Manufacturing Today Issue 188 May 2021

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Issue 188 2021



Dedicated to people, products, and community An exciting future lies ahead for Tolko, as it continues with its product and geographic diversification efforts in lumber and sustainable wood products

Also in this issue: Machine safety • Aftersales Industrial NDT • Project based automation

Chairman Andrew Schofield Managing Director Joe Woolsgrove


Editor Libbie Hammond Assistant Editor Will Daynes Staff Writers Alex McDonald Danielle Champ 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 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 • Reid Lingle Ibby Mundhir • Sam Surrell Web Sales Subscriptions Follow us at:


Manufacturing Today Magazine

Learning experiences


ello and welcome to the May issue of Manufacturing Today. There was some good news for the UK sector last week [at time of writing] when the CBI’s latest monthly Industrial Trends Survey highlighted that manufacturing output grew at the fastest rate since December 2018 – the first material growth reported in almost two years. It is great to see success for manufacturers after such a tough year. There have been so many lessons learned and changes made in a short amount of time, but as I read the stories of success that we report on here in our pages, what really stands out is the total willingness of these businesses to think out of the box, step up to the challenges they are presented with and address the difficulties with an attitude that they will not be defeated. When you add in staff who have been willing to go the extra mile and whose efforts are acknowledged by all their leaderships teams, it’s clear that these months have been extraordinary learning experiences. They will undoubtedly shape the way that operations continue from now on, in both big and small ways – reshoring is a topic that is increasingly mentioned in our interviews and one that I will be reporting on soon. Let me know if you have anything to share in that area!


Issue 188 2021


Schofield Publishing Ltd Corporate Head Office Cringleford Business Centre, 10 Intwood Road, Cringleford, Norwich, NR4 6AU, U.K. Tel: (312) 854-0123 Tel: 044 (0)1603 274130 Finelight Media

207 E. Ohio Street, Suite 351, Chicago, IL 60611 T: (312) 854-0123 © 2021 Schofield Publishing Ltd

today Dedicated to people, products, and community An exciting future lies ahead for Tolko, as it continues with its product and geographic diversification efforts in lumber and sustainable wood products

Also in this issue: Machine safety • Aftersales Industrial NDT • Project based automation

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. l 1

Features 6 Machine safety

If you are responsible for machinery building and safety, it is vital that you are aware of what your machinery suppliers should be doing

Focus on... 18


Tolko Industries Ltd 8 Aftersales

Harnessing more advanced technology has to be the direction of travel within the aftersales market, and solutions are available today that can bring benefits


10 Industrial NDT

Exploring alternative neutron sources will make it easier for new and current users to explore and benefit from this powerful nondestructive inspection method

Momentive Performance Materials

62 12 Project based automation

Lydia Di Liello discusses PBA with Matt Mong – the technology was created as a new technology category to specifically help project-based manufacturers achieve best practices

14 Industry news Updates and announcements from the manufacturing arena 2 l

SOLIDUS Solutions

Contents 30


Allied Air Enterprises

Emerson & Renwick



Moravia Cans

Barrette Outdoor Living



Beverly Knits Inc

Retech Systems l 3

Focus on... 80


SPP Pumps


MoistTech Corp


Interfloor Limited



T-T Pumps 4 l


Newport Industries Limited

Contents 90


Bingham and Taylor


Herida Healthcare Ltd


MIS Conversions Ltd


Westley Group



Techbuyer l 5

Know the


Paul Taylor takes a look at machinery safety project management practicalities


ollowing the UK’s exit from the EU, EU harmonized standards have simply been carried across as UK designated standards in order to maintain a single model. For example, the EU’s Machinery Directive has the same requirements as the UK’s new Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations. This means that in the UK, procedures have changed very little from the EU’s CE marking structure. The UKCA marking is now required for new machinery placed on the market for the first time in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), where the involvement of an independent certification body is required, but CE marking will continue to be accepted in Northern Ireland. The CE marking of course remains in the EU. All machinery should meet relevant essential health and safety requirements (EHSRs). Machinery must be able to satisfy the EHSRs for any corresponding hazard which may apply to it. The EHSR requirements are wide ranging, taking into account potential dangers to operators and other persons who may be at risk. A technical file for the machinery should also be available as it proves due diligence and provides evidence of compliance. It can be a traditional

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paper file, or stored electronically, with hyperlinks to documents. It must also be kept up to date as the product is adapted, which means that the technical file cannot be put away and forgotten. The technical file must remain available for inspection by a competent national authority for a period of ten years. However, it does not have to include detailed information such as the sub-assemblies of the machine, unless a knowledge of them is essential for verification and compliance with the EHSRs. When building machines, or when combining machines to produce an assembly of machines, it is easy to get things wrong, resulting in a project that requires a lot of rework and ends up going over budget or overtime. To this end, it is vital to ensure that the CE/UKCA marking is considered from the start. If this is not done, common problems that occur include: • Equipment being installed before a final layout is agreed so that machines have to be moved and rework is required. • Consideration not given to a safety related control system at the start leads to a number of problems when linking different machines with different performance levels.

Machine safety

• • •

Not considering control system functionality so that feed conveyors are not stopped when a process is stopped, resulting in damaged products at best and injury at worst. Machinery that is not inspected before installation subsequently reveal non-compliances, resulting in disagreements about who pays to put it right - the supplier, the contractor or the user. Control colors not being agreed means that different suppliers may use different colors, leading to confusion. The European Standard allows for green, white, black or grey for ‘start’ and red, white, black or grey for ‘stop’, so even if the supply chain complies with the standard, errors and confusion can occur.

Equipment is often designed and installed with no thought as to what happens either upstream or downstream, or who takes the responsibility for which parts, and who takes responsibility for the final assembly. This can be exacerbated when equipment is sourced from outside the European Economic Area, or existing equipment is linked to new equipment. When starting a project, it is therefore vital to decide who is going to

take the responsibility for the CE/UKCA marking and lay down the ground rules. Decide what Performance Level the safety functions will be required to meet, using EN ISO 13849 and ensure all suppliers are aware of what is required. Make sure they all understand which EN Standards to follow, and that they have copies of the Standards. A good tip is to ask for sample declarations before deciding on suppliers, so that you can check to see if they contain the correct information. When you issue purchase orders, ensure there is a clause about CE/UKCA compliance which states whose responsibility it is. A solution to this is to use a User Requirement Specification (URS) when purchasing new equipment, which will outline your requirements for the equipment supplier. Before accepting and paying for any machines, check that they meet the requirements of the order and also that they conform to the relevant directive. A pre-purchase audit is a useful system that can help machinery buyers ensure that equipment is both safe and correct. Another consideration is that the EU’s Work Equipment Directive, implemented in the UK by Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER), which requires the end-user to make sure the equipment complies with all relevant legislation. This means that in both jurisdictions the same rules will apply for designers, manufacturers, importers and end-users - everyone must understand their legal duties and responsibilities. If you are responsible for machinery building and safety, it is therefore vital that you are aware of what your machinery suppliers should be doing, which requires effective project management. v

Paul Taylor Paul Taylor is Head of Industrial Products (UK) at TÜV SÜD, one of the world’s leading experts in product testing and certification, with 150,000 product certificates in circulation globally. Its Product Service division analyzes over 20,000 products each year in Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas, using its technical expertise to help customers optimize market access. TÜV SÜD’s Machinery Safety Division is the UK market leader in machinery safety, providing a range of services on a world-wide basis. It is also the official partner of the Process and Packaging Machinery Association on regulatory affairs. l 7

Realize the


Unlock your data to enhance the aftersales experience – and cut costs. By Sam Burgess


anufacturers can derive huge benefits from sharing product information they hold in their systems with their customers – the challenge is to unlock that data. Currently, manufacturers commit enormous resources to serve their aftersales market. This includes the creation of endless product servicing guides and parts catalogues, which often need to be translated into numerous languages. It can be a highly complex, time-consuming and expensive task. With product models and parts changing all the time, providing engineers with up-to-date information that offers clear guidance is a significant challenge. Most of the key information required to do this currently remains locked in licensed technical documentation software, such as AutoCAD and SolidWorks, for example. Even if you were permitted to provide customers with access to these solutions it wouldn’t be much use to them. Essentially, it would require them to make sense of a huge stack of images used to illustrate every single machine component. The learning curve would be enormous, rendering it completely impractical as a solution. Historically, the alternative has been to use the information held in this technical documentation software to provide engineers with a flat composite image, in the form of a printed pdf, showing a piece of machinery and the component parts. This is far from ideal for engineers carrying out repairs though. Anyone who has ever put together flat pack furniture will have had a small taste of how painful it can be to wrap your head around instructions in this format. This problem is then regularly compounded by the fact that engineers are often having to rely on old documentation, created for previous product models. When this happens, it usually results in confusion, and lengthy delays to the repair process.

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Going interactive

The quick solution for this version control issue is to make the latest documentation available to engineers via the internet (although this is still not common practice). But, in an age of digital transformation, if we want to make it easier for engineers to follow instructions, we need to be far more ambitious in our thinking. After all, it’s entirely possible to take technical documentation software data and convert it into an interactive 3D model. This allows engineers to move images around, view them from every angle and match them to the view of the machine they are looking at. Engineers should also be able to look at a piece of machinery and pull apart the 3D model, in order to isolate and inspect individual parts separately. Better still would be if this instructions platform provided engineers with animations that showed how individual parts fit together. If you do have the potential to isolate individual parts within the instructions platform, the next logical step is to then integrate with an organization’s ERP system. This would enable manufacturers to live stream their supply chain information, such as price and stock levels, so it could be viewed alongside each component. This would result in the creation of a far more fluid aftersales parts market - allowing engineers to order spare parts faster and have greater confidence that they are always ordering the right component. Harnessing more advanced technology has to be the direction of travel within the aftersales market. And while it’s all possible today, the speed the aftersales industry is moving in is not as fast as it might be – and there are reasons for that.


Greater awareness needed

The first is a lack of awareness that this level of aftersales service is even possible. But, it is, and the more this type of solution is made available to engineers, the more they will demand it. It has the potential to create massive efficiency savings in the repairs and maintenance industry, and manufacturers will be able to greater enhance the relationships they have with their service partners as a result. The second reason is the perception that a 3D modelling platform is expensive for manufacturers to implement. But, when you compare the price to the cost of employing a team of people to constantly produce new pdf documents, the potential savings are huge. When you also consider that an interactive 3D model can be understood in any language – the cost of translating documentation into multiple languages alone is significant. Of course, that doesn’t even factor in the economic and environmental savings to be made, when organizations are no longer having to print chunky pdfs.

There’s no doubt the aftersales market is changing – and the faster we can unlock the data already held in manufacturers’ systems, the faster we will all realize the benefits. It’s only a matter of time before this information helps businesses cut costs, drive efficiency in the aftersales market and enhances the level of customer service they can provide. v

Sam Burgess Sam Burgess is CEO of SamsonVT. SamsonVT was born of frustration with the status quo, where aftersales management is treated as an afterthought. SamsonCORE empowers engineers by replacing traditional technical manuals with easy to follow, interactive 3D models that are always up-to-date. This ensures maintenance can be carried out as efficiently as possible, saving businesses from costly delays. l 9

Below: Fuel injectors comparison

A powerful



ust as it wasn’t long after the discovery of X-rays that their usefulness for radiography became apparent, it wasn’t long after the discovery of the neutron by James Chadwick that its usefulness also became apparent. Neutron radiography has been proven as an extremely useful quality assurance and failure analysis tool in many industrial NDT applications where X-ray alone would fall short and is widely used by aerospace manufacturers to detect certain flaws in critical products more easily than X-rays. However, while X-rays quickly made themselves useful for industrial imaging and nondestructive testing following Wilhelm Rontgen’s discovery in the 1890s as X-ray sources became more efficient and more powerful, neutron radiography has been and continues to be hamstrung by lack of access to significantly powerful neutron sources. New advances in neutron sources can raise neutron radiography to the same level of prominence in the world of industrial NDT as X-ray imaging.

Why is neutron radiography useful?

The unique physical properties of neutron radiation make it a unique tool for radiographic imaging. Neutron radiography, occasionally abbreviated as N-ray, works by the same general mechanics as X-ray and gamma radiography. Where N-ray differs from X-ray is in its applications. There are many industrial manufacturing niches that make use of neutron radiography as an indispensable tool for quality assurance, failure analysis, and research and development. For example, in the aerospace and defense sectors,

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Willow Ascenzo gives an introduction to neutron radiography

N-ray is crucial for the inspection of energetic devices such as ejection mechanisms, payload separation systems, and munitions. These devices consist of light, hydrogen-rich energetic material within a dense metal shell, which makes them very difficult to inspect using X-ray but easy to inspect using N-ray. N-ray is also one of the most powerful and efficient means to detect dangerous ceramic fragments that can remain in the cooling channels of jet engine turbine blades. In many situations in which X-ray imaging falls short, neutron radiography is a powerful complementary tool.

What is neutron radiography?

Electromagnetic radiation—X-rays and gamma rays—is most typically used for industrial radiography. Electromagnetic radiation is charged photons, and its penetrative properties and utilities depend on its energy levels and wavelengths. It is affected by positive or negative charges. Neutron radiation, though, is made up of neutrons that have no charge. The vast majority of the volume of any given atom consists of the electron cloud, where the electrons which surround the comparatively tiny nucleus reside. Electrons carry negative charges that affect electromagnetic waves, and so the more electrons an atom has—the heavier and denser the atom is—the harder it is for an electromagnetic wave to pass through it unimpeded. This is why X-rays will pass readily through your skin but less readily through bone and not at all through lead. Neutron radiation is quite different. Because neutrons have no charge,

Industrial NDT Below: Attenuation diagram

they aren’t affected by the negative charge of an atom’s electron cloud, no matter how big it is, so a material’s neutron attenuation, or in layman’s terms how good it is at blocking or scattering neutrons, has very little to do with its density. There are many very light elements with high neutron attenuation such as hydrogen, for example, and many dense elements with very low neutron crosssections such as lead or aluminum. Boron, for example, is one of the most neutronabsorbent elements on the periodic table and will thus appear as highly opaque in any neutron image, but its next-door neighbors on the table attenuate neutrons much differently.

Neutron sources: the problems and solutions

While neutron radiography was conceptually proven in the late 1930s, it was not until the 1950s when fission reactors were constructed that could provide a high enough neutron output to produce radiographic images that were clear, sharp, and detailed enough to be useful. However, over the decades, reactor neutron imaging facilities’ numbers have dwindled in line with decreasing numbers of nuclear facilities in general, straining supply chains for manufacturers who rely on neutron radiography. For example, when Aerotest Operations, a reactor facility that had

been the primary source of neutron radiography services for aerospace manufacturers since the 1980s, had to shut down due to an unexpected licensing issue, the effects on the neutron imaging supply chain were catastrophic. Many manufacturers were either left scrambling to find other vendors or abandon neutron radiography altogether. As a result, neutron radiography is underused in niches where it can do the most good, and many of its possible usages in other sectors, such as automotive manufacturing, have been severely underexplored. A promising supplement for fission reactors as a neutron source is particle accelerators as a neutron source. Exploring alternative neutron sources will make it easier for both for current users of this powerful nondestructive inspection method to continue using it and for its use to expand into new manufacturing industries. v Below: Nuclear shutdown chart

Willow Ascenzo Willow Ascenzo is a Copywriter and Content Creator for Phoenix. Founded in Madison, Wisconsin in 2005, Phoenix, LLC. designs and manufactures the world’s strongest accelerator-based high-flux neutron generators. Phoenix’s cutting-edge nuclear technology has been used in the aerospace, defense, medical and energy sectors to improve manufacturing efficiency and quality. Since 2012, Phoenix has designed and delivered neutron generators for a wide range of practical purposes including neutron radiography, nuclear fuel inspection, and medical isotope production. l 11



PBA: A new product category for large project-based manufacturers. By Lydia Di Liello

PBA (Project Business Automation) was created as a new technology category to specifically help project-based manufacturers achieve best practices. Bringing all the project functionalities along with the manufacturing functionalities into one system creates a seamlessly connected operation, precisely what Industry 4.0 is meant to accomplish.

Whether labelled Industry 4.0, IIoT, or lean manufacturing, the right systems and processes are essential. PBA was expressly developed to fit this complex paradigm.

PBA ensures that many manual processes are automated. Data exchanges between operations and finance are instant, ensuring the financial status of projects are known 24/7.Visibility into the whole project manufacturing processes is transparent and real time. If materials are delayed for a production order, that is instantly flagged on the project as a constraint and can be dealt with quickly by adjusting the timeline or sourcing materials elsewhere. Di Liello: Do large manufacturers relate to project-based nomenclature? Mong: Many companies fail to see themselves as first and foremost a project business. They think manufacturing or engineering first when they should think projects first. Projects must be the core of business. It is like the Pareto rule, 80 percent of business is project-based, yet sadly too many large manufacturers keep buying systems to satisfy the 20 percent.

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©2021 Adeaca

Project based automation

Di Liello: Integrated data that is immediately accessible is the powerhouse of any business and provides the basis for businesses to make more accurate, effective and timely decisions. Business opportunities are missed as data often take months to aggregate and vet to ensure consistency and accuracy. As a result, poor decisions are made based on outdated data. The result are business deals with subpar margins. Industry 4.0 data was designed to ensure that large project-based manufacturers avoid projects with little room for high margins from current customers. Without these data insights, margins erode and customized projects bid with significant margins evaporate.

could be anything from production floor machinery to drones measuring installation progress on site. These devices need to feed these data somewhere. In a project-driven organization, it should go back into the project plan. When a piece of shop floor equipment is IIoT equipped it feeds data about its capacity back into the ERP production module.

Di Liello: How does PBA work from a lean manufacturing perspective? Mong: For project manufacturers, PBA is all about lean. Lean is all about the reduction of waste. Project companies are plagued with massive waste in the form of inefficiencies due to disjointed and misaligned processes, lack of visibility and lack of accountability. This waste leads to inflated costs that take the form of budget buffers and large amounts of float/slack in projects. Inefficiency and waste in project-based large manufacturing companies stems from operating in a siloed architecture. The departmental separation segregates different functions inside the enterprise behaving like different companies. These organizational silos are enabled by system silos (such as different systems for ERP, project management and project accounting). PBA efficacy facilitates the lean transformation of project businesses. It breaks down the silos, brings everything together in one system, and creates a new structure for breakthrough productivity.

©2021 Adeaca

Di Liello: Continuous improvement and lean manufacturing are iterative. To gain maximum effect all cross functional departments must be included and engaged in process improvements that are interdependant. For a manufacturing process to realize improvement it must be reflected in the ERP system to gain full value. When the process is optimized, new real-time data ensure utilization of Industry 4.0 and IIoT accuracy. v

Lydia Di Liello, (pictured left), is CEO and founder of Capital Pricing Consultants, a revenue management and business consultancy. Di Liello brings more than 25 years of global revenue management and pricing expertise. She is a member of the Professional Pricing Society Board of Advisors and holds an MBA from Youngstown State University. She is a twotime recipient of the Supply & Demand Chain Executive Pros to Know.

©2021 Adeaca Di Liello: How does PBA interface with IIoT? Mong: IIoT as an extension the project-driven hub that is uniquely charted with PBA. It connects the back-end systems with the ‘edge,’ which

Matt Mong (pictured left) is the Vice President for Marketing and Communications at Adeaca. The new technology category of Project Business Automation (PBA) is designed for large manufacturers focused on project-based operations. l 13

News in brief USA sets plan in motion

As President Joe Biden unveils the USA’s commitment to cutting carbon emissions, Bureau Veritas is urging businesses to prioritise their own net zero promises and to create a clear plan to deliver on this. Just hours after being sworn in as president on 20th January, Joe Biden demonstrated his commitment to the climate crisis by reinstating the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement. He has now gone one step further by pledging to cut carbon emissions by 50-52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. According to Bureau Veritas, the immediate priority for businesses, that have not already done so, is to calculate their carbon footprint. Businesses that are not clear on what steps they need to take to play their part in this international effort towards tackling climate change can turn to a sustainability expert like Bureau Veritas to make assessments of their current sustainability performance and set in motion recommendations for an effective carbon reduction plan.

Joining forces American Axle & Manufacturing Inc (AAM), a leading global Tier 1 automotive supplier of driveline and metal forming technologies, and REE Automotive (REE), a leader in e-Mobility, have agreed to jointly develop an exciting new electric propulsion system for e-Mobility. REE is in the process of merging with 10X Capital Venture Acquisition Corp (10X SPAC), a special purpose acquisition company, to become a publicly listed company. Pursuant to the recently signed agreement, the parties intend to leverage AAM’s system integration capabilities and focus on NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) reduction to incorporate AAM’s lightweight and efficient next generation electric drive units, which feature fully integrated high-speed motors and inverter technology, into REE’s highly modular and disruptive REEcornerTM technology that enables a fully-flat EV chassis for multiple commercial vehicle applications. The REEcorner integrates critical vehicle components (steering, braking, suspension, powertrain and control) into the area between the chassis and the wheel to deliver significant functional and economic advantages. “We are very excited to partner with REE to bring new e-Mobility technologies to the market,” said David C. Dauch, AAM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “This agreement to provide electric drive technology for use in REEcorners is an important step in growing AAM’s electric propulsion business and expanding the addressable market for AAM’s newest product offerings. We believe that joining forces with an advanced technology company like REE will accelerate AAM on a path to deliver e-Mobility solutions to the market.”

Award winner Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing’s (GRAM) state-of-the-art, large-scale fill/finish facility, designed and constructed in collaboration with CRB has been named a 2021 Facility of the Year Award winner by the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering. The ISPE selected GRAM for its Special Recognition for Operational Agility: Covid-19 Impact award GRAM is a leading injectable contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) that selected CRB and its ONEsolution™ project delivery team to design and construct GRAM’s 60,000+ square-foot facility in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. Working closely with CRB’s ONEsolution project team, GRAM completed construction on-budget and ahead of schedule – enabling GRAM to open the pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in June 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. CRB optimized delivery and phasing for the facility, allowing for fast-tracked procurement, detailed planning, and construction. “We congratulate the team at GRAM, whose commitment to quality and safety positioned this facility to play a critical role in the nation’s pandemic response,” said CRB President Ryan Schroeder.

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Out of this world tech Enabling the Mars Rover’s core operations in the harsh environment on Mars are Kaydon RealiSlim thin-section ball bearings, designed and manufactured by SKF at the company’s global thin-section bearing engineering center in Muskegon, and its recently expanded manufacturing hub in Sumter, USA. These highly engineered components contribute to the survival of the Rover’s main robotic arm, sample collecting turret, tool bit carousel and sample handling assembly during a months-long trip through space, and its function as intended on the Mars surface. SKF bearings will play an integral role in the vital process of sample collection on Mars. When the Rover is ready to begin collecting samples on the surface, the robotic arm will maneuver into place and the tool bit carousel will whirr into action, deploying tools to drill or abrade material, which will then be collected by the sample collecting turret and transferred to the sample handling assembly for processing onboard the rover, and eventually a potential return to Earth for analysis via a future Mars mission. “The bearings we designed and built to help the rover perform its core science activities were based on several models of Kaydon thin-section ball bearings customized by our engineers to minimize weight and save space, while retaining maximum functionality and reliability for a mission where repair or replacement is simply not an option,” said Isidoro Mazzitelli, Director of Product Development and Engineering Americas.

Manufacturing News Certification received INEOS’s manufacturing sites in Texas and California have been awarded ISCC PLUS certification from ISCC (International Sustainability & Carbon Certification). This certification supports recent successful, commercial-scale trials of Advanced Recycling technology for the production of ethylene, propylene, High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and Polypropylene (PP). Advanced Recycling converts waste plastic, which was destined for a landfill, back into a liquid raw material for use again in next generation plastic production. Also known as Chemical Recycling, this technology can be used for many types of plastic including mixed plastic waste streams that are normally difficult or impossible to process with traditional recycling. The new technology enables plastics to be recycled back to a raw material stream and returned to the market as new product from recycled material. The product properties are identical to virgin plastics made from oil and gas. Advanced Recycling creates a closed-loop system for plastics management, helps reduce landfill, prevents plastic from ending up in the environment and reduces the use of fossil-fuel based raw materials. Mike Nagle, CEO of INEOS Olefins & Polymers USA said: “Plastic waste is an important problem that INEOS is committed to addressing. Using difficult-to-recycle waste streams as a new raw material is a step-change. This investment is beneficial to INEOS and our customers but also for the overall global issue of plastic waste and the management of essential plastic products.” INEOS is committed to contributing to a Circular Economy where materials are re-used and recycled to the maximum extent possible through both Mechanical and Advanced Recycling in a broad range of applications. INEOS Olefins & Polymer USA has received strong customer interest in polyethylene and polypropylene products derived from recycled plastics. The ISCC PLUS certification supports the success INEOS has achieved in the commercial-scale trial and lays the groundwork for INEOS’ commercial offering for a next generation of polymer products.

Growth potential

Simplifying integration

Leading systems and solutions provider for aseptic carton packaging, SIG, has revealed plans to construct a new plant in Queretaro, Mexico to serve North American markets.The plant will further expand SIG’s global production network and will enable the company to build on its strong track record of growth in North America. Through its existing sales and service presence, SIG has been able to forge strong relationships with major dairies in Mexico, a large and growing milk market. In the USA, SIG has a well-established co-manufacturing customer base and is ideally placed to serve innovative and expanding new categories. SIG will invest around €40 million in the new plant over the period 20212023.The investment will cover state-of-the art production capacity for the printing, cutting and finishing of carton packs.The plant is expected to open in the first quarter of 2023 and will create around 200 jobs. Land and buildings will be financed through a long-term lease with an NPV of approximately €20 million. Ricardo Rodriguez, President & General Manager Americas, said: “We are very excited to announce this project which will enable us to serve our North American customers faster and more efficiently. Delivery lead times will be reduced and we will be able to respond rapidly to changes in demand. Our new plant will further drive growth in the region while demonstrating our commitment to the highest environmental standards.”

Rockwell Automation Inc. the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and digital transformation, and Comau, a global leader in industrial automation and robot manufacturer, are joining forces to give businesses worldwide vital tools to maximize manufacturing efficiencies through unified robot control solutions. “Industrial companies are looking for efficient ways to integrate robotics into their operations for process optimization and agility,” said Rockwell Automation Chairman and CEO Blake Moret. “Rockwell Automation’s collaboration with Comau will simplify programming and lifecycle management, accelerating time to value for our customers.” Moret said this expansion of robotic applications is rooted in Rockwell’s broader strategy to help industrial companies save time and improve performance with unified robot control, ultimately providing long-term value for their business. This collaborative development and selling model offers the unified robot control product to both companies’ customers. “Comau’s robotics and industrial automation expertise, as well as its reputation for high performance, reliability, and quality, combined with Rockwell Automation’s global capabilities and experience in automated material handling, food and beverage, household and personal care, and life sciences, gives customers the incremental value of an integrated robot solution,” said Comau CEO Paolo Carmassi. “Comau is eager to work with such an important partner that has a market-leading global footprint in all industries.” Engineers will now be able to program their entire machine in one environment, including Comau robot arms directly controlled through Rockwell Automation’s Logix-based controllers. Rockwell Automation’s Studio 5000® automation system design software provides relief from the time-consuming and often difficult task of trying to coordinate traditionally separate machine control and robot systems to work together using two different software tools. l 15

Dedicated to people, products, and community For more than 60 years, Tolko Industries Ltd. has been driven by its vision to be a top-decile forest products company, providing strong customer value, while operating sustainably and delivering world-class performance

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Tolko Industries Ltd. l 19

Tolko Industries Ltd. Below: Lavington Planer Mill

Applied Industrial Technologies


f we are to look at the history behind Tolko Industries Ltd. (Tolko), we first have to go back to 1956, when Harold Thorlakson established the Lavington Planer Mill in the Lavington area just east of Vernon, British Columbia. In the years that followed, the business continued to grow, with the creation of a permanent sawmill structure on the Lavington planer site being a particular highlight during the 1960s. Following in the footsteps of their father, Harold’s sons Doug Thorlakson, James A. Thorlakson (who goes by Al), and John Thorlakson would all go on to join the family

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business, and in 1973, the company changed its name to Tolko, which comes from every second letter of the family name. Then, in 1979, seeing the business was doing well in the hands of his sons, Harold Thorlakson turned control of the business over to them. Over the next 40 years, the business continued to expand and shift, as other mills were constructed, purchased, or sold. At the same time, the business grew into other provinces, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, and, for 19 years, Manitoba. Some key changes during this time included the purchase of Balco Industries in 1987, which brought Tolko

For over 15 years, Applied Industrial Technologies has been a proud strategic business partner of Tolko Industries. During this time, it established an excellent business relationship with all of Tolko’s Canadian facilities. Applied has developed a mutually beneficial partnership by staying true to its core values of integrity and accountability, and delivering on its mission to Achieve Superior Performance. Its relationship with Tolko was built on solid ethical business practices and trust and by providing value-added benefits and exceptional customer service. For example, Applied has helped Tolko reduce equipment downtime and maintenance costs, increase asset service life, and consolidate parts and inventory. Applied looks forward to supporting Tolko’s values, projects, and initiatives for many years to come.

Right: Corporate office, Vernon, BC

BASF For close to 20 years, Tolko and BASF have a long history of wood innovation, which began at the startup of Tolko’s OSB mill in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada. “A key factor in our relationship,” said Greg Lonc, BASF Business Manager, Monomers North America, “is our technical capabilities and innovation combined with Tolko’s spirit of continuous improvement.” With BASF’s upcoming MDI expansion in Geismar, Louisiana, and a global wood lab in Wyandotte, Michigan, BASF is wellpositioned to support Tolko’s growth into the future.

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Tolko Industries Ltd. into the plywood business with the Heffley Creek plywood plant, and the construction of three world-class Oriented Strand Board (OSB) mills in High Prairie, Athabasca, and Meadow Lake from 1996 to 2008. In 2004, the company took a major step forward with the purchase of BC-based Riverside Forest Products and its eight divisions. Meanwhile, some other key events in the past decade have included Brad Thorlakson taking over as President and CEO in 2010, as his father Al moved to the role of Executive Chairman, the commission of the Lulu Island Terminal as a reload facility for exports in 2012, and joint ventures with Pinnacle Renewable Energy on state-of-theart pellet plants in 2015 and 2020. Expanding into the United States also represented a key milestone, as Tolko announced joint venture partnerships with lumber mills in Urania, LA, Ackerman, MS, and Jasper, AL. Today, Tolko manufactures a wide range of forest products for customers around the world. Particular highlights include

lumber (quality stud lumber and dimensional lumber being core items), plywood (sold under its T-PLY line), veneer, oriented strand board (sold as T-STRAND), and laminated strand lumber (LSL). Other important facets of the company’s product portfolio are its Engineered Wood Floor System, its remanufacturer collection of wood products produced by Tolko’s Lake Country Division, and its range of co-products that are used in pulp and paper production, particleboard, MDF, power production and animal bedding. Last, but certainly not least, the company is also focused on producing heat and electricity for various applications, and utilizes wood pellets to help reduce the use of coal and other products. “For me personally, there are three key areas to the business that set it apart from our competition, and those are people, values, and product and geographical diversification,” explains Brad Thorlakson. “From a people perspective, Tolko has a focus on career development, youth, diversity and inclusion,

PCTM Founded in 2004, PCTM has developed an elite team of people whose experience spans Forestry, Mining and Chemicals, as well as Oil and Gas, and continuously focuses on staff growth and increasing their technical skills. PCTM has grown into an efficient, effective partner for companies like Tolko thanks to its ability to see the bigger picture, while also ensuring the detailed engineering for power, electrical, controls and automation incorporates what the client requires. PCTM works towards the effective completion of projects, the success of its partners in industry and a conscious concern for their financial and corporate achievements, and the growth of community. l 23

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Tolko Industries Ltd. innovation, geographic and product expansion, customer service, community investment, and indigenous partnerships. With our diverse list of products and 65 years of experience, we’re continuing to look forward. We have the employees, the drive, and the determination to deliver excellence and innovation in everything we do. We believe our mix of youthful enthusiasm combined with three generations of industry know-how is the perfect formula for success in the forest industry. “At the same time, our company values of respect, integrity, open communication, profit, and progressiveness guide our actions every day, and our vision reflects who we want to be as a company. We hire, develop, and retain talented people who demonstrate our values. We grow our own, offer a competitive salary and benefits package, and create an environment where employees can take pride in their work, feel valued, and go home safely each day.” Thirdly – in regards to the company’s product and geographic diversification – Tolko continues to build its operations, customer base, product mix, and logistics network in equal measure. “A key element is pursuing North American growth while continuing to re-invest in our core assets and systems,” Brad continues. “One example from the past year is the completed Athabasca rip line, which increases our production of finished LSL products.” Tolko’s Athabasca Division has the longest continuous press in North America, manufacturing a steady stream of uniform Engineered Wood Products (EWP). In July 2018, the industry-leading facility near Slave Lake, Alberta began commercially manufacturing LSL to diversify its product line. Although Athabasca initially produced primarily Oriented Strand Board (OSB), much of the equipment was specifically designed to incorporate LSL down the road. “The mill’s design, product diversity, uniqueness, and breadth of LSL applications gives Tolko a significant advantage over competitors,” Brad states. “Before the rip line was completed, boards had to be ripped into the requested lengths at Tolko’s Meadow Lake division. Now that Athabasca has its own rip line, the mill handles the entire process, from strand to final product distribution.” In another example of recent expansion, the company’s Northern Pellet Limited Partnership in High Level is now fully up and running, which represents Tolko’s second jointventure with Pinnacle Renewable Energy (now a subsidiary of Drax). The new facility in High l 25

Level, Alberta, is 50 per cent owned by Drax (who just completed a purchase of Pinnacle Renewable Energy) and 50 per cent by Tolko through a limited partnership. The pellet plant uses high-quality wood fiber, sourced primarily from Tolko’s sawmill in High Level, and has a projected run-rate capacity of 200,000 metric tons per year. It uses state-of-the-art technology to produce pellets and includes pollution control equipment that meets the requirements of Alberta Environment and Parks. Overall, the facility incorporates the best safety practices and technology from the past and present. “Tolko and Pinnacle have a strong working relationship, which has existed since our first joint investment at Lavington, BC, in 2015,” Brad reveals. “The facility brings economic and employment benefits to both companies and the community, and by using green energy from biomass in the manufacturing process, there are environmental benefits as well that help reduce our carbon footprint. The new facility allows Tolko to make use of our bark, shavings, and sawdust to produce pellets for growing markets. “By converting residual fiber from mills and the forest, we’re able to offer a sustainable product that can be used as an alternative to coal in traditional and supercritical coal-fired power plants around the world, helping to reduce their carbon footprint on a lifecycle basis. Today, most of Tolko’s sawdust, shavings, and a portion of our harvesting residuals are

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Tolko Industries Ltd.

converted to wood pellets via the sale of sawmill and harvest residuals to existing pellet producers or partnerships in wood pellet production facilities.” In November 2020, Tolko also announced its most recent expansion project, that being a 50-50 joint-venture partnership in an existing sawmill, shavings business, whole log chipper, and trucking operations in Jasper, Alabama. Brad adds; “The collaboration is officially known as Jasper Forest Products LLC., A Jasper-Tolko Partnership. It’s our third US lumber partnership and supports our product and geographic diversification. We are pleased to support this facility and enhance its sales, marketing, and logistic capabilities to service existing and new customers across North America and abroad.” Vital to Tolko’s success today, and in the past, has been its relationship with its various partners, and its commitment to its people. In the case of the former, in addition to the strong bonds that it has with its various joint venture collaborators, the company’s Woodlands team also works closely with over 80 Indigenous communities in Western Canada. “We recognize the connection between Canada’s Indigenous Peoples and the land, their families, communities, and traditional economies,” Brad proclaims. “We believe that our business will flourish when Indigenous communities flourish. Our path forward is together — we are interdependent.” Mutually beneficial business arrangements l 27

between Tolko and Indigenous companies have been recognized and celebrated for their successful partnerships, and it’s a model that the company is committed to expanding across its operations. Examples of its joint venture agreements include Tsi Del Del Enterprises in central British Columbia, which is a joint venture logging company that is equally owned by Alexis Creek First Nation and Tolko. This business has been going strong for 25 years and sustains more than 85 wellpaying jobs in the community as well as a number of owner-operator enterprises. The company also created a fund that provides post-secondary education or trades and technology training for band members. Others worth noting are ECOLINK Forest Services, which was established in 1990 as a joint venture between Esk’etemc and Tolko, and Pelican Lake and Witchekan First Nations. In the case of the latter, it was in February 2021 that Tolko signed an Agreement in Principle with the goal of helping these communities further their expertise as logging contractors on their traditional lands in Saskatchewan. The company will be forming a Limited Partnership that includes the development of a logging company, training for Indigenous youth, and other business opportunities. “In addition to our Indigenous joint venture partnerships, we have other long-term working relationships with Indigenous groups,” Brad continues. “At our OSB mill in High Prairie, Alberta, Driftpile First Nation operates the logyard service, unloading the logging trucks, decking logs, and feeding them to the mill. When Driftpile took on this contract, it was their first entry into the logyard management business. Working together, we have seen this business mature and operate successfully. “Tolko has a long history of working with our Indigenous partners on mutually beneficial opportunities across the three western provinces. This includes planning co-management areas, timber development, silviculture, harvesting, and road construction synergies. These significant partnerships are an important volume supply of highquality log products to our operations and supporting sustainable forest management of the landbase. Partners include Yucwmenlucwu (Caretakers of the Land LLP) and Splatsin, Ntityix Resources LP and Westbank First Nation, Sk’atsin Resources LLP and Neskonlith Indian Band, and Tk’emlups te Secwepemc (Kamloops Indian Band).” At Tolko, the people side of the business

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Tolko Industries Ltd. is also tremendously important. “We hire, develop, and retain talented people who demonstrate our values of safety, respect, integrity, open communication, progressiveness, and profit,” Brad enthuses. “We grow our own, offer a competitive salary and benefits package, and create an environment where employees can take pride in their work, feel valued, and go home safely each day. We are guided by these values and see them as a foundation for a strong and vibrant workforce that serves to improve the morale and productivity of the company as a whole. Employees who adopt these values as their own help create a healthy, productive, and profitable work environment. We know living our values every day is our guarantee of success. “We want to be a company that has the right people to deliver quality products in a sustainable manner to customers the world over. To do this, we need our mills and our culture to support industry-leading performance on both the people and the operations side of the business. Diversity and inclusion are other important aspects of our culture. We are committed to living our value of respect by creating an environment where people feel welcome and safe from harassment and discrimination. To support these efforts, we recognize the need to educate ourselves, build internal awareness, and provide relevant training to all employees.” Looking to the months and years ahead, Tolko’s strategic plan will see it working towards what it calls its ‘Power of Great’ goals. Said goals include, having a Recordable Incident Rate (RIR) of zero as a company, growing its sales, increasing its North American product and geographic diversification, and focusing on ensuring the safety and health of its employees, their families and communities as it works through the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. It is also Tolko’s resolve to remain an employer of choice. “We are mid-way through our five-year Power of Great strategic plan, and we will continue to build on our successes over the next three-to-five years,” Brad concludes. “What is also certain is that we also see an exciting future as we continue with our product and geographic diversification efforts.”

Above left: Brad Thorlakson, President and CEO of Tolko Industries Ltd.

Tolko Industries Ltd.

Products: Lumber and sustainable wood products l 29

Below: Battery Coater Pilot Machine - Commissioning and setup of a non-contact air-flotation dryer system

The writing is on the wall Long-standing name Emerson & Renwick continues to succeed at engraving the highest quality performance levels into its manufacturing services

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ver a century ago, Mr Emerson and Mr Renwick created a family-owned company that specialized in manufacturing textile finishing machinery, which soon grew to become a staple of Accrington,

Emerson & Renwick

Lancashire. Thereafter, the business continued to expand to include equipment for the leather cloth industry in the 30s, products for fluid management in the 60s, in-register hot embossing in the 70s and a diversification into the automotive industry in the 90s. In

2014, the company successfully branched into vacuum coating platforms for solar and flexible electronics, and in 2017, Emerson & Renwick secured its largest order of £50 million. “I think after that, one of our key milestones was probably our centenary in 2018. If we

look at the other developmental milestones, particularly over the last ten years, we have taken a lot of learnt knowledge across the product stream and started applying it to new applications, which is really the story that we hope to tell; how we are taking all l 31

Below and opposite: Wallcovering print stations on test in assembly facility

that experience and history and moving forward to the next generation of products and applications,” says Ben Clements, the business’s Managing Director, who shares with us the successes that continue to keep the company a leading expert in designing and manufacturing machinery for the printing of wallpapers, print electronic devices and vacuum coating sectors. “Our reach is quite broad, which is key for us and our range of applications that we provide is hugely diverse. Innovation and

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diversification have been absolutely pivotal to what has kept us going all this time,” remarks Ben. Tying in with this, the company is proud of exporting approximately 85 per cent of its business to high-profile sectors such as Silicon Valley. “We have a number of machines installed in Silicon Valley and we are selling to some of the other big tech players, anything from start-ups, all the way to the big bluechip companies on the stock exchange,” he highlights. Part of how Emerson & Renwick has been

Emerson & Renwick

Rostron Drying Systems Ltd

able to send its business across international waters is owing to the collection of smaller complementary units under the company’s umbrella. Where most of the business’s competition is set on specializing in one area, Emerson & Renwick is dedicated to providing its services in several different sectors to assist with more complex projects and offer whole solutions. “You may have seen on our website that we offer vacuum coating machines

and atmospheric coating machines. To our knowledge, we are the only company in the world to offer both and what we find with a lot of these processes is that it is far more beneficial to sell machines that can fulfill a process from top to bottom with atmospheric steps, vacuum steps and then back to atmospheric. So, we happily flex our diversity with applications for different customer needs,” Ben elaborates for us.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Glenn Rostron, Director of Rostron Drying Systems Ltd, is continuing the family tradition of designing and manufacturing cutting edge bespoke drying systems for tomorrow’s markets. During his career, spanning over 35 years, Glenn has gained invaluable experience and knowledge of a diverse range of drying systems and equipment. He uses his expertise to design and manufacture the latest cutting edge drying systems for the everadvancing technologies of tomorrow’s markets. During the past 12 years Rostron Drying Systems Ltd have developed a very close working relationship with the Emerson & Renwick and together they can offer the customer a complete turnkey project. l 33

Top: Automotive heat exchanger manufacturing cell - Combining tubes and fins at a high rate to create heat radiators Bottom: Automotive heat exchanger fin forming - Precision forming of aluminium with tooling designed and manufactured in a precision tool room

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The business’ determination to explore niche opportunities and produce first-class solutions is of course one of the reasons that it continues to dominate in the industry. “We’ve got a lot of creative thinking here and it’s based on and supported by a great underpinning of experience and knowledge, but our key driver really is confidence and fearlessness to take on new risks,” highlights Ben. As he briefly mentioned, being involved in this level of innovative engineering requires an exceptionally qualified team, owing to the fact that a skills-intensive environment requires a pipeline of skilled employees. Ben stipulates that the company’s keenness to grow finds it drawing from a pool of engineers in training who are eager to be part of Emerson & Renwick’s industry-changing solutions. “By us spending time in the local area, we hope to garner attention that might also bring in some investment and focus into the courses and education that the younger generations are being exposed to, which then ultimately gets more people interested in engineering, and gives us more longevity and quality engineers,” Ben adds. This thorough process of sourcing employees is how the Emerson & Renwick

Emerson & Renwick team is able to research and explore other facets of the industry. A new area in which the company’s innovation is extending into is sustainability to support the green revolution that is infiltrating the business market. This can be seen through recent projects where it is determined to support companies who are developing technology with greener solutions. “One of the key growth areas for all businesses such as ours is energy storage and batteries. There is an influx of work going into batteries for any number of applications and obviously, a lot of interest in automotive sectors. Although everyone automatically thinks of electric vehicles, we are looking at the whole field of battery storage and energy storage as a whole suite of possibilities,” describes the company’s P&ED Director, Nick Butcher. Nick goes on to add that because much of the company’s machinery process is naturally demanding in energy, the team is investigating more energy efficient measures. For example, the business works with a hefty number of products that are wet at

Altham Fabrications Altham Fabrications is a well-established company that specializes in sheet metal fabrication, laser cutting and structural steelwork. It operates from a brand-new spacious factory located at Frontier Park on the Hyndburn/ Blackburn border. Here, it carries out a broad range of sheet metal fabrication projects, and manufactures a variety of products to the highest standards. Such activities are part of a complete manufacturing and installation operation, which includes a full ‘Measure, Make, and Fit’ service geared to meeting customer’s specific requirements. It specializes in the design, manufacture and installation of heavy fabrications for the food and non-food industry. It has a complete design and build capability and has completed projects worldwide. Committed to growth and continuous improvement, Altham Fabrication is currently working towards achieving ISO 9001 2015 Quality Management System, ISO 14001 2015 Environmental Management, and ISO 45001 2018 Health and Safety Management. Altham Fabrications is proud to be associated with Emerson & Renwick and looks forward to continuing this relationship. l 35

Below: Large sputter coater for flexible solar cell application installed in final location at site

application, which then need to be dried, and it requires intensive energy to complete these actions. “We’re applying a lot of thought to new techniques that might remove those drying steps, or create improvements through efficiency. We are looking at heat and energy recovery systems to feed back into the process to support our goals for saving energy consumption within the production of consumer products,” he says. In order to ensure reliable results for these sorts of ventures, the group prides itself in partnering with other areas such as academia and in working with select industrial partners to see what is out and about across the industry, and over the last five years, this practice has seen the company invest in building its own technology center and launching new products. “We like to show people that we understand the problems, and that level of thorough work ethic has even led us to launch our pilot coater. We have vacuum coaters, a laboratory site and lots of test stations, which we then provide to our customers. We get to walk the risk together and that has been an essential addition that has secured us an awful lot of business recently, because our customers can work from one place and be involved in the process. This allows us to mitigate these new areas owing to the fact that much of the work we do involves technology that isn’t off-the-shelf, and we like to attach bespoke applications

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Emerson & Renwick Below: Genesis vacuum coating machine with ALD (atomic layer deposition) currently installed in Silicon Valley

With fearless ambitions and unparalleled capabilities, Emerson & Renwick appears set to sustain its impressive expansion trajectory. Coupled with its innovation and creative thinking, development is clearly integral to the success of the business and its exciting new developments in solutions for energy saving, as well continuing to support engineers at the start of their careers is setting it in good stead to be a name to keep an eye on in the future. “That bravery that I keep talking about will take us a long way, and we are trying to remove some of the excuses for customers to see us as something we once were, and instead see us as what we are, and that’s trustworthy engineers,” Ben concludes.

Emerson & Renwick

Services: Manufacturers of machinery for wallpaper printing and other printing devices to our services,” Nick highlights for us. Another area in which the company’s innovation is expanding in includes solar cells. With experience in completing sophisticated work for flexible solar cells, this sector buttresses the energy efficiency message Emerson & Renwick is passionate about. “If we go back a couple of years, we took a step to bring vacuum coating equipment to our portfolio around 2014. That move has really propelled us in this new application area, because we can now provide atmospheric coatings, which was always part of our portfolio but it has also pushed us into new markets,” he shares with us. By pushing boundaries, the company is continually being presented with fresh opportunities to maintain its growth, and although expansion is definitely on the cards, the business is also taking on a rebrand later this year to guarantee efficiency and reliability for its customers. “The cornerstone of the branding is to clean up what has become a confused identity. We are a wallpaper company and we’re known as a wallpaper company, but when we started doing all this far reaching stuff, we realized that our brand was confused. We have now grouped the business units more carefully, with a focus on our four main areas: print, coating, vacuum and forming, which will help keep the business far more efficient as we expand across those sectors,” adds the company’s Sales Director, Andy Jack. l 37

Air force

Bolstered by multi-million-dollar investment into its equipment and production facilities, Allied Air Enterprises is a heating and cooling manufacturer outpacing the competition


artner-of-choice for a growing number of independent distributors and HVAC contractors, Allied Air Enterprises, and its complete portfolio of heating and cooling products, are proving increasingly popular across the United States. A division of Lennox International, the company is built on the collective strength of seven brands: Armstrong Air™, AirEase®, Concord®, Ducane™, Allied™, Allied Commercial™ and Magic-Pak®. In leveraging the power of these brands, Allied Air aims to be the

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industry’s ‘ultimate source for heating and cooling’, redefining ease-of-business through its unparalleled service and offering. “The quality and reliability of the products we make at Allied Air is world class,” declares Plant Operations Director Craig Fairley. “We have great trust with our customers, we are very competitive on price, and our lead times are far superior to the market average. Our ability to provide that ideal mix that customers are looking for in their solutions really sets us apart.” In no way significantly impacted by the

Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Allied Air enjoyed gross sales 44 per cent higher than it had previously forecast. The stronger than expected showing allowed the company to reinvest over $35 million in its Orangeburg County, South Carolina, facility in December 2020. “If you look at the Orangeburg campus, it currently has a main facility, which is about 800,000 square feet of manufacturing space, alongside another building with around 120,000 square feet of space,” Craig says. “Thanks to our latest investment, we are now adding a 400,000

Allied Air Enterprises

square foot extension onto that second building, which we will use for distribution and manufacturing.” Soon to be home to more than 1.3 million square feet of production space, Orangeburg is a key location in Allied Air’s network of US facilities, which also includes factories in Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Mexico. Supplying broad lines of residential and commercial products, each site builds to the same leading quality standards and provides redundancy and specialization to keep goods flowing.

Before its products reach the manufacturing stage, Allied Air carries out comprehensive research and development activities. Inside testing and design labs, the company’s engineers use cutting-edge technology to develop and test new ideas quickly and effectively. With engineering, product management, and development technicians all in close proximity, the firm’s products move quickly from concept to reality. Craig describes the process in more detail: “Our marketing and sales teams work

closely with our customer base to identify client needs before developing products,” Craig explains. “Some of those products are designed for specific regions or customers, and some are designed in line with federal regulations surrounding emissions and the like. “Once a solution is proposed, it goes to our design engineering team in Columbia, South Carolina, which decides whether we need a small or large base product, and how it will fit within the market. After several design illustrations, we build a mock simulation of the product before taking it to a pre-pilot run to see what things need changing and if we can enhance manufacturability and performance. Ultimately, following five or six pilot runs, the product is added to the manufacturing schedule, joining our regular run of real-life solutions released to market.” Drawing on its vast collection of brands, Allied Air’s capabilities range from the supply of compact residential applications to the delivery of large commercial projects. Among the company’s most popular products are its Magic-Pak® All-In-One HVAC Systems, which provide a convenience and simplicity in design unmatched across the sector. Similar bestsellers include Armstrong Air™branded air handlers and air conditioning units, which can be paired with the Comfort Sync® A3 Thermostat – an innovative system management tool that offers unprecedented control to customers, as well as exceptional energy savings. Finally, with ratings of up to 16 SEER, Allied™ - another Allied Air brand - provides reliable, energy-saving heat pumps. Thoughtfully designed to improve heat transfer and operating efficiency, the heat pumps also contain Omniguard Total Corrosion Protection Technology, which helps to extend the life of the units by safeguarding against leaks and corrosive elements. To support the steady flow of new products, Allied Air has recently invested over $20 million in new, state-of-the-art equipment, including a 1500-ton press, air proofing technology, and advancements in validation and testing to ensure the firm sells only the most reliable products in its field. “We have a number of new launches coming up in 2021, including a $5 million project with Magic-Pak®,” Craig reveals. “Later in the year, we may potentially make more investments into our cooling lines, air conditioning and heat pumps, and we are already looking at another $8 million of funding in early 2022.” Built on a culture of integrity, excellence and respect, Allied Air’s success in recent years Continued on page 42 l 39

Supporting Allied Air as a trusted partner for reliable, next-generation solutions Emerson, a global technology and engineering company providing innovative solutions for customers in industrial, commercial and residential markets, is proud to support Allied Air and other leading HVAC manufacturers. Backed by unmatched design and engineering resources, Emerson offers a wide range of White-Rodgers™ heating and cooling controls and valves along with proven Copeland™ compressors and electronics. White-Rodgers gas valves are trusted by more HVAC manufacturers than any other brand. The latest White-Rodgers gas valve, the 36G series, is a highly reliable and compact model that frees up cabinet space for additional components. The 36G is a similar gas valve to the robust 36J series that OEMs such as Allied Air trust in their production applications. In the replacement market, the 36J series replaces over 500 part numbers and can be used to service 80 percent of furnaces manufactured in the last 15 years. Emerson’s White-Rodgers NXT series is the next generation in thermostatic expansion valves, optimized for high efficiency R410A air conditioning and heat pump applications. NXT s eries valves operate over a wide range of conditions and applications, while offering superior performance, increased reliability and unparalleled valve life. Emerson provides additional value with onsite application, engineering design and troubleshooting support while also helping customers achieve tight product launch timeframes. Emerson, Copeland and White-Rodgers are trademarks of Emerson Electric Co. ©2021. All rights reserved.

Changing regulations mean elevated efficiency needs for compressors. And with a broad offering of Copeland compressors with R410A compatibility, Emerson helps its customers meet these demands. The new ZPK7 is the most efficient fixed speed scroll compressor in the 100-year history of the Copeland brand. The improved efficiency and reduced variability of the innovative ZPK7 compressor delivers performance to meet new unprecedented efficiency requirements in 2023. This line of next-generation compressors offers regulation-ready performance optimized for use with R410A, R32, and R454B refrigerants. Ordinarily, the 100th anniversary of a brand is a celebration of the past, a look back at achievements and milestones. But Copeland is no ordinary brand. Copeland technology is built on inventiveness and looking forward. So, while this first century is worth celebrating, it’s nothing compared to what’s coming next.

Download the free Copeland™ Mobile app for on-the-go access to 30 years of product information and more.

Copeland ZPK7 scroll compressor

Download the White-Rodgers™ Mobile app for complete cross reference and product information.

Visit to see how Emerson is preparing the HVAC industry for the future.

White-Rodgers 36G-36J series electronic ignition gas valves

Emerson NXT series thermostatic expansion valve

Continued from page 39

has not solely been the result of its products and services, but also the company’s highperforming employees and suppliers, and the tight-knit community for which they are responsible. Living proof of how effective good people can be, Allied Air has always valued its workforce as its greatest asset – a sentiment Craig believes is stronger than ever in 2021. “When we say our people are our greatest asset, we aren’t just making a feel-good statement,” he stresses. “We’ve based our entire business on hiring talented, dedicated professionals and giving them the resources they need to thrive. The right people can elevate the attitude, ideas, craftsmanship and commitment of any facility, and we’re proud to say our employees do so every day. We believe they help us create products that are better for homeowners, and better for the professional dealers who install them every day. “Internally, we have formed a great family environment, which means we take care of our employees as if they were our own flesh and blood. People are paramount to what we do and they are always our main focus. I know this first-hand, thanks to the welcome I received when I started with the organization just over a year ago. Even on my very first day at Allied Air, I was made to feel like I’d been here for 20 years. It’s a great place to work.”

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Allied Air’s commitment to its people is borne out by the firm’s dedication to creating a safe, healthy working environment. In the last two years, only two injuries have been recorded at Allied Air’s Orangeburg site, and a culture of rewarding employees for their performance and safe working practices continues to bear fruit. Though Allied Air admits that it expects a lot from its workforce, the business also vows to support the growth and development of every one of its team members, allowing them to fulfil their potential. From extensive virtual programs housed in the company’s LII learning Center, to an educational reimbursement initiative, Allied Air offers considerable in-house professional development, as well as a rewards package

designed to attract and retain employees. “It’s an environment built on principles of collaboration, mutual success, and transparency, with the goal of growing our business through the success of our customers and people,” Craig reports. “We are passionate about fostering a diverse and inclusive environment and we have a broad range of internship positions and permanent roles within all areas of the business. “There is a lot of opportunity for growth at Allied Air,” Craig continues. “We have a support structure in place for career development and you can pretty much go in any direction you want within the organization, with the full backing of the business.”

Allied Air Enterprises

Like most businesses around the world, Allied Air faced the myriad challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, but rather than strain the company’s bond with its people, the adversity of the pandemic only made the firm’s family culture stronger. After installing the necessary protocols and performing well throughout the crisis, Allied Air is now, in 2021, a point of distribution for the Covid vaccine. “Our Orangeburg plant has partnered with a local pharmacy that came and gave us Covid vaccinations,” Craig affirms. “Hosting the vaccination process has been a great chance for us to provide a life-saving service for our employees, their friends and their families. It’s been a fantastic opportunity to reach out, not just to our people, but to the wider community as a whole.” As Allied Air continues to establish itself in communities across North America, the company soon hopes to realize its goal of achieving $640 million in turnover. The milestone would be the next step in what Craig sees as the company’s long-term mission – transforming Allied Air into a $1 billion organization. “By doubling our current $500 million position within the next three to five years, we

will be able to add another 400 or 500 jobs in the Orangeburg County area, which would be outstanding for us,” Craig states. “There are, of course, a lot of cost reduction and productivity actions that need to be performed before we can meet that objective, so we will be looking at our net margins and conversion costs to ensure we can achieve our goals as soon as possible.” With its distinctive equipment brands, designed to cover every type of customer, and supported by a range of custom and turnkey marketing programs, Allied Air is growing at a rapid pace. As a result, more and more customers across the United States are experiencing what the firm calls ‘The Allied Air Advantage’ – unrivalled service, quality, and tailored innovation. “It’s been an amazing year,” Craig says in summary. “I’ve only been at Allied Air for roughly 12 months now, but we’ve experienced some huge milestones and enjoyed a record year of profitability, even with the difficulties of Covid-19. “On the growth front, our Orangeburg development will bring an additional 100 jobs to this area, which is great news for the local community. I think, when you look at the places

we serve, you can see we have very aggressive diversity and expansion goals. We want to be represented in more places across the US, and we want more people to access, and enjoy, our great products.” In North America, 70 million heating and cooling units were designed and installed by companies like Allied Air between 1989 and 1998, 100 million units between 1999 and 2009, and 95 million units in the last ten years. The significance of these figures lies in what they tell us about the market today - namely, the fact that many of these heating and cooling products are now between ten and 30 years old, meaning the install base in the sector is ripe for replacement. With its thoughtful approach to business and decades of industry experience, Allied Air is more than ready to take advantage of the opportunities the next decade will present.

Allied Air Enterprises

Products: Heating and cooling equipment manufacturer l 43

Solutions for a sustainable world

Momentive Performance Materials (Momentive) produces and supplies high-performance silicones and specialties solutions to essential industries, including agriculture, automotive, aerospace, electronics, personal care, consumer products, building and construction, as well as those producing medical devices, health care applications, and life-saving equipment

Provider of silicones and advanced materials

President & CEO, Sam Conzone

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2020 will go down as the year where manufacturers faced unheard of challenges, and the world was changed forever. Responding to the outbreak of Covid-19 required company

leaders to utilize their experience and encourage and inspire staff to go above and beyond on a daily basis. This was a test for all manufacturing professionals, but maybe one more than most - Sam Conzone, who took on his new role as President & CEO of Momentive

Momentive Performance Materials

Performance Materials, Inc., in April 2020, just as true scale and potential devastation of coronavirus really started coming to the fore. Drawing on his previous 12 years with the company in a variety of roles, as well as his various former positions delivering both growth and sustainable innovation, Sam and his team have worked tirelessly throughout this crisis to keep Momentive’s employees around the world safe and its operations running. It was a privilege for Manufacturing Today to speak to Sam about the business not only creating products people interact with every day, but finding solutions to create them more sustainably.

“Headquartered in Waterford, located in upstate New York, Momentive is one of the world’s largest producers of silicones and silicone derivatives,” Sam began. “We are a multibillion-dollar advanced materials company that produces high-performance silicone and specialties products that play a role in improving quality of life from the time you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed at night.”

From dusk to dawn

With 80-plus years of experience in research, development, and production of silicone materials, Momentive has a legacy of developing

the first-ever commercial silicone processes and products. “Our vast product portfolio is composed of many advanced silicone solutions, allowing us to serve many industries including automotive, aerospace, electronics, personal care, consumer products, building and construction, as well as specialized industries such as specialty fluids, silanes, and additives.” It is clear from Sam’s words that the activities of Momentive span an incredible range of areas and touch the lives of millions of people across the world. “You would be hard pressed not to have an interaction with our products on any given day,” he said. “For example, in your home, our electronic materials enable the mobile device that rings your smart phone’s alarm in the morning. We provide personal care additives that enable silky smooth hair when you take a shower and the advanced skin care products that help you to confidently start your day. Our specialty silicones enable the disposable contact lens that you put into your eyes, and we continue to develop additives for contact lenses that enhance comfort and wearability. “In addition, we enable the intricate and high-speed labeling of packages that you receive from shopping online through our release coating products. Our agricultural additives enable farmers to more efficiently produce the food that finds its way to your table for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When you are done with your day and go to bed you can be about 50 per cent certain that the comfortable foam mattress you sleep upon and the rigid foam insulation that keeps your home warm in the winter were both enabled by Momentive polyurethane additive technologies. “In the cars we drive, Momentive has hundreds of products that enable sustainable automotive/e- mobility, that enable automotive light-weighting, range enhancement, and electronic functionality all while enhancing the visual driving experience. “Our products enhance the brightness and beauty of navigation screens through optical bonding,” he continued. “We help reduce the weight of vehicles as our hardcoatings enable plastic to replace glass in various exterior applications, and our NXT™ tire additives allow enhanced fuel efficiency by reducing rolling resistance.” In 2020, Momentive’s products became critical in the fight against Covid-19. The company’s elastomeric products are used in testing kits, vials, and ventilators, and are integral enablers of the biopharmaceutical equipment used to invent and produce vaccines. l 45

Momentive Performance Materials

Adding to that, Momentive’s products are literally being used out of this world. Recently, it launched high temperature adhesive and sealants that are enabling the next frontier of space travel. With each product, the company is delivering on its commitment to create a more sustainable future. “We facilitate some of the most sophisticated and energy efficient buildings in the world through our broad offering of construction sealants and coatings – for example, we sell water resistant, silicone roof-coatings that sustainably allow roof repair versus replacement,” said Sam. “This eliminates thousands of tons of unnecessary waste landfill additions each year.”

Culture of meaningful growth and innovation

This vastly wide-ranging scope of products and applications takes significant resources to create and maintain, and as Sam pointed out, the company never stands still – continuous improvement is at the heart of what it does. “We are technology and innovation focused, with 3,400 patents serving high-growth applications. We are constantly innovating,” he said. “So, for example, we recently launched world class thermal interface materials that

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are extremely efficient at extracting heat from electronics. These products enable 5G telecommunications substations to bring us faster communications.” Momentive has set aside $40 million of investment to focus on electronic materials growth, and as Sam revealed, this involves new assets at its Waterford, NY, USA; Ohta, Japan; Nantong, China; and Seoul, Korea production sites. “These new assets will allow us to expand our production and supply of products for advanced electronics, e-mobility, 5G/ Telecommunications, and advanced aerospace applications,” he said. “We are in the engineering phase at Waterford now and expect project completion by the end of 2022.” These sites all form part of the Momentive network, which includes more than 40 locations in 20+ countries around the world, serving a diverse customer base of more than 4000 customers in more than 100 countries. Sam and his team are always evaluating opportunities for profitable growth. This is reflected in the company’s recent acquisition of KCC Corporation’s silicones business. The acquisition increased sales by more than ten percent and roughly tripled the business’ overall sales exposure to Korea. “Korea is a hub for innovation especially

Currenta As manager and operator of Chempark with sites in Leverkusen, Dormagen and Krefeld-Uerdingen, Currenta maintains one of Germany’s largest chemical parks at one of the largest industrial sites in Europe. Currenta provides technical chemical services at its three sites for a total of around 70 companies in the Chempark. These include energy supply, waste disposal, infrastructure, safety, analytics and training. In addition, other services such as maintenance and logistics are provided by the two subsidiaries Tectrion GmbH and Chemion Logistik GmbH. Currenta GmbH & Co. OHG, has been operating on the market as Currenta since 2008 and employs around 3,300 people (approx. 5,400 employees incl. subsidiaries), with whom sales of approx. €1.3 billion (€1.6 billion incl. subsidiaries) were generated in 2020.

related to electronics and automotive applications,” said Sam. “We see significant growth synergies and are already working on a multitude of product development opportunities with some of the biggest Koreanbased international companies.”

Leading with sustainability and inclusion

Momentive’s 40-plus locations around the world span from urban to suburban to rural. Nevertheless, the company has strong relationships with the diverse local communities surrounding each. As a result of its active corporate responsibility programs, Momentive is continually evolving partnership and projects to support those who could use extra support. “It’s a core part of our culture to give back and be involved and we are proud of the local efforts we are able to support,” Sam commented. “Last year, most of our activities were Covid-19 focused. We provided PPE, masks, and meal donations to our frontline workers in our communities. However, throughout our footprint, we support our communities through blood drives, food

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drives and many other charitable initiatives. When natural disasters hit, we support our communities with donations.” Momentive also plays a role in cleaning its local communities through recycling programs and clean up days; participating in Junior Achievement programs in local school districts; and coordinating activities to support local non-profits. “I am personally looking forward to being a mentor in the upcoming Junior Achievement Titan program where high school students compete as CEOs,” said Sam.” “In our Itatiba, Brazil, location our team does an incredible amount of outreach working on recycling, and last year, sponsored an orphanage painting initiative,” said Sam. “In Waterford, our Engage committee hosts dozens of activities including a Revolutionary Run, Polar Plunge and cleaning up and repairing a local baseball field.” In fact, the concept of ‘cultural impact’ is one of Momentive’s strategic pillars, and forms part of its mission and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) methodology. “In 2020, we launched Vision 2025, which is the strategic plan that will drive our progress

over the next five years,” Sam said. “We strive to become a stronger and more successful global silicone and specialties company by creating Solutions for a Sustainable World starting with Our People and Enabling Our Customers through our three strategic pillars of CULTURAL IMPACT, OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE and PROFITABLE GROWTH.” To fulfill this mission, Momentive has established aggressive ESG goals that include increasing its gender diversity and innovating products that solve customers’ sustainability challenges, and reducing its impact through operational excellence at both its sites and throughout its supply chain. “By 2025, we aim to increase our gender diversity 50 per cent, and see 75 per cent of new product sales deliver sustainability improvements,” said Sam. “Our goals for reducing impact through Operational Excellence include reducing greenhouse gas, energy, and waste by 25 per cent; focusing on obtaining 50 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources; and reducing our water consumption by ten per cent. Finally, we are aiming to achieve a Platinum EcoVadis supply

Momentive Performance Materials chain score by 2025. This industry-trusted standard, awarded to the top one per cent of global companies, demonstrates the authentic, lasting impact of our commitments as a global citizen and business partner.” This latter point brought Sam onto the topic of supply chains, and the importance of forming collaborative, supportive partnerships with clients and supply chain partners. “Our pipeline of growth is achieved by what we call ‘Earned Growth’,” he explained. “This is all about collaborating with our customers to enable solutions that improve the lives of people around the world. Pick any application I described at the beginning of this interview and any one of those started with customer intimacy and the desire to enable a better end product, such as a more comfortable contact lens or a more fuel-efficient vehicle. “Our researchers and application development engineers work closely with our customers and their customers to ensure our new products have the technical attributes that enable success. We do this with speed, customer intimacy and the excitement in knowing that what we do with our customers can have a positive impact on society.”

operational interruptions, we have minimized the number of positive cases internally through social distancing and education and we contributed to our communities by donating 100,000’s of pieces of PPE. Some of these donations were made during the early days of the pandemic when masks were scarce. “We, as everyone else, continue to monitor developments regarding the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak and vaccine distribution. Our main goal continues to be ensuring the safety of our employees and suppliers while minimizing the impact of the virus on our customers.” With 12 months at the helm of Momentive under his belt, and the vaccination program giving hope for the world, Sam is looking forward to the year in front of him. Momentive has a pedigree of more than eight decades of experience in its industry from which it can continue to grow, and bolstered by its new Vision 2025 strategy, the business is in a strong position to continue creating its vast range of innovative solutions for a sustainable world.

Momentive Performance Materials Services: One of the world’s largest producers of silicones and silicone derivatives

The Future: An empowered team creating a sustainable world

The synchronicity required to maintain these symbiotic relationships is heavily reliant on the skills and efforts of the Momentive team, and Sam agreed that without its people, the business would be ‘nothing’. “For us, our strategy starts with our people and flows through our three strategic pillars,” he stated. “We are intensely focused on developing talent and reinforcing behaviors that are linked to our core values of innovation, safety and sustainability, customer centricity and integrity.” Naturally, this people-first approach became even more prominent during the Covid-19 pandemic, and Sam emphasized that Momentive takes its responsibility to keep its people as safe as possible very seriously. “We have been aggressive in our actions to keep our people and operations from being impacted by the virus,” he said. “We are an essential business that provides critical materials for components that enable a wide range of medical devices, health care applications, and life-saving equipment used to fight and treat this pandemic. “All sites are fully operational and have activated crisis response teams, which are prepared to address multiple scenarios. We have succeeded so far, with almost no l 49

Great outdoors Boasting the most comprehensive product portfolio in the industry, Barrette Outdoor Living is a fencing, railing and outdoor living products manufacturer that has tripled in size over the last decade

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village beekeeper turned mayor and general store owner, Barrette Outdoor Living (BOL)’s Founder, Roméo Barrette, lived by the motto ‘Let your imagination take you beyond your dreams.’ This aspirational phrase helped to

Barrette Outdoor Living (BOL)


Our environmental push is present across the organization, including through the purchase of scrap, the use of 50-70 per cent recycled aluminum, and the recycling of up to 97 per cent of our paint. We have agreements with lots of local utilities and nearly all of our locations have a closed loop water system, meaning we don’t send a lot of processed water to municipalities because we recirculate it

define the innovative, entrepreneurial nature of his business over the next decade, so that today, nearly a century since it was established, BOL continues to exceed expectations and change the face of the industry. BOL is one of the USA’s largest

manufacturers of fencing, railing, decking and other outdoor living products. Still run like a family-owned private business, the company now employs close to 2000 team members across seven manufacturing sites. Speaking to Manufacturing Today, Vice President of

Operations Gary Williams discusses the company’s capabilities in more detail. “At present, we have three vinyl extrusion facilities,” Gary says. “One in Bulls Gap, Tennessee, which is our largest facility with 28 lines, and two smaller sites in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Plant City, Florida. We also have two aluminum facilities - one in Brooksville, Florida, and one in Galloway, New Jersey which focus on powder coating, fabrication and assembly. Flint, Michigan, is home to our injection molding factory, which produces a lot of custom brackets, caps and parts used at other sites for fencing products and decorative screens. Finally, we have a composite decking facility in Biddeford, Maine.” Benefitting from a skilled internal engineering unit, BOL designs and builds large amounts of its own equipment, meaning the company’s production capabilities are highly custom. Additionally, the firm makes use of considerable automation and robotics to help eliminate some areas of manual labor, as well as increase efficiency and improve process flow. “We have very strong continuous improvement activity in all our locations, which enhances OEE and reduces cost,” Gary reports. “We are very innovative and entrepreneurial, and by that, I mean we are not risk-averse. l 51

Barrette Outdoor Living (BOL)

We value speed and efficiency, and yet, this is still the most people-sensitive place I’ve ever worked.” As Gary suggests, BOL’s workforce is just as important to the company as automation and robotics. The firm’s Chief Executive Officer, Jean Desautels, echoes this notion, arguing that, while BOL will always have expert manufacturing processes, people bring something extra to a business that robots simply cannot replicate. “You can buy equipment very easily, but finding the right people for your business is super important, so it is engrained in our culture,” Jean asserts. “We have what we call ‘The Barrette Way’ and we circulate that throughout the business with the support of three or four coaches who train people on how to have good, productive communication. We also run an enormous amount of wellness training, we are increasing wages faster than inflation and our organization is full of servant leaders. The era of taking employees for granted is over. We believe in a happy, stable workforce, where people have smiles on their faces as much as possible.” Headlined by a self-designed, in-house training program called ‘Management of my Potential’, professional development at BOL helps colleagues understand their

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egos, appreciate what makes them react, and learn about what motivates them. The four-session initiative is proven to improve teamwork, collaboration and decision-making in key moments. “We have a real open-door policy and spend time encouraging people to listen,” Gary adds. “Everyone knows how to talk, so listening is a big part of our training.” BOL’s strong foundation, both in terms of cutting-edge machinery and a highly-skilled workforce, has enabled the company to not only triple in size over the last decade, but amass the industry’s largest and most comprehensive product portfolio. Among the firm’s most recent key products is a range of easy-to-use fencing, railing and decking products that can be installed up to 50 per cent faster than industry alternatives. “We preassemble a lot of our railing and fencing systems so they are extraordinarily easy to install,” Jean declares. “We have a decking line that uses a step-clip system that works almost like laminate flooring. Step-clip decking has proven to be incredibly important because we entered the decking world against giants, yet we’ve experienced extremely fast progression. “We also use different plastic composites to increase rigidity compared to our competitors,

MI Metals For over 20+ years MI Metals and Barrette Outdoor Living have been more than a supplier and customer; we have been partners. Using clear and effective communication we work together with Barrette by providing optimal customer service through the entire buying process. Our flexible scheduling offers peace of mind when purchase orders are expedited or when unplanned changes occur in their supply chain. Due to the close proximities of each of our facilities we can ship and deliver a high-quality product all within the same day.

as well as a host of mixed material systems. We are actually the only company providing different types of material in fencing and railing, such as a combination of vinyl composite and aluminum.” In 2020, Covid-19-induced lockdowns in the US and Canada led to an increase in demand for home improvement and garden design products as people began spending more time at home. BOL was one of the companies to benefit from surging interest in outdoor living equipment, and the firm’s fencing and privacy screen solutions received a particularly significant boost. “Two years ago, we launched a collection of two-foot by four-foot and three-foot by six-foot decorative panels that are incredibly popular right now,” Jean reveals. “They are made of molded, reinforced polypropylene and are highly sturdy. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, people have been using three, four or five of these panels, instead of fencing, to create some nice privacy areas outside their homes. It feels as though we’ve discovered a whole new use for this application.” With three production facilities that run almost exclusively on recycled material, another key differentiator for BOL is the sustainable nature of its manufacturing operation, and in turn, its products. Each year, the company works towards waste neutral targets and, in recent times, has introduced solar power at its plants and dramatically reduced

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Barrette Outdoor Living (BOL) Top: Brooksville, Florida, manufactures aluminum fence and rail industry product Centre: the installation of a rooftop solar array at Brooksville Bottom: Gallowy, New Jersey, this facility is home to Barrette’s aluminum and vinyl fence and rail manufacturing operations

the amount of material it sends to landfill. “All of our locations separate corrugated banding, metal, glass, plastic, and anything like that into different categories and sell those on externally, as opposed to taking them to landfill,” Gary explains. “At two of our sites, solar power is projected to offset 8.3 million

pounds of carbon and it’s our estimate that this is enough energy to power about 4.5 million homes a year. “Our environmental push is present across the organization, including through the purchase of scrap, the use of 50-70 per cent recycled aluminum, and the recycling of up to 97 per cent of our paint. We have agreements with lots of local utilities and nearly all of our locations have a closed loop water system, meaning we don’t send a lot of processed water to municipalities because we recirculate it.” Thanks to its advanced capabilities, extensive infrastructure, resolute culture, and decades of experience, BOL is now in a strong position to grow into the future. Since 2007, the company has made over ten acquisitions, adding products and expertise along the way, and allowing the firm to become a true outdoor living provider. In 2020, BOL added Torquest and CDPQ to the owner’s family. “CDPQ is the largest pension administrator in Quebec and its main strength will be in giving us access to funds and financial support,” Jean remarks. “We have always been private and never used much leverage in our business, but these guys are financial engineers and they are helping us with the financial side of things. They are really there to help accelerate our growth.” Major expansion plans are currently in implementation at BOL, and initiatives launched in May and June 2020 surrounding the increase of capacity at the company’s extrusion plants are well underway. The business will also be pursuing an ambitious merger/acquisition target as it continues to search for new additions to its portfolio, particularly in the area of manufacturing locations that could help the firm reduce its costs. “These are the two major initiatives we will pursue in the coming three years,” Jean confirms. “We also have a new outdoor living product that I cannot discuss in detail right now, but it will certainly help with extending our footprint in the exterior systems space.”

Barrette Outdoor Living (BOL)

Products: Fencing, railing, decking and other outdoor living products l 55

Heart and aero-soul

Resolutely self-sufficient, and quick to adapt to the challenges of 2020, Moravia Cans continues to reap the benefits of a can-do attitude

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Moravia Cans


hen Moravia Cans appeared in Manufacturing Today towards the beginning of 2020, no-one at the company could have predicted the year that lay ahead. In the months that followed, Covid-19 wrought profound disruption across the manufacturing industry and in almost every area of regular, everyday life. However, after suffering only a minor decrease in overall sales volumes, Moravia, the industry’s leading developer and supplier of innovative, lightweight aerosol cans, is also enjoying a positive start to 2021.

“Despite the vast experience we have in this business, the past 12 months have been as challenging as any that we have known. However, I am pleased to report that Moravia has performed incredibly well under the circumstances,” declares Martin Boaler, the company’s Managing Director. “We have maintained high levels of on-time and in-full delivery, and we grew existing customer volumes month-on-month, while acquiring some interesting new business along the way.” Reacting quickly to the outbreak, Moravia secured its Bojkovice, Czech Republic production site in the early days of the l 57

Below: Managing Director, Martin Boaler

pandemic, installing an array of Covid protocols and ensuring that work could continue in a safe and consistent manner. With 97 per cent of its products exported to destinations in all parts of mainland Europe, the United Kingdom and Africa, Moravia, and its skilled workforce, negotiated pandemic restrictions and socio-political issues like Brexit to guarantee that the company’s customers received a full and continuous service at this critical time. “Simply maintaining employee safety, business continuity and customer service were major achievements in 2020,” Martin says. “The pandemic led to a change in demand for our products, with increased focus on home care

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and sanitizing lines, as well as new applications for aluminium aerosols, like disinfectants. Moravia’s sales, R&D and operations departments responded very quickly to short-term requests for new products, and while much of this work benefited our results in 2020, many projects will drive our performance in 2021 and beyond.” Unsurprisingly, 2020 presented Martin and the leadership team at Moravia with its fair share of difficult decisions. Prior to the Covid outbreak, the company had, for example, planned to transition to a new ERP system, supported by significant upgrades to its manufacturing execution software, time recording, and other upstream and downstream processes. The impact of the pandemic might have caused many businesses to postpone these projects, but after some deliberation, Moravia decided to modify timescales, re-prioritise to allow for more remote management, and continue with the system overhaul in earnest. “Given the operating restrictions, and the fact that so much of the work had to be done remotely, getting the ERP system and the improvements to our other systems up and running was a fantastic achievement, and one of our biggest successes last year,” Martin reports. “It meant that we actually managed to carry out all planned items for 2020, and it has provided us with a great basis for further improvements in the years ahead.” Moravia’s cutting-edge Bojkovice production site was also the subject of continued investment in 2020, as part of a long term development program to ensure the facility is fully capable of supporting the firm’s marketleading product portfolio, Moravia recently added a number of finishing touches to Hall 104 and other key areas of the manufacturing hub. “We are a single site operation, so we do everything we can to make sure that our facility is a very good one,” Martin asserts. “Bojkovice is one of the biggest aerosol manufacturing facilities in the world. Constant investment is necessary to keep the site at the leading edge of health and safety and environmental protocols, as well as a leader in the product ranges we produce. As a consequence, we do have a couple of key investments coming up that will be revealed in more detail later this year and will move the site forward again.” Backed by Bojkovice’s considerable production capabilities, Moravia remains a leader in the application of drawn and walironed (DWI) technology for both straight

Moravia Cans walled and body-shaped shaped aerosol cans. More than this, the company is, at present, the only supplier in Europe actively employing DWI technology for mono-bloc aerosols. “There are DWI offerings in Southeast Asia and the USA, but none with the level of sustainable package weight saving that we have achieved,” Martin states. “Our awardwinning Phase 1 product already reduced the standard weight of a 150ml container by 30 per cent, while also significantly increasing the proportion of recycled content. Our Phase 2 product has now increased that weight saving to more than 40 per cent. These are the reference levels of improvement in sustainability in our market worldwide.” Both Moravia’s DWI monobloc aerosols and slug-based impact extrusion products now benefit from an unrivalled combination of lightweight design and maximised recycled content. The company’s sustainability efforts do not stop there though. Sales Director Berry van Soest explains more: “Our patented alloys enable metal and package strength to be maintained after the required high

temperature oven curing processes, and the specific composition of the alloys also enables a much higher level of recycled material content compared to the standard slugs used by others on the market. This makes for a 75 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions compared to standard aluminium aerosols. “Over the last 18 months, we have seen

mall//herlan Almost every person has once held an aluminium aerosol can, like for deodorants or air fresheners, in their hand. It is most likely that those products or aluminium bottles and tubes were made on one of mall//herlan production’s lines. Like Moravia, customers world-wide are convinced by its competences for the design and manufacture of complete lines and single machines for aluminium cans, bottles and tubes. mall//herlan is part of the Swiss wifag//polytype Group and therefore has access to the technology base of //polytype, the worldwide manufacturing leader of machine systems for the decoration and printing on aluminium, steel and plastic packaging such as cans, cups, lids, tubes as well as on sleeves and tube finishing. //polytype has also outstanding competences in digital printing machines for a wide range of packaging applications in aluminium, steel and plastics. Its international customers appreciate the possibility to buy complete production lines and needed services from one source. It is proud of the trust that Moravia places in the business and its production lines and looks forward to continuing its successful co-operation in the future. l 59

Below: Sales Director, Berry van Soest

a considerable push from customers for more sustainable solutions,” Berry continues. “Moravia has always tried to find the right balance between being providing commercially attractive and sustainable propositions. For example, we were one of the first in the industry to roll out layer-wide palletization for our cans, which has reduced truck loads across Europe by adding more cans on to every single pallet. Right now, we are looking at replacing solvent-based coatings with waterbased and low cure coatings.” As the quest for better sustainability continues, Moravia will, primarily, remain focused on the production of monobloc aluminum aerosol cans for the personal and home care sectors, with a view to expansion into beverage and chemical products if good opportunities arise. Whatever awaits Moravia over the next decade, the company knows that it can rely on a host of strong business relationships with suppliers like Mall + Herlan, Polytype, and others. “We have a great working relationship with Mall + Herlan, who have been with us to service our maintenance requirements whenever needed over this recent difficult period,” Martin reveals. “They are probably our longest-serving supplier and we anticipate that

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Moravia Cans they will continue to be involved in the next stages of our business development.” As Martin suggests, a select group of partners have been vital to Moravia’s success, particularly over the course of the last year, but so has the firm’s exceptional self-sufficiency. “We rely heavily on our own tool shop, and we produce an unusually high proportion of the proprietary tooling needed to make our products,” Martin remarks. “It is reflected in the fact that our products tend to be more advanced than others. It is in our DNA to push the manufacturing processes and the product itself forward.” As we inch closer to summer, with Covid-19 vaccines rolling out across the globe, Moravia remains focused on keeping its employees safe through the latter end of the pandemic. In the longer-term, Berry could see the company growing beyond the Czech Republic and into the wider world. “Our goals have always been to fully realize the potential of our product, make the most of our sustainability leadership, and to leverage our outstanding production facility,” Berry

notes. “However, we are an international packaging business with more than 97 per cent of our deliveries made outside our home country, so we are open to establishing or acquiring businesses in other countries. This may be the direction we head in the next few years - applying our proven technology to existing or newly created sites in order to create more value.”

Before Moravia sets its sights on new products or new sites, Martin believes it is important for the company to thank the people who kept the business stable throughout the pandemic, and allowed it to look to the future with optimism in 2021. “I would like to pay tribute to our workforce who, despite some risks and difficulties in the operating environment, turned up to work every day, determined to keep us going,” Martin proclaims. “We’ve not had to shut down production at any point, except the scheduled cutover days to the new ERP, and we have been able to continue with projects, maintain good agility and respond to our customers. This is all thanks to our staff; they are a credit to Moravia Cans.”

Moravia Cans

Products: Innovative, lightweight, shaped, sustainable aerosol cans l 61

Strong possibilities

SOLIDUS Solutions aims to be the supplier of choice to its customers by providing excellent solid board and solid board packaging solutions


ith a long history that spans some 150 years, SOLIDUS Solutions (SOLIDUS) is a leading European sustainable fibre-based packaging provider for food and beverage, consumer goods, and industrial applications. Boasting a stellar reputation built on strong customer

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relationships, SOLIDUS prides itself on its integrated offering, managing the entire process of solid board for multiple products and industries across Europe and around the world. The SOLIDUS brand itself first emerged in April 2015, when the solid board operations of Smurfit Kappa in the UK, Netherlands and

SOLIDUS Solutions

Belgium were acquired by pan-European, mid-market investor Aurelius. Little more than a year on from this, in June 2016, the commercial activities of the Abelan Group in Northern Europe were purchased, and in January 2018, SOLIDUS completed the acquisition of Abelan Board Industrial S.L., a major producer of core board and solid

board, packaging products operating out of Southern Europe. As of September 5th, 2019, SOLIDUS itself became the beneficiary of a successful acquisition, being purchased by Centerbridge Partners, a transaction, which fits well into its Private Equity strategy of investing in market-leading companies based in Europe

with significant growth potential. Since then, Centerbridge and the SOLIDUS management have been working closely together to strengthen the company’s commercial and operational capabilities in order to enhance the company’s position as a reliable and innovative partner to its international customer base. In addition, l 63

strategic acquisitions are targeted to further broaden the geographic footprint and product portfolio of SOLIDUS. According to Dieter Bergner, SOLIDUS’ Group CEO, there are a number of reasons why the business would have initially gained Centerbridge’s attentions. “Among the many things that sets us apart from our contemporaries in the market is our clearly defined focus on solid board, our fullyintegrated production regarding solid board and core board solutions, and our ability to act as a one-stop-solutions provider to our clients, whether they be small local businesses or sizable market leaders,” he says. “In addition

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to our production capacity, we also possess expert design and development capabilities – from idea generation to supply – and a uniquely customer-centric approach that relies on having both a local and multinational presence in some of the world’s largest markets. We focus on operational and commercial excellence and have a value creation plan deeply embedded into our dayto-day business, which is results driven and supported by performance measurement.” Making up its network of manufacturing facilities, SOLIDUS today operates from five mills (four of which are located in the Netherlands, with the other in Spain) and a

growing number of converters found across the UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Portugal. “Our target as a business is to enable each local manufacturing unit to react fast to changing local demands. This means our converters manage major production steps or the supply of their markets themselves,” Dieter explains. “A typical converter receives solid board from our mills, and provides local die-cutting, printing and product assembly. “Across the business, we continue to invest in all of our major processes, and rollout further improvements where they are identified. Typical examples of said actions include providing our mills with production flow optimization, visual inspection systems, automatic cutting devices, and solutions to ensure energy, water and waste efficiency.” SOLIDUS also applies dedicated green strategies: “The company already had a strong track record of using environmentally-friendly production processes, with a specific focus on areas including energy and water use, and pollution,” Dieter states. “Among the many sustainability trends that we consider of particular importance include the idea of fiber-based packaging being a pioneering product within the circular economy, accelerating actions to protect forests

SOLIDUS Solutions and biodiversity, and the global transition towards achieving Net Zero carbon emissions. “At SOLIDUS, we firmly believe in the need to constantly adapt our activities and the many other ways in which we conduct sustainable, ethical and economically sound business. Consequently, in 2021, we have commenced with a group-wide sustainability program, while better defining the long-term group’s strategy and outlining specific targets relating to carbon emissions, the use of energy and water, and meeting the highest food safety and social standards.” This year – 2021 – has also seen SOLIDUS continue its program of targeted acquisitions, with high profile examples including its

purchases of both Heathpak Ltd and Dutch converters GMP Partitions. “As noted previously, we focus mainly on solid board applications, which is a sizable niche market with a lot of very interesting end markets in itself,” Dieter highlights. “The growth of the business through acquisition comes with three main targets, to increase its regional reach, to increase its technical capabilities, and to integrate mill production volumes with our conversion capabilities.” It was in early February 2021, that SOLIDUS announced the purchase of Newport, Wales-based Heathpak Ltd, signifying a strategic investment to further expand its operations, broaden its product portfolio, and further optimize service levels to both its existing and new customers


There is no doubt that SOLIDUS will be one of the European leaders in sustainable, fiber-based packaging solutions based on a broad technical and commercial understanding of customer demands l 65

through shorter lead times, as well as improved innovation capabilities. This was followed in early March with the acquisition of GMP Partitions, the largest producer of solid board partitions and inserts in the Netherlands. Located in Nijkerk, GMP Partitions supplies partitions and inserts to European end markets such as the beer, spirits and glassware sectors. All of its partitions and inserts are produced from solid board due to its strength characteristics and logistical advantages. This strategic acquisition is another important step in the further vertical integration within SOLIDUS and will strengthen its leading position in the European solid board industry. “The recent purchases of Heathpak Ltd and GMP Partitions fit perfectly into those three categories I referenced before,” Dieter enthuses. “Both companies help us to enlarge our technical capabilities, improve our local product portfolio and capability to supply customers and their businesses, and bring us a step further towards our integration. We are focusing our product portfolio for solid board and packaging on different end markets, and endeavor to use growth through acquisitions to offer a onestop-buying experience to customers which adds significant value.” Bringing us up to date on the progress that SOLIDUS is making during 2021, Dieter points out that it – like all market players

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SOLIDUS Solutions – remains in the process of managing the on-going impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Until European countries are able to phase out existing restrictions during the course of this year, some of our concerned end markets such as restaurants, canteens, cruise and air lines will continue experiencing reduced levels of demand. At the same time, all major raw materials, energy and environmental cost, but also transport and freight are sharply increasing. SOLIDUS has a strong track record for continuous improvement, a program which is internally called “value creation plan”. Beside all successful efforts to overcome labor inflation and the rising costs for environmental levies, SOLIDUS had to respond by raising prices from early 2021 onwards in order to maintain profitability during this transition period.” Looking further ahead, Dieter’s vision for what the coming years hold for the business is clear. “There is no doubt that SOLIDUS will be one of the European leaders in sustainable, fiber-based packaging solutions

based on a broad technical and commercial understanding of customer demands. We create added value for our customers through a broad and customized product offering, and a deep knowledge of our capabilities and products. With a fully integrated operation consisting of specialist plants bringing vast experience and competencies in their respective field product range, our motivation will continue to be a supplier of choice offering synergies to our customers.”

SOLIDUS Solutions

Products: Sustainable fibrebased packaging

PKF/POST Pallets PKF/POST Pallets are a proud supplier of wooden pallets to SOLIDUS Solutions. We produce pallets for the food and feed industry, for the pharmaceutical industry, for the paper and cardboard industry and for the automotive industry. Employing a total of 150 people at two production locations, PKF/POST produce six million pallets per year. Calibrated pallets, precisely dimensioned for your products and production machines. Our logistic responsibility includes an absolute delivery guarantee. We have a total of eight production lines in use. Each line is in its own production hall, to guarantee production continuity. Our pallet production is fully automated, and therefore error-free. l 67

Stitched to the nines

Beverly Knits Inc is threaded with passion and innovation to pioneer the fabric industry towards greener solutions and broader sectors

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Beverly Knits Inc


There are all kinds of trends going on. The light weighting of vehicles for example where people are trying to improve the consumption rates of fossil fuels, but also get into the electric vehicles, and, using high performance yarns, textiles play a massive role


his family-owned business has now stitched its way to becoming one of the largest circular knitters in the US, creating industry-leading products for the world’s greatest brands of performance wear, athletic footwear, intimate apparel, outdoor products, mattress and beddings, automotive, industrial and medical applications, including personal protective equipment. Located about 25 miles from Charlotte in Gastonia, North Carolina, Beverly Knits Inc (BKI) was started initially as a commission circular knit operation in 1980 by Bob and JoAnn Sytz. Serving the North American textile industry, it has significantly invested in expanding its capabilities to diversify its customer base. Now, operating out of five facilities, the enterprise includes Beverly Knits, Altus Finishing, Creative Fabrics and Creative Ticking. This collection of businesses has succeeded through the years by working hand-in-hand with its customers to develop unique fabrics to meet their specific needs. Second generation CEO of BKI, Ron Sytz, talks to us about the success that the business

has had in pushing its innovation to expand into multiple market sectors. He begins by explaining how part of the company’s success is owed to its impressive infrastructure. “One of the reasons we have been able to branch out is owing to our facilities and ability to be a complete solution for our customers. Our diverse range of knitting machines vary from eight inches in diameter to 60 inches, then our gauges can range from seven to 42 gauge, and are available in single and double knit constructions. We also operate a fleet of fully electronic pattern knitting machines, which enable the production of custom engineered patterns,” he says. These facilities enable BKI to invest at each stage of the fabric formation process. Commencing with the knitting process, a range of yarns, natural to synthetic, coarse to soft and fine denier, some embodying specialized properties such as flame or cut resistance, are knit into fabrics. From here, these refined fabrics are sent off to Altus Finishing’s state-of-the-art equipment, where BKI has recently installed two new stenter frames. These set the final width, weight, stretch and recovery properties of the l 69

knit fabrics. “Additional investments in advanced chemistry applicators allow for the application of specialized topicals to enhance and customize the performance characteristics of the fabrics and our finishing techniques are able to achieve the fabric’s targeted properties and performance characteristics. We then move on to Creative Fabrics, the sales arm of the company, which sells finished products to a variety of markets, including the bedding industry, through the Creative Ticking brand,” Ron iterates. Several years ago, Creative Ticking began to develop and market Tio Tec® fabrics with capabilities to help bedding companies assemble beds faster. This technology incorporates the required fire barrier into the decorative cover fabric, making it more efficient to assemble mattresses. Additionally, Creative Ticking developed and launched Zone 55TM, another performance technology where the company focuses the application of enhanced fabric cooling chemistry to mattress covers in the areas that matter most for its clients, moderating the temperature swings experienced while they relax in bed. “We love working directly with high performance technical yarn manufacturers to help engineer specialized technical, industrial

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Beverly Knits Inc


and medical textiles, with the objective of achieving specific performance characteristics,” explains Ron. This passion that Ron speaks about is what led the company to excel during the pandemic, a time when others may have been crippled. Although business for BKI consequently slowed down during the second quarter, it continued to

operate throughout 2020 by incorporating the protocols for daily screening, masking, sanitization and distancing. The company was also able to take its production one step further to serve as part of the solution to the increasing need for personal protective equipment (PPE). In early 2020, as part of the efforts to address the needs created by Covid-19, BKI pivoted very

Unifi is a global textile solutions provider and one of the world’s leading innovators in manufacturing and synthetic and recycled performance fibers. Through REPREVE®, one of Unifi’s proprietary technologies and the global leader in branded recycled performance fibers, Unifi has transformed more than 25 billion plastic bottles into recycled fiber for new apparel, footwear, home goods, and other consumer products. Unifi continually innovates performance technologies to meet consumer needs. With partners like Beverly Knits, Unifi will continue to innovate to meet the needs of our shared customers. l 71

Below: CEO of BKI, Ron Sytz and Janet Sytz


We’re using polyester yarns that are made either from recycled plastic bottles, or even reclaimed clothing or textile waste. At the same time, we are gathering a lot of our own textile waste and sending it out to companies that are then reprocessing it and turning it back into fiber to be reused

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quickly to develop PPE products, specifically facemasks, made from knit fabric, for the Department of Health and Human Services. The company utilized its own assets to develop a network of over 20 cut-and-sew operations across the US to supplement its own assembly capabilities and produced over 20 million masks in three months, which successfully compensated for the dip that the business experienced in the early stages of Covid-19. BKI also took the exciting opportunity to reshore its business during the period when international travel was heavily restricted. “Exposure to offshore supply lines can unnecessarily jeopardize the timely and complete manufacture of multi-component products or create missed sales altogether with the inability to supply consumer demands in a timely manner. Additionally, supply side constraints and bottlenecks have created incredible inflation of the cost of international shipping, further adding to the cost escalation and issues with on-time delivery of offshore supply,” Ron shares with us. BKI believes that supply chain managers will continue to de-risk and

Beverly Knits Inc

simplify their supply networks by reshoring more of their critical needs, which will create more opportunities for domestic US manufacturing. In particular, BKI is seeing industrial applications benefit from this shift to local supply. “For example, the domestic production of knit components for seating, v-belts and molded part reinforcement enables automotive and heavy equipment manufacturers to keep assembly lines moving as planned as opposed to being disrupted by such components being delayed due to international transit issues. In 2021, supply chains will begin to require more production as they work through inventory gluts from 2020 and that reshoring will gain momentum across all segments,” highlights Ron. Alongside its reshoring developments, the company is also eager to expand into broader markets, and, in doing so, support the global move to greener solutions in the industrial sectors. “There are all kinds of trends going on. The light weighting of vehicles for example where people are trying to improve the consumption rates of fossil fuels, but also

get into the electric vehicles, and, using high performance yarns, textiles play a massive role. We’ve worked with other companies to develop textiles to move into the exhaust system of automotive, mainly trucking. Instead of burning off the pollution that comes out of the exhaust, we’re actually keeping up the heat high enough in the exhaust area to burn it off internally. In this way, these textiles that are wrapped around the exhaust pipes of these big rigs help improve the pollution of the emissions,” Ron informs. He continues to iterate that BKI is also working to improve the use of recycled fibers for as many applications as possible. “We’re using polyester yarns that are made either from recycled plastic bottles, or even reclaimed clothing or textile waste. At the same time, we are gathering a lot of our own textile waste and sending it out to companies that are then reprocessing it and turning it back into fiber to be reused,” he adds. Considering these impressive developments, it also worth mentioning that BKI is currently in the midst of another facility footprint expansion

at its main plant, which will enable the installation of more knitting machines and the subsequent addition of more finishing capabilities. BKI will continue to diversify the mix of its products and expand into the end-use markets to where it can partner with its staff to deliver lasting value for its clients. “We are very focused on the continual developments of new fabrics and, through persistent innovation, we believe in creating the opportunities for each of our employees and associates to develop their own potential and we strive to always nurture a working environment where they are equally as passionate to help the company’s name grow,” Ron concludes. With these values at the core of what it does, the future is looking colorful for this circular knitting business.

Beverly Knits Inc

Services: Circular knitters l 73

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 cutting-edge 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 work in our shop right now, so that’s a big plus for us as well.” l 75

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 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

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Retech Systems

PIASA RETECH SYSTEMS a leading original equipment manufacturer trust in our capacity to manufacture first class machined weldments, same as other OEMS around the world. RETECH SYSTEMS gave us the opportunity to manufacture the first water cooled vacuum melt chamber back in early 2017, and since then we have been supporting their business fabricating very specialized custom weldments with an excellent quality and price competitiveness. l 77

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.


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

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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 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 for

Retech Systems 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 l 79

Changing for the better

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SPP Pumps

Having delivered some of the world’s most prestigious industrial pump projects, the reputation of SPP Pumps for quality and value continues to grow as it diversifies its offering and its client base


t was back in 2015 that Manufacturing Today last had the privilege of documenting the activities of SPP Pumps, a leading manufacturer of centrifugal pumps and associated systems with more than 130 years of history and experience behind it. In May 2021, we were able to catch up with the UK-based pump producer and its Managing Director, Alok Kirloskar, who went into great detail as to what the intervening years have been like for the business. “During the mid-2010s, SPP Pumps was what I would consider to be a very oil and gas reliant business, with a great number of products being sold into that particular industry,” Alok begins. “With the downturn in oil prices hitting around the mid-2014 period, a bold decision was taken by the company to focus on how best to diversify itself so as to be less reliant on one

market. Considering the wealth of knowledge that we possess when it comes to oil and gas, it was considered a prudent move for us to venture into the maintenance and services realm, which we did initially by working with Petronas. We would subsequently go on to sign additional framework agreements with the likes of Shell, BP, and more recently with a number of the newer, private-equity-backed operators that have taken over the running of various platforms and assets. “The next logical step for the company was to develop what we call our subscription services, which include all of the associated smart diagnostics, data signs and predictive capabilities surrounding the management and maintenance of our pumps so as to ensure reliability and the effective management of costs for the operator. The popularity of these

concepts especially in the pandemic as well as SPP’s platforms like Fire Eye™ and Kirlosmart™ helped to transition SPP Pumps from being just another maintenance company into a multifaceted service provider.” SPP Pumps has gone on to further embrace new technology to deliver greater results to its clients. For instance, today it is making use of Augmented Reality (AR) technology to support its field service work. “What our AR platform – which comes in the form of an app connected to the Kirlosmart™ platform – does is provide all of our engineers with the information, data and support needed to assist our customers efficiently and effectively,” Alok explains. “Utilizing cameras, the software can pinpoint a specific pump and draw up from our digital library its model, dimensions, and historic issues reported by past service engineers along l 81

SPP Pumps

with a live tutorial to resolve common issues. This results in faster resolutions to problems being identified and enacted, and helps in our objective to provide consistency in our service and delivery to our customers.” Meanwhile, from an internal manufacturing perspective, SPP Pumps has continued to make expert use of modern processes, such as its use of 3D printers, which have become integral pieces of equipment to its everyday actions. “3D printing has very much changed the dynamics of our industry for the better,” Alok confirms. “Today, we are able to use this technology to print parts in a matter of hours, which means a customer can receive the parts they require in little more than a couple of weeks, as opposed to months as would have been the case in the past.”


In order to adapt to the ever-changing nature of the business world around it in recent times, SPP Pumps has broadened its horizons further by not only embracing new markets to serve, but also extending its geographic reach. “Where we have seen significant growth is in our work within the water and utilities sectors, producing pumps and pumps as turbines (PAT) that are helping to generate power for clients not only here in the UK – for the likes of Scottish Water – but also abroad, such as in Hong Kong where we work with Hong Kong Water,” Alok details. Where SPP Pumps has also shown its forward-thinking characteristics is in its determination to also work with those clients whose efforts are increasingly turning to making the greatest use of renewable sources of energy as possible. “As the UK’s leading pump

Although I would say that the vast majority of the markets that we serve today – including oil and gas, the water and the utilities sectors – look fairly buoyant at the moment, we are still approaching the immediate future with a degree of caution as the economies of the world re-open and governmentbacked support packages wind down

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manufacturer, it is a requirement that SPP Pumps remains being seen as a leader within its field. As such, we have followed the trend towards sustainability closely over the years, and continue to work both internally and externally with our clients to source evergreener solutions and ways of working, this includes fish friendly pumps manufactured by companies within our group” Alok enthuses. In spite of the impact felt by economies and industries the world over as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, SPP Pumps actually saw its profits almost double in 2020 compared to those achieved in 2019. Alok goes on to document how the business responded to the crisis, and which factors have helped to contribute to its performance in the last 12-to-18 months. “Initially, when the pandemic struck, it is fair to say that there was a lot of confusion out there as it pertained to changing rules, guidance and potential shut downs of different sectors,” he says. “What we knew right away, however, was that there was an immediate need to ensure that we could conserve cash within the business, which we did by reviewing all of our planned spending, and by retaining good control of any debt we had. Part of the reason for this was so that we could continue to pay our suppliers, who we have shared strong relations with for many years, and who we knew would be critical to our future prosperity regardless of the pandemic. “We also benefitted greatly from the

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SPP Pumps

British government’s various business support schemes, such as the furlough scheme, and from our people’s willingness and ability to adapt to changing ways of working. While our teams responsible for the running of our manufacturing facilities remained on-site, those whose roles were shifted to working remotely embraced this challenge very well. In many ways, I think the last year has – if anything – brought our teams even closer together, which is a fantastic development.” Looking to both the short- and long-term future, Alok is cautiously optimistic about what lays in the months and years ahead for SPP Pumps. “Although I would say that the vast majority of the markets that we serve today – including oil and gas, the water and the utilities sectors – look fairly buoyant at the moment, we are still approaching the immediate future with a degree of caution as the economies of the world re-open and government-backed support packages wind down,” he says. “In terms of what we are doing as a business, we continue to invest in various services, such as our subscription service, and support functions. For example, we have recently opened a new Service Centre in Coleford, Gloucestershire, which represents an important piece of capital expenditure that will help to support our growing services business for many years to come. “Referencing back on a point made earlier, the time between 2015 and 2018, at the height of the downturn in oil prices, were

some of the most challenging years in the company’s history. Nevertheless, the decisions that we made during that time to diversify our offering, product range and geographic reach, have paid dividends during 2019 and 2020, and we expect that pattern to continue throughout 2021 and beyond.”

SPP Pumps

Products: Centrifugal pumps and associated systems l 85



valuable player Having forged its reputation as a solutions provider for many common production line problems, MoistTech has grown into a world leader in moisture measurement and control


or decades, the manufacturing industry was plagued by common issues, such as wasted product, low-efficiency and a lack of consistency. John Fordham and Roger Carlson recognized the need for solutions, and in 1975, founded a company that could provide them – MoistTech.

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Established in Saratosa, Florida, MoistTech is responsible for the industry’s first patented method of non-contact, non-destructive moisture analysis and detection for a multitude of sectors. Improved over time, the company’s near-infrared (NIR) technology still leads the market in 2021, providing robust and reliable

MoistTech Corp

moisture measurement and control for businesses the world over. “We delivered the moisture measurement and control industry’s first big breakthrough in the 1970s and we are now 40-year veterans of the sector,” John Fordham - now MoistTech’s CEO - explains. “Near-infrared moisture control technology helps us provide top-of-theline equipment popular all around the globe. We now have reps in every continent, though all our products continue to be manufactured and assembled in the US.” Primarily, MoistTech manufactures a substantial range of on-line and at-line sensors for the real-time process control of numerous applications. Capable of providing true data regardless of gaps and interruptions in product flow, these sensors are insensitive to material variations, such as height, color and particle size. Consequently, MoistTech equipment can deliver instant, non-contact moisture analysis of manufactured goods to ensure the accuracy and quality of the final product. Not only does this make for a reduction in waste, but also a decrease in downtime, manual intervention and defective goods. Serving a wide variety of sectors and disciplines, including adhesives, biomass, chemicals, coatings, food, forest products,

minerals, renewable energy, textiles and wood products, MoistTech solutions are valued by a diverse range of clients. Alongside the firm’s flagship IR3000 sensor, which can be used for most applications, the company offers a number of more specialist products. “We have the CCS3000 for dark materials like coal, the IP67 for harsh conditions, the 828-model designed specifically for tobacco and less sensitive blends, and two laboratory units that are considered ‘at-line’: which are the 868 and 858 models,” John remarks. “The IR3000, however, is our most state-of-the-art smart sensor. For any application, it will have a measuring and repeatability accuracy in the +/- 0.05 per cent range depending on the application specifics. The sensor is drift free and recalibration will never be required. As standard, there are three isolated 4-20mA outputs along with an Ethernet connector and a second one for RS-232/485 serial communication. For display, included in the quotation as an option, is a remote LED meter with 3.5-inch digits for excellent readability. “Furthermore, our PC software suite is supplied with the MoistTech sensors at no additional cost,” John continues. “This software is available for configuration and calibration, as well as trending and data collection. It is,

nevertheless, not required for the sensor’s operation as the MoistTech NIR sensor is all self-contained.” MoistTech NIR technology is a ratiobased measurement with prime beam, which eliminates sensitivity to distance, improves stability and accuracy, and provides a non-drift design. This allows for extremely accurate measurements with far more sensitivity than that of the firm’s competitors. While other technologies require constant re-calibrations, have height interference, experience drifting over time, and produce less reflected light, MoistTech solutions provide the user with true data rather than an estimated guess. “Central to our success is the fact that we have more advanced design than our closest competitors, giving us much more reflected NIR energy to the product, less height interference and, most importantly, one-time calibration with zero drift,” John says. “MoistTech is the original pioneer of NIR and we still have the backing of the patent holder for the principle, which means there’s much more to come.” Always innovating, MoistTech has been responsible for some of the industry’s most advanced technological developments over the years. Together with Co-Founder and Head of l 87


NIR technology is specific and stands out from other moisture control technologies as it does not ever come in contact with the product, is non-destructive meaning it does not destroy the product it is measuring - and provides instant, accurate and repeatable results

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MoistTech Corp Engineering Roger Carlson, John has overseen them all. “In 2018, we developed improved filters for our converting sensor, enabling enhanced readings in any type of glue, coating base, adhesive strip, silicone release paper or pressure sensitive adhesive,” John reveals. “We followed that up in 2019 with the installation of our 50,000th product.” Beyond the company’s inherent technological advantage, MoistTech also provides some of the industry’s best customer service and on-site support. For instance, once samples are received and a calibration is built, the firm endeavors to have its clients in operation within two weeks of their initial order. “When it comes to customer service, we are difficult to beat,” John states. “Our reps are available to our customers upon request, with direct access to their support engineer. Likewise, live chats are accepted on our website and online submissions are addressed within 24 business hours or less. Additionally, all sensors are pre-calibrated to the customer’s exact application prior to shipment, allowing for plug-and-play operation. “More than this,” John adds, “we offer on-site support scheduling with our team of engineering experts, arranging for them to come-on site to address any issues or train any staff on the use of the equipment. In line with current restrictions, necessary Covid-19 precautions are taken during travel and customer visits.” As John intimates, MoistTech was deemed a necessary business in early 2020 and, with so many clients relying upon its services, remained active and operational throughout the pandemic. One way in which the firm adapted during the Covid-19 crisis was by pivoting to a more digitally-heavy service, meaning customer support and troubleshooting could be provided just as effectively online. Similarly, the Covid-19 pandemic did not dampen MoistTech’s innovative spirit and later in 2021, the company will launch its brand-new Linear Belt-Driven Slide. A traversing system designed to allow multiple sensors to move back and forth over a manufacturing line, the equipment is already being installed at some sites in the US. “We are continually researching ways to improve our technology and applications because our ultimate goal is to enlarge our customer base and provide the most efficient ways to increase our clients’ plant productivity,” John asserts. “Our production facility in Sarasota is where all the samples are calibrated

in the lab. This calibration is used to program the sensor to be exactly what the customer is measuring, in order to avoid errors and sensor adjustments. Additional options and parts are added in this facility along with all shipping and repair requests. “NIR technology is specific and stands out from other moisture control technologies as it does not ever come in contact with the product, is non-destructive - meaning it does not destroy the product it is measuring - and provides instant, accurate and repeatable results. It is not only a fast-analytical technique with the ability to deliver the chemical and physical information of virtually any matrix, but it can tell us about a product in a similar way to visible light. When light hits a product, it will interact in various ways - transmitted light will pass through the product, while backscattered light will reflect from the product. Light can also be absorbed by the product, and absorption is key in NIR analysis. By harnessing this core technology, we then attempt to produce variants and new, more efficient product types like the Linear Belt-Driven Slide.” MoistTech always welcomes OEM opportunities, and John encourages interested parties to apply on the company’s website. The website also offers potential clients the

opportunity to trial sensors for 30 days, as well as have samples evaluated and an accuracy report produced to illustrate how effective an NIR MoistTech sensor would be. In the next 12 months, MoistTech hopes to increase its presence in the food and mineral sectors as the business continues on a journey of international expansion. Increased plant efficiency, lower energy costs, higher accuracy, an instant return on investment, and low to zero maintenance are just a handful of the benefits awaiting businesses taking part in the MoistTech revolution. “We are determined to dominate the industrial manufacturing markets with our top of the line equipment,” John declares. “We want to provide all companies with the ability to properly measure and control moisture within their products. Put simply, our technology, experience and customer support make us the best option for anyone looking for moisture measurement and control solutions.”

MoistTech Corp

Services: Moisture measurement and control l 89

Thinking out of the box

Bingham and Taylor is grabbing the bull by the horns as it heads into 2021 with new expansions, new products and new innovation for the success of its business


orn and bred in Buffalo, New York, Bingham and Taylor (B&T) has been serving the water and gas industry for the last 170 years. It is a name well-known for being the original manufacturer and patent holder of the iconic ‘Buffalo-Style’ valve box, as well as the first to create plastic valve boxes, injection molded meter pits and hundreds of other product enhancements to support its customers. By specializing in providing easy, safe, and secure access to underground utilities, the company works with its customers to produce custom solutions designed to meet specific access needs. Having spent many years at its plant in

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Buffalo, B&T then relocated its manufacturing facilities to Culpeper, Virginia and continued to expand with an injection molding plastics plant and a blow molding plastics plant in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Across all of its plants, the owner, Laura Grondin, is actively involved in the well-being of every employee and has made safety a major part of the company’s ethos. All facilities include an in-house engineering, design and pattern shop to support design, tooling and sampling for projects. As foundational members of the American Water Works Association and the American Gas Association – whose missions are to improve the quality and supply of water and

gas throughout North America – B&T has long supported these important institutions to ensure that the standard of its products is of the highest quality. Speaking with Mike Latham, the Director of Product Engineering and Design for B&T, we learn more about the business’s tremendous manufacturing capabilities and how it has become an industry pioneer with hundreds of leading inventions. The process of innovation for products is part of the success that defines B&T. “We work directly with the utilities that install our products to understand the issues that they may be having and ensure that we develop or modify whatever is necessary so that our

Bingham and Taylor

customers don’t have those issues anymore,” Mike highlights. He goes on to provide an example of where the business was able to provide a customized service, which concerned a customer along the east coast. “They had been having some trouble with settling of their valve boxes during installation so we proposed a modified valve box with some flanges and a Valve Box Stabilizer to help with the installation process. This really took care of their issues,” he tells us. Mike states how the company strives to look for moments when it can truly be a partner with its utility customers on the solutions they need. This is partly how innovation at B&T works; the other way is by

looking at the industry as a whole. “Being able to inspect whether the product line requires a new product, means keeping an ear to the ground of the industry. That is how we came to develop our most recent product line – the Bison valve boxes,” Mike says. The product is made from heavy duty polymer, which has become a great alternative to cast iron. Mike explains another product line that the business introduced a couple of years ago that became highly successful as a result of its durability. “Our injection molded meter pits were very well received by the industry. Traditionally, meter pits have been made a variety of different ways – whether it’s rotational molded or concrete, but we thought that injection molded meter pits would provide a superior quality and efficiency in production that the others could not achieve,” he informs us. The product was well-received as a trustworthy addition to the industry. However, the creation of these products would not be possible without its lean manufacturing facilities and the measures in place to guarantee efficiency. According to Mike, the business’s cast iron facility in Culpeper is a fully-automated foundry with tablets and custom apps at each work station to ensure

that all operators are able to keep track of the production process. It also helps to keep track of the orders as they move through the line, while being able to cut down on scrap. “We just opened up a brand-new 80,000 square footfacility in Fredericksburg and we are continually upgrading our equipment. We’ve also developed custom apps so that you can keep track of all the production as it occurs and really streamline the production there,” Mike highlights. The company’s injection molding facility is also fully automated. The company has invested in large injection molding machines with over 2000 tons of clamping force to ensure the products created are of a superior quality. All these investments in machinery have allowed B&T to explore other industries. “Last year we were approached by a telecommunications provider to develop a custom access box for their installation in a developed urban environment. They commissioned us to provide a locking lid that deterred tampering, and we were able to come up with a solution that was minimally disruptive to the sidewalk where they were installing the telecommunications. They were really pleased with the product that we were able to develop for them and it’s certainly a l 91


We never want to be in a spot where we can’t supply products to our customers, so we are making significant investments in the equipment in all of our facilities to help increase that capacity

type of access box that can be used elsewhere,” Mike elaborates. Although providing safe and secure access to underground utilities has been a focus targeted to the water and gas industry, telecommunications seems like a logical progression for the business. “Having said that, we don’t want to get too far out of the lane of what we do and what we do well, but we feel

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like providing access to facilities is certainly one of our strong points,” he emphasizes. Even during the pandemic, the business succeeded in supplying at full capacity. By implementing measures in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and continuously reviewing and updating these measures regularly, B&T managed to increase

Bingham and Taylor

its sales by approximately ten per cent. The company made sure that its suppliers had the necessary equipment and raw materials to support its operations. When supplies were

limited, B&T worked with secondary sources to ensure they could keep the production lines rolling while still protecting its employees and customers. Now it has managed to successfully recover and is able to timely provide all of its products. As much as B&T is dedicated to providing world-class and reliable products for the water and gas industry, it is equally as committed to a sustainable business practice of using recycled iron in its cast-iron manufacturing. Items such as used car rotors make excellent sources of iron when melted down and reused, which means that 100 per cent of the iron used in its castings comes from recycled material. All these measures demonstrate how in the last four years B&T has seen a steady growth in its business, and there are no intentions to slow down. What the company aims to do is keep making investments in its own facilities to ensure it can keep growing with the demand of its business. “We never want to be in a spot where we can’t supply products to our customers, so we are making significant investments in the equipment in all of our facilities to help increase that capacity,” Mike says. These investments will include introducing additional automation into the manufacturing

process and upgrading some of the machines that have reached the end of their useful life. Although these cast-iron machines typically have a long life, they do need to be replaced, which means that making significant investments into the molding lines will assist with increasing the capacity of its manufacturing. As long as communities continue to renew their infrastructure, B&T will continue to support them. While the company looks to take on new ventures and expansions, it continues to focus on serving the needs of its customers by providing solutions to the issues they run into on a day-to-day basis. The business believes in getting the job done right the first time and by keeping safety, respect, accountability and commitment at the core of its practices and relationships, it is able to provide superior product quality and customer experience that is sure to see the sustainability of its name for many years to come.

Bingham and Taylor

Services: Product providers for underground utility access l 93

Below: David Elstone, Managing Director of Select Medical

Lasting impression Leeds-based mattress specialists, Herida Healthcare Ltd continues to cushion the blow of pressure injuries and cater for the most vulnerable people in society


ounded in 2015, Herida Healthcare Ltd is a proudly British manufacturing company that supplies to some of the most essential services in the country with pressure relieving support surfaces, moving and handling equipment and accessories. What makes Herida stand out in the market are its early investments in high-end, laser-guided computer numerical

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controlled (CNC) foam conversion machinery. This new German-technology is based on a computer-aided design, and offers significant versatility, speed and accuracy of output. When coupled with both high frequency and pulse welding facilities, this variation of reliable technology enables the group to produce multiple weld programs to suit an array of both support surfaces and fabric variances.

With a focus on foam support surfaces, the company has been able to grow impressively since its inception. In 2017, it expanded its range to include innovative support surfaces and in 2018, introduced a range of moving and handling equipment that set the business on track to continue its momentum. The subsequent growth led to more rapid developments, which facilitated its drive to

Herida Healthcare Ltd

invest in its people and take on other business ventures. In 2019, the company appointed an industry leading healthcare Production Director and a Head of International Sales. Following this in March 2021, the business completed the acquisition of Select Medical, a company that also supplies support surfaces, but crucially has a full service and repair offering to complement the broad range of Herida products. Owing to its well-respected product offering and capabilities, the company had been a target of Herida for some time. Over the past 20 years, Select Medical has built a very stable platform and the relationship between the two businesses is set to provide an innovative product range and value for money to Herida’s customers. Along with the acquisition, the business brought David Elstone on board, the Managing

Director with Select Medical, and he now also heads up the manufacturing division. David shares with us how Herida has consistently strived to deliver the highest quality to the industries that are looking after the injured and most vulnerable. “We work closely with clinicians and industry professionals to enable us to develop and provide products that will enhance both the quality and comfort of patient life,” highlights David. This is why the acquisition proved to be a strategic move for Herida as it opens the door to endless opportunities for both businesses. “On the one hand, we have an incredible manufacturing facility with very strong customer relationships, and in Select Medical we have a well-established service business with a market-leading range of dynamic support surfaces. Surprisingly, given both businesses operate so closely in the market, there is actually very little cross-over and so both sets of customers have gained through each of our skill-sets, expertise and facilities brought in from each side of the business. The scale of the new company will allow us to be much more aggressive in terms of the size of projects that we take on,” David shares with us. Although plans for the acquisition instilled excitement into the company’s future, they also came during an international crisis, which forced Herida to postpone its development activities. “It was difficult, but we are all now focused on the task at hand and we will be

knuckling down in the coming weeks and months to offer our enhanced products and services,” David notes. Despite this being a setback for the company during the Covid-19 pandemic, in other ways the business was able to pull together its resources to continue delivering to frontline workers. “In all honesty, I have no idea how the Herida team managed it. Covid-19 restrictions made manufacturing life tough enough, but to add to that, the team experienced completely unprecedented levels of demand. We had to facilitate additional shifts, lots of overtime and some really clever sourcing activity, only made possible by staff commitment and a knowledge and expertise of the space,” he exclaims. With these measures in place, the business was able to stabilize its orders and provide its muchneeded services to its clients. When Nightingale hospitals were launched across the country to facilitate the overwhelming number of Covid-19 patients, Herida’s mattresses were on the beds of the care centers as part of the vital equipment required to assist the NHS during the unprecedented year. It goes without saying that its ability to satisfy the influx of demands would not have been possible without the commitment of its dedicated staff. Manufacturers will often discuss how the people of their business are the greatest assets, but within a manual-skill sector, people really are the secret to success. “I’ve not yet found a planned preventative maintenance l 95

program for a person, so from an efficiency improvement perspective, it’s about creating the right production flow, standards, process and an environment where people want to come to work and contribute. I think we do this very well at Herida,” says David. Part of how the business is able to maintain

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a motivated company culture is due to distributed leadership and goal alignment. David elaborates on how Herida empowers its people to perform optimally by beginning with the premise that people fundamentally arrive at work to contribute, and that encourages the business to create an environment for its

team to do just that. “Coaching and supporting is what we focus on, rather than managing and directing, and definitely not abandoning, which is often the pitfall of empowerment. Goal alignment is about creating an exciting direction of travel, then cascading down achievable goals and objectives to everyone to ensure we are all aligned behind the common goal,” David iterates. This goal-aligned ethos is clearly what has given the company its push for forward development and identify opportunities to improve patient wellbeing. By having access to state-of-the-art CNC machines, welding and printing facilities, as well as in-house sewing technology, Herida is able to develop new product initiatives into actual product quicker than most, providing it with further opportunities to expand. “We are currently looking at an exciting sling opportunity for export, as well as in-house manufacturing of high-end cross-over mattresses, which is a hybrid support surface that we are very happy with,” shares David. Added with these exciting investments in infrastructure, the team is determined to fulfill an aggressive growth plan over the next 12to-24 months. Recent synergies have shown to be incredibly useful acquisitions, which

Herida Healthcare Ltd have put Herida in a position to strike again. “Now that we have garnered the scale and the management infrastructure, we are able to aim high and move quickly,” David pinpoints for us, further adding that despite the company’s number of highly skilled fabric cutters, its next phased investment will be linked to a vast CNC fabric cutting facility, which will allow fast cross transfer of divisions and materials, whilst targeting an inevitable reduction of waste and the continued commitment to a smaller environmental footprint. “Then, on the exporting side, we now have a Channel Director who is responsible for facilitating our exports. British manufacturing, particularly in the medical devices spaces, has huge capital globally and we have built up a very strong export business already, which

currently accounts for around 25 per cent of total business, but there is huge scope for further growth and we are determined to explore those avenues,” David explains. With restrictions on the one hand and a surge in demand on the other, the company has been through a tumultuous year to say the least. However, despite the challenging environment for manufacturing, Herida has grown to become one of the biggest operators in this industry, underpinned by an ambition to look after the many different care providers across the country. In the space of five years, it has managed to leave a remarkable impression on the sector and only hopes to continue on this trajectory. “Above all, we are passionate about improving the lives of those who need to be cared for,” David concludes.

Herida Healthcare Ltd

Products: Manufacturers of mattresses, cushions and various accessories

Lemon Labels Lemon Labels have been working with Select Medical for several years. Having initially provided some simple labels, the team at Select Medical contacted us for assistance with something a little more complicated; with collaboration and testing we put together a tough label with chemical resistant print that wouldn’t be damaged even by the strongest chemical cleaners. Lemon Labels Director Trevor Voisey said: “At Lemon Labels we understand labelling from a manufacturing perspective, but we want to make the process as simple as possible for our customers, by understanding the clients’ end goal we can help to specify the most appropriate label materials and print methods to achieve this.” l 97

Sustainable excellence Interfloor Limited is proving that its innovative strategy to care for the environment and its employees is securing continued success for this year and beyond

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f all the industries striving to implement recycling and sustainability as part of their company ethos, carpet underlays might be a sector you least expect to have this already covered. However, Interfloor Limited has ambitions to champion the flooring industry in the direction of sustainable and ethical trade. As

Interfloor Limited


Anyone with a heart for the environment and is having some carpets fitted should definitely insist those carpets are fitted on our new renu® underlay

Europe’s largest manufacturer of carpet underlay and flooring accessories, Interfloor supplies its products to flooring retailers, distributors and flooring contractors in the UK and around the world, using a diverse range of products including the three most popular forms of underlay: polyurethane foam, sponge rubber and crumb rubber.

Although its heritage dates back to the 1940s when Duralay began manufacturing the first carpet underlays in the UK, Interfloor was created by the union of Tredaire and Duralay in 2002 and is now under the umbrella of the Victoria plc group. Since then, the company has pushed itself to improve the ecological and ethical impact of its name. In 2008, it invested

£3.5 million in regenerative thermal oxidisers to eliminate odour and oil particles, and in the process, it was able to reduce its factory emissions by over 90 per cent, despite already having emissions below the legal requirements. Then more recently, it launched its Ethical Trading Policy where it committed itself to implementing the principles of the Ethical Trading Initiative Base l 99

CEO of Interfloor, John Cooper

Code, an internationally recognised code of labour practice. Sharing his thoughts on the successes of the company, the CEO of Interfloor John Cooper, highlights how the company has been able to overcome countless obstacles since it was last featured in this magazine a little over two years ago: “Our people, at all levels, responded to the various challenges we faced with a positive approach, exceptional flexibility, and a commitment to do what was required to best support the company and our colleagues through the tough times. I can honestly say that I am immensely proud of every single one of them,” he shares. The impact of the multiple pandemic lockdowns in the spring of 2020 hit the company hard. However, it maintained two key objectives: protect the cash and be ready to hit the ground running when business restarted. “We anticipated a massive pent-up demand for our products post-lockdown so we restarted production early and we had full warehouses and full shifts planned for when retail reopened,” John explains, “Despite this, the scale of the demand stunned us, and it appeared as if none of our competitors had been as positive as we had, and we struggled to meet the full demand that came our way,” he continues. Although the company was disappointed that it struggled to meet its normal service level standards during that time, its dedicated efforts and clear communication was well received by its customer base and resulted in gaining and retaining market share.

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Interfloor Limited Such an impressive strategy even led to the team collecting several industry awards. Its Tredaire Kensington Deluxe won a Flooring Innovation Award, it was named the Contract Flooring Journal (CFJ) Underlay Manufacturer 2020 Winner, and the Interiors Monthly 2020 winner for the Best Underlay Manufacturer. In the midst of defeating trade challenges and stacking up some accolades, the business is also about to launch a new product: renu®. “renu® is a game changer. The new underlay meets the concerns of our modern world in reducing waste and being environmentally sustainable. The product is made by bringing together raw materials that we save from going to landfill with some that have a positive effect on the environment,” explains John. renu® is made from 98 per cent recycled materials and is then itself 100 per cent recyclable at end of life. “It has taken almost two years of inhouse development work and global sourcing of genuinely environmentally friendly materials to create an excellent product that meets the objectives we set out to achieve whilst still delivering that great underfoot comfort and insulation that Tredaire underlays are famous for. Anyone with a heart for the environment and is having some carpets fitted should definitely insist those carpets are fitted on our new renu® underlay,” emphasizes John. Looking towards the new year, the expectations for 2021 are equally as exciting for the company, in particular if the hospitality industry regains its confidence and invests in new builds and refurbishments. “It is obviously difficult to predict where the coming year will take us, but our general view is that we will see a positive period through from now until maybe late summer, then a slightly more difficult period as the consumer spend on home refurbishment moves over to holidays, before finishing the year positively again thanks to home working becoming more the norm and the resurgance of new builds & refurbishment in the hospitality sector,” John informs us. The company intends on staying true to its strategic approach of operating a customer centric model and driving hard for continual improvements in productivity and operational efficiencies. It remains determined to deliver sound financial returns for its shareholders through being the supplier of choice to its customers, while pioneering the industry with innovative social and environmental initiatives. Interfloor’s goal is to be the first-choice supplier to its customers by providing better products, better brands and better services that enable its success, and it seems to be well on its way to reaching that achievement.

Interfloor Limited

Services: Carpet underlay manufacturers l 101

Fueled by the best With a commitment to continuous improvement, innovative technology and on time delivery, Bennett is providing solutions to the fueling industry

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he journey of Bennett Pump Company started with a handcrank barrel pump, a little over a century ago. Under the leadership of Thomas Bennett, the business went on to branch into tank manufacturing and proved to be incredibly successful. These expansions only strengthened the company and in the early 30s, Thomas introduced several models of gasoline


dispensers into production, while also launching its first shipment of gravity-fed visible pumps and eco tireflators. In 1942, the company began to manufacture war items including machine guns, which then set it off to develop the revolutionary fuel pump island, which combined air, water and gasoline. Bennett then persevered further and challenged itself to be a leading provider for

the fuel dispensary market, which enabled it to create its first pump to offer a wide panoramic curved glass dial face available in twin or single product and hose models capable of servicing two vehicles at one time, known as the 900 series. Since this momentous development, the company continually pushed itself to update the series over the decades. Another notable achievement happened in 2008 when the

business introduced the Pacific Dispenser, the industry’s first dispenser with a Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard system, which was a breakthrough innovation for the fuel sector. Now, Bennett is the only dispenser manufacturer to offer a universal Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) upgrade solution and has implemented the Conexxus Forecourt l 103

Payment Terminal V1.0 protocol into its EMV payment systems for new dispensers and EMV upgrade kits connected to Verifone Commander Point of Sales systems. For over 100 years, Bennett has been a leading manufacturer of retail and commercial fuel dispensers and components. With a headquarters in Western Michigan, and an additional manufacturing facility in Shanghai, China, the company has the flexibility to be a worldwide competitor in fuel dispensing products. Alan Betts, the current Vice President of Sales, shares with us the ways in which Bennett has been able to excel as experts in the fuel dispenser industry and lets us in on a few trade secrets that have encouraged the business to pursue product innovation. “Bennett offers modular, factory-fit EMV upgrade kits for competitive fuel dispensers. These kits provide a seamless, integrated design that provides a quick, easy field installation where each component of the kit can be easily removed and replaced. All displays are also sold with an open architecture to provide simple media management with no contracts, fees or penalties. Bennett also offers several managed media options for retailers who prefer to have their media provided by a professional content delivery specialist,” he informs us. Bennett’s compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) dispensers are designed to provide customers with a familiar

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fueling experience by incorporating the same interactive features used on traditional fuels dispensers. These dispensers also use an active visual display of the fueling process to provide customers with the assurance of a full fill. The company also boasts the Bennett Hydrogen Series, a world-class hydrogen dispenser engineered to provide years of trouble-free service through the latest technology and robust design. Tying in with these impressive capabilities, Alan highlights fresh, additional product launches that are set to push the business even further ahead of its competition. “Our new Bennett Site Master EMV payment pedestal delivers the convenience of fuel island payment that is capable of managing fleet and credit card transactions for multiple dispensers. This particular product utilizes the proven Bennett alphanumeric payment module (APM) and is ideal for fleet cards, even at unattended fueling sites. A single Site Master is capable of accepting all types of credit, fleet and loyalty cards for up to 99 fueling positions. The optional integrated interconnection box simplifies installation and improves service diagnostics by using fewer wires,” Alan explains. He continues to discuss the company’s Pacific Series Dispenser, which delivers the lowest cost of ownership using extremely low power (60 per cent less than similar competitive models), extended warranty coverage, and reduced maintenance costs with the trouble-free and

Bennett accurate SB100 Fuel Meter, stainless steel grade select buttons, and hardened polycarbonate display panels, giving Bennett that extra edge. Spencer Hines, Bennett’s President, indicates the ability to push industry boundaries in order to fulfill the needs of the fuel dispensing sector is partly owed to Bennett’s production facilities. “All of our engineering and design, sales and marketing, accounting, administration, manufacturing, and testing are done by approximately 170 employees in our Spring Lake headquarters and Shanghai. We are proud to utilize lean manufacturing processes to ensure efficient operations to generate quality products delivered on time to our customers.” Further to this, Bennett has vertically integrated bringing manufacturing processes in house where possible; its surface-mount technology (SMT) line is just one example as it now builds all current production circuit boards at its western Michigan facility. These facilities have enabled the business to take on greater and more remarkable projects to add to its timeline of achievements. Recently, the US Department of Energy awarded

the company the opportunity to develop a high-flow hydrogen dispenser technology that aligned with the department’s H2@Scale initiative. The initiative explores the potential for wide-scale hydrogen production and utilization in the US to enable resiliency of the power generation and transmission sectors, while also supporting diverse multi-billion dollar industries, domestic competition, and job creation. Bennett took on the project to deliver exceptional production, delivery, storage, and use for hydrogen and fuel cells to enter the medium and heavy-duty transportation sector. Other exciting opportunities that presented themselves to the company allowed it to extend its business to international shores, one of which included the exclusive supply of dispensers in Mexico to Shell Oil. Recently, Bennett achieved OIML certification which will drive further business internationally. In 2019 Saudi Aramco and Air Products teamed up to build the first retail hydrogen fueling station in Saudi Arabia, which called on Bennett to supply its popular hydrogen fuel dispensers. The final factor that completes the business’

MagTek Delivering reliable payment hardware and data protection services, MagTek’s OEM solutions seamlessly integrate into products and applications. We are proud to be partnered with Bennett, supplying MagTek’s oDynamo for reading magstripe and contact EMV cards, and DynaWave, for reading contactless EMV cards and NFC wallets, supporting Apple VAS. Customers’ sensitive data is encrypted immediately, protecting the customer and location. Bennett is set to implement the Conexxus protocol, the industry’s first standard for outdoor contact and contactless EMV payment terminals. Combining nearly 150 years of leadership and knowledge, Bennett and MagTek have teamed up for success. l 105

recipe for success is of course its people. Bennett is very proud of its staff and how they represent the company’s core values. Spencer believes that with a committed team of experts, there is very little that the business cannot achieve. “Our success is built on fundamental core values and we have a very diverse set of activities in this company that require experts. The more we know about our team members and products, the better the team and the product becomes, the better the product becomes, the stronger the brand becomes and the stronger the brand becomes, the more success we enjoy as a company. Curiosity will drive team members to continue learning, which in turn makes the product greater,” he emphasizes. He further notes that by incorporating these values, Bennett is driven to uphold its high standards of safety and quality, with over 3000 days since its last lost-time and zero recordable injuries. This combination of dedication, motivation and safety is exactly what fueled each team member to pull together and stay ahead of the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. “At Bennett, our highest priority is keeping our employees, family members, customers, suppliers, and its surrounding community safe. We continue to follow guidance from the health department and as a result have implemented several procedures to help do our part to contain the spread of Covid-19. We would like our customers,

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distributors, and suppliers to please know that we maintain our commitment to provide outstanding service and support. We have the capability to remain fully functional; whether our employees are working in the office or remotely from their homes and in addition to facilitating workplace flexibility, we have implemented further steps to ensure our office and manufacturing warehouses are safe for all employees and we are ensuring that our business operates uninterrupted to meet our customers’ needs,” he states. He continues to stipulate that, regardless of the uncertainty that the pandemic has inflicted on all businesses, Bennet remains determined to monitoring the situation and guarantees that its work ethic follows the latest directives from local, state, and federal health officials. Although these adjustments implemented by the company to weather out the Covid-19 storm may have created a unique working environment, they have not slowed down the business innovation. With the conversation of sustainability quickly growing in the fuel industry,

Bennett is determined to remain part of the solution that helps decrease the industry’s carbon footprint. Because Bennett feels strongly that alternative fueling technologies will affect manufacturers as well as consumers for the better, it launched its alternative fuel dispenser product line including hydrogen, CNG, and LNG. “Bennett has hundreds of dispensers in the marketplace and continues to develop new products in addition to participating in the US DOE project that drives high flowing hydrogen dispenser technology development. We see Bennett as strongly positioned to deliver towards the future needs of consumers worldwide, and the market for renewable energy and the challenges they present market also offers a tremendous opportunity for Bennett,” Spencer shares. It is clear that Bennett is committed to providing customers with the right blend of features, technology, price and service. Through research, development and innovation, the business looks for ways to improve all aspects of the fueling experience. This is a company that

is continually looking forward to improve its range and delivery, which is why its product line, offering and service have continued to grow successfully. From design to new technology to service and support, Bennett is simply the better fueling option.


Services: Fuel dispenser manufacturers l 107

A determined pursuit of growth

A company that maintains a top-notch standard of service, MIS Conversions Ltd has made remarkable expansions and the end is nowhere in sight


n Doncaster, there is 88,000-square-foot of production space housing up to 700 vehicles at a time under the name of MIS Conversions Ltd. This warehouse is equipped to offer a first-class service that caters to all conversion requirements, with the ability to provide a full design and build a service that guarantees the light commercial vehicle (LCV) conversion that its clients receive is of the highest quality. Sharing his thoughts and knowledge on how this stateof-the-art facility was able to grow into the

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powerhouse it is today, we chat with Joe Warner, the company’s Sales and Technical Director, about MIS Conversions progress since its inception in 2006. The company started as a small third-party tracker installer with two stakeholder investors. They went on to occupy their first workshop in 2010 when they were approached by a large racking provider in the UK to install some racking. “That is how we transitioned into the industry. Since then, the company has been able to promote itself onto bigger premises,

so our first workshop was initially 4000 square feet and had room for about two or three vehicles, and then after about 12 months we took possession of an adjoining building, which was around 8000 square feet with about five vehicle bays. Then, around six to eight months later we took the final adjoining building, which put us into about 12,000 square feet of production space,” Joe informs us. It was only five years ago that the company moved onto its current premises, which represented an impressive 30,000-square-foot upgrade from

MIS Conversions Ltd can make changes very quickly if needed,” Joe shares. These key drivers have therefore helped the company secure a considerable range of projects. “About four years ago, we won the Yorkshire Water fleet where we were contracted to install our in house-produced Vantage Systems racking. We also completed a large consultation piece with Yorkshire Water; we worked with their drivers, to redesign some specifications to get departments into smaller vehicles to try to reduce CapEx for the company while also aiming to reduce overall emissions by running a smaller vehicle. We’ve also done some more specialist conversions for them such as complex CCTV vehicles, which have seated desk areas, microwaves, kettles, a large computer set-up, and in the rear cranes for safely dropping specialist camera equipment into the drainage network. That entire project was quite an extensive bespoke build that we offered them,” says Joe. In mid 2017, the business received monetary support from Lloyds Banking, which allowed it to buy approximately £600,000 worth of sheet metal manufacturing equipment to produce Vantage in house. At that time, the racking was being manufactured by a third party, and MIS needed further control and agility by bringing in in house. In addition, it has partnered with Anglian Water and has been awarded part of the Environment Agency’s

the previous 12,000, making it able to buy its own in-house print shop to offer vehicle livery and signage services. Part of the success that has led to such expansive growth, according to Joe, is owed to the company’s ambition to prioritize retention and agility. “We’ve still got our first ever fleet customer that we won nearly ten years ago, which is quite unusual. Then I’d always say another massive factor is agility. We’re not owned by a bigger corporation and we don’t have a massive board, so we

fleet in which it has built multiple dropside and tipper bodies to serve various different divisions throughout the organization. “We also supply and install all of the sign writing in-house for the majority of customers we build vehicles for, as well as in-life support so if a vehicle has issues or it’s in an accident and it needs replacement signage or parts, we can take care of that,” Joe explains for us. From the detail required of these projects, it is not difficult to see that the company excels in the fleet conversion field, and Joe notes that there are a few pivotal traits that help set the company apart from its competition, particularly its determination to offer a more customer-focused experience. “Our team is really focused on trying to meet very tight time scales and be as reactive as possible. Obviously as a company grows naturally, the trend is to start slowing down, but we’re trying to stay as agile as we possibly can. I’d say one of the biggest differences from us is – and I’d be pretty confident in saying this – we’re the only racking and body builder that manufactures all its own racking and bodies in-house within the UK,” highlights Joe. Having said this, the ability to provide quality service for its customers would not be possible without curating a company culture that is driven to see the company succeed. “I’d rather internally promote our employees than take on new higher members of staff.


As far as I’m concerned, it’s getting people with key knowledge and expertise in areas where we don’t necessarily excel at currently and giving them the support that can drive us forward, so we just try to surround ourselves with like-minded, self-driven people who are really excited about pushing MIS to the next level l 109

Spray Centre Combining a wide choice of products and accessories with years of experience, Spray Centre is the professional’s choice for spray application equipment. Having worked closely with MIS, Spray Centre offers the business its full support and values the great business relationship that they have created. Spray Centre has been impressed to see the growth of MIS, which it regards as one of its top customers. Spray Centre offers its congratulations to MIS on the opening of its new additional premises, and as MIS goes from strength-to-strength, Spray Centre sincerely wishes it the best and looks forward to working together in the future.

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Unfortunately, that’s not always possible, especially if we are moving into new arenas and we need people with knowledge that we don’t have in house. As far as I’m concerned, it’s getting people with key knowledge and expertise in areas where we don’t necessarily excel at currently and giving them the support that can drive us forward, so we just try to

surround ourselves with like-minded, selfdriven people who are really excited about pushing MIS to the next level,” shares Joe. He goes on to explain that the company’s mission is to strive towards better and bigger goals and to instigate a disruption in an industry that has been traditionally set in its ways for too long. “All the players that are in this sector are now

MIS Conversions Ltd

as big as they’ve always been to some respect, so we’re just trying to do things differently and bring as much in-house as possible. I try my utmost – if I deem it financially plausible – to bring it in house, and do it ourselves because I’d rather employ people here and expand the company’s abilities.” For Joe, it is imperative to develop the business in new areas and as a team they

pull together to ensure they strive towards a common goal that puts the company at the top of its industry. “I feel like our staff can physically see the growth we are experiencing, we just aim to keep putting massive amounts of money into reinvestment as often as we can to try and push everyone in the company onto the next level,” he continues. Moving into 2021, Joe has his sights set on

maintaining the pace at which the company is growing. “We have just taken a further 32,000 square foot of production space but we can’t get complacent,” he says. “We have to keep our eye on the ball, and to keep doing what we’re doing because it’s working and our customer base like the products and what we do.” A company that is built on expert industry knowledge and prides itself on bringing trustworthy services, MIS Conversions is equally as positive about the future as it is about its past. “I think in a dream world, even if we stay as we are now, I’d be very happy but if we can get anywhere close to doubling in size in the next five years or so, I think that’s achievable,” Joe concludes. Considering the company’s history of remarkable expansions, this goal definitely sounds feasible.

MIS Conversions Ltd

Services: Vehicle conversion and body building specialists l 111

Trusted to do the difficult things

With four strategic companies specializing in casting and machining of copper and nickel-based alloys, Westley Group is embarking on a strategy to enhance their position at the forefront of the world’s foundry and machining industry

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Westley Group


he Westley name has a foundry related history dating back more than 200 years. Other companies within Westley Group also have more than 100 years of foundry and machining heritage and combine to create the four strategic divisions of Meighs & Westleys, Walter Frank, Spunalloys and Francis Birketts. Specializing in complex castings and high tolerance machinery, Westley Group provides heat, wear and corrosion resistant alloys for an extensive range of safety critical applications. Rob Salisbury, Group Development and Commercial Director, informs us of the qualities that have been cast into the company, making Westley Group one of the most trusted manufacturers in the business. “The modern-day Westley Group is a culmination of 15 years of organization and

strategic positioning. Fundamentally, the Group is underpinned by two foundry centers of excellence; a large static sand casting facility and a large centrifugal casting facility. Synergies and opportunities for the Group then arise from well invested machining and assembly operations in two further locations. The Group brings together people and assets to serve a very demanding engineering space,” Rob stipulates. “We are also very proud to be a critically important industry partner for the UK’s fleet of nuclear submarines, which underpin our nation’s strategic CASD – Continuous At-Sea Deterrence,” he added before noting that there are very few companies in the world that are able to match what Westley Group produces. This is owing to the spectrum of shared processes that are in place to increase

efficiency within its unique production facilities. “From a foundry perspective, we have one of Europe’s most flexible and diverse foundry platforms with over 40 electric induction furnaces. This is harnessed across a plethora of moulding and pouring assets. Our centrifugal die range and machinery is leading in this industry, and our static casting moulding and pouring equipment is unique in the world,” Rob notes. He continues to highlight that the company is steadily increasing its machining assets to machine more of what it casts. Castings are at the heart of what the business offers. Rob elaborates on how static castings are produced as complex net shape components up to ten tons in weight, while centrifugal castings are made as rings and tubes up to two-and-a-half meters in diameter and five meters long. “More and more frequently, l 113

these castings are machined in-house to very precise build to print requirements for our customers,” explains Rob. The company even boasts its own fire-fighting and end-of-line valve business, which complements the Group’s casting and machining companies, and goes on to serve incredibly varied industry sectors. Each new development has enabled the company to be fully prepared in taking on some impressive projects. Rob tells us of its recent achievement regarding Walter Frank’s pressure regulating valve, PRV9i, which was designed and manufactured in-house. “From a standing start 12 years ago, we now have one of the world’s leading FM-Approved hydrant valves, which has been specified and installed across the entire Middle East. Thousands of our valves are now in place, safeguarding enormous land and sea petrochemical, oil, and gas infrastructures,” he says. This is also one of the primary reasons why the company has recently experienced significant international growth, so much so that in February 2021, Westley Group was listed on The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 report. Alongside this, Rob also notes that the company also gained significant traction into overseas Navies – specifically in the USA. “From a sheer scale, size and quality perspective, not many companies offer what we do, especially when the project requires production that is fully machined,” he says. In keeping up the pace of its current success

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rate, the company is exploring opportunities to supply more finished machined components, rather than raw castings. “The market trend is almost insisting on this to happen but it makes absolute sense for our customers to buy in a product which has been full machined, tested, and fully certified meaning it is available for immediate assembly or shipment,” Rob explains. However, Rob takes time to emphasize that none of these developments would have been possible without the dedicated 280 members of the Westley team. “We have worked really hard to create senior management teams on each site that have autonomy and responsibility. James Salisbury, our Group CEO, and I have always believed in treating someone as you would like to be treated. We look for that level of honesty and fairness in our staff and more than anything, we look for those who genuinely care for the business and their peers.” Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, the company continued to excel, reiterating the pride the collective team effort created in ensuring the business stays unshaken by the pandemic. “Classed as key workers for a variety of industries, we have worked at full capacity throughout the entire period. We adopted a

variety of measures to make workplaces as safe as we possibly could and I know every single one of our employees would agree with that,” Rob continues. As it steers towards the future, Rob feels that the company will organically thrive, as long as the factories are kept safe and full of work. He notes that the Covid-19 era has been strange for everyone and that means that stability and consistency are very important for all layers of the workforce. “We want to continuously improve and always seek growth through new opportunities”, although, he adds, “don’t rule out a strategic acquisition if we find the right business to further synergize what we do.” As domestic resources continue to contract across the world, Westley Group is becoming even more ideally placed to support other world Navies, as its static and centrifugal foundries and machine shops give it uniquely integrated manufacturing abilities. Rob concludes that “the success of the business is down to its employees who all work remarkably hard with exemplary dedication.” The passion that keeps their fires burning will undoubtedly see the company continuing on its successful trajectory.

Westley Group

Services: Foundry, machining, assembly operations l 115

All hands to the pump With over 30 years of specialization in the pump and drainage industry, T-T Pumps proudly owes much of its expansion and product successes to its team of committed and enthusiastic staff


e all use water, yet very rarely do we stop to think about the gallons and gallons flowing underneath our streets and to and from our homes – unless of course there’s a leak or a burst pipe. This hidden efficiency is owed to companies like T-T Pumps, who excel at ensuring that water, both clean and foul, flows through our built environments without any hassles. Established in 1959, the company began its journey in Stoke-on-Trent under the name Vanroy and specialized in general engineering. It was only in 1970 when it began manufacturing and supplying pumps, and in 1979 the business

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was awarded a £650,000 Lindsey Coast project for Anglian Water, which led it to take on the design and manufacturing of electrical control panels. In 1984, the company rebranded to T-T Pumps and has only continued to grow since. In 1997, it was able to move over to Woore in Cheshire, where it dedicated itself to specializing in the waste water industry by supplying pumping and drainage equipment. In a conversation with Ben Nash, the Sales Director for T-T Pumps, we learn about how the company has become one of the UK’s leading businesses in the design, manufacture, supply and installation of pumps, controls, valves, environmental products and systems. Ben fills us

in on the company’s perseverance to become a proudly British brand and how it has expanded its range of products and services to buttress water systems across the UK and abroad. “We’ve got pumps, valves and controls as well as pumping stations. There’s also our service side of things and our agricultural division, which is still in its infancy but is tailored for the agricultural market,” Ben begins, “So, we’ve basically got six divisions across the business which form the body of who we are. All of this allows us to service, repair and maintain, from the project’s conception right through to the handover,” he informs us. This level of diversity has enabled the manufacturing element of the

T-T Pumps business to be refined and mastered, giving the company a unique edge to its service delivery. Ben then goes on to highlight some impressive developments within its infrastructure. Having invested several hundred thousand pounds into its headquarters in the last couple of years, these improvements have been a result of the company’s innovative and ambitious desire to lead the industry. “Throughout our business – from the production of pumping stations to the production of control panels and complete systems – we’ve actually changed things around quite a bit. We now have a fabrication department that does all our fabrication work for the raw materials. Then there’s our manufacturing bay that actually puts the components together and sends them through tests, which means we also have a full working clean water test rig and a foul test rig to check the pumps and systems work correctly.” Being able to deliver most of its services in-house means that the company can continue to excel in its passion for providing long-lasting services. The company’s site also hosts a control shop that takes the raw materials in and wires the components together to test and certify them. Having this facility allows the business to guarantee that its products are compliant with the electrical regulations legislated across the whole of Europe. “This is how we are able to do all the work from start to finish. We also have the back-up side where we can repair with our maintenance facilities. This is a completely separate part of the building that does all of the repair and modification elements of our projects,” Ben further explains. Whether its clients are in need of a dispatch pump or a bespoke pumping solution, T-T Pumps is equipped to provide for a variety of pumping demands. On that note, when it comes to the kind of clientele that the business works with, Ben highlights that delivering an essential service that is widely used by everyone opens its client-base to huge possibilities. “We all have waste water that comes out of our buildings, so we are able to deal with every inch of the process; from the domestic to the commercial, be it schools, hospitals, government sites, or individual residences. We deal with all of those aspects in some form, whether directly or indirectly throughout the country, and it also means that we have room to expand our business,” Ben continues. But what about the people who form the bread and butter of the company? At T-T Pumps, according to Ben, everyone works together. “It’s a family-owned business, so there’s no hierarchy

within the system, we have an open-plan office with an open-plan workshop and manufacturing, to reinforce that everyone is part of the same group,” he adds. Owing to its family-owned ethos, the company promotes the motto that if you put the effort in, you will reap the rewards. The company also understands the value of its employees and wants them to feel appreciated, so on top of its salaries, it provides additional perks to ensure that each member of the team feels safe and secure for the future and for their families. Over the past 12 months, Ben emphasizes that the company’s consistent success is down to its dedicated team who put all of their efforts into ensuring T-T Pumps continued to thrive during the pandemic: “I take my hat off to our staff, I really do. If we hadn’t had our team and the effort that they put in, we wouldn’t have surpassed the problems we had because of Covid-19.” This is not to say that 2020 was all smooth sailing. Ben continues: “Obviously the virus did more damage than any of us expected. We had to furlough a very high percentage of staff. When we found our feet again and moved

back on site, we brought back a few of our people and then we slowly expanded when we found that our customer base was still alive and kicking.” The company put in place the necessary safety measures and precautions to ensure that its staff felt confident to work on site again, and, in Ben’s opinion, the team that came in worked their hardest and did their jobs fantastically, so much so that no infections were reported. By September 2020, T-T Pumps had all of its staff that it had retained return back to its headquarters. Ben adds further that the company is incredibly lucky to specialize in an industry that is heavily depended on and continuously needing to be maintained. He states that this demand will be what enables the business to push itself towards higher goals and greater expansions, and its hard-working team is at the core of this potential. “Throughout a time that was really horrendous for our team, we were able to invest in designing more products and getting them to the market to meet customer demands and that, for me, is because of what our staff have done and it gives me great pride in saying that,” says Ben. Moving forward, in the next coming l 117

months the company is in high spirits about its 2021 outlook. Above continuing its inhouse development towards research and development facilities and a new enterprise resource planning system, Ben’s predictions are that the company is expecting to see a fairly substantial growth within the UK and possibly even return to business normality prior to Covid-19. “I believe that these possibilities will

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T-T Pumps

come from new product systems and services that we’re putting out – all of which are being supported by the success of our existing products,” Ben informs us. Even when it comes to exports, the business has an impressively large program that is currently exploring certain sectors of the market it believes have exciting potential to bolster British-made products. “This year we’ve got a scheduled list of about 12 brand new products, which will come into the UK market that are all manufactured and produced in the UK,” Ben hints towards. There is little room to argue that T-T Pumps has garnered a reputation soaked in the knowledge and skills required to support and strengthen the pumping system industry. Through a mixture of business from building, construction and redevelopment, the drainage sector is constantly requiring the company’s attention. Its dedicated team and expertise in such a hidden sector might change our perspective on the way we look at the water systems embedded in our built environment.

T-T Pumps

Services: Designs,

manufactures, supplies and installs pumps l 119

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 l 121

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 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

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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 l 123

A solutions company

Describing itself as ‘more than just a resins company’ Purolite is always on hand to help its clients solve their most complex challenges

Steve Brodie, President, CEO & Founder

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ocated less than 20 miles from Philadelphia, King of Prussia (KOP) is an up and coming biopharma city in the United States that is experiencing rapid development. The focus on Life Sciences is attracting many of the biggest players. This is where Purolite moved its HQ in 2019 and is building its new Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient and Ion Exchange Chromatography manufacturing facility. This family-owned and operated global business is the world leader in resin-based separation, purification and extraction technology, and alongside its KOP site, it has 40 sales offices in more than 30 countries, ISO 9001 certified manufacturing facilities in the USA, United Kingdom, China and Romania, and dedicated R&D centers in the USA, China, Romania, Russia and the UK. Purolite’s ion exchange, adsorbent, chelation, chromatographic and catalysis resin technologies are used in some way in almost every industry. These include: Pharmaceutical, Biotech, Biopharmaceutical, Food & Beverage, Pulp & Paper, Nutraceuticals, Semiconductor Electronics, Potable & Ground Water, Mining & Metals, Finishing, Petrochemical & Refining, Medical Devices and Diagnostics, Industrial & Domestic Water treatment, Petrochemical and Chemical Processing, Oil & Gas and Fossil & Nuclear Power. Looking back over the history of Purolite illustrates just how far this business has come. Brothers Steve and Don Brodie formulated the idea of Purolite Corporation in 1980 when Don - a chemist who has spent his career in the food and chemical industry - saw a need for more competition in the ion exchange resin and specialty polymer marketplace. The Brodies recognized an opportunity, devised a plan and Purolite was formed in 1981. The original logo was designed at Steve’s kitchen table and the operations began in Don’s basement, and from these humble origins, the company has undergone many evolutions and transformations – from hiring its first employee to taking care of today’s 1100-plus. As Steve Brodie, President, CEO & Founder, points out to readers of Manufacturing Today, since the beginning, Purolite has focused on solving problems and improving processes at the customers’ location. “Our entire structure is built to provide innovative and sustainable solutions that optimize industrial processes and help our customers use less natural resources,” he said. “Today we develop and manufacture very small beads, down to 15 microns, that are used in the most regulated industries in the world. We have developed the largest and most technically

proficient sales team in our industry supported by five research and development (R&D) labs as well as nine applications labs. As our technical expertise has grown over the years, we have strategically concentrated on more complex and technically demanding specialty markets in healthcare and life sciences. The applications in these markets include reduction of pathogens in blood, enzyme immobilization, gene cell therapy and monoclonal antibody capture and purification. Now, 40 years after we began, we are reorganizing our resin technology products and solutions into two divisions: Core Technologies and Healthcare & Life Sciences.” Having revealed this exciting new development for the company, Steve gave some further details on each of these divisions. “Core Technologies is focused on providing sustainable solutions that enable an extensive range of industrial processes to run more efficiently,” he said. “This division manufactures ion exchange, adsorbents, chelation, catalysis and chromatographic resins for municipal, industrial and domestic applications such as water softening and demineralization, sugar decolorization, hydrometallurgy, and potable and groundwater remediation. “Rooted in producing active pharmaceutical ingredients (API’s) and excipients for over 30 years, our Healthcare & Life Sciences division focuses on providing traditional ion exchange, as well as agarose based chromatographic products, used for purification, separation and extraction of biologic compounds,” he continued. “Typical applications include purification of proteins, monoclonal antibodies, nutraceuticals, and peptides as well as purification of biofluids in medical devices. By accelerating the biological drug development processes and increasing the

efficiency and purity of extracted compounds, our technology helps enhance lives.” Clearly these are exciting times for Purolite, and while many of its achievements are significant, Steve particularly highlighted its newest milestone – an investment into expanding its pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical product manufacturing to the USA – as an area of real pride for the business. He explained what makes this stand out in particular. “We have been on the frontlines to support the creation of therapeutics used to treat Covid-19, as well as new monoclonal antibodies to treat many diseases. This initiative and increased global demand confirmed that it was time to expand our manufacturing. The additional North American production will ensure global security of supply for our customers’ future and our future,” he said. “Our new facility, which will open by the end of 2021, will produce active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and agarose resins that adhere to the strictest global guidelines within many of the world’s most regulated industries. This addition will make us the first company with agarose manufacturing on two continents,” he added. “We are looking forward to this new expansion in the US; it will feature our proprietary jetting technology to capture and purify monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) sold Under the Praesto™ brand. The 74,850 sq ft facility will house a full laboratory, offices, and warehouse, and the new production facilities will be exact duplicates of our current facilities in Wales and Romania. This ensures that quality and consistency will be maintained regardless of where the products are produced. “We are the only supplier in the world able have a continuous manufacturing process for l 125

producing agarose beads with a narrow, uniform particle size distribution for better results within our customer’s applications,” Steve continued. With manufacturing processes that set it apart from the competition, Purolite also benefits from its position as the only company in the world to focus 100 per cent of its resources on resin technologies. “Being a privately held company with the largest technical team provides us with the ability to be agile and innovative in identifying and producing solutions to meet our customers’ needs faster and better,” noted Steve. “Our R&D, applications, and manufacturing teams all support the agile nature of our personality. We can customize a solution and develop new technology like no other competitor.” These competitive strengths will stand Purolite in good stead going forward, especially considering Steve’s belief that the global resin technology market will continue to experience high demand in 2021. “We believe this is driven by increases from very specific markets within nutraceuticals, biopharmaceutical and pharmaceuticals. Like all manufacturers, we will continue to look for ways to improve our production processes to meet demand and focus on the areas that bring the most value to our customers,” he divulged, before sharing some predictions for the future. “With a concentration on innovation and optimization within our Core Technologies and Healthcare & Life Sciences divisions, we believe Purolite will

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Purolite continue to grow tremendously over the next three to five years.” Having shared his vision for the future, Steven ended our conversation with some reflections on 2020, a year which changed the world forever, and will be remembered as one of the most challenging times that businesses have ever seen. “As a family business, we take pride in creating a positive culture for our customers and our employees. During 2020, we had to rethink how we were taking care of each other, as well as, how we were meeting the market needs as a critical service,” he revealed. “Like most businesses, we scrambled at the beginning of the pandemic to put the proper controls in place as recommended by the CDC. Fortunately, once in place, Purolite global manufacturing and operations were able to run at 100 per cent. The same controls were instituted at our office locations and although working remotely became a normal way of life, our offices never closed. “As a business owner, I couldn’t be prouder of our team. Together, they were innovative by creating personal ways to connect with our customers and support our partners throughout the chemical engineering community. Our production crew did not miss a step by continuously working to provide safe product deliveries to ensure that healthcare services, pharmaceutical companies and the food supply industry had what they needed to carry on. This dedication is the heart of Purolite.”


Services: A leading manufacturer of life science products, ion exchange, catalyst, adsorbent and specialty resins for water and non-water applications l 127

The IT factor Benefitting from partnerships with some of the world’s leading IT manufacturers, including HPE, Dell, and Lenovo, Techbuyer’s sustainable technology solutions are proving increasingly popular around the globe


ince 2005, Techbuyer has been helping its clients maximize their budgets through the supply of quality, cost-effective, new and refurbished enterprise IT equipment. A global specialist in the buying, refurbishing and selling of servers, storage, and networking equipment, laptops and desktops, the company leverages partnerships with major technology manufacturers like Dell, HPE and Lenovo to

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help deliver efficient, sustainable IT solutions to customers the world over. “I’ve been with the company for 12 years now,” says Managing Director Mick Payne. “We are in a very competitive market, so we have to provide the best service. It’s important for us to look after our customers, especially in the longterm, so we always try to improve, every day, bit by bit, until those little improvements become big, significant strides.

“However,” Mick adds, “if I were to select one factor that differentiates Techbuyer, it’s the quality in what we do. Of course, you expect new products to be perfect, but within refurbished products there is a scale of quality and we aim to be at the very top end of that scale. It’s about educating customers on the whole refurbishment process, what refurbished products can bring to a business – and then delivering on those claims. It’s vital that we live


up to customer expectations because there is nothing worse than claiming refurbished is as good as new and then not providing that.” In the last few years, Techbuyer has expanded its portfolio to include IT Asset Disposition (ITAD), a secure, sustainable service that sees the company buy laptops, desktops, mobile phones and other IT hardware that can be decommissioned, refurbished and, eventually, resold. The ITAD service was joined in January

2021 by Interact – a one-of-a-kind machine learning software tool that provides vendorneutral infrastructure recommendations and, therefore, allows data center professionals to reduce their carbon footprint, limit CO2 emissions and realize significant cost reductions. “These new innovations mean we can now help clients not just with their infrastructure, but also with their full IT solutions,” Mick reports. “We have a very broad client base, so our work

ranges from three-to-six-month infrastructure projects with multinational corporations, to replacing equipment for a local company whose server has just gone down. “Perhaps the most unique part of our set-up is that many of our suppliers end up becoming customers, and vice versa. For example, we might supply a large company with a few hundred thousand pounds worth of equipment at the beginning of 2020 and then, in 2023, l 129

they might want to do a refresh with more computers and a bigger system, so we help with all that. We frequently end up buying back the equipment we sell, so many clients become suppliers, as well as customers.” Though the company is headquartered in Harrogate, United Kingdom, Techbuyer operates seven world-class facilities in key locations around the globe, including the USA, Germany, France and Australasia. Named on the Sunday Times International Track 2021, the firm is set to

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record £50 million in turnover later this year – a figure supported by 40 per cent international sales growth over the course of the last two years. “To reinforce our international growth, next month we will be moving our French operation to a facility three times the size of our current site, which will complement our locations in Germany and the UK,” Mick states. “We have a fairly sizeable facility in New Jersey, which is where Kevin - the Owner and Founder of the

company - is currently, as well as a sales office in Minnesota and a new location in Canada. These sites sit alongside facilities in Australia and New Zealand that enable us to cover all time zones and deliver quicker lead times to every part of the globe. When procuring goods from clients, which is a very big part of the business, it means we don’t have to send product all over the world, saving time, energy and resources.” Together with Techbuyer’s international presence, Mick believes that the company’s impressive year-on-year growth has been encouraged by a company-wide commitment to continuous improvement. This mentality has been brought to life through a substantial reinvestment program that is allowing the firm to expand faster than ever before. “We’ve hired around 50 team members since October 2020, which takes us to around 225 employees in total,” Mick reveals. “It’s really sped up growth, but there’s still room for more. The IT market is so huge, and whilst £50 million in revenue is a big number to you or I, in terms of the entire IT sector, we could easily be at £100 million before long. At present, with resources dwindling, the whole world is looking for more sustainable options and so the market for refurbished IT equipment is growing and growing.”


Serving a host of repeat customers, as well as many businesses purchasing refurbished equipment for the first time, Techbuyer has become renowned for providing innovative, tailored IT solutions to suit all budgets and requirements. The company has, over the years, built strong relationships with major firms like British Engines, who turned to Techbuyer for help with an IT hardware expansion. “British Engines needed to replace their current networking equipment with newer systems more suitable for their global operations,” Mick recalls. “As part of the company’s dedication to sustainability, they reached out to our team for cost-effective, reliable IT hardware that also minimized their environmental impact. They also needed versatile solutions with the ability to add extra components over time.” On learning the full scale of British Engines’ exacting demands, Techbuyer quoted quality refurbished networking equipment including HPE BladeSystem 1G SFP RJ-45 transceivers and Cisco switches. These refurbished IT solutions provided the same performance as the relative new technology, but at a much lower price, and with a three-year warranty included as standard. “A few years ago, we decided to give a threeyear warranty to all end users for everything we sell, which is exactly the same as if you bought new,” Mick remarks. “I think it really highlights our confidence in the equipment we are selling, but it also gives the customer complete peace of mind l 131


when choosing refurbished technology over new products.” Techbuyer’s belief in its refurbished products is fueled by the company’s ability to produce its own testing tools in-house. The latest iteration of this software allows the company to test four times the amount of equipment it could do previously, meaning Techbuyer can now stock more equipment without the need for more staff onsite. “The next step for us is to automate more of our picking systems, which is difficult because we are not a classic manufacturing operation where everything arrives in pristine condition,” Mick notes. “We are still searching for automation that could work really well with our business model, so obviously, if someone can produce that, there is a real opportunity for them as there are lots of businesses out there like ours.”

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After making it through the Covid-19 pandemic unscathed - restrained budgets across the business world and supply delays in the new IT sector meant many companies favored the firm’s cost-effective, refurbished equipment over new technology - Techbuyer is now ready to look more optimistically towards the future. Though Mick would like to see the firm reach £100 million in turnover within the next five years, he is more concerned about the business continuing on its current positive trajectory, regardless of the figures involved. “As long as we know we are doing our best, that our people are interested, that they want to do better for themselves and the business, then I think things will continue on the right track,” Mick declares. “Without setting any firm targets, we just want to keep growing. We believe the market is expanding and we are in a prime position to expand with it.” Although Techbuyer has its eyes on considerable future growth, the company has no plans to modify elements of the business that continue to make it successful – namely, the sustainability credentials that place the firm at the head of the modern market. If anything, Techbuyer recently made a statement of intent for the decade ahead by becoming a main partner with the Circular Economy for the Data Centre Industry project (CEDaCI). “Set up and backed by the European Commission, the CEDaCI project drives sustainability within the data center industry, which has previously been rather wasteful and actually takes up a sizeable proportion of the world’s energy consumption,” Mick asserts. “We are one of only six full members of the project in Europe and the reason we have been made a full member is because of the Interact tool we developed through a knowledge transfer partnership with the University of East London. “Interact came about after two years of research into different servers and how much energy they use. Not only does the tool help clients save on their energy consumption, but the research resulted in a paper published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers,” Mick points out. “The work with CEDaCI is just one of around 12 main sustainability initiatives we have. The impact we are having is far-reaching and deeply positive.”


Services: Sustainable IT solutions