, and 95 per cent of contracts have gone to companies in the UK, 65 per cent of them outside the capital.
Our regular round-up of valuable insight
LONDON’S MANUFACTURERS ON FILM
A new short film explores the challenges facing London’s manufacturing spaces, as the city deals with the increasing demand for new housing and the mechanics of keeping a city working. Called London Made, it focuses on the myriad supply chain industries which serve the Barbican. Businesses featured include Academy Costumes, Flux Metal, Marcus Hall Props, and Steinway & Sons. London is rapidly losing space for production and industry. Since 2001, 1,305 hectares of the capital’s industrial land has been lost to non-industrial uses. However, the Mayor of London is now exploring ways to protect industrial land as part of the new London Plan. Strategies include the re-provision of floorspace when sites are redeveloped, industrial intensification, and co-locating light industry with other uses – a technique that already happens in some other countries. The film is part of the British Council’s UK/Korea 2017-18 Season and is showing at the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism this autumn. It is the product of a partnership between the Mayor of London, the British Council, New London Architecture and SEGRO, and was made by architects and urban designers We Made That. “London needs innovative ways to deliver more mixed, intensified manufacturing spaces. Protecting workspace must, must, must be a key priority of the next London Plan,” says Oliver Goodhall, co-founding partner at We Made That. “London Made is a barefaced charm offensive to make sure these ambitions are quickly embraced and adopted widely in order to keep London a proudly productive city.” After its run in Seoul, London Made will have a special screening in London later this year. https://vimeo.com/232315476
Pick by vision
Smart glasses are speeding up the processing of warehouse orders for Fiege, a major industry logistics firm. The specs, Google Glass Enterprise Edition, are the follow-up model to the Google Glass Explorer Edition. The software, developed by Picavi, allows them to display information for the wearer in the right order, and at the right time and place. Pickers no longer need to carry a handheld information device, leaving them hands-free. Take-up among pickers at Fiege’s 80,000 sq m site in Worms – which stocks power tools and garden equipment – has been quick and relatively simple, the company says. The result is a 10 per cent reduction in the time taken to pick orders since staff started wearing the glasses in April 2017. Fiege is hoping to build on that success by extending the use of smart glasses among more of its order pickers.
AMAZON PATENTLY SERIOUS ABOUT PATENTS
Amazon’s most valuable patent – the 1-click technology that it has protected at great cost over the years – expires this year. The expectation is that many online stores will start adopting it. But this is just one of Amazon’s 6,331 (and counting) patents with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Despite that huge number, the online retail giant is beaten to the top spot by IBM, which holds 8,088 patents. But it is the variety of Amazon’s patents, and the bizarre nature of some of them, that makes the list interesting. While a great many are for technological advances and critical parts of their distribution system (like 1-click), patent application no.9,624,034, which was made on 18 April 2017, stands out from the crowd. The Aquatic Storage Facility is a 72-page application detailing a system by which parcels are suspended in a liquid and can be ‘floated’ in response to an acoustic signal. That seems unlikely, but it’s good to think outside the box.
Our regular round-up of valuable insight
Photograph courtesy of Memphis Meats
Manufacturing Meat The world produces meat on an industrial scale, but it’s not something that many people are proud of or feel good about. “In the rich North we already have high meat consumption. Now the poor South is catching up,” Barbara Unmuessig told the BBC. She is president of the German public policy group Heinrich Böll Foundation, which publishes an annual Meat Atlas. “Catering for this growing demand means industrialized farming methods: Animals are pumped full of growth hormones. This has terrible consequences on how animals are treated and on the health of consumers.” What’s more, food used to feed the animals could be better used feeding under-nourished people all over the world. However, manufacturing meat is about to become an industry we can be proud of, because there won’t be any livestock involved. The meat is grown in the lab directly from animal cells, without the need to feed, breed or slaughter any animals.
Memphis Meats – which has a cute ‘Join the team’ video on its website, reminiscent of other Silicon Valley start-ups – has raised $17m from investors including Richard Branson, Bill Gates and one of the world’s largest agriculture companies, Cargill Inc. Branson said in an email to Bloomberg News: “I believe that in 30 years or so we will no longer need to kill any animals, and that all meat will either be clean or plant-based, taste the same and also be much healthier for everyone.” Uma Valeti, co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats, said in a statement: “The way conventional meat is produced today creates challenges for the environment, animal welfare and human health. These are problems that everyone wants to solve.” So get used to hearing more about ‘clean meat’ and guilt-free burgers.
I NXTXEXL L
SLOUGH THE BEST PLACE TO BE INDUSTRIOUS AND HAPPY Slough really is the best place to work in the UK, according to a new survey. The findings come from Glassdoor®, one of the world’s largest jobs sites. Its latest jobs report, which identified the 25 best UK towns and cities to work in for 2017, put Slough in the top spot, followed by Manchester and Cambridge. Glassdoor’s research compares the 50 most populous towns in the country
by assessing three factors: hiring opportunity, cost of living and job satisfaction. “With large multinational businesses establishing themselves in Slough, along with high average salaries and close proximity to major transport hubs such as Heathrow Airport, the Berkshire town has now emerged as a prime spot to live and work in,” says Dr Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist.
(OUT OF 5)
BASE SALARY MEDIAN
3.3 (OUT OF 5)
HOT JOBS IN SLOUGH
£390,654 MEDIAN MOBILE DEVELOPER
£ Methodology: Each region’s City Score, based on a 5-point scale, is determined by weighting three factors equally: hiring opportunity, cost of living and job satisfaction.
Hiring opportunity is determined by the ratio of active job openings to population. (Job openings per town and city represent active job listings on Glassdoor as of 15/08/17. Population data is according to the 2011 census, ‘Key Statistics for BuiltUp Areas in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland’ published by the ONS on 28/6/2013.
Cost of living is determined by the ratio of median annual base salary to median area home value. (Median annual base salary per town and city based on at least 100 salary reports shared by local employees on Glassdoor over the past year (16/08/16-15/08/17). Median home value is according to the Zoopla House Value Index, as of 30/6/2017).
Job satisfaction ratings per location is based on at least 80 company reviews shared by local employees on Glassdoor over the past year (16/08/16-15/08/17; Ratings based on a 5-point scale: 1.0=very dissatisfied, 3.0=OK, 5.0=very satisfied).
JUST TWO ‘O’ LEVELS AND NO DEBT: HOW DOES EMPIRE-BUILDER NICK GREY DO IT? By Clare Dowdy | Photography by Trent McMinn
Gtech and its cordless products have broken all the rules. And now it’s going global. In a slate-grey industrial unit on the outskirts of Worcester, six vacuum cleaners attached to moving bed rigs relentlessly hoover a rectangular piece of carpet back and forth in unison. This is the ‘life test room’ at Gtech, the company that made its name with its AirRam cordless vacuum cleaners. It is this sort of rigorous testing, combined with an insatiable appetite for innovation, that has given the AirRam – which launched in 2012 – the unofficial numbertwo spot in its sector in the UK, having sold 899,000 units. But there is much more to Gtech than a novel twist on vacuum-cleaning. It may not be a household name yet, but the outfit is doing something interesting and – for these times – almost eccentric. Modern-day entrepreneurs more often than not move in the world of tech. From Amazon and Airbnb, to Uber and Deliveroo, the face of innovation largely comprises a disruptive idea, some ingenious software and an app. But Gtech’s Nick Grey is an old-school inventor, who at first glance has more in common with wind-up radio’s Trevor Bayliss than Silicon Valley’s living legends. Because Grey has created an impressive business on the back of product design.
Nick Grey leaves the vacuum cleaner manufacturer Vax, founds Gtech and launches Gtech SW01, the world’s first domestic cordless powered carpet sweeper
Three cordless garden power tools launch
HV04 hand vac launches
AirRam, the world’s first cordless vacuum cleaner, launches. Turnover doubles to £8m
The Multi, a handheld version of the AirRam, launches. Turnover rises to £21m
AirRam K9, a new version of the original AirRam for pet owners, launches Turnover exceeds £65m
Three garden products – a cordless lawn mower, grass trimmer, and a hedge trimmer and branch cutter – launch. Gtech moves into bigger premises. AirRam Mk2 and the Mountain eBike launch. Turnover totals £91m
THE HISTORY OF GTECH
Gtech moves into robotics
Grey next to a plenum 01 Nick chamber, which measures the peak suction power and the air speed passing through a vacuum cleaner
moving floor rig, 02 Gtech’s which tests the limits of
six vacuums on hard, tiled and carpeted floors
ready for 03 AirRam performance testing on a moving floor rig
Showroom on the ground
04 floor of Gtech’s HQ
of regulation dust, 05 Cups which is added to test vacuums’ air flow and suction power
The AirRam, Gtech’s best-selling and bestknown product, sits alongside a tranche of other realworld items: handheld vacuum cleaners, cordless gardening equipment and electric bikes. But rather than sticking these whims up on Kickstarter, Grey has spent the last 16 years building a business from them. Gtech has 180 staff in Worcester, another 25 in China, and a projected turnover £100m for November 2017 (up from £8m in 2012). “Until recently, even if the toilet was blocked up, I would sort it out,” says Grey. He has grown the company without taking on any debt, having left school with ‘O’ levels in Maths and English. “It wasn’t that I couldn’t do things (at school), I was just bored.” He later supplemented them with a degree in design and engineering from The Open University. His job after college, as a lab technician at vacuum cleaner manufacturer Vax, suited him because “they wanted wacky ideas.” He left there as head of product development to create the world’s first cordless power sweeper from his home in Worcestershire. Grey bounded into the public eye just five years ago, with the launch of the AirRam. Full of nervous energy at the product’s London press launch, he generously (and cleverly) handed out a cordless vacuum cleaner to every journalist there. A few years later, at AirRam Mk2’s press launch, he thanked the journalists for their support – meaning positive reviews – after he pulled AirRam from retailers and sold direct. Gtech’s products are now back with some retailers, but that audacious move helped put Grey on the map. That, and his fronting
of Gtech’s commercials – he even made a cameo appearance in the much-watched ad where dancers with AirRams dance to Queen’s “I want to break free”. Like Richard Branson (who cross-dressed to launch Virgin Brides), or Easyjet’s Stelios, or Grey’s rival James Dyson, Grey was following in the footsteps of some of the UK’s best-known entrepreneurs. Since that first AirRam launch, Grey has matured into a slicker public persona, but that self-assurance doesn’t hide his continued enthusiasm. “At Gtech, we suffer from too many good ideas and not enough time to develop them. We are straining at the leash of creativity,” says Grey, 49, lounging on a sofa in his office. As managing director, he no longer designs products, but he still oozes ideas. “Sometimes I have a whim,” he says, “like making an electric bike that doesn’t look like an electric bike and is as light as a normal bicycle.” To manage the constant deluge of novel ideas, in autumn 2016, Gtech vacated the farm buildings it had outgrown into a 3,300 sq m facility on a business park. It houses an R&D department four times the size of the previous space, a customer services centre, showroom and a short outdoor cycle track for customers to try out those eBikes. But even here, the 60-strong R&D department and its 3D printer struggle to keep up. According to technical director Paul Pickford, at any time there are between eight and ten product ideas that they haven’t had a chance to start on yet. “The NPD road map extends out three years.”
LOUISE BENTLEY Design Engineer Bentley joined Gtech two years ago, after completing her degree in product design at Bournemouth University. She worked on some of the concept development for the Multi-pro handheld vacuum cleaner. “The whole process here allows engineers to get involved from the get-go,” she says, “and we have full ownership from conception to production.” She’s now increasingly involved with project management, everything from electronics to the factories.
06 Clay form model of Multi handheld vacuum maker fabricating a steel frame chassis 07 Model for an undisclosed prototype
08 Inhouse customer services centre
Currently, the team is working on eight products. These include two non-floor care robots, which are under wraps until they launch at CES, Las Vegas’ consumer electronics and technology trade fair, in January 2018. “Robots are good at automating boring tasks,” says Grey, “and a new generation of product designers have come along, who tap away on a laptop and programme things. So more and more of our products will have brains in them, in the software.” And while Grey no longer has a hand in the early design work, “I’m obsessively involved with the combination of how things work and how things look – they have to look nice to hold, and nice to use. I’m sure I drive them (the R&D department) potty sometimes.” Because that can mean myriad iterations before he’s happy with it. “Having a consumer’s view of products is the most fun bit and probably the only bit I’m really good at.” At this, his media consultant, who is present at all times during Furnace’s visit, chuckles to imply this is false modesty.
Every Thursday morning, Grey arrives in the R&D department to run through live projects. To make the grade, they have to tick a handful of boxes: “Could you hypothetically use this product wearing boxing gloves? [for less dextrous customers]. If you sold this product to your grandmother, would you be proud of it? [that covers issues like selling price, performance and ease of use]. And we like things to have one button, and to look like what they are.” It may sound like an inexact science, but these criteria have generally hit the mark with customers. Gtech’s sales have gone up from £65m in 2015 to £91m in 2016, with an operating profit of over £9m last year. The R&D department is organised into three teams of eight to ten people, with each team handling three projects at once. “It’s very pacey,” says Pickford. That pace is partly to do with Grey’s background as a product designer, as NPD decisions can be made swiftly, Pickford adds. So if a new idea isn’t working out, then there are few qualms about dropping it.
E N T RFOCUS EPRENEUR
“We’re much braver (than some companies) at making those sorts of decisions,” says Pickford. Such was the fate of a hedge trimmer that was too heavy. While NPD is carried out in Worcestershire, a team of engineers in China do detailed CAD design. They are based near the five factories subcontracted to make Gtech’s products. As well as being its manufacturing base, China plays a key role in Grey’s ambitious plans for global expansion. “The number one floor care brand, in terms of sales and company size, is far bigger than us,” says Grey, alluding to Dyson. “To compete with them, we need to be international. And yet very few people outside UK in the floor care trade know Gtech.” Hence the launch into China this autumn. The country was chosen in part because of its consumers’ appetite for Western technology, says Grey. He’s also eyeing up Japan and several other markets. Gtech has already done plenty to shake up the floor care market, but Grey’s work there is not yet done. “They’re still filthy products,” he says, describing how dirt has to be emptied by hand. “It’s back to the industrial revolution of handling products.” So while it might at first seem counter-intuitive to the 21st-century vacuum cleaner user, Gtech is launching a handheld version with a bag to collect the dirt. Whether others in the sector follow suit remains to be seen. In the meantime, local people come to Gtech’s HQ to take advantage of the smart, well-laid-out showroom. Here they can try out products and take an eBike for a spin. Or they bring their Gtech items back for repair – a sort of provincial Genius Bar. At lunchtime, Gtechers leave the business park to nip over the road and pick something up from the small Tesco that stands in an uninspiring row of shops. It may not be Silicon Valley, but even so, the ideas keep on coming. Because Grey has proven that, wherever you’re based, having lots of ideas, a background in product design, and a head for figures can be a winning combination.
PAUL PICKFORD Technical Director Pickford joined Gtech seven years ago from heating systems manufacturer Baxi. He’s responsible for all product development and quality assurance. That means he interacts with people on new projects and discusses how performance is going in Gtech’s sub-contracted factories in China. He visits these facilities four times a year. There are now 60 people in design and quality control, and the team has grown 20 per cent in the last year. Pickford is on the hunt for more product designers, mechanical engineers, test engineers and electronics engineers. “We need them because of our ambition to design more products, we’re always busy.”
The UK has a chronic skills shortage, and successive governments have looked to apprenticeships to solve the problem. This is the first in our series shedding light on the experience of the apprentices themselves.
TOM GENTRY THE JOYS OF ENGINEERING AND CHATTING Rosemount Measurement hasn’t had an apprentice for 20 years – until now. Tom Gentry, 17, joined in 2016. The scheme was brought back partly to address skills shortages resulting from an ageing workforce. The company manufactures a vital bit of kit for the oil and gas, power, chemical and waste-water-processing industries. Its equipment controls the levels in storage tanks, so that overfills are prevented and personnel are kept safe.
FURNACE: You’re a trail-blazer! Why did you become an apprentice here? Tom Gentry: Rosemount is a business unit of Emerson, which is a massive American company [employing 75,000 people globally], and that really appealed to me. I applied for a two-year apprenticeship, and Rosemount assigned the course: advanced apprenticeship (Level 3) in engineering through Langley College. I do 39 hours a week, including a college day every Wednesday. So doing the apprenticeship is the best of both worlds. F: What are you getting to work on? TG: At the moment, I’m in the electro-mechanical business unit, assembling level switches. The switches go into a liquid storage tank to control the levels. The easiest way to explain it is to imagine a bigger version of the plastic float ball that sits in a toilet cistern and displaces water to regulate the level after flushing. F: What do you enjoy about it? TG: Some displacers come with really big chambers. So we have to bring in a big crane to fit them onto the vices – that’s the best bit for me – then we put the components down into the chamber and ship them off. Also, it’s a great atmosphere on the shop floor, and the people here are really friendly. F: Where do you hope your experience here will lead? TG: My skills are definitely improving, particularly my communication skills, talking to other people. I have another year as an apprentice, and hopefully I’ll be offered a job here after that.
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K R A D KITCHENS
WHY IS RESTAURANT FOOD RELOCATING FROM THE HIGH STREET TO THE INDUSTRIAL ESTATE? STEPHEN ARMSTRONG INVESTIGATES Illustrations: Ange Hart
Syracuse University is 250 miles from New York City. Yet students queuing at various spots across their campus one summer’s evening were waiting for food deliveries from Manhattan-based Sticky’s Finger Joint and The Ace Hotel’s hip No. 7 Subs, and Brooklyn favourite Croxley’s Ale House.
“The bulk of restaurants will not have storefronts ten years from now”
one of these restaurants has branches outside NYC. But in the basement of a nearby apartment block there’s a vast kitchen that’s a gastronomic portal to the Big Apple’s bustling food scene. The kitchen belongs to Good Uncle – a recent tech start-up that is, effectively, a delivery-only restaurant. Popular New York eateries license their recipes for Good Uncle’s chefs to put together and bus out. “I think the bulk of restaurants will not have storefronts ten years from now,” CEO and co-founder Wiley Cerilli believes. “Why would you? The technology exists where you don’t need the hassle.” He may have a point. In New York, for instance, the Green Summit Group uses central commissaries in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Chicago to offer everything from meatballs and salad to juice and burgers. In the UK, meanwhile, Deliveroo Editions is working with 200 restaurants – including MEATLiquor, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Busaba Eathai – to set up 30 takeaway kitchens in 10 British cities, including London and Brighton.
The term for this new trend is dark kitchen – although some prefer ghost kitchens, restaurants without walls or dotcommisaries. The principle is this: as the gig economy collides with big data and a drive to disrupt the food service industry, dark kitchens may become the way all your takeaway food is made. To some degree, dark kitchens are simply a data-driven twist on an age-old tradition. Slaves building the Egyptian pyramids had meals delivered from the ancient equivalent of a dark kitchen; the first pizza delivery as invented by the Ancient Greeks came from roadside cookhouses; and when London’s revolutionary modernist apartment block Isokon opened in 1934, flats had tiny food preparation areas because meals were cooked in a basement kitchen and delivered by dumb waiter. Even today, pizza giants like Domino’s use commissaries – large food preparation centres supplying hundreds of individual restaurants with prepared portions of bread and toppings. What’s changed is the data.
Deliveroo Editions, explains Deliveroo property acquisitions manager Patrick Weiss, “will enable hundreds of restaurants to reach new customers in cities around the world, without needing new high street premises thanks to extensive market analysis that draws on the unique data available to Deliveroo. Using our own technology, we can identify specific local cuisines missing in an area, identify customer demand for that missing cuisine and hand-pick restaurant brands that are most likely to appeal to customers in that area.” In London’s Camberwell, Deliveroo Editions operates from a series of prefab huts in a carpark surrounded by Victorian industrial premises. Each restaurant has its own kitchen in a separate hut. Tablets alert chefs, who prepare dishes, and hit a buzzer alerting runners to transfer it to the dispatch hut. Frank – the name for Deliveroo’s dispatch algorithm – tracks
orders and riders, picking the rider based on past performance. Couriers wait outside watching a TV screen – when their name comes up, they collect the dish and head off. At the moment, Deliveroo is the only company operating dark kitchens in the UK. But with a recent YouGov poll showing Brits eat more than 22m takeaways a week, they won’t be for long. Rival UberEATS is already considering the option, according to a talk by Marco Knitel, UberEATS’ European MD. Earlier this year, Knitel outlined how Uber’s ratings, reviews and customer data help the company understand potential delivery partners, and predict whether it makes sense to open a new restaurant – or a dark kitchen. The ratings also show how far certain food can travel before customer satisfaction starts to dip through low temperature or sogginess of food.
21 21 DA C R
“Dark kitchens may become the way all your takeaway food is made”
TO SUMMARISE: The term ‘dark kitchens’ describes kitchens of established restaurants that are set up away from the high street just to service the home delivery market. They are on the increase as the gig economy collides with big data and a drive to disrupt the food service industry. If they take off, they have the potential to turn traditional takeaways – even eating out – on their head.
Food service consultant Peter Blackman explains the economics: “Currently, Deliveroo charges £2.50 to the customer and then takes a percentage of the meal price. Editions makes sense in three scenarios – if you have too much delivery business going through your stores in that area; if you want to extend into a new region this is a way of being present without bricks and mortar and front of house; and if you’re a small start-up and you don’t want the launch cost of a restaurant, this is way to do it.” So dark kitchens, like much else with roots in Silicon Valley, offer greater choice and convenience in the comfort of your own home, serviced by an out-of-sight provider.
“This is a way of being present without bricks and mortar and front of house”
DAR KITCH K ENS
Join the Herd! 21
Photography: In The Right Light
N E WFOCUS ARTISANS
BLADE RUNNERS By Clare Dowdy
HOW DID THREE GUYS STUDYING DESIGN AND ENGINEERING AND – MOST INCONGRUOUSLY OF ALL – PHILOSOPHY, END UP FORGING CUTTING-EDGE KNIVES IN A TATTY RAILWAY ARCH?
LEFT TO RIGHT: JAMES ROSS-HARRIS | JON WARSHAWSKY | RICHARD WARNER
“AT THE BEGINNING, WE WERE NOT MAKING KNIVES QUICKLY ENOUGH…IT WOULD TAKE US AROUND A COUPLE OF WEEKS TO MAKE A SINGLE KNIFE”
t all started with a video clip. Philosophy student Jon Warshawsky chanced upon a “random American guy on YouTube” making Damascus blades. These are the pièce de résistance in the knife world, created through a meticulous process of layering different metals. Keen to make his own, Warshawsky took the unusual step of fashioning a Heath Robinson-style charcoal furnace. He built it in the garden of the house he shared with James Ross-Harris and Richard Warner in south London hipster hotspot, Peckham. All three got the forging bug, and their weekends were spent in trial and error. “It’s not something you can pick up straight away,” says Warner, with some understatement. A year later, their hobby had become an obsession. In that time, they’d transformed materials they’d picked up skip-dipping into a roastingspit, a hot tub and a distillery. In 2013, they turned that obsession into a business, setting up Blenheim Forge. Their skills are on show the minute visitors turn into the row of railway arches, in the form of a big rusty gate welded together from a concoction of metal odds and ends. Inside, the dark, oily space is more gritty Dickensian workshop than chic 21st-century studio. Here, they painstakingly produce kitchen blades to rival the Japanese masters. Making such beautiful, highperformance knives by hand is a laborious business: hot-forging and cold-forging the blade, hammering, welding, sanding, polishing, etching, sharpening... and so it goes on. While they clearly love getting involved with every aspect of knifemaking, much of their effort, time and money has been invested in tools and machinery to make their processes more financially viable. For this they drew on their education and professional backgrounds. Warner and Ross-Harris studied design and engineering at Goldsmiths and Queen Mary University
BLENHEIM FORGE NOW MAKE 10 KNIVES IN TWO DAYS
of London. Then Ross-Harris had worked as a blacksmith for three years, while Warner had spent short stints working for a joiner, and at the research and development department at Dyson. Philosopy graduate, Warshawsky, had been dabbling in carpentry. They also took inspiration from videos of Japanese knife-making factories. “We sold a few in local markets, but at the beginning, we were not making knives quickly enough,” admits Warner, who can’t shake hands on the morning Furnace visits, as his are already smothered in oil. Warshawsky agrees that “it would take us around a couple of weeks to make a single knife when we started out.” So the trio set about amassing the tools that would help them quicken their pace. Some they bought, such as the forging equipment. Others, like their first bespoke belt sander, they built themselves, “because you can’t buy some of the stuff we use”, Warner explains. Now they have a suite of tools, some of which “can take ten minutes off the making of each knife”, adds Warner. He points a greasy finger to the grinders with their custom-made, water-fed abrasive wheels that are common in Japanese knife-making factories. These have really speeded up the process, because the trio no longer have to keep dipping the knife in water to cool it down. And since early 2017, Blenheim Forge’s actual forging has taken place out of town – to appease neighbours
who had complained about the noise. Now, two of the team head down to a barn on a farm in Petersfield for two days a week “to do the hot work”, as Warner puts it. Through these efforts, they can now make 10 knives in two days, a significant improvement on the early days. And although the protracted process is part of what makes their range so sought after, it also explains why orders take three weeks to complete. Blenheim Forge uses springy Swedish steel for their £350 Damascus knives and premium Japanese Blue Paper carbon steel for the others, which start at £140 for the Petty. At the moment, all the steel is pre-laminated, but they aim to improve their knives even further by making more of their own steel and laminating it themselves. For this they have a 100-year-old rolling mill, which will allow them to make good laminates in significant quantities. While Blenheim Forge is no slick production line, it’s the hands-on process that the founders are perfecting. Which means their knives will become ever-more covetable. And, as random as knife-making might seem, it actually fits well into a host of other artisanal trades enjoying a renaissance among the urban young. These are typified by the three B’s: bakery, butchery and barbering, all of which would benefit from a sharp blade.
Maker Database By Veronica Simpson | Photography by Ross Fraser McLean
As a product design graduate, Fi Duffy-Scott set off on an adventure. She toured Scotland’s industrial estates to uncover the hidden manufacturing skills on art and design graduates’ doorsteps. At the end of her expedition, she set up an online database to encourage creatives and creators to get together.
In 2010, Fi Duffy-Scott was part-way through a product design degree at Glasgow School of Art. She loved it, but felt troubled by the absence of hands-on making. So she decamped to Philadelphia and Brooklyn, and spent a year learning on the job from the cities’ product and furniture designers. This stint was so compelling that, rather than touting her portfolio around the design agencies back home, Duffy-Scott set off to find out what was being made locally and who was making it. With a borrowed video camera and camper van, she embarked on an odyssey around the small manufacturers of the Scottish mainland and islands. She unearthed everything from steelmakers, glass lamp blowers and couture knitting factories to high-end upholsterers. With the help of her friends Kirsti Vana (filming) and Ross Fraser McLean (photography), as well as some Create Scotland and Jerwood funding, the team amassed 120 interviews. They then launched a website to hook up budding designers and makers with the businesses that could produce their ideas: https://make.works
STUDIOS 01 DOVECOT Textiles CIRCUITS LTD 02 EUROPEAN Electronics ISLE BRONZE 03 BLACK Foundry & Casting
04 JETCUT Digital Fabrication PRINTMAKERS 05 EDINBURGH Print
Duffy-Scott’s engaging manner and passion for keeping craft and manufacturing skills alive infect all those who meet her – including the talent scouts at Google. In 2015, they enrolled her on their “Seedcamp Accelerator’” programme, based at Google Campus in London. But the classic start-up model of profit-driven business was not for her. It was hands-on engagement she wanted, not shareholder negotiations. Now make.works is run as a non-profit, with Duffy-Scott at the helm.
But in a world dominated by IKEA flat-packs, how do you promote local and hand-made designs? Thanks to her networking talent – and her Google training – Duffy-Scott has persuaded makers and manufacturers in other regions to create their own local directories. They pay for make.works’ sophisticated software and databases, as well as training and network support. Birmingham joined in 2015. The University of East Anglia’s version goes live by the end of this year, along with Bath & Bristol and Devon & Cornwall. A pan-Swedish sign-up is pending.
Every new region brings its own strengths and ideas, she says: “Birmingham are doing brilliant masterclasses, where artists can go to a manufacturer and learn different skills and Birmingham has lots of metalworking, whereas Scotland has lots of textiles. There’s been a real exchange.” In Scotland, Duffy-Scott has initiated a small residency programme, placing artists and designers in factories to see what they can learn from each other. Now, make.works also offers a plugin for Google Chrome browsers. It tracks users of the IKEA website and promotes so-called ‘redistributed manufacturing’. As users browse IKEA.com, various char-
acteristics about a product are extracted from the page – material, colour and type of product. The plug-in uses this information to make requests to other channels for alternative ways of manufacturing it, like ‘use a local maker’. So instead of products being manufactured centrally and shipped around the world, digital product blueprints can be ‘shipped’ or shared online, and physical things are produced locally. Duffy-Scott embarked on this whole mission because she wanted to develop her own craft skills. But now she gets a kick out of keeping the joy of small-scale making alive for the design world.
08 09 MOULDINGS 06 WESTFIELD Wood YOUNG 07 ARCHIBALD Foundry & Casting LANDS CREATIVE GLASS 08 NORTH Glass RENNIE 09 JC Textiles
The Great British Club...
For more information about the various memberships available at Stoke Park please contact the team on 01753 717179 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org Stoke Park, Park Road, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire SL2 4PG
STEVE JONES â€“
The Magic of Metal Photography by Trent McMinn
On your next flight, think about the effort that goes into making those light, svelte seats, which can hold the various frames of thousands of passengers a year. Steve Jones could be the unsung hero behind your airline seat. Because itâ€™s one of the myriad items he makes at sheet metal fabrication engineers GlenmoreHane Group. Likewise, computer cabinets, vending machines and TV satellite dishes. Jones and his team are even working on a prototype for a new board game. A sheet-metal worker for 35 years, Jones is a master of bending and folding. With his smart piece of new kit, the Amada folding machine, he can contort a piece of sheet metal into virtually any shape, including an airline seat.
YOUR MACHINE NEEDS FIXING? DO IT REMOTELY A NEW TYPE OF VIRTUAL REALITY COULD SPEED UP MANUFACTURING TIME Time is money for factory owners, and a broken machine is a waste of both. A new bit of hi-tech gadgetry from Kazendi could reduce the precious minutes/hours/days it takes to repair production lines. The London-based firm is developing a prototype for a company that makes automated machinery for factories. Here’s how it might work: the ingredients are a Microsoft Hololens headset, Kazendi’s bespoke app, a piece of kaput kit, and a couple of humans. Wearing the headset, a maintenance guy stands in front of the broken machine, scratching his head. He calls up a remote engineering expert. Perched in front of a computer screen, the expert can see the first-person view of the broken machine through the headset’s built-in camera. Here’s the exciting part – the expert can freehand draw and place helpful symbols in the holographic environment created by the headset, to explain to the repair guy what needs fixing. The expert can even send PDFs, images and 3D models, which appear as holograms to help with the repair. The tech world firmly believes that this so-called ‘mixed reality’ is the future. Because unlike virtual or augmented reality, mixed reality tries to emulate the physical world using virtual objects. Mixed reality means that remote maintenance is just around the corner.
Photograph courtesy of Microsoft
W FOCUS H AT I F. . .
UK = 9TH
LARGEST MANUFACTURING NATION IN THE WORLD (UP 1 PLACE FROM 2016) SOURCE: WORLD BANK
2.7M PEOPLE EMPLOYED BY BRITISH INDUSTRY SOURCE: EEF
TO THE GLOBAL ECONOMY SOURCE: HVM CATAPULT
1,305 HECTARES THE AMOUNT OF INDUSTRIAL LAND LOST TO NON-INDUSTRIAL USES IN LONDON SINCE 2001
SOURCE: 2015 LONDON INDUSTRIAL LAND SUPPLY & ECONOMY STUDY
THE COST OF CROSSRAIL – EUROPE’S LARGEST INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT SOURCE: CROSSRAIL
SECTOR EMPLOYMENT IN UK 400K
128K 169K 105K
AEROSPACE AUTOMOTIVE CHEMICAL CONSTRUCTION DEFENCE ELECTRONICS ENERGY FOOD & DRINK NUCLEAR PLASTICS
SOURCE: THE MANUFACTURER
509,400 APPRENTICESHIPS TAKEN UP IN ENGLAND, 2015/16 SOURCE: APPRENTICESHIP STATISTICS, ENGLAND
80 NEW BUSINESSES CREATED PER HOUR SOURCE: STARTUP BRITAIN 2016
FURNACE is a digital magazine that champions industry. We have launched FURNACE to focus on the people who make things and who make things h...
Published on Sep 27, 2017
FURNACE is a digital magazine that champions industry. We have launched FURNACE to focus on the people who make things and who make things h...