Manufacturing Today Issue 199 April 2022

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Issue 199 2022


The art of automation New developments and exciting projects are underway at FANUC UK & Ireland

The power to transform: Machine-to-machine (M2M) communication can really help to leverage the power of data in manufacturing AI for the factory: As manufacturers continue to strive for resiliency, they are investing in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning solutions The right approach: Creating a cloud strategy is a process that requires clear objectives and buy-in from the boardroom to the shopfloor

Chairman - Andrew Schofield

Editor’s Letter

Managing Director - Joe Woolsgrove Editor - Libbie Hammond Assistant Editor - Will Daynes Staff Writers Daniel Baksi • Danielle Champ Jessica Olley Managing Art Editor - Fleur Daniels Art Editor - David Howard Advertising Designer - Paul Gillings Sales Director - Alasdair Gamble Business Development Director Philip Monument Research Managers Michelle Fontaine • Natalie Griffiths Jo-Ann Jeffery • Ben Richell • Basil Sharpe Editorial Researchers Adam Blanch • Victoria Burke • Mark Cowles Jeff Goldenberg • Dan Harrison Melanie Joyce • James Page • Wendy Russell Richard Saunders • Kieran Shukri Advertising Sales Johanna Bailey • Mike Berger Jessica Eglington • James Fuller Alex Hartley • Reid Lingle Sam Surrell • Gregory Waller Florida General Manager - Ryan Finn Boston General Manager - Joy Francesconi Custom Media Sales - Dan Bess

Hello and welcome to the April issue of Manufacturing Today. My features in this issue are all touching on technology and the multiple forms that it takes across manufacturing. Whether it’s low energy solutions to help achieve Net Zero, or M2M communication programs that tap into sensor data and information – the factory is a space that presents the opportunity to include a huge diversity of options, all designed to improve performance and efficiency. Of course, implementing them, using them wisely, and benefitting from the data they generate – that’s another part of the puzzle. But as AI and IoT grows, automation is introduced and cloud evolves, further possibilities arise. It would be easy to be overwhelmed by the choices out there and do nothing – but then you risk getting left behind.

Digital Sales - Mike Psimis Subscriptions - Administration Rory Gallacher • Ibby Mundhir

Libbie Hammond EDITOR |




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Manufacturing Today Magazine

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

Our cover story for April gets behind

the scenes at FANUC UK & Ireland, an automation solutions provider that has always embraced innovation and whose range of robots and cobots is helping manufacturers address repetitive manual tasks in a safe and efficient way. One thing that Tom Bouchier, Managing Director noted in his interview is that fundamentally, manufacturing is a ‘people business’. For the full story, turn to page 30.

Issue 199 2022


The art of automation New developments and exciting projects are underway at FANUC UK & Ireland

The power to transform: Machine-to-machine (M2M) communication can really help to leverage the power of data in manufacturing AI for the factory: As manufacturers continue to strive for resiliency, they are investing in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning solutions The right approach: Creating a cloud strategy is a process that requires clear objectives and buy-in from the boardroom to the shopfloor Finelight Media

2240 West Woolbright Road, Suite 402 Boynton Beach, FL 33426, USA Tel: (561) 778-2396 © 2022 Schofield Publishing Ltd

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




Carbon neutral manufacturing

Julio Cesar Natalense takes a look at not only achieving Net Zero but going further – using his own company’s experiences in becoming climate positive as examples

10 Automation

AI tools can help manufacturers gain end-to-end visibility across the supply chain and enable automated workflows built on best practices that can be standardized

14 Cloud

How do you create a futureproof cloud strategy? Everybody needs to be onboard, and there needs to be investment and clear objectives, both financial and operational

Globus Group


16 Data

The opportunities to mature in data collection are endless for manufacturers but many may not know where to begin. One tried and true avenue is M2M communication

Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing

18 Manufacturing news Updates and announcements from the manufacturing arena



Woodall Nicholson Group 2 l






FANUC UK & Ireland




Accura Engineering



Aerotech Peissenberg

Prescient l 3

...Contents continued 66



Axioma Metering



FloraCraft Corporation

TDC Parsons Peebles




Wilton Carpets




Direct Healthcare Group

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Judges Scientific plc

WestPoint Home




Magnetic Inspection Laboratories Inc



Corin Group

AES Clean Technology



Steves & Sons Inc

G&L Tube l 5


he relentless pursuit of efficiency is an everyday occurrence for a manufacturing business. In energy-intensive industries, cutting carbon often cuts costs, and leaner tends to be greener. But simply getting better is no longer good enough. Climate change is an urgent challenge. As public concern increases, so too does government action, regulation, competition, and supply

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chain pressure to reduce emissions. Companies need to go beyond incremental improvements and find ways to reach Net Zero and beyond, so they can become genuinely climate positive. However, there is still a significant gap between awareness of the issue and action being taken by manufacturers – which is largely down to cost, experience, and uncertainty on where to begin.

Carbon neutral manufacturing

Positive future Accelerating the journey to Net Zero and beyond. By Julio Cesar Natalense

Accounting for climate impacts

Calculating greenhouse gas emissions is not a simple process. But the basic principle of Net Zero is that companies should do as much as possible to get towards zero, then find ways to compensate for the remainder through removing greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere. If they compensate over-and-above what they cause,

they can then credibly claim to be a ‘carbon negative’ or ‘climate positive’ business. This is more applicable for some companies than others. At Suzano we are already a climate positive company, thanks to our position as a large-scale pulp and paper producer with over 2.4 million hectares of eucalyptus plantation and native forest areas that capture carbon and l 7

remove it from the atmosphere. The sustainable management of this land more than offsets the impact of other elements of our operations and value chain. This is not the case for every company, of course. Others will need to source high quality offsets from recognized carbon project developers. But the important thing is that manufacturers do everything they practically can to reduce emissions first, within areas of direct operational control, and influencing what happens upstream and downstream.

Investing in clean technologies

Beyond the basics of improving efficiency and cutting waste, there are various things which can be implemented on site to significantly reduce carbon emissions – not just for new projects, but also through retrofit. Anything that displaces or replaces fossil fuel use has a positive impact. These include the sorts of initiatives that most businesses could implement, such as putting in LED lighting and variable speed drives to lower electricity consumption or installing rooftop solar power and purchasing EVs. But manufacturers can uncover more bespoke opportunities by understanding their processes and by-products. For example, it is typical in pulp-making to use a by-product known as black liquor, that contains a significant proportion of the energy content of the wood that is processed. This is processed in a recovery boiler, to generate electricity and steam. And residual materials, such as tree bark and wastewater sludge, can be treated in a biomass power boiler.

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But as technology advances, even greater benefits can be obtained. This is how Suzano will be able to achieve a carbon efficient manufacturing in our newest plant, currently under construction in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Using adequate materials planning in a state-of-the-art gasification plant, it will be possible to generate on site the demand to run the lime kiln, instead of needing to use natural gas or other fossil fuels.

Location, location, location

To address transportation and logistics emissions, site location is an often-overlooked factor. Putting plants closer to the supply of raw materials, and ensuring easy access to ports and customers, can have a big impact. Our new pulp mill is being designed as our largest and most efficient plant ever, producing 2.4 million metric tons of pulp a year. But significantly, by strategically locating this closer to surrounding eucalyptus plantations drops the average radius from forest to mill to 60 kilometers, compared to an average of 155 kilometers for other sites. And using more efficient inbound logistics methods to transport trees, such as tandem trucks, helps to cut impacts even further. Outbound logistics of the finished product is equally important – particularly with many key customers collaborating to build supplier sustainability. With this in mind, our new plant will have private rail tracks and the mill will be connected to the state railroad, to allow products to be transported all the way to the port by train with far lower emissions than road freight.

Carbon neutral manufacturing

Innovation across the board

Creating or retrofitting manufacturing sites to be more sustainable is crucial. However, it is just one part of the puzzle in solving climate issues. Thinking about the impact of the end product itself, regardless of how it is made, is just as important. Organizations should think about material inputs, such as chemicals and required water use, through to packaging and the introduction of circularity into the design process. There is a huge amount of innovation, research and development currently happening across all sectors and

this is already beginning to transform the industry for the better. There is no doubt that carbon negative or Net Zero manufacturing are important goals to work towards. However, a company’s approach to sustainability increasingly needs to be holistic and examine the full extent of its environmental and social impact across all aspects of a product’s life cycle – not just its carbon emissions. Rather than a catchall end goal, Net Zero in manufacturing is just the start – it is what comes after this milestone which will truly be the catalyst for a climate positive future. v

Julio Cesar Natalense Julio Cesar Natalense is Executive Manager for Carbon Initiatives at Suzano, the world’s leading eucalyptus pulp and paper producer and one of Latin America’s largest companies, listed in São Paulo and New York. Suzano is a global leader in developing sustainable and innovative products from renewable sources, supplying over two billion people worldwide in over 100 countries. Operating on a continent and in a sector in the environmental spotlight, Suzano is now a global leader in utilising pioneering solutions to develop sustainable alternatives to plastics and combat climate change through its operations and financial structure. It is one of few companies globally (with operations in Latin America, Europe, China, and the US) to have achieved carbon negative status by 2020. l 9

AI for the

factory Making data actionable with factory operations management. By Richard Lebovitz


he pandemic has given companies the opportunity to reset their priorities around resilience and operational excellence to ensure that their supply chain runs smoothly no matter what challenges the world throws their way. AIpowered and machine learning (ML) technologies have the power to transform daily processes and decisions, and play a key role in helping manufacturers grow market share and stay competitive in a global playing field. Terms such as ‘Industry 4.0’ and ‘smart manufacturing’ describe the adoption of AI to address problems that it would be unthinkable to automate in the past. Implementing an AI approach to factory operations management focuses on ways to streamline procurement, planning, and performance management by taking into consideration the data, processes, workflow, and people. For example, a number of AI applications can recognize and categorize specific patterns to improve manufacturing quality, cost, and delivery. AI is being leveraged to quickly

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pinpoint issues in the supply chain, prioritize the necessary actions, and drive automated workflows to execute the optimal action in their business systems. According to a 2020 study by PWC, only about nine percent of manufacturing organizations are leveraging AI today. And a 2021 survey by IBM reported that 65 percent of manufacturing decision-makers were working towards adoption, implementation, or use of AI and ML. These two statistics alone show the tidal wave of change brought by the global pandemic and supply chain challenges have been almost instantly transformative.

AI for Predictive Analytics

AI systems enable predictive analytics, helping tackle operational challenges and disruptions to supply chains. By aggregating data from different ERP systems, SIOP tools, BI tools, homegrown tools, and more, companies can use AI to not only analyze but prescribe and

Automation AI and ML contribute significantly to modernizing supply chain management, moving it from reactive daily firefighting towards a predictive or prescriptive one. Shortages can be identified earlier so that more cost-effective actions can be executed to minimize impact on both customers and suppliers. Through better supply chain orchestration, additional benefits are also realized through reduced excess inventory to free up working capital.

AI for Data Health

Data must be accurate and trusted by users to create the foundation for successful deployment of AI technologies and automated workflow. Automated solutions can augment the human element in certain tasks and make data accessible to every team member, no matter where they are. Remote work is easier and allows less people to be in the factory or office – especially when cases are on the rise or someone is feeling sick. With AI, everyone is looking and working off the same set of data.

Manufacturing’s Real-Time Future

Manufacturers are always looking for new ways to save (and make) money, reduce risk, and improve overall efficiency. Initially AI will just alert supply chain managers where an issue will occur and leave them to take action. As trust grows, the AI will take on more autonomy and begin to take corrective supply chain actions on its own. According to a 2020 McKinsey study, companies using AI have witnessed cost savings and revenue growth; 16 percent of the companies surveyed enjoyed a 10-19 percent decrease in costs, while 18 percent saw a 6-10 percent increase in overall revenue. McKinsey also noted that AI alone may generate $1.2-$2 trillion in value for manufacturing and supply chain management by 2025.

AI and Manufacturing Resiliency

Artificial intelligence is being adopted quickly across the manufacturing industry and beyond. These solutions provide immediate opportunities to implement, and they quickly deliver against top and bottom-line objectives. Manufacturers will continue to invest in technologies like AI and ML to further improve supply chain performance and reduce costs. Amidst the ongoing pandemic, manufacturers will continue to strive for resiliency by adopting these technologies for task automation, disruption forecasting, and facilitating control of all factory operations. v For a list of the sources used in this article, please contact the editor.

prioritize the optimal actions to take. This helps teams make confident decisions and respond with agility to fluctuating customer demand. AI tools can process and interpret vast volumes of data from across the supply chain to analyze complex information and predict supply chain issues impacting customer delivery or causing excess inventory. These tools help manufacturers gain end-to-end visibility across the supply chain, and enable automated workflows built on best practices that can be standardized across the organization.

AI for Factory Operations Management

The Internet of Things (IoT) provides the platform for AI to be applied as it connects the physical world, both inside and outside the factory, to the digital world through data collection systems and cloud computing. AI can then, through analytics, deliver insight, predict the future, and instigate real-time change often actuated through the IoT platform and factory enterprise systems.

Richard Lebovitz Richard Lebovitz is the founder and CEO of LeanDNA, the leader in effective supply chain orchestration. LeanDNA empowers manufacturers to increase output and productivity and turn their plans into actions by connecting the people who execute with the priorities that matter. Its award-winning technology is modernizing the manufacturing industry and advancing economic growth worldwide. l 11

No matter your business needs and environment, Snom has been providing perfect communications solutions for 25 years.

The right approach Chaitanya Rajebahadur shares his advice on futureproofing your cloud


anufacturers’ cloud infrastructures can be difficult to set up. Developing and implementing the strategy takes time, investment, clear objectives – financial as well as operational – and most importantly having everybody onboard with that strategy. This article will discuss how to create a futureproof cloud strategy. The Covid-19 pandemic effectively rubber-stamped the advantages of using cloud infrastructures to do more than just ‘keep the lights on’, moving enterprises from a reactive footing to a more proactive one. Cloud strategies themselves have evolved rapidly over the past two years, with the need to keep the production lines moving whilst leaving room for innovation. An example of this was gin producers quickly turning to the problem of viral transmission by rejigging their production lines to produce alcohol-based hand sanitizer. New manufacturers are likely to adopt a cloud strategy right away, but large enterprises are mainly using private cloud blended with more traditional public clouds to create a hybrid that smaller enterprises may need to consider in 2022 and beyond.

What cloud options have manufacturers adopted since the pandemic?

During the pandemic, Statista’s 2020 research shows that 32 percent of manufacturing enterprises with over ten employees bought high (accounting, CRM, and compute power) cloud computing services, compared to 18 percent in 2019, that’s almost double. Therefore, it’s not surprising that enterprise spending on cloud infrastructure services

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equaled that of data center hardware and software in 2019, and was about a third higher in 2020, according to market intelligence firm Synergy Research Group. Post-pandemic, a window of opportunity has opened up to move some critical workloads to the cloud for the immediate benefits it offers. This will help build elasticity into production management and enable manufacturers to meet the strain of future demand. However, not every workload will benefit from such a move. Some workloads will need hosting on a private cloud, to give an extra level of security for certain applications and data – the enterprise’s ‘crown jewels’ – intellectual property for instance, or data subject to compliance regulations.

Migrating enterprises into the cloud and the potential pain points

The success rate for large enterprises being able to migrate to cloud-based infrastructures is 30 percent. But how is success defined? Well, you could look at the speed of the transformation, the scale or the downtime incurred during the migration, but ultimately tangible business results has to be the chief argument. The immediate benefits for enterprises migrating to cloud services of whatever type are, cost savings, improved performance, and simplifying IT overall. Manufacturers, in particular, may benefit from the ability for remote maintenance to be carried out more easily with applications powered by the cloud. Businesses of this type will also have a digital foundation allowing them to scale production more easily based on customer demand, which can help drive innovation.

Cloud How can hybrid clouds be optimized effectively?

Monitoring various metrics after migrating to cloud infrastructures is essential to control cost and ensure your business objectives are being met. Many tools and processes can be used to help CIOs, and their teams monitor and optimize their hybrid clouds, but there are several areas that need careful management. • Check third-party offerings for management capabilities as they’re more likely to be compatible with different hosting environments. Finding the right option for the sites managed is crucial. Whether that be a separate office block and one production space, or multiple production facilities in numerous locations. Think through what is being offered and what that realistically means across all your lines and needs. • Monitor your data transfer processes closely. As lean manufacturing becomes more widely adopted, so does big data. As data moves across cloud boundaries – over the internet for example, performance will suffer especially for large data transfers. Big data is being captured all the time. From line performance to consumer purchasing trends – having the hybrid cloud in place to support that is essential. • Adopt a governance policy or use tools that can monitor your cloud from a single interface. With manufacturers split over locations – simplifying management is imperative. • Finally, firms need to be flexible and may need to change their infrastructure continually. Privacy concerns and data security standards could change, necessitating a change to how certain applications are hosted and data secured. Plan forward to protect the demands of the production lines, and the data kept, as the industry is continually evolving. For instance, the rise of FMCGs selling direct to consumers proves that agility is vital.

So, can the cloud be future-proofed? For manufacturers, the future is a hybrid cloud mixing private infrastructure, which they have better control over – security-wise and operationally – with less sensitive applications being moved to a public cloud service. According to analysts Gartner, the hybrid cloud market was worth $56 billion in 2020 and expects to be worth $145 billion by 2026, and a recent Everest Group survey of 200 enterprises showed threequarters having a hybrid or private cloud strategy. A hybrid cloud strategy is a popular and lower-risk option due to its lower start-up costs, simpler management, and flexibility, for example allowing storage to be scaled on-demand. However, moving infrastructure from on-premise to cloud is a massive undertaking, especially for larger businesses with complicated networks of existing on-premise architecture developed over time. Some of those having complex processes would not be cloud-ready, so a shift to hybrid cloud, trialed and rolled out in stages allows firms – and their IT teams – to understand what works and what doesn’t. An important step before migrating all their workflows across. The first potential pitfall of cloud migration is failing to get the firm’s C-level executives on-board; without their ‘buy-in’ your migration could be over before it starts. Neglecting to check application performance in-depth is another potential issue. Businesses could end up with ill-optimized applications costing more to run than their former architecture. The people using newly migrated services could also stumble over a move to the cloud. That’s why upskilling, to encourage use of the new workflows and processes, is so important as well as hiring cloud-native talent.

Migrating to a cloud infrastructure is not an all-or-nothing scenario. Manufacturers with tight cloud strategies will benefit from the increased agility, the ability to protect their organization, increase revenue and collaborate anywhere securely and flexibly. A strategic, focused, and planned approach referencing critical business processes and clear objectives – especially financial ones – is the key to a future-proof cloud strategy. Add in a trusted cloud partner, and some patience, and you’re most of the way there. v For a list of the sources used in this article, please contact the editor.

Chai Rajebahadur Chai Rajebahadur is part of the Zensar Management Council and heads the Zensar UK entity - with its base in Reading. An experience business leader with significant success in the industry, Chai has built a strong base in Financial Services, Manufacturing, Retail and Telecoms industries. Zensar is a leading digital solutions and technology services company that specializes in partnering with global organizations across industries on their digital transformation journeys. A technology partner of choice, backed by a strong track record of innovation; credible investment in digital solutions; and unwavering commitment to client success, Zensar’s comprehensive range of digital and technology solutions enables its clients to achieve new thresholds of business performance. l 15

The power to transform Realizing the promise of data through M2M manufacturing technology. By Hilary Johnson


echnology has been an essential part of manufacturing operations for years now, but it is only within the past few years that manufacturers have realized the impact technology’s data has on their business. A recent Boston Consulting Group (BCG) survey of more than 1,300 manufacturing executives found that nearly three‑quarters (72 percent) of manufacturing companies consider advanced analytics to be more important now than they were three years ago. As shown by the introduction of Industry 4.0, or the new phase of the Industrial Revolution that focuses on real-time data and interconnectivity, data has become essential to measuring the effectiveness of operations. Plus, data is industry agnostic and can provide critical insights no matter what size the company or how old or big the equipment is. Whether a Make-to-Order, Make-to-Stock, discrete, batch or process manufacturer, collecting and analyzing data can mean the difference between a successful quarter and an operational nightmare. According to the same BCG survey, 91 percent of manufacturing executives consider data sharing to be at least somewhat important, with 71 percent giving it significant importance. However, only 39

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percent of companies have managed to scale data‑driven use cases beyond a single value stream. The opportunities to mature in data collection are endless for manufacturers, but many may not know where to begin. One tried and true avenue is Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication. M2M is considered a broader terminology that can be utilized to define any technology that enables devices on your network to communicate and exchange information and data. Other terms that are associated are Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML) which can be tied to the Internet of Things (IoT). M2M communication is created by tapping into sensor data and information that transmits to your company network, including wired and wireless abilities. Many times, it can integrate with any Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), MRP II (Manufacturing Resource Planning) or MRP (Materials Requirements Planner). These kinds of sensors include: • Wi-Fi or cellular communications • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) • Various computing software that is programmed to help interpret data and make decisions


M2M can be critical when it comes to Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and supply chain management (SCM) and can be applied no matter how old your equipment is. Using a tool to help analyze machine performance, for example, can help reduce downtime to improve overall machine health. Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) alerts and automation can also help companies monitor key activities. Through alerts and warnings, business leaders and staff can easily identify conditions that require attention, items that need to be reordered and invoices that are overdue for payment. These alerts can help ensure potential challenges are addressed before they become larger, more costly problems. M2M is an extremely valuable means of data collection for manufacturers. It has been proven that M2M can increase machine productivity by 15 percent, according to Data Inventions. That percentage increase translates to an extra hour of uptime per machine every day, which values about $20,000 per machine per year. M2M communication has the power to completely transform how you conduct your business. It helps manufacturers increase productivity, save on costs of machine repairs, boost profits, discover new opportunities and protect themselves against production errors

and defects. It just depends on how and if you want to leverage the power of data in manufacturing today. v For a list of the sources used in this article, please contact the editor.

Hilary Johnson Hilary Johnson is Product Marketing Manager at ECI Software Solutions. Hilary has vast experience in manufacturing from various industries such as aerospace, additive manufacturing, architectural products, fuel cells, batteries, sensors and medical devices. While currently working in a marketing role, she is also a mechanical engineer. ECI Software Solutions provides industry-specific business software solutions and services, focusing on cloud-based technologies. For 30+ years, ECI has served small to medium-sized manufacturing, wholesale/retail distribution, building and construction and field service organizations. Privately held, ECI is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, USA, with offices throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, England, the Netherlands and Australia. l 17

NEWS IN BRIEF New tools to USA German Machine Tools of America (GMTA) has announced the signing of an agreement with Stiefelmayer GmbH (Denkendorf, Germany) to represent that company’s line of laser machines in North America. Stiefelmayer offers lasers for various cutting applications, including motor laminations, plus laser hardening. GMTA President Walter Friedrich highlighted the advantages of the technology: “The Stiefelmayer line is a highly regarded brand in Germany. Coupled with our Arnold line of laser systems, the new lasers will give us a formidable offering to the North American market, especially in automotive and the burgeoning EV market.” The Stiefelmayer laser is particularly well adapted to cutting precision shapes in thin substrates, including mild steel, stainless, copper and brass. Stiefelmayer further prides itself on its blue effective® program of energy saving technology and sustainability, designed to create both environmental and economic benefits to the user.

Joining forces Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), and Boeing have revealed an expanded relationship that extends the aerospace leader’s existing cloud operations and streamlines Boeing’s approach to cloud computing. Boeing will migrate applications out of on-premises data centers to AWS and create a technology foundation that will strengthen engineering and manufacturing processes. AWS will power new and existing Boeing digital applications to unlock valuable insights to drive product innovation, more efficient operations, and improved customer support. Beyond the cloud relationship, Amazon Air has grown its fleet to more than 110 Boeing aircraft to facilitate the movement of goods to Amazon customers worldwide. As Susan Doniz, Boeing Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President of Information Technology & Data Analytics noted, the announcement represents a significant investment in Boeing’s digital future.

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Meeting demand ABB has invested $1.1 million in a new, state-of-the-art sensor production line at its Brno Instrument Transformers and Sensors factory in the Czech Republic. At 15,000 sq. meters, Brno is already the world’s largest facility of its kind. The new production line will ramp up the scale and pace of Medium Voltage (MV) sensor production by almost 100 percent, to reach 100,000 units per annum by 2026. Demand for ABB’s advanced MV sensors has doubled since 2018 and is expected to increase significantly over the next five years. This growth has been driven by increasing demand from utilities for secondary distribution applications, including sub-station automation, fault detection and power quality management. Within primary distribution, the increasing use of digital switchgear is creating greater demand. ABB’s MV sensors are also designed for applications which provide increasing levels of remote control and communication, key to helping industries and utilities to integrate higher levels of renewable energy resources to reduce emissions and cut energy costs. ABB’s Local Product Group Manager Petr Neumann said: “Our advanced sensors are helping customers to deliver a safe and sustainable power supply 24/7. On the back of growing demand for digital switchgear and the broader push to integrate more renewable energy resources, our new automated production line at Brno will ramp up capacity to produce a record-breaking number of sensors every year.”

Quantum leap AkzoNobel and Microsoft have teamed up to explore how quantum computing could help fast track the development of high-performance and more sustainable paints and coatings. Scientists from both parties will co-develop what will effectively be a virtual laboratory. The aim is to conduct experiments using quantum computing and other Microsoft Azure cloud services. Quantum chemical computation is capable of simulating chemical reactions at an unprecedented level of accuracy. Together, Microsoft and AkzoNobel will explore how this can contribute to creating more advanced and sustainable products through collaborative experimentation and development. “This is a really exciting partnership which has the potential to be truly ground-breaking,” says Klaas Kruithof, AkzoNobel’s Chief Technology Officer. “We’re incredibly proud to partner with Microsoft and investigate how we can take our digital research into a new dimension. Innovation demands collaboration and this is a fantastic way for us to keep pushing boundaries so we can make a sustainable and long-lasting difference to our customers and the planet.” Adds Dr. Matthias Troyer, Distinguished Scientist in Microsoft’s Azure Quantum program: “The promise of quantum computing and other Azure services to accelerate solving chemistry and materials problems – and their associated workloads – is immense. We’re thrilled to partner with AkzoNobel to drive new value and deliver world-changing impact.”

Manufacturing News Charging ahead with Morgan Truck Body & EAVX North America’s industry leader in commercial truck bodies, Morgan Truck Body (now in its 70th year) is leading a transformation in the market, as the industry transitions to electrification. According to Dan DesRochers, President and COO Morgan Truck Body: “We have doubled down on our commitment to electrification with the creation of a dedicated Innovation Lab within our Technical Center in Morgantown, Pennsylvania. Additionally, we are further supported by EAVX, the newest business unit of our parent company JB Poindexter & Co., which is dedicated to envisioning and developing the most sophisticated solutions for a zero-emission future.” Morgan Truck Body has been working toward electrification and alternative fuel solutions for decades, and the surging demand for electrification has been a catalyst for innovation. The company has been investing heavily in manufacturing capacity for mounting and integrating commercial truck bodies to electrified chassis. As Corby Stover, Vice President, Engineering, Morgan Truck Body went on to explain, Morgan is collaborating with chassis OEMs to deliver zero-emission products that reduce the carbon footprint of commercial truck fleets. Highlighting its work in this area, the business introduced two concept truck bodies (a dry-freight cargo body and a refrigerated body) in March, during NTEA Work Truck Week. These concepts incorporate new technologies and innovative features in three key areas – Weight Reduction, Improved Aerodynamics and Enhanced Situational Awareness. “The EV concept bodies we showcased at Work Truck Week are the culmination of extensive collaboration with technology partners to achieve the most versatile and technologically advanced solutions for our customers,” added Corby. l 19

The end to single-use Pete Lee

F With decades of experience in the manufacture of PPE, Globus Group is advancing technology around plastics recycling, and targeting a new era of environmentallyfriendly products 22 l

or almost 30 years, Globus Group (Globus) has delivered innovative, resilient, and reliable PPE products to workers in healthcare and across multiple industrial sectors, from construction and manufacturing, to oil and gas and aerospace. Home to a number of leading brands, including Alpha Solway, Riley and HAIKA, the company mobilized rapidly in early 2020, as it sought to meet the urgent needs of healthcare professionals throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, as normality resumes, Globus is targeting a new challenge: to become a Net Zero business by 2027. With a date more than 20 years in advance of the UK Government’s official Net Zero target of 2050, there’s no doubting Globus’s ambition. But

for Pete Lee, Head of Quality at Globus, the 2027 date is nothing short of necessary. “Taking carbon out of the atmosphere in ten years’ time isn’t good enough,” he tells us. “We need to act now.” In fact, the relatively short time frame in which Globus hopes to achieve its goal is a key part of its strategy. “Reaching Net Zero is really important to us, and for that reason we need to generate real momentum within our organization to bring our employees along on the journey,” Pete indicates. “If we set our goal as 2050, or even 2040, it’s so far into the future that it doesn’t create any sense of urgency. By settling on a closer date, the aim is to really push ourselves to deliver results and get everything moving right away. Now, everyone throughout Globus recognizes the need to act.”

Globus Group

True to its word, Globus’s sustainability journey is already well underway. It’s more than 18 months since Globus opened two new manufacturing facilities in Golborne, Greater Manchester, and Dumfries, Scotland, in response to the urgent need to deliver lifesaving PPE to doctors and nurses in hospitals across the country. At the peak of demand, the company was supplying millions of masks per week to the NHS. At the same time, however, it became apparent that the company was also producing a significant amount of waste, in the form of offcut materials. “By establishing new factories in the UK, it allowed us to manufacture PPE locally, rather than sourcing from distant parts of the world,” Pete reflects. “On the one hand, that helped

us to avoid significant GHG emissions from shipping our products, while also delivering a secure and reliable supply of PPE throughout the pandemic, and creating over 900 jobs. At the same time, in order to ensure our customer’s safety, we do need to use polymeric materials, and some of these have to be single-use. As a result, we’ve had to put a considerable amount of investment into exploring efficient routes to recycle single-use PPE.” It’s something that’s easier said than done. “There are a number of key challenges to recycling PPE, from how you efficiently collect used PPE on a large site like a hospital, to how do you then bring it back to be recycled in a carbon efficient way to create useful, valuable material again,” Pete notes. “All of the above needs to be completed in a cost-efficient manner. “Our facilities have been zero-to-landfill from the outset, with all our energy supplied by green tariffs,” he goes on. “But we’re not content with that, particularly if it means that three-quarters of our waste is still being incinerated. We want to move up the recycling scale, and genuinely reduce the amount of waste plastic in the world.”

Successful partnerships

One of the first actions that Globus took was to identify an external partner that could make use of its waste materials. “We identified a company that was purchasing virgin plastic for the production of its products, when instead they could be made from our offcuts,” Pete explains. “We’ve teamed up to make that happen, transporting our waste directly to their factory, where it’s used as a raw material to make absorbent products for the NHS.

“We then invested in a CurtainMelt machine, which is used to melt further waste from the site, turning it into polymer blocks, which are then taken away to be used in the production of new products,” he adds. “In all, these methods have allowed us to reach the point where we operate zero-landfill manufacturing sites, with 75 per cent of all our waste now recycled into new products.” Globes hopes to increase that figure to 90 per cent within the coming year. “Some of our facemasks have plastic valves or metal nose wire, which makes it complicated,” Pete says. “We’re now developing ways of removing those features in an efficient way. It’s always our aim to move up that league table of recycling, working with our customers to allow single-use PPE to be recycled and given a new lease of life in a circular economy.” To support its objectives, Globus recently announced the launch of its Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Heriot-Watt University, based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Its goal is to develop a bespoke PPE recycling process using chemical technology, in which plastic polymers are broken down into their constituent parts, to be used in the production of fuel oils. “The team at Heriot Watt have strong expertise in chemical engineering, and cutting-edge facilities with which to experiment and optimize the design of the plant,” Pete insists. “At Globus we understand PPE, how to run manufacturing plants, and we have a huge desire to make cost- and carbon-efficient recycling of PPE a reality. It’s the perfect match. “We’re also working with further external partners to create recycling routes for gloves, face masks, and other polymer-based PPE products, again using chemical technology,” he continues. “It’s recycling in its purest form, and it’s l 23

Globus Group transparent panel allows the wearer to share a friendly smile, making conversation more natural and accessible, and helping patients to more easily understand the information they receive from healthcare professionals.”

Staff contribution

particularly effective for products that contain more than one material.” In parallel with its effort to advance revolutionary new recycling methods, Globus is also directing its energy towards product design, as it looks to guarantee that all its UKmanufactured products launched after 2024 qualify as Net Zero. “You can’t be serious about Net Zero if you continue to design and launch new products that don’t support that,” Pete admits. “Our R&D teams are heavily engaged in our sustainability journey, and we’re really changing the way we design products so that they’re able to be recycled readily, and have a longer lifespan.” As it does so, Globus hopes to add to what is already an impressive roster of product

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innovations, including the recently launched MX C transparent face mask, designed and manufactured in the UK by Alpha Solway. Specifically tailored for the medical and healthcare sectors, the MX C features a clear anti-fog front panel, positioned to prevent reflection and make lip reading easier. It’s hoped that the masks will enable clearer communication for frontline workers dealing with all patients, but especially those with communication needs. “Particularly in a healthcare setting, effective communication relies on positive non-verbal elements, such as expression and emotion,” Pete emphasizes. “Miscommunication is a key cause of medical errors, and can be prevented by spotting these critical facial cues. The MX C’s

With Alpha Solway manufacturing more than one million MX C masks each week, the importance of a robust supply chain can’t be understated. “Without our suppliers, we cannot succeed in protecting the doctors, nurses, and workers who rely on our products,” Pete notes. “We’re constantly meeting and talking with our suppliers to understand how we can work together to deliver world-class product quality.” This collaboration is equally important in the pursuit of Globus’s sustainability goals. “We can’t develop and launch Net Zero products without input from our suppliers,” Pete reiterates. “We’re actively working with them on the calculation of a carbon footprint for each of our products. Through that, we’re deepening our understanding of what the most effective actions are that we can take to deliver on our objectives.” Before we conclude, Pete is keen to underline the invaluable contribution of Globus’s staff and employees. “It’s amazing to see their innovation, creativity, and passion each and every day,” he insists. “At our sites, we have active apprentice schemes to develop the engineers of tomorrow, and a policy of recruiting and developing from within when new roles and opportunities arise. In this exciting and ever-changing business, we want to give everybody the chance to acquire new experience, and to get involved in all the different aspects of our operations.” Globus is set for an exciting 2022, with launches upcoming for several innovations across its respiratory, protective clothing, gloves, and eyewear ranges. “We continue to pride ourselves in our speed and agility as an organization, along with our commitment to listening to our customers, and delivering solutions to the issues that they raise,” Pete concludes. “In the near future, you’ll see us launching and delivering robust PPE recycling schemes, and you’ll see data on the carbon footprints of our products. We’ll continue to invest and believe in manufacturing local to the markets in which we operate, whether that’s the UK, Europe or USA.” v

Globus Group Products: Personal protective equipment manufacture

As Britain’s biggest PPE manufacturer, we have over 30 years’ experience protecting our critical workers with innovation and technology Our Commitment to Sustainability

Net Zero by 2027 Our objectives are to:

Transform, Measure, Prove Be a Net Zero business by 2027

All European-made product to be Net Zero from 2024

Build a circular economy that operates efficiently with more than 50% of our customers

A Greening Company Going

Further and Faster

Scan the QR code to download our UK Globus Catalogue GGR-ADV-SUSTAIN-A4-0322_3.indd 1

23/03/2022 11:41

Pilot line at the Italian competence center CIM4.0 (Turin)

Towards industry 4.0 B An early pioneer of industrial automation solutions, Comau is applying its expertise in new and exciting ways to help its customers meet the challenge of sustainability 26 l

ack in 1973, a group of Turin-based engineers and companies took the decision to pool their talent and skills, and form an organization.Then known as the Consorzio Macchine Utensili, now Comau, the company quickly forged a global reputation, reaching a high point in the mid-1980s, with the development of its very first robotized system and hydraulic robot, just to provide a first example when it comes to its efforts in innovation. Ever since, Comau has retained its position as a leader in the supply of advanced industrial automation products, solutions and systems. Consistently one of the first-to-market with

disruptive technologies and groundbreaking ideas, the company boasts a wide-ranging portfolio spanning a variety of industries, including electric, hybrid and conventional vehicles, industrial and collaborative robots, wearables, self-controlling logistics, machine centers and networked digital services.True to its roots, it remains headquartered in Turin’s Grugliasco district, albeit with an international footprint comprising six innovation centers, five digital hubs, and nine manufacturing plants spanning 13 countries, in addition to a consolidated network of distributors and partners. Underpinning Comau’s track-record of success is a deep-rooted commitment to research,


Image right: Digital Solutions and Services Image below: AGILE1500

development and innovation. “Our objective is to make automation easier, more efficient, and open to companies of all sizes,” explains Andrew Lloyd, E-Mobility Segment Leader at Comau. “We’ve recently demonstrated this in our collaboration with Rockwell Automation, as part of which we integrated our Rebel-S SCARA robot into their iTrak system, thereby delivering enhanced Pick & Place performance. Likewise, with the introduction of the MATE (Muscular Aiding Tech Exoskeleton), we became the first major company to introduce a wearable passive exoskeleton for the upper limbs, providing consistent, ergonomic support for the shoulders and upper body to ease muscle fatigue and facilitate movement for overhead and repetitive tasks. Comau’s new Racer-5 COBOT is another example of Comau innovation in robotics. Racer-5 COBOT is an industrial speed 6-axis

articulated robot that combines speed and precision with collaborative safety functionality.” The company continues to leverage its longstanding experience in automation systems for the development of innovative products and processes, as well as flexible, modular engineering solutions. “Our LHYTE (Laser Hybrid Technology) system is one such innovation,” says Andrew. “It’s designed to automatically alternate fiber and diode lasers to ensure an optimal, high-precision joint. LHYTE was a key feature of the high-volume lithiumion battery production line that we’d developed for Leclanché, a leading global provider of high-quality energy storage solutions for the heavy transportation, naval and railway industries. “Meanwhile, MI.RA/Thermography, our unique inline, automatic and non-invasive testing methodology, uses thermal imaging and artificial intelligence to assess each welded joint, ensure battery integrity and prevent waste. Another novel technology is MI.RA/Dexter, a metalanguage software that enables simplified programming of robotic applications. Because it can be used without the need for specific IT or programming knowledge, MI.RA/Dexter both speeds deployment and reduces costs.”

Collaborative approach

Comau recently announced a new version of the MATE: the MATE-XT (eXTreme), engineered for indoor and outdoor use. Developed in partnership with IUVO, a collaboration between

The Institute of BioRobotics at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies (SSSA), and leading Icelandic non-invasive orthopedic specialist ÖSSUR, it’s indicative of the company’s proximity to cutting-edge research organizations. “We’re also actively working with universities, institutions and other companies within the electrification sector to advance technologically valid solutions for the repurposing of vehicle batteries,” Andrew reveals. “In particular, collaborative robotics and vision systems represent key elements for automated, safe and efficient battery disassembly and reassembly, thereby helping to make the remanufacturing processes both economically and technically feasible. “In Italy and the EU, we’re also actively supporting small and medium-sized companies in the transition to Industry 4.0, or the so-called ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’,” he goes on. “In competence centers such as ‘MADE’, led by the Politecnico di Milano, or others across Pisa and Turin, we capitalize on the technological knowhow of our Comau experts to offer orientation, training and operational support services for companies. We are also part of EIT Manufacturing, an innovation community promoted by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.” A standout among Comau’s recent projects is its design and deployment of manufacturing lines for automotive manufacturer Fiat, ahead of the launch of the company’s inaugural 100 percent electric vehicle: the New 500. “In addition to commissioning a total of 187 next-generation Comau robots to build the New 500, we helped Fiat to reengineer the body of the iconic vehicle to house its battery and transmission,” Andrew reveals. “It’s yet another example of l 27

Production of Leclanché new generation batteries

Mirafiori assembly line for the New 500e

We have a number of important projects and collaborations lined up, such as those with Rockwell Automation, Siemens and Fincantieri, one of the largest shipbuilding companies in Europe, to name a few our collaborative approach to engineering. On the opposite side of the world, we recently delivered a high-volume electric drive assembly line for Geely Automobile Holdings, that doubles the automation rate at the group’s Geely Veremt plant in Ningbo (China). Another interesting project is our work with Californiabased Mullen Automotive, an emerging electric vehicle manufacturer. We are working closely with their extended team to design and build an automotive bodyshop (the expansion plans call for 1.2 million-square-feet of body shop, paint shop and general assembly) at the customer’s Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Center. “In early 2021, we were also asked by the UK Battery Industrialization Centre (UKBIC) to develop and deploy a semi-automated battery module and pack assembly line for their publicly-funded open-access battery production development facility,” he continues. “Again, the project had us working in close collaboration with engineers from UKBIC. We provided all the

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necessary technology and know-how to manage the entire manufacturing process, from cylindrical cell preparation and pouch cell stacking, all the way through to the battery pack assembly.” In return for its work, the company laid claim to two notable awards: in 2021, the Volvo Cars Excellent Supplier Award, recognized by Volvo APAC, and for the third consecutive year it was named as GM’s ‘Supplier of the Year 2020’. “We’ve been working with GM for years now,” Andrew states. “Comau is honored to be named ‘Supplier of the Year’. As a leader in high-performance framing, bodyside and Body in White systems, we appreciate GM’s recognition of our commitment to their success. This important award reflects our customercentric approach to creating and sharing value, which has been a fundamental pillar of our longstanding collaboration.” For Andrew, the accolades also speak to the lengths to which Comau will go to develop a clear understanding of its clients’ objectives. “We pride ourselves on a consultative approach that

privileges innovation and customer-centricity,” he confirms. “Our team often starts by studying the customer’s existing set-up to identify bottlenecks in production where output and productivity need to rise, where costs have to be reduced, and where quality and consistency must improve. It’s an approach that encompasses each phase of a project, beginning with preliminary discussions, design execution and installation of the solution at the customer’s site, right through to its operational management over time.”

Building value

With a growing focus on sustainability across the globe, an increasing portion of Comau’s work centers around leveraging its own experience to support the realization of its customers’ carbon neutrality goals. “We’re focused on solutions that help reduce water and energy consumption,” Andrew outlines. “Within the electrification segment, we’ve seen a huge increase in demand for advanced solutions that can accelerate the production of cost-effective, high-performance, durable, safe and recyclable batteries. With this comes an increasing attention to process optimization, and to the seamless integration of robotics, laser welding, AI and other innovative technologies. “There’s also an increasing number of innovation hubs and competency centers focused on zero emission goals,” he adds. “Here, Comau’s unique expertise and in-house technologies give us a competitive edge. We have the capability to validate, test, and prototype advanced systems and solutions within our laser laboratory. At the same time,

Comau Mate-XT exoskeleton

we’re also involved in collaborative efforts to develop a sustainable, national supply chain for the end-of-life management of lithium batteries, helping bring them into the circular economy.” In the delivery of all its projects, Comau profits from an ability to sustain supportive collaborations throughout its supply chain. “The secret lies in our shared goal of building value for our customers, and in ensuring the success of each individual project in terms of implementation, flexibility, and the ability to meet timing and budget objectives,” Andrew reveals. “On more than one occasion, Comau has been asked to radically change project specifications midway through the program plan. Because we have a culture of partnering with our customers - rather than acting in the role of a supplier we’re able to regroup and redesign such projects in order to meet any new requirements, without impacting on timing.” But some problems are greater than others. Like most companies, Comau faced significant challenges throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, as a pioneer of smart working methods, the company proved resilient. “We first experimented with our working practices back in 2018, implementing these for some staff at our Grugliasco headquarters a year later,” Andrew recalls. “As a result, we were able to respond promptly at a global level as the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic imposed a need to work remotely. “This new, agile way of working has, in fact, proved highly suitable as a response to the demands of a constantly evolving market,” he elaborates. “It’s an opportunity to promote

greater autonomy for our teams, and to improve the balance between their private and working life. By reducing the emissions cost of daily travel to and from work, it’s also a useful strategy for the promotion of environmental sustainability.” As Andrew’s comments suggest, Comau is a company with a deep commitment to its workforce. “We believe that great companies are created by the people who work in them,” Andrew insists. “At Comau, we recognize the value of our people, their commitment, and their dedication, and we invest heavily in training and skills-building within our own organization. At the same time, we strive to help our customers understand the impact of technology and converse openly and competently about it using a common language.” With that in mind, the company launched its Comau Academy, a personalized training platform for organizations, schools and professors. Its intention is to make Comau’s rich experience available to more people, by placing students in direct contact with skills and methodologies that are integral to the global market. “The Academy’s people-focused learning philosophy combines methodological and analytical skills with applications and business practices, offering comprehensive training that ranges from elementary school programs to executive master’s degrees,” Andrew notes. “We also actively collaborate with elite universities across Italy and Europe, including ESCP Business School, the Politecnico of Milano,Turin and Bari, and Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore of Milano.” As the world embarks upon its journey towards Industry 4.0, Comau is actively

pursuing opportunities to bring automation and robotics into new areas. “We have a number of important projects and collaborations lined up, such as those with Rockwell Automation, Siemens and Fincantieri, one of the largest shipbuilding companies in Europe, to name a few,” Andrew says. “We’re also increasingly gaining insight into key pain points for different industries, with a view to delivering problemcentric solutions in renewable energy, white goods manufacturing, logistics and other highgrowth industries. “As always, a significant percentage of our research and development investment will remain dedicated to battery and automation systems for renewable energy generation,” he concludes. “Nevertheless, in the years to come, we’ll be pivoting towards a stronger emphasis on 360-degree solutions, drawing on our intimate knowledge of automation processes and platforms to capture, process and transform production data into dynamic inputs that give robots the intelligence to perform complex tasks randomly. Through solutions such as our in.Grid interactive Internet of Things (IoT) platform, we’re also capitalizing on our expertise in digital intelligence to deliver predictive and preventative maintenance and real-time local and remote monitoring of technological data.” v

Comau Services: Automated manufacturing systems l 29

The art of

automation Leading automation solutions provider FANUC UK & Ireland discusses the imminent launch of its new Ireland office, and recent work with waste management start-up, Recycleye

Tom Bouchier

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he past five years have been some of the most challenging to date,” admits Tom Bouchier, Managing Director of FANUC UK & Ireland (FANUC),

when asked about developments since the company’s last feature in Manufacturing Today, back in 2016.The factory automation company is not alone in feeling the effects of the Covid-19

FANUC UK & Ireland

pandemic, which posed logistical difficulties to businesses throughout the manufacturing industry and supply chain. Nevertheless, for Tom, this period has not been without its positives,

including the acceleration of what he perceives as a new era of digital transformation. “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen how those businesses that had already embraced automation were shielded to a certain extent from some of the immediate operational challenges brought about by social distancing and mandatory isolation,” Tom reflects. “Indeed, one of the key takeaways from our ‘Future of Automation’ Open House event, held in November 2021, was how the narrative has shifted to one of positivity, with a firm focus on the benefits of automation rather than barriers to implementation. That said, when you look at the number of industrial robots installed in the UK per 10,000 workers compared to some of our international peers, there is still a lot of ground to make up.” In expressing this need to advance towards a more automated future, Tom is demonstrating the desire within FANUC to continue the good work the company had already begun prior to Covid-19. Back in 2017, FANUC opened its UK headquarters – a brand new, 107,000-squarefoot facility – in what was among its largest

European investments to date. “Five years on, and the project has been a resounding success,” Tom insists. “Not only has it provided us with a state-of-the-art training, demonstration, and exhibition space, but it has also significantly improved our ability to offer systems integration and factory acceptance testing for a host of customers in the UK and beyond.”

New product development

Building on that success, FANUC is now in the process of finalizing a location for its FANUC Ireland office. “It is important to us that we don’t just have a presence through staff on the ground, but that we also have a dedicated space where our customers and partners can interact with each other,” Tom says. “Ultimately, having somewhere for people to experience our products in person has proved very successful in the UK, and we are keen to emulate that in Ireland. It will also enable us to host dedicated networking and training events. In time, we hope it will become a destination in its own right for stakeholders throughout the Irish automation industry.” l 31

It’s not only the company’s footprint that is growing. FANUC has also been hard at work developing a series of innovations for its product catalogue. “Innovation has always been a fundamental value for FANUC, and our new product development has continued apace in recent years,” Tom notes. “A good example is the field of collaborative robots (cobots). Earlier this year, we launched three new models to our CRX range of intuitive cobots. This takes our portfolio up to 11 models, with payload capabilities of up to 35kg. This is the most extensive line-up of easy-to-use cobots available on the market today.

“One of the most exciting projects we’ve been involved with in recent years is with Recycleye, a start-up using AI to revolutionize the waste management industry,” he suggests. “The limited number of scalable recognition technologies has pushed the industry towards a reliance on manual waste pickers to identify and extract high value materials. However, in recent years, the economic efficiency of manual sorting has been challenged due to increased stringency in international quality standards on the purity of imported recycled waste. As such, demand is rising for an affordable automated sorting solution to ensure purity standards are met.”

JL Goor Ltd At JL Goor Ltd, expertise is what makes the difference, and the company is proud to be the long-time Fanuc Roboshot Exclusive Distributor for Ireland. For nearly 40 years, its engineers have delivered polymer manufacturing solutions to customers across all 32 counties. With offices and workshops in Enniskerry, Wicklow, and Mullingar, Westmeath, the company has the ability and experience to deliver and install turnkey processing projects. This typically includes, injection moulding machines, robotics & automation, material conveying, drying and blending, chiller systems, and polymer silos. Nobody knows the Irish polymer industry better than JL Goor Ltd.

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That, ultimately, is where Recycleye comes in. “Recycleye performs the physical tasks of identifying, picking, and placing material, at a rate of 55 successful picks per minute,” Tom explains. “The novel solution automates current manual operations and enables facilities to double their total throughput. FANUC’s team of expert automation engineers designed Recycleye to weigh 75 percent less than any existing robotic waste picker currently on the market. The plug-and-play installation eliminates traditionally expensive retrofit costs.”

Engaging and educating

In its ability to deliver these solutions, FANUC necessarily relies on the hard work and dedication of its people. “Automation has not been without its detractors,” Tom concedes. “However, while the level of innovation evident in today’s manufacturing industry is far greater than I thought possible when I completed my apprenticeship, one thing has remained true, in that it’s fundamentally a people business. “We rely not only on the skill of our engineers who can design, build, and install systems that solve real-world problems, but also on the sales and support teams, as well as our integration partners, to help our customers visualize success and alleviate any concerns they may have,” he confirms. “We’re very lucky that we have a network of longstanding connections at FANUC, both in terms of colleagues who have given us many valuable years of service, and our systems integrators, a number of whom we’ve worked with for more than 20 years.” That longevity doesn’t happen by accident. It’s repayment – for FANUC’s faith and investment in its employee base. “Training and education are fundamental to the success of any business, not least one which works at the frontier of industrial innovation,”Tom comments. “While

FANUC UK & Ireland there has been a well-documented skills shortage within the industry, we believe that – collectively – there is light at the end of the tunnel. We have a burgeoning apprenticeship and graduate engineer program, and we work hand-in-glove with organizations such as the Manufacturing Technology Centre and Cranfield University. “However, the identification and resourcing of talent at the start of their careers is just one piece of the puzzle,” he continues. “Arguably, the bigger challenge is engaging and educating established engineers and providing them with a platform to upskill themselves and their colleagues today, to deliver change at every level of an organization. On this note, we have had great success with our Training Academy in Coventry, with nearly every course booked out for the foreseeable future.” Likewise, the protection and preservation of its colleagues was the primary focus of FANUC’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. “We closed our Coventry site to any non-essential personnel, and then implemented stringent infection control measures,”Tom explains. “These included split shifts, one-way systems, compartmentalized working areas, and regular temperature checks. Many of our customers are involved in critical infrastructure and healthcare operations, while others responded to the Government’s call to action to manufacture PPE, hand sanitizer, and ventilators. As such, we maintained an active service support team to ensure those applications could remain fully operational.” The future looks promising for FANUC, with the launch of the company’s Irish operations scheduled for later in 2022, ahead of its third annual Open House event, due to be held in Coventry this November. “The past two years have certainly accelerated the appetite for digital transformation among the UK and Irish manufacturing industries, and I hope to see that

interest translate into installations over the next five years,”Tom concludes. “While the annual IFR report has not made for particularly pleasant reading over the past few years, the most recent findings did reveal some green shoots of positivity, particularly in key growth markets such as food processing and packaging. Ultimately, it’s an incredibly exciting time to be involved in the

automation industry, and there’s a real sense of optimism among customers, partners, and peers alike.” v

FANUC UK & Ireland Services: Factory automation solutions l 33

Manufacturing modernity Since being founded by NASCAR legend Brad Keselowski, KAM has used its cutting-edge range of additive and subtractive solutions to become a leader of the modern-day industrial revolution

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Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing l 35

Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing


ased in Statesville, North Carolina, Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing (KAM) is a vertically integrated solutions provider of turnkey precision machined; additively manufactured components. The KAM team, comprised of top engineering, additive, quality, and machining talent, is all geared toward producing highquality, high-value solutions for companies in the space, aerospace, and defense markets. The history of KAM begins on the race track, with founder and owner Brad Keselowski. The well-known racer has been a NASCAR series cup driver for over 12 years, and in 2018, he put his years of experience and exposure to complex engineered systems in the racing industry to use with the establishment of his own advanced manufacturing company. “People often ask why a successful NASCAR driver would want to get involved in the crazy world of manufacturing, and more specifically AM,” reveals James O’Toole, Vice President of Engineering and Sales at KAM. Brad noticed that in terms of on track impact, additively manufactured components

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were exceeding the performance of more traditional manufactured parts. He realized there was no better way to leverage additive technologies for not only application in motorsports but more importantly a widespread adaption in industries such as aerospace, space, and defense. “When you look at KAM, motor sport is not our target market. We do produce some components for racing, but we are much more focused on aerospace, defence, private space, and other industrial markets that additive manufacturing can add value to. Additive can offer solutions that traditional manufacturing methods are incapable of - whether that’s in quality, complexity, or speed,” James continues. Spotting a gap in the market gave KAM a strong start, as the company began building up its facilities and personnel. “Brad got this company off the ground in early 2018, and since then KAM has been growing steadily. Year after year, we have added considerable equipment and continued to expand our team. When the facility started there were three additive machines in-house; now, we have

around 19 metal additive machines, in addition to a collection of ten CNC machines which are equally important in our business model of vertical integration. “Over a relatively short course of time, we have grown rapidly. The company has focused on growth not just in terms of equipment, but also personnel and working culture. For Brad, one of his biggest passions is creating a sustainable working environment, where we can bring in new talent, and work together to achieve our goals.

American made

“KAM’s leadership team wants to make sure that this company is sustainable for future generations. He is passionate about manufacturing in general; coming from Detroit, he believes strongly in American-made products, and this is a way that he feels capable of giving back to that. The overall mission of KAM is to accelerate American manufacturing with its additive technology,” James discusses. Today, the company has an impressive and diverse range of capabilities. KAM is known

Your Additive Manufacturing Solutions from Start to Part. We serve our customers in the best possible way offering far more than just AM systems and materials. We have an in-depth understanding of the business opportunities AM enables and broad expertise across industries. From rapid prototyping to series production, we offer comprehensive and reliable solutions, and we support each customer through their entire development and production process. Let’s redefine what’s possible for your business. +1 877 388 7916

For KAM, the outlook is great. We are experiencing growth in terms of revenue, personnel, and facilities based on what the AM market has and can sustain. Our penetration into different industries is important for sustaining this growth; KAMs work with the military, aerospace, power generation, maritime and hypersonic industries will only continue to grow over the next few years for high-quality and efficient turnaround, as most of its operations are kept in-house. “Our vision, and current capabilities, have allowed us to become an end-to-end supplier for metal additive components. Unlike some of our competition, which may focus on strictly additive or strictly CNC capabilities, KAM is able to provide components to customers that are ready for integration with their end product. From the moment a customer contacts us, we are able to handle the entire process through the use of integrated project teams that include members from engineering, CNC machining, quality and program management,” James explains. “We are often working with customers who are not 3D printing experts, so it’s important that our Solutions Engineering team can communicate everything effectively. We act as the expert for the customer, in order to help

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bring them a solution. We are prepared to answer questions, guide, and ensure the success of the project from beginning to end. “The manufacturing process starts with our engineering department approaching the design required for the additive components working in lock step with the anticipated CNC machining requirements. The value of being vertically integrated is that we have our subtractive engineers working directly with our additive engineers to develop a comprehensive solution for our customers. It is that collaboration that allows us to come up with a full solution, and mitigate any bottlenecks, concerns or constraints down the road. “We have a vast array of equipment here, including large platform EOS M-400-4’s and mid-platform EOS and SLM machines to print the parts in aluminium, Inconel, titanium, stainless steel or other alloys as requested.

“After the part is depowdered our CNC team will take the part, which looks very similar to a casting or forging, and turn it into a finished component for our customer. Complex CNC machining takes places on a range of equipment, but the utilization of five axis machining centers with automated pallet changers allows us to meet the tolerances down to .0001, as well as customers’ rate requirements through the use of lights-out machining. “A strict focus on quality is part of KAM’s company DNA. It is one of our utmost concerns throughout the manufacturing process. Through all these phases there are multiple quality checks and we have a large quality department that makes use of KAM’s CT and CMM capabilities to ensure high-speed, high-quality end products,” he elaborates.

Integrated process

Using its already in-depth knowledge of additive manufacturing, KAM has developed several unique testing processes and procedures. These operations ensure that the company remains the most reliable and comprehensive source of metal additive manufacturing solutions. “We have a powder laboratory, and two PhD material scientists on staff. They analyze the powder morphology and chemistry of the raw material and perform metallurgical tests on printed samples, which makes their input

Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing

central to KAM’s success,” James asserts. “As we work through things like internal parameter development or parameter validation, they are the ones who are leading that charge. They will cut and polish samples, and from there provide feedback regarding the material quality and printability. “It’s a huge benefit in terms of being able to work with such a quick turnaround. On the powder side, being able to examine new powder when it comes in helps add another level of quality control. We make sure that all materials meet our build requirements, and by using Hall flow testing, particle size distribution analysis, and morphology we verify the materials particles have the right shape and stability,” he adds. Vertical integration and high standards of control, ensure KAM’s place as a figurehead of the modern industrial revolution. This new era for engineering and manufacturing is data and technology driven, as James confirms: “The modern-day industrial revolution is all about elevating the use of industrial technology; in order to be a part of this movement, KAM’s goal is to be a fully digitally integrated organization.

CGTech CGTech’s VERICUT software is the industry leader in simulation and verification. For shops that machine huge numbers of complex components, VERICUT is a key component for manufacturing productivity. Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing designs and produces large quantities of parts used in industries such as aerospace, defense, energy, automotive, performance motorsports, and more. VERICUT is critical during the CNC machine finishing process to prevent crashes and errors that could cost tens of thousands in materials, repairs, and the loss of a workpiece with hours of prior manufacturing time. VERICUT makes it easy to verify toolpaths and simulate the machining process so there are no surprises on the shop floor. Optimization with modules such as VERICUT Force open the door for even more savings with reduced cycle times and extended tool life. Learn more about CGTech and VERICUT online: l 39

“Our printed parts are designed in CAD and all modern manufacturing files are electronic. To that end we have implemented a fully integrated paperless ERP system that allows us manage the entire manufacturing process electronically. There are digital control stations at each point in production to access

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prints, simulations, and sign off on digital routers.”

Adding value

Some of the company’s recent projects illustrate how KAM is changing the game for additive manufacturers, as James details:

“We had a customer who essentially had a traditionally manufactured die component; the mechanism was produced out of a very hard metal that took a lot of time to machine because it had complex internal and external geometries. The customer came to us and said: ‘Right now this part is manufactured with multiple different processes. We have a primary machining operation, then we have an outside process for heat treating, and finally we have multiple EDM operations in place.’ Our Solutions Engineering team was able to respond with a great opportunity to utilize additive technology. “When we implemented our solution, all those EDM operations were completely removed. They were no longer a part of the value chain, and this was very important because EDM was a very time consuming and expensive operation to complete. “One benefit, therefore, is reduced lead time. We can create iterations of that part and find results in less than a week, as opposed to traditional methods where the product might sit in a queue for EDM for two weeks before it is processed. Again, most people would think AM has to be high-complexity but, realistically, the benefits of AM can be achieved in all industries.” Adding value for clients is a core component of KAM’s over-arching mission. In order to maintain this, the company is reinvesting $5 million into an expansion of its existing production facility. “The expansion is interesting. One of the things that is great about KAM is the fact that we are in a 70,000 square foot building, giving us room to scale as we wish. It also means that any investments or expansions we talk about are being made strictly into manufacturing and personnel. “Our return on investment is almost immediate, because we are not spending a year

Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing

building a new portion of our building so we can house equipment, instead we are ordering a new piece of equipment from an OEM, delivering and installing it within a couple of weeks,” states James. With a number of new machines already on the floor, KAM predicts that the entire expansion will be complete by the third quarter of 2022. This comes at the perfect time, as KAM is establishing an unconventional part-for-part alternative supply chain for metal components. “We are always focused on innovation, and we are exploring a range of alternate supply chain solutions for traditionally manufactured parts. One great example is brazing; brazing has been used for hundreds of years at this point. Unfortunately, this traditional process is dirty and even well brazed components often fail pressure tests with leaks and poor adhesion. To solve this, KAM has produced a monolithic component that features all those cooling channels in one; manufacturing that component as one piece allows us to remove brazing from the equation entirely. This shortens lead times and customers get better, more reliable components. “There is so much we can do in that niche, and we are connecting with customers in order to help them transition from traditional brazed components to additively manufactured components. From a technology perspective, education is an important part of working with customers. Our customers have the drive to implement AM technology, and we are guiding them through the complex process of design, implementation, iteration, testing, and qualification,” James affirms. With such impressive strides being made in the additive manufacturing market, it comes as no surprise that James and his team have big plans for the future of KAM. As James

concludes: “For KAM, the outlook is great. We are experiencing growth in terms of revenue, personnel, and facilities based on what the AM market has and can sustain. Our penetration into different industries is important for sustaining this growth; KAMs work with the military, aerospace, power generation, maritime

and hypersonic industries will only continue to grow over the next few years.” v

Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing Services: Serial additive manufacturing l 41

Sustainable innovation

With over 35 years of experience designing and manufacturing high-quality, cost-efficient products, Petainer offers a wide range of lightweight, sustainable PET packaging solutions to help businesses across the globe reduce their carbon footprints 42 l


etainer is a manufacturer of sustainable PET products, with a history that dates back to 1983 when its first site in Lidköping, Sweden, began manufacturing PET bottles. Since then, the company has acquired facilities across Europe which have helped expand its portfolio. Manufacturing Today speaks with Hugh Ross, the CEO, and Jack Denley, the Marketing Manager, to discuss Petainer’s best practices, and its passion for an eco-friendly future. “We work with PET, which is 100 percent recyclable, shatterproof, food safe and can

be used to replace heavy or carbon intensive packaging materials. Petainer offers solutions to support our customers’ environmental and carbon reduction initiatives,” Hugh begins. “We started off with PET bottles, and have since moved to PET kegs, PET jars, and PET water cooler bottles. Throughout this journey, what we have been able to do is offer customers across a number of different markets a sustainable solution for their products. For example clients in the beer sector who are moving from steel to one-way kegs which are more environmentally friendly. We are also trying


to replace plastics that are hard to recycle with easier-to-recycle PET,” says Jack, diving deeper into the company’s capabilities. To make this possible, Petainer has European core manufacturing sites that are located in the Czech Republic and Sweden. The factories have been moved to renewable energy, and from these favourable positions Petainer has been able to partner with some of the biggest food and beverage brands to assist in delivering their own sustainability targets. “In addition, we have blowing hubs strategically positioned around the world in

Asia, North America and South America in order to keep our manufacturing operations as close to our customers as possible,” Hugh continues. “These blowing hubs operate a twostage manufacturing model, receiving preforms from our core factories to then blow into finished product within the end users’ markets. Preforms are lightweight and can be shipped at ten times the volume or more, per container, compared to a finished blown product. The result being a more economical and carbon friendly delivery process for both Petainer and its global customer base. Simply put, reducing

the transport associated with each unit of product reduces the amount of carbon in our customers’ supply chain. “By producing closer to the customer, we eliminate logistics cost and reduce our customers’ carbon footprint. These regional centres have the added benefit of being led by Petainer’s regional teams. This has proven to be particularly useful for our customers as they move their own product around the world. For example, the keg is regularly used for export of product. It is not unusual for the keg supplied from a local blow mould site to be filled with l 43

beer, say produced in North America, to then be exported for use in bars in Asia. Once the keg is received in Asia, our in-region team can provide in-market support for new product launches. Having teams in the receiving export markets brings an extra layer of professionalism and support for customers as they globalise their brands.” “At our site in, Lidköping, Sweden, we focus on preforms, one-way bottles, and manage an overall production capability of approximately two billion units,” says Jack. “The site is a lead supplier of bottles for mineral water and soft drinks in the highly sustainability driven Nordics market.”

Recycling culture

The Czech Republic, is home to Petainer’s broadest manufacturing facility in terms of capability. “Although we have tremendous reach in the Nordics where usage of PET bottles and the overall recycling culture is well established, the Czech Republic allows us

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to showcase our expertise in an alternative sustainability solution, namely the reusable PET bottle,” Jack continues. “We strongly believe this will be the leading sustainability solution for the beverage sector in future as pressures on supply chain, particularly with regard to the quality of feedstock being maintained in the recycling process together with energy usage in manufacturing of alternative reusable products such as glass bottles, force customers to seek a PET reusable solution. Petainer’s factory in Czech Republic has long been regarded by the Beverage sector in Central Europe as the technical leader in reusable PET. Our standard bottle solution today can be reused 20 times, meaning 19 batches of manufacturing being removed from the supply chain. We currently supply this solution with recycled content and will launch an extended reuse product in Europe in 2023.” “Our ability to open up locations in different parts of the world has been quite powerful,” Hugh states. “We currently have two sites

in North America, and are about to open a third in Tennessee. We also launched the site in Thailand at the height of the pandemic, because we could see that the South East Asian market in particular was struggling with lead times and logistics cost involved with delivery from its traditional supply base in Europe. The local team in Asia led the setting up of the operation and are now able to take orders from customers in Asia and deliver to end-users within two-to-four week lead times.”

Consistent quality

Jack continues to add; “Having an international reach was part of the company’s strategy to expand market share in each end-user market. We have this two-stage manufacturing process, which can be replicated anywhere in the world, to help embed ourselves within the end user economy, and then deliver the preform to be blown locally in a much more economical manor with no detriment to quality.” “Coupled with its extensive manufacturing infrastructure, Petainer has an impressive track record of bringing products to market that can replace less sustainable packaging,” Hugh explains. “For example, we have launched the Hybrid Keg, which is a technical alternative to traditional steel kegs. The keg has been designed to function exactly like a steel keg, running down steel keg filling lines. It is lightweight, has UV protection as well as an oxygen scavenger to protect the contents from oxidation. Recently we’ve improved it even further. In conjunction with our multinational customers’ technical teams, we have developed a patented solution to safely alleviate too much pressure building up in the keg using a patent protected pressure release function, so that safety can be assured at all stages of use be it filling, delivery or ultimately use in a bar. Obviously the most important element of the product for our customers namely, taste quality, is assured throughout the supply process due to the recipe we control in the preform when it is manufactured as part of the Stage 1 process in Czech Republic.” Both gentlemen agree that the extent of Petainer’s capability is buttressed by an expert team of engineers who dedicate their skills to solving the problems of their customers. “Whether it is handling the product or executing projects - you name it - our team guarantee a consistent quality from whatever location they are based, and we pretty much ship to most places in the world with zero-change in product performance,” expresses Jack.

Petainer One might think that with a history and development trajectory as packed as Petainer’s, the company would take some time to level out before plans for expansion. However, both Hugh and Jack are excited to continue pushing the company’s capabilities to reach its full potential. Looking to the future, Hugh expects the PET water cooler bottle range to start growing substantially especially as the regulatory environment starts to rule against polycarbonate solutions containing BPA. The expansion of PET bottles with recycled content and expanded use of the reusable PET bottle is also expected to become more prevalent across markets. “We have markets we serve where retail is pivoting towards climate smart packaging - packaging that has low emissions and is recyclable. The big shift is moving from glass bottles to PET bottles. We have seen a massive change in trend in which beverage companies have noted the environmental harm associated with heavy glass bottles that are energy intensive to make. “So, I see the market shifting away from glass towards reusable PET, and I think that is the path forward for our product solutions. I hope that as we move further forward, we will be introducing the reusable range into broader markets. Reusable PET is sustainable, with up to 81 percent less carbon emissions compared to refillable glass over its lifespan. We have invested in our refillable PET solutions and use our technical exper tise built up over two decades to constantly improve the life of our reusable product range. We expect to see refillable solutions filter to other par ts of Europe, and what we will look to do is push our potential to move with those trends to suppor t our clients. As new proposed EU directives to increase the amount of reusable packaging as a percentage of all packaging become more prevalent we are pleased to see brand owners come to Petainer for advice, guidance and ultimately PET based product solutions which can meet with both the legislative requirements and the brand owners’ sustainability goals,” says Hugh. Some of the exciting developments taking shape this year include Petainer’s closed loop offering, utilising Petainer’s skillset in processing rPET Flake. Product from this process will be available to some of its customers by the end of this year. “The process is based in our Aš factory and involves taking material generated from specific customers’ baled bottle waste stream via the German deposit return scheme. We process this material into rPET

Flake which is then ultimately converted back into recycled content preforms to be used by the same customers in fresh bottles.” This represents a true closed loop, whereby customers purchase both reusable bottles and recycled content preforms from Petainer, which get filled and sent to market. When the bottle reaches the end of its life, the same process repeats with the bottle entering the recycling stream, Petainer takes the material in flake form, processes it and creates new bottles for the customer to put back on the market. “This is the next evolution in PET Bottle sustainability and we all at Petainer are

happy to be involved in dynamic discussions with our customers as we work with them to create their own closed loop process,” Jack concludes. “I look forward to the continuing to expand our technical innovations as the environmental challenges expand and working with our customers to deliver a greener future to their markets around the world.” v

Petainer Services: PET packaging solutions

Husky Are you ready to reduce your package costs with two-step molding? Two-step molding presents a compelling economic value proposition in several market segments. If you are a producer looking to expand production of an existing application, and diversify your portfolio by introducing new applications to market, then making the switch to two-step molding could be the right move for you. Contact Husky to explore the benefits of two-step molding. An expert will work with you to conduct a detailed financial analysis of your operation to determine if making the switch makes the most economic sense for you. l 45

Engineering to depend on Accura Engineering is the UK’s first choice for precision engineering services, providing a turnkey solution for customers from its facilities in Willenhall, West Midlands. Services include design and engineering, multi-axis CNC machining, large milling, turning, press tooling, light fabrication and EDM 46 l


orking with global OEMs including Airbus, Cummins, GE, Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren Automotive and Siemens, Accura has been meeting the specialist needs of the most advanced engineering organizations across a wide range of high-reliability industries including Aerospace, Defence, Automotive, Nuclear, Oil and Gas, Space and Power Generation for over three decades. Given their exacting standards and exceptional requirements, why do global OEMs turn to Accura to solve their engineering challenges? At the heart of Accura’s success

is a winning combination of comprehensive manufacturing facilities and a skilled engineering team that can provide turnkey solutions for its customers – delivering the most complex projects on time and on budget, with no compromise to quality. Through continued investment in the latest technology from leading brands such as DMG Mori, IEMCA and Trumpf, Accura can support its customers on a wide range of projects including volume production of complex products, as well as prototype and batch production. Rapid turnaround services can also be offered for time-critical projects, addressing tight deadlines, and making Accura the first choice for customers who need a

Accura Engineering

bespoke solution with a quick-turn service. With its AS9100 aerospace accreditation, Accura provide full material traceability, from material procurement to final treatments. Operating from 56,000-sqft premises in Willenhall, West Midlands, Accura’s four divisions of Precision Machining, Engineering & Design, Press Tooling and Turnkey Services provide their customers with unmatched capabilities and engineering expertise.

Experience and service

Precision Machining forms an essential part of Accura’s DNA, with a wide range of machining processes onsite including 5-axis CNC milling, turning, wire and spark EDM, laser cutting and large milling up to four metres. Working with exotic materials, Accura uses state-of-theart equipment in conjunction with powerful CAE tools including Powermill to provide its customers the latest machining technology. The Engineering & Design division incorporates mechanical engineering design services, New Product Introduction and optimization of products for manufacture; the division is committed to supporting customers at all stages of the product development cycle

and has the in-house engineering expertise to manage the most complex projects from concept to delivery. Through its investment in front-end engineering services, Accura is able to achieve Right First Time outcomes for customers for critical projects. Accura is a one of the UK’s leading Press Tooling suppliers for single stage, multi-stage progression, transfer and fine blanking tools up to 20 tonnes in weight. With onsite power

presses up to 350 tonnes, the business provides comprehensive services including design, manufacture, servicing, refurbishment and commissioning of press tools. Its tooling experts support customers in developing the most effective press tool solutions, thanks to their years of experience and in-house design tools. Turnkey Services complete the offer from Accura, supplying outsourced manufacturing, light fabrication, automated production, kitting l 47

The high-reliability sectors that depend upon Accura include Aerospace & Defence, Automotive, Energy and Industrial; these industries are united by the highest quality requirements, the need for tight tolerances and an expectation of exemplary service.

First-choice partner

and Kanban and supply chain management. To support its customers’ manufacturing strategies, Accura has established dedicated factory-in-afactory facilities which enable the ramp-up of production of outsourced products.

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It is the ability to harness all the above services and to handle projects of all sizes that enables Accura’s team of highly experienced engineers to deliver a five-star service, even when faced with the most demanding of requirements.

Accura is proud to be a strategic partner for leading Aerospace and Defence manufacturers, recognizing that this position reflects its focus on quality, cost control, efficient project management and on-time delivery. With AS9100 and NADCAP accreditation, and expertise in processing aerospace materials including Inconel and titanium, Accura produces thousands of AS9100-accredited components a month from its dedicated aerospace manufacturing facilities, kitted and delivered directly to customers’ production lines. Accura specializes in the ramp-up of new or transferred products for the aerospace sector, with the dedicated NPI team providing support to customers in bringing new products to market through a comprehensive stage-gated process, while a robust investment strategy allows the business to invest in capital equipment and facilities to deliver contracts. Accura supports major Automotive OEMs on complex projects with critical timescales, including delivering unique components for the high performance and bespoke vehicle market. Its in-house milling, tooling and turning facilities deliver a wide range of automotive components such as large suspension and chassis components, press tools for body panels and engine block machining services. Where required, Accura’s New Product Introduction (NPI) team can work within a PPAP framework to ensure compliance with its automotive customers’ quality systems. Accura has a long history of providing engineering services to the Energy sector, working with oil and gas customers to deliver critical components for downhole equipment and power generation systems. As an expert in large and heavy machining processes including large milling up to four meters and press tooling up to 20 tons, Accura is well placed to support technically demanding projects such as the machining of turbine casings. In recent years, Accura has transitioned towards supporting renewable energy projects, including solar, tidal and wind technologies. Accura is proud to contribute to the development of components for innovative technologies that provide sustainable sources of energy; its expertise has improved the efficiency and manufacturability of these products. Accura also applies its expertise in heavy and large manufacturing to support leading Industrial

Accura Engineering organizations to design and manufacture robust industrial systems and components. Working in technically challenging areas such as chemical processing, mining, and construction, Accura supplies the Industrial sector with manufacturing capability and engineering design services, assisting customers in optimizing products for manufacture, reducing cost and lead-times. With a dedicated facility for the manufacture of industry-leading, advanced manufacturing equipment, Accura is a strategic manufacturing partner for one of the largest industrial companies in the UK. Its focused investment in automated and robotic technologies allows the business to deliver complex products in exotic materials to the highest quality standards, while its engineering expertise has allowed it to develop a robust manufacturing process on behalf of the customer. Having operated at the highest levels of service and quality for so long and established a name as a company to be relied upon to deliver, Accura is the first-choice engineering partner for its customers, helping to find solutions for its customers’ most complex

manufacturing challenges. Now delivering more than 60,000 components each month, Accura continues to expand, with ambitious growth plans on the agenda for the next two years. Supported by its team of skilled employees, and keen to invest in the future of the business, in both technology and competency, Accura is heading into the second half of 2022 in a strong position for development. The next

stage of growth for the business promises to be an exciting time, and the management team looks forward to reporting on its continued evolution next year. v

Accura Engineering Services: Precision engineering services l 49

A driving force With a determination to lead the vehicle manufacturing industry, Woodall Nicholson Group has new developments underway to pioneer the journey to Net Zero

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Woodall Nicholson Group


ver the last two years, Woodall Nicholson Group (Woodall) has been working tirelessly to ensure the wheels of its operation remain in motion. In order to keep up with the increase in demand, the company has had to juggle the consequences of a disrupted supply chain, and a shortage of staff. However, speaking with Frank Barrett, the company’s CEO, we learn more about how Woodall has navigated these challenges, and continued to invest to provide leading solutions for the vehicle manufacturing industry. The last time we spoke with Frank, Woodall was in the process of enhancing its product development, particularly in its effort to offer greener solutions to its customers. “We created a new division with the evolution of its acquisition of Promech Solutions Limited, which harnesses the focal point of accelerated development for our zero emissions projects. It has the mandate to look at available technologies, and design the development of products, in conjunction with each of our other businesses,” he says. Considering that Woodall’s Mellor business was traditionally a small bus manufacturer, the company is determined to lead the way when it comes to vehicle energy transition, with an ambition to push l 51

Woodall Nicholson Group “We have two versions of zero emissions ambulances. We have a fully electric one that is actually in full front-line operation undergoing a yearlong field trial. The one at COP26 was a prototype for a collaboration project that we were invited to be a part of. Our ability to provide a low floor, lightweight, hydrogen and electric ambulance is what will allow us to expand in this particular field.”

Company developments

its own boundaries. “We decided to expand our horizons. We made a strategic investment, and with this we developed a midi-bus range that is fully electric, from seven meters up to 12 meters in length, and puts us into the competitive landscape of what is usually known as ‘big bus operators’, albeit not double-deckers. We have taken our extensive experience and approach to innovation, and applied it to this section of the market; all while maximizing passenger carrying capacity, with less batteries, significantly lighter overall product, more environmental products, a longer lifespan, and at a lower operating cost,”

he explains. “From its birth, this product is a zero emissions BEV midi bus, every aspect of its design is geared towards meeting the criteria of the market place. It represents a brave step, but an advantage has been that it was not compromised or constrained by being an adapted ICE product in its genetics, making it a real fresh approach to meet the needs of the market.” With enormous pride, Woodall also made the decision to share its progress with the world, and exhibited through its VCS blue light vehicle manufacturer a ground-breaking electric ambulance at last year’s COP26.

Whether it is traditional ambulances or the development of new products, Woodall is at the forefront of vehicle innovation taking place across the UK, and very much has the possibility to grow its footprint across Europe. “If you look at some of the more traditional vehicles on the streets – hearses and limousines for example – we are the only manufacturer of a Tesla hearse. We are also actively targeting the mainstream electric vehicle development of hearses and limousines this year in order to develop a fully electric, 300-mile range prototype, and we believe we have the potential to dominate in those markets. “In the bus sector, the opportunities are equally as fantastic.The added midi bus range opens us up to significant European and international markets, and we have had some strong orders come in from Scandinavia and Hong Kong in recent months. It is one of our strategic objectives to continue growing the international opportunities for our products, and that is coming together quite nicely indeed,” he says. The company has also spent an impressive amount of time and energy investing in the blue light sector in which it has, as previously mentioned, developed the first hydrogen ambulance with the NHSi and London Ambulance Service. However significant development on the existing frontline ambulance product is still very much a focus and Woodall’s VCS company are currently the market leader and prime supplier for front line ambulances to the NHS England with a lighter, cost saving and ultra-reliable product. “That will be a strong point for the NHS, and we are

Ring Carnation Ring Carnation is an expert in electrical power switching and control systems for the specialist vehicle conversion market. It provides solutions for a wide range of vehicle applications including emergency and rescue vehicles and public transport, and is a key component supplier to the ambulance converter industry using genisys™ - the premier switching and power management system for specialist vehicles. The company is proud to have the Woodall Nicholson Group as a key customer, and work across the Group companies in support of Treka and VCS providing genisys™ power control and task management in a wide spectrum of vehicle applications. By using these technologically advanced ECUs, Woodall Nicholson customers ensure they future-proof their fleet – these proven power and task management systems are the modular ‘building blocks’, which give flexible expandable solutions. As well as providing a standardised solution right across the fleet, genisys™ can also be re-programmed or upgraded as operational and legislative needs change across the life of the vehicle. The programme is designed, manufactured and supported at the Leeds headquarters of Ring Carnation, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the AMS OSRAM Group, the global lighting and technology business. The team in Leeds provide accessible technical support before, during and after system specification, and is proud to support the UK emergency sector.

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facility. When we actually started discussing this new facility, it was going to be in the region of 40,000-square-feet in size, but we have actually almost doubled that to 70,000-square-feet.”

Rebranding and repositioning

very focused on our responsibility to assist it in saving money in the future. Even our traditional VCS product gives annual improved fuel savings, and so both our lightweight and zero emissions projects will bring about an exciting change for the emergency services sector going forward,” he shares with us. From what we’ve heard, it is clear that Frank believes every cloud has a silver lining, and despite the challenges imposed by the pandemic, he is proud of the company’s efforts to make the most of difficult circumstances. “We have had chip supply problems globally, and that has

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been frustrating to overcome considering that our order book at the end of 2021 was at least 110 percent higher than it was the previous year. To overcome this, we have aligned a 12-month strategy to enhance the quality, reliability and the cost effectiveness of our products, and we have more than doubled our engineering recruitment in the last 12 months,” Frank says. In addition to these developments, Frank also shares details of the new facility in Scarborough, due to open later in the year, to assist with Woodall’s growing demand. “We have invested significantly in this brand-new purpose-built

Although the pandemic has had consequences on various parts of the company’s operation, Woodall is moving forward with a few lessons on how to overcome future challenges. “We work very hard with our suppliers, and we try to maintain a strong line of communication in order to ensure the wellness of both the organization and its partners. I certainly think that in navigating the last two years, we have really refined our skills to be much more engaged with our suppliers and our employees.” When we turn our conversation towards the topic of what the future holds, Frank shares his thoughts on the direction in which he is leading the business, beginning with a rebranding that – at the time of our conversation – was set to conclude at the end of April 2022. “We want to realign the driving force of what we do. Despite our long-standing history, we aim to refocus what we do and who we are, in order to maintain and improve our perception, promotion and encouragement of innovation to the wider market. “The rebranding is actually something of a repositioning, with the goal to capture what the Woodall Nicholson Group is, and how we are a multi-market, multi technology, specialist vehicle manufacturer, Woodall is a unique group with devolved responsibility but shared enthusiasm and cooperation that strives to bring about sustainable transport. We are pulling together a communication plan to invigorate the organization for the benefit of the companies within the group, and really clearly define how they all tie together in common goals and ambitions. In order to achieve this, we are taking a look at each of these companies and what they can bring to the market, and how they will be able to further excel. So, the rebranding is about making sure that what it means to be part of the Woodall Nicholson family is set out with a clear and united vision. The rebranded name will be WN V-Tech, as in WN Vehicle Technology.” Following on from the rebranding, 2022’s journey is looking especially prosperous, with the next 18 months bringing notable trading opportunities. “We are aiming to establish ourselves

Woodall Nicholson Group in the midi bus market, and we will look to put ourselves on a more international footing. From my perspective, it’s about realizing the investment we make, increasing our presence, and delivering on what our customers want from us, while focusing on sustainable zero emissions at the forefront of all the growth. “For example, we are taking our lightweight vehicle technology that I mentioned on the BEV product, and bringing it into a more commercial vehicle market, which is something that we haven’t done before. We actually have prototypes in field service work at the moment to test those capabilities. Our usual strategy is to test and trial a vehicle for a year or two, and then bring it to market, and that is where we are at the moment. So, in the next 12 - 18 months, you will see the division venturing into a more lightweight commercial market.” Frank concludes our discussion by sharing a final insight into the company’s approach for the coming years. “We recently appointed Gustavo Marqueta, who is our Business Development Director, with a new International pedigree and his mantra is quite literally ‘business

development’, not only at a boardroom level, but he spent many years developing and driving the international side of Alexander Dennis Ltd, where he was based previously. So, we are incredibly honored to have him working with us, and since he started, we have had significant discussions in Central America, Mainland Europe, Hong Kong and Australia, and I think over the next few years, we will expand our manufacturing capability to an extraordinary scale. We already have manufacturing in Germany, and I think we will have one other location further afield very soon,” he says. Frank believes the future of Woodall will bring with it new manufacturing capabilities, and allow the business to continue to innovate through the creation of unique products. This, according to him, only reinforces the extent to which the company is dedicated to serving the vehicle manufacturing industry. “I think that we are quickly becoming the experts of appropriate solutions, and, if we continue to do things in our unique and innovative fashion, we will hopefully be very successful,” he concludes. v

Woodall Nicholson Group Services: Vehicle parts manufacturer l 55

Since 1970, Aerotech Peissenberg has been at the cutting edge of industrial manufacturing; today, the company gears up its operations in order to take on new markets 56 l


s an industry leader in manufacturing and machining, Aerotech Peissenberg (Aerotech) has a reputation for quality, consistency and efficiency. The company has a close working culture, and a team of skilled

laborers with generational experience in the field. Now coming off one of its most difficult years in 2021, the company is gearing up for growth in its European sites and also its most recent facility in Mexico, as it branches out, and offers its expertise to an array of new markets.

Aerotech Peissenberg

From parts to partnership

As Managing Director and Chief Commercial Officer, Gabriel Oehme has worked over the last year to bring new opportunities to Aerotech Peissenberg. “Aerotech approached me because they were looking for someone with a diverse skillset

that could bring new growth to the company. I have experience in sales, contracts, after-sales, program management and purchasing, which is pretty broad – I think Aerotech appreciated that. The company was in the middle of reshaping its operations, and I stepped in

as MD in order to take over programs, purchasing and commercial management. That was the deal, and it’s been a really exciting journey so far,” he reveals. Gabriel’s work builds on Aerotech’s long history of dedication and innovation. The l 57

company’s original site has been in operation since the 1970’s, as Gabriel details: “Originally the Aerotech site was owned by MTU, a large Munich-based engine company. It was used in the 70’s for manufacturing purposes, before being carved out and sold off privately in the late 90’s. In 2011 the company was taken over by two major German companies, MT Aerospace and OHB, predominantly in the space business but also with an aerospace footprint. They took over and from there the site production diversified and gained new clients, such as Rolls Royce.

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“Aerotech worked predominantly for Rolls Royce as one of their single largest suppliers of engine parts. At the time, this was really driving growth. From there, the company further developed its range of competencies in the manufacturing of class one rotating engine parts like compressor and turbine discs, complex casings, cones and rotating rings, and up to 1.250 mm in diameter. Certainly the most critical part on the engine are the rotating parts, and we do build those throughout the entire engine from the cold section to the hot section, including also the special processes and technologies

as required for different engines, both civil and military. We also leverage our aerospace knowledge to grow our share in the industrial gas turbine market, where often aero-derivative engines are used. It will allow Aerotech to diversify its business and increase its resilience for the future”

Value chain management

Working in the world of manufacturing for so many decades has allowed Aerotech to develop a wealth of internal knowledge, as well as a quality-assured system for part production. As Gabriel explains, the manufacturing process begins with black forgings: “Our forgings are usually made out of aerospace grade nickel alloys, or titanium, which is quite sturdy material. It is fairly difficult to machine, but we of course have plenty of experience working with tough materials. The forging goes through some different steps, including milling, turning, and broaching. Those are the main machining processes we undertake, but the part goes also through some surface treatments, such as plasma coating and high velocity oxygen fuel coating (HVOF), and non-destructive testing through acid etching. Very few special processes are subcontracted, like shot peening and OEM specific surface treatments. We rely on very few partners with long-term contracts. All parts basically finish by a full

Aerotech Peissenberg visual and CMM inspection. That is Aerotech’s full, mostly in-house process, from the black forging down to the finished part, ready for installation. “We are managing the whole value chain, from the raw materials to a finished part ready to be integrated with the client’s product. We also have an aeronautical laboratory, which is quite unique as it is multiple OEM certified. This means we can do OEM level quality inspection and verification in-house. Sometimes, if there is a specific question on a part, you will have to send it to the lab of whichever company uses it, but we are able to run those analytics here. We can answer questions and solve problems on Rolls

Royce, MTU and GE parts, which gives us the capability of being a one-stop-shop.”

New facility

Providing comprehensive support through the design and manufacturing process is one of the ways that Aerotech stands out. “I think that mastering the full value chain has definitely aided the company’s growth in recent years. We are a mechanical shop, yes, but we also have all these different supporting functions,” Gabriel asserts. “We have a particularly extensive knowledge of, and capacity for, manufacturing engineering. We are running a full 3D design and modelling process, and we are also working with the same

DMG MORI DMG MORI is a full liner with turning, milling and grinding technology. With advanced technologies, such as ultrasonic-supported machining, lasertec and additive manufacturing, the company offers products related to automation, with in-house solutions and digitization along the value chain in machining production. The company’s machine tools are suitable for almost every application; from engine to structural and landing gear components. Thanks to its aerospace excellence center and its application experts, DMG MORI can advise its customers on selection and optimal use of machine tools, while achieving the highest degree of utilization and competitiveness to fulfil turnkey and green field projects.

systems used by the OEM’s themselves. That means we can create 3D mock-ups of their parts, and use those models to create unique milling and machining strategies. Our processes are able to connect directly with how the OEM’s develop their products, which is a real benefit when working together. “We are also building within our own capabilities; we are currently working on a prototype speed shop, where we have a set of highly-skilled individuals working building test rig parts and industrial sales parts. This way, we are able to support clients even in their early stages. We have an opportunity to be influential when it comes to our part production and machining strategies, but also to look at optimizing our process, making things as robust and efficient as possible. As a result, we are able to give client’s feedback on their own part optimization. We also have a lot of experience working with these specific parts, something which means we can offer more efficient strategy, higher cost efficiency, and shorter lead times,” he elaborates. As Aerotech has grown over recent years, its footprint has also expanded. As we mentioned l 59

earlier, the company is in the process of ramping up a brand new facility in Mexico. Gabriel gave some more insight into this: “The Mexico site is a joint venture and it was built following a contract award by GE Aviation; it’s a dedicated site for LEAP engine parts, which is the most modern short hall engine from CFM International (joint company of Safran and GE Aviation). This is a site, which was founded

in 2016 as a joint venture with the Mexican company Grupo Punto Alto, and we currently hold 51 percent. We are bringing to the table all the parts manufacturing knowledge, and the Mexican partner, is providing some of the larger infrastructure elements. It’s a 20 year contract with GE Aviation, and we are producing six part numbers in two variants, because there is an Airbus and a Boeing version, and our goal is to

step up production to 1200 sets per annum.” This new facility will be a strategic asset, working under the same corporate structure as Aerotech’s European facilities. “Our facility in Mexico is a special, purpose-built site, so it is set up with some of the most cutting-edge technology, based on a GE blueprint. We are basically taking GE technology to the site, but we are also adding some improvements to the facility and plant. “If you look at our sites in the Czech Republic and Peissenberg, we are currently growing the Czech site quite significantly, because it has been our focus point for a long time. It’s our near shore location, just four hours away from the Bavarian headquarter, and we are taking advantage of the availability of skilled labor at very competitive conditions. It has been growing organically in recent months, we’ve gone from approximately 60,000 hours last year to about 100,000 hours this year – our aim is to reach 130,000 by the end of 2023. In two years, we basically double the hours, which is a bit of a challenge, but certainly one I believe Aerotech is capable of rising to,” Gabriel states.

Agility and flexibility

The Peissenberg facility is fundamental to Aerotech’s operation, and its resilience, both structurally and in terms of personnel, helped the company survive the outbreak of Covid-19. The Peissenberg facility hosts all the central functions of the group like Manufacturing Engineering, Quality Assurance, Programme Management and Strategic Sourcing. “Our Peissenberg site was hit quite heavily by Covid-19. Our workload dropped to less than 50 percent, at that time the question was certainly ‘what can we do?’” confides Gabriel. “There were discussions of a restructuring, but with a business of 400 people this took a lot of consideration. People often have two generations of their family working on our facilities, which makes them extremely loyal to

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Aerotech Peissenberg the company. We are the biggest employer in the region, so it was really a question of how do we protect that knowledge, which has been grown over 40 years, and passed down across generations? Ultimately, we made use of the furlough schemes and some early retirement plans, working closely with the labor union. “The company definitely benefitted from this strategy; we prioritized the protection of our skilled labor force, and took some hits on the cost side. We were well financed, so the company was stable in that regard, and we made it out the other side. We also had some assistance from the German government, who offered loan schemes throughout the pandemic,” he goes on. It is clear that a familial and mutually respectful working culture helped fortify Aerotech, as its people banded together and supported the company through unprecedented times. “Our company culture played a huge role in keeping us strong during Covid-19. Having worked in other international companies, and seen the sacrifices people have made here to support the business, it’s quite extraordinary. The pandemic is something that nobody has experienced before. In other industries, people have jumped ship in the face of adversity, but here people have stayed and worked through it. Our people believe in Aerotech and the innovative future of aeronautics. There is so much potential for growth in our industry, so to protect and prepare the future of the company, we used the time to completely reshape the factory footprint. “We took the crisis as an opportunity to restructure the factory from running fewer programs with high volumes to being very agile and flexible to accommodate a more diverse parts and client portfolio. We have now a more technology-oriented factory layout with lean production management, and these new principles allow us to produce a more diverse product portfolio, also called

low volume high mix,” Gabriel affirms. Today, Aerotech continues to go from strength to strength; the company is gearing up for one of its most exciting years yet in 2022, as Gabriel concludes: “We are on a good track this year, with predicted revenue increases of up to 50 percent. The market is definitely picking up speed, as we saw in the second half of 2021, so we are now set up to absorb that volume as it

continues to grow. We are in a good position to set up operations, all the machinery has been installed, and our skilled labor force is prepared, so things are certainly looking optimistic.” v

Aerotech Peissenberg Services: Industrial part manufacturer

USA: 1.800.964.8324 • UK: 44 207 4710200

Aerotech Peissenberg AD.indd 4

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Through its proprietary digital thread, Prescient uses the power of technology to link the discrete disciplines of architectural design, engineering, manufacturing, and assembly 62 l


t was in September 2012, that three individuals – a real estate executive, an architect and structural engineer, and an angel investor – came together with a shared vision to modernize the $10 trillion construction industry, specifically the multi-family construction market which, until that time, had been dominated by wood construction. The result was the formation of Prescient.

“Our first milestone came in 2013, with the conceiving, designing and fabricating of a light gauge structural system that was then used to produce our first two buildings in an old 6000-square-foot aircraft hangar in Broomfield, Colorado,” begins Prescient’s Chief Executive Officer, Magued Eldaief. “The goal was simply to demonstrate that the system possessed design flexibility, and could be built faster and cheaper.


Revolutionizing the built environment

After successfully proving the concept and viability of the approach, the company moved into its first plant on Downing Street in 2014, a 40,000-square-foot plant and office featuring the first automated processes and systems mock-up for customers to view.” At that time, the Prescient system was re-engineered and new equipment made it possible to simply assemble the components

of the system. In 2015, Prescient’s Unified Truss Construction Framing System received an evaluation report (ESR-3745) from ICC Evaluation Service (ICC-ES), providing evidence that the panelized, cold-rolled, light-gauge framing system met code requirements. “Later that year,” Magued continues, “we moved to a 120,000-square-foot headquarters and manufacturing complex in Denver with ten acres

of outdoor storage space. The expansion was driven by the growing demand for the Prescient System. Our second manufacturing facility was opened in July 2017 in North Carolina to serve east coast markets. Then, in 2019, we entered the California market with our seismic system.” As Magued goes on to tell Manufacturing Today, it is Prescient’s belief that nobody before it has truly figured out how to integrate l 63

software and hardware with a single digital thread. “Compared to our competitors, we believe our integrated business model, process, and finished buildings in 21 states set us apart and can aid in gaining greater traction in the coming years. Today, developing a project is a challenge and herding all of the different stakeholders to move the project forward is difficult. Some of our competitors share an approach which is to fully integrate the development and construction, acting as the developer, manufacturer, and installer. Unfortunately, this leads to capital constraints between investing in project development versus technology and product investment. We tested the vertically integrated model, but we concluded the right formula is to scale our software and manufacturing to drive product adoption.The key is to focus on optimized design and automated manufacturing to lower product cost with our

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digital thread to enable that whole process from design to site assembly.”

System benefits

Magued continues: “The evolution of our technology and capabilities all stem from listening to our clients and having a continuous improvement mindset to figure out how to turn customer ideas into reality. As an example, one of the best features of our system is an integrated stair system that can be installed as the building goes up, driving site productivity for all trades and safety, not to mention reduced overall cost. For this innovation, it took us a little less than a year to solve the hardware engineering and to build the software to enable it for our digital thread. A major achievement given the complexities involved and the integration required.”

Facilitating the manufacture of the company’s products are its production facilities, which consist of four cells that make up the four key components of its structural system. “The equipment that is used in these facilities would be typically found in an automotive manufacturing plant, such as welding robots and laser cutting machines,” Magued details. “Our proprietary software applications allow us to design and engineer a building with our kit of light gauge parts which generates a BIM model that can in turn produce an accurate Bill of Material (BOM) with outputs that provide accurate cost, time, and measurement details. Our drawings are up to 65 percent faster than traditional approaches and provide greater accuracy from a structural and cost standpoint. We then translate the design and the specific BOM to the factory floor and use our digital thread to sequence the manufacturing of components and provide specific instruction for every manufacturing cell, with specific instructions for each made to order component.” In addition to the above, Prescient is also able to call upon the expertise of its employees. “Our people and the culture that they share are fundamental to our success,” Magued enthuses. “Creating a successful company culture starts with believing in your product and the difference that it is making to the industry. All our employees are super proud of what we have built, what we are delivering, and the future of the company. Our teams are motivated by the challenge of disrupting an industry that is extremely reluctant to change and innovate.”


Today, the company focuses much of its efforts on multi-family buildings such as apartments, hotels, senior living, and student housing. Essentially, it can construct any building with similar replicable, stackable units, with its value proposition being its rapid design integration, manufacturing, and assembly. “Our panelized approach to manufacturing offers more flexibility on design and allows for larger scale projects to be done efficiently, such as the 1.2 million-square-foot student housing project we completed last year at UC Davis in California,” Magued highlights. “As a result, we can reduce costs and drive greater profit to all stakeholders compared to other modular constructors. Further, all our manufacturing is based on cells for the main structural components which allow us to scale rapidly in different markets We have built projects as small as 40,000-square-feet and as big as 1.3 million-square-feet. In terms of height, our tallest building is 17 stories, and our limitation is building code versus structural performance. “To date, we have built over 72 buildings and more than 12 million-square-feet of projects. Many of those are complex from a design standpoint and require close coordination with all stakeholders. Most of our recent projects where we have demonstrated all the benefits of the system involved getting in early at the concept stage and working with clients at what we call rapid prototyping, where we are leveraging our proprietary software to quickly analyse different building designs simultaneously for structural engineering, cost and required square footage to make a proforma pencil for the owner.” As we go on to discover from Magued, there is also an important sustainability element to Prescient’s work. “Our materials consist of 90 percent recycled steel. We don’t use any raw materials other than steel, and all our

steel is sourced entirely from US steel mills. Additionally, our approach reduces waste as every component is made to order, with minor cuttings at our manufacturing plants being recycled. The only waste we produce is the plastic strapping for the component bundles sent to job sites. We only use one dumpster for an entire project. We also focus on reducing

time wasted by workers at installation sites, such as the time spent looking for materials, tools, etc. to minimize that carbon footprint.” Moving forward, the company has a scaling model that is targeting its focus on several US States that value Prescient’s product and business model, and involves working with a set of customers that will give it repeat business. “We don’t want to be everything to everyone,” Magued states. “We develop local and regional relationships and focus solely on multi-family. To enable that scaling, we have to be singularly focused on product and delivery cost, and that requires continuous innovation in design, manufacturing and assembly. “We currently represent one percent of the 300 million-square-feet a year built in the multifamily market. We believe that we can double or triple adoption in the coming years with more construction in the US being offsite.” v

Prescient Services: Digital design-build system l 65

Ever since Polykemi began in the spring of 1968, its core concept has remained the same: manufacture custom plastic compounds and strive to do it better than anyone else in the industry 66 l


ugo Jönsson founded Polykemi in 1968. Back then, the company’s mission was to manufacture and sell custom-designed plastic compounds to Scandinavian consumers. Although its core operation has not changed, the business now serves the rest of the world.

The family-owned company, with just over 300 employees and a head office in Ystad, has grown to become an expansive one. The Ystad location supports the company’s overall functions, including sales, technical customer support, purchasing, administrative support functions, and research and development. Production


Improving the mould

Left: Johan Hugoson

in Ystad includes a number of extruder lines, where its machine operators are independently responsible for the entire production process from mixing raw materials, fillers and additives according to customized recipes, handling the extruder and ongoing production control, to packaging of finished product. It even boasts

an operation in Kunshan, China, where there is an independent subsidiary for sales, purchasing, technical customer support, production and additional development operations. For Polykemi, the expert in plastic fabrication, Scandinavia remains an important market. Accordingly, its goal is to constantly be one

step ahead of its competition by offering a customized product range with unique and creative solutions that very few others provide, as we learn from Johan Hugoson, the CEO of Polykemi USA. Johan’s grandfather, who founded the company, always said that anyone with a few l 67

extra million dollars could set up a compounding plant, because it is not the operational capabilities that make the business successful. “Our process is basically the same as all the big guys. What separates us is our formulations, process parameters, and how we build the screws within the compounding machine; that is our biggest secret regarding the quality of our operation.” For Johan, Polykemi’s biggest success lies in its customer service. Rather than being another supplier, the company wants to be a trusted advisor that ensures its clients choose the correct material for the right application. “The material needs to meet the demands and specifications, which is also what sets us apart because we don’t do any commodities. We would rather pick out a material that is not over or under engineered in its application, and tailor the compounds for our customers, which means that the compound has to be perfect for the application; that is our niche,” he says. The business has experienced impressive growth over the last few years, enabling it to expand its operations. As a result, Johan is pleased to announce an investment in a facility in Gastonia, North Carolina. The $17 million-to-$18 million venture will be the largest investment in the company’s history. “Because we are a family company, we are quite conservative, so I have to say that we aren’t doing anything extraordinary in Gastonia. However, we are putting in batch mixers on all of our extruders, which is something we only have in Sweden. It is a way for us to refine our quality as well, because instead of doing 500kg, 1000kg or 1500kg mixers at the same time, we can do smaller batches, so that in the instance where something goes wrong with the

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Polykemi formulation, we only have to take out a smaller amount of faulty material instead of a whole batch. It is a technology that we will start off in North America but we will probably see more of it in Sweden and China going forward as well.”

Having said that, the company is also exploring potential in Mexico, which, according to Johan, has a huge market. “We have been talking about setting up a plant one day in Mexico to get closer to the customers there, and the huge plastic industry in Mexico. We are always strategizing, but you never know what the future holds, especially after the turbulence that we have all experienced.” Continuing his thoughts regarding an uncertain future, Johan reflects on the challenges that the company has faced over the last two years, and pays a particular tribute to the strength and determination exhibited by his team. “First we had the pandemic and then the freezing temperatures in Texas last year. It has been a snowball effect – excuse the pun because after Covid-19 affected the supply chain, we had the snow storm in Texas, which put more strain on the material market and heavily impacted our logistics. “From speaking with my colleagues, I am aware of the difficulties they have faced in not knowing when materials arrive, not only for us but for everyone. The guys who do

Exploring potential

When asked about the possibilities of new developments taking place, Johan elaborates on how the company explored expansions in the Czech Republic, but decided to look further afield. “A few years ago, we bought a property in the Czech Republic, because we already have a sales office there. We were supposed to put up a plant to move our presence closer to Eastern Europe but came into regulation challenges, so we made the decision to sell that property in the last couple of months. “We hope that someday we can set up a plant in the Balkans. We have quite a few employees from the former Yugoslavia who work with us in Sweden, and it would be brilliant to use their knowledge from their home countries to expand down there, instead of the Czech Republic,” he says.

Congratulations to Polykemi on their new US facility


Gravimetric Blending


Vacuum Receivers


Extrusion Control


Railcar Unloading

the production planning have done an amazing job throughout the pandemic and every other crisis we have had this year, we have learnt the importance of preplanning everything based on when we should expect the products. If this was five years ago, I think our customers would have maybe gone as far as changing their supplier, but everyone has been in the same situation so the level of patience and understanding throughout the whole supply chain has been great, and so encouraging,” Johan expresses. We then change topics to discuss the company’s sustainability strategy, another topic of which Johan is incredibly proud. He shares that Polykemi has been working with recycled plastics for more than 50 years, and will continue to do so to care for the environment and the community. “Our goal is to have at least 25 percent raw materials that we use as recycled content. We are currently at about 20 percent, but in the coming years we will reach that goal because we have seen a lot of requests for recycled materials. In the production for example, we pick up all the excessive heat from the production process, and we use that for our heating, not only in the offices

Complete Turnkey Solutions

TSM Inc 1505 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta, GA 30062, USA TSM Inc 1404 Joliet Road, Romeoville, IL 60446, USA



7 9




1 3


Surge Bins


Automatic Thickness (gauge) Control


Pneumatic Conveying


Custom Silos


Positive Displacement Pump Packages

General Info: Sales: Support: Tel: (770) 886 -6630 l 69

but also the production halls. In addition to that, we recirculate our water, and the power that we get is 100 percent renewable solar, wind or water energy, which is something we’ve been using for around 25 years.” To help it achieve its sustainability goals, the company is keen to share knowledge of a recent development known as its materialsmart carbon calculator, which Polykemi utilizes as a means to make the best choices for each specific application, long service life, costeffectiveness, while keeping the climate impact as low as possible.

In curating the calculator, a key question for the business was whether customers currently adapt material choices according to their design, or the design according to the material? In the latter instance, there are many opportunities to make smart choices, such as choosing between a virgin raw material, a recycled material or a combination of both, depending on the requirement profile of the application, and simultaneously make significant carbon dioxide savings. Following these observations, the company introduced scientific studies to develop a detailed calculation tool that its experts utilize

Brabender Technologie Brabender Technologie is a major worldwide company that specializes in high precision dry ingredient feeders and systems. Feeder types include: loss-in-weight, weigh belt and volumetric. To reliably feed different ingredients ranging from powder to granules to flakes and fibers, Brabender supplies the correct combination for the ingredient. These include: FlexWall® feeders, internal/stirring agitated feeders, single and twin screws, vibratory, fiber feeders, micro rate feeders, and belts. The feeders can be applied to continuous or batch processes, and are available for feed rates from less than one lb/ hour up to 100,000 lbs/hour. Numerous exclusive features including filtered intelligent digital scales for lossin-weight feeders, rugged AC gear motors with Allen Bradley PowerFlex VFD’S, quick clean designs for fast changeover, and a full range of feeder controls ensure unparalleled day in, day out performance.

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to analyze a company’s material choices and calculate how to make products more material-smart. The calculator enables its clients to simulate this calculation, and easily see the climate effect of their material choices

Future plans

In addition to this, it is also important to Polykemi to be involved in the local community. “We sponsor sports teams and theatre groups for example. We donate money for the Swedish Children Cancer Foundation as well.There is another foundation called Star for Life that we support, so we try to do good for people, for the environment and take on a social responsibility, not only in the local area, but also further abroad in whatever way we can,” Johan explains. As he brings our conversation to a close, Johan turns his focus to the future, and highlights the areas that he would like to see Polykemi continue to strengthen its capabilities. “Regarding our short-term goals, I would like to see a positive result on our bottom line, when it comes to our US entities. Then, five years from now, I would like to triple our produced

Polykemi quantities. What I really want to do is take the best out of our Swedish operation, and put that in our North America division, blend it with the US cultures and mature it to the level that we have in Sweden. This will also involve building a company with an excellent culture in the US. Our people are proud to say that they work for Polykemi, that they are part of the family, and it brings me great joy that they feel they are being taken care of by their employer. “I just want the company to basically keep doing what it is doing; to keep growing organically and do our part when it comes to recycling, taking care of the environment and improving the reputation of our name in the best way possible. We want to strive to keep our employees happy, and do our best

to create a working environment that they feel comfortable in, because it’s not easy to find good employees of the nature we have within the plastic industry, and I am incredibly grateful for the unbelievable work they put into

Frigel North America Frigel, a global leader in process cooling with over 5,000 installations worldwide, worked with Polykemi to provide an optimum solution for their new plastics operation. They decided on an Ecodry System with our 3FX Series water-cooled chillers versus cooling towers or air-cooled chillers. Because of this choice, the result is tremendous water, chemical, maintenance and energy savings. In addition, the system is easily expandable as Poykemi adds equipment in the future.

ensuring that Polykemi remains a successful business,” he says. The company has lived by one of Johan’s grandfather’s mantras for a long time: “If you stop getting better, then you stop being good,” he would say, and it is these words that Polykemi will contain to live by, as it continues to strive for excellence in the manufacturing industry. v

Polykemi Services: Plastic fabrication l 71

Smart and sustainable metering solutions

Leading manufacturer of ultrasonic smart meter devices, Axioma Metering, continues to expand rapidly as it works on brand new facilities and products 72 l


n 1992, Axioma Metering (Axioma) created Lithuania’s first ultrasonic heat meter. Since then, the company has consistently worked to perfect its device technology, and adapt it to a range of new

applications. Following a recent boom in the smart meter industry, Axioma has more than doubled in size, stepping up its operations in order to meet ever increasing demand. Despite its rapid growth, the company remains dedicated to innovation, as

Axioma Metering

it seeks to increase production efficiency and the diversity of ultrasonic technology. Today, Axioma offers a range of ultrasonic smart meters, registering heating and water. The company continually develops new ideas, building

on its already expansive knowledge of ultrasonic technology. As Axioma’s CEO, Ignas Vosylius, discusses, it took many years of hard work and innovative thought to reach this point: “Our activity started 30 years ago, in 1991, and from

the very first day we were focused on ultrasonic technologies for metering applications. At that time, this was a very innovative way of working, and even to this day most metering is done mechanically. l 73

“The company was founded by a group of technology students, as a sort of pre-cursor to the start-up phenomenon almost 30 years ago. Throughout its history, Axioma has developed a rich depth of technological knowhow, especially in regards to ultrasonic technology and remote communications. Our biggest milestone so far was reached in 2016, when shareholders decided to mass market our smart meters. For context, our company revenue beforehand was about €10 million, and we produced approximately 50,000 meters per year, which is relatively small. We were mostly supplying bigger customers, in order to fill their portfolio gaps, and when we decided to become a mass market player our competitors were much bigger than us. “We were trying to go up against companies with much larger production capacities, financial capabilities and market shares, so the decision was made that, in order to be successful, we needed to invent a new product, and invest heavily in automated manufacturing. This allowed us to offer something new to the market, whilst managing our production costs and quality level.” Investing heavily in automation was a big risk for Axioma, as it locked the company into its design without much room to make significant changes. “We took the initial €20 million

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investment, and used it to produce our new design through an automated process. The margin for error was slim, so we had to be confident in our work,” states Ignas. “It was an opportunistic decision, but also a very calculated one. Fortunately for us, it was incredibly successful. Now, instead of 50,000 meters per year, we have a capacity of two million per year. We are in the middle of constructing a new factory on previously owned land, and when that’s complete it will extend our capacity from two million to six million units. Our growing footprint is a strong indicator of how quickly the company is growing,” he continues. Having navigated such a major expansion successfully, the company went on to find its niche, and develop its product range to include manufacturing components, as Ignas discusses: “We are an advanced manufacturing company, which means we produce critical machinery through research and development. We have a 100 percent inhouse production operation, including plastic molding, SMT, assembly and calibration. “Our portfolio also includes an array of sector-specific components that have been designed and developed by our research team, meaning we can offer both commercial and industrial products. Overall, we have

been quite successful in penetrating the upand-coming smart metering market, as our products offer a very precise measurement of water and heat, as well as the latest IoT technologies, such as NB IoT or LoRa WAN.” Being dedicated to continuous improvement is one of the ways Axioma Metering has managed such rapid growth. “We are continuously putting in efforts to become more efficient, especially in terms of our production process. Alongside this, we are gearing up to expand our capacity, in order to match the demand of the market. “This means focusing on volume and quality. Our products are incredibly long-life, lasting around 16 years from a small internal battery, so we have to ensure each unit is faultless otherwise it can cause problems much further down the line. It’s one of the reasons we choose to produce 100 percent in-house, because that way our team can monitor our processes, and look out for deviations, with a strong understanding of the technology and what they are looking for,” Ignas asserts. The people behind Axioma are experts in ultrasonic technology, which means that they are capable of achieving high levels of quality control, whilst also developing the company’s products for application in new areas, as Ignas

Axioma Metering explains: “Our product is an ultrasonic metering system. It has no moving or mechanical parts, which means it maintains its quality for a much longer period than traditional systems. The ultrasonic technology works by transmitting a high-frequency signal through a plastic pipe – water flow will move this signal, and that movement can be measured to provide an accurate reading. “Ultrasonic technology has been around for a long time, but Axioma was one of the first groups to adapt it to metering this successfully. Our products are long-lasting, and continue to provide highly accurate readings for up to 16 years. They also have data transmission capabilities, which supports data analytics and preventative maintenance. Having a smart meter can also support energy efficiency, by providing more accurate usage information.” Dirmeta It is our great honor working with Axioma metering and being a part of their carefully selected suppliers. We are proud to call this relationship that we have built over the years, a strong partnership. Producing precision parts and technological equipment for the company, where quality is number one priority obliges us to seek perfection at every step. Combining Axioma metering engineers and technicians and our years of experience and the newest CNC technologies have helped us to build top of the line measuring equipment for their laboratory, as well as a wide range of parts, used in their production processes and products. l 75

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Axioma Metering “I believe that component shortages and other issues will be insignificant to our overall growth trajectory, and if the company continues on its current path it is going to be in the top five global players for this category. Over the next few years, we will be looking into expanding the technology, and making inroads into new markets, in order to ensure Axioma’s continued expansion. “It’s a very fun journey to be on. There will be some challenges and uncertainty, but luckily for us we have a team of great technical minds who are capable of working with different scenarios and combinations of potential risks. We are riding a wave of innovative success created by an up-and-coming market, and we intend to continue that momentum by providing high quality products at an affordable, competitive price point,” he concludes. v

Amongst Axioma’s innovative achievements is the QALCOSONIC W1, an easy to use, reliable and long-lasting smart meter designed using the most refined ultrasonic technology. “The W1 meter is our flagship product, and it has been the basis of all our developments since. Using a brand-new infrastructure, we have added different communication options to the model, and we can even customize the electronical options in light of what the customer would prefer.” It is no secret that the past few years have posed major challenges to supply chains across the world. Axioma overcame these difficulties through a dedicated, data-driven approach, as Ignas asserts: “We managed supply chain and material challenges by being transparent with our customers, and providing them with realistic figures in regards to what we could produce. We also looked closely at the market, and made strategic decisions on the basis of when we expected the demand. Keeping ourselves informed and operational whilst materials were scarce was really important to Axioma, and in the end it helped us weather the storm pretty well.” In the middle of 2022, these supply chain issues are expected to become less prominent, and Axioma has wasted no time in regaining its momentum. The company is currently preparing for a major expansion, as it works to become an industry leader. As Ignas details: “We will soon be constructing the new factory, which will allow us to produce and store up to six million units per year. With tripled capacity, we hope to gain a larger market share, and grow rapidly, hopefully becoming an industry

forerunner within three or four years. Because Axioma Metering has so much potential, it’s really important for us to continue building up our facilities and designing new products.

Axioma Metering Services: Developer of digital metering equipment l 77

A Group of Independently minded but Cooperative businesses

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Judges Scientific plc

As an AIM-listed company, Judges Scientific plc is a group focused on the Scientific Instrument sector, growing through acquisition and organically: a ‘buy and build’ strategy l 79


udges Scientific plc (Judges) was established by David Cicurel in 2003 to gradually attract businesses in the scientific instrument sector. Through 19 acquisitions since then, he has created a group of companies that are all UKheadquartered, but which export an impressive 85 percent of their products, with large proportions of their sales going to the USA, the EU and China/Asia. Their end-user markets are predominantly research and measurement based, a mix of large and small industrial companies, universities, or government and regulatory authorities worldwide. “The group has established a strong reputation for honorably buying good businesses in the sector, and helping and encouraging them to grow across the medium-to-long-term,” says Mark Lavelle, Judges’ Chief Operating Officer. “The focus is very much on buying quality businesses that are in sub-sectors with long-term growth potential; we have bought an average of one business a year, but if we find three good businesses in a year we will happily buy them – and if we can’t find any in a year we won’t drop our standards just to add one for the sake of it,” he says. “The companies we buy are all market leaders who have already proved they can perform, so the last thing we would do is to rebrand them or make big changes to their team; we want them to keep their identity and their passion for what they do. Each managing director is very

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...the challenge with having a group as large as ours is that each business has its own personality, and some have greater requirements than others. But if we are going to leave them relatively independent, they have to be allowed to make some of their own mistakes and learn from them, because upholding that independence is critical much encouraged to continue to develop and evolve their own culture within the business, and to keep learning, innovating and growing.” The first company Judges acquired was Fire Testing Technology Ltd based in East Grinstead, whose instruments do “just what it says on the tin!”. Its worldwide customer base (product manufacturers or testing laboratories) need to measure the flammability and the combustion gases emanating from product fires against regulatory standards. In the construction-related space, some of the Judges companies test the performance of fiber optic cables (a market with plenty of opportunities as telecoms and the internet becomes an ever-larger part of our lives) and the stability of soil and rock (mostly driven by the civil engineering/infrastructure market). In pure science, some of the businesses make high performance cooling and tensile

testing accessories for electro-microscopes, accessories for X-Ray Crystallography systems, nano-coating systems, and even accessories for particle accelerators, such as CERN or the Diamond Light Source at Harwell, UK. In life-sciences, Judges companies make instruments that measure activity in brain cells (particularly related to research into Alzheimer’s and Dementia), and biological illumination systems. Perhaps one of its most specialized businesses measures the strength of human hair – an unusual, but important test used by cosmetics companies worldwide to assess the effectiveness of their shampoos and conditioners! The most recent acquisition measures the thermal performance of lithium batteries – a critical and growing issue as IT, and particularly car batteries seek to become ever more powerful, compact and fastcharging.

Judges Scientific plc Mark says that the group does not seek to impose a dogmatic ‘one size fits all’ ideology or methodology on the businesses, as many of the more traditional large aggressive/ integrative international groups do. Rather, he says that the group works closely with each of its businesses to help them achieve solutions tailored for their individual markets and challenges. “The desire to change and innovate, then the determination to make it happen, has to come from within the businesses themselves, if it is ever to work. It is very important to us that we encourage our group to create this innovative culture,” he says. Importantly all the Judges businesses are ‘complete businesses’ each with their own individual R&D, production and sales functions developing and manufacturing the majority of their products themselves, and selling them worldwide through a mix of direct sales and distributors/agents. Though keeping each business separate and entrepreneurial, and shunning the popular ‘synergy’ fads, the company does promote the sharing of best practice, through voluntary collaboration

across the group. “We believe in letting our businesses focus on their specific niche, which means that they can respond much faster to market change, without having to refer small approval requests up through layers of uncomprehending bureaucracy. It is this local delegation, control and empowerment that is key to us. But good ideas from anyone deserve to be shared by all. “However, the challenge with having a group as large as ours is that each business has its own personality, and some have greater requirements than others. But if we are going to leave them relatively independent, they have to be allowed to make some of their own mistakes and learn from them, because upholding that independence is critical,” Mark shares. The company itself encourages a culture of transparency, which, according to Mark, is crucial to ensuring that its operation runs successfully. “There is an underlying culture of honesty and ethics, inspired by David Cicurel, that flows throughout the group, and everyone gets the sense that they should do the right thing, rather than cut

corners. We avoid situations where people feel unreasonably pressured and therefore make inappropriate decisions; we are not in competition with each other.” With that, Mark is proud to discuss how well the company performed during the pandemic. “Some businesses were affected a little worse than others, but many did really l 81

well. I think what stood out for me was how local empowerment had a huge impact on the businesses, in that they took the initiative to implement measures that best suited their local situation, rather than wait for instructions to arrive from head office on how to handle the minutiae of the pandemic. “For example, we had one business that had recently moved to accommodate their recent growth and, by chance, had separate access points to the ground (production) and upper (office) floors. Therefore, they had an inbuilt flow system separating the office from production, which meant that throughout the pandemic, they had a great environment that allowed everyone to operate safely, continuously and largely unchanged. Compare that to another where conditions were pretty cramped with just a single access: they innovatively moved onto shift work in order to ensure that social distancing could be achieved. Every business had a different staff situation, a different physical layout, and different customer demands, and they knew they could just get on with the appropriate action. So, within two or three days of the first lockdown being announced, every business had a plan that they had implemented without referring to head office. But they were all also keen to be open and keep learning – any new Covid ideas/initiatives were quickly shared around the group and many people adjusted

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Judges Scientific plc

their plans based on good ideas they heard from their peers,” he expresses. As the turbulent climate initiated by the pandemic begins to settle, Mark is eager to continue encouraging a culture of communication within the group for 2022, in order to ensure that each business is ready for whatever challenges lie ahead. “For the group to remain successful, it is vital that we maintain the vigorous ambition and independence values across the companies, while ensuring that we are also sharing any learning experiences with the wider group. We want our companies to talk to each other, and for key individuals with similar responsibilities at each business to get together and exchange information regularly so that we can keep challenging each other to raise the bar in every area.” As he turns his focus to the future, Mark brings our discussion to a close by highlighting the importance of continually encouraging its businesses to look at their markets and grow where possible. “We will then invest accordingly, be innovative and as a group, we will encourage

our companies to strive for their best. Of course, we also want to add other businesses that are excelling in their sectors to the group as and when we can, but that will only be when good new companies become available.” As Judges continues to plan for long-term growth for its companies, Mark concludes that it is also determined to urge the current businesses to continue to lead and take-

forward their respective sectors, and he looks forward to encouraging the continual learning, cooperation and innovation needed to achieve that. v

Judges Scientific plc Services: Scientific Instruments l 83

World-leading linens For over two centuries, WestPoint Home has been an industry leading manufacturer of home and hospitality textiles

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WestPoint Home l 85


ince 1816, WestPoint Home (WestPoint) has been designing and producing next generation engineered textiles for customers across the home

design and hospitality industries. The company combines modern designs with creative and unique material blends to create high-quality textiles that are soft to the touch and easy

on the eyes. As it seeks to provide creative solutions for customers, through its extensive brand portfolio, WestPoint continues to grow its operations, and seek out opportunities in new territories and markets. WestPoint’s position as a global industry leader is in part due to its long and storied history, as group Chief Operating Officer, Steve Burns, summarizes: “The company is now 206 years old. It grew out of the American Southeast textile industry, near West Point, Alabama, and now specializes in home textiles for the home and hospitality for the global market.” Since originating in the US, the company has undergone numerous transitions, and become a global operation. The southern facilities were downsized, and most production was moved offshore. Despite these changes, WestPoint maintains strong connections to its roots, and the tradition that comes with being such a longstanding enterprise. “We really do benefit from having more than two centuries’ worth of history behind us. All that experience, and the ups and downs that

WHY CHOOSE US As a long-term home textiles supplier for around 10 years cooperating with WestPoint Home, we have a strong design team including 12 in-house designers and professional designers from UK and USA. The team with strong designing ability can offer the latest designs in time, every season we develop new products and new trends for our customers.We attend different fairs in different countries to research the market. We develop new yarn, new fabric with different technique all the time to meet different markets’ requirement. WestPoint and We are treating “sustainability” as an important objective in our strategy and operations to increase growth and global competitiveness. This trend has now included many prominent businesses across many different products categories. We are Focus on sustainability rather than primarily focusing on cost-cutting. We cooperate together to develop recycled, reclaimed, alternative or responsibly harvested material or OUR MATERIAL SOURCES products that meet social and environmental standards. Our collaboration helps WestPoint protect and strengthen their brand and ECO-Friendly Fabrics reputation, also building public trust, at the same time, helping our company improve market competitiveness and sustainable development. We are looking forward to Recycled Fiber continuing and accelerating our cooperation with WestPoint in the years ahead.

SKYRUN INTERNATIONAL CO., LTD. Email: Tel: +86 25 86578989 Mobile: +86 13951644388 +86 18651886728 Web:

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Melted and Reformulated into CHIP

Recycled Bottles Flake

WestPoint Home have happened along the way, have given us a strong understanding of the textile industry and its demands,” remarked Burns.

Unique culture

Its longevity is not the only thing that makes WestPoint stand out, however, as the company is also known for its impressive manufacturing footprint, and fully comprehensive sheet production capabilities. The company itself is unique, because it owns and operates a fully vertically integrated textile operation in the Kingdom of Bahrain. “We function under a USBahrain free trade agreement, which helps manage costs and allows us to invest in our facilities, which we consider amongst the best in the world,” stated Burns. The company has a global footprint, which has been important to its success. “We have sourcing and distribution offices in India, China, Pakistan, the UK and the US, so our employees and customers can benefit from our geographical diversity and extended reach,” he affirms. As an internationally operated company, WestPoint manages a significantly sized manufacturing network in Bahrain, alongside distributors across the US and Europe. The manufacturing footprint extends over four separate factories in the Kingdom of Bahrain, including a spinning mill, which takes in cotton and produces yarn, and a weaving mill, which turns unfinished yarns into useable woven material. In addition, there is a bleaching facility, which can reach a million meters of fabric a week, and a sewing and embroidery facility, as well as a state-of-the-art digital printing operation. The cut and sew operation has over 300 employees. This facility sews bedsheets, covers and pillowcases, and it also includes an embroidery operation. The team uses several critical technologies to ensure products are high-quality, efficiently produced, and well-priced. “We also take advantage of the US-Bahrain free trade agreement, which allows us to run a comforter and pillow filling manufacturing operation in Florida. We import shells from Bahrain and use the US facility to fill and

Adwaith Lakshmi Adwaith Lakshmi congratulates WestPoint Home for its inspiring journey in the textile manufacturing and distribution business over two centuries. The company is truly inspired by WestPoint Home’s vision, and is delighted to be associated with it as a supply partner for towels, bath robes and bath mats. Adwaith Lakshmi is committed to support the sustainability targets of WestPoint Home, and is happy to share that its yarn manufacturing unit is reaching almost 100 percent use of sustainable power. Adwaith Lakshmi is determined to run its business with a purpose that touches its communities, and is excited to work with WestPoint Home, which also cherishes these values. l 87

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WestPoint Home pack the finished products. This side of the business has been incredibly successful; we are a significant supplier of comforters to Ralph Lauren Home, for example. We also have about half-a-million-square-feet of warehousing space in Florida, which serves as the distribution and ecommerce shipping hub for all our US customers,” states Burns. The company is able to manage such an extensive operation thanks to its unique working culture, which prioritizes communication, collaboration and solutionorientated thinking. As Burns details: “We operate according to a Lean manufacturing

philosophy. I personally have 30 years’ worth of experience managing this way, and for us it’s about teaching employees to solve problems for the business, while the company supports them with training and resources. “One thing we are really proud of is our ability to communicate with the entire team to make sure everyone is involved. Instead of following western management approaches, where few people have all the information and directions come from the top down, WestPoint ensures that everyone is informed, giving them the ability to come forward and offer an opinion or solution. Our largest operation

Indus Home Limited In any relationship, partners are the most reliable part. Indus Home Limited takes pride in the fact that it started its towel business as a partner of WestPoint Home, a prestigious organization in the US market for home textiles. The company had been working with WestPoint Home as a yarn supplier before it became partners with Terry Towels in 2004. WestPoint Home’s support helped Indus Home Limited to become a prominent manufacturer out of Pakistan, and led it to accomplish remarkable goals. Together, they passed through different challenging times during this period and every challenge made their relationship stronger. Indus Home Limited hopes to achieve new milestones in the future, and looks forward to working with WestPoint for many years to come.

requires a team of 600 employees, and we still find that this is the most effective way of working. In fact, I think it gives us a competitive edge,” the operations executive added.

Textile innovation

As an important part of the company’s extended community, WestPoint’s suppliers also enjoy a transparent and mutually respectful and rewarding partnership with the company. For example, WestPoint does not produce towels currently, but has three or four key partners in Pakistan and India that service the Hospitality and Retail businesses across the US and Europe. The latest addition to WestPoint’s evergrowing global operation is Vision Linens, a textile distribution company operated out of Manchester, England that was acquired three years ago to build a distribution footprint throughout the UK and Europe and expand global sourcing capabilities.The plan is to evolve the company’s name to WestPoint Home UK soon. “There were two major things that drew us to Vision Linens when we were making the acquisition; it was a retail and hospitality l 89

specialty business, similar to our US operation, so we knew that it would fit well with WestPoint’s broader mission. The Vision organization also has large relationships with businesses in Europe, which made it a strategic point of integration for us at WestPoint. Thanks to the connections made through Vision Linens,

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we now work with big hospitality brands such as Accor, Hilton and IHG, that complement our already existing Hospitality partnerships in the US,” Burns stated. Added Burns; “The acquisition occurred just before the outbreak of Covid-19, however this year we are seeing a lot of growth in the UK,

and a major uptick in the hospitality industry more broadly. A large portion of the hotels we now supply fall under the Accor brand, which is providing hospitality support for the World Cup tournament in Dubai, so we expect some major growth when that gets underway.” The exciting addition of WestPoint Home UK comes just in time for the release of the company’s latest textile innovation. Burns revealed that the company has developed a revolutionary antibacterial product for which WestPoint has the exclusive license. The product uses polyester and elemental silver to create a new kind of permanent antimicrobial fabric that improves in efficacy in many applications as it is washed over time. The material is in the last six months of an EPA approval process, whereby the kind of claims that can be made will be a game changer in the home textiles industry. “Our development team in Bahrain has been working on this for a number of years, and now that the EPA product testing protocol team is working alongside them, we hope to release the product in the fourth quarter of 2022,” confirmed Burns. This new product also has green credentials. By creating an all-new fabric that improves with time, WestPoint has ensured that its customers will be able to use and re-use sheets, bedding and blankets for years to come. The company’s drive to become more environmentally conscious doesn’t end there. “We have a strong focus on sustainability at WestPoint. Over 30 percent of the products we make and sell out of our facilities in Bahrain are organic, and we also make sure to purchase cotton exclusively through the Better Cotton Initiative,” he added. Burns continues: “Our facilities are also incredibly water efficient, so much so that we are an industry leader in terms of how much water we recycle each year. Additionally, we

WestPoint Home

are in the process of preparing our latest sustainability report, which includes annual efficiency and renewability goals.” The year 2022 has been an exciting one so far for WestPoint. Having made major strides toward European expansion and the release of a brand-new textile range, the company now looks toward further growth with new product launches with major brands such as Martex, Vellux, Luxor and Lady Pepperell across the US and UK markets. Along with reinvigorating some of the company’s venerable brand names, they will be launching numerous branded initiatives for the important ‘back to school’ season with retailers like Bed, Bath and Beyond, JC Penney and Macy’s.The company will also be collaborating with Ralph Lauren Home on several growth programs over the coming months. “Our focus right now is on excellent execution, as we continue to navigate challenges in the global supply chain environment. We want to stay focused on our long-term growth plans, which means keeping a keen eye on supply levels, and managing demand,” the operations leader mentioned. The impressive legacy of WestPoint Home will no doubt continue in the long term, as the company remains dedicated to innovative thought and effective collaboration in the Hospitality category across the globe. “Over the next three-to-five years, we will continue growing our core business in Hospitality, and building partnerships to establish our presence there. We feel that the business can easily double in size over the next few years, and we will be investing in our own brands to help support this goal,” said Burns. “Alongside its organic growth, we will be looking to acquire new businesses across the US. We are hoping to increase our global footprint with the addition of strategic supply

partners, and a focus on the best plant and facilities. The industry is a tough one, and there is a lot of competition, but we are dedicated to always being better. With the help of our amazing team, I think WestPoint is going to overtake its competition in the long run,” he concludes. v

WestPoint Home Services: Textile manufacturer for home and hospitality l 91

Sustainable creativity Eric Erwin - CEO

The world’s leading manufacturer of foam products for the craft and floral industries, FloraCraft Corporation, creates innovative American-made products with the help of more than 200 dedicated employees and state-of-the-art facilities 92 l

FloraCraft Corporation


he history of FloraCraft Corporation (FloraCraft) is rich and deeply intwined with family values. As a result, this is a company that is dedicated to the cause of sustainability and the production of high-quality products. In 1946, Leonard Schoenherr and Park Allensworth launched the Foliage Company of America in Ludington, where Leonard’s nephew, Lee Schoenherr, worked throughout his high school years. After serving in the army, and a stint at the Dow Chemical Company, Lee Schoenherr returned to work for the family business in 1960. Over the next decade, he acquired businesses in Ohio, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. Fourteen years later, Schoenherr purchased the Foliage Company of America from his uncle, and for 40 years, worked to rebrand the company into FloraCraft. The new business continued to acquire smaller ones across l 93

the country, while securing key accounts with major national retailers, which now include Walmart, Amazon, Michaels, JOANN, Hobby Lobby and other leading retailers.

Passion for sustainability

Now, FloraCraft provides a robust line of products, including floral and craft extruded polystyrene foam, floral wet and dry foam, containers, wire, molded-urethane foam, natural straw and Spanish moss, as well as easels, saddles and huggers. On top of that, its catalog offers several craft products such as white extruded polystyrene and expanded polystyrene foams as well as tools and accessories, including ultra-fine glitter, cutters, coatings and connectors. “In our 76 years of operations we have experienced numerous milestones, and the last 15 have been particularly exciting with regards to our developments in sustainability. One of the first major steps we took was to recycle more than 98 percent of our foam fabrication scrap. We collect the material and use it in other products or sell it,” shares CEO Eric Erwin. Eric discusses with us the secrets behind FloraCraft’s success, as well as its passion for sustainability. “After nearly a decade of research and development, with a significant multi-year capital investment, we became fully vertically integrated in 2019. We now design, engineer and produce our own XPS foam in Ludington, enabling us to maintain greater control over the quality of our products, and simultaneously reduce nearly 400,000 miles of truck traffic each year from our former supplier to our headquarters.” In 2016, the company took its sustainability efforts one step further by partnering with Texas-based business, Americas Styrenics, to develop a greener foam product. Nearly two years were spent developing the product, with an extra year of consumer testing. “Finally, in September 2020, we announced our breakthrough offering, FōM with PolyRenew. This is the first craft and floral foam creation

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made with post-consumer plastic. In a product category not entirely notorious for its ingenuity, FōM is the first true innovation in this sector in more than 70 years,” he shares. FōM allows the company to reduce its carbon footprint by saving hard-to-recycle plastics from landfills, and using recycled garment hangers sourced from retailers across the country. “By utilizing recycled materials, we can still make the same amount of product we normally do, but take out the equivalent of nearly 1000 miles of plastic per year, or the distance between New York and St. Louis. The product is still the lightweight material crafters and florists love, only smoother and less brittle than the company’s legacy foam,” Eric expresses. So, how does FloraCraft achieve and maintain innovation of this standard? According to Eric, the company believes that improving its products and processes is an organic consequence of refining its sustainability efforts. “By producing our own environmentally-conscious foam products and investing years of research and development to streamline our operation, we’ve been able to make tremendous strides in reducing our carbon footprint. We have a strong desire to continue to improve the ways we do business, and eventually reach our goal of using 100 percent recycled materials.” To facilitate the creation of FōM, the business needed to expand its infrastructure, and has achieved an impressive rate of growth in terms of its operational footprint since the start of this venture. “We needed to improve our supply chain efficiencies, workflow management and packaging capabilities. So, we added a 27,000-square-foot shipping and distribution center to our 138,000-squarefoot manufacturing facility, which was also renovated in 2020. The new space features a modern distribution center, eight shipping bays, state-of-the-art equipment and expanded packaging lines, as well as storage space for more than 1350 pallets.

“We have also expanded our automation capabilities by partnering with Brenton Engineering to add robotic case packers and other equipment that helps move products through the manufacturing process and onto pallets. We are working with Orka Automation on an automated cutting machine that would increase output for our four-inch foam balls, which are in high demand,” he says. Eric continues to acknowledge that, most importantly, the installation of new robotic equipment has not had a negative impact on jobs. In fact, it offers expanded learning opportunities for the FloraCraft team, and has increased work efficiency. “As we expand our automation efforts, we also continue our partnership with the area’s local community college to offer our team training to improve their automation skills and ensure the team grows its skillsets, too. Additionally, we have created more efficient, high-value permanent jobs and reduced our reliance on temporary labor.” This is an excellent complement to the company’s efforts to create a united and highly motivated company culture. “There was arguably no better moment that speaks to our culture than in 2018, when Lee Schoenherr announced plans to share nearly $4 million with full-time members of our team through cash bonuses and 401(k) retirement accounts as recognition of the role they played in building a world-class company. Our team stays motivated because they know they work for an organization that cares about their well-being, their family and is committed to doing business the right way. Whether it is developing financial wellness programs for our employees or investing in their education and professional development, we are always looking for ways to improve our impact on the people around us.” Tying together leading facilities, unparalleled innovation, and a passionate team behind the FloraCraft name, the business was recently nominated for the Beyond Plastics Award, an

FloraCraft Corporation

achievement of which Eric is incredibly proud. “This nomination was special for us because the Beyond Plastics team looks for truly innovative products in the international market. We were honored to have FōM included among other forward-thinking and creative organizations, and the acknowledgement speaks to just how special our team is and the hard work we’ve done,” he shares. “In addition to the nomination, we have won national awards for sustainability and innovation at the National Association of Manufacturers and American Business Awards. Our work to create FōM was selected as an outstanding example of embracing manufacturing processes that are innovative, non-polluting, conserve energy and natural resources, and are economically sound and safe for employees, communities and consumers.”

New automation

Regardless of its long-standing history, the industrious work and innovation required to become vertically integrated and produce FōM is just the beginning for FloraCraft. Eric divulges that his company will continue to rethink the green strategies implemented to create its products. “Right now, we’re making FōM with approximately 20 percent recycled material. We are hoping this will be a catalyst to reach our goal of using 100 percent recycled materials in our products as we continue our commitment to environmental sustainability. We’re also investing in new automation this year that will collect the foam left over from our extrusion process, allowing us to go from recycling 98, to100 percent of our foam scrap,” he says. For 2022, the company will be focused on expanding its manufacturing capabilities beyond

XPS foam and bringing more manufacturing processes to Ludington. “We are fully committed to finding more products to produce in-house, which will alleviate some of the supply chain pains everyone is going through. Additionally, we are working on plans to honor and celebrate our 75th anniversary, which was put on hold last year due to the pandemic.” FloraCraft’s top focus in the coming years is to drive innovation that makes the entire process of DIY craft and floral activities convenient and easy for professionals and home creators. In conclusion, Eric and his team plan to find ways to continue to increase the company’s productivity by adding more automation and training for team members. “We will strive to continue to lead the industry in sustainability, by refining our manufacturing process to reduce our carbon footprint and create additional environmentally conscious products for other creatives.” v

FloraCraft Corporation Services: Foam products manufacturer l 95

Engineering at the cutting edge 96 l

TDC Parsons Peebles

As a full-scope supplier of electromechanical products, TDC Parsons Peebles uses innovative methods to produce high-quality, bespoke generators for customers across a range of industries l 97

TDC Parsons Peebles


rom its headquarters in the UK, TDC Parsons Peebles (Parsons), uses cutting-edge generator technology to provide long-lasting solutions to customers in the power generation and general industrial sectors. The company is known for offering a range of services and products, from workshop programs to advanced HV generators. With 123 years’ worth of engineering experience, Parsons is now an industry leader, and pioneer of sustainable practice within the manufacturing sector. The Parsons Peebles story begins in 1898, with Parsons’ first manufacturing facility. The operation focused on producing bespoke, high-voltage motors for a handful of key clients in the power generation industry. Over the following century, the company developed an unparalleled depth of knowledge in the design and manufacture of electric motors. The technology that Parsons has developed since its inception is now considered world-leading. This success would not have been possible without the guidance of Parsons’ parent company, TDC. With TDC’s support, Parsons grew into a specialized electromechanical solutions provider, able to deliver new technologies and services to a range of industries. Parsons has developed specialist abilities in the building, servicing, installation, commission, analysis and repair of industrial electromechanical equipment. The company boasts a highly-trained team of professionals,

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capable of working with motors, generators and even frequency convertors. Today, a range of brands operate under the Parsons name. The company owns Parsons Peebles Generation, CA Parsons and Peebles Electric Machines, to name a few. With the help of these specialist brands, Parsons is able to manufacture components and machinery for almost any specification. Its engineering team is especially capable when it comes to working with complex conditions, such as low starting currents, low noise environments, and certified applications. Parsons’ extensive portfolio is available to customers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The brand is recognized as a strategic and reliable partner for hundreds of companies across the power generation and industrial sectors, and, as a result, its work can be seen in a number of high-profile installations, including oil platforms and hydro-power stations.

With an average lifespan of around 40 years, and a reputation for unparalleled quality, Parsons’ motor and generator technology is built to be a solid and reliable investment. The company’s product portfolio includes replacement motors and generators, with authorized distributor status for recognized brands across the UK. Customers are also able to access a plethora of specialist components, both bespoke and standard, through Parsons. The company manufactures and distributes stock immediately to customers, using one of the world’s largest stocks of engineering parts. Since originating in the UK, Parsons has become a global operation. The company uses its international sales and agent network to offer each component within its product portfolio to key industrial markets anywhere in the world. Parsons’ main manufacturing facility is located just north of Edinburgh, in Rosyth. The workshop there can produce anything in the Parsons catalog, however it specializes in high-voltage motors with manufacturing capabilities. The facility also includes one of the most comprehensive test facilities in Europe, with direct, full-load testing and a capacity of up to 60Hz, meaning each component can be fully analyzed and signed off before being sent to the client. The location of Parson’s Forsyth facility is also strategic, as the area has easy access to a range of transportation options, including air freight, shipping and rail. This facilitates the speedy production and distribution of goods all across the world, and maintains Parsons’ reputation for responding to customer needs faster than any of its competitors. Rapid-response service is an important part of the Parsons offering, as it primarily serves large-scale industrial companies in vital sectors such as defense and power generation. Having a strong understanding of these industries and the pressures they face is one way that Parsons serves its customers comprehensively and effectively.

JMS Metaltec Founded in 1994 and based in Northern Ireland, JMS Metaltec has grown into an established electrical steel laminations manufacturer. Continual investment in the latest fibre laser processing technology has allowed the business to flourish and develop lasting partnerships with the likes of TDC Parsons. By becoming an approved strategic supplier with TDC Parsons, JMS offer a fast, robust service allowing its customers to react to the demanding needs of power generation maintenance. Offering both prototyping and project management services, JMS provides a competent, yet flexible service to the end user, ensuring that customers’ requirements are always priority. Quality is paramount in the power generation industry and JMS strives to ensure that all stages of the project, from first-off sample to packaging and delivery, all are handled with precision and care. JMS offers a delivery service throughout the UK and Europe. If the business can be of any assistance, please get in contact via email - or call +44 02829540864.


PRECISION LASER TECHNOLOGY FOR PROFILING BESPOKE POWER GENERATION LAMINATIONS. JMS Metaltec has an expert team, state-of-the-art technology, and 25+ years of experience delivering the highest quality core refurbishments to expedite the overall repair process. Use JMS Laminations to benefit from: •

The latest fibre laser technology

Access to an established supply chain

An in-house design service

A global distribution network

Product prototyping and low minimums

Dedicated project manager

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A ONE-STOP-SHOP FOR LASER CUTTING, FABRICATION AND FOLDING. Our UK and Ireland service covers a range of materials including carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminium and hardox with fully coded welders operating to BS EN 9606-1. For more information visit

Experience Our Agile Manufacturing Process From enquiry to prototype to final delivery…..

Initial customer enquiry made

Consultation with our team

Specification finalised by project manager

AutoCAD developed by in-house design team

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These attributes are especially important for Parsons’ work in the oil and gas industries. Parsons machines are engineered for durability and reliability, with the aim of providing reduced cost of maintenance alongside increased life expectancy. The company has trained offshore technicians, who are highly informed when it comes to the industry’s specific standards and certification requirements.These services are offered 24/7, which is one of the main reasons that Parsons boasts so many long-standing partnerships with major companies in the oil and gas sector.

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With decades worth of experience and knowledge, Parsons Peebles also provides effective support to the energy industry. The company primarily provides standard electromechanical products for rotating machinery, such as pumps and gearboxes, but it also offers bespoke design and build services. For conventional, renewable or nuclear power applications, Parsons has extensive experience worldwide. The company is always developing its advanced working knowledge of the energy sector, meaning it has industry-

specific knowledge of pump, compressor and fan technology. From the supply of motors and generators, to the maintenance of large-scale machinery, Parsons is able to offer customers an informed, fast, and reliable solution. Over the last 123 years, Parsons has developed an international reputation for quality. Having manufactured over 11,000 units since 1960, the company is able to meet the engineering needs of customers on an individual basis, through bespoke, collaborative design and reverse engineering.

TDC Parsons Peebles seamless service. Highly skilled engineers are made available on a long- or short-term basis, to all customers, regardless of geography. The company ensures that its teams are trained to work safely in hazardous areas, including confined spaces, so that they can offer plant maintenance and installation services whenever they are needed. Alongside Parsons team of experienced technicians is its equally dedicated team of project managers. With every new client, a Parsons project manager is assigned to oversee the entire project, and co-ordinate every aspect of the design and build process. Throughout the project cycle, the company’s collaborative project management philosophy is used to keep customers aware of, and actively involved in, each and every development. Additionally, all activities, from planning to maintenance, are carried out in accordance with ISO9001:2000 as standard. As an industry leader, Parsons sets a strong example in terms of social and corporate responsibility. The company is known for taking its environmental and social responsibilities into serious

consideration, as it works to ensure sustainable procurement and ethical practice throughout the supply chain. Striving to minimize the effect it has on the environment, Parsons Peebles, runs an ISO 14001 accredited Environmental Management System. In addition, the company’s sites in Castle Donington, Reading, and Rosyth are run with an exceptional level of energy efficiency, in alignment with the company’s green policies and procedures. A culture of continuous improvement is at the core of Parsons’ success. As it continues to excel, both as an innovative creator in the electromechanical engineering category, and as a strategic par tner to hundreds of major businesses, the company succeeds in raising the bar for manufacturers across the world. v

TDC Parsons Peebles Services: Electromechanical engineering

The company has also made bold investments into the latest manufacturing technology, with facilities that are developed to incorporate the ever-progressing demands of energy utility clients. Parsons currently operates with some of the industry’s most cutting-edge plant, equipment and personnel, to guarantee quick repair times for customers. An important part of the company’s success is its team of skilled engineering experts; with specialists working every hour of every day, Parsons can ensure its clients receive a l 101

Future thinking

Almost 50 years since being founded, VCST continues to lead the manufacturing industry with its innovative and data-driven solutions 102 l


s a world-class automotive supplier of high-tech machined components for powertrain and brake components, VCST is known

for its passionate people and forward thinking. Since early 2000, the company has shifted toward automated operations and since 2018 towards electrification projects, working hard


to become a front-runner for reliable and sustainable solutions. With numerous bespoke components, and an impressive portfolio of mechanical achievements under its belt, the

company leads the way toward industry 4.0, and a new era for automotive engineering. VCST is a company with a long and celebrated history, as Eddy Van Steyvoort, the

company’s Chief Executive Officer, reveals: “The company began 50 years ago, as a Daf production organization. Later on, it became part of Volvo cars, and since 1993 – as VCST – l 103

has been an independent supplier of high-tech mechanical components for the automotive industry. Our headquarters and first plant are located in VCST, Sint-Truiden, Belgium. Over the last two decades we have grown towards becoming a world-wide automotive supplier, and since 2016 we have been owned by the Belgian BMT group. Our parent company has five divisions and is active in aero, glass moulds, industry, railway and automotive components representing 29 plants worldwide with more than 5300 people working for BMT in three different continents with a consolidated turnover of move €600 million.” Having grown and evolved year on year, VCST can now provide turnkey solutions to customers seeking mechanical parts for a range of applications. “Our process covers the entire value chain, from product development, to research, innovation and prototyping, process development, production incl. heat treatment and aftersales for EOM’s and Tier 1’s serving parts for cars, trucks, on-road and off-road vehicles.” Turning towards local manufacturing and distribution has become a company-wide policy while keeping VCST’s corporate team managed on a global scale, related to core

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competencies like engineering, product development and processing. Using these processes, the company has developed parts for cutting-edge technologies supporting NVH requirements and E-drive systems. “There has been a tremendous shift in the market since 2015, going from internal combustion engines to electrification systems. It was a very rapid transition, and with that technology shift we have also seen a rise in automation and digitalization. We have been quick to recognize these changes and diversify our offering in response, so that we can support customers in creating innovative and effective pieces of equipment.” It is clear that VCST is a business driven by its people. The company’s team of experts ensure that it remains at the cutting-edge of manufacturing research and development, as Eddy enthuses: “Our business uses a lot of high-tech components that are critical for our customers. Engineering capabilities at BMT involve around 400 engineers of which more than 100 are based solely in automotive. They are the main differentiators of our business with about 60 percent of our engineers green-belt trained and a portion of black-belt as well.

“These extra-curricular activities hone skills such as dedication, decisiveness and determination. These attributes are useful when managing a significant market shift, as VCST currently is. We see trends at different speeds across the world. That means we have to be agile, and react to things as they happen, region by region. To support more local engineering capabilities a shift to delocalize engineering capabilities has been accomplished.” In recent years, the manufacturing industry, like many others, has become increasingly driven by data and technology. VCST continues to set the standard for innovation on this front, as Eddy affirms: “To suppor t all these changes in the market we developed the plan to incorporate Lean Six Sigma into all of our operations and implement this to the maximum extent. “Automation has also been an impor tant par t of this shift. Not only in Europe, but across our operation, we have implemented new processes and technologies that have worked to reduce the company’s reliance on labor and secure its operations. We have also integrated some digital elements to our operation, in preparation for industry

VCST 4.0. I star ted with this initiative four years ago, when we developed a course of action that would refine our scope, and allow us to make better use of data technology. These systems will be fully implemented in our new Belgian facility in 2022, and in the months to come the roll out towards the others plants will be launched. “Connecting machines, tools, materials and people through connected systems is key in this transition. The data which is then generated is even more crucial to improve the overall performance. The ultimate goal is to extend this approach into the whole supply chain from customers to suppliers in an end-to-end scope. Data analytics which

leads to improvement and predictability is the next challenge to improve to the next level. In cooperation with universities, a system was implemented to improve the predictability of NVH in the gear-grinding operation.” Staying one step ahead has spelled success for VCST for nearly five decades, and so it comes as no surprise that the company has big plans for the future. “We have a strategic plan for the years to come which drives us towards a worldwide company based upon digitalization of all facilities, to suppor t the switch from ICE towards electrification, and position sustainability as a priority in our strategic direction,” Eddy concludes. v

9altitudes 9altitudes helps companies in their digital business transformation. The 9altitudes family consists of a unique ‘can do’ ecosystem of entrepreneurial companies in six European countries. To withstand tomorrow’s disruption, it believes in an enterprise-wide approach where data and processes find and reinforce each other. As a Microsoft and PTC partner, 9altitudes focuses on the service and manufacturing industries. It is the number one digital transformation partner for the manufacturing industry in Europe. 9altitudes combines world-class proven software platforms with industry specific solutions and best practices. Together, it creates a better digital tomorrow.

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A vision of values


hrough the offering of magnetic particle inspection services from his home, Robert Schiewe Sr. brought Magnetic Inspection Laboratories Inc (MIL) to life in 1942. He continued to build the company, and eventually brought his sons onboard in the 1970s. “Together, the three of them expanded the applications MIL provided and grew the business to the level where MIL could move into one of our current sites, 1401 Greenleaf Avenue in Elk Grove Village, IL, in 1989,” says Mark Sullivan, the company’s President. “By that time, MIL’s primary service offerings were NDT (non-destructive testing), chemical processing, welding, and painting; all of which MIL still performs today. MIL expanded in 2009 to introduce a dedicated painting and coating facility for both liquid and powder

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coatings on the same street. MIL expanded yet again in 2020, moving into an adjacent, leased facility to provide room for the growth of our NDT business,” he says. Following this, the company went on to purchase an adjacent building in December of 2021, providing an additional 38,000-square-feet, allowing MIL to consolidate its NDT services, freeing up space in other MIL buildings for further growth. “The new facility will include our magnetic particle inspection and penetrant inspection, as well as precision welding and grinding. The relocation of these services not only gives them a state-of-the-art facility, but sets the foundation for future expansion in two critical areas; initially, MIL will expand precision masking, a feature MIL is well-known for. When a part gets processed, not all surfaces need to receive

the same processing treatment. MIL’s precision masking allows for very tight tolerances, and performance of the surface to be processed without affecting the other masked surfaces. This is a critical capability. “Secondly, MIL will expand our Cadmium plating line by installing larger tanks to increase the number and size of the parts we process. That enhancement will also give MIL a footprint to implement an electroless nickel capability.” Another uniqueness to MIL’s business is its Nadcap accreditation, which qualifies the company to complete special processes in aerospace and defence applications. MIL carries other qualifications to service other markets, such as medical, as well. “MIL has 2500 aerospace process approvals that give MIL the opportunity to work on critical aerospace and

Magnetic Inspection Laboratories Inc Magnetic Inspection Laboratories Inc’s extensive history of service in the industry means it has supported parts used across every significant defence and aerospace platform, and the company is determined to keep up its impressive success

Exterior of MIL Main building

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Example of precision masking before processing Inset: Example of finished part with multiple surface finishes

Example of precision masking post process (different part)

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defence components. In addition to that, MIL has more than 7500 specifications that we can process to. As a job shop, MIL doesn’t make our own products, we process and provide services for our customers’ products. Those accreditations and specification approvals give MIL a broad capability to handle a range of work on several commercial and defence platforms,” Mark shares. He then continues to elaborate on the true essence as to why customers select MIL when it comes to their special processing requirements. “MIL is passionate about what we do and the difference we make for our customers. We prioritize a collaborative approach, both inside our organisation and with our customers; we don’t give excuses, and we meet the challenge. We are a very result-orientated business. But the value that truly anchors all of it is our quality orientation. We do the right thing, we are honest and transparent and committed to doing what is best for our customers.” These core values proved to be fundamental during the last two years when the business faced the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Some of our customers generated less work as they were not sure about was going to happen and their customers contracted. We remained agile and flexible to continue to meet the standards we have for on-time delivery and turnaround time. Certainly, in the US, the labor market has changed drastically during that time as well, and we

Magnetic Inspection Laboratories Inc

Internal view of paint shop

were challenged to make sure our people felt appropriately valued. “It’s that nimbleness that is crucial to being able to adapt to changes in the commercial and labor market. Our team has been incredibly supportive regarding the changes we made internally to create space and distancing for everyone’s safety, and above that, everyone here knows how to work as a unit. Those challenges helped MIL grow our capabilities as a team so that we are positioned for additional growth in 2022,” says Mark. In terms of growth for the future of MIL, he emphasizes that MIL will continue expanding its approved specification base, which allows its customers to expand their work with MIL. “We also want to continue to invest in our team, because growing both the size and talent of our staff is vital to the longevity and success of our operation. We are lucky; MIL’s ownership remains highly interested in both owning the company and, more importantly, investing for growth. As a result, MIL’s outlook over the next three-to-five years is a strong growth trajectory based on continuing to exceed our customers’ expectations, invest in our teams, and expand our capabilities so our customers include MIL in more platforms that take us to Mars and beyond,” he concludes. v

Magnetic Inspection Laboratories Inc Services: Metal finishing l 109

Smarter solutions

From the manufacture of its first GPS antenna, Taoglas has grown into an end-to-end IoT solutions provider, and has set its sights on $1bn in revenue by 2030


hen Dermot O’Shea and Ronan Quinlan, both from Ireland, met in Taiwan back in 2003, they already shared a single vision: to start an international electronics business. With that, Taoglas was launched.

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The company initially sold a select number of components, including GPS antennas, before steadily building up its product offering, securing its first factory in Taiwan in 2015. A series of acquisitions followed, enabling Taoglas to steadily broaden its service offering.

Today,Taoglas’s business consists of two main elements. “Antenna, RF and audio represents our traditional components business,” explains Dermot, Joint-Owner at Taoglas. “We manufacture everything from antennas, cables and connectors to filters, speakers, and more. It’s a great area to be in, because


with the launch of 5G, Wi-Fi MIMO, and multi-band GNSS, both connectivity and product complexity are on the rise. Whereas our customers would typically have bought one or two antenna devices, the latest 5G cellular routers have as many as 17 connectors, and for that they need 17 antennas.

“Despite this, size is still critical,” Dermot continues. “If you’re deploying an asset, whether it’s an ambulance, police car, or field device, you don’t want to have to install 17 antennas. Therefore, we’ve launched combination antenna solutions with options

up to 17:1. Customers can drill a single hole in their roof, or make use of our adhesive mount solution, for a quick and easy install that still has all the antennas you need, with the capability to operate efficiently even when they’re in close proximity. It’s a fine example of our design expertise, and how we’ve been able to overcome key challenges with innovative, high-performance solutions.” For Dermot, this design capability is one thing that sets Taoglas apart. “We have more than 100 engineers experienced in the design and manufacture of products,” he reveals. “Often, you see companies design something cool for their customers, but lack the required manufacturing capabilities to bring it to life. We have the experience to be able to achieve that consistently, delivering 100 percent quality, and testing everything before use. We’re automotive and medical device compliant, and we have longevity: with 18 years of the same ownership structure.” The second key element within Taoglas’s offering is its range of custom IoT solutions. “What’s complex about the IoT market is the volume of customization involved,” Dermot tells us. “Customers rightly want a bespoke solution for their business, and it’s for that reason that the market as a whole remains fragmented: when a company wants a customized connected device designed and manufactured, that requires considerable resources, and very quickly you reach the limit of what you can take on. “We’re trying to scale that,” Dermot insists. “It’s like a flexible, modular design service. We would incorporate our component into your solution, and use our engineering capability to get you to market quickly.” One such beneficiary of Taoglas’s innovative approach to the IoT is medication adherence technology company HealthBeacon. “Among their solutions is a smart syringe disposal unit,” Dermot indicates. “When a patient disposes of a syringe, the solution has the ability to take a picture of the used medication. To create that, they took the base system we already had, and added a camera capable of recognizing a barcode and reporting the information up to a platform. “We already had the hardware and the system, it’s just a matter of adapting to their needs,” he adds. “Now, the insurance company and the pharmaceutical company know the date, time and volume of medication taken to ensure medication adherence and they’re able to verify that you’re not using counterfeit products.” l 111

of Smartsensor Technologies such an attractive proposition. “We’re traditionally a component provider,” Dermot points out. “But within the IoT space, a recurring revenue model is crucial, and we’re no different. We’ve tried to establish that in the past, but starting from the ground up, it’s very difficult. Acquisitions, however, allow you to move into a new area much faster, and in the example of Smartsenor Technologies, that’s what we have.” Taoglas believes that smart waste is an area ripe for exploration. “There’s an awful lot of opportunity,” Dermot remarks. “We’re currently working on a project to detect contamination. On construction sites, for instance, waste will typically be separated into concrete, plastic, and more – all valuable waste. But one issue, particularly in places like Canada and Australia, is that people will dump toxic waste into the same dumpsters. “To go with the Smar tsensor technology, we’re therefore working on a smar t vision solution,” he goes on. “It amounts to an additional camera, which can then be used to detect not only the presence of toxic waste, but whether there’s an animal present, or any other contaminant that the customer needs removed.” These innovations aren’t going unnoticed. In 2021, Taoglas was awarded ‘Smart Agriculture Solution of the Year’ at the 2021 IoT Breakthrough Awards Program, for its industry-first, self-cleaning silo monitoring IoT solution for farmers, wood-pellet and biomass users. A partnership with LvLogics, the solution provides accurate and reliable silo levels. “A big problem with silo monitoring is that there’s so much dust and dirt flying around, In 2021, Taoglas announced that it had completed yet another acquisition, Brisbane-based Smartsensor Technologies, an established end-to-end IoT provider, and pioneer of smar t waste management solutions. “The solution amounts to a smar t sensor that you install inside a bin, which then repor ts the trash level,” Dermot explains. “That information is sent back to a digital platform, which then automatically routes council trucks in the most efficient way to collect that trash. By emptying the bins only when they’re full, not only do you save on fuel, you also save on labour costs, with proven yearly cost reductions totalling over 40 percent.” For its customers to utilize the software, Taoglas charges a monthly management fee. For Dermot, it’s this that made the acquisition

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Taoglas it clogs up traditional ultrasonic and optical sensors,” Dermot says. “LvLogics had a specific solution that included a self-cleaning mechanism. We were able to connect that to our EDGE hardware and our EDGE Insights system to enable the user to view the measurement from any device or receive an email aler t when the level reaches a set threshold.” Despite its success, recent years haven’t been without difficulty for Taoglas. Like all businesses, the company had to grapple with the challenge of Covid-19, combined with ongoing chip shortages. “Our factory shut down at the very start of the pandemic,” Dermot recalls. “Although we quickly got things back up and running, many of our customers remained closed for business.” Dermot believes that the company has navigated supply chain challenges better than most. “Our factory in Taiwan has a very established, mature management team,” he emphasizes. “Lead times returned to normal last September, where some of our competitors are still quoting up to 27 weeks, or even a year in certain cases. Because we’ve done a fantastic job, we’ve seen our business grow. In 2021, we saw a huge jump of 40 percent growth, and we’re on track for 25 percent growth this year.” The company also benefits from a robust supply chain. “We’re not just reliant on a single place,” Dermot confirms. “We manufacture in Taiwan, China, and Vietnam, and we’re opening up an additional facility in APAC later this year. We also have final assembly in San Diego in the US, and in Ireland, and we’ve even run some urgent full assembly projects through those operations where it was necessary for our customers. It’s more expensive, but at the end of the day, sometimes it’s just about speed.” Looking ahead, Taoglas has high hopes, with a target of $1bn in revenue by 2030. “To achieve that, it’ll be more of the same,” Dermot concludes. “We’re launching new product areas in our components division, and we’re actively pursuing acquisitions. We’re also hoping to take our smart waste solution globally, with a particular focus on the US. Our profits will be reinvested back into growth, and we’ll be seeking out new opportunities wherever they emerge.” v

Dermot O’Shea - Joint-Owner at Taoglas

Taoglas Services: Antenna, RF, audio and IoT solutions l 113

Carpet diem Since 1741, Wilton Carpets has built a reputation for style and excellence through its unparalleled range of Britishmade carpets and rugs

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Wilton Carpets l 115


ngland’s historic home of carpeting, Wilton Carpets (Wilton), has seen a major resurgence in recent months, as its resilient and time-honoured model bounces back from the effects of Covid-19. Wilton’s name has become synonymous with fine carpets and enduring quality over the last two centuries, and despite the difficulties of a pandemic, the company is now gearing up for one of its most exciting years yet in 2022. For centuries, Wilton’s carpets have been 100 percent British-made, woven from locally sourced wool that is considered world-leading in both feel and durability. Based in the historic town of Wiltshire, the company is known for its dedication to traditional, quality manufacturing.

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Whilst these operations were interrupted by the outbreak of Covid-19, the effects on Wilton Carpets are showing themselves to be short-lived, as Rob Load, Manufacturing Director, reveals: “The pandemic affected the whole business, as effectively 95 percent of our customer base was closed down overnight with the first lockdown. The business had to shrink operations in line with sales, but this was only temporary, and within six months the factory was back to two-shift working.” The company’s generational experience in the manufacturing industry no doubt bolstered it through these difficult times, as did the introduction of a new owner, and the announcement of a major investment.

“The business was severely impacted by the pandemic, but has very successfully managed its way out of this crisis. “Wilton Carpets has emerged leaner and stronger than ever before; we have been able to concentrate on our core offering, and this has put us in a very unique position within the UK woven carpet sector. The business is now owned by Mr. Chris Brammall, who has brought a renewed energy and dynamism to the company, so much so that an investment of £1.2 million has just been announced,” Rob details. This investment comes at the perfect time, as the world opens back up again, Wilton Carpets is experiencing renewed growth, and the re-opening of many of its core customer bases. As Rob confirms: “Wilton supplies the leisure, hospitality and public sectors, which were all affected heavily by the pandemic, and subsequent national lockdowns. Demand has rebounded since, and has returned to almost pre-pandemic levels. People are determined to get back out into the world, and with that shift we are seeing the business return to its normal levels of activity.” These victories are hard won for Wilton Carpets, as the company made significant operational changes during the lockdown periods in 2020 and 2021. “The loss of our customer base overnight and the huge uncertainty this created was the largest challenge this company will have faced. The difference between the challenges brought on by Covid-19, and the challenges we expect to face throughout the supply chain, is that the pandemic caught us all by surprise. No one necessarily knew what was coming, or how to handle the situation. It was about being responsive, and making decisions day by day. “There is a newfound confidence in the market, which seems to be rebounding rapidly. Having been in manufacturing for over 40 years, it is interesting to see the cycle turning in favor of shorter product lead times. The demand has switched back to green credentials, and locally made products. The trajectory toward cheaper manufacturing outside of the UK has been dealt several major blows. All of these trends have definitely helped us recover from the initial pandemic period,” discusses Rob. As a family-built company, Wilton Carpets is known for its tight-knit working community, and dedicated team of manufacturers, designers and suppliers. As Rob asserts: “The value of people, in any business, is often overlooked as an asset. Unfortunately, people are sometimes viewed as a necessary cost. The textiles industry has always worked a little bit differently; it is

Wilton Carpets

common to find several generations of families working in the factory, and this fosters a great working attitude between colleagues. “The pandemic has been very difficult, and unfortunately we did have to scale back our workforce. This was a necessary move at the time, considering the company was making a fraction of its usual income. But the wheel has turned full circle now, and we are actively recruiting again across all areas and departments within the business.” Similarly, Wilton’s supplier network provided invaluable support in the face of adversity. “Having reliable suppliers with whom you have strong working connections is absolutely vital. During the initial outbreak of Covid-19, our suppliers were faced with the same level of uncertainty as us, and a lot of the time it was those connections that kept all of us going,” confides Rob. Today, Wilton Carpets is embracing an exciting new future, with investments in the latest high-speed loom technology, and an expanding workforce, it is clear that this company’s long legacy is far from over. As Rob concludes: “2022 is going to be a year of change for Wilton Carpets; we will spend the next 12 months renewing the company, and building it back up. With the worst of the pandemic behind us, we can now plan with more confidence in the future. “Wilton weaving was developed on this same site almost 300 years ago. That incredible history of woven manufacturing continues to this day, thanks to our dedicated team, and one of the industry’s oldest and most recognizable brand names.” v

Cliffe End Yarns Cliffe End Yarns was established in January 2017 to service the carpet, weaving and knitting industries, supplying them with woollen yarn from single up to six fold. It is proud to work with a wide range of well established businesses including Wilton Carpets. At the moment, Cliffe End Yarns is capable of producing six tonnes of yarn per week, but looking to August 2022, with the installation of its second carding and spinning production facility, the business hopes to surpass 14 tonnes of yarn per week.

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Going lean A new era is dawning at Corin Group, as the medical devices producer invests in its UK base, and initiates the roll-out of a Lean manufacturing conversion

Terje Hanssen - COO Corin Group


ince its inception, Corin Group (Corin) has led the way in orthopedic innovation – providing a faster, positive, and more assured return to quality of life for people all over the world. A specialist in the manufacture of clinically proven medical products for the hip and knee, ankle and shoulder, the company has undertaken several mergers throughout its history, adding a depth of experience to the Corin brand. As a dynamic, global business, now posting steady present-day growth through organic sales and acquisitions, Corin’s mission is clear: to revolutionize orthopedics. Terje Hanssen, Chief Operating Officer at Corin Group (Corin), is under no illusions about the importance of the company’s work. “We’re a medical device provider, whose ultimate goal is to make people’s lives better, and to provide hospitals with effective, efficient products,” he says. “We have a great product range, particularly for the hip and knee. Our Unity Knee product range, together with our Apex Knee System are two fine examples. For the hip, we’re particularly strong across the cups that we use for the head of the product, while our MetaFix and Paragon are standout, innovative and clinically proven products for the stem.” What differentiates Corin is the strategy to develop enabling technologies that fuel the hip and knee implant business. “We constantly innovate our pipeline, and we’ve now got some fantastic new products coming through,

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Corin Group l 119

Corin Group

including new technology for the stems and knee,” Terje continues. “Our surgeons have used Corin devices for many years, and they’ve shown loyalty to our brand. We actively work with those surgeons to develop new products, and as a result we have a very high success rate with our patients. We’re now exploring and developing fresh manufacturing techniques and processes to make our range more efficient to produce in the future.”

Future vision

Alongside its range of orthopedic implants, Corin is also a specialist in the development of replacement technology to aid surgeons and improve patient outcomes. To this end, the company recently launched two new tools. The first, CorinRegistry, is a cloud-based, clinical data analytics platform, designed to support surgeons to make informed and improved clinical decisions for their patient. The second is the company’s cloud based optimized positioning system (OPSInsight), an advanced planning innovation which offers a dynamic assessment of a patient’s hip function to improve hip replacement success rates. “In both cases, we engage with a surgeon using a combination of this data and other clinical tools such as CT scans, to help them

to analyze how to move and personalize the surgery for a given patient,” Terje explains. “For the knee, we also offer a robotic assistance knee replacement, where we actually deploy robots to help surgeons be more effective in their surgeries.” In recent months, Corin has been actively engaged in migrating a greater portion of its manufacturing capabilities to the UK, centralizing operations within its Cirencester base. “It’s already a great location, with a fantastic array of talent,” Terje declares. “Nonetheless, we believed that the site could be even better utilized if we took some of our externally procured and sourced products and gravitated those to the UK. We want Cirencester to be the core operating center for our global functions and manufacturing, and we’ve invested in a lot of assets to be able to manufacture for the global lead in the future.” The site, which boasts an 80,000-squarefoot manufacturing footprint, spread across four separate buildings, is the core of Corin’s orthopedic success. “One of our processes at Cirencester is to produce hip stems from metal bars, in order to fit into a patient’s body,” Terje indicates. “As part of that, we’ll do milling, reclining, linishing, and polishing. We’ll remove the excess. We also carry out passivation, cleaning,

and send the product out to a partner for sterilization.” As Corin places greater emphasis on its UK manufacturing and distribution, Terje anticipates an influx of new technology at Cirencester. “Particularly with regards to linishing, we already have excellent manual capabilities, thanks to the talent and the people that we have onboard,” he reflects. “We complement that with robotassisted technology, another asset that we’ve had on-site for several years, but wasn’t always effective. Thanks to a series of programs we’ve recently put in place, that’s set to change. “Moving forward, we’re confident that approximately 70-to-80 percent of our volume is going to go towards new technology, robots and programs, helping us get more throughput across the facility,” Terje comments. “At the same time, it remains crucial for us to have manual capabilities: it’s a good quality check area, and because we’re talking about products that are going into patients’ bodies, we need to make sure that we have people physically checking the products. Combining this with robotics, we’re able to do more.” Corin’s pursuit of throughput is one element of a broader pivot within the company, as it looks to embrace Lean manufacturing. As a vocal proponent of Lean, Terje is particularly enthusiastic about the journey, which is set to kick-off later this year. “Our Lean strategy is very clear: we’re going to start with the basics, focusing on three simple things: daily management, standard work, and visual controls,” he outlines. “Having run companies for 25 years, I’m a personal believer that if you do those three things correctly, you’ll get success in any Lean conversion. Once we’ve mastered them, only then will we look to bring in other elements, such as SMED and build quality. After that, we’ll target internal training on delivery, cash, inventory, and cost control, that’s how we’ll drive the company forward.” Terje’s vision for Corin is derived from a philosophy that views Lean, above all else, as a process. “I’m a very Lean-oriented person,” he admits. “There’s a common attitude among people within the industry that Lean is a toolbox, from which you can just pull out any

Kirkstall Precision Engineering For over 30 years, Kirkstall Precision Engineering has been at the forefront of global precision engineering, utilising the latest skills, procedures, and technologies to become the trusted total solutions provider to a wide range of national and international medical device manufacturers. Its commitment to quality has seen the business embrace the latest in ERP systems and resulted in flawless ISO13485 accreditation. This is then backed up by significant investment in machines, technology, and skills that each year sees it develop the next generation of precision engineers, while ensuring its long-standing employees are on the curve with the latest engineering developments. Along with large scale global medical and veterinary customers, ranging from spinal orthopaedic devices to hip replacements and robotic surgery parts, Kirkstall Precision also helps customers explore new procedures by creating small samples of R&D products to help shape the future of medical procedures.

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Like all businesses, Corin was rocked by the arrival of Covid-19 in early 2020. Nevertheless, despite its challenges, the pandemic has also proved an opportunity for learning, and has shed light on the importance of building a reliable roster of suppliers. “Corin isn’t the biggest player in orthopedic medical devices, and therefore being in the constrained supply chain environment of Covid-19 presents a challenge,” Terje concedes. “Thankfully, our suppliers and partners are more than willing to engage with us as an up-and-coming company. In particular, we’re trying to integrate with them in different ways, with greater transparency and more interaction.” number of tools. I’ve worked for organizations where that’s the thinking: they’ll make use of everything available under the Lean and Six Sigma umbrella, but then as soon as it’s done, they’ll stop. “But in my opinion, Lean isn’t any single thing that you can ‘do’,” he counters. “To execute a Lean conversion successfully, it needs to be continuous: not just a thing you did, but

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something you do every day, and instill within the culture. That’s why we’re focusing on the basics first, and why doing them well is so important. It will provide us with a strong foundation, allowing us to sustain results as we incorporate more and more elements of Lean. Personally, it’s a development I’m extremely passionate about, and it’s my goal to build Lean into Corin over the coming years.”

Valued partners

For Terje, it’s a point that once again comes back to Lean. “At Corin, there’s certain core competencies that we both want and need to have in-house,” he says. “On the other hand, there are also competencies that we’d prefer our partners to carry out on our behalf. For instance, coating the products is not something that we deem as a core competence at this

Corin Group current point in time, although that’s not to say that it never will be. Instead, we trust in our partner’s capabilities, and we’d prefer it if they were able to take care of that. “The same is true of product sterilization,” Terje continues. “We’re producing medical devices, and it’s a requirement that they undergo gamma irradiation. Once again, that’s a situation in which it makes more sense for us to look towards a professional partner. They’re part of our supply chain end-to-end, and we need to work with them to be predictable on lead time, and to reduce cycle times together.” Taking a brief aside from discussion of the factory floor, Terje is keen to underline Corin’s prosperous company culture. “We’re an equal opportunity employer,” he tells us. “We’re proud of the fact that our operations management team has a 50-50 male and female split, which is quite atypical within the industry. Similarly, currently 60 percent of our employees in Operations are promoted from within, and we will increase this to over 80 percent. We have great talent in the organization, and it’s down to their efforts that we’re now building Cirencester

into our key central operational hub, set to export our products right across the globe.” As Corin looks to build on its success, the company’s strategy is clear. “Our future lies in our ability to create the best product and technology, at the right quality, at the optimum price point, and with great people,” Terje insists. “To do that, we need to be able to support changes in demand with greater agility. It’s a

journey we’re already starting to embrace. Our challenge now is to generate more velocity in what we do by working with suppliers and partners that share our attitude and mindset.” v

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Taking on the impossible

Since its inception, AES Clean Technology’s standards for high quality have guided its dedication to designing and manufacturing leading cleanrooms that support the critical processes essential to its customers’ industries

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AES Clean Technology

Grant Merrill


s a builder of cleanroom facilities for the biotech industry, AES Clean Technology (AES) prides itself on the innovation that contributes to clients that are making a difference throughout the life science sector. Grant Merrill, the company’s CEO, discusses with Manufacturing Today the expertise that drives the business as the leading cleanroom company that self-performs the design, manufacture, and installation of cGMP modular cleanroom facilities in North America. “Our core business is designing and building cleanroom facilities for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, medical device manufacturers, and l 125

others serving the life science marketplace. When we started the business in Pennsylvania in 1986, it was small and regional, but since our inception, we have focused on achieving steady and refined growth. Fast forward to today, and we are a business of 350 people, continuing on that same mission, but doing it on a much grander scale throughout the US, Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America.” According to Grant, in the late 80s and early 90s, Europe was leading innovation in the development of modular architectural finishes for cleanrooms, and AES was fortunate to be an early adopter of that technology. “We implemented modular architectural systems to create the cleanroom facilities because we saw value in the clean construction techniques, the predictable finishes, the performance, and the way those systems assisted in minimizing maintenance for our clients. We then had an opportunity in 2001 to purchase the manufacturing assets of one of our modular system suppliers.

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“So that put us in the position to be what we consider a single source solution for our clients; a one-stop-shop for the execution of any given project,” he says. To get an understanding of the level of pride with which Grant speaks of his company, it is worth noting the value AES places on its projects. Many of these cleanrooms have a mission-critical use, and in most instances, the cleanroom is considered the most crucial square footage in the building. “It’s the most expensive space in the facility because it’s where our clients perform their manufacturing magic. The requirements for the facility are heavily regulated by the FDA, European agencies, and other global regulatory bodies to ensure that the final product, whether it’s a vaccine or a treatment that cures a disease, is created in the safest of spaces,” Grant adds. In addition to producing a cleanroom facility that is of the highest possible quality, AES dedicates itself to working closely with its clients to produce the best results. “The theme of how we work together is important in terms of how

we counsel our clients through the process. Often, we have a situation where a customer needs to develop a manufacturing facility, but they may not understand how to create one that fully protects their science, so as a company, we have built the resources in-house to perform early conceptual planning. To give you more of a specific example, our design team will sit down with a client and a clean sheet of paper, and we will help them develop the facility right from the very beginning. Therefore, we are able to influence the design from the outset and ensure that when the facility is deployed, it will meet all the requirements that the regulatory agencies would expect of the cleanroom.”

Pioneering science

Although customization is key to the company’s portfolio, AES is also determined to improve its efficiency, and as a result, to incorporate a level of standardization within its capabilities. “Even though we work for many different companies, each with unique specifications, there are repeatable elements of what these facilities require, and we create template designs that can be leveraged across multiple projects. Subsequently, we invest the time and energy into developing module designs that we can deploy faster for clients with similar processes. This enables us to either manufacture that cleanroom system faster, or ideally to have it already manufactured, so it is waiting in inventory. We see great opportunity in leveraging our experience through standardization to help our clients move even faster; we are not creating a custom ‘home’ every single time for each client, but rather making use of repeatable solutions,” Grant shares with us. With leading capabilities in the life science sector, AES also takes care to nurture an unshakable company culture in which its team

AES Clean Technology feels valued in their work, and the role that their work plays in the industry overall. “Our employees are critical to our operation, and we try to encourage a space in which they really enjoy what they do. It’s a pressure filled business, and one with deadlines and high stress levels to create these optimum performance facilities, so it is really important for us to understand why we do what we do. A great example would be the way in which our work has transformed over the past two years of pandemic response. Our team can take great pride in knowing that they played a part in bringing together multiple facilities that allowed their own loved ones to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, which was ultimately manufactured inside of AES cleanrooms; that is something quite remarkable. “The pandemic has impacted the whole world, and shone a new light on the importance of scientific breakthroughs and the facilities that help make them happen. For us as a company, we know that the real magic is in the science of the product itself, but that science cannot flourish without the proper facility to wrap around it for protection, and that is what we do. So, we know that our facility really does make a difference, and that is truly exciting for us and our partners to realize,” he adds. Diving deeper into the role the business had in combating the spread of coronavirus, Grant tells us more about a particular project to increase the pace at which vaccines were being produced. In Operation Warp Speed, where the US Government and the military became heavily committed to accelerating the country’s efforts against Covid-19, AES was called upon to bring facilities online for production, not only for vaccines but also for antibody therapeutics and diagnostic devices. “We worked for a client that manufactures a device used to measure certain conditions in the body as a way of helping doctors make therapeutic decisions for patients. We created facilities according to incredibly fast timelines to support many products that were deployed in the fight against Covid-19. Most of the typical projects that our clients execute take years to develop. That is why it was such a privilege to be part of programs that were completed in a small fraction of the typical time, all in an effort to save lives and improve outcomes for patients. “It took a pandemic to accelerate these new technologies to reach the market, and, as devastating as the last two years have been, it is so rewarding to witness firsthand the capabilities of this industry, and how we can all push ourselves to make the impossible happen,” he says. Now, as he looks to the future, Grant is especially excited to be part of more projects

that will enable radical developments of the life science industry. “We have tremendous opportunities in front of us that involve some pioneering science to create facilities that are going to protect new life science products being manufactured. We are working with clients who are trying to cure cancer, autoimmune diseases, MS, diabetes - truly noble goals - and to know that we are playing a small part in enabling that science to succeed is exciting for us, and that is our goal as a company. The next ten years in medicine will be driven by advanced therapies where our clients are harnessing biology to create cures and treatments for unmet medical needs. “We continually think about all the people that our work impacts; if the facility can come online more quickly due to the efforts of our

team, imagine the add-on affect that will be experienced as more patients are treated. So we take this work very seriously. There are lives at stake here; the patients that need the treatments are the people we are ultimately serving, and so that is a humbling experience for us as a company,” he concludes. v

AES Clean Technology Services: Cleanroom manufacturer l 127

The future of fitness You can truly #beyourstrongest with Tonal’s revolutionary, AI-powered fitness system

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Tonal l 129


ith its leading strength tracking and dynamic, outcome-driven, full-body workouts, Tonal is changing the face of home fitness. The Tonal system is expertly engineered for exceptional results; using a patented digital weight system, which makes thousands of calculations a second, the company is able to deliver customers a smooth weightlifting experience that eliminates the need for traditional metal weights. Today, many big names in the sports and fitness world, from Serena Williams to Stephen Curry, are lining up to invest in Tonal, as the company stands daringly at the cutting edge of fitness technology. “Tonal is the world’s smartest home gym and personal trainer. Unlike traditional dumbbells and barbells, Tonal uses adaptive digital weight, which leverages electromagnetic resistance to deliver 200lbs of pure force and continually personalizes workouts so they’re most effective for you. All of our products are led by our experienced coaches,” outlines Shannon Crespin, Chief Operations Officer at Tonal. The company’s long history of innovation begins with its founder, and Chief Executive Officer, Aly Orady. Having struggled with his

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weight since childhood, Aly wanted to create and share a solution that worked. “The problem was that going to the gym or working with a trainer everyday wasn’t sustainable.” When Aly couldn’t find a better solution, he invented one. By using electromagnetics to create electronic resistance, he found a way to replace all the equipment he used in the weight room with a single digital weight system. “Aly envisioned an intelligent system that assessed what you needed to do, told you how to do it, and let you do it from home; he feels

that everyone needs a personal trainer, and incorporated coaches with exercise programs that are specific to individual goals. Ultimately, we strive to help each of our members be their strongest,” discusses Shannon. The specialized equipment designed by Tonal leverages AI technology in order to dynamically adjust the weights for each exercise in real time; with Tonal, customers can generate dramatically more muscle activation at a given resistance of weight. As Shannon explains, this engineering is an important element of Tonal’s

Our long-term goal is to reach as many households as possible; Tonal is targeting 45 million households and the $60 billion addressable strength training market segment in the US, which is a much larger opportunity than studio fitness or any cardio segment. We also hope to take Tonal public in the future while continuing to grow a healthy, sustainable business

Tonal personalized approach: “Tonal enables people to lead healthier lives by providing them with the equipment, technology, and guidance to effectively reach their fitness goals.

Content strategy

“By using a proprietary digital weight system, powered by electromagnetic resistance instead of metal weights, Tonal can generate the equivalent of 260lbs of gravity-based resistance and replicate every machine in the weight room with a fraction of the equipment. While a dumbbell always provides 25lbs of resistance, Tonal can alter the resistance curve throughout each movement to tax your muscles where they are at their strongest - driving more physiological impact on a rep-for-rep basis. “The first time you work out on Tonal it guides you through an initial strength test, allowing the trainer to set your perfect weight for each movement. As you gain strength in different muscle areas,Tonal continually adapts the weight in real time to make each rep more efficient. Tonal’s adaptive weight adjustment is important for safety, incremental progress, and efficiency

during a workout regimen.The technology, and how it monitors and interacts with each individual, is why we see our members increase their strength score 25 percent in the first 90 days.”

Always looking towards the future of fitness, Tonal began offering live sessions in 2021, and will continue to build up a portfolio of educational content, which will support

Jabil Jabil joins Tonal in making strength training smarter and more accessible to all. As a world-class manufacturing solutions provider, Jabil is focused on reducing costs while elevating product quality and customer satisfaction through engineering collaboration, supply chain optimization and unwavering manufacturing excellence. With more than 260,000 employees across 100 locations in 30 countries, Jabil has a dedicated team with proven expertise in artificial intelligence, design for manufacturing, electronics, human machine interfaces, new product introductions, prototyping, product quality and testing, as well as volume-scale manufacturing to support Tonal in delivering on its vision for the future of connected, smart fitness. l 131

customers on their journey toward a healthier self. As Shannon affirms: “Tonal is always refining its technology and rolling out new

features, but we are particularly excited to further build out our content strategy this year. We launched live classes in September, and we

just recently opened a second content studio in New York, in addition to LA, where we plan to hire more coaches.”

Growth curve

Working as part of a wider network has helped Tonal bring its technology to customers across the US. The company’s production facilities play an important role in creating the highest quality equipment, as Shannon confirms: “We collaborate with our suppliers and contract manufacturers to design and develop manufacturing and supply chain processes that are efficient and resilient. “Given the end-to-end supply chain market conditions we are all experiencing for the products we buy, our focus has been on developing joint processes that are efficient and create a high degree of resiliency. As the demand for our products has grown rapidly, we are expanding and diversifying our production capacity across Asia and North America, so that we can meet demand with shorter lead times. In our supplier selection process, we look for demonstrated capabilities in Lean manufacturing,

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Tonal with a mindset for continuous improvement to build best-in-class operations.” None of this would be possible without Tonal’s trusted suppliers, who are considered a vital part of the team. “We consider our suppliers our partners. Our growth and success is interdependent with them, and so we collaborate closely to ensure we sustain a healthy, growing and competitive business. Our suppliers have an amazing set of diverse capabilities that we intend to continue to leverage in creating value for Tonal, and our network of suppliers,” says Shannon. Fitness habits have no doubt changed over the last few years, as the pandemic inspired many to find new ways of working out inside the home. Having played a vital role in keeping people fit throughout lockdown, Tonal now continues to thrive, even as gyms begin to open back up. “Though Tonal’s member base grew while gyms were closed, we have seen significant growth since gyms have reopened. While gym equipment remains the same, with analog dumbbells and machines that don’t track form or progress, our personalized approach to

strength training at home with our motivational and expert coaches is here to stay, and is only just at the early innings of our growth curve,” enthuses Shannon. It is clear that this is just the beginning of Tonal’s journey, as the company tripled its sales in the 2021 Holiday season, compared to the 2020 Holiday season. The last six months have been particularly exciting for the company, as the latest figures reveal that Tonal has one of the highest engagement rates in the health and lifestyle industry, with members working out an average of 40 minutes per day. Now, the company looks to take on new horizons, and branch out into a new customer base. “As we know, strength training has historically skewed towards male audiences, but the value of strength training is of course not gender specific. Therefore, we are increasing our focus on women, knowing they represent a large portion of our potential audience, even though some may be reluctant to add strength training to their routine. This strategy is reflected in our focus on female athletes such as Serena Williams, Sue Bird, Lindsey Horan, Simone Manuel, April

Ross, and Alix Klineman,” details Shannon. “In addition, to enable our growth, we want to expand our footprint in terms of Tonal locations to ensure as many people as possible can experience the magic of our product. Once someone demo’s our product they feel first-hand the magic of this technology and in turn often buy a Tonal, so driving traffic to our Nordstrom and Tonal retail locations will be an important lever,” she adds. As a company known for its ambition, it comes as no surprise that Tonal has big plans for the future. “Our long-term goal is to reach as many households as possible;Tonal is targeting 45 million households and the $60 billion addressable strength training market segment in the US, which is a much larger opportunity than studio fitness or any cardio segment. We also hope to take Tonal public in the future while continuing to grow a healthy, sustainable business,” Shannon concludes. v

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Moving healthcare forward

With its cutting-edge technologies and industry-leading brands, DHG provides vital services to patients across the world


s a globally leading healthcare brand, Direct Healthcare Group, now DHG, is known for providing reliable, top-of-the-range solutions to patients struggling with limited mobility. The company uses innovative and proven methods to enhance the reliability and accessibility of at-home healthcare options. Today, the company continues to support patients all across the nation, as it undergoes a rebrand that reflects its newly extended global presence. DHG was founded on a single mission – to advance the health of patients whose

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movement has been affected by injury or illness. The company specializes in medical devices and equipment specifically designed for this purpose, and is a trusted partner for hundreds of healthcare providers across the UK. With a product portfolio that makes effective use of the latest healthcare technology, it comes as no surprise that DHG is known for reliably providing patients with the best possible recovery times and outcomes, as well as an increased level of independence. Since being founded in 2009, DHG has consistently made waves in the private and

public healthcare markets. The company was named the 17th fastest growing business in the UK in 2013, just four years after being established. It soon went on to open its Asia Pacific Office in Perth, Australia, setting DHG up to become a global brand. In 2014, DHG won an Investors in People Award, and was recognized by Medi Wales for its Dyna-Form Static Air HZ mattress, a revolutionary piece of technology that reduces pressure on heel and foot injuries. From here the company began establishing a number of high-profile partnerships with innovators in

Direct Healthcare Group

the healthcare sector; one such partner is the Welsh Wound Innovation Centre, with which DHG partnered in late 2014. Collaborating with healthcare providers is one of the ways that DHG ensures the reliability and effectiveness of its products. As the company website asserts: “We strive to constantly support our healthcare partners, and the people whose healthcare needs they serve, working to keep improving the vital connections between movement and health, enabling accelerated recovery and healthy independence in daily living.

“At DHG, we are passionate about working in close collaboration with healthcare professionals to enhance outcomes, lower the cost of healthcare, deliver efficiencies, and expand access to our solutions.” These strong working relationships have helped catalyze the company’s success throughout its history. As it continued to grow and evolve, bolstered by its many healthcare partners, DHG was recognized for a number of awards. This includes the prestigious Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2016, and the Investors in People Gold Award, in 2017.

These achievements would not be possible without DHG’s extended brand portfolio, within which numerous teams specialize in different healthcare applications. The company offers specialist services in pressure ulcer prevention and care, safe movement, and chronic wound treatments, to name a few. Patients suffering from pressure ulcers can access relief easily through DHG’s website, which offers a comprehensive selection of award-winning products that are proven to reduce discomfort and overall symptoms. Using its decade’s worth of experience l 135

in the provision of clinically proven, costeffective solutions, DHG can support its customers with a combination of pressure care technologies, designed in partnership

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with leading clinicians and healthcare providers. These solutions come in the form of medically enhanced mattresses, cushions and overlays.

DHG also offers a depth of knowledge when it comes to supporting patients with limited mobility. The company’s SystemRoMedic range has been vital to the development of safe movement and handling technologies. These support systems not only reduce symptoms, but offer patients a renewed sense of independence, and freedom of movement. Amongst the most popular products on offer is the DHG manual transfer aid, which enables safer working ergonomics for carers and clinical effectiveness for patients. The SystemRoMedic is continually being developed by a team of highly-experienced and welltrained handlers, who can assess the most appropriate handling, movement and specialist seating options for each individual customer. Always seeking to innovate in new areas, DHG has recently made major strides in the development of specialist therapies. The company’s Negative Pressure Wound Therapy system is intuitive, simple-to-use and cost effective, offering accelerated healing to chronic wound sufferers across the world. The company has also sought to tackle the life-threatening problem of Venous Thromboembolism (VTE), a condition that makes patients more susceptible to deep vein thrombosis and heart attacks. DHG hopes to reduce the likelihood of VTE through the use of its Intermittent Pneumatic Compression system, a cutting-edge piece of technology that actually works to reduce the likelihood of pulmonary embolism through regular pressurized therapy sessions. The applicability and ease-of-use offered by DHG’s system makes it an industry leader for heart health applications.

Direct Healthcare Group Many of DHG’s services and products are aimed toward the general improvement of patient’s quality of life, as well as the reduction of specific symptoms. The company has done innovative work in the bathroom safety category since its inception, under the Linido bathroom safety brand. Linido’s bathroom safety solutions are recognized for providing increased independence, safety and comfort to patients with reduced mobility. The brand focusses on ergonomic aids that offer practical support, meaning that each product is designed with safety, accessibility and aesthetics in mind. The devices fit seamlessly with both at-home bathrooms and hospital facilities, ensuring a

diversity and ease of application. Like all DHG products, the Linido bathroom additions are rigorously tested, to ensure patients are able to use them effectively and safely. In the hopes of making its services readily available to all customers, DHG has pioneered a rental service through its brand, Nightingale. With over 20 years’ of experience, Nightingale provides ad-hoc or contracted rental and serving solutions to patients on an operational budget. The service is available 24/7/365, and includes a variety of safe moving and handling equipment, as well as seating and bariatric care equipment. The care centers are also ISO 13485 accredited and equipped with highly-skilled technical support teams, to

Stoeryd AB Stoeryd AB is a contract manufacturer that manufactures finished products, subsystems, components, spare parts, and provides specified quality, expertise, service and flexibility to Direct Healthcare Group (DHG). Stoeryd AB has brought over 50 years of production knowledge into the business cooperation. DHG also takes advantage of a robust and active network of subcontractors that shorten lead-times, making it easier to find the most effective production solution. Altogether, this has allowed the possibility to build close and long-term customer relationships, which contributes to the development of solutions that provide effective care.

ensure a safe and effective service is offered to customers across the board. Over the last 18 months, DHG has undergone significant changes. Having evolved to support the care of more patients than ever before, the company has taken on new geographies and expanded its team in a variety of areas. As a result, it has rebranded, officially becoming DHG in January 2022. The new name is designed to be universally recognized, as a reflection of the company’s truly global presence. Every DHG product, be it a therapy system or mobility aid, is designed to restore patient’s sense of autonomy and comfort in their own body. The company has made dozens of industry-leading innovations with this mission in mind, and will no doubt make many more, as it grows into new markets and territories. v

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When one door closes

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Steves & Sons Inc

Steves & Sons Inc has worked hard to build a reliable reputation as a door manufacturer. On a mission to expand its operations, the business looks forward to a future of best practices and cutting-edge technology that provide quality products for its customers


ounded in 1866 by Edward Steves, Steves & Sons Inc (Steves Doors) began as a lumber yard business that grew organically to offer door products. During World War I, the company made wooden propellers with copper caps, and in World War II, it moved to joinery cabinets for the liberty ships. “In our offices,” begins Sam Bell Steves III, “we have a maritime flag that was awarded to my great-grandfather. He took the proceeds that he received during the war and returned them to the US Government for the safe return of his sons who were part of the war effort,” says the company’s current Vice President. “Following that, in 1955, we built our San Antonio door plant that we are still in today. We also established additional facilities in Lebanon, Tennessee, and Richmond, Virginia; all are world-class door manufacturing facilities. “At the moment, we are developing new locations in Georgia and Utah that will also be state-of-the-art. With the three facilities that are currently running, we currently make more than 40,000 doors a day. This allows us to cover our primary territory, which is east of the Rockies. However, our new Utah facility, targeted to go live in the first quarter of 2023, will help us better serve the west. It’s a lot to get up and running, but we are very excited for its potential. We have l 139

about 1400 team members and that number is looking to grow by another 400 in the coming year,” Sam shares.

Upscaling capability

Primarily an interior door manufacturer, Steves Doors specializes in assembling products for clients such as Home Depot in retail and customers like Builders First Source and Specialty Building Supply in the jobber trade, and what sets the company apart is simply the experience of its skilled millwork experts. “A well running door plant typically builds 4000to-5000 doors in a single shift, whereas our facilities are building 12,000-to-20,000, and that is why we stand out. We achieve this through our in-house systems, and a combination of decades of industry expertise. I am a sixthgeneration door manufacturer, and when I was just 12 years old, I was already working in our plant. After college and business school, I went to work for our customers in the industry so I could understand how the product flowed to end-users. Then I came back to work for the company, and many of our employees have similar stories; some of the names here are multi-generational. So, what sets us apart is that we are expert door manufacturers, throughand-through.” It appears that technology is critical to the success of Steves Doors, and the company often considers the latest innovation to incorporate into its processes. “When assessing investments in a door plant, we have to look at the markets that are going to be served and the efficiency that is going to be gained from that investment. What we have done in San Antonio, for example, is add another 100,000-square-feet of space to make our process flow faster, and be able to reduce lead times for our customers by increasing the overall output. The expansion took the San Antonio door plant from about 10,000 doors a day, to well over 16,000, and our customers benefit from that, and what we are doing in Brigham City, Utah is no different.” In Brigham City, Sam continues, Steves Doors is taking the existing building and upscaling its capability in order to produce an estimated 12,000-to-15,000 doors a day; a project he is incredibly excited about. “These developments are just part-and-parcel of the overall investment in our business for efficiency and data awareness. Our ERP system is in-house, designed and custom-built to be able to manage our business. We can track any product that we make or any component we use within our facilities; all we have to do is scan a barcode on the door and we can understand all sorts of character elements of that product to be able to isolate issues, understand how the issues were created and ultimately avoid them in the future – it’s a tremendous capability,” he expresses.

Hopeful outlook

While the technical side of the business is tantamount to its success, Sam holds a particular pride for Steves Doors’ company culture, and he tells us how his team continually rallies together to overcome challenges with a

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Steves & Sons Inc family-like attitude. “As I alluded to earlier, many of our folks have been with us a very long time, which is why we take great pride in calling ourselves professional door manufacturers. If a young person comes in to join us, and has never seen a manufacturing facility, we provide them with the opportunities to grow their careers and become masters of this trade. “Every profession under our umbrella is crucial because what we are really doing is delivering a promise to our customers. We don’t build anything to stock, we manufacture for customers who need our product so if our team doesn’t take that to heart, then many things can start to slip. If we begin to become complacent about short shipping and quality issues, for example, that is the failure to deliver the promise. So, we really try to drive the idea that we are delivering promises and I believe every member here really does live up to that mantra, which is why we have an excellent group here, and I am so proud of each of them,” he shares. Because of this approach, Sam shares how confident he was in his team to overcome

the difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic. “If anyone felt uncomfortable, we dealt with it immediately. We just treated people how they wanted to be treated, to show our staff that we would stand by them no matter what, and they did the exact same for the company. “Unfortunately, in San Antonio, we lost a beloved team member to Covid-19 who had been with us for a very long time, and it was heartbreaking for our team members and our ownership. It broke our hearts. When you work for a family business, your team members become family themselves, and so to lose one of our staff was devastating for us,” he shares. “Being a critical business that helped keep the building cycle going was so important for us to make it through the last two years, and we did everything we could to keep our team members safe. Obviously, it was an evolving effort as we learned to adapt to the changing policies, and I feel that that agility and the incredible effort from our team is what allowed the team to thrive.” Steves Doors is well into the swing of 2022, and with Brigham City’s new project under

construction, Sam is excited about the near future of his family’s business. However, further down the line, he would like to see some economic stability, and is candid about the repercussions that the current global climate will have on all of us. “Not just for our company, but for the whole country. Right now, I think everyone’s five-year outlook is a little different, and it seems vital that we find some stability, what is going on today with Ukraine is going to have consequences on all of us; it will add further stress to supply chain issues and I am just praying that it ends soon and we can start to see economies across the world stabilize again,” he states. In the meantime, Sam adds that almost everyone at Steves Doors is vaccinated, which has been very helpful to keep its team safe, and, to keep a hopeful outlook, all his team can do is remain positive, and take on the future as best as possible, one obstacle at a time. v

Steves & Sons Inc Services: Door manufacturer l 141

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G&L Tube

Welded tubing

solutions Expert manufacturer of welded metal tubing, G&L Tube, continues to outperform its competition with high rates of critical applicability and customer satisfaction


or nearly 40 years, G&L Tube (G&L), an O’Neal Industries Company, has been manufacturing high-performance, quality tubing with expert precision. The company consistently meets or exceeds customer expectations by investing in the future of its people and suppliers, developing a world-class team of professionals with a range of capabilities. With core values that include integrity, safety, diversity, social responsibility, and continuous improvement, G&L Tube continues to improve, grow and succeed. Robert Gilreath and Art Lewis founded G&L Tube in 1982, driven by a desire to overcome engineering challenges with reliable, customizable solutions. “Mr. Gilreath worked for a heating element company prior to starting G&L, and brought with him a wealth of knowledge and experience. He was passionate about always doing better, and this meant he was successful in designing and building his own specialized tubing mills from the ground up. “The company started with one custom tube mill and has grown from there. Mike Adams, our Technical Director, helped with the design and build of these mills. He continues to work with us today, to ensure we never lose sight of the importance of building a quality product,” says Eric Roetcisoender, President of G&L. “G&L was acquired by Philip Jones, Rob Adams, and John Salyards in 2005. This started a tremendous growth phase that resulted in acquiring the assets of Chicago-based company, Scientific Tube, Denver-based Mercury Tube, and additionally the purchase of new cutting equipment to support increasing customer demand. In 2019 G&L was acquired by O’Neal Industries (ONI), the largest family metal distribution, and tube and component manufacturer in the US. Being a part of the

O’Neal family of companies has brought a lot to the table for G&L, including financial security, collaboration opportunities with our sister companies, and ONI’s seasoned leadership team. “This year marks our 40-year anniversary, and we are very proud of our rich history as we look ahead,” discusses Eric.

New partner

Today, G&L is well positioned for a bright and stable future. The company provides solutions for customers across a variety of industries, including automotive, HVAC engineering and heating elements. As Eric confirms: “G&L largely serves OEM’s in tech-based industries. We are a welded tube producer of stainless steel, nickel, and titanium, with sizes ranging from .250” to 2.25” outside diameter. Some of the most popular alloys that we produce are the 300, 400, 600 and 800 series, along with titanium Grade 1 and Grade 2.” The company’s portfolio will soon feature an exciting new addition, as Eric reveals: “We are always looking for new opportunities to provide

value to our customer base. We have recently partnered with an innovative company called Rigidized Metals, Buffalo, NY, to develop highly engineered, enhanced surface welded tubing. Rigidized Metals produces the coil products that we will then manufacturer into tubing. The end product has the ability to offer a significantly better efficiency in heat transfer, and fits well with our innovative approach to the welded tube market. There’s much more to come on this one.” Fostering innovative thought through company culture is one of the ways that G&L Tube ensures its enduring success. People are central to the work G&L does, as Eric confirms: “The quality of our people determines the quality of our product. We believe very strongly in investing in our team members, and, with the backing of O’Neal industries, I’m proud to say we offer some of the best benefit packages in the industry. “We have felt the same growing pains as the rest of the manufacturing sector when it comes to labor shortages. We have had to work hard at creating and maintaining a culture within our organization that makes employees proud l 143

G&L Tube to be a part of the team. This past summer we invested in adding air conditioning to our manufacturing facility to show that we are serious about providing a safe and comfortable work environment that provides a career opportunity, not just a job.” Another aspect of G&L’s working culture that sets it apart from competitors is the senior management team. “We have an amazing group of professionals that are committed to the long-term success of the business. It is an honor to lead this team, including Tim Saylors, VP of Operations, Leslie Thompson, VP of Finance, Bill Henricks, Director of Sales, Brian Huelskamp, Operations Manager, Stephanie Elliott, HR Manager, Mike Adams, Technical Director, and Brian Smith, Engineering Manager. This group has over 120 years of combined tubing industry experience, meaning we can offer unparalleled customer support,” Eric enthuses. With such an incredible team, the future of G&L Tube certainly looks bright. As Eric concludes: “G&L is strategically positioned for future growth. We are aligning ourselves with key suppliers and customers to become an even stronger company. We know there are challenges that we will need to continually take head-on, such as staffing, global supply chain issues, geopolitical tensions and many other things that are out of our control. I am confident that this team will continue to overcome these challenges with the same poise and professionalism they have displayed these last several years. “What I see for us in the next three-to-five years is success. This team has proven they are ready for anything that comes our way, so we will continue to pursue growth in existing markets, as well as complementary adjacent markets that will help us further serve the welded tubing industry.” v

G&L Tube Services: Welded tubing manufacturer Quest Resource Management Group Founded in 2007, Quest are a national provider of comprehensive waste and recycling services that enable larger businesses to achieve their sustainability goals and improve operating efficiencies. We address a variety of waste streams and recyclables through our focus, expertise, and passion. Our company builds single-source, client-specific solutions and provides actionable data that tracks and reports our services and environmental results. Quest are active in the market via several brands, including InStream Environmental, which specializes in delivering services to the manufacturing industry.

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