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Manufacturing www.manufacturing-today.com

BEST PRACTICES FOR INDUSTRY LEADERS

Issue 187 2021

today

A positive impact An industry-leading automation solutions provider, ATS Automation prides itself on innovation and meeting customer needs



Chairman Andrew Schofield Managing Director Joe Woolsgrove

Editor

Editor Libbie Hammond Assistant Editor Will Daynes Staff Writer Alex McDonald Production Manager Fleur Daniels Art Editor David Howard Advertising Designer Rebecca Side Sales Director Alasdair Gamble Operations Director Philip Monument Operations Manager Natalie Griffiths Research Managers Jo-Ann Jeffery • Ben Richell Rachel Harper • Kieran Shukri Editorial Researchers Adam Blanch • Mark Cowles Tarjinder Kaur-D’Silva • Jeff Goldenberg Mark Kafourous • James Page Wendy Russell • Richard Saunders Sales Director Alasdair Gamble Advertising Sales Johanna Bailey • Mike Berger Alex Hartley • Dave King Theresa McDonald Ibby Mundhir • Sam Surrell Web Sales web@schofieldpublishing.com Subscriptions i.kidd@schofieldpublishing.com

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Manufacturing Today Magazine

Increase in optimism

H

ello and welcome to the April issue of Manufacturing Today. It’s been a hectic month here for MT as we’ve been busy working on the relaunch of our website. It’s still a work in progress but the foundations are built and we’re very pleased with how the new look has been received. It was also heartening to read that UK manufacturers have reported the biggest increase in optimism in nearly 50 years in April’s CBI quarterly Industrial Trends Survey. The survey of 288 manufacturers found that firms expect to increase capital expenditure on buildings, plant & machinery, product & process innovation, and training & retraining in the next year (relative to the last). In particular, investment intentions for plant & machinery were at their strongest since July 1997. I believe it will be welcome news for staff to see that manufacturers intend to invest in them, and I hope that it applies in all the locations that MT reaches, not just the UK. The companies that we highlight in this issue have reported stories of positivity in the face of adversity, and the regard and praise they have for their staff is something that I also hope remains at the top of the agenda going forward. My team certainly has my appreciation every day, but now I am thinking I don’t tell them enough! What about you?

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BEST PRACTICES FOR INDUSTRY LEADERS

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Issue 187 2021

today

libbie@schofieldpublishing.com

A positive impact An industry-leading automation solutions provider, ATS Automation prides itself on innovation and meeting customer needs

Have we Tweeted about you yet? Get in touch on Twitter or send some news over to me on email and I will be happy to share it! Please note: The opinions expressed by contributors and adver tisers within this publication do not necessarily coincide with those of the editor and publisher. Every reasonable effor t is made to ensure that the information published is accurate, and correct at time of writing, but no legal responsibility for loss occasioned by the use of such information can be accepted by the publisher. All rights reserved. The contents of the magazine are strictly copyright, the proper ty of Schofield Publishing, and may not be copied, stored in a retrieval system, or reproduced without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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Features 4 Sector report

Graham Carberry takes a look at the manufacturing sectors that are set for growth. He says 2021 will be a vintage year for manufacturing investment both within businesses and through M&A

Focus on... 18

6 Staff mobility

Philipp B. Cornelius, Bilal Gokpinar and Fabian J. Sting from UCL undertook a study looking at the effect of mobilising employees to foster innovation in manufacturing

8 Human resources

As employees begin to return to factories and offices, employers need to take into consideration what measures they need to put in place to ensure Covid security and employee safety

FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies

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10 Case study

US manufacturer Carrio Cabling Corporation was looking for new ways to identify assembly line bottlenecks and deliver a clear audit trail to satisfy regulatory requirements and chose a solution from Intoware

Carl Zeiss Microscopy Ltd

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Venture Life Group 12 Wearable technology

Digital twin technology in logistics is constantly and rapidly growing. Lead by pick-by-vision specialists, creating a human digital twin aims to perfect support for warehouse staff

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14 Industry news Updates and announcements from the manufacturing arena

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Salamander Pumps

Velocity Composites plc


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ATS Automation

48

Direct Healthcare Group

54

Crown Paints Plc

64

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing

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Newport Industries Limited

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SBZ Corporation

Retech Systems

Tingdene Homes

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Strong

outlook

Graham Carberry takes a look at the manufacturing sectors set for growth in 2021

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020 was a trying year for most sectors, with the UK economy estimated to have shrunk by c.11 per cent. UK manufacturing shared the pain, with output down ten per cent through three quarters. However, within manufacturing the impact was asymmetric. Automotive and aerospace had very difficult years, with travel shutdowns cancelling or delaying plane orders and Brexitdriven uncertainty over international supply chains and UK automotive output dropping by 30 per cent due to a mix of supply chain pressures, manufacturing restrictions and consumer confidence. On the flipside, several manufacturing sectors actually grew, and many more weathered the storm far better than initially expected. More exciting is the fact that outlook within these sectors for a strong 2021 is positive, with PMI indices reflecting a good climate for investment both within and into UK manufacturing.

Beverages & food manufacturing

The UK’s largest manufacturing sector had a lot to deal with in 2020. People’s eating habits changed rapidly as lockdowns spread and panic buying put significant pressure on supply chains, with foods such as eggs, flour and bread flying off shelves. The accelerated move to online groceries put enormous pressure on both third party and owned distribution platforms. This was set against a backdrop of potential supply issues on goods imported from the EU (both food and ingredients). Despite this, grocery sales grew and while this was partly driven by the temporary halt of restaurants, coffee shops and food-to-go, the industry

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is forecast to continue to benefit from changed habits in 2021, while many of the pressures should abate. Kantar’s most recent forecast is that grocery sales will have risen by ten per cent from the start of 2020 to the end of next year.

Chemicals & pharmaceuticals

This is the UK’s second biggest area of manufacturing. Despite headwinds in the petrochemicals market with reduced demand for hydrocarbons, the overall sector weathered the market fluctuations well in 2020 and is well placed for a strong 2021. As well as the record-breaking accelerated production of global vaccines within the pharmaceutical space, chemicals going into industrial and commercial cleaning, battery technology and plastics recycling all performed very well and, together with chemicals going into areas such as construction, are set to do well in 2021. In addition, the striking of a zero-tariff Brexit deal for most chemical products has removed a lot of background uncertainty, although delays at ports will still impact the sector in the short term.

Household products

Strong demand for surface cleaning products, washing powders, washingup liquids and personal & feminine hygiene products ensured 2020 was a good year for household products, as reflected in the results of the major household goods manufacturers, including the UK’s Reckitt Benckiser. With supply chain pressures expected to ease in 2021 and a general sentiment that enhanced cleaning regimes will remain in place despite


Sector report

the vaccine, at least within commercial environments, 2021 appears to promise another strong performance.

Packaging

2020 was a highly disruptive year for this normally stable sector. Covid-19 saw a significant impact on food-to-go sales, although when cafés were open the recent rise in reusable cups went into reverse. Greater focus on hygiene has presented many opportunities for manufacturers, however, and slowed moves to reduce packaging content (albeit only temporarily). Positive trends include the growth in grocery sales and the growth in ecommerce, with consumers very focused on the condition and shelf-life of what they buy and on-packet branding becoming even more important to the relationship with the end customer.

Building products

The recent Brexit deal has given builders much more clarity on the cost and availability of imported materials such as timber and roofing materials. Loss of skilled labor with the exit from the EU and ongoing delays at UK ports will continue to cause some frustration, but UK housebuilders held up far better than initially expected through 2020. Construction is widely recognized as one of the major industries to contribute towards rebuilding the economy. Indeed, according to recent construction PMI data, only ten per cent of companies in the sector felt it would contract in 2021, versus 50 per cent believing it would grow.

Overall

There are also several other manufacturing sectors, such as capital goods that are set to return from a more difficult year, with deferred business investment from 2020 deployed over the next couple of periods. It will take longer for Automotive and Aerospace to recover, but in the longer-term, population growth, the reopening of the travel sector and legislation-related advances in automotive technology should all contribute to the overall outlook beyond 2021. The FTSE 350 Industrials index is currently 40 per cent above its March 2020 low, while PMI data reflects confidence within the sector. 2021 will be a vintage year for manufacturing investment both within businesses and through M&A. v

Graham Carberry Graham Carberry is Managing Director at Arrowpoint Advisory, the dedicated lower midmarket team of Rothschild & Co in the UK. We provide expert M&A, Debt and Special Situations advice to publicly-listed, private and family companies, entrepreneurs, sponsor-backed businesses and management teams, investors and lenders. arrowpointadvisory.com

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Mobility

mindset

The three key principles to unlocking front-line innovation and productivity through staff mobility. By Philipp B. Cornelius, Bilal Gokpinar and Fabian J. Sting

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ront-line workers are the people that are living and breathing their company’s products and processes every day. They are the ones who literally handle the nuts and bolts of the operation. They know what is working and what is sub-optimal from the product and process perspective. But inviting their creativity and effectively capturing their input is a big challenge for any manufacturing company How do you help to unlock what they know? How do you operationalise their feedback? How do you share knowledge effectively between teams in different factories? As the sector considers its recovery from the incredibly challenging events of 2020, answering these three questions could deliver a step change in how your organisation works, by tapping into and prizing the knowledge of one of your key assets - your employees. To unpick the answers to these questions, we were particularly interested in looking at the effect of mobilising employees to foster innovation in manufacturing. We conducted a large-scale study where we systematically analysed innovative ideas submitted by the workers and their economic impact in a multinational, multi-billion euro car parts manufacturer over the course of four years. Key to our analysis was matching mobile front-line employees to similar colleagues who did not travel to other plants. This allowed us to precisely estimate the

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contributions originating from their mobility. Over the course of our research, more than 21,000 ideas were submitted by around 2,500 workers. There were two key discoveries that stood out from our study: • •

Significant productivity gains could be traced back to non-R&D employees: Shop floor and front-line employees frequently possess a wealth of hands-on production knowledge at a level of detail that far exceeds what is covered in manuals or is known to engineers. Staff mobility is central to unlocking innovation and organisational learning. Our study showed for the first time how strategically implementing front-line mobility (the short, focused, and purposeful exchange of staff members between different company sites) can substantially boost these employees’ contributions to innovation in manufacturing companies because it stimulates learning. As staff observe how different setups of similar manufacturing processes are linked to various performance outcomes, they acquire a more fundamental understanding of both how and importantly why these processes work.


Staff mobility We recorded that adopting the right approach; one that stimulates, objectively evaluates, and swiftly implements front-line ideas can unlock significant financial rewards. We found that employees’ ideas increased in value by 20,000 euros per month after a move, and this increase lasted for several years. Cost Savings (over three years) Due to a Typical Process Optimization Idea

2. Identify similar processes, machinery and products when deciding the exchange: If processes, machinery, and products differ too much between two plants, the gap between their existing knowledge stocks becomes too large for any meaningful knowledge transfer and learning to take place. If two plants are too different, knowledge from one plant may simply not apply to the other. In our view, turning to related units in similar contexts is better than visiting technologically advanced but unrelated ones. 3. Limit how many employees participate and how often exchanges take place. At the car parts manufacturer we studied, about three per cent of the workforce visited another plant each year. Involving more employees much beyond that in exchanges may increase costs, such as those incurred from covering staff members’ absences at their home factories. In addition, while there was no limit to employee learning, we found that knowledge transfer started to decline after about ten exchanges per factory pair and year.

Notes. Cost savings are given in thousands of euros. This improvement idea led to a 12.68% reduction in cycle time (from 11:50 to 10:20). The idea was implemented in 2007 and led to cumulative cost savings of €102,770 (over three years). In fact, the average move created manufacturing improvements worth more than 100,000 euros within one month. For a mobility strategy to be successful though, we identify three key principles that are important to consider at the outset:

From this intriguing study we were able to draw a key conclusion: adopting a mobility mindset can be key to realising the creativity and innovations possible from front-line workers. Giving workers the opportunity to understand more about what they know, to share their knowledge and to learn from other people’s experiences through mobility is also motivating and empowering. We were impressed at the high calibre ideas that the mobile workers contributed, that would have otherwise gone undiscovered. Especially in the post-Covid world, it takes careful planning and strategy to roll out mobility across an organisation in a meaningful way, but in the long-term, productivity gains and financial benefits would be worth the hassle. v

1. The approach has to be purposeful, and problem driven. Employees should not be sent to other plants to passively observe operations or receive training, or as a reward. It is important that moves are tied to a specific and operationally relevant task. In our study, employees were regularly sent to other factories to support local problem-solving, such as when the production process was facing quality issues. These visits were kept to a maximum of two weeks and involved an intense immersion in the local factory’s operations. In doing so, employees became deeply embedded in the context of the plant and achieved maximum interaction with its staff, processes, and machinery. This very hands-on, focused approach to front-line mobility is instrumental to knowledge transfer and learning.

Philipp B. Cornelius, Bilal Gokpinar and Fabian J. Sting Philipp B. Cornelius (cornelius@rsm.nl) is assistant professor of technology and operations management at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. Bilal Gokpinar (b.gokpinar@ucl.ac.uk) is head and professor of operations, technology, and innovation at the UCL School of Management at University College London. Fabian J. Sting (sting@wiso.uni-koeln.de) is the chair of Supply Chain Management — Strategy and Innovation at the University of Cologne, as well as chaired professor of digital supply chain innovation at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. The UCL School of Management is the business school of University College London, one of the world’s leading universities, consistently ranked in the global top 20 for its academic excellence and research. The School offers innovative undergraduate, postgraduate, PhD and executive programmes in Management, Entrepreneurship, Business Analytics, Business Information Systems, and Finance, designed to prepare students for leadership roles in the next generation of innovation-intensive organisations. Philipp B. Cornelius Bilal Gokpinar Fabian J. Sting www.mgmt.ucl.ac.uk

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Care and

concern

Stress in the workplace and steps to mitigate the problem. By Tina Chander

A

s furlough comes to an end and employees begin to return to factories and offices, employers need to take into consideration what measures they need to put in place to ensure that they remain Covid-secure and that it is safe for employees to return to work. Not only do employers need to consider the physical surroundings of the employees, but employers also need to consider employees mental wellbeing and the stresses that may come with returning to work, after such a long time away. Despite the vaccine rollout, employees may still be anxious about returning to the workplace, concerned about the potentially increased likelihood of coming into contact with the virus. For those with underlying health conditions, or family members that have a condition, any such anxieties may be exacerbated. Employers should also be wary of the impact that the new working conditions and practices could have on employees. Change can be stressful for employees, and it may take time for them to adjust to new working patterns and arrangements.

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Employers should ensure that there are avenues available for employees to discuss any stress that they may be experiencing, and seek assistance to help them manage those stresses if necessary. These measures might include pointing employees in the direction of helplines, or investing in training some of their employees to become ‘Mental Health First Aiders’ and encouraging other colleagues to approach them with their concerns on a confidential basis. It may also be appropriate in some circumstances to consider altering working patterns to reduce the number of employees in the building at any given time, or to enable employees to work flexibly, spending part of their week at home to assist them in managing their stresses and anxieties about returning to the workplace.

Impact on mental health

Key triggers identified for work-related stress include workload pressures, workplace interpersonal relationships and changes at work, all of which are likely to be amplified, given the current economic disruption, job insecurity and social distancing requirements.


Human resources Given the scale of upheaval within the manufacturing sector, any existing risk assessment is not likely to be fit for purpose, so performing a newly devised assessment will demonstrate a responsive and flexible attitude toward protecting the mental wellbeing of the workforce. A new risk assessment should seek to address potential problems such as whether the workforce has adequate space to work which can be a major issue in production environments, or whether there are any potential new risks for those continuing to work from home. It is by identifying the causes of stress and trying to deal with them, that a business can demonstrate if required in future, that it took reasonable steps and fulfilled its duty of care to its employees.

New company policies to consider

Businesses may consider implementing the following policies: coronavirus policy, flexible working policy and a homeworking policy. These policies will not only protect the business by introducing procedural changes and providing guidance for the workforce, but will also provide a level of comfort to the workforce who will recognize the business is responding sensibly and proactively to the ongoing crisis.

Good communication is critical

“Dedicating a member of the HR team to different sections of the business can help by providing employees a direct point of contact should they want to discuss work-related stress With a focus on the return to work and trying to get a business back into a healthy position, it can be tempting to ignore the stress issue and concentrate on core activities, but the impact on the workforce can be so severe that businesses should consider some relatively simple steps to mitigate the impact. One of the simplest measures is to introduce a ‘Stress Risk Assessment’, which will achieve two things: • it will enable businesses to focus clearly on the newly emerging drivers of stress; • it will demonstrate the steps the business has taken to minimize their impact.

Businesses should ensure the lines of communication between the workforce, line managers, the HR team and health and safety managers are open and accessible. Connecting with people is a key factor to address stress whilst working from home or on their return to the workplace. The workforce should be encouraged to discuss their stress and managers should respond with consistent messaging, whilst making note of any occurrences affecting more than one individual, which may point to a more serious issue that needs addressing. Dedicating a member of the HR team to different sections of the business can help by providing employees a direct point of contact should they want to discuss work-related stress. If claims concerning Covid-19 related stress emerge, the businesses in the strongest position will be those that can demonstrate they took the issue seriously, whilst pointing to a recorded risk assessment and structured engagement with employees throughout. There are good reasons for a business to try and mitigate stress in the workplace, starting with their duty of care towards the workforce, particularly given the current situation. There is also the business case that a stressed workforce will inevitably be less productive at a time when the business needs the most from everyone. It is critical for businesses trying to combine home working and a return to the workplace to recognize that if they fail to act appropriately, they could face a slew of workplace personal injury claims, which will undoubtedly be a major distraction and is likely to damage business confidence. v

Tina Chander Tina Chander is a Partner and Head of the Employment Law team at leading Midlands law firm, Wright Hassall, a top-ranked firm of solicitors based in Warwickshire, providing legal services including: corporate law; commercial law; litigation and dispute resolution; employment law and property law. The firm also advises on contentious probate, business immigration, debt recovery, employee incentives, information governance, professional negligence and private client matters. www.wrighthassall.co.uk/expertise/employment-law-and-hr

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Connected

working

Replacing paper-based processes with WorkfloPlus improves productivity and compliance at Carrio Cabling

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ased in Colorado Springs, US, the Carrio Cabling Corporation designs, engineers and manufactures custom moulded cable assemblies for global medical and military markets. The manufacturer has been looking for new ways to identify assembly line bottlenecks and deliver a clear audit trail to satisfy regulatory requirements. After some research, it came across WorkfloPlus which when integrated with tablets on the factory floor can help streamline its manufacturing processes for better connected working. In 2018, the Carrio Cabling Corporation agreed to a trial with Intoware to see how quickly it could digitize its paper-based assembly processes into WorkfloPlus to help track its productivity rates and help deliver a thorough audit trail. It was estimated that it would take between nine to 12 months to fully train its operators and deploy WorkfloPlus throughout the business. With 28 assemblers working on several customer orders at any one time, it’s common for one assembler to change between multiple operations within a particular assembly several times a day, each with their own procedures. In fact, they found WorkfloPlus so quick and easy to use that half of the assemblers were trained and using the software platform in just six weeks. Miles Carrio, Senior Manager, Carrio Cabling Corporation commented: “We quickly found that WorkfloPlus automatically compiles data faster and with greater accuracy than if our assemblers were to manually log this data themselves. Since we have thousands of lines that we can build, seeing how quickly we could digitize was key, depending on the complexity we can migrate and digitize an assembly in just 20 to 90 minutes. “Initially our assemblers were hesitant to any change to their existing approach, but they quickly found using WorkfloPlus to have major benefits over the paper-based processes. The great thing about it is that they can build a workflow in five minutes, upload it and try it out then and there. So, it’s incredibly easy to test, iterate and improve.” The manufacturer was so pleased with the success of WorkfloPlus that it signed a two-year contract with Intoware just 32 days from the start of the trial. WorkfloPlus replaced existing paper-based build procedures used on the factory floor with a tablet for each assembler. As previously there was one large document for each assembly line that was shared, so it was at risk of being lost or subject to unauthorized modifications.


Case study

Breaking bottlenecks with real-time data

The custom-built data dashboard in WorkfloPlus offered a data feed that can be analyzed in real-time, so managers are able to generate hourly data reports with a level of insight that was never previously possible, so individual assembler rates can be easily compared and contrasted to help improve efficiencies and crucially, prevent future production bottlenecks. It also ensured a thorough audit trail that satisfied customer and regulatory needs, as an ISO manufacturer Carrio Cabling required a clear audit trail demonstrating who built the assembly; when it was built and on what assembly line and finally; what revision it was built to? The manufacturer quickly found all this data could be accessed quicker and with greater accuracy compared to when this data was manually logged. This just left the problem of how to effectively measure success? “We justified WorkfloPlus on how much it would cost to hire someone to collate this same data; before an individual employee would gather, track the rate of production and what assemblers had built. By automating this work in real-time it simply pales in comparison to what we’d pay an operator to complete the same work, plus we wouldn’t get the information as quickly to act on it as required,” added Miles. By digitizing its assembly processes with WorkfloPlus, Carrio Cabling is able to guarantee that its assemblers are always working off the correct documentation; it can automatically create audit trails on individual assembly lines and can quickly find out where production bottlenecks are for improved productivity and efficiency savings. v

Intoware Intoware is a UK-based SaaS company at the forefront of workflow automation via the use of mobile and wearable technology. Its flagship product ‘WorkfloPlus’ is developed from a mobile first viewpoint, taking advantage of both mixed and augmented reality. It provides the connected worker with an easy-to-use experience, enabling businesses to digitally transform processes and gain rich data capture to make informed decisions. www.intoware.com

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Unlocking

the data

© 2021 Picavi

Pick-by-Vision and the Human Digital Twin. By Larry Olson

N

o longer are manufacturers mutually exclusive from logistics. Finished goods have to go somewhere, whether to the end-user (direct to consumer, D2C) or to a warehouse, distribution center, or third-party logistics (3PL) facility. Digital twin technology in logistics is constantly and rapidly growing. Lead by pick-by-vision specialists, creating a human digital twin aims to perfect support for warehouse staff. Critical factors for successful logistics operations will never exclude human beings. Workers offer unparalleled flexibility and logistics experts predict that this will remain the case, even with rapid adoption of automation. As part of continuous process improvement more companies are optimizing procedures and processes, with a humancentric approach. Many logistics professionals are currently relying on business intelligence and process data captured. Logistics companies which use digital twins report these highly accurate, virtual representations of the entire supply chain must include the warehouse. Digital twins accompany many logistics systems throughout the entire service life. It provides support for planning, while simultaneously acting as a simulation model to secure test environment for potential process changes.

Incorporating movements

When using digital twins for testing process changes, human workers are a variable for which the technology cannot account. Until recently

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it was difficult to incorporate the specific activities and movements in the warehouse. Pick-by-vision changed this by implementing the human digital twin. It maps a warehouse worker going about day-to-day tasks which are reflected in the human digital twin from transport routes and times to movements and scans. These data are combined with the important operating parameters, especially tiny details which help identify areas for improvement, such as WLAN coverage or warehouse resources. This highly accurate virtual representation of the worker is continuously improved and updated. This is lean manufacturing in logistics.

Simple data collection

The human aspect of process analysis has been neglected in many businesses throughout logistics and manufacturing industries. Although concerns about data privacy are often given as a rationale for hesitancy, the true cause runs deeper. Collecting the data necessary for the human digital twin was next to impossible prior to pick-by-vision. With the right technology accessing these data it is now quite easy to model human behavior. Gaining a virtual representation of the worker in the warehouse required logistics specialists to collect and use data generated in the relevant process. Wearables make this data collection axiomatic. The complication is making sense of these data. This requires an intelligent and intuitive tool.


Wearable technology

© 2021 Picavi

© 2021 Picavi

Pick-by-vision unlocks the data

Pick-by-vision unlocks the data that arises in the logistics process with business intelligence solutions. Integrated analytics create a central point for collecting, aggregating, and visualizing all the important information. These data are collected by the sensors integrated in the pick-by-vision smart glasses and are continuously updated. Users can instantly see which process steps harbor potential for time and cost savings.

Support for human warehouse workers

As human digital twins are based on real process data, they ensure a much more realistic and better understanding of work. Objective data can be used to uncover areas for improvement. The human digital twin provides a safe environment in which to test process changes. Once these tests are successfully completed, changes can be implemented in the real warehouse. This proactively minimizes the risk of failures or downtimes in the logistics arena. It also makes training new team members easier, as the training is based on digital empirical values. Companies make life easier for employees and design in a more ergonomic manner. It is the perfect aid for human workers. v

Larry Olson Larry Olson, Senior Sales Manager at Picavi, came to Picavi as a customer for Neovia Logistics, one of the world’s leading logistics specialists. As the company’s Director of Business Technology Solutions and Innovations, he was responsible for expanding the largest installation of smart glasses in the global intralogistics sector. He brings almost 25 years of logistics, warehouse, and distribution center experience. Picavi GmbH is an award-winning and well-recognized full-service provider with a 100 per cent dedication of its intralogistics and wearable expertise to Pick-by-Vision solutions. https://picavi.com/en/company/

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News in brief Expansion plans

Ge-Shen, a B2B leader in design, development and technology-driven manufacturing products for clients globally, has announced its intentions to double down on its efforts and meet future manufacturing demands in the medical, food and household sector by investing in a 4,863 sq. ft. facility with 18 injection moulding machines, ranging from 60 tonnes to 200 tonnes within it – destined to cater to its growing client base around the USA. Having opened its first certified ISO Class-8 (FED STD 209E – 100K) clean room in Penang in 2019, Ge-Shen has expanded its operation with another in Johor to better cater to its US based clients, now encompassing over 30 per cent of its business. .

New orders

Baldwin Technology Company Inc. has successfully landed three new FlexoCleanerBrush orders, with a total of 16 cleaning heads, from customers in the US and Germany. “With two of the recent orders, the customers had already installed the FlexoCleanerBrush in other locations. One of them reported as much as a 30 per cent production capacity increase, thanks to the installation,” said Lee Simmonds, Regional Sales Manager at Baldwin. “Both customers have experienced insufficient results with their original traversing cloth cleaning systems, which will now be removed and replaced with the full-width, stand-alone, automated FlexoCleanerBrush technology from Baldwin.”

Truly tiny tech Through its Tera 250 Micro AM technology, Nanofabrica has introduced a technology around which innovation and previously impossible manufacturing goals can be achieved. It recently produced a reproduction of a DNA helix that has astounded professionals from across industry, and which exemplifies the compelling nature of the Tera 250 for producing parts of mind-boggling size while achieving extremely exacting tolerances. The DNA helix measures just 925 microns in length, and includes tiny features which would be either impossible to manufacture via micro molding, or would require the manufacture of hugely expensive micro tools. And this is where Nanofabrica’s Micro AM technology finds its niche. Through the use of the Tera 250, companies requiring miniature plastic parts and components can now efficiently, and cost-effectively shift to AM from conventional manufacturing processes. OEMs can therefore benefit from the inherent advantages that AM offers in terms of promoting part complexity with no increase in cost, eliminating the needs for expensive tooling, reducing part counts and the need for assembly, speeding product development time, easy revision of part design, mass customization, reduction in waste, and reduction in energy costs.

New life for Swindon site

Industry first

Ford is continuing to drive the future of automotive 3D printing, this time teaming up with HP to innovatively reuse spent 3D printed powders and parts, closing the loop and turning them into injection molded vehicle parts – an industry first. The recycled materials are being used to manufacture injection-molded fuel-line clips installed first on Super Duty F-250 trucks. The parts have better chemical and moisture resistance than conventional versions, are seven per cent lighter and cost ten per cent less. The Ford research team has identified ten other fuel-line clips on existing vehicles that could benefit from this innovative use of material and are migrating it to future models.

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Honda of the UK Manufacturing (Honda) has entered into a contract for sale of its Swindon site. Originally purchased by the Japanese car manufacturer in 1985, the site will be sold to Panattoni, Europe’s largest developer of new build industrial and logistics facilities. In 2019, Honda Motor announced a restructuring of its global automobile manufacturing operations, which included the cessation of production at the UK plant in July 2021, at the end of the current model cycle of the Civic Hatchback. Following the closure announcement, Honda committed to leaving the site in a responsible way, with a sustainable legacy for Swindon. Jason Smith, Director at Honda of the UK Manufacturing, said: “We are pleased to have identified a capable new owner of the site. From our engagement with Panattoni and initial discussions with Swindon Borough Council, we are confident that the new owner can bring the development forward in a commercially timely fashion and generate exciting prospects for Swindon and the wider community.” Following the end of production on 30 July 2021, Honda will immediately commence the decommissioning of the Swindon site.The site is anticipated to be legally handed over in Spring 2022, once the necessary consents have been obtained, and Panattoni will start regeneration and redevelopment shortly thereafter - Panattoni is committing to invest over £700 million into the site.


Manufacturing News Green power Bridgestone, a global leader providing sustainable mobility and advanced solutions, has announced that all of its European tyre plants, European R&D Centre and Proving Ground in Rome, Italy, PCT plant in Lanklaar, Belgium, textile plant in Usansolo, Spain, and Bridgestone EMIA headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, are now powered by electricity from 100 per cent renewable sources. Commenting on this announcement was Bridgestone EMIA CTO & COO, Emilio Tiberio: “Reducing our CO2 emissions is a key pillar of our long-term sustainability vision, which is why I can’t emphasise enough the significance of this milestone. It’s inspiring to see how far we’ve come in a relatively short chapter of Bridgestone’s long history. One hundred per cent was the goal for a long time, but there’s so much more to achieve in emissions reduction and beyond. Let’s use this achievement as inspiration to go out and deliver yet again.” This announcement marks major progress against the company’s ambition to reduce the environmental impact of its operations: Bridgestone Corporation is committed to the Paris Agreement and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Bridgestone, which announced in March 2020 that 90 per cent of electricity consumed in its European plants came from renewable resources, has been investing to reduce CO2 emissions across the lifecycle of its products and entire value chain.

Clean solution

Leading international PPE firm and biggest British PPE manufacturer, Globus Group has created an innovative sustainable solution for personal protective equipment waste by recycling off-cuts from mask production into cleaning materials for hospitals. The UK-based business announced a partnership with Spill Defence Manufacturing Ltd to turn scrap material from respirator manufacturing into absorbent, disposable mop heads or ‘socks’. The innovation means more than 40,000 kgs of PPE offcuts are now being recycled each month from production at the Group’s three Alpha Solway factories in Golborne, North West England and Dumfries and Annan in Scotland. This will double over the next few months as Spill Defence increases output. The cleaning products are distributed to hospitals around the UK and used to keep operating theatres clean and hygienic. The PPE off-cuts can also be recycled into spill kits and booms used across a wide range of industries. This is the latest development by Globus Group as part of its ongoing pledge to increase environmentally friendly processes, reduce carbon emissions and help dispose of PPE off-cuts sustainably. As Globus continues to look for innovative new ways to reduce the environmental impact of PPE products, it is committed to 75 per cent UK manufacturing which significantly reduces the travel miles of products.

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Below: UK facility - in a microbial fermentation production suite

Advancing tomorrow’s medicines With locations in the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies possesses over three decades of experience in the development of cell culture, microbial fermentation and gene therapies

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F

UJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies is a leading contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), providing process development and manufacturing of biologics. Partnering with both large and small pharma and biotech companies


FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies

‘‘

With our combination of world class assets and world class people, I believe we can also take and embrace some of the learnings that we have acquired over the last year or more to become an evermore flexible organization, able to react quickly to the needs of our partners and supply medicines, vaccines and therapies that the world will need in the years to come

around the world, its focus is to combine technical leadership in cell culture, microbial fermentation and gene therapies with world class cGMP manufacturing facilities to advance tomorrow’s medicines. From its four locations – in College Station,

Texas; Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; Hillerod, Denmark; and Teesside, UK – FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies supports its clients with the development and manufacture of recombinant proteins, viral vaccines and gene therapies. “Said clients have products that

they need developing and due to particular circumstances – whether it be that they lack the manufacturing capabilities or the capacity to produce on a large scale – they entrust us at FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies to make said product, more often than not ahead of clinical trials,” explains the company’s CEO, Martin Meeson. “We have an enviable, broad level of experience when it comes to not only developing and manufacturing, but also commercializing these products, which has resulted in having several approved products of our own available today.” According to Martin, at any one-time FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies can be found to be involved in the development of around 150 different products. “While many of these are not as yet known in the public domain, we are starting to see more of these ground-breaking products coming to market. These include rare disease and cancer treatments, Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics, among many others.” So, what is it that sets the company apart from its peers when it comes to its ability to secure contracts such as those mentioned above? “I think the main factor is the way that we value and respect the idea of partnership, approaching each relationship with a very

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Top: FUJIFILM’s site in Hillerod, Denmark Below: Exterior of FUJIFILM’s College Station, Texas manufacturing facility Opposite: FUJIFILM’s Process Development Laboratories in North Carolina

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collaborative mind-set,” Martin continues. “We are also a very technical organization by nature, meaning that as well as carrying out the development and manufacture of products, we are also constantly working on new areas of innovation, with the end goal being to deliver our services to an even higher level. To this end, we have made advances such as developing our own cell line and new techniques to increase product yields, and these are just a couple of examples of what I like to think of as the ongoing heritage of innovation within FUJIFILM. I know it may also sound a little cliché, but what also gives FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies its strength is the fact that it is made up of nearly 3000 employees who collectively embrace the aforementioned values.” Each of FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies’ four existing locations share the fact that they have been very strategically positioned within what are historically strong areas for biotech manufacturing. The company is far from content to rest on its laurels, however, and in recent months it has announced a series of planned investments to expand its operations in different fields. For instance, in January 2021, it announced that it would invest $40 million to establish a state-of-the-art viral vector and advanced therapy process development and


FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies

manufacturing facility in the greater-Boston, Massachusetts area. This new facility is scheduled to begin process development operations in the fall of 2021, and will expand the company’s manufacturing capacity to support the growing viral vector sector, which is focused on using genes to treat or prevent disease. As well as housing experimental and analytical equipment for viral vector and advanced therapy process development, the facility will also eventually offer contract manufacturing services for early phase clinical trials from the fall of 2023. A matter of days following the above news was made public, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies announced a further $2 billion would be used to establish a new large-scale cell culture production site in the United States. This new facility will offer large-scale cell culture manufacturing of bulk drug substance with 8 x 20,000L bioreactors (physical volume), with the potential to expand and add a further 24 x 20,000L bioreactors based on market demand. In addition to drug substance manufacture, the facility will also provide commercial scale, automated fill-finish and assembly, packaging and labeling (also known as finished goods) services. The new facility will be built within the vicinity of an existing site, and is scheduled to begin operations in the spring of 2025.

Meanwhile, the company’s operations in Europe have also received significant capital investment, with March 2021 seeing an official ground-breaking ceremony held to celebrate the start of a large-scale cell culture expansion project at its Denmark facility. The expansion in question will double the existing bulk drug substance production capacity, with the addition of six 20,000L bioreactors, bringing the total to 12. The new construction will also include a fully automated, cutting-edge fill/finish capability to support large-scale production of up to approximately 35 million units per annum. To support the expanded operations, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies will add 300 positions in Denmark by the end of 2023. The expansion investment also includes a new packaging line designed to assemble multiple types of auto-injectors and automatic labelling, capabilities that will be operational in spring 2022. The fill/finish production line is expected to be operational by summer 2023, and - in a final step in the construction - the large-scale cell bulk drug substance expansion is expected to be operational by the end of 2023. “As we look to the next few years, we will continue our push towards ensuring that we remain the leading CDMO in our field, boasting a growing array of development

and manufacturing capabilities with which to support our clients,” Martin declares. “With our combination of world class assets and world class people, I believe we can also take and embrace some of the learnings that we have acquired over the last year or more to become an ever-more flexible organization, able to react quickly to the needs of our partners and supply medicines, vaccines and therapies that the world will need in the years to come.”

FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies

Services: Contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) www.fujifilmdiosynth.com www.manufacturing-today.com l 21


A positive impact W

ith over four decades of experience, and a reputation as an innovative problem-solver, ATS Automation is proud to declare many of the world’s most successful companies as its customers. Operating through a decentralized business model and serving customers via a strong portfolio of brands, ATS Automation delivers a range of solutions and products under ATS Industrial Automation, ATS Life Sciences, CFT, Comecer, Process Automation Solutions, IWK, Marco, SuperTrak, and Illuminate.

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Describing itself as an ‘industry-leading automation solutions provider’ the business can draw on an extensive knowledge base as well as global capabilities in the delivery of its solutions. In fact, the scale of the company is very impressive. Andrew Hider, CEO of ATS Automation, gave some statistics that illustrate its size and coverage: “We now employ approximately 4,200 people at 20 manufacturing facilities and over 50 offices in North America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and China,” he began. “We also have a strong track record of acquisition and integration, and with the recently completed acquisition of CFT

S.p.A, this will take our employee count to over 5,000, and further grow the number of facilities as well.” Diving more deeply into its services, Andrew explained that the business offers solutions for process automation (enterprise manufacturing and factory automation); life sciences systems and solutions for assembly and test; industrial automation automated tools, assembly, and test systems; packaging and processing, automated food and beverage packaging solutions as well as filling and case packing systems; and leading products and machine components as well as digital services.


ATS Automation

Left: Material staging and movement through complex lines with multiple manufacturing / assembly zones can be difficult. ATS is integrating autonomous intelligent vehicles, or AIVs, to address these challenges Above: Visual Inspection machine at the ATS Industrial Automation manufacturing facility

Left: Scan the QR code to view the new ATS video

Right: Scan the QR code to view a video of ATS Autonomous Intelligent Vehicles (AIV)

ATS Automation’s manufacturing systems and service solutions can be found in markets such as life sciences, transportation, consumer products, food and beverage, and energy

On the Industrial Automation side, ATS Automation provides automated tools, assembly, and test solutions for: • EV-Mobility – Mainly battery module and pack assembly, also used for buses, trucks, grid batteries, and many other applications and a fuel cell assembly and test systems. • Nuclear reactor operations, refurbishment, and decommissioning. • E-Commerce packaging/warehouse automation. • Industrial electronic products assembly.

• Many other applications where automation matters. “In all these applications, there is a lot at stake for our customers,” said Andrew. “Being one day late, with a project or a system being down for a day, can easily cost them $1 million plus.” Over the last few years, ATS Automation has pivoted its business towards the life sciences space. Now, approximately half of its revenue derives from there, with the balance coming from transportation (with a focus on EV-Mobility), consumer, and nuclear. “The life

sciences market offers a good fit for what we do best - complex solutions with great emphasis on quality, speed to market, and ability to service the product over its life cycle,” said Andrew. Udo Panenka, President, ATS Industrial Automation, added that the business sees similar characteristics in other end markets. “This is especially true within battery assembly and testing for electric cars and other e-mobility/battery applications, with the investment tsunami in batteries and electric vehicles by automakers,” he said. “Furthermore, the nuclear industry is seeing some tailwind

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ATS Automation

Above: ATS Automation’s Innovation Center

with many aging reactors and the planned reactor decommissioning in North America and Europe. However, we also see growth in smaller module reactors.” The food and beverage sector is also on ATS Automation’s radar, and the acquisition of CFT that Andrew already referred to will provide it with a platform in the fresh produce processing and packaging equipment market. “CFT is a global supplier

Festo Festo’s partnership with ATS helps reduce machine lead time ATS Automation is one of the largest players in automation technology, with advanced factory automation solutions for the world’s leading manufacturers. As a strong partner in automation and a growth supplier, Festo is much more than a supplier for ATS. Festo provides in depth knowledge in pneumatic, electric motion, remote IO systems, and an understanding of automation solutions. The partnership between ATS and Festo results in competitive solutions for machine designs and helps reduce design, build, and machine production times for ATS. The Handling Guide Online is just one example of how Festo assists in reducing costs and saving time from the initial machine concept, right through to the design and assembly stage. Festo has partnered with ATS on large projects such as EV Battery Assembly lines at GM and other leading OEM’s as well as various projects including the ATS Life Science segment. ATS honored Festo with an appreciation award for its outstanding commitment and reliability with respect to a large Covid-19 fast testing production line.

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and strongly positioned in attractive niches including fresh produce sorting, processing, and packaging,” explained Andrew. “It adds complementary technologies that can be combined to create unique market offerings by us and our companies, such as access to multiple elements of the value chain, creating cross-selling opportunities, and synergies through technology sharing and joint project development.”



Below: ATS Automation’s Illuminate™ monitoring system optimizes and monitors the laser welding process for EV battery cell assembly

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ATS Industrial Automation continues to play a critical role in supporting Bruce Power’s Major Component Replacement program through the design and supply of the automation equipment needed to safely remove reactor components including fuel channels, calandria tubes, and calandria tube inserts,” said Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power’s President and CEO. “Through our continued collaboration and a commitment to quality and excellence, Bruce Power and ATS Industrial Automation have built a strong relationship that will help us successfully deliver this critical project while bringing extensive economic growth to Ontario.”

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CFT’s addition to the ATS Automation family will allow it to access new opportunities and pursue growth globally; it will also add diversity to its portfolio. More expansion is planned, with a brand-new site in Columbus already underway. “Here, we are more than doubling our footprint to create room for the growing demand for battery assembly solutions,” noted Udo. This extension at Columbus is not the only facility development happening at ATS Automation – in 2020, it re-opened Building #3 in Cambridge, Ontario. “This added over 122,000 square feet of space to the existing building, including 67,000 square feet of Life Sciences manufacturing space,” said Andrew. “It also included a 19,000 square-foot innovation centre, where we focus on advancing some of our key product lines and seek to anticipate our customers’ future needs. The expansion has allowed us to ramp up capacity and continue to improve our manufacturing processes, as well as increase our productivity and agility.” “Having a dedicated space for innovation is crucial in this industry,” added Udo. “We are creating an inspiring environment and building processes to move the needle even further. Lean processes have led to better innovations,

enabling improved solutions for our customers. With this renewed focus, we were able to file seven new patents in one of our Industrial Automation businesses in one quarter.” As Udo emphasized, innovation plays a huge part in the company’s success, and historically it has always been prioritized in order to stay one step ahead of the competition. “This started with SuperTrak, an ATS Automation smart conveyance system launched 20 years ago, which has been refined over the years,” noted Andrew. “Unlike traditional conveyance systems that are generally synchronous with little flexibility, SuperTrak provides value by incorporating a number of features into one platform, allowing a higher level of performance and productivity than that of traditional conveyance. Today SuperTrak is used by many of the Fortune 500 companies around the world, and it’s a leader in smart conveyance.” “Our partnership with GM for their Ultium modular battery assembly is a great proof point of how SuperTrak can benefit a customer,” continued Udo. “It both increased throughput while reducing footprint, resulting in a 50 percent increase in floor efficiency. Furthermore, reduced energy consumption is becoming a key factor, where SuperTrak


ATS Automation enables more environmentally-friendly solutions.” Andrew then turned his attention to Illuminate, ATS Automation’s factory optimization Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform solution. “It uses real-time machine performance data to increase throughput, improve uptime, decrease cost and boost quality on the factory floor – enabling agile data-to-decision, in minutes,” he explained. “We launched Illuminate in April 2019, with the idea of building something that is industry accessible; we built the predecessor technology in 2012 and used it internally to debug and optimize our integration projects. We identified a need in the market for an IIoT solution built by machine builders for machine builders.” “What sets Illuminate apart from other products in the market is its simplicity when it comes to delivering actionable insights,” Udo said. “Combined with our domain and subject matter expertise, and given our automation and integration background, we can ramp

up complex systems quickly and improve operations throughout the entire lifecycle of an automated tool, machine, or line. Our teams consist of experts in their field, from PhDs in welding to PhDs in nuclear; we have created a remarkable and knowledgeable group that can solve virtually any problem given to them. In addition, we have a dedicated testing facility that provides us a way to demonstrate what success looks like for our customers. “We also increasingly leverage digital twin solutions to simulate critical parts of a line and ensure that it delivers the expected output, and we reduce lead times by using our ability to undertake PLC programming while still building the line. We can also improve customer training in critical environments like nuclear so that our customers can operate our tools safely and efficiently.” Having mentioned both the Ultium battery work with GM and also the potential for the nuclear sector, Udo noted that this is part of ATS Automation’s strategy to focus on attractive verticals with underlying growth

Zimmer Group The Zimmer Group are one of the world’s leading manufacturers of automation and are an important partner of numerous wellknown companies such as ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc. As a strategic partner, we are developing various projects especially in the life science sector. Our common solutions include e.g. electric grippers which can support the analysis of medical samples in a fully automated system for laboratory diagnostics. The electrically driven grippers for small parts, which are very easy to control, are responsible for sample handling, e.g. reliable transport and safe opening of the lids of highly infectious sample tubes.

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Top: The ATS Lyoscan™ is a high performance vision inspection system for lyophilized products in vials from 3ml to 30 ml. Powered by ATS SmartVision™ software, up to 28 cameras inspect the stopper, cap, body and contents at rates of up to 450 units per minute

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dynamics. He further expanded on how ATS Industrial Automation interacts with clients and demonstrates the array of solutions that it can provide. He began with details about its nuclear decommissioning program with Holtec International. “We have a strong trackrecord of automated systems for dismantling reactors, but our work with Holtec requires building and testing specialized equipment that will be critical to the efficient and safe decommissioning of their retired nuclear plants in the United States. Nuclear is moving from refurbishment to decommissioning and driving our geographical expansion,” he said. “Our work with GM on the Ultium battery showcases how we can work with rapidly evolving technology, high-quality requirements, and compressed production schedules. The result here was a bespoke solution very specific to this client, and one that leveraged the diversity of skills, expertise, and products that we can offer.” While ATS Automation operates a

decentralized model, with businesses ranging from EV to life sciences, all businesses share a common operating model, the ATS Business Model (ABM). Andrew elaborated about the ABM in general, which was introduced in 2017: “All companies within the ATS Automation family are united by the ABM, which is the collection of lean tools and approaches that we use to drive continuous improvement and guides us in achieving our goals,” he said. “We have three central values to the company and are reflected in the lean ABM - People, Process, and Performance. Together, these values deliver a winning team committed to applying continuous improvement and delivering value for our customers, shareholders, and employees. The ABM provides our people with critical problemsolving tools and a template for eliminating waste and driving process improvement in all areas of responsibility. It also empowers personnel, improves customer satisfaction, and enhances our returns.”


ATS Automation This philosophy is applied in every part of the business, but as Udo explained, project management is of particular importance, especially when it comes to EV battery assembly, and the ABM tool is very beneficial in this area. “These projects are typically very challenging, as the solutions can be pretty complex (one EV battery can have 6,500 cells, which equal 13,000 welds, and if one weld is defective, the range of the car can drop by almost two percent). Simultaneously, while we build these challenging solutions, the battery’s final design is often still modified until weeks before the launch, but the launch date of a new vehicle will never get moved. We have applied ABM to improve our project management processes to successfully execute such challenging projects and deliver the right quality on time and budget. Value stream mapping and a fully integrated daily visual management combined with comprehensive problem-solving processes make sure that our customers can rely on us.” In fact, the three values of People, Process,

and Performance are deeply embedded in the operations at ATS Automation. The fact that People is the first tenet in the list gives an indication of the value that it places on its employees – something that came to the fore in 2020 with the arrival of Covid-19. “We had to make a rapid pivot as the realities of the virus became apparent,” Andrew admitted. “We realized that the key to our success would come from the continued support and dedication of our people, and that we all had a role to play in maintaining a safe and healthy work environment. “The pandemic brought a range of unprecedented challenges to how we operate. Our first priority was to ensure our employees’ health and mental wellness and support them. We established an executive steering committee, which oversaw enterprisewide prioritizations and approvals. “Through coordinated effort and clear communication, we quickly mobilized a response that enabled our people to return to work, either remotely or in reconfigured

Banner Engineering Banner Engineering is a leading manufacturer and supplier of innovative automation products focused on solving challenging applications across a wide range of industries, including Food and Beverage, Automotive Assembly, Material Handling, Life Sciences, and Electronics. More than 50 years of quality and innovation, combined with a growing portfolio of solutions, and a strong network of global support, make Banner a strong partner and a solution provider to all ATS locations and their customers across the world. We look forward to continued partnership between Banner Engineering and ATS for many more years to come.

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Below: ATS Industrial Automation Nuclear Major Component Replacement (MCR) integration and test facility

Right: ATS Industrial Automation 6-axis robotic work cell for high payload applications

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ATS Automation has been a valued partner over the last 13 years, helping us scale our manufacturing operations to meet growing demand. They have delivered multiple assembly lines incorporating sophisticated technology, continuing services, and training. By using the ATS Illuminate Manufacturing Intelligence platform across all of our ATS lines, we can manage our production facility with real-time performance data for our production lines. My team can identify any potential issues before they become a problem and optimize line performance for improved throughput.” Bill Denzer, VP Manufacturing, AXON

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workspaces that supported physical distancing. We were also able to distribute 20,500 face covers to employees and their families. “Employees were kept informed through weekly updates and targeted bulletins that helped them make the shift to a new world of work. We have integrated and transitioned our pandemic response into our day-to-day operations with the release of the Forward Together Playbook – a guide to supporting global teams and maintaining workplace wellbeing. “In turn, our employees played a crucial role in assisting a number of ATS Automation

customers in pivoting their manufacturing output to produce important products such as ventilators, respirators, and Covid-19 test kits.” The ATS Automation team’s willingness to go the extra mile is reflected in some of the more creative solutions that they invented to circumvent the challenges that were put in their path. “Critical customer projects had still to be completed on time despite coronavirus and travel restrictions, making life pretty complicated,” said Udo. “I am so grateful for the teams’ flexibility, and we were able to develop some innovative solutions – for example, to complete a project


ATS Automation on time in Poland, we turned a customer site into a quarantine zone, brought 15 trailers to a site where our people lived and made arrangements for some key team members to stay for an extended period of time on-site to avoid any travel.” “Our employees really stepped up to meet customers’ demands, and our ability to work smarter by reusing engineering concepts and designs allowed us to compress project timelines,” added Andrew. “With some employees onsite and others working remotely, we still worked hard to maintain alignment, togetherness, and a shared vision as we worked through the challenges of the past year. While the current environment is far from normal, I am extremely pleased with the progress we’ve made over the last year to reorient our operations to this ‘new normal’.” The organisation’s caring focus is not limited to inside its own four walls, either – it plays an active role in the communities in which it operates, too. “We were founded in Cambridge in 1978, and the city remains our

corporate headquarters,” said Andrew. “The community’s support played an important role in enabling ATS Automation to establish a growing global presence. Our commitment to the Cambridge area, and our people’s efforts to build social capital and contribute to their own communities, guides our giving efforts everywhere we operate. “In the last year, we have participated in over 39 events throughout the world and contributed over $250,000 in community support and charitable donations. We also supported ten local communities through participation in fundraising events for important causes.” Alongside people, ATS Automation prides itself on its focus on sustainable operations, and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). It also embraces the environment as part of its shared purpose statement: Creating solutions that positively impact lives around the world. “While helping to make our clients’ processes more efficient across a range of applications, the work we do in markets like solar, nuclear

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Below: ATS Automation robotic storage and retrieval system

Below: ATS Industrial Automation smart meter assembly system

energy, and electric vehicles contributes to a more sustainable world,” said Andrew. “We are committed to ensuring the same is true for all of our operations and activities.” Waste and energy are particular areas of interest, and significant gains have been made. “Packaging makes up a large portion of the waste associated with our activities, and we had an organizationwide audit where we set a target of diverting at least 80 percent of the waste we generate from landfills. Our end result was 82 percent diversion, and through continued alignment with our supply chain partners, we believe we can raise that number further,” highlighted Andrew. “The majority of our operations are already energy efficient, and in recent years we have made widespread changes to boost our efficiency, such as installing motion-sensitive switches and using LED lighting. We also produced nearly 235,000 kWh by photovoltaic rooftop systems and are looking to increase the number of installations. Our European operations are now using as much

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ATS Automation as 65 percent renewable energy, and we are exploring opportunities to increase renewable sources globally,” he continued. With the coronavirus pandemic hopefully retreating, Andrew feels that ATS Automation can look at 2021 with cautious optimism. “While we continue to operate in a Covid-19 environment which impacts customer demand and our operating efficiency (due to physical distancing and travel restrictions), we have adapted our business to this new normal, and our recent financial results corroborate that,” he said. “We have weathered the pandemic storm better than most machinery manufacturing companies given our meaningful exposure to the life sciences market, which has remained resilient. Our unique mix of skills, technologies, and end-markets has allowed us to be successful amidst a challenging environment by focusing on solving customer problems, and we continue to see opportunities in most of our end markets.” Looking further ahead to the future, and

both Andrew and Udo are confident that there are still great achievements to be made at the business. “In three to five years, we expect to be further ahead in our continuous improvement journey and an even stronger technology partner to our customers,” said Andrew. “Through strategic acquisitions, we are scaling up our presence in new and adjacent verticals to broaden our offerings in attractive end-markets. On the operational front, the ABM, our continuous improvement playbook, continues to surface value creation opportunities across all our business activities, from manufacturing to sales. We are excited about the future of ATS Automation, and the prospect of building a great company.”

ATS Automation Services: Industry-leading automation solutions provider www.atsautomation.com

Murrelektronik Murrelektronik are proud to support the Connectivity needs of ATS globally as a preferred supplier. 75,000 products and growing with two goals in mind: Reduce your control panel size by at least 1/3 and Simplify Connections between the machine controller and field devices. Our decentralized control solutions have saved customers 30% on their installation costs. With factory trained engineers on staff to simplify your system integration, presence in over 50 countries, and 5 logistics centres strategically located globally, we help you Stay Connected and ensure that We’ll be there for you! .

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Group CEO Graham Ewart

Moving on up 34 l www.manufacturing-today.com


Direct Healthcare Group

One of Europe’s leading manufacturers of medical products for patients with limited mobility, Direct Healthcare Group is experiencing a tremendous increase in turnover following a surge of growth for the healthcare sector

M

ovement is fundamental to human health and quality of life, and no-one understands this better than Direct Healthcare Group. A UK-based, pan-European developer and manufacturer of innovative products that focus on early mobilization, the Group strives to prevent healthcare challenges associated with non-movement. Cognitive of the role movement plays in rehabilitation, and the relationship between physical and mental health, Direct Healthcare Group and its brands work closely with healthcare professionals to enable better health outcomes, accelerated recovery and easier daily living. “At Direct Healthcare Group, we address healthcare challenges associated with reduced patient movement, anticipating, managing, and in many cases, resolving to support care providers and those they care for,” declares Group CEO Graham Ewart. “Benefitting from the expertise of seven specialist subsidiaries, we provide pressure care management, moving and handling equipment, specialist seating and bathroom safety solutions for patients in hospitals, acute care environments, residential care homes and private homes.”

On a steady trajectory of international growth since 2018, Direct Healthcare Group currently has a direct presence in six European countries and exports its products to a further 35 nations worldwide. The Group has also expanded internally. As of 2021, Direct Healthcare Group employs over 600 people. “We currently hold a 15 per cent market share in Europe for our sector across pressure ulcer prevention and patient handling, which is a huge achievement, and one that should be celebrated,” Graham says. “Our success is supported by substantial production capabilities, which continue to grow. In 2018, we had two manufacturing sites located in the UK, whereas today we have three manufacturing sites in the UK, two in the Netherlands, one in Sweden and one in Finland.” Investment in innovation is a significant part of Direct Healthcare Group’s growth strategy, so much so that 40 per cent of the Group’s revenues stem directly from its own patented products - many of which have won prestigious industry awards. With its products in use in care and home environments around the world, Direct Healthcare Group is proud that its innovations continue to transform the way healthcare is provided and increase the lifequality of patients in their thousands. Perhaps the best example of Direct Healthcare Group’s life-changing health solutions is the Group’s flagship product, the DynaForm Mercury Advance. A two-in-one system revolutionizing the way in which pressure ulcer prevention is delivered, the Dyna-Form Mercury Advance is a powered hybrid mattress that acts as both a pressure redistributing static mattress

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Covid-19 presented extraordinary challenges for both our business and the healthcare sector as a whole, but our position meant we were able to navigate the turbulence effectively and adjust to the changes. Overall, we saw an increase in demand from March to May as the pandemic took hold, followed by a softening in the summer, and then another surge in the winter

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The Dyna-Form® Mercury Advance is a dynamic mattress replacement system combined with the benefits of modern foam technology

and a pressure relieving alternating mattress, with the simple addition of a pump. The result is that patients don’t need to be moved from a static mattress to a dynamic alternating mattress as their risk level increases. Instead, patients are placed onto an appropriate therapeutic mattress much earlier - helping to drive down pressure ulcer incidence rates - and there is less

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need for patient handling, which reduces stress on the patient and frees up time for carers. “One of the largest studies on pressure ulcers to-date saw over 500,000 patients placed on over 4000 Mercury Advance mattresses across 12 NHS sites,” Graham reveals. “Following the implementation of the Dyna-Form Mercury Advance, it was found that


Direct Healthcare Group the mattress led to a 56 per cent sustainable decrease in pressure ulcer incidence rates, drastically improving patient health outcomes and health economics. “Given the success of the Dyna-Form Mercury Advance, our R&D facility is now developing this product further and will be releasing a new updated system later this year. It’s a unique, market-changing technology, which we are extremely excited about and think will revolutionize the healthcare sector.” As a prominent and highly respected member of the healthcare sector, Direct Healthcare Group has played a key role in the UK over the past 12 months as the nation battled the Covid-19 pandemic. Working with 35 Trusts across the country, the Group equipped the NHS with over 3000 surfaces and beds during the crisis, in addition to providing emergency rentals and equipment to four of the Nightingale hospitals. “Covid-19 presented extraordinary challenges for both our business and the healthcare sector as a whole, but our position meant we were able to navigate the turbulence

Trelleborg Trelleborg Engineered Coated Fabrics produces the highest quality coated materials in the healthcare and medical segment, including industry leading Dartex® polyurethane coatings, which it acquired in 2018. Dartex® is one of the world’s leading specialist producers of technical medical coated fabrics and has been serving Direct Healthcare Group for decades. They work together to continually innovate pressure-redistributing support surface fabrics with immersion, envelopment and breathability properties to treat and prevent pressure ulcers. “Dartex® and Direct Healthcare Group have been on a similar path of expansion in both capabilities and technology in recent years,” says Mark Jones, Global Director ECF Healthcare & Medical | General Manager Trelleborg Nottingham. “While we’ve experienced immense growth, the level of high-quality service and thoughtful partnership we provide them with has not changed. The Trelleborg team looks forward to many more years of collaboration with Direct Healthcare Group to continue its growth and innovation of products to protect people and provide the highest level of patient care.” In addition to top covers, base tickings, and medical mattresses, Dartex® end applications also include specialty seating, moving and handling devices, air cells and bladders, tourniquets, thermal packs, blood pressure cuffs, X-Ray protective shielding, prosthetics, and clean room materials. Visit www.TrelleborgECF.com for more information.

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Right: Dyna-Form® Static Air HZ is a mattress replacement system that combines the benefits of effective air displacement technology with the best of modern foams

BRAKO BRAKO is a long-term reliable partner to DHG. This partnership started back in 2009 when BRAKO and Handicare AB has established first contact and production of PH products. Later in 2013 this cooperation extended to include BS products at BRAKO production portfolio. In 2020 Handicare AB was acquired by DHG, where BRAKO became one of the strategic suppliers at DHG.

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effectively and adjust to the changes,” Graham states. “Overall, we saw an increase in demand from March to May as the pandemic took hold, followed by a softening in the summer, and then another surge in the winter. We typically experience an annual surge in our Service and Rental line each year due to NHS capacity pressures, which occur every winter, but this

was exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and the department became the fastest growing part of the business in the UK. “We saw speed of provision become crucial in the sector last year, and demand for specialist products dropped in favor of standardized equipment that could be provided urgently. While the past year has been challenging, I am


Direct Healthcare Group Left: Mercury Advance SMARTcare® is an innovative solution in the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers

Stoeryd AB

pleased we have been able to move forward with our original strategy focusing on entering different markets, cross-selling products and becoming a truly international group with panEuropean operations.” Resilient and quick to adapt, Direct Healthcare Group and its supply chain remained efficient and sustainable throughout the

pandemic, meaning the organization and its suppliers did not suffer any profoundly negative effects of the crisis. In fact, Direct Healthcare Group was even able to recruit new staff to its Research & Development Department. In order to continue fostering innovation, the Group grew its R&D unit from just two people to a team of 19. Similarly, in Caerphilly, Direct

Stoeryd AB is a contract manufacturer that manufactures finished products, subsystems, components, spare parts and provides specified quality, expertise, service, and flexibility to one of the brands of the Direct Healthcare Group (DHG). Stoeryd AB has brought over 50 years of production knowledge into this business cooperation. DHG also takes advantage of a robust and active network of subcontractors that shorten lead-times, as it makes it easy to find the most effective production solution. All together this has allowed the possibility to build up a close and long-term customer relationship that contributes to develop solutions that in the end provide effective care.

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The Dyna-Tek® Intelligent Air cushion sets a brand new standard in innovative wheelchair seating, delivering superior ‘bespoke’ pressure redistribution without the need for any set up or re-pumping air lost over time

Healthcare Group took on 80 employees who had previously been out of work for more than six months. “Caerphilly, which is home to our headquarters, is an area renowned for high unemployment rates - 5.2 per cent against an average of 4.2 per cent across Wales and 3.9 per cent across the entire UK,” Graham explains. “We’re really proud to have remained in the area and we’re now one of the biggest employers there, with over 140 colleagues in Caerphilly alone. “We also strive to embed a culture of innovation through the company,” Graham adds. “Our employees benefit from a number of training courses, including Team Leader Training and Business Improvement Techniques (NVQ), and we also sponsor team members to undertake qualifications including undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Recently, we were awarded an Investors in People accreditation, in recognition of the high standard of support and development we provide to our employees. “Finally, we collaborate with organizations across the world on product research and development, including the Welsh Wound Innovation Centre, a global hub of exD facilities. Being able to offer our employees access to world-class resources and in-house training is essential to us and supports our mission to be leaders in innovation.” Part of Direct Healthcare Group’s efforts to innovate and modernize have seen the Group

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take steps to ensure that the delivery of its rental and service operation is sustainable and environmentally friendly. At the heart of this initiative is the introduction of an electric fleet in place of the Group’s current conventionally fueled vans. The new Peugeot e-Expert vans are fully electric, zero emission vehicles providing a substantial environmental benefit within a portfolio that traditionally requires high volume logistics and movement of key medical equipment. The move will directly benefit the global push towards net-zero emissions by 2050, and a reduction in emissions by 50 per cent before 2030, as proposed by the United Nations. “We have seen momentous growth within our rental and service operations over the past

five years, which, in turn, has led to an increase in the number of vehicles in our fleet making deliveries of rented equipment every day,” Graham remarks. “We recognize the serious implications this has and have taken the critical first step in creating greener, more sustainable rental delivery for our customers. I would hope that this change sets a precedent within the industry, with similar providers following suit in order for us all to have the greatest impact.” Direct Healthcare Group’s success in 2020 in the face of such difficult circumstances earned it fourth place on the 2021 Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200. In April 2021, the Group went one better and secured top spot on the Sunday Times BDO Profit Track 100. One of the key drivers behind this rise up the rankings has been a highly positive trail of

The Peugeot e-Expert vans are fully electric, zero emission vehicles providing a significant environmental benefit


Direct Healthcare Group acquisition for Direct Healthcare Group. “The Covid-19 pandemic presented a number of opportunities for us, and we were able to accelerate our business strategy as a result,” Graham reports. “Accelerating our M&A strategy, we acquired a number of robust companies, which allowed us to transform our offering, cross-sell and benefit from expertise in markets that we are not yet established in. “We have acquired five companies in the past 13 months, including Handicare Patient Handling Europe and RoW, which led to international expansion, Swedish GATE Rehab Development, Finland’s innovative pressure area care company Carital, Dutch patient handling designer and manufacturer United Care, and Talley Group Ltd. This acquisition strategy has allowed us to

remain resilient during the economic turbulence of 2020 and stay relatively well-insulated compared to other sectors.” Forecasting a turnover of £89.4 million for 2021 - a 49.5 per cent growth increase from £59.8 million in 2020 - Direct Healthcare Group remains in a strong position for continued expansion in the years ahead. Just like the patients benefiting from its solutions the world over, the Group will keep on moving. “We are on target to become the number one in Europe in enabling patient mobility and independence,” Graham says in summary. “Over the next 12 months, we will continue to focus on product innovation and geographical expansion so that clients can always look to us as a market leader.”

Direct Healthcare Group Products: Medical products for patients with limited mobility www.directhealthcaregroup.com

Čateks dd Čateks dd is one of the oldest textile companies in Southeast Europe, founded in 1874, whose current profile is the production of fabrics and technical textiles. The long-standing relationship with the DHC Group has been built on the supply of coated materials on a knitted base from which mattress covers are made, as well as wheelchair cushions. The company operates in accordance with ISO 9001: 2015, and all the products meet OEKO tex certificate, class I. The Company’s advantages are customized solutions, speed, performance and dedication to the clients. It is present on the European market with its product range.

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Seeing beyond Recognized for both its contributions to the world of science and its beautiful and historical universities, the city of Cambridge is perhaps the ideal location for Carl Zeiss Microscopy Ltd, a company that personifies state-of-the-art technology and a renowned pedigree of technological progress

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orming part of the international ZEISS Group, a company with a strong global sales and service network, which was founded in 1846, Carl Zeiss Microscopy Ltd operates from the ZEISS House facility in Cambourne, Cambridge. This has responsibility for the majority of the company’s electron microscopes (EM), which are used in a wide variety of applications in scientific research, industrial research and quality control. Daniel Aldridge is Managing Director of this particular business unit, and he explained that the international ZEISS Group consists of four segments: Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology, Industrial Quality & Research, Medical Technology, and Consumer Markets. Falling under the Industrial Quality & Research segment, Carl Zeiss Microscopy Ltd focuses in

particular on Research Microscopy Solutions and Industrial Quality Solutions. To continue to manufacture its electron microscopy devices at the rate and standard that its global client base is demanding, the company has recently completed and moved into a new facility, which incorporates innovative machinery and state-of-the-art equipment. Daniel gave the readers of Manufacturing Today an update on this and more exciting developments that the business has seen since it was last featured in the magazine in 2018. “To support the growing manufacturing business and to further consolidate its UK operations, the company relocated to the outskirts of Cambridge on the Cambourne Business Park,” he began. “The Cambourne facility is now the UK home of the Research


Carl Zeiss Microscopy Ltd

Microscopy Solutions team (which includes EM manufacturing), co-located with ZEISS Sales & Service in the UK for Meditec, Microscopy & Consumer Optics solutions. “The relocation of any factory is inevitably a major undertaking and we faced the doublechallenge of only having a relatively short time to plan the project at the same time as a significant increase in demand for our products. The whole team responded to this incredibly well and with a lot of hard work, flexibility, and determination, we managed to successfully relocate and fulfil the increased order demand.” The new facility was created to provide an open plan, collaborative and flexible working environment for all team members, and the finished building has excellent meeting and conferencing facilities throughout its three

open-plan floors. In the Customer Centre, there are demo rooms that are used to showcase products to customers and to demonstrate workflow solutions for specific applications. For example, ZEISS has correlative microscopy solutions, which can be used to seamlessly integrate different imaging techniques and analytics for a single sample. “The Customer Centre also provides a unique experience with viewing windows into the production halls, where visitors can see the EMs being assembled and tested in front of them. It is a special experience to have a product demonstration and then walk a few steps to see the instruments being manufactured,” added Daniel. “In planning the factory, we were able to set-up the manufacturing processes and layout

in a much more effective way than the old site, building on the strong lean flow principles we had developed in the previous facility. This gave us the opportunity to achieve a more natural flow of material and work processes through the complete end-to-end process from Goods-In to Goods-Out. These improvements have contributed directly to an increase in productivity and importantly, a far superior working environment for the team.” With Daniel referring to the needs of the staff during his description of the new premises, it is clear that the people side of the business is a high priority. He noted that one of the goals of the relocation was to retain as many team members as possible, and was pleased when this was overwhelmingly achieved. “This was vitally important for us, as the success

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MÜNCH Led by the principles of progress and tradition MÜNCH have developed a culture of constantly pushing the limits, which is essential to be a key partner for a company like Carl Zeiss, being a market leader and technical innovator. With weekly deliveries for several years a reliable partnership has evolved. We are very proud to be part of the great success story of Carl Zeiss and appreciate the Zeiss way of active quality awareness, reliability and the joint optimization of production processes.

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of the company over many years has been directly attributable to our people,” he agreed. “Any business always faces challenges and it is the culture of the company that determines how people respond. We empower people to make decisions in a lean, agile environment - to quickly learn and adapt - and this is built on the confidence of many years of experience in

facing challenges and finding solutions. This fastmoving, can-do attitude is complemented with ZEISS’ over-arching strong focus on quality and process-orientation, which in many respects is the perfect blend for a successful manufacturing operation. “The most important factor for a successful company culture though, is trust. Providing platforms for meaningful dialogue and encouraging each other to give honest, open feedback is really important, and we are continuously developing ways to improve this.” The winning formula that Carl Zeiss has created at Cambourne has created a solid platform for growth, and this has been a foundation upon which it can rely – much needed during the upheaval that Brexit has wrought. The long-term view that parent company ZEISS takes into its investment strategy has also been an essential component of the site’s success, and despite the political challenges, and the pandemic, it has remained committed to investing in Cambridge. This latter observation directed the conversation to the coronavirus and Daniel


Carl Zeiss Microscopy Ltd

pointed out that as a company with a 175-year long history, ZEISS has inevitably faced many challenges, and it has developed a strong resilience and agility in the face of difficulties. When it came to addressing Covid-19, the Group was quick in setting up a task force with clear priorities for the whole business. “Of course, the UK Government’s guidance has shaped our local response but having the support of the centralized task force when required has been a great help. Having consistent messaging to the whole team was also very important, and having a single, shared set of priorities ensured that we were all working on the same objectives to alleviate the impact of the crisis. The principle objective was Safety, to protect the health and safety of all employees; this was followed by business Continuity, Stability and Recovery.” He continued: “At the Cambourne site, we adapted very fast to the emerging risks of the pandemic in early 2020, with remote working

for those that could work from home and new shift patterns and procedures in production. This enabled us to maintain production during the whole of 2020 and into 2021, and although the pandemic did impact business, in general we have had a reasonable and healthy order intake throughout. The production team have been fantastic during this period, especially early in the first wave, when naturally there was a high level of anxiety and it was new territory for everyone to be suddenly thrown into. “As our customers and suppliers are located all around the world, we felt the business effects of different regions going through the waves of the pandemic and lockdowns at different times. Our EM instruments require trained service engineers to install them at the customer site, so that brought challenges early on, although most regions have been able to adapt to this in subsequent lockdowns.” The continued perseverance of ZEISS to

adhere to its focused investment strategy even during the pandemic, means that there is a pipeline of innovation feeding through into series production, and this results in frequent new product launches and releases from the Cambourne site. “Recently we launched our new generation of field emission scanning electron microscope (FESEM) – the GeminiSEM x60 range, of which the GeminiSEM 560 has introduced the ZEISS Gemini 3 column to the market for the first time,” revealed Daniel. “This range has been very well received in the markets and the volume manufacturing (VM) facility in Cambourne is proud to play a crucial role in the production of such class-leading technology, which will enable our customers to take their workflows, applications, innovation and R&D to new levels.” Manufacturing this kind of extremely sophisticated solution is where the new factory really comes into its own – but as Daniel noted earlier, its success has been built on the strong

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principles of lean manufacturing for many years, which have been recognized in the past via national awards. “One of our strengths has been excellence in visual management in the factory and using this within our daily meeting and management structure to rapidly visualize problems for containment and prevention. With the rapid advancement of digital tools over the last years, we are now able to capture and share data rapidly, which has proved to be essential during the pandemic with dispersed team members. “While digitalization offers many benefits, we also recognize that the physical, tactile visual management we developed previously still has a place and it is the blend of these ideas that we are now working on as we go forward. Looking ahead, we are now focused on ‘digital lean’, which means using digital tools to capture the right data and metrics in our processes to identify waste that can be reduced. We see this as an evolution of our lean manufacturing

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journey rather than a dramatic shift in direction and ‘digital lean’ will be an essential part of our operation for future continuous improvements. “Electron microscopes are complex instruments, requiring highly trained technicians and engineers in the assembly, calibration, and quality assurance processes. We have developed an automation strategy with support from the Institute of Manufacturing (IfM) at the University of Cambridge. Current automation projects that we are working on are to better utilize the lights-out (overnight) period, and to automate material logistics processes within the factory.” From Daniel’s insights into the operations of the factory, one word that springs to mind is innovation. The company’s willingness to adopt new ways of working and market-leading technology combine with its reputation for extremely high quality – when you are working with solutions as complex and technical as electron microscopes, there is no room for error. Daniel credits this extreme dedication

to excellence as setting Carl Zeiss apart from the competition. “ZEISS is famous for the high standard of quality and innovation that it has accrued over many years. Our electron microscopy customers recognize the value that ZEISS provides with the broadest portfolio of products and solutions on the market and the seamless ability to connect and share data across its portfolio,” he emphasized. “Electron microscopes are complex instruments and operate close to theoretical limits in terms of the physical and electronic design of the electron beam generation and signal detection for sample imaging and analytics. To consistently manufacture instruments that produce the beautiful visual images and the incredible analytical data sets at the push of a button, requires an integrated design approach with manufacturing embedded into the development teams. This coupled with our relentless focus on quality and continuous improvement means that our customers can


Carl Zeiss Microscopy Ltd

concentrate their efforts on pushing back the boundaries of their research and innovation for many years to come.” Having referred to the customers and clients that utilize the products from Carl Zeiss, Daniel went on to highlight that its electron microscopes are used in a broad spectrum of applications in materials analysis and research, life sciences and quality control. “Products that we take for granted in everyday life have often used electron microscopy to invent and perfect them,” he said. “For example, electron microscopes are used to optimize ingredients in ice cream to precisely control the formation of ice crystals; they are used in battery development to research how to improve power density; they are used by scientists to build 3D digital reconstructions of the synapses in the brain to develop treatments for diseases associated with old age. With so many applications, there is a strong global demand for our products. “ZEISS is an international company with a strong global sales and service network, and we recognized the growth potential in Asia Pacific very early on, and took a strategic approach to this business development, which included designing specific products for the requirements of the market. This enabled us to build an enduring export business and, as customers

continue to develop their applications, we already have the strong relationships and understanding of the market to fulfil their future needs.” Given the world is still on the path to recovery from Covid-19, Daniel and his team expect a relatively high level of uncertainty to remain in some regions, and that will require a degree of flexibility to meet its customers’ needs. Already planning for this, the business is implementing new technology and approaches across the production line. “The digital tools that are now available give us better visibility of market trends and the order pipeline, and we are developing new analytical tools for demand planning to increase our flexibility and productivity in the factory,” he confirmed. “In VM, we will continue our program of digitalization of the factory and our supply chain. We have also launched major EM product updates recently and others are planned in the coming months, which means that we are continuously developing the capability in manufacturing in terms of skills and growth.” The past two years have seen both opportunities and challenges presented to Carl Zeiss, and the company has reacted to both with an admirable zest for success and a willingness to go the extra mile. With a pipeline of innovation and ZEISS’ strategic partnerships

and acquisitions agenda, the future looks strong for the company and Daniel expects a growing manufacturing business in the coming years at the UK site. With ambitious plans always underway, he highlighted digital solutions, strengthening the team and a focus on sustainability as areas of focus for the next few years, and he ended with some wise words about the last 12 months and what they have taught us. “The pandemic has once again put the spotlight onto the importance of manufacturing and the UK’s response has been incredible. To many of us in the manufacturing world, it will have come as no surprise that there is a breadth and depth of capability and excellence in the UK. Now is the time to build on that for our future, especially in our new trading relationships on the international stage, and taking this as a launch pad for the UK to build its strength and confidence as a great place to invest in as a manufacturing-base for global markets.”

Carl Zeiss Microscopy Ltd

Products: Research microscopy solutions and industrial quality solutions www.zeiss.com www.manufacturing-today.com l 47


Two centuries of crowning achievements

One of the UK’s largest and most successful paint manufacturers, Crown Paints has a rich history extending back over 200 years, and continues to go from strength-tostrength in 2021

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he history of Crown Paints is in many ways an illustrious one, dating back to 1777 and the establishment of Dob Meadows Print shop in Darwen, Lancashire, where its head offices have remained ever since. In the early 1800s, the business spent time experimenting with and developing wallpaper production, and by the end of the 1880s it was producing wallpaper for some of the best known and oldest brands that still exist to this day. It was then, in 1904, that the company’s first experiments with water-based paints began, and less than two years later its first batch of paint was being sold to consumers, then under the brand name Hollins Distemper. In 1949, the

company was granted its first Royal Warrant as a supplier to King George VI – a warrant that was renewed by Queen Elizabeth II in 1955 – and in 1966, the first range of paints were officially manufactured and sold under the Crown brand name, with the launch of Crown Plus Two paints. Over the next several decades, Crown Paints would go on to introduce products such as its Crown Solo one coat paint, NonDrip Gloss, Satin ranges, and its Crown Paints Matchpots. The company’s professional finishes – notably its Crown Trade, Sandtex Trade and Sadolin lines – have been specified for some of the most prestigious buildings found across the UK, while its household name brands such


Crown Paints Plc

as its eponymously named Crown range have come to be beloved by generations of home owners. In addition to its Darwen headquarters, the company today also operates from a manufacturing site in Hull and has an evergrowing network of more than 150 Crown Decorating Centre’s (CDC’s) located throughout the UK and Ireland. Ellis Mudd – Director of Manufacturing at Crown Paints – has been with the business for the better part of three decades. As such, he can provide a great insight into what has allowed it to continue to prosper over the years. “First and foremost, Crown Paints is a

company that has always retained a real family feel and connection amongst its employees and the local communities,” he details. “Wherever you look, the people here are incredibly loyal and proud of the company they work for.” As Ellis goes on to point out: “This collective dedication and passion proved all the more vital during 2020, when Crown Paints joined the rest of the world in facing down the Covid-19 pandemic. At the onset of the pandemic, when the first lockdown took effect in the spring of 2020, our immediate focus was on ensuring the long-term health of the company and its employees. All the major retailers had to close - as did our own CDC’s – which are one of our most important

avenues for selling our paint. A consequence of this was that our online business exploded, which presented a huge challenge and we had to channel our efforts towards accommodating this as we awaited the go-ahead to re-open our retail estate. “From a manufacturing perspective, our operations were soon able to restart, and we were able to welcome our people back into a working environment that we worked extremely hard to make as Covid-19 secure and safe as possible. We adopted thermal imaging cameras at the very early stage of the pandemic. Mask wearing at work was and still is routine, as is the constant cleaning and sanitizing measures we have incorporated continued on page 52 >

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Taking companies to the next level

H

eadquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Valsoft’s focus is to acquire and grow vertical software businesses that provide mission-critical solutions in their respective nice or market. “We consider ourselves as being the ‘forever home’ of the companies that we acquire,” explains Kevin LeBlanc, Senior M&A Associate at Valsoft. “Our philosophy is to build companies through acquisition, giving them the resources required to make them better. From our experience of owning upwards of 40 businesses, we understand which best practices work for software providers and which ones can help to take them to the next level.” Growing at a strong pace across different verticals, Valsoft today possesses a good presence in the hospitality, industrial and financial services sectors, amongst others. Rather than taking over the day-to-day management of said companies, Valsoft works with the existing management and employees, helping to establish performance benchmarks, provide coaching and training, capital allocation processes, and other programs to improve earnings and generate organic growth. Meanwhile, for owners who desire a complete exit and to move on completely, Valsoft offers a permanent home for these businesses. In February 2021, Valsoft continued its sequence of acquiring promising entities when it announced the acquisition of Datastor Systems Ltd (Datastor). Datastor possesses many years of experience in supplying Process Control Systems (PCS) to hundreds of clients in the UK and by exporting to locations around the world. “Datastor represents the second fully PCS-focused business that we have acquired to date, and will form a key

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part of our plans to build a world-class PCS offering under Valsoft’s stewardship,” Kevin states. “There are two things we look for in an acquisition, and they are whether the software is mission critical – which Datastor’s most certainly is – and we look at a company’s people, by which we mean not only their employees but also their customers. We look to identify quickly whether these are people with exceptional talent that we can work in close harmony with, and Datastor certainly fits that bill.” Having built a stellar reputation, Datastor can now look forward to Valsoft supporting its long-term growth aspirations. “Datastor has already made a lot of its diversification efforts by earning new clients, but we feel that there is no reason why it cannot break into more verticals thanks to its proficiency in a proven form of technology,” Kevin proclaims. “With North American expansion very much in its plans, we look forward to leveraging the resources at Valsoft’s disposal to increase its presence there over time.” For Valsoft, its strategy is to continue to acquire new businesses – specifically those that it feels it can bring added value to – and make them better. At the same time, one of Kevin’s personal ambitions is to bolster the group’s PCS vertical. “At present, there is no true global player in the PCS field who can serve clients worldwide with a global standard product outside of the large publically listed companies. With the likes of Datastor now within our portfolio, I do not see why Valsoft couldn’t fit into that space in the future and be a big facilitator of growth across this critical market space.” www.valsoftcorp.com



continued from page 49 >

Datastor The team at Datastor are very proud of our partnership with Crown paints on the vast improvements achieved through automating their process at the Hull site. From the very first project in 2019 through to the latest ongoing enhancements our team have risen to the challenge to ensure we maximize every aspect of the software from GE and are now making great strides to seamlessly integrate all areas of the factory with the office functions thus giving site personal unrivalled control of their operations and pushing the plant to be a true industry leader within their sector by the adoption of the very latest technologies available. Our ever-growing presence in the global surface coatings industry allows us to bring learning and knowledge to our customers’ systems to overcome even the most unique requirements.

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into the workplace. We also provided all our colleagues with their own personal Covid-19 safety pack for use outside of work. The full operation - including the whole of the factories - were mapped out so as to ensure that appropriate social distancing could be maintained at all times,” Ellis explains. “The return of Crown Paint’s people to its manufacturing activities came at a time when – mainly due to people being confined to their homes for a long period of time and wishing to carry out improvements – demand for its products skyrocketed. From going through an initial shut down to quickly ramping up production to meet record levels of demand was a considerable undertaking,” Ellis states. “We had to increase our output, significantly breaking all previous records to meet the customer demand. We also witnessed huge spikes in the market for outdoor masonry paint and wood care products, which coincided with the good summer weather, which more than offset the fall in demand from the trade

market and large infrastructure projects that had been paused. “One benefit that 2020 did bring to the business was that it drove our people to work closer together than perhaps ever before and to find different ways of working, communicating and meeting our customer’s expectations. Sales and operational planning was carried out on almost a daily basis. I can honestly say that our flexibility, agility and sheer robustness throughout 2020 was something to behold, and that was very much people driven. Most businesses talk about their people being their best asset, but this really did come to the fore during the last 12 months here at Crown Paints, at a time when we really needed it to.” Returning to the topic of Crown Paints’ manufacturing infrastructure, Ellis goes into further detail about some of the behind-thescenes activities that support the company’s operations. “Our factory in Hull, which is where we manufacture the majority of our waterbased recipes, is the larger of our two sites,


Crown Paints Plc

spanning some 19 acres in total,” he says. “We produce our trade products here, which we support with our own trade distribution center (DC) on site. “We have a very efficient linear flow running through the site, with raw materials entering at one end of the facility, bulk holding silos and tanks for the storing of powders and polymers, and a highly-automated manufacturing plant that is operated by a GE process control system. The flow continues into the filling operation where a series of high speed fully automated filling lines complete the process and convey to our DC for transportation.’’ The company’s Hull factory is also currently finding itself being the beneficiary of significant investment, to the tune of more than £10 million during 2021. Approximately £4.4 million of this was dedicated towards the construction of a new raw materials and packaging warehouse covering 46,000-square feet, and incorporating some of the latest machinery and technology that the industry

has to offer. This facility will be completed in July 2021 and is expected to be fully operational the following month. “There are a number of important projects that fall into this larger, £10 million-plus program of investment, including the installation of new manufacturing and dispersion equipment using the latest technology as well as additional filling investment that will further increase capacity and efficiency. Meanwhile, our Darwen site is also receiving its own investment in areas such as the filling process, and its solvent and captive polymer plants. All of this will combine to allow us to fulfil our growth agenda of doubling our company-wide production capacity over the next five years.” As a responsible manufacturer, Crown Paints also endeavors to find new means of converting its raw materials into products in the most sustainable and environmentally friendly way possible. Sustainability makes up one of the main pillars of the company’s parent organization’s strategy, The Hempel Group

(which acquired Crown Paints in 2011), but its importance to Crown Paints dates back much further than that. In 2018, for instance, the company celebrated ten years of running its successful, award-winning ‘earthbalance’ sustainability scheme. Launched in 2008, it sets out Crown Paints’ commitment to being more sustainable and less wasteful, as well as helping both its employees and customers make responsible decisions. The company sets environmental targets on an annual basis and in 2020 achieved a five per cent electricity reduction across its manufacturing sites based on a 2019 baseline. Other notable figures include: 636.55 tones of packaging being recycled/ reused in 2020 – a 17 per cent increase compared to 2019 – and 1387 tones of paint recycled/reused during 2020. As the UK emerges from its most recent Covid-19-related lockdown in Spring 2021, Crown Paints finds itself continuing to respond to high levels of consumer demand, while also looking at how it can take some of the lessons and efficiencies during 2020 into the future. “As we anticipated, the first quarter of 2021 was a very busy one for the company, but it was one in which we had to be particularly flexible and agile to deal with issues including raw material shortages and the challenge of keeping production operational amidst some supply chain challenges resulting from Brexit,” Ellis notes. “This is a pattern we expect to remain in the second quarter of the year. Fortunately, the UK’s vaccination program is being rolled out incredibly successfully, giving us hope that some semblance of normality will soon return. “In the meantime, from the point of view of our manufacturing operations, our activities will continue to be underpinned by our engrained philosophy of continuous improvement. You see today in every industry that it is not always the biggest businesses that survive the test of time, rather it is those that have the ability to adapt to the environment around them. This process of ongoing learning and evolving has served Crown Paints particularly well over the last 200-plus years, and will no doubt help to take it forward into the future, whatever it holds.”

Crown Paints Plc Products: Major paint manufacturer www.crownpaints.co.uk

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The perfect partnership The product of a strategic alliance between automotive giants Mazda and Toyota, the multi-billion dollar Mazda Toyota Manufacturing (MTM) automotive production plant will soon see up to 300,000 vehicles a year rolling off of its state-of-theart assembly lines

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ocated in Huntsville, Alabama, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing (MTM) is a jointly owned and operated automotive production plant, making up one facet of a strategic alliance between Mazda Motor Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. Representing an investment of approximately $2.311 billion, the facility is expected to create up to 4000 jobs, and will have the capacity to assemble up to 300,000 vehicles a year, beginning in 2021. It was on May 13th, 2015 – to be precise – that Mazda and Toyota entered into an agreement to build a continuous partnership that would allow both to leverage their respective resources and complement each other’s technologies, with the end goal being to manufacture ever-more appealing vehicles. “As far as MTM is concerned, the most important aspect of this strategic alliance is the establishment of this joint venture manufacturing plant in Alabama,” explains Mark Brazeal, MTM’s Vice President, Administration. “The idea behind

the joint venture is to utilize the creation of a collaborative production process to improve the manufacturing competitiveness of both companies.” The facility itself is a 3.7 million-square foot plant, with two production lines from which it will produce two new model SUVs for Mazda and Toyota, with the plan being to produce 150,000 units of each per annum. “Our manufacturing plant will consist of stamping, body weld, paint, assembly, and quality inspection shops, and it will also feature its own small test track,” Mark reveals. “One of the major unique features of MTM, which has been a focus item from the planning stage of the new factory, is the layout that considers efficient internal conveyance of parts from the docks to our production lines. To achieve this objective, we have separated our manufacturing shops so we could add additional receiving docks around the assembly shop. The assembly lines need to receive many parts from suppliers, so to help improve internal conveyance we have arranged


Mazda Toyota Manufacturing

Above: Robots on one of MTM’s Body Weld lines. MTM has planned a staggered launch of two separate production lines with capacity to produce up to 150,000 SUVs annually for both Mazda and Toyota Left: Artist rendering of Mazda Toyota Manufacturing campus. Does not show on site supplier partner facilities

receiving docks on three sides of our assembly shop. This reduces the distance the parts are conveyed from the dock to the production line, thus reducing the travel time and the number of conveyance processes. “Additionally, the three on-site supplier partners that supply particularly bulky parts to MTM are directly connected to our production line via an enclosed Breezeway that connects the supplier partner’s facility to MTM. Therefore, parts can be transported without the use of a trailer and are supplied directly to the side of our production process.” From the early stages of the strategic alliance between the two companies, Mazda and Toyota engineers have been discussing the idea of production flexibility. “The reason for this is because it is very important for us to adjust the production plans of both SUVs using two lines as one vehicle manufacturing company,” Mark states. “However, producing platforms with completely different development concepts on the same line is a big challenge. We brought in

standards that regulate the structure of both companies’ vehicles and the order in which parts are assembled. In some cases, the vehicle design departments of both companies worked together to determine the specifications of the MTM production line. As a result, we were able to standardize the specifications of the production line for the press, painting, assembly, and quality inspection line.” The incorporation of new technologies is also central to the operation of the MTM facility, and there are several examples of this that Mark is keen to highlight. “The first,” he details, “is Mazda’s Multi Die Cushion servo press, which can produce up to eight parts in one shot. We have introduced two new large press lines that use a direct servomotor-driven mechanism, which Toyota is good at, to this forming technology of Mazda instead of hydraulically controlled technology. The servo motor enables precise control, and stable production of highquality pressed parts. “The second technology advancement of note involves the painting line. MTM has adopted Mazda’s ‘Aquatech’ method, which uses water-based base paint, and is a technology that can shorten the process by eliminating the primer process in the painting booth, while

maintaining high quality. It is possible to shorten the process length by 11 per cent compared to the recent mainstream 3wet on coating process, and about 30 per cent compared to the conventional coating line. This helps MTM further reduce VOC and CO2 emissions significantly.” In addition, the robots in the painting booth use a ‘High Transfer Efficiency Air-less paint bell’ developed by Toyota. “This has a higher efficiency of fixing the paint to the body and can greatly reduce the residual paint material in the booth,” Mark continues. “Finally, instead of using the conventional sludge pool that uses water to recover the residual paint, we have adopted a ‘dry booth’ that collects dust with a cardboard filter. In combination with the High Transfer Efficiency Air-less paint bell technology, which can reduce the residual paint itself, it is possible to reduce the frequency of cardboard filter replacement, which is also a great advantage to reduce environmental impacts. Therefore, the MTM painting line, which combines the three technologies of Aquatech, High Transfer Efficiency Air-less paint bell, and dry booths, can be said to be a symbolic process realized through collaboration between Mazda and Toyota.”

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Carter Logistics Carter’s relationship with Toyota began in 2009 and has blossomed into a partnership centered around excellence, cost-containment and innovation. Carter began by handling Toyota’s inbound parts moves for their Dayton and Knoxville consolidation centers. We have since become one of Toyota’s most trusted logistics providers. Carter will have a significant role in the logistics of Mazda/ Toyota’s new facility in Madison, AL. This includes managing the facility’s in-plant logistics, operating a 200,000-square foot inbound parts crossdock; and other transportation services. Carter utilizes 800,000 square feet of strategically located crossdock space, 850 trucks, and 1600 trailers to bring unique solutions to the Toyota organization.

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Sustainability is another important component of the facility. “Our environmental concept is to be an innovative manufacturing company that can create new value, be trusted by the community, and grow sustainably, by combining the wisdom, technology and skills of both companies,” Mark enthuses. “As I mentioned, we have a water borne paint system and the biggest environmental contribution of that system is VOC reduction. Not only this, it also contributes to reduce energy (CO2) because the VOC incinerator at MTM can be minimized due to less VOCs and due to the elimination of a primer oven. “Another big item is that we are using recycled air-conditioned air from the manual zones for the paint robot zones, which will result in reduced paint HVAC energy usage. Finally, MTM has established a Zero-Landfill approach for all materials. Select approved disposal facilities that are rigidly audited and approved that their methods ensure material reclamation, recycling, or waste to energy programs are utilized.”

An interesting and somewhat unique challenge that MTM has encountered in the process of bringing its facility to life has been the high volume hiring plan that it has enacted. “To put things into perspective,” Mark points out, “no Toyota plant in North America has hired as many team members in one hiring phase as MTM will do in 2020 thru 2021, making it an unprecedented hiring plan. In 2021, we will average hiring 160 team members each month and that means we will on board 40 new team members each week. MTM could not achieve this type of hiring and training plan without the support of multiple business partners including a state of Alabama agency (Alabama Industrial Development & Training), local community colleges, local high schools including career tech schools, and North Alabama Works which is a regional workforce development state agency. All of these partners are assisting us and we greatly appreciate the support of this workforce development ecosystem.” The hiring and onboarding of 4000 new team members is just step one and the next step is to


Mazda Toyota Manufacturing Below: With construction complete, Machines and Equipment wait to be installed in one of MTM’s four production shops (Stamping, Body Weld, Paint, Assembly)

Below left: Newly promoted Group Leader Roderick Metcalf (right) trains new employees in MTM’s Stamping Shop Right: MTM Maintenance employee programs an Automated Guided Cart (AGC) that will be used to transport stamped metal to the robot cells in the Body Weld shop

establish a healthy successful culture at the plant. “Our mission statement is to ‘Build trust and loyalty through innovation and collaboration’. I think this speaks to the most important job, which is building trust and loyalty with each other, with our business partners, and with the local communities, especially our customers,” Mark imparts. “One specific example of what we are doing as a leadership team is we participate in the new hire orientation every week. This participation includes providing training that is designed to help set the culture. Our executive vice president, Hiro Kagohashi, gives a presentation that is designed to empower our team members to stop the production line if they see or experience any type of situation that could lead to a safety incident or a quality defect. We want our team members to feel completely comfortable to stop the line so one of our top leaders gives the presentation to set the culture. “This is just one example of an active, hands-

on style of leadership. Our management leaders, supervisors, and administration support team work each day to actively demonstrate the spirit of Mendomi, which means taking care of our production team members as if they are a family member. We are actively engaged in working to set the culture, but we also understand it is an ongoing journey as we continue to hire through 2021. Every new hire group is an opportunity to strengthen or weaken our culture and it is up to us to continue to strengthen it. It is not something we take for granted at all.” Bringing our conversation with Mark to a close, the topic turns to what he hopes will be the longer-term legacy of MTM and where he thinks we will find the facility three-to-five years from now. “As you can probably imagine, there is no simple answer to that, but what I can say is that all of us here at MTM are focused on three things,” he says. “Firstly, we want MTM to be considered as being a strong, industry-leading business when it comes to its production

fundamentals. This will require us to bring real, consistent added value to our parent companies. “Secondly, we want MTM to be recognized as being a true, ‘hometown’ company in North Alabama, and one that our local communities can be proud of and our employees are proud to work for. Last, but by no means least, we of course want to produce vehicles that our customers trust and love. Those are three of the most important factors that will help to shape the future of MTM.”

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing Products: Jointly owned and operated automotive production plant www.mazdatoyota.com

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Healthy growth 2

020 was a monumental year for Venture Life Group. Not only was the self-care product developer named among the 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain for the fifth year running, but it also doubled its profitability and grew its revenue by 49 per cent. A record-breaking 12 months by all accounts, 2020 was the culmination of a decade of rapid expansion for Venture Life. Established in 2010, the company was founded with the intention of developing and commercializing self-care products for the retail, pharmacy and grocery market. Today, Venture Life offers a variety of non-prescription, self-treatment products in oral

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care, skin care, food supplements, and products for vaginal and anal conditions. “Two of our biggest products at present are mouthwashes - one for fresh breath and one to remove dental plaque,” explains Co-Founder and CEO Jerry Randall. “The fresh breath one is called UltraDex and the anti-plaque one is called Dentyl. We also have a number of products in women’s health, dermatology, pain management and neurology support areas. Generally, all our products are liquids, creams or gels because that’s the capability of our factory, where we can do anything from a three milliliter semi-solid right up to a one-liter size.” After outsourcing production to an Italian


Venture Life Group

One of Europe’s fastest growing developers of self-care products, Venture Life Group is helping more and more people across the world live happier, healthier lives manufacturer in the company’s earliest days, Venture Life merged with the firm in 2014, meaning it is now a fully-integrated business, from ideas through development, formulation, production and commercialization. In 2021, Venture Life products can be found in over 40 countries worldwide, including the UK, the Netherlands and Italy, where the company sells directly to retailers. “Outside of those three countries, we sell through partners,” Jerry says. “We have a number of our own brands and we also develop and manufacture products for other people to sell under their own brands. “In terms of milestones, we floated on the

stock market for the first time in 2014 and we have acquired a number of interesting self-care brands since. What we do with those businesses when we buy them is transfer their offerings into our factory for manufacture, develop additional products around them and then start to grow their geographical presence around the world.” One of the most advanced facilities of its kind, Venture Life’s production site in Milan, Italy, remains at the center of the company’s operation. Boasting international certification covering the EU, Far East, Brazil and the Middle East, the 5,500 square meter facility has six turbo mixers, 13 filling and packaging

lines, and is USFDA compliant for OTC and medical device production. Jerry discusses the manufacturing process in more detail: “Essentially, there are two stages to manufacture at Venture Life - the bulk production and then the filling of that bulk into containers, tubes and bottles,” Jerry reports. “We have a bulk mixing facility with containers ranging from 300 kilo capacity to nine tons capacity, so depending on the batch of products, we use the relevant option. “The reason behind having so many different lines onsite is partly capacity but also suitability for different products. In order to help us increase capacity, we recently took all of our

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Venture Life Group ELLEVIGRAFICA During 2015, the partnership between ELLEVIGRAFICA and BIOKOSMES was born. ELLEVIGRAFICA was created in 1996 and its motto is: “from the idea to...” Its main goal is to handle every single aspect of development and production for the packaging industry. It takes care of graphic design, technical development, pre-print and printing - everything is handled internally by its qualified operators. Being a true partner and not just a simple printer means that ELLEVIGRAFICA has achieved a true collaboration with BIOKOSMES. With its technology and graphical support, it is today a consolidated partner, and through this professional co-operation BIOKOSMES has achieved important goals. ELLEVIGRAFICA is proudly included in the list of strategic suppliers for the growth plans of the VENTURE LIFE GROUP. Future goals? Renew its skills and be able to satisfy every need of a market that always presents new challenges.

packaging storage and moved it to an external logistics center a few kilometers away. That freed up a lot of space and allowed us to increase throughput. It meant that, in 2020, we almost doubled our production capacity from 33 million units to 55 million units.” Alongside its significant manufacturing capabilities, Venture Life also benefits from a skilled product development team operating from a dedicated laboratory. By analyzing the market, reacting to customer requests, and ensuring that the company is aware of the latest trends in areas such as skin care, oral care and women’s health, the development team can direct Venture Life towards establishing new delivery systems or finding solutions for particular conditions. “In regulatory terms, we produce ‘registered medical devices’,” Jerry reveals. “These are products that can look like drug products, but because of their mode of action are not registered as drugs and don’t require the many years and many millions of pounds of clinical

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trials that drug products do. Still, registered medical devices have a good level of regulation and approvals required around them and are recognized in the medical space as being very high quality. In some cases, they can be reimbursed, so we focus on developing those areas and we turn our substantial expertise towards solutions for certain conditions that can be registered as medical devices. “On the more service-focused side of things, customers often come to us with an idea for a product that they want to develop,” Jerry adds. “At Venture Life, we can carry that out fully, designing the product, taking it through the registration and regulatory processes and then manufacturing it for them going forward. It’s a popular, more tailored way of doing things, and very cost effective, fast and efficient for our customers, who do not need to invest in their own manufacturing capability to get a product to market fast.” Harnessing its development capabilities, Venture Life has released a number of new


S NT A Y T DE RI I V I P I T G NT A IN LE E R N C IN EL W XC E ABOUT US ELLEVIGRAFICA is one of the Italian leaders in offset printing. Born in 1991 and with many years of experience in the printing sector, it is able to offer itself as a reliable partner for all printing needs, and to all operators in the world of communication, starting from the graphic design up to the finished product. ELLEVIGRAFICA’s core business is packaging, but we also print every other type of product with something more: a consultancy service able to offer creative and original solutions

WHY CHOOSE US? GRAPHIC DESIGN PACKAGING PRINT CONSULTANCY SERVICE

Via G. D’annunzio 4 , 20835 Muggio’ (MB) Italia T. +39 039 27 81 784 • F. +39 039 27 81 867 • info@ellevigrafica.com • www.ellevigrafica.com


products lately, including a range of Dentyl varieties in different flavors and colors. Though Dentyl is traditionally a bi-phase product targeted at a wide scope of customers, a singlephase, 100 per cent water version has also been recently introduced by the firm. Unsurprisingly, as a business in the health and self-care sector, Venture Life was forced to react to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. In response to growing demand for sanitizer products, the company released Disinplus, a range of medical grade hand sanitizing gels. “The area around our factory in Northern Lombardy, Italy, was the first area hit when Covid-19 arrived in Europe,” Jerry recalls. “There was obviously a lot of disturbance, but we managed to keep the facility open, which was testament to the people there. “Soon enough, we were contacted by the local government who said they were very short of hand gel and that if they didn’t get any, they would not be able to admit any more patients into the hospital. Over the course of

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Venture Life Group

eleven days, we went from a standing start to producing Disinplus, a hand gel at the right spec with over 70 per cent alcohol content. We then started supplying this to all the local hospitals and pharmacies free of charge. “As soon as people heard about what we were doing,” Jerry continues, “we had huge demand for the sanitizer from the retail consumer space. We created a line of slick hand gel products and they ended up being a really good contributor for us last year. It was a real demonstration of the speed and logistics of the plant and the ability of the development team to get something off the ground so quickly.” Responsive, flexible and entrepreneurial, Venture Life has continued to serve its customers and launch new products throughout the pandemic. The resilience and perseverance of the firm and its workforce not only led to Venture Life’s best year on record, but positioned the company ideally for more growth in the years ahead.

“We have proven over the years that we are very good at taking unloved self-care brands, revitalizing them and internationalizing them,” Jerry remarks. “Last year our profit was over £6 million, so we are in a sustainable, cash generative and strongly profitable position. We now want to consolidate our recent growth, make use of our new capacity and acquire more interesting brands for transfer into our production site.” During its 11-year history, Venture Life has become a supplier of innovative, efficacious, well-priced healthcare products the world over. Supported by a creative development team, a commitment to quality and impressive manufacturing capabilities, the company is ready to tackle the demand that lies ahead, especially with growing interest from major markets like China. “Over the last four years, we have doubled the size of the business, but within the next three to five years, we want to double, or even treble the size of the business again,”

Jerry declares. “The philosophy behind this organization is very much a can-do attitude. When you are running and growing a business there are obviously challenges every day, but I think what we are particularly good at is solving those challenges and turning them into positives. At the end of the day, I think that comes down to the people we’ve got and the way we think. I think the last 12 months have shown that, whilst we sell products, we are actually a people business. People are the driving force behind our growth.”

Venture Life Group

Products: Mouthwash and other oral care, skin care, hand sanitizer, food supplements and other self-care products www.venture-life.com www.manufacturing-today.com l 63


Straight to the source

Headquartered in Richmondupon-Thames, Surrey, Newport Industries Limited is a wellestablished importer and stockist of chemicals and minerals in the UK and Ireland

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ounded in 1997, and with operations today in London, Liverpool and Shanghai, Newport Industries Limited (Newport) has established itself as a niche distributor of chemicals relying on supply chain management activities to enhance its services to clients and suppliers. With over 350 clients – encompassing everyone from multinationals to local manufacturers – Newport’s expertise is utilized for specific and precise chemical sourcing. In total, the company supplies in excess of 400,000 MTs of chemicals per year, with over 200 products spread over ten application industries, including the glass, cleaning and feed sectors. In the case of the glass industry, Newport

now supplies almost 75 per cent of the UK’s demand for soda ash (sodium carbonate). The chances are high that if you were to pick up any kind of glass bottle or jar in the UK today, that it will contain a quarter of Newport’s chemicals within its make-up. Likewise, most of the skyscrapers and other large structures found in the country to be using flat architectural glass due to its excellent insulating qualities, also make use of its soda ash products. The UK recycles over 75 per cent of glass products, making this a sustainable packaging material. These facts speak for the exceptional growth that the company has experienced over the last 24 years. “Like other successful businesses in their infancy, our early years were marked by


Newport Industries Limited

steady, consistent growth,” explains Newport’s Managing Director, Raj Patel. “After a decade or so, this really started to accelerate, and in the last three years in particular we have experienced a massive amount of demand, which has facilitated the expansion of our operations (more on this to follow).” Since its doors first opened in 1997, Newport has stayed true to its belief that the three main ingredients to ensure formulated success are speed, quality and consistency. To this day, this mantra remains as important as ever, and can be found throughout the business, from its business cards and stationery, to the livery adorning the walls of its facilities. “It is this ethos that has helped us to grow, to win

new business, and to retain clients who have continued to come back to us over the years,” Raj adds. Returning to the expansion of the business, in order to accommodate its customers’ demands, in 2015 it established a sister company by the name of Bulk Powder Terminals Ltd (BPT Ltd). Based within the Port of Liverpool, BPT Ltd has developed a technology-led, purposebuilt facility for the import of bulk minerals and chemicals, storage and final distribution to the end user client, which was completed in mid-2018. The facility specializes in dry bulk chemicals to service UK clients in the glass, detergent, chemicals and the animal feed industries, and was constructed in several

phases. The first involved the construction of a pneumatic ship discharger and two silos, while the second saw the construction of a further four silos and a pallet warehouse. The raw materials utilized by Newport are extremely hydroscopic, meaning they have to be kept very clean and pure, and this new facility has been created with the intention of ensuring the quality and consistency of said materials. “The idea behind the facility first emerged around 2013,” Raj details. “At that time, we were working with Peel Ports Group – the second largest port operator in the UK – and encountering the challenge of accommodating ever larger ships that were bringing our raw materials to the UK. In response to this, our

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B.S.P. Engineering In 2017, while engaged in the realization of the cement storage plant in Runcorn port, B.S.P. Engineering was approached by Newport Industries and Bulk Powder Terminals about the construction of one storage logistics center on Canada Dock, Liverpool. The facility was intended to provide 15,000m3 bulk storage of powder materials from either chemicals, feed industry or raw materials. A pneumatic tower provides to 270 t/h ships unloading. The loading line composed by bucket elevator and chain conveyor fulfils to 300 t/h silos feeding, while BSP original design Rotobox planetary extractors provide to 150t/h unloading. 2x170 m3 bulk forwarding silos complete the perfectly performing installation.

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board went out and identified land in the Port of Liverpool area that we could secure a longterm lease for, and construction of the BPT Ltd facility began to take shape from there. “It was, however, not without its challenges. One, was the fact that this was a manmade, five-acre piece of land that was first constructed in the 1850s. The uncertainty surrounding what lay beneath the bedrock of the site presented something of an obstacle, and one that was highlighted by the possibility of uncovering of a second World War bomb. Fortunately, we were able to overcome these issues with 3D sonic surveys, without any impact on our timescales.” The facility represents a multi-million-pound investment, with its deep-water terminal providing Newport with the ability to not only capitalize on much sought after industrial space, but also to effectively double its production capabilities in the time since it become operational in 2018. There is also considerable room for growing this further still. “At present, we are bringing in around 200,000 tonnes of raw materials into the terminal, but we have the


Newport Industries Limited

capacity to take this up to 750,000 tonnes in the future,” Raj confirms. There is little that hasn’t been said about the year that was 2020, but for Newport – even in the face of the immense challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and other external factors – it was a year in which the company continued to plan for investment in its own infrastructure. A notable example of this would be the €250,000 the company has set aside to invest in equipment and technology from Van Beek, to allow BPT Ltd to continue to operate in the event of what the company terms ‘Black Swan’ events, such as a National Grid outage or cyber-attack. “This is something that we have been investigating for several years now, pre-dating what has been a Black Swan event in its own right with the emergence of Covid-19 at the turn of 2020,” Raj details. “The event that we took inspiration from with our own investment was a major solar event that impacted Canada some years ago, which brought black outs to a lot of the country. For us, our clients run furnaces 24-hours a day, and if we were to suffer a major outage for any length of time that could end up costing said clients millions of pounds per day. The solution that we have chosen to counteract such an event is to put

in a generator and create a system where we can load tankers in an automated way that can bypass our existing system, should that encounter a problem. We have everything on site for this solution to be installed and activated by Van Beek, and I hope that will come to fruition in the coming months.” Reflecting on 2020, Raj is also able to provide us with a few words about the performance of Newport’s people in that time. “Our staff have been absolutely phenomenal over the last year, at a time of huge uncertainty,” he states, before detailing their ability to adapt to what was a rapidly changing environment, particularly in the spring of 2020. “For our part, as we have an office and laboratories operating in China, we actually were ahead of the curve in reacting to the Covid-19’s impact on the UK, as we had some first-hand experience of how the virus would change our lives once it hit our shores. To that end, we actually went into something of a lockdown in the first week of March 2020, with our office personnel switching to remote working, and our terminal staff continuing to operate in a way that maintained the highest of safety standards.” As spring rolls on, and the UK proceeds along its gradual reopening from the most recent lockdown, Newport is continuing to focus

on where it can invest in order to build upon the success of its operations and that of BPT Ltd. “As we are in early April, I estimate that we have between £500,000 and £1 million in capex that we intend to invest going forward,” Raj adds. “Internally we are looking to convert our existing racking systems into robotic shuttle dense racking solutions, which will further enhance efficiencies across the board, and we are also aiming to expand our footprint within the Peel Ports Group estate. “We have designs on replicating our success with BPT Ltd elsewhere in the UK, and are looking at locations in the South West of England and also in the Republic of Ireland. We know now from experience that the model works, and we know where to source the best equipment and best engineers from. We have certainly learnt a lot over the last couple of years, and we look forward to reaping the rewards of this going forwards.”

Newport Industries Limited Products: Chemical sourcing

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Innovation on the East Coast

Backed by fresh investment and benefitting from its recent relocation to Buffalo, New York, Retech Systems continues to operate as a global leader in the supply of vacuum metallurgical processing equipment

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reliable, respected supplier of vacuum metallurgical processing equipment to highly demanding industries and ever-changing markets, Retech Systems is widely considered the most fully-integrated custom furnace manufacturer in the world. Providing cuttingedge R&D, engineering and manufacturing equipment used for melting, refining, casting, and atomizing of reactive and refractory metals (like Titanium), the firm has dominated the market since its inception in 1963. Founded in Marin County, California, Retech became part of the SECO/WARWICK Group of companies in 2011, helping the business to further expand its manufacturing presence

around the globe. Additionally, Retech established and maintained the industry standard for customer service and support. “Our key products include Plasma Arc Melting (PAM), Vacuum Induction Melting (VIM), Vacuum Arc Remelting (VAR), and Electron Beam (EB) melting systems. As such, we address both new capital equipment and aftermarket needs at Retech, as both are important aspects of our business,” explains President and Managing Director Earl Good. “Servicing equipment, both ours and our competitors, as well as providing parts for refurbishments or rebuilds is a big part of what we do as our customers look to us to keep their systems in operation and performing well.”


Retech Systems

Though Retech has always had a global reach, the company’s relationship with SECO/ WARWICK has enabled it to open up additional manufacturing operations closer to its customers. This means that, alongside growing demand in the US, Retech is now able to take advantage of more opportunities for localized manufacturing in Europe and Asia. “SECO/WARWICK has a strong furnace presence through its vacuum heat treat, CAB (controlled atmosphere brazing), aluminum heat treat and other business areas such that we are able to piggyback on their strengths,” Earl says. “Today’s global economy means certain countries prefer products to be manufactured locally and our relationship with SECO/

WARWICK helps there too. If a customer wants something made in Europe, for example, we can leverage our parent company’s extensive capabilities to make that happen. As our integration has strengthened over the last few years, we have been able to work together with SECO/WARWICK to collaboratively deliver a number of quality systems to customers worldwide.” In October 2020, Retech marked the beginning of the new decade with one of the most significant moves in its history. The company opened up a new office and manufacturing facility in Buffalo, New York. Located amongst a number of highly respected engineering establishments, such as the

University of Buffalo, Penn State, Cornell and Rochester Institute of Technology, the new site provides Retech with adjacency to both core customers and new recruits. “A location on the east coast means we are close to the old rustbelt, so we are now within a short drive of key companies and institutions,” Earl states. “We still have our office out in Ukiah, which is home to a number of engineers, designers and product directors, but Buffalo will make it a lot easier for us to employ new staff and build stronger client relationships. “We also have the ability to carry out manufacturing and assembly in our new 40,000-square foot space here in Buffalo,” Earl adds. “We are doing production and assembly

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work in our shop right now, so that’s a big plus for us as well.” Strengthened by its new base in Buffalo, Retech continues to evolve. For the last three years now, the company has benefitted from a program of investment centered around upgrading its capabilities and developing its products. “For many years there wasn’t much investment in our company. However, since 2018, we’ve rectified that as we are frequently improving our equipment and facilities,” Earl remarks. “Digital services are also becoming increasingly important so, most recently, we’ve started modernizing our website, developing a mobile app, and publicizing our ties to SECO/ WARWICK.” Alongside software upgrades and the purchase of new manufacturing equipment, including CNC machines, Retech is also

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channeling a large portion of its funds towards diversification. As part of efforts to discover different materials with which it can support its customers, Retech is looking to establish its own metal powder production business geared towards equipment sales followed by the potential for the sale of niche metal powders. Retech’s continuous quest for improvement means that Research and Development has become a crucial component for the business, and its work remains instrumental to the company’s success today. With one EB furnace and two plasma furnaces reserved for R&D and materials testing, as well as a VIM furnace installed at SECO/WARWICK, Retech sits at the very forefront of the industry’s pursuit of progress. “A lot of customers come to us asking if they can use our furnaces to produce small batches of material, or sometimes a few tons of material.

The fact of the matter is that we are adding to this capability and it is something we are looking forward to doing more of in the future,” Earl points out. “Covid meant we couldn’t get those furnaces relocated from Ukiah to Buffalo very easily. However, we are now having them installed and we are hoping to have one up and operational in April. We have a nice backlog of customers looking to do test work. It’s an ability that sets us apart as our competitors don’t offer that opportunity prior to purchasing a furnace.” Of course, a business is more than just processes and equipment. Retech is keenly aware of this fact and, consequently, the company invests as much in its workforce as it does in new technology. Since 2017, when he first arrived at Retech, Earl has worked tirelessly to create a customervalue centric, team-focused atmosphere across the business. An important upshot of Earl’s


Retech Systems

Dry Coolers Dry Coolers is proud to partner with Retech to design and manufacture closed-loop water cooling systems for their advanced technology metallurgical equipment. Dry Coolers has served the Metal Treating industry for over 35 years and has thousands of water cooling system installations worldwide. It is internationally known as a leader for safely and reliably cooling vacuum furnaces, induction machines, and melters. A well-designed and well-managed water cooling system is critical to the function and longevity of a furnace. Give Dry Coolers a call.

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effort is an organizational culture built around teamwork and communication, making Retech a company where employees thrive as a group, but where individuals still have the opportunity to stand out. “I think people are vital. I think they define any business. The relationships that your employees develop both internally and externally are extremely important to the outcome of any company,” Earl claims. “Over the years, our employees have been critical to our success. We have a great team, of which I am very proud, and they have some of the best product knowledge and engineering expertise in the world. “Retech’s strength is in providing customdesigned furnaces for our customers and you have to have a skilled team to do that. We have been bolstering our workforce in recent years and I think we can be very encouraged by the people throughout this organization.” Speaking to Manufacturing Today almost exactly twelve months since the outbreak of Covid-19, Earl looks back on a year in which, despite some existing projects being delayed, Retech was able to win 80 per cent-plus of the contracts it bid on. This put the company in a strong position entering 2021, handing it a solid backlog of work to carry across the rest of the year. “Some of these projects are showing real promise. When they come to fruition, it will help secure our future and allow us additional investment in new products and new services

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Retech Systems for our customers,” Earl reports. “Though the worst of the pandemic is hopefully now behind us, the impact of it still lingers and we probably don’t yet know the full impact it could have on the business. However, we are confident about some of the things we have on our horizon. We are optimistic that demand for our equipment services will remain promising for the foreseeable future.” Retech continues to experience meaningful annual growth with each year’s financial results being better than the one before. Earl believes that the company can continue on this trajectory over the next half-decade and he is bullish about the opportunities on the horizon. “We want to have some of the new powder products we are working on out in the market and available as soon as possible because we feel like we can forge a strong presence in that sector,” Earl asserts. “Elsewhere, I think it is important for us to build more partnerships with different companies and universities around the world because we can’t do everything ourselves as there are people and technologies out there that would be a great fit for us.” As Retech evolves and expands in the coming months and years, the company hopes to support its growth with continued investment in its people and resources. In addition to capital equipment projects and aftermarket services, Earl would also like to develop the company’s material production activities. Whatever the future holds, the heart of Earl’s vision will remain the same; For Retech to retain its position as an industry leader with superior engineering, product knowledge, and a reputation for excellence across the globe. “I think we have come a long way in recent years. We are headed in the right direction now, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Earl notes. “I am excited about the future ahead of us and we’ll continue to add to our internal resources, cultivate stronger relationships and operate as a true leading light in this industry.”

Retech Systems Products: Vacuum metallurgical processing equipment www.retechsystemsllc.com www.manufacturing-today.com l 73


Raising the pressure By thinking out of the box, Salamander Pumps has brought new innovation and inspiration to the shower and domestic water pumps market

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stablished in 1993 as Salamander Pumped Shower Systems Ltd and now known as Salamander Pumps, this Sunderland-based business is a well-established manufacturer of water boosting solutions. A primary port of call for customers looking for shower and whole house pumps for gravity fed installations, and mains boosting in-line pumps and accumulator tanks, Salamander’s range is suitable for domestic and light commercial installations. “Our routes to market are generally via the wholesale community, and then onto installers and ultimately householders,” explained Chris Vallance, Sales & Marketing Director. What attracts both existing customers

and new clients to Salamander’s solutions is the foundation of innovation upon which they are built. The business prides itself on manufacturing a higher quality of product, and today it is known for making some of the quietest, most compact and most reliable pumps on the market. Looking more closely at the range of pumps from Salamander and Chris noted that in past years, shower pumps had really seen little to no development, and had kept the same, generic design for a long time. Seeking to change that, over the last five years Salamander has completely overhauled its product range, taking feedback from installers and householders and using some cutting-edge


Salamander Pumps Below: Chris Vallance, Sales & Marketing Director

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A recent customer experience project launched by the company in 2021 encouraged increased communication and departmental interaction through ‘T shaped’ working, with an aim to improve collaboration and culture, prevent any siloed working and deliver an excellent customer experience

technologies to revitalise its offer and launch a whole new and exciting range of products onto the market. “We used the latest highly durable engineering grade plastics to produce a quiet/efficient and bespoke product in our CT range and move away from traditional construction methods,” he explained. “Our products are based on a ‘platform’ design, which enables different SKUs to be produced with minimum disruption to the manufacturing process - a true example of design for manufacture. This innovative approach also reduces the component count allowing for more focus on quality at component level. I would say that product innovation is at the heart of what we do.”

A perfect example of this innovation is Homeboost, which Chris described as ‘perhaps the most successful and most innovative product we have launched’. “Suitable for boosting mains water, Homeboost is an awardwinning product in its own right,” he added. “It is an intelligent unit that regulates flow to be legally compliant with the water fitting regulations of 1999, and it will boost the mains water flow to a maximum of 12 litres per minute, which is the legal maximum of water that is allowed to be pumped directly off the mains water supply. “If a household only has six litres of flow per minute coming into the household, Homeboost will add six litres per minute, and

if the household had five litres per minute it would add seven litres and so on, to enable a maximum flow of 12 litres at 1.5 bar pressure.” Chris continued with some more details about the clever technology within Homeboost. “Mains water pressure is at its worst for most households during peak times of the day, such as first thing in the morning at around 7.30am when much of the UK is taking its morning shower. However, at 10am when most UK households are at work, the mains water pressure might then get up to 12 litres per minute, at which point Homeboost will switch to standby mode and simply allow the water to pass through it without being pumped. It is very easily installed and comes

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Below: The EVE shower pump gives excellent water performance in your shower or whole house

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complete with three pin plug so there is no electrical requirement to be part P registered.” Highlighting the benefits of Homeboost brought Chris onto another new product, EVE, which he described as ‘very much built on the success of Homeboost’. Both products incorporate the use of variable speed brushless motors. “EVE is a shower and whole house pump, suitable for any gravity fed plumbing system, making specification easy,” revealed Chris. “The uniqueness of the product stems from its multi-functional approach. Generally, in the UK, shower pumps come in either 1.5, 2.0, 3.0 or 4.0 bar variants and they work in either positive head or negative head modes. Negative head pumps are needed where there isn’t sufficient natural flow of water to start the shower pump via flow switches. EVE operates in both positive and negative head applications, therefore eliminating confusion of product selection. “EVE can also be set by the user to 1.5, 2.0 or 3.0 bar mode depending on their individual pressure preference, and what’s more, it will detect when other outlets in the home are switched on, such as a flushing loo, a washing machine or tap and automatically work harder to ensure the shower maintains its pressure and flow.” The market has given a great reception to EVE, and it has been nominated for an award at the 2020/2021 Pump Industry Awards, a recognition which acknowledges Salamander’s dedication to finding new and original solutions, and its focus on innovation and smart water performance. Salamander believes that the EVE product can give the ultimate shower experience, and creating sophisticated products such as this requires not just vision and foresight at the design stage, but also ISO-certified, state-of-the-art facilities, where its teams of experienced manufacturing operatives can put their knowledge into action. Salamander’s factory features material storage, manufacturing, and despatch all under one roof, and it has recently moved to a flow-based system to enable more efficient flow and productivity. “We run a lean manufacturing process that enables quick changeover between differing SKUs, and we have designed bespoke manufacturing lines to suit our needs, again giving efficiency gains,” said Chris. “Our designs incorporate ‘back feed’ material to ensure less downtime between changeover, and the right parts, in the right place, are always available to operators. We have also invested heavily in automatic presses to enable consistent results on the


Salamander Pumps Below: The EVE shower pump installed

JKL Mouldings

assembly of critical-to-quality components. At the end of the process, we have incorporated automatic testing as well, where we carry out 100 per cent testing of our products, gaining consistency of test alongside traceability.” Proud to be a UK manufacturer located in an area with a strong manufacturing culture and heritage, the team at Salamander works hard to not only meet targets but work

together as a cohesive unit, with customer satisfaction as the ultimate end goal. “We pride ourselves on our people, and we look to engender a can-do attitude throughout our business,” Chris confirmed. “A recent customer experience project launched by the company in 2021 encouraged increased communication and departmental interaction through ‘T shaped’ working, with an aim to improve

A technical trade injection moulder since 1971, JKL Mouldings continues to work across a number of industry sectors, providing both high and low volume automotive and non-automotive product, to markets around the world. JKL Mouldings Manager Blaine Patton said “We will soon be approaching a 10 year milestone in our partnership with Salamander Pumps, one which has continued to go from strength to strength. Utilising our Injection moulding expertise, insert over moulding, sonic welding and printing facilities we are able to provide a complete service. As a key supplier, we are delighted to share in their success.”

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Below: AccuBoost Accumulator Tanks, CombiBoost and HomeBoost

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collaboration and culture, prevent any siloed working and deliver an excellent customer experience.” This latter point is of critical importance to Salamander – it is imperative that the staff have the client’s issue as a priority at all times. In Chris’ words, the business: “aims to focus more on providing solutions to a householder’s water pressure problems and approach their needs from a solution-based perspective, as opposed to just pushing products.” Such is Salamander’s dedication to the customer that it has even created a unique website – www.waterpressureproblemscom – which it designed specifically with the householder in mind, enabling them to identify their problem and walk through to a solution. While Covid-19 did bring challenges to the business in terms of health and safety (Salamander’s Covid protection systems and processes were rated as excellent following an unannounced inspection by Sunderland City Council) it also brought about a phenomenon that has boosted sales and meant that


Salamander Pumps Below: Right Pump installation

Chris believes that boosting mains water pressure is an area where Salamander will be developing further innovative and marketleading products in the future, alongside some other related areas. With its parent company (Davidson Holdings Ltd, a building products conglomerate) favouring a long-term approach, the next few years look set to some exciting developments for Salamander Pumps. “Hopefully we will be seeing a gradual return to relative normality going forward, and I see the business extending its brand reach into other new and exciting areas, and turning what is effectively a small-to-medium enterprise business at the moment, into a significant medium enterprise,” he concluded.

Salamander Pumps Products: One of the UK’s leading manufacturers of shower and domestic water pumps www.salamanderpumps.co.uk 2020/21 has been its busiest ever year. “This is the ‘upgrade’ effect and it has had a significant impact on shower pump sales in the UK,” explained Chris. “Householders are staying at home and not holidaying abroad, and they have instead chosen to upgrade bathrooms, add en-suites or install much thirstier shower heads, and those homes with gravity fed systems (cold water storage usually in the loft space, and a hot water cylinder – usually in an airing cupboard) have needed a shower pump to enable a satisfactory showering experience. The business is growing at well over 20 per cent and we have increased our workforce by over ten per cent in the last year and have added a second shift in order to meet the new and increased demands place upon our business.” In tandem with the upgrade effect, Salamander’s workload has also been increased thanks to another innovative addition to its range – a new accumulator tank product, called Accuboost. “Accuboost is the newest entry to our mains water boosting product range,” said Chris. “As UK households slowly move away from traditional gravity fed systems, our experience tells us that consumers will always want performance when it comes to the pressure of their shower or the speed of their bathfill. As mains fed combi or unvented systems grow, we need to be able to give consumers the water pressure performance they desire, and that is where Accuboost comes in.”

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Where speed is king Velocity Composites aims to be the supplier of choice to all high value composite manufacturers globally for value engineered raw materials

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he mission that drives Velocity Composites is a relatively simple one, and that is to reduce the operational costs of its customers by utilising proprietary services & technologies in order to provide engineered kits that reduce all forms of waste from the composites supply chain. Formed in Burnley in 2007, the company identified a gap in the market, which it could fill through the development of highly technical, engineered kits of both structural (pre-preg, film adhesives etc.) and vacuum bag consumables (films, peel plys, breathers etc.). Today, the company operates from two facilities in the UK – a 46,500-square foot manufacturing site in Lancashire, and a 10,000-square foot service centre in Hampshire, and an engineering project office in

Malaysia, from which it serves its predominantly aerospace industry-based customers. “The company’s early success came partly on the back of its work delivering the aforementioned kits to the clean rooms of a particular Burnley-based aerospace multinational,” begins Velocity Composites’ Customer Programmes Director, James Eastbury. “This proved to be a very powerful proposition for both parties, and the success we had led to the expansion of our own dedicated premises in the town in 2012. By 2016, we had won a number of new OEM approvals, giving the business the need to expand its presence in the UK. This resulted in the purchase of a second facility, this one being located in Fareham, Hampshire.” A year later – in 2017 – arguably the biggest


Velocity Composites plc

development in Velocity Composites’ short history occurred when it was listed on the AIM sub-market of the London Stock Exchange, giving it a valuation of more than £30 million. “This listing allowed us to raise significant funding to support our expansion not only in the UK, but also across Europe and into the United States,” James continues. As of 2021, the company has what James refers to as two major value streams. “The first of these is our structural kitting service, where we will work with our customers’ products and materials, and cut the plies of composite material for them in a more efficient way, which uses less material through removing waste,” he explains. “The kit is delivered in a manner that makes it easy to adopt into a customers’ production process, with the operator only needing to focus on the value-added activity of part manufacturing, enhancing the customers’ lean operation. This is very much the largest revenue driver for the business due to the high value of the raw materials. “Where we also spend a lot of time and energy is in the manufacturing of 3D engineered consumable kits. These kits work with the materials that are used in the process of making composite parts for various

applications, such as aircraft or automobiles. Where Velocity Composites excels is in our ability to tailor the design of our kits to meet our customers’ needs, removing time, waste and variation from their respective operations, sometimes by as much as ten-fold or more, whilst also improving on the quality of the final produced part which can understandably result in cost savings.” Aside from its products, the level of service offered by Velocity Composites has helped to set it apart from its peers. “We provide an end-to-end managed service to our customers, meaning that instead of having to deal with multiple materials suppliers or other third parties, they only engage with ourselves to deliver all of their composites needs, from procurement, quality, demand management through to inventory,” James states. “Generally, we are a lot smaller than our customers, which gives us a greater degree of agility that they appreciate, and we also rely on our ability to scale up or down our activities depending on market demand at a given time. This means that we can further drive efficiencies enabling a competitive service model, and thus add value to what we offer our customers.” Central to the company’s manufacturing

activities is a cloud-based, digital manufacturing system that it employs between its two existing sites and Malaysia office, but which can effectively be employed anywhere in the world. It has also developed what it calls a ‘flexible manufacturing system’, which is essentially a clean room set-up that can be dropped onto a customer site when required. This latter advancement is one of the solutions that Velocity Composites is actively looking to introduce to the US market. “We have a strong partnership in place with our key technology partner, Zund UK Ltd, which provides us equipment such as its cutting machines, ten of which are located here in the UK, while a further two are situated in the United States,” James goes on to highlight. “Driving all those, we have our proprietary software system that allows us to link any of our machines and manufacturing cells – wherever they are in the world – to our internal VRP© system. “We utilize this system to provide our customers with real-time access to the data running through our process, giving them an up-to-date view of how our performance, together with theirs, is driving efficiencies within their manufacturing. This is also a strong

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Zund Velocity Composites purchased their first Zund cutter in 2011 for their aerospace composites kit manufacturing department. Today, the company has a total of 12 Zund G3 digital cutters across their Burnley and Fareham state-of-the-art production sites. Zund UK have a great working relationship with the Senior Management Team at Velocity that has been built up over many years. Velocity’s innovative growth plans are certainly impressive and ambitious; and as a key strategic partner, Zund UK are here to support them every step of the way.

example of our continued investment in digital technology, which includes the building of a £1 million technology center in Burnley, which we opened in 2020. This is essentially a large creative space that we have dedicated solely towards technological developments in collaboration with our customers and partners that we believe will enhance the future of our business.” Moving forward, the company continues to focus on the technology roadmap that it has created in order to grow as the industries it serves recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. “In spite of the immense challenges posed by the pandemic in 2020, Velocity Composites has managed to stay relevant to its customers and their markets, but it is important that we continue to do so by further enhancing the value proposition and cost savings we bring to the table,” James affirms. “At the same time, we are also very cognisant of continuing to focus on the nurturing of skilled labour. The advances we are making in terms of technology are those that we would class as being based on augmentation, as opposed to automation, which is all about assisting skilled labour, not replacing it.” In recent weeks, Velocity Composites has leveraged the fact that it has been able to re-affirm its position within its existing customers’ operations to secure several important, multi-year contract extensions with long-standing, tier one partners. Additionally,

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Velocity Composites plc

the company is driving towards new business growth opportunities, focusing in the shortterm on international expansion with its existing customers, while the mid-to-long-term improving on business development activities with new customers when global travel restrictions allow. “As one can appreciate, an immediate focus for the business – and indeed the world as a whole – is on its recovery from the pandemic,” James highlights. “While this doesn’t necessary

mean an immediate return to pre-pandemic levels of activity, what it does entail is making sure that we are aligned with our existing customers for the foreseeable future, and I would say we are around 90 per cent of the way to meeting our targets in this area. “The scalable and transferrable nature of our technology means we have advanced plans to expand our horizons into new markets, be that the automotive or wind power sectors for instance, and we will continue to work hand-

in-hand with those partners of ours that have greater experience here than we do. All of this is designed to make the business less reliant on just a single sector, which will only help to strengthen our future proposition.” Wherever the coming years takes Velocity Composites, James understands what needs to remain at the heart of its day-to-day operations. “Ultimately, it is about staying true to our core strengths, namely our agility and providing efficiencies to our customers,” he says. “We will also continue to ensure that what we have underpinning us a fully connected system that we can employ anywhere in the world, giving Velocity Composites the ability to deliver our technology across a multinational approach that benefits not only ourselves, but most importantly our customers.”

Velocity Composites plc

Services: Fully engineered structural and consumable kits www.velocity-composites.com

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Reliable, flexible & responsive SBZ Corporation has a range of services to meet every need - from technical advisory services through to bespoke logistics solutions

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privately-owned global organisation specializing in formulating, manufacturing and supplying additives to the global fuel and lubricant markets, SBZ Corporation works diligently for and with its customers and seeks to understand their needs and solve their problems. With a vision to be regarded by its customers as a prime supplier of fuel additives and lubricant additives in its chosen market space, SBZ Corporation adopts a reliable, flexible and responsive approach. This helps it to create and produce product solutions that meet the demands of the ever-changing market space. Looking at SBZ Corporation’s product range more closely reveals that its fuel additives, lubricant additives, base oils, marker

dyes, and special oil industry products are delivered worldwide. Breaking these down into their own categories reveals the wide scope of its offer. For Fuel Additives it has a wide range of multi-functional diesel and gasoline additive packages available to enable fuel marketers to demonstrate fuel performance differentiation to competitors. These include: • Corrosion Inhibitors • CFPP, PPD & WASA • Antioxidants & Stability Additives • Diesel & Gasoline Additive Packages • Cetane Improver • Heating Oil Packages On the Lubricant Additive Packages side, SBZ Corporation manufactures these in the UK, and supplies custom lubricant additive


SBZ Corporation

packages to meet customers’ requirements. Packages include: • Off Road Additive Packages • Heavy Duty Transmission Additive Packages • Engine Oil Additive Packages • Hydraulic Additive Packages • Gear Oil Packages • Gas Engine Oil • Marine Engine Additive Packages • Two-stroke Engine Oil Additive Packages Moving onto Lubricant Formulation Components, and SBZ Corporation offers engine oil additive packages suitable for passenger cars and heavy duty engines. These include: • ZDDP • Engine Oil Booster Packages

• Esters • PAGs • Antioxidants • Extreme Pressure Anti-Wear • Corrosion Inhibitors • Pour Point Depressants/Viscosity Modifiers In the area of Dyes & Markers, SBZ Corporation provides a wide range of high quality, hydrocarbon-soluble dyes and markers. These products are suitable for use in petroleum products such as; diesel, gasoline, biofuel, oil, lubricants and greases. They include: • Aqueous and oil soluble dyes • Gas Oil Dye • Kerosene Marker • Lubricant Dyes

In addition to these listed above, SBZ Corporation provides a range of base oils to meet customers’ technical, and global volume requirements, where its flexibility and strategic bulk storage facilities ensure supply meets demand. It also supplies a vast range of Specialty Products - from oils to waxes. The product list from SBZ Corporation is very comprehensive and the business also adds to this with new and innovative offerings. For example, in March 2021 it announced the release of SBZ 8516, a dedicated Motorcycle Engine Oil additive package tailored for the unique demands of 4-stroke motorcycle lubricants. SBZ 8516 is cascadable for different performance requirements, offering optimised treat rates for a wide range of viscosity grades. SBZ 8516 is built from a new platform vs a PCMO platform allowing the challenges

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SBZ Corporation

associated with the MCO lubricating the engine gears and clutch demands to be targeted effectively. The product offers a range of benefits, such as the fact that top tier componentry translates to excellent protection against thermal and oxidative degradation, as demonstrated in very high-temperature deposit control performance testing. Excellent frictional characteristics (JASO T903:2016 MA2 clutch rating) support product differentiation for maximum power transfer and premium rider feel. JASO MB clutch performance can be targeting with the addition of its top treat friction modifier giving durable frictional characteristics for scooter applications. Alongside its product range, SBZ Corporation provides its customers with expert technical advice and support on product specification and applications. This ensures they get precisely the right solution that their company has been looking for, helping them to save money to be competitive in their chosen market space. On the Technical Support side, SBZ Corporation understands that on occasion, customers require access to immediate technical advisory services and technical support, whether it is in relation to a particular product, service, treatment rates and application, production economics, fuel blending, product testing or development of new additive product. The business has the resources and capabilities to respond to its customers’ business’ needs in many situations, including additive development and bespoke formulating, lubricant formulating, fuel blending, fuel regulations compliance, logistics support

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and terminal infrastructure and product handling. Since its inception in the fuels and lubricants markets, SBZ Corporation has achieved consistent growth and has been swift in adapting to the global market and legislative changes; taking a collaborative and proactive approach with customers, suppliers and government agencies across the world. Its hard work has been recognized via its inclusion in the 12th annual ‘Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200’ list that was published in February 2021. Based on the two-year compound annual growth rate of international sales, this achievement is a testament to all the hard work, dedication, and flexibility that the organization’s teams continue to demonstrate. Ranked at number eight on the list, SBZ Corporation is very proud of this achievement. Certified to Quality Management and Environmental Systems ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001, the business has brought together a wealth of industry, operational and technical expertise to deliver exceptional service to customers. The success of SBZ Corporation is due to the dedicated, experienced and well connected team positioned across the world.

SBZ Corporation

Products: Formulator, manufacturer and supplier of additives to the global fuel and lubricant markets www.sbzcorporation.com

Hemisphere Freight Since 1989 Hemisphere Freight have specialised in providing global supply chain solutions with the aim of being able to handle every aspect of our clients’ cargo needs via our expert in-house teams – from start to finish, regardless of point of origin or destination. As an all-encompassing global logistics provider, we have grown to be one of the largest independent UK providers of logistics solutions across Europe, Asia, North America, South America, Africa and Australasia. With this knowledge of global markets, our in-house teams are able to facilitate the needs and requirements of a truly global company such as the SBZ Corporation - who’s supply chain and client base stretches worldwide. SBZ have been a fantastic client for Hemisphere utilising a wide range of the services we are able to offer and they entrust our team members’ expertise to handle their logistics requirements so that they are able to focus on their core business activities.



Artful lodges One of the oldest and most innovative manufacturers of residential park homes and holiday lodges, Tingdene Homes is benefitting from the recent resurgence of the ‘Great British staycation’

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or more than half a century, Tingdene Homes has been setting the standard that its competitors have to follow. Industry-renowned for its unwavering commitment to quality and innovation, the company has grown into one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of residential park homes and holiday lodges.


Tingdene Homes

Main image and above: The Quantum is filled with countless tiny details that combine to create a lodge of unrivalled luxury and elegance

Over the course of the last two years, Tingdene has seen its customer base grow significantly and the company currently offers products to more businesses than ever before. Understandably, 2020 was a momentous year in more ways than one for the business, and thanks to a strong response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Tingdene was able

to make the most of a tremendous increase in demand. “It goes without saying that the pandemic has changed our business significantly,” explains Commercial Director Jamie Wilkins. “Before Covid, I would have been lucky to have one remote call a month, but now I’m on multiple calls a day. It works really well

and has helped increase productivity through improved collaboration. It just took a while for everyone to get used to it! “Our manufacturing plant changed dramatically in 2020, in order to keep everyone safe. We had to review all our processes and invest heavily in protecting everybody. As soon as we were able to, we brought people back to work, but we did this very slowly. We reviewed everything and we frequently adjusted our practices to keep the business going, but safety was our top priority. “We were actually the first in our industry to get back to work and this gave our customers the confidence that UK manufacturing hadn’t stopped,” Jamie adds. “Our marketing and sales depar tments opened up new channels of communication with customers who saw that there was demand heading their way, and they took advantage by getting to the front of the queue.” Operating from two facilities in Wellingborough, Nor thamptonshire, with a workforce of more than 220 people,

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The Overstone lodge offers two double bedrooms with en-suite to master, double aspect lounge and central kitchen/dining area

Tingdene is a long-standing suppor ter of British manufacturing and craftsmanship. Situated close to the company’s indoor showroom, Tingdene’s state-of-the-ar t production site constructs all its homes and lodges to BA3632 standards, and has continued to do so throughout the pandemic. “In the beginning, Covid-19 really affected efficiency due to social distancing because we’re a hybrid indoor construction and manufacturing site, however, we’ve continued to update procedures and make changes to unlock new efficiencies,” Jamie says. “Two key people have recently joined the Tingdene team as our Head of Manufacturing & Production and Head of Procurement. Using their experience, we’re reviewing every process to ensure we become more proficient and produce higher quality homes, which allows us to fight back against some of the price increases we are seeing from our supply chains.” By far the biggest alteration implemented by the business in 2020 was the introduction of Spacebands for its workforce. A wearable technology designed to alert the user when they’re closer than two meters to another wearer, Spacebands recorded contact interaction for Tingdene employees and helped enforce social distancing. “The use of Spacebands meant that if someone tested positive with Covid, we wouldn’t have to close down a whole section

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Tingdene Homes The Brampton, stylish and affordable family holiday lodge with two twin bedrooms and one double

of the manufacturing plant; we could just see who that person was in contact with and isolate those individuals only,” Jamie reports. “It’s given the workforce the confidence to come back to work, safe in the knowledge that they will be free of harm whilst they are here.” As Jamie suggests, securing the trust and ensuring the safety of the company’s workforce was vital to Tingdene’s success in 2020. Though the firm’s full turnkey offering involves the use of various technologies and equipment to guarantee the production of park homes and holiday lodges of unrivalled quality, it is Tingdene’s people that remain the ‘hear t and soul’ of the business. “Without our team, we’re just two industrial buildings in Wellingborough,” Jamie asser ts. “Our workforce is everything to us. They’re the ones who give vital feedback to our managers, they’re the ones who stay late and come in at weekends when we’ve got big contracts going on, and they’re the ones who put their all into making sure our customers have a smile on their face when their home arrives on-site. I truly believe that there isn’t a better team out there. “Creating a successful company culture is quite simple, but maintaining it can sometimes be challenging, especially with all these new Covid pressures. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve tried to make sure everyone feels valued, whether they’re new to the team or

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part of the furniture. We believe that if you make your staff your number one priority, they will, in turn, look after your customers in the same way.” 2020 is a year that will always be synonymous with the Covid-19 pandemic, and the associated obstacles and difficulties it presented. However, the Covid crisis also created a number of opportunities, and for Tingdene, the surge in UK citizens holidaying at home due to Covid restrictions led to an unprecedented rise in demand. “Anyone who has tried to book a holiday in the UK in the past 12 months will know just how much prices have increased as demand vastly outstrips supply,” Jamie remarks. “Our customers are investing significantly in their businesses in order to take full advantage of the ‘Great British Staycation’. They want more holiday lodges on their parks at record speed. Our order book is full, with limited production space for the next 16 months, so we’re increasing production each month to meet the demand from our customers. It’s an exciting time for everyone here.” Always looking to release new products, in February 2021, Tingdene launched its first luxury holiday lodge of the New Year – The Viewpoint. A spacious, open-plan lodge, with modern, luxurious fittings, two double bedrooms - each with an en-suite - and an optional games room, The Viewpoint is ideal for family retreats and weekend getaways. Built, as always, to BS3632 standards, the lodge boasts vertical Canexel cladding, a ten-year Platinum Seal structural warranty, and hand painted skirting, architraves, sills, and coving. The Viewpoint is the latest addition to Tingdene’s growing range of holiday lodges, which also includes The Brampton – a three-bedroom lodge with en-suite facilities, a walk-in wardrobe and an open-plan living area – and Cosgrove – a compact model designed to maximize interior space with one double and one single bedroom. At present, on the other side of the business, Tingdene’s residential park homes range is headlined by The Overstone, a luxurious property with two double bedrooms, a separate shower room, vaulted ceilings, and anthracite grey French doors. From the company’s industry-first 10-year render warranty in its exclusive Maipei range, to the launch of the firm’s 50th anniversary Quantum lodge, Tingdene continues to push standards of service, craftsmanship and design. Most importantly, customers remain at the heart of every decision, and this

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Tingdene Homes production facility endured,” Jamie declares. “Aside from that, we must increase our production capacity to meet demand, so all our current work revolves around making operational improvements each month. By the end of 2021, we hope to have a 50 per cent increase in output compared to preCovid times. “Benefitting from the new additions to our management team, we’re planning some major changes over the next couple of years and it’s quite exciting. Without giving too much away, we’ll be focusing on our manufacturing and operations processes to allow us to produce more efficient timber and steel frame buildings.”

Tingdene Homes

Products: Manufacturer of residential park homes and holiday lodges www.tingdene.co.uk personal touch has helped the company forge remarkably strong relationships with buyers and park operators alike. “The industry remains a very close-knit community, and after 50 years of trading, we’re now working with the second and third generations of park operators, so we have some solid relationships with our customers,” Jamie states. “It’s our experience and knowledge that gives all our clients the confidence that they’re dealing with an established and reputable business focused on customer satisfaction. That’s what keeps people coming back, year after year. “All in all, we believe that we’re more than just a manufacturer ; we’re there to guide and support our customers throughout their journey. Whether it’s helping a land owner with a new park development or a couple moving into their retirement years, we provide a service that is simply unrivalled.” As the days grow longer and the UK moves deeper into its vaccination program, Tingdene’s residential park homes and holiday lodges will soon be in use by thousands of people enjoying the British summer. With interest in the company’s services soaring, and some substantial contracts on the horizon, Tingdene can now look forward with optimism towards a future of organic growth. “The top goal for us in 2021 is probably the same as everyone else’s - to bounce back from Covid and the downtime our

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Leading-edge solutions Hallstar has been manufacturing polymer additives for over 50 years. Today, Hallstar Industrial Solutions continues to lead the way in the design and synthesis of speciality ester chemistries

H

eadquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Hallstar is a global specialty chemistry company focusing on the industrial, beauty and personal care industries. A market leader in the design and synthesis of new specialty ester chemistries, with numerous products in commercial production (including PVC fittings and polymerics), Hallstar possesses a vast storehouse of knowledge that it uses to modify or completely customize monomeric and polymeric solutions. In October 2018, the company took the decision to begin operating as two commercial companies, one of which would come to

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be known as Hallstar Industrial Solutions. Since 2019, Carmen Masciantonio has been spearheading the business as its President. “Here at Hallstar Industrial Solutions, we manufacture additives, plasticizers and various diversified materials for the rubber elastomer and PVC markets, and that has been our area of expertise for a number of years now,” he begins. “The primary users of the materials that we create are those companies making high performance products for industrial applications.” The Hallstar Group has come to be recognized over the years for the high degree of quality that its products possess and for having


Hallstar Industrial Solutions industry-leading technical expertise, which it backs up with sales and aftercare support. Hallstar Industrial Solutions upholds these competencies, with the bulk of its efforts today emanating from its center of manufacturing, located in Bedford Park, Chicago. “Our products are generally specialized to such a point that we are able to serve customers via distribution channels all over the world, including Asia,” Carmen adds. Hallstar’s reputation has also been built on its ability to innovate, something which has kept it and its respective businesses ahead of the curve compared to its competition. “Innovation is an area of the business that we constantly channel our efforts and investments towards,” Carmen continues. “We service a number of mature industries, which in itself can present challenges when it comes to realizing new ideas that are incrementally significant enough to attract attention; however we have become rather adept at developing unique ideas and turning these into solutions. “To date, many of these efforts have been application-oriented, by which I mean developing new solutions that our customers can implement quickly to boost their efficiencies. We also have ongoing activities related to

Above: Carmen Masciantonio, President of Hallstar Industrial Solutons

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Hallstar Industrial Solutions

new molecule development, but those efforts, by contrast, take a more significant level of investment and their results must pass various regulatory approval processes.” At Hallstar, success is not only measured in financial or innovation terms, but also by how it operates within the community and to the benefit of the environment. As such, its sustainability efforts focus on the environmental, social and economic issues that help to create and sustain long-term success for the planet as a whole. To this end, Hallstar is committed to reducing and eliminating any negative environmental impact whenever possible. “Sustainability is, and always has been, a major focus for us,” Carmen agrees. “In past years, we have developed a range of green and bio-based products that today form part of our portfolio, and which are beginning to see an increased level of interest from our customers. More recently, our biggest effort in this regard has been made from a manufacturing standpoint, which can be seen in our obtaining Green-e Energy certified renewable energy certificates sourced from wind generation for our Bedford Park facility, and our receiving of a Silver award at the 2020 American Chemistry Council (ACC) Sustainability Awards.” Hallstar was also awarded a Silver rating for

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its corporate social responsibility practices from EcoVadis, which placed the company in the top ten per cent of global chemistry suppliers in its category. 2020 was obviously a challenging year for people and businesses the world over, and for Hallstar Industrial Solutions one of the biggest obstacles it faced was how sudden shifts in demand for different solutions impacted its supply chain. “To their immense credit, our teams have performed admirably by remaining focused on how they could best handle such issues, even when a majority of team members continued to work remotely,” Carmen eulogizes. “As we have progressed into 2021, we are still facing some unique difficulties, particularly as different parts of the world emerge from the pandemic at different speeds, which in some cases has sparked a surge in orders. “Nevertheless, we couldn’t be prouder of our people and the way they have delivered over the past year. Prior to – and even during – the pandemic, we set ourselves a number of targets and goals, and we have managed to achieve the vast majority of these. Arguably, the best result of all is that throughout this global crisis we have managed to avoid any lay-offs or cut-backs, thus keeping our hard-working employees in their jobs.”

In terms of the future, the immediate focus for Carmen and the rest of the Hallstar Industrial Solutions team is to continue to regain the momentum that it had prior to Covid-19. “As you would imagine, the pandemic meant that in a very short space of time the priorities of many of our customers changed, and this dynamic and fluid environment that we all found ourselves in remains to this day. “We then want to advance forward with a number of initiatives, including accelerating our innovation pipeline, pursuing acquisition opportunities, and further improving on the efficiency and productivity of our Bedford Park facility. Lastly, one of our long-term aims is to be considered in the top percentile of specialty chemical companies in the world, and if we can continue to execute our plans I see no reason why this cannot be achieved sooner rather than later!”

Hallstar Industrial Solutions

Products: Additives, plasticizers and diversified materials

www.hallstarindustrial.com