Manufacturing Today Europe Issue 159 December 2018

Page 1


Issue 159



intensity Having invested in considerable infrastructure developments in 2018, SPI Lasers is ideally placed to launch innovative new products

Also in this issue: • Leadership• Smart factories • SCADA • AI • Cyber security • Health & safety




Chairman Andrew Schofield Managing Director Joe Woolsgrove Editor Libbie Hammond


Staff Writer Vladi Nikolov

Issue 159




Production Manager Fleur Daniels

Having invested in considerable infrastructure developments in 2018, SPI Lasers is ideally placed to launch innovative new products

Art Editor/Design David Howard Advertising Design Fiona Jolliffe Production Advertising Administrator Tracy Chynoweth Operations Director Philip Monument Operations Manager Natalie Griffiths Editorial Researchers Mark Cowles Anna Davies Tarj D’Silva Jeff Goldenberg Ben Richell Richard Saunders Kieran Shukri

Also in this issue: s ,EADERSHIPs 3MART FACTORIES s 3#!$! s !) s #YBER SECURITY s (EALTH SAFETY




Independent Sales Dave King

s this is the last MTE Editor’s page of 2018, I thought it was a good opportunity to say thank you to our readers. We’re heading into 2019, and over the past year, our pages have been used to report on such impressive companies, and our writers have spoken to such inspirational, visionary leaders, that I wanted to make sure you know how much we enjoy highlighting your stories of success. While there remains a lot of Brexit uncertainty and upheaval on the horizon, it is always a pleasure and a privilege to showcase the successes of manufacturers in the UK and further afield – your willingness to make investments, your intense belief in your employees and your ambitious plans for the future. There may be challenges ahead – but having read your stories, I am confident that manufacturing can handle whatever the future holds.

Exclusive Features Darren Jolliffe

May you all have a wonderful holiday season.

Advertising Sales Joe Balfour Natalie Brett Mark Cawston Theresa McDonald Gary Silk Web Sales Tim Eakins


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PS: I also wanted to highlight that if you have a story to tell, or require help with marketing materials, or have an email blast that you’d like sent out, the team at MTE is very keen to hear from you. We have a dedicated Exclusive Feature team who would be delighted to assist you in sharing your message with a wider audience. Do get in touch! ©2018 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. 1



Assistant Editor Will Daynes



4 Leadership In a volatile and uncertain world, the role of leaders is to develop a culture in which people can release, nurture and develop their full potential. By John Williams

6 Smart factories 5G is being heralded as the basis for a brighter future for factories. Brendan Lynch explains why

8 SCADA Opening up the SCADA system to the cloud can offer countless new applications for plant managers. Tobias Antius reports

10 AI Artificial intelligence and material physics are quickly converging to give a clearer picture of all the possible manufacturing options say Ersin Uzun and Sai Nelaturi


12 Cyber security As the IT landscape has changed, so too has the need for more stringent security measures. Etienne Greef highlights the need for new levels of protection

14 Health & safety Ed Barnes points out the dangers a workforce faces when moving around a manufacturing site and gives examples of safety measures that can be installed

16 Manufacturing news Updates and announcements from the manufacturing arena





18 18 Flexologic

Profiles 22 Agrifac 28 Lion Steel Equipment Ltd.


34 Beardow Adams 39 KP Group 42 Goodwin Steel Castings 44 What More UK 47 Faltec Europe Ltd 50 Bath ASU 53 Ventrex


56 Mettis Aerospace 60 AE Oscroft 64 Laser Wire Solutions 66 SPI Lasers


53 3



leadership To survive in a fast-moving and uncertain business environment, organisations require a particular type of leadership, far removed from the traditional top-down approach, writes John Williams



n his award-winning book ‘Leadership Agility’, Bill Joiner identified five categories of leadership, with around 90 per cent of managers being expert, achiever or catalyst. His research showed that: Experts accounted for around 45 per cent of managers. Passionate about problem-solving and improving their technical or functional expertise, they are also susceptible to taking a command-andcontrol approach and are not good at seeking the opinions of others. Achievers (~35 per cent) are strategic and relatively more collaborative, open to feedback and seeking buy-in from stakeholders when leading change initiatives. Catalyst leaders (~ten per cent) have a vision, which is not only to achieve strategic objectives but also to build an organisation that can respond well to

unexpected new developments, making them the most agile of the three. While the expert approach can be effective in environments where the pace of change is slow, it is not suited to much of today’s commercial world where changing circumstances require people from all parts of an organisation to contribute insights and expertise.

The growth mindset One way for leaders to help people to realise their full potential and to be willing to think in an innovative way is to encourage a ‘growth mindset’ among their staff. The concept of a growth mindset – and how it differs from a fixed mindset – originated with Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychology professor. She highlighted that people with a

fixed mindset, they question their ability and are worried about others outperforming them. This anxiety reduces an organisation’s ability to innovate. Although leaders can’t force people to change their way of thinking, they can encourage a growth mindset by creating the right workplace culture, where constructive openness and ‘straight talk’ is the norm. Their emphasis is on envisioning the future and leading people towards it while allowing them the freedom to get on with the job. Good leaders create an environment where there is scope to experiment, learn and improve.

Project Aristotle Evidence of the effectiveness of this kind of ‘safe’ environment can be found in the results of Google’s Project Aristotle, which set out to identify what criteria determined which of the company’s teams were high performing. After looking at 180 teams from across the organisation, the researchers could find nothing to indicate that a mix of specific personality traits, group size, skills or backgrounds made any difference; two teams might have nearly identical makeups and members in common but perform radically differently. What they did find, however, was that a feeling of ‘psychological safety’ within a team was the key to success. Other elements such as making sure teams had clear goals, having dependable colleagues and finding work meaningful were also important, but the standout feature was the presence – or absence – of psychological safety. In a team with high psychological safety, people feel safe to take risks around their teammates. They feel confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea. fixed mindset believe their intelligence and talent are static entities, whereas those with a growth mindset combine a love of learning with the resilience needed to achieve. Growth mindset people see improvement as a goal, and welcome the guidance and direction that frequent feedback provides. They are likely to be more focused on their tasks and less distracted by the need for comparison to others. For them, setbacks are treated like puzzles to be solved. In contrast, fixed mindset people find regular retrospectives that review performance and seek to find ways to improve, to be painful and threatening. Indeed, research from the NeuroLeadership Institute has shown that fixed mindset professionals focus on proving their ‘fixed’ ability, comparing themselves to their peers, and looking for acknowledgement of their existing skills. When people experience change with a

Great ideas can come from anywhere in the organisation Agile leaders understand people who are close to a problem usually have the best ideas about how to solve it. People require meaning and purpose to make work fulfilling The work of the Agile Leader is to be aware of what is in the hearts and minds of their colleagues, then to unify and align those values into inspired action. Emotion is a foundation to enhanced creativity and innovation Innovation happens best when we reduce our fears and ego defensiveness, thereby freeing our minds to imagine, create, connect, and explore the new and unknown with others in a non competitive way. That happens best when people feel psychologically safe and trust each other. In summary, in a volatile and uncertain world, the role of leaders is to develop a culture in which people can release, nurture and develop their full potential, enabling organisations to respond and adapt with a new level of flexibility. v • • •

Agile leadership Clearly, the actions of an organisation’s leaders are fundamental to establishing this kind of culture and behaviour – but culture cannot be imposed. Senior leaders cannot simply announce a change of culture, this is something that has to be built organically, based on actions not words. Agile business thinking holds that there are nine principles of agile leadership. These include: • Actions speak louder than words Agile leadership is about not only driving and promoting change, it is also about being the change. • Organisations improve through effective feedback Feedback is a critical ingredient of continuous improvement and without it, little or no learning would take place in the organisation.

John Williams John Williams is Chief Executive of the Agile Business Consortium. The Agile Business Consortium is the leading not-for-profit professional body for promoting and enabling business agility worldwide. It works with partners and alliances to promote agile practices, and to develop, curate and share agile resources with the wider world. For full details of the Nine Principles of Agile Leadership, visit and search for ‘leadership’. 5

Smart factories

Optimised, connected and



t is widely accepted that productivity levels in the UK are lagging behind those in Europe. According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), productivity fell by 0.4 per cent from the final quarter of last year. Declining productivity is a key issue that the UK government is trying to tackle, with improvements to digital infrastructure featuring as a core part of the solution. The government’s digital strategy details exactly how this will work, including outlining the role that 5G will play in driving innovation and productivity.

New technologies as a solution New technologies, including 5G, present a huge opportunity for the UK to improve national productivity, revive British industry and allow the UK to regain its position as a key player in international markets. For the manufacturing sector specifically, the introduction of 5G will enable the creation of smart factories, allowing businesses to increase their output by streamlining operations to optimise the manufacturing process


Brendan Lynch highlights why 5G is the basis for a brighter future for UK factories

from start to finish in the most cost-efficient and safe way possible. Early predictions suggest that manufacturing firms using 5G could see as much as a 1.5 – three per cent increase in productivity. When considering that in Q1 2018, manufacturing output in the UK stood at £44.6 billion, then just a one per cent increase in output could equate to an additional £1.78 billion over the course of the year. This would hold huge benefit for the UK economy, and proves that if new technologies are strategically and effectively adopted, it is possible to make a difference to productivity levels.

Smart Factories The manufacturing industry is in the early stages of a period of dramatic digital transformation, widely referred to as Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution. Smart manufacturing is a subset of Industry 4.0 and is defined by The

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as systems that are ‘fully-integrated, collaborative manufacturing systems that respond in real time to meet changing demands and conditions in the factory, in the supply network, and in customer needs.’ As technologies like 5G become increasingly integrated with traditional manufacturing systems, the manufacturing process will become intelligent and dynamic, able to self-optimise performance and operate automatically. The deployment of 5G will allow smart factories to become a functioning reality, representing a leap forward from traditional automation to a flexible, fully connected and agile system. The level of automation permitted by smart factories holds a multitude of benefits for the manufacturing industry, from the start to finish of the manufacturing process. Benefits include

real-time linkages to customer demand forecast, reliable quality, predictable production capacity and minimised cost of production. The heightened visibility, pace of production and efficiency allowed by smart factories are key drivers that will contribute to driving higher productivity levels in manufacturing.

Introducing the hybrid engineer As technological capabilities across the manufacturing sector continue to evolve, a different set of human skills will be needed to operate, manage and maintain the manufacturing process. In order to fully embrace the opportunities offered by Industry 4.0, the skills of the manufacturing workforce will need to adapt to incorporate advances in technology. The industry has recognised this need and is already implementing early stage planning to bridge the gap. The Heart of Worcestershire College, for example, recently opened a Centre of Digital Engineering to ensure that students are equipped with the technological skills needed to flourish in tomorrow’s world. New courses such as these mark an improvement to links between industry and education, meaning that sourcing hybrid engineers is not just a feasible reality, but also an achievable future for young people. The engineer of the future will need a hybrid skillset. They will need to be adept in operating the mechanical aspects of the factory and also able to

understand the complex technological networks of the smart factory. Only when the nuances of both the machine and technology aspects have been mastered and the factory is being run by the ‘hybrid engineer’ can the intelligent, agile manufacturing process of the future be truly optimised. Although the adoption of 5G in manufacturing presents a clear move towards more automated processes, it cannot be overlooked just how fundamental people still are to operations. As technology infiltrates every level of business, management teams will be burdened with the task of reviewing and realigning talent to support new processes and capabilities. Irrefutably, roles that can be replaced by robotics or AI machinery may be dispensed of, but there will be an emergence of new roles that emerge as a result of digitalisation. In order to minimise disruption and drive innovation, organisational change management will be crucial in the migration to a digitalised, smart factory. In a time of unprecedented change, the strategic, confident and agile leadership of businesses of all sizes is more important than ever before.

Embracing the connected future The impending roll-out of 5G presents one of the most exciting opportunities for the manufacturing sector in recent history. The development of smart factories opens the door to exponentially faster, more efficient production processes. As an industry, manufacturing sits at the cusp of a transformation and is ripe for revolution, but in order to capitalise on all the opportunities of

digital, cultivation must begin soon to ensure that the most fertile environment is in place for when the technology is ready to be rolled out. With the first 5G networks due to come online next year, we need to take action now. Cultivation doesn’t just begin and end with technology but encompasses people too. Operators must invest in building a workforce whose skills are tailor made for the smart factory and will maximise the operational efficiency of the connected factory. Before we can get Internet of Things firing on all cylinders, we need to get human intellectual capacity at its best. 5G presents an unprecedented opportunity for manufacturers to boost productivity levels and function more effectively in a rapidly shifting, highly competitive ecosystem. The manufacturing sector is spearheading innovation in the adoption of new technology for economic gain. If organisations act now to capitalise on the 5G opportunity, they will be opening their doors to a brighter, better connected and more prosperous future. v

Brendan Lynch Brendan Lynch is a Board Member of the Worcestershire 5G Consortium. A team of 5G and Industry 4.0 experts lead this project – working with Worcestershire LEP, the Consortium comprises: Worcestershire County Council, 5GIC at University of Surrey, AWTG, Huawei, O2, BT and Malvern Hills Science Park. With local businesses Worcester Bosch, and Yamazaki Mazak it will focus on ways to increase industrial productivity through preventative and assisted maintenance using robotics, big data analytics and AR over 5G. 7



ovotek was part of the team of companies that initiated PCbased SCADA back in the 1980s. While it was revolutionary in the automation industry, plants have changed enormously since then, so SCADA systems must reflect this. The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) means that there are far more connected devices around the plant, all of which need monitoring by SCADA systems. With increased connectivity comes the need for a new generation of SCADA system that is more flexible and innovative. If plants are investing in new devices to monitor the performance of their production against key performance indicators (KPIs), then they need a connected system in place to help them to measure this across the plant. This is where the concept of a system of systems (SoS) has emerged over the last decade. One of the most widely accepted definitions of this concept comes from Popper et al in 2004, which is ‘a collection of task-oriented or dedicated systems that pool their resources and capabilities together to obtain a new, more complex ‘meta-system’ which offers more functionality and performance than simply the sum of the constituent systems.’ It’s easy to see how this relates to the modern plant. Increased connected devices, more data and better monitoring across a plant will offer improvements for the plant manager. But the key is connectivity. Current SCADA systems were designed for more closed and controlled industrial environments, but many industries now require more data points to be monitored and controlled, meaning that self-contained systems are no longer viable. Many plant managers now want to integrate their own systems with enterprise systems and real-world applications to improve their monitoring performance. “We expect that the next generation SCADA/DCS systems will be an integral part of a large ecosystem of people, devices, and processes that need to collaborate in order to achieve goal-driven targets,” explain German academics Stamatis Karnouskos and Armando Walter Colombo. Previously, before the development of the cloud, connecting systems to other systems on the factory floor never had great success. However, the cloud has made this much more accessible. At a much lower cost than an on-site solution,


The new approach to


Times have changed since the 1980s. Tobias Antius explains why SCADA systems need to develop to meet the needs of the connected plant

plant managers can access new functions and systems through applications in the cloud. However, they must be using a more modern SCADA system that can enable them to do this. At Novotek, we recently integrated a standard GE HMI and SCADA system with Amazon Alexa voice control and Philips Hue to change the colour of the lights in the control room or the factory floor. This was to show our customers that with a modern SCADA system that can connect to the cloud, not only can they use additional industrial control systems, but also applications in the cloud that they never would have dreamed of for industrial applications. While there are endless ways of using these applications, the integration of Philips Hue and Alexa showed one example of how increased connectivity can improve monitoring. The Philips Hue bulbs can be installed on machines or above

screens, changing colour to show performance indicators at a glance. A red bulb could be a visual indicator of a machine’s poor output and could attract the attention of someone working on the shop floor far faster than the operator in the control room monitoring the screens. This would lead to the problem being resolved in a more timely fashion, reducing the risk of downtime if the problem had gone unnoticed. The Alexa system can be used by the plant manager as they walk into the control room. Simply by asking the Alexa module about the status of the plant, the plant manager could receive a verbal briefing of the most important KPIs or whether the last shift left any important notes for the handover period. As it is a verbal system, it also frees up time for the operator to continue with other tasks in the meantime,

choices of applications that could take their plant control systems to the next level. With Alexa and Philips Hue just a couple of examples of how non-industrial applications can improve plant monitoring, opening the SCADA system up to the cloud can offer countless new applications for plant managers. While the SCADA systems of the 1980s may now seem very basic with these possibilities in mind, it’s important that plant managers reconsider their monitoring applications and look towards the future of plant control. v

Tobias Antius

increasing productivity and giving them more regular updates on the plant’s function. The integration with Alexa and Philips Hue is only one example of how SCADA systems can be brought into the modern age to fit with the needs of increasingly interconnected plants. To help more plant managers achieve this, Novotek has partnered with Kepware to ensure that all its SCADA systems are able to be connected to whatever application is required. The systems support over 1000 devices and have over 100,000 licences in operation across a wide range of industries, meaning that the plant manager’s needs can be met. Plant managers must also consider that if they have old, outdated machinery, they should work with an experienced SCADA provider who is able to integrate their machines with the modern SCADA software. By doing this, they can remove

the cost of procuring new equipment simply so it can be connected to the monitoring system. Using a SCADA system that can be connected to create a SoS approach opens a realm of possibilities for the plant manager. They could integrate cameras, access systems or specialised analytics, which would all be connected and controlled through the SCADA system. This allows plant managers to extend the monitoring of their plant much more easily than before. Without the need to connect new interfaces or configure the different system to communicate with the existing SCADA, it gives the plant manager much more freedom and flexibility to try out new applications. However, none of this is possible without the right SCADA system. Without the connectivity and interoperability of a modern SCADA system, plant managers are greatly restricted in their

Tobias Antius is CEO of industrial control and automation specialist Novotek. Novotek UK and Ireland delivers industrial IT and automation solutions based on standard products and components to help industrial, energy and utilities companies to control and optimise their production processes. The company is listed on the Stockholm stock exchange and is the sole authorised distributor of GE Digital in the UK. 9


Shaping the

future M

anufacturing is undergoing a profound transformation based on new design technologies that couple 3D representations of highly complex structures with artificial intelligence, model-based reasoning, and data-driven learning. Design representations of the future will be hybrid, fusing complex geometric information with physics and machine-learning models. At the same time, we are seeing the introduction of intricate new materials into a broad range of manufacturing processes. As design technologies struggle to keep up with this rapid pace of change, manufacturing capabilities are driving the evolution of design innovation. For example, hybrid manufacturing that allows seamless interleaving of additive and subtractive processes are already available, but there are very few designs that truly harness these technologies.


Ersin Uzun and Sai Nelaturi explore how artificial intelligence and smart manufacturing are driving advances in product design

Standard computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) software and product lifecycle management (PLM) systems are still useful for describing design geometries and materials. But the use of aging legacy tools and materials causes manufacturers to think very narrowly about their designs, limiting their ability to innovate. The result is that legacy designers and manufacturers are trapped by their current software tools that cannot scale up to meet the escalating levels of hardware and process complexity. Computer-aided design tools and processes have reached their fundamental limits, requiring next-generation design programmes that can propose breakthrough concepts, shapes and structures, which are impossible to imagine through the use of our current tools, much less by a human individual acting alone.

Work at PARC is focused on empowering product designers to create designs that exploit the geometric and material complexities enabled by additive and hybrid manufacturing. This new approach aims to streamline the production process from initial mock-ups to final parts production. The goal is to harness the wave of new materials, artificial intelligence technologies and fabrication methods to enable designs that are unimaginable today. This approach has the ability to cater to objects with billions of geometric attributes such as jet engines or gas turbines and can automatically optimise shape and material layout along with some design parameters for an object and determine the best settings for fabrication. It is humanly impossible to think through the combinatorics of such material and structural complexity. Therefore, design software must include

artificial intelligence (AI) as a problem-solving team mate. The coupling of 3D representations of highly complex structures with AI, model-based reasoning, and data-driven decision-making is a fundamental innovation required to realise the next generation of design software systems. We envision that the future of manufacturing will be AI-enabled with hybrid design representations, hybrid processes and hybrid materials. Hybrid manufacturing approaches will combine subtractive manufacturing and additive manufacturing techniques by incorporating the widespread use of 3D printing and design tools. Additive and subtractive manufacturing each offer certain advantages and disadvantages that can be exploited by a hybrid manufacturing process planner. For example, a hybrid process can first additively manufacture complex product features. But while printing the design, it may require some support structures to facilitate the process. Later, the AI engine can automatically direct the system to subtract those support structures without introducing too much complexity. In other words, an AI planner can ask an additive process to deliberately add excess material knowing that a future subtractive process will remove this material. This addition and deletion of excess material may be the key step to making the design manufacturable. More complex parts can be fabricated by interleaving additive and subtractive processes intelligently; such parts may be impossible to manufacture solely with additive and subtractive processes. We expect a similar adoption of hybrid materials. For instance, to create a composite layer of materials with current systems, each layer must be designed separately

and then stitched together. This complexity creates a restrictive pain point requiring extensive design planning that drives up costs. By contrast, 3D printing systems today are moving towards being able to fabricate smoothly, gradient material properties from hard to soft, which standard PLM software simply cannot represent. PARC’s digital graded material fabrication technology is revolutionary because it enables what is known as voxel-level control over material composition, which enables the production and optimisation of digital gradients in complex objects. It is pre-programmed to work with a range of materials and composites, with specific tools integrated for additive and hybrid manufacturing. Manufacturers are beginning to leverage the computational power accessible today via cloud computing and ever faster CPUs in advanced design, modelling, and production. They can also take helpful cues from the animation industry, which deploys extreme processing power to render highly complex animated scenes. In a similar manner, material scientists can now apply animated computer graphics to render a high-resolution CAT scan of a patient’s femur bone, for example. 3D printers can then replicate the resolution of that specific bone structure to manufacture it accurately. We can also inspire fresh thinking by adopting AI planning tools and model-based reasoning systems. No legacy computer-aided design system today can automatically determine how to set up a tools platform and connect that geometry to modelbased AI and planning. But future manufacturing systems will take in diverse 3D geometries to suggest extensive options for the creation of cost-

effective designs with existing tools. In this way, we can fully grasp the material properties of original product designs and thus understand all the physics that will be required for manufacturing. To succeed, we will need to enhance the role of the human engineer by having our tools represent, plan, and manage complex, graded geometries and multiple-length scales for materials, while asking the engineer to include domain-specific expertise and experience to curate designs efficiently. Doing this effectively will require incorporating material and manufacturing uncertainty into the physics analysis of all functional parts. Manufacturers today face a clear need to move beyond current siloed design tools. The industry’s increasing levels of complexity will require smarter systems that can guide manufacturing decisions much earlier in the design process. What’s needed is an integrated view of all possible manufacturing options, materials and parts at the start of the design process. Artificial intelligence and material physics are quickly converging to give us that clearer picture by incorporating necessary processes and parts to drive real manufacturing innovations – at the earliest possible stages of a product’s design. v

Ersin Uzun

Sai Nelaturi

Ersin Uzun and Sai Nelaturi Ersin Uzun is Vice President and Director of the System Sciences Laboratory (SSL), and Sai Nelaturi manages the Computation for Automation in Systems Engineering area in the System Sciences Lab at PARC. PARC, a Xerox company, is a renowned Open Innovation company that has pioneered many technology platforms – from the Ethernet and laser printing to the GUI and ubiquitous computing. Parc provides custom R&D services, technology, expertise, best practices, and intellectual property, creating new business options, accelerating time to market, augmenting internal capabilities, and reducing risk for clients. 11

Cyber security



As Etienne Greeff explains, the IIoT explosion is coming, and enterprises need to protect themselves



n the past few years, IT has changed in a near immeasurable way. From cloud platforms, to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), and mobile technology enabling remote working, organisations are harnessing technology to drive innovation and growth using big data and AI. Alongside this, the Internet of Things (IoT) is also having an impact on business. A key question, though, is how do we go about securing these aspects of business? A rapid shift in security thinking is required, and at its forefront must be the idea that there is no longer a traditional corporate perimeter. Instead, IT leaders must now focus on the endpoint to effectively mitigate risk, and work within the new and rapidly evolving threat landscape they find themselves in. This does, however, come with its own set of challenges.

A new threat model Unfortunately for the enterprise, the easiest way to infect a network with ransomware, steal data, or go on a crypto-mining spree, is via the endpoint. The first port of call for an attacker, these endpoints are now becoming ground zero for major attacks on enterprises worldwide, with reports revealing that malware-infected endpoints have increased over the previous 12 months for 53 per cent of companies. What do these endpoints all have in common? It’s that they are invariably controlled by the weakest link in a company; its employees. Phishing, therefore, is perhaps unsurprisingly being seen as the modus operandi for spreading malware and cultivating credentials on the way to harvesting corporate data. In an incredible 93 per cent of data breaches, phishing has been involved

in some shape or form. Phishing isn’t favoured all the time, however. Brute force decryption of passwords and automated ‘stuffing’ of credentials are also used to crack accounts. This isn’t taking into account the newer forms of file-less malware being used to get around the more traditional endpoint filters – these kinds of attacks rose by a disturbing 94 per cent in the first half of this year.

The Internet of Threats is here What this amounts to is that organisations must get a good grip on endpoint protection through the proper allocation of cybersecurity resources. There is, however a bigger threat looming. This summer, around 60 per cent of Black Hat USA delegates said they were more concerned about IoT security now than they were in 2017. With Gartner estimating that that there will be over

20 billion ‘things’ in use by 2020, with over seven billion in business operations alone – it doesn’t take a huge leap of faith to see why. Don’t forget that these ‘things’ can range from IoT devices designed to boost efficiency on the factory floor, to smart CCTV cameras and factory maintenance systems. Even smart home security devices such as door access systems and home security cameras come under this umbrella. Together, the corporate attack surface will become larger than ever before. Many of these devices are often not designed with security in mind and many IoT manufacturers might not even have software patching processes and vulnerability management programmes in place at all. Yet these endpoints are always on, can be connected to a corporate network, and become a nice open door through which attackers can infiltrate. Many of them may not have even been approved by IT departments. That smart TV in a factory boardroom or staff room? It may well be covertly recording any and all conversations taking place – corporate espionage at its finest. Spyware, however, isn’t the only threat to exposed IoT endpoints. Devices could equally be hijacked to become an access point into the wider corporate network or become a remotely controlled industrial sabotage tool. They could even be compromised and become conscripts to launch DDoS attacks, crypto-mining and spam campaigns, amongst other examples. Whilst this may not necessarily harm compromised organisations, the consequences are huge. The Mirai botnet attacks in 2016 were made possible through this very process – devices were secured only with factory default log-ins. Mirai resulted in DDoS attacks which took down Twitter, Reddit, Netflix and others. The FBI even went as far as to issue an IoT security alert, with a warning that everything from NAS devices to routers and IP cameras were at risk, with those in developed nations being classified as ‘particularly attractive targets because they allow access to many business websites that block traffic from suspicious or foreign IP addresses.’

The new security debt What this boils down to is that when an IoT device is bought for the enterprise without adequate testing and due diligence, cybersecurity debt is inherited from the vendor’s own cost savings and short cuts. This quickly generates a lot of monetary equivalent deficit, as it is multiplied by hundreds or thousands of IoT endpoints across the organisation – leaving the business with a real problem. This isn’t simply scaremongering; this is a real-world problem – 21 per cent of those same

Black Hat USA attendees claimed to have found an IoT device within their organisations that had been compromised or involved in a breach. So, what can IT security leaders do? Prior research is crucial. Research your new IoT vendors – especially their policy on vulnerability disclosure and management. Luckily, the BSI has introduced a kitemark for IoT and IIoT devices which includes enterprise and ‘enhanced security’ categories. This may well lead to an improved base standard of security across the entire company, making it easier for IT buyers to spot the best devices from the companies that adhere to this new set of standards. Government is also doing its part, with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) providing guidance for developers. This doesn’t, unfortunately, do anything about the already crippling strain placed on IT security teams. The IoT revolution will greatly increase the patch workload, whilst advanced endpoint security features, such as creating sandboxes, require hands-on time to configure and manage – time that these teams do not have. So, what to do? The answer could be outsourcing security management, leaving IT teams to perform more business-critical activities, rather than focusing on an increasingly dispersed and growing endpoint estate. Increasingly, this is the best method to minimise security risk amid an explosion of endpoints, new and strict European data protection regulations, and boardroom noise that demands digital transformation. v

Etienne Greeff Etienne Greeff is CTO and co-founder, SecureData, a leading cybersecurity services and solutions provider operating throughout the UK and selected overseas markets with revenues approaching £50m and over 210 employees. The group provides a comprehensive range of professional, support and managed cybersecurity services that assess security risk, detect security breaches, protect customer environments and respond to specific security incidents. SecureData’s consultancy arm SensePost includes some of the world’s most preeminent security experts who in addition to advising customers, participate in defining security standards, provide regular research for the benefit of the industry and advise national governments and defence organisations. 13

Health and safety


control Ed Barnes discusses what site managers can do to minimise the risk of accidents through the use of effective transport management and what new technologies and product advancements exist to support this

Duty of care


he manufacturing sector is made up of a range of diverse industries, with an estimated 29.2 million workers across Europe1. It includes a vast number of activities and production techniques, from small-scale enterprises using traditional production techniques to very large organisations manufacturing complex products such as cars or aircrafts. Whatever the size of a manufacturing facility, keeping workers safe as they move around the site is an important consideration that can sometimes be overlooked.


All employers have a duty of care to ensure their workplace facilities are safe for employees and visitors. This includes external areas such as car parks, roadways and storage areas. It should be a priority for any business to make sure those working on site have the necessary precautions to protect them against danger. Failure to maintain a safe working environment could result in citations and penalties. In order to comply with health and safety regulations, regular maintenance and monitoring of facilities is needed.

Effective planning A manufacturing site must be organised and structured to ensure both vehicles and pedestrians using it can do so safely. Effectively planning your transport operations

throughout your site is vital in order to minimise the opportunity for on-site vehicle incidents.

Separating pedestrians and vehicles In the planning stages, it is important to consider whether there is sufficient separation between pedestrians and site vehicles. Considerations should include separate entry and exits, specific pedestrian walkways, clearly labelled crossings and barriers. Once these are implemented it is important to ensure that these separations are adhered to.

Traffic calming measures Installing traffic calming measures, such as the Seton Speed Bump, can provide site managers with the reassurance that their site is safer, helping

report any hazards that arise as soon as possible so they can be swiftly dealt with.

Employee responsibility

of potential accidents. Offering designated workforce and visitor parking away from the site is one way to achieve this, as well as providing offsite storage areas so that deliveries do not have to use the site.

Employee capabilities Site managers should make sure all employees are authorised and able to operate the different vehicles and machinery on site. Part of this is ensuring the relevant training has been completed, and where a gap is identified, training is provided before the worker can operate the vehicle or machinery. Controlling access to vehicles is an important aspect of a site manager’s role.

Install a one-way system

Employees are often moving around a site throughout their shift. They must take responsibility for ensuring that they are always compliant with the regulations governing the site and that they do not inadvertently create a hazard. Blocking an emergency exit without realising, or taking a ‘shortcut’ across a site to save time, are just two examples of ways employ actions can create unnecessary additional danger. To aid employees, site managers should ensure that Safety Awareness posters are clearly visible around their site, to inform employees of all their responsibilities.

What if an accident occurs? Sometimes accidents are unavoidable, so if a worker sustains an injury, you can make sure you are prepared to handle it in the best way possible. You must provide adequate first aid facilities and make a record of certain accidents, injuries and dangerous occurrences in an ‘accident book’. It is necessary to carry out a risk assessment and decide how many first aiders are needed, as well as what first aid equipment you should have. Employers are legally obligated to report major injuries, near-miss incidents, such as collapsed scaffolding, to the local authority. v

Turning or reversing vehicles are one of the major causes of fatal accidents on manufacturing sites2. As such, site managers should consider implementing a one-way system or turning circle to help minimise or eliminate the danger. it to be compliant, while ensuring those working and visiting the site are travelling at a suitable speed suitable at all times.

Limited number of vehicles Limiting the number of vehicles permitted to the site will automatically reduce the number

Signage Site managers need to ensure that people on site know and understand the traffic rules and routes. To help achieve this, effective and prominent signage is a must, allowing workers and visitors to see clearly the safest way of navigating and working on site.

Reporting of hazards A manufacturing site can be a very busy environment, with deliveries coming in, parts being moved around the site, and completed products leaving. Not to mention workers arriving and leaving for different shifts. With this ever changing environment, hazards can arise at any time. This could be anything from an obstruction, to a patch of ice in cold weather, or surface water after rain. It is vital that managers encourage employees to continually be alert and

Ed Barnes Ed Barnes is Traffic Innovation Manager at workplace health and safety expert and supplier, Seton. If you need to manage safety on your manufacturing site Seton can provide a range of solutions including the new Seton Speed Bump which will help you to encourage responsible driving, benefitting you and your employees. 1 index.php/Manufacturing_statistics_-_NACE_Rev._2 2 information/reversing.htm 15

News in brief Quality Metal Products Quality Metal Products (QMP) is one of the UK’s leading Trade only manufacturers of steel storage and materials handling products. Its 110,000sq ft manufacturing facility is based in the heart of the industrial Black Country and boasts some of the most sophisticated lightsout and robotic machinery available worldwide. The company was established in 1959, and will be celebrating 60 years of manufacturing in 2019. QMP employs 87 members of staff on site, spread between the manufacturing and production departments, accounts, dispatch, sales and marketing. Since acquiring the business in 2012, the management team has led an extensive programme of investment which has seen over six million pounds invested into new steel punching, panel bending and robotic welding machinery. The most recent investment has been into a large extension into a new warehouse facility which will allow QMP to increase levels of stocked products and to add further best-selling products to the catalogue of stocked items.

Top 3D tech

French 3D print service bureau Erpro Group has announced its first partnership in France with digital 3D manufacturing company, Carbon, following the installation of a Carbon M2 3D Printer. As the only service provider in France with Carbon’s M2 3D Printer, the partnership will enable Erpro Group to further increase its capability to address large-series production for customers globally and extend its current portfolio of advanced industrial 3D printers. Located within the Erpro 3D Factory – one of the world’s only 3D printing factories dedicated to mass production projects – the M2 is expected to accelerate the adoption of 3D printing for high-volume production. A key advantage of the partnership provides Erpro Group with direct access to Carbon experts, working closely to fully optimise the use of the M2 across a multitude of industries – from automotive to medical, through to luxury packaging and jewellery applications. In addition, Erpro Group will have access to the latest material developments from Carbon. This is being realised already with the EPU 40 material, which is already in use at Erpro 3D Factory, offering unrivalled elasticity and resilience. Its combination of tear strength, energy return, and elongation makes it perfect for cushioning, impact absorption, vibration isolation, gaskets, and seals.


Spanish expansion

Thanks to a growing demand for KeyKeg and UniKeg, Lightweight Containers is opening a fifth production line, located in Guadalajara, Spain. The Guadalajara plant will be state-of-the-art, with the latest blow moulding technology and machinery, as well as the latest automation and robotics technology. The plant in Spain will support the large customer base the company has in Spain and other parts of Southern Europe, with construction expected to be completed in time for the plant to be ready to produce in mid-2019. Anita Veenendaal, Chief Executive Officer of Lightweight Containers, says: “We see service as a crucial element of our success. We aim to provide the best service, keeping stock as close to our customers as possible. The new location and its extra capacity will further improve this service and reduce environmental footprint significantly.” With the opening of the production line in Guadalajara, Lightweight Containers has a global presence of five production lines and ten warehouses. However, it doesn’t end there for the company, as in 2019 another line will be opened elsewhere in Southern Europe in order to keep up with demands and so that Lightweight Containers can keep offering customers the best possible service and flexibility.

Grand funding for Shropshire firm After securing a substantial grant from the European Regional Development (ERDF)’s Business Growth Programme, Fabweld Steel Products (FSP) is aiming to grow its turnover by £1 million and create new jobs. The business was awarded £30,000 as part of an overall £94,500 investment to improve production process and systems at its factory in Telford, Shropshire. FSP, which designs and manufactures fabricated steel access covers and associated drainage products, says the programme of work will result in greater efficiency and manufacturing capacity and should help it win new contracts within the construction industry. That will lead to the creation of five new roles including a sales administrator, laser operator and welder/fabricators. FSP Managing Director Richard Hilton commented on the difference the funding will make to the company: “The previous layout created bottlenecks in production so the restructure will simplify and speed up processes. We will be introducing new handling equipment and increasing our internal storage capacity. “Carrying out this programme of enhancements will give us more capacity to win new contracts and allow us to respond more quickly to customer demands. Without the grant funding, we would have had to carry out the work in stages. This wouldn’t have been as effective and would have reduced the opportunities that a quicker production time will bring. “An increased turnover and market share will ultimately lead to a more sustainable future for the business, our staff and our supply chain,” he added. The Enterprise Telford team at the Marches Growth Hub Telford & Wrekin supported FSP in its grant application.

manufacturing news Hot stuff

Once hot-forming was a technique that helped protect knights in armour from the crashing blows of their rivals. Now, Ford is applying a cutting-edge version of the same technology to help make its cars safer than ever. In the first fully automated hot-forming process, Ford has modernised ancient blacksmith techniques, using furnaces, robots and lasers to craft car parts that help keep drivers and passengers safe. “We are building on techniques used to strengthen steel for thousands of years, incorporating modern materials and automation to speed and refine the hot-forming process,” explained Dale Wishnousky, vice president, Manufacturing, Ford of Europe. “The resulting boron steel safety cell helps to make the all-new Focus one of our safest vehicles ever.”

Significant contract for Teeside company Mech-Tool Engineering Ltd (MTE) has successfully secured a contract with one of Norway’s leading engineering companies. The contract has been awarded by Aibel AS and will see MTE providing its world-class, bespoke products including fire and blast wall panels as well as wind and heatshields. The products will be designed and manufactured by the company to be deployed on Equinor’s oil field Snorre Expansion Project (SEP). Located in the North Sea, the offshore vessel was originally set up as the Snorre Project and was expected to retrieve oil for Norway over a period of three years. The project, renamed the Snorre Expansion Project, has recently received an investment of NOK 19 billion (£1.7 billion) leading to the expected lifespan vastly increasing to 30 years. It is assumed that Norwegian businesses have contributed 80% of the investment. The SEP belongs to Equinor – formerly known as Statoil – with Aibel AS being contracted to provide engineering, procurement, construction, installation and commissioning (EPCIC) for the offshore vessel. Illustration Equinor Statoil

Boron steel is the strongest steel used in the auto industry – within the car’s safety cell. This helps to create a survival space in the event of an accident. In addition, the use of boron, also found in skyscrapers, helps the new model to achieve a 40 per cent improvement in the car’s capability to withstand head-on crashes. The hot-forming line – fully integrated within the company’s Saarlouis Vehicle Assembly Plant in Germany – was built as part of a recent €600 million investment in the Saarlouis facility. Hot forming is an integral part of the production of the all-new Ford Focus that was awarded a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. Hot-formed steel pieces are subjected to temperatures of up to 930° C; unloaded by robots into a hydraulic press that has a closing force up to 1150 tonnes; and then shaped and cooled in just three seconds. The boron steel is so strong by this point that a laser beam hotter than lava is used to precision-cut each piece into its final shape.

The intelligent enterprise Zebra Technologies Corporation has announced the results of its second annual ‘Intelligent Enterprise Index’, a global survey that measures where companies are on the journey to becoming an ‘intelligent enterprise’ – one that connects the physical and digital worlds to drive innovation through real-time guidance, data-powered environments and collaborative mobile workflows. By scoring more than 75 points on the overall Index, the number of companies defined as an ‘intelligent enterprise’ doubled to ten per cent in 2018. The Index measures to what extent companies today are meeting the criteria that define today’s Intelligent Enterprise. Overall, the Index reveals year-over-year growth of Internet of Things (IoT) deployment and investment, highlighting new momentum as enterprises expect less resistance to adoption and increasingly acknowledge IoT solutions as a core component for driving future growth across their organisations. “As new technologies continue to transform the front line of business, real-time data-driven signals at the edge of operations are empowering front-line workers with the right information to optimise actions and outcomes,” said Tom Bianculli, Chief Technology Officer, Zebra Technologies. “Based on our second annual Index, it’s clear that more companies acknowledge the value of leveraging IoT strategies, and they will continue to propel adoption and investment in the future.” 17



Recognising the benefits of additive manufacturing technology, KLM Engineering and Maintenance (KLM E&M) has invested in stateof-the-art solutions from Leapfrog 3D Printers

Professional 3D printer



he aircraft repair industry faces many engineering challenges that standard solutions cannot address. KLM E&M is one of the largest aircraft maintenance providers affiliated to an airliner in the world, and it works with over 5000 staff in this field alone, all working on various tasks from prototyping and testing components to ensuring that all planes are fit for travel. The main goal is to certify quality, while keeping costs low. To better address the challenges that it was facing, KLM E&M adopted 3D printing to enhance its operations. It uses 3D printing to test new designs and for tooling, as the versatility that 3D printing offers, such as speed and cost reduction, is unparalled in the market. Having more control over the development stages in all key areas means that KLM E&M can provide a complete end-to-end quality assurance system. This also includes rapid prototyping tasks, where tooling and components need to be designed, built and tested internally without any delays in the company’s operations. 3D printing is a technology that has rapidly developed to achieve those needs. The biggest challenge faced by KLM E&M is the issue of unplanned repairs. Unplanned repairs occur over 50 per cent of the time during inspection in a given year in the industry. This means that in most cases, companies are forced to react to this challenges or have a large inventory of spare parts.

Leapfrog 3D Printers Left and below: KLM 3D printed tool holder for Fluorescent Penetrant Inspections on aircraft engines

Given that a standard passenger plane has over 30,000 components that at any point can fail, due to damage or obsolescence, KLM E&M needed the abilty to quickly access spare parts or test components, in order to avoid costly delays for its clients. Additive manufacturing was the direction that KLM E&M took to gain an advantage over its competitors. Five years ago, KLM bought a Leapfrog Creatr to improve its rapid prototyping lead times for internal tooling. It used the Creatr for tooling and to print cabin components to test before production, and this was the first step that the business took to address the issue of unplanned maintenance. Additive manufacturing gave KLM an advantage that improves lead times across the company, and after using it for years, KLM reported that it was extremely satisfied with its 3D printer. Thanks to the success of the first installation, KLM recently purchased Leapfrog’s latest machine, the Bolt Pro, to further develop its production capabilities. KLM understood that Leapfrog built upon the great foundation laid by the Creatr series and improved upon it. The Bolt Pro has

two independent extruders that can print with two materials and the ability to print two identical parts at once; this feature allows KLM to faster depoly its parts and tools across the company. Additionally, the Bolt Pro has the ability to print with high-temperature engineering materials that KLM needs for its operations, which requires parts that are highly durable. Mr Ottevanger, Process Engineer at KLM stated: “The Bolt Pro is much more reliable than the first 3D printers on the market. Though 3D printing it is still not entirely plug and play, the majority of the prints produced by the Bolt Pro are flawless the first time.The dimensional accuracy of the prints is very good.” Implementing 3D printing is one of the most cost-effective means of eliminating long lead times in manufacturing. Companies that outsource spare parts face issues in the supply chain which can cause delays, but moving rapid prototyping tasks in-house at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods like CNC machining adds to the competitive advantage for KLM E&M. Furthermore, having an in-house 3D printer

means proprietary designs can remain within the company. “I certainly recommend the Bolt Pro because of its rigidity, its large print bed and the two print heads which double the print speed once more similar parts are needed. I think the Leapfrog Bolt Pro is very suitable for engineering in prototyping and even producing small series of plastic parts,” added Mr Ottevanger. Leapfrog 3D Printers is a manufacturer of professional 3D printers based in the Netherlands. Founded in 2012 by Martijn Otten, it aims to design and manufacture printers that give the ultimate 3D printing experience. Martijn Otten is also the Managing Director of AV Flexologic, a global leader in high-end, high-precision, and high-quality flexo plate mounting equipment, plate making equipment and supporting equipment; and MD of Allflexo b.v. which specialises in the production and distribution of products for the flexographic printing industry. 19


FOCUS ON: 22 Agrifac

28 Lion Steel Equipment Ltd. 34 Beardow Adams 39 KP Group 42 Goodwin Steel Castings 44 What More UK 47 Faltec Europe Ltd 50 Bath ASU 53 Ventrex 56 Mettis Aerospace 60 AE Oscroft 64 Laser Wire Solutions 66 SPI Lasers






revolutionised Agrifac Machinery’s inherent innovativeness has enabled the manufacturer of sprayers and sugar beet harvesters to launch game-changing technologies for the more efficient and environmentally-friendly spraying of plants all over the world




he last eight years have seen Agrifac Machinery catapult its growth figures, as the manufacturer of innovative machinery for the agricultural industry has experienced an unheard-of 600 per cent increase in turnover during the said period. Formed just before World War II under a different name, Agrifac spent much of the time since the 1950s-building field spraying machines. In 1986, the company released its first self-propelled machine. Four years ago, the business was acquired by the Exel Group, which has since invested a significant amount of money to stimulate Agrifac’s further growth. 23

Agrifac Sales and Marketing Director, Roeland Coopman

Wiejelo Equipment Annually, Wiejelo Equipment supplies thousands of automatic lubrication and fire-suppression systems for on and off-road equipment. The strength of Wiejelo is its technical knowledge, experience and dedication. Wiejelo trains OEM employees to carry out installation of their systems themselves, but Wiejelo can also do the installations for the OEM. Our worldwide presence ensures a high-level aftersales service. Best quality machines deserve best quality product installation and service. Almost all Agrifac machines are factory fitted with a lubrication system supplied by Wiejelo Equipment. Besides agricultural equipment manufacturers, Wiejelo Equipment also supplies manufacturers of port, earthmoving, recycling and transport equipment.

Agrifac’s new factory in the Dutch city of Steenwijk

Part of Exel Group’s investment covered the construction of a brand-new factory in the Dutch city of Steenwijk, which has given Agrifac the necessary room to increase its production capacity and double its turnover in the coming years. “The new plant was built according to the four core principles we believe in – efficiency, economy, ergonomy, and ecology,” comments the company’s Sales and Marketing Director, Roeland Coopman. “It allowed us to bring the various facilities we had scattered across multiple locations under one roof, thus optimising our work environment and reducing our overall costs. In addition, we have installed solar panels to fulfil our sustainability vision.” What is unique about Agrifac, is the fact that the company develops the majority of its products in their entirety itself. “To give you an

example, 30 years ago, our engineering team designed our StabiloPlus chassis, which remains the base of all of our machines to this day, having proven itself across a range of products we have created,” Roeland states. “In addition, we tend to equip our sprayers and harvesters with the latest hi-tech innovations to keep ourselves ahead of the competition. We are now getting ready to introduce predictive maintenance and supply our machines with nearly 200 sensors that will monitor critical aspects of their performance and allow us to glean a lot more data that will help us detect any anomalies in a timely fashion.” The latest sprayer in Agrifac’s portfolio is what the business calls ‘the capacity monster’ Condor Endurance. “It is mounted with an 8000-litre polyethylene tank, giving farmers the 25


Condor Endurance

A happy Condor user

Motrac Industries Motrac Industries started in 1954, importing tractors and motors to the Netherlands. Nearly seven decades later, Motrac has become a system integrator for complete hydraulic drives and systems. You can find its systems in the fields of earthmoving and mining, and in the maritime, automotive, industrial and agriculture markets all over the world. Motrac has a long-standing collaboration, dating back to the 1980’s, with one of the leading agricultural machine builders in the world, Agrifac Machinery. Motrac is proud to work with Agrifac and states: “Growing isn’t something you can do on your own: we need one another.”

opportunity to do a lot more work in less time, because they do not have to refill it too often. What is more, due to the smooth material and the design of the tank, no rest liquid stays behind in the tank or on the tank wall, meaning that optimal use of its capacity is easily made,” Roeland explains. “One strategic decision we have taken in the past year and a half was to restructure our distribution network a little bit, in order to allow ourselves to perform testing all year round across multiple locations. This means that instead of doing that only in the Netherlands, we have also extended our testing facilities in Australia, so we could run our testing processes in more favourable weather conditions, because in the Netherlands, just like in the UK, it rains a lot, making the timeframe for spraying really tight,” he

analyses, adding that very few other companies can match the speed and neatness of Agrifac’s testing phase. Having found itself in the crossfire of conflicting views about the future of farming, the company has also designed a game-changing system called NEED farming, in an attempt to address some of agriculture’s pressing issues. “Truth being told, farming in Europe is receiving some bad publicity at the moment. Public opinion sways towards blaming the spraying business for its negative impact on the environment. Whilst we do not produce chemicals, but only machines to make farming more efficient, we fully understand that something has to change. On the one hand, you have the rapidly growing world population that needs to be fed, and on the other hand, you have the effect farming has on the environment,” Roeland discusses. “The NEED Farming product is a truly disruptive technology that can play a hugely positive role in the reduction of chemical use. In agricultural business, farmers tend to spray the entire field. Our system allows them to spray plants according to their individual needs and hit the exact amount only on the plants that need that at the given moment. We have been doing this for two years in Australia and for a year and a half in the Netherlands and the results have been fascinating. The challenge is to persuade farmers who still mistrust the idea of not having to spray the whole field,” he maintains. “It is also a matter of negotiating with various chemical companies whose interest might differ from ours, in terms of the amount of chemicals they prescribe to be sprayed. We are trying to reach consensus on the direction the industry should be taking and regard these discussions as a positive and rewarding challenge for us as a company.” Going strong, Agrifac’s expanded distribution network is projected to drive further growth for the company, hence Roeland’s view that preparing for the heightened demand should be its main priority in the coming years. “We want to be in a position where we do not let the market hurry us too much, but we do not want to push it, either. Our main concern is to facilitate the anticipated exponential growth coming from the new technologies we are planning to introduce,” he sums up.

Agrifac Products: Sprayers 27

Probe education lockers

Safe and

secure Responsible for supplying cutting-edge and industry-leading storage equipment to almost every area of industry and commerce, Lion Steel is aggressively pursuing growth opportunities both at home and abroad

Probe shockproof lockers


Lion Steel Equipment Ltd.


Probe set ultrabox plastic locker

or more than half a centur y, Lion Steel has been responsible for the manufacture of high-quality storage products. Sold under the brand name of ‘Probe’, these products include lockers, shelving, cupboards and work stations, mobile shelving, librar y shelving, cloakroom equipment and specialist cabinets. Manufactured to the highest of standards at Lion Steel’s two UK facilities, its Probe range is marketed through a professional network of local dealers who are on hand to provide professional advice and suppor t to customers across ever y area of industr y and commerce. “We consider ourselves to be the most innovative storage product manufacturer in the UK, if not Europe, with arguably the largest, broadest range of products at our disposal, which we continue to expand upon,” states Lion Steel’s Managing Director, Richard Williams. “We are perhaps best known for the comprehensive range of versatile lockers that we produce, with over 3000 units being manufactured to the highest of 29

Probe family locker range

Quality Metal Products Since 1959, QMP has established itself as one of the UK’s leading trade only manufacturers. From their site, located in the West Midlands, they design and manufacture an ever expanding range of products which are supplied by a network of distributors throughout the UK and Europe. The current 110,000sq ft manufacturing facility is equipped with some of the most sophisticated machinery available, with lights out Punching and Bending, Robotic Welding and an automated Powder Coating Plant. QMP pride themselves on quality, service and competitiveness. These core values have seen them become one of the UK’s leading industrial equipment manufacturers.



We are also doing a lot of work involving new lock systems which have been moving away from mechanical combinations to electronic solutions, for example those which allow for locking and unlocking via mobile phone apps using Bluetooth wireless technology. We have been working closely with Amazon in this field, incorporating it into around 50,000 of its Amazon Locker self-service kiosks

Lion Steel Equipment Ltd. Probe kinetic mobile shelving white end panel

standards per week, many of which are based around bespoke designs that we create in par tnership with our customers.” Over the past five decades, Lion Steel has built itself into a leader in its field in the UK, today holding a roughly 35 per cent share of the UK market. “We cer tainly feel that there is more room to grow domestically, and this will likely coincide with expansion into new sectors, namely the commercial market for which we are actively developing new products for,” Richard continues. “At the same time, we are also moving forward with pursuing various expor t oppor tunities, par ticularly across the Middle East, which is a big growth area for Lion Steel with a strong demand for products manufactured in Britain. We have a new expor t manager in place who has already helped us to secure contracts in countries such as Qatar, so we see a lot of potential out there for us moving forward.” The market that Lion Steel operates in is one that is ver y much driven by a demand for new and innovative ideas, 31

Probe lockers

and the company’s exper t R&D team is always working to bring new concepts and solutions to its customers. “We strive to lead the market when it comes to product development,” Richard says, before going on to detail several of the company’s recent innovations. “One of the things we are looking at quite closely at present is a new range of mobile phone or tablet charging solutions, par ticularly as more devices incorporateUSB-C sockets. “We are also doing a lot of work involving new lock systems which have been moving away from mechanical combinations to electronic solutions, for example those which allow for locking and unlocking via mobile phone apps using Bluetooth wireless technology. We have been working closely with Amazon in this field, incorporating it into around 50,000 of its Amazon Locker self-ser vice kiosks.” Another unique characteristic of the company is that its two manufacturing sites are responsible for producing vir tually all of its products under their own respective

‘ 32

Lion Steel Equipment Ltd.

roofs from raw materials. “The manufacturing capabilities that we have come to possess gives us the flexibility necessar y to deliver bespoke products of the highest quality, ontime and to budget,” Richard states. “As well as having all of the required ISO standards in place, we have kitted out our facilities with specialised machiner y that has been carefully selected to suit our product range, and we continue to seek out technology that will allow us to produce said range quicker and easier.” While Lion Steel is able to leverage its 50 years of experience, it also believes that it is a company that is constantly learning as it aims to take itself to the next level. “We have never, and will never, consider ourselves to be at a point where we have reached all of our goals, and this dedication to continuous improvement is something which will influence how we move the business forward in the coming years,” Richard proclaims. “Utilising our collective knowledge, exper tise and track record, as well as our industr yleading marketing resources and the suppor t of our parent company, we have exciting plans when it comes to developing new products and establishing the Lion Steel and Probe names in new markets. “On the domestic front, we will be looking to establish a presence within the commercial sector through the creation and launch of dedicated product ranges to target new customers. At the same time, we will continue to aggressively pursue expor t oppor tunities, gaining a better understanding of the needs of different geographic regions and working closely with companies to bring to them the products and solutions they require. The core aim of the above is simple, and that is to bring Lion Steel’s market leading range of products to as many potential customers as possible across the UK, Europe, the Middle East and beyond.”


On the domestic front, we will be looking to establish a presence within the commercial sector through the creation and launch of dedicated product ranges to target new customers Lion Steel Equipment Ltd. Products: High-quality storage products 33

Success that Beardow Adams has been digging deep into several strategically-chosen markets this year, gaining extra market share with the reliable adhesives it manufactures Adrian Day


sticks A

iming to secure its stable performance in the years to come, the manufacturer of high-quality adhesives Beardow Adams decided to apply a structured approach in its activities throughout 2018, centring on the development of what is referred to as the company’s ‘vertical’ markets. “These are areas we have identified as either being historically strong or having a unique product offering – for example, packaging, filters, or water-based labelling,” explains Group CEO, Adrian Day. “Back in May, we held a conference for our global partners in Milton Keynes, which acted as a launching platform for this ‘vertical’ approach. More than six months on, we can report that the strategy has been well-received by the market and is starting to bear fruit,” Adrian observes, adding that the year’s largest growth markets have been the filters, pressure-sensitive (adhesives

for tapes and labels), and packaging segments. In 2016, Beardow Adams was awarded the British Retail Consortium (BRC) high-hygiene level certificate to the Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials for the manufacture of hot melt adhesives for food and non-food packaging applications, becoming the first adhesive company in the world to receive the certificate. In Adrian’s words, the recognition has proven a real differentiator in the market for Beardow Adams, opening a number of new opportunities in geographical areas, which were surprising even to the company itself. “Latin America, for instance, is particularly receptive to this certification, and this has enabled us to win business on the quality and performance we can offer,” he points out. “Initially, you might think that it would be difficult to compete in such faraway markets with UKmanufactured products, but being able to present

Beardow Adams

assurance in their quality credentials really opens doors.” In a confirmation to Adrian’s words, Beardow Adams opened a subsidiary in Brazil in late 2017, which was followed by a local office in Colombia set up in July. Born in response to certain heavy raw material restrictions the company encountered in late 2017, Beardow Adams introduced a new product range this year, whose items are aptly referred to as ‘bridging the gap’. Adrian continues: “Admittedly, it was quite frustrating to see orders for products we knew we could not totally fulfil. The situation prompted some reactive developments from our UK R&D team and, having worked closely with our customers, we were able to retain their business and come up with the new range of products, which now sits uniquely in the market. “These new products are to be used where you would not typically employ other adhesive technologies over a hot melt adhesive. For

example, heavily glossed books or certain woodworking applications commonly use a polyurethane (PUR) adhesive, which is both costly and not the most environmentallysound of technologies. Our new range, as the name suggests, aims at bridging the adhesive technologies to enable users to step away from these PUR adhesive and move to more environmentally-friendly options,” he maintains. It can be easily noticed that environmental credentials and packaging waste have been established as the topic of the day by consumers, whose sustainability concerns are now increasingly being taken into account by manufacturers when the latter determine their production approach. “One of the main requests we get, is for a fully biodegradable adhesive, but, unfortunately, the technology that will allow us to formulate such a product is yet to be fully developed. Still and all, our adhesives can work

towards a greener product offering – using a hot melt adhesive, which is 100 per cent solids, over a 50 per cent water-based product can help reduce the carbon footprint of the product. Similarly, using adhesives to secure pallet loads can eliminate the need for plastic pallet wrapping,” Adrian comments. Seeking a hot melt adhesive manufacturing presence in continental Europe, Beardow Adams is presently constructing a new facility in Frankfurt that is projected to open in mid-2019. Adrian provides us with a bit more detail on the capabilities of the new site: “Once completed, the factory will give us an extra 6000 square metres of material storage and production space, and our idea is to have it fully-certified to a BRC standard. At first, we are going to install one production line for the manufacture of low to medium viscosity products, primarily to serve the packaging market. This will give us a foothold in 35


Beardow Adams

Kraton Chemical At Kraton, innovation is driven by creativity, passion and active assessment of market trends. As a leading supplier of biobased tackifying resins and a global leader in styrenic-blockcopolymers (SBC) technology, Kraton offers a broad range of tackifiers and polymers for adhesive applications that make up many enduse products. With an innovative focus targeting safer and cleaner technology solutions, Kraton enables the formulation of adhesives tailored to meet customer challenges: from improving adhesion to difficult-to-bond substrates to increasing process speed, as well as alternative functionalities. Kraton’s state-of-the-art laboratories and advanced technology platforms allow for the development of innovations that stay on the edge of emerging customer needs and regulatory changes. Through global operations, customer collaboration and continuous innovation, Kraton ensures the reliable supply and delivery of high-quality products that support customer needs and future growth.

Europe, while also supporting our existing UK and US manufacturing. Thence, it will be a staged process to introduce new lines and equipment into the factory to develop the products it will be able to produce.” Beardow Adams has been operating in the US for five years now, but because the American market is so wide-ranging, the company can still be seen as a relatively young player. Such a sentiment is expressed by Adrian, who also regards this perception of the business as an advantage. “Any new player in any market will garner interest from customers and suppliers alike,” he contends. “At the same time, we have already made our mark abroad with the seven subsidiaries in the seven different countries we have, in addition to the network of over 70 global partners who sell our products around the world. This has also helped to attract enquiries from the US. Ultimately, however, the main contributor to our success has been the quality of our adhesives and their ability to solve problems. Even though we trade in large markets, these are often closeknit communities and the word spreads fast if a manufacturer comes up with a working product.” 2018 is the year in which Beardow Adams

celebrates the 30th anniversary of its well-known BAMFutura technology, which creates adhesives that do not char in the hot melt tank, are clean running, and can be used across a wide range of production speeds. “In December, we are launching two new developments – BAMFutura 43 and BAMFutura 44, to mark the occasion. Based on the latest metallocene technology, these products offer their users a lower cost of ownership for their packaging adhesive products, without compromising on quality,” Adrian reveals. “Going into 2019, our primary concern will be to ensure a stable Brexit transition period for our customers and suppliers. Once these arrangements have been put in place, we will focus on the commissioning of our Frankfurt facility and on filling the extra capacity it gives us. In the meantime, we will continue to tweak our strategies in our target markets,” he concludes by outlining his vision for the new year.

Beardow Adams

Products: High-performance adhesives 37

rhenus FU 800 - The cost-saving coolant without labelling requirements rhenus FU 800 is an extremely attractive product for users who do not wish to compromise on either health and safety or performance, valuing both in equal measure. Safe, compliant, with no need for additional training, supervision or labelling — that is what rhenus FU 800 is all about. In detail, this means that the product does not contain either amine and boric-acid-based additives, nor formaldehyde depots. rhenus FU 800 therefore meets the strictest health and safety requirements, and there is no need for labelling. The product achieves first-class results across the board in the universal processing of a range of raw materials. This has been demonstrated through a great number of applications involving wellknown customers from various industries. rhenus FU 800 is suitable for the widest range of machining processes and materials. It can be used in all machining processes from turning, drilling and milling right through to deep drilling and thread cutting. On steel, cast iron, non-ferrous metals, aluminium alloys or titanium — the new product is a perfect match for machining applications.


Reduce costs with rhenus FU 800 Michael Bleckmann, Head of Manufacturing at the Starrag Group and in overall charge of the Group’s machining processes, is delighted with the product: “rhenus FU 800 meets all our performance requirements without question. We find its flushing properties to be excellent, with good foaming behaviour. The change intervals are impressive!”

KP Komponenter makes 30% saving with new coolant lubricants. KPK has made a 30% saving in consumption by switching to the rhenus products. At the same time, KPK’s machines are cleaner, which results in day-to-day operational savings. OK distributes rhenus coolant lubricants to KPK’s factories in Denmark and the United States.

KP Group


– a lifestyle

KP Group has increased the capacity of all of its manufacturing facilities by purchasing new CNC machines and robots, as the company aims at improving its proposition in the manufacturing of high-precision components


he 2010s have been a time of profound developments for KP Group, whose reverberations are set to have a significant effect on the company’s activities in the coming years. Preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019, the Danish manufacturer of components for all types of low and high-alloy steel and metal castings has enjoyed steady growth in recent times due to international expansion and a focused strategy. Originally founded as a family business, in 2011, KP Group made a bold move opening a manufacturing facility in the US, in the city of Easley, South Carolina. Three years later, the firm had its majority share acquired by the Swedish private equity fund Segulah. Then, in 2016, KP Group executed a strategic acquisition itself, purchasing a Swedish subcontractor of complex machined components called Trestads Precisionmekanik (TPM). The company registered a 16 per cent growth in turnover in 2017, with further rise projected for this year, as well. Group CEO, Søren Husted discusses the major factors that have led to these

figures. “Certainly, the opening of our US facility has been met with success and we continue to see excellent possibilities for future growth in America. Furthermore, the acquisition of TPM has helped us strengthen our position in Scandinavia, which also contributed to our strong performance. “If I were to single out the two main reasons for our growth, however, it must be the combined effect of our strategic focus on the mobile hydraulic segment and the upturn in the market that started in 2017,” Søren notes. “We operate in six areas, but two-third of our activities are focused on the mobile hydraulics field, and this segment has definitely seen very positive development over the last two years. Taking advantage of our technical skills and know-how, we can produce hydraulic parts that go into motors, pumps and valves for off-highway equipment such as tractors for the agro industry and other vehicles used by the construction sector or similar industries.” Other sectors in which KP Group is active include marine, offshore, energy, consumer and 39

process control. What is more, the business is also able to offer production of parts to customers, whose requirements do not clearly fit into any of these segments, never shying away from the opportunity to take on challenging projects in uncharted business territories. “Energy, in particular, used to be a really buoyant area for the company, primarily within the wind sector. It has now decreased a little, chiefly because more and more of the manufacturing process is being outsourced to China and other countries in the Far East,” Søren states. KP Group combines its many years of experience with the best machinery available in the market to provide its customers with competitively-priced products. The business has the most advanced technologies at its disposal, which, in addition to precision and quality, enable it to supply items with a unique degree of complexity. Committed to constantly improving its own capabilities, the company has engaged in equipping all of its facilities with new machines in the past couple of years. “In total, we have invested in 16 machining centres – nine in Denmark, six in the US, and one in Sweden; as


well as in eight robots, of which five were installed in our Danish facility, two in the US plant, and the last one in the Swedish factory. “We want to see ourselves as a one-stop shop, therefore, we have developed a capacity to deliver components that are ready for our customers’ assembly line. We are skilled in

running a wide range of processes such as milling/ turning, honing, grinding, high pressure jet cleaning, ultrasonic cleaning and thermal deburring, that are required for the manufacturing of complex high-precision parts,” Søren continues. The production style adopted by KP Group also demands a highly-educated staff, which

KP Group

DoALL the company has succeeded in integrating in line with the business’ technological development. By achieving this, the organisation has managed to expand its expertise and skilfully act as a trusted and strategic partner for its customers during their phases of development and production. Moreover, the company considers its flexibility a cornerstone of its operation, drawing upon a rich experience in developing logistics solutions, tailored to meet the demands of its clients. Its just-in-time system has proven economically beneficial to customers and has enhanced reliability of supply, giving KP Group a significant advantage over its peers in the industry. Demonstrating confidence in the prospects Scandinavia will continue to present in the future, the company has started the construction of a brand-new manufacturing facility in Sweden that will double the company’s production space. Søren analyses the ways, in which the market might develop in the years to come: “It is always difficult to make a prediction, but every piece of market research shows that the mobile hydraulics segment will remain very strong in 2019 and, possibly, a bit beyond. “There is a great potential for us in the US, in particular, where the need for high-quality construction equipment is growing, which, we feel, we can match with our set of capabilities,” he envisages. “At the moment, we find ourselves in a strategic sweet spot, in terms of our customer relationships. A lot of the big OEMs we deal with, are looking for suppliers that can serve them in multiple countries around the world. Our strategic advantage over the competition is precisely that we are such a global service provider that stays close to its large clients wherever they happen to be.” Anticipating another successful year in 2019, KP Group is motivated to continue realising its vision of being the go-to company for the machining of complex high-precision parts. “Alongside developing our production skills, our strategy also involves us fostering the good working relationships we have with the aforementioned large OEMs, so that we can grow with them by handling their requirements all over the world,” Søren concludes.

DoALL, the first name in band sawing, known for inventing the Bi-Metal band saw blade and vertical band sawing machine, is continuously developing its program of sawing solutions. DoALL’s latest development is a range of circular sawing machines (TC-75NC; TC-100NC and TC-155NC) and tungsten carbide circular blades for typical applications with high demands on output, accuracy and surface finish. These machines are suited for engineering steel, non-ferrous and stainless steels. Reducing cycle time and tooling costs in following processes such as milling and turning, DoALL helps you improve your productivity by offering a total solution for all your sawing needs!

KP Group

Products: High-precision metal parts 41

Foremost foundry


Proactive investment in state-of-the-art equipment has strengthened Goodwin Steel Castings capabilities, in anticipation of increased demand from the key industrial sectors which the foundry serves


oodwin Steel Castings is a highly skilled and versatile steel and nickel alloy foundry with an in-group machining and fabrication capability located in the United Kingdom. The company offers build to print engineering within the petrochemical, power generation, infrastructure, defence and nuclear sectors. The business was established in 1883 by Ralph Goodwin and his sons reaching multiple milestones since. In 1984, it became the first steel foundry worldwide to be accredited by the British Standards Institution to BS5750 (now known as ISO 9001). Since the 2010, Goodwin has produced the world’s largest super nickel alloy casting using a patented casting technique and patent registered three alloy grades (LCC-G/ 6A-G and G130) which offer end users greater operational safety margin or enhanced material performance. In the last three years, the company has undergone marked infrastructure enhancements


that have significantly increased its casting, refining and heat treatment capabilities. “Following the capital expenditure, we increased our melting capacity to approximately 70 tonnes, which allows us to manufacture cast products in the region of 35 tonnes in material grades from spheroidal graphite iron to super nickel alloys. There are very few foundries in the world who offer small 200Kg castings alongside 35 tonne castings in such a diverse range of material grades,” establishes Goodwin’s Sales Director, Brian Quinn. “As a result of in-house material research we developed a proprietary carbon manganese steel to serve the cryogenic valve industry, as well as a super duplex stainless steel, which offers a greater safety margin to end users through enhanced corrosion resistance and exceptional low-temperature ductility properties. We also are at the forefront of high temperature power generation having developed a precipitation strengthened nickel alloy.”

Given the impressive casting and third party refining capabilities Goodwin is well known in a number of critical duty industrial sectors. Brian outlines the company’s strongest markets: “We supply non-return valves, flow control valves, pumps and casings to the petrochemical industry as well as castings for steam and gas turbines for the power generation sector. We also supply security controlled components for submarine and frigate programmes within the defence sector. The foundry also retains nuclear sector approvals, in which we provide primary circuit castings as well as castings for the safe storage and transportation of nuclear waste. Our skillset is similarly employed with large civil infrastructure projects where castings are viable alternative to complex fabrications, especially when good aesthetics are required. “What might be interesting to know is that we also offer third party material refining services as a recycler. We accept raw material for primary melting and secondary refining using the argon

Goodwin Steel Castings

oxygen decarburisation (AOD) process, in pursuit of a known analysis charge material for industrial melt shops such as industrial investment casters. “We are pleased to observe that all these sectors are showing signs of growth and as a result, we are confident that our continued investments in our facility and workforce through our apprentice school will enable us to deliver on our discerning customer commitments in the future.” The expansion of Goodwin’s primary melting capacity involved the purchase and commissioning of a number of pieces of equipment. “We have introduced two new 20-tonne medium frequency induction melting furnaces, capable of melting 40 tonnes of steel in approximately eight hours,” Brian points out. “In terms of the casting bay expansion, we have established a largescale casting facility and flask moulding system that enables us to produce multiple castings throughout the production week. This facility retains the flexibility needed to manufacture multiple large scale castings that require several days to cool after pouring which is the key to unlocking the dynamic deliveries sought by our customers.” Goodwin specialises in obtaining exceptional through section mechanical properties in heavy castings sections. Industry specifications often mandate that mechanical testing is conducted at ½ thickness or ¼ thickness within representative casting section. “In order to offer our customers enhanced mechanical properties in heavy sections, we have installed a fully automated water quench furnace measuring with a working volume of 5x5x5m and weight capacity of 50 tonnes. The ‘depth of quench’ obtained is largely down to the speed of the quench cycle from when the furnace load can be removed from 12500C and fully submerged within the quench media within 45 seconds. The water quench media is artificially chilled with a refrigerative chiller to 50C and circulated at flow rate of 1m/ second to ensure the greatest heat transfer is obtained in process. We can in effect produce the most technically advanced steels worldwide utilising this facility” Brian enthuses. Goodwin’s early engagement, project management and delivered quality has been recognised worldwide with 80 per cent of the company’s castings sold overseas. “As a UK manufacturer, we export to the pacific basin, inclusive of countries like China and India. We have built a strong reputation in that region, given that we supply technically advanced products that cannot be procured domestically,” Brian notes. “America is also a key export market for us as are we looking to opportunities in Australia, South America and Africa in the future.

Although we do not predominantly supply into Europe today, we are certainly looking to demonstrate our skillset on the continent in the years to come.” Encouraged by the gradual market recovery that the foundry industry is making after a challenging five years, in which the decline of the oil and gas markets has had its effect on the industry, Brian expects that Goodwin will

continue investing in its future development. “The outlook today is far more positive than it was this time last year,” he admits. “We have spent a significant amount of money on our capital facilities and apprentice programme in which continuous investment positively remains high on the agenda. “Having established a four-year apprenticeship programme five years ago, taking on 25 apprentices every year to support the foundry and other businesses in our group we are looking to the long-term future. By prolonging this initiative and employing lean management techniques, and working incredibly hard, we will be able to achieve our long-term goals, which entail us providing technically advanced castings for critical duty applications in the market sectors mentioned earlier,” Brian sums up.

Goodwin Steel Castings

Services: Technically advanced steel and nickel alloy castings 43

The What More UK showroom

More to Expansion into the bakeware products segment and the purchase of a vast number of new machines have been the major factors for the successful 2018 What More UK is enjoying




ontinued investment is the characteristic that has been definitive of What More UK in recent times. Almost two years have passed since we last featured the manufacturer of plastic housewares, gardening, and storage products on the pages of Manufacturing Today Europe. “In the said period,” repor ts the company’s UK Director, Tony Grimshaw, “we have invested almost £11 million in new machinery only.” The early part of 2017 found the business amidst a sizable £8 million investment programme involving the purchase of more than 48 injection moulding machines, which has since been completed. “In fact, right after this investment was made, we decided to spend another £3 million on a new set of machines, this time delivered by an Italian manufacturer,” Tony clarifies. Labelling these “tomorrow’s machines”, he goes on to praise their qualities and reasons why the continuous development of What More’s manufacturing capabilities is considered strategic for the company’s future. “First of all, the new machines are truly state-of-the-ar t.

They are a lot more efficient than our previous pieces of equipment, in terms of both energy usage and speed. Without a doubt, they are all quite expensive, but they are cer tainly well wor th the investment. We have to keep ahead of the competition and the only way to achieve that and offset the extra costs we have that some of our competitors abroad do not, is through making sure we operate the best machinery available at all times.” In the meantime, What More has also been keeping an eye on its infrastructure development. The company has acquired planning permission to increase its factory space by 200,000 square feet when the time is right. “At this moment in time, we do not need this space, but it is certainly waiting to be triggered in the future,” comments Tony. “We have an idea to bring our two manufacturing units under one roof, thus improving our efficiencies and reducing costs.” As 2018 is coming to an end, Tony can confidently state that the year has been especially successful for What More, not least because of the acquisition of the Chinese brand, Pushpan, which took place shor tly

What More UK

Top left: Wham Flexi bag Top right: Wham Flexi laundry basket Centre left: Wham Sudio Basket Centre right: Tool room Bottom: Shop floor

before our previous interview with him. “We had just purchased the company the last time we spoke and it is now contributing heavily to our turnover and market penetration. Pushpan is a well-established international brand, and it is highly unusual to see brands being purchased from China in the way that we have acquired it. Today, we are utilising its success to help penetrate some of our target overseas markets with our total bakeware and cookware products.” What More has also focused on expanding within the segment with the creation of the business’ Baker & Salt product range. “We have released a series of enamel-coated baking dishes and trays that have proven very successful with the customers and have even won several awards for innovation,” Tony enthuses.

Expor t has always formed a significant par t of What More’s turnover with the business now selling its items into a total of 72 countries worldwide. “Our strategy when we go to a new country is not to flood the market there,” Tony explains. “What we are trying to do, instead, is to be selective and pick one retail chain or a depar tment store, through which we can grow our presence in the given country.” Speaking of the strongest geographical areas for the company, he gladly remarks that long before Brexit, What More had identified its overreliance on the EU, hence its decision to seek diversification into other marketplaces.

“We analysed our expor t business five years ago and agreed that we should put some extra effor t and resources into non-European markets. This has allowed us to strengthen our position in the USA and Canada immensely, and also to open up countries in Africa, South America, and Asia. By no means do we want to lose the EU and I am sure that our trading activities on the continent will continue even when Britain leaves the Union. However, being astute five years ago has pre-empted the necessity to hastily look outside Europe after the referendum,” Tony analyses. The lack of clarity around the future 45

What More UK

market leader in the UK, so it is just natural that we aim for tangible expansion abroad. “Considering our long-term prospects, I can see fur ther growth in export in the next five years. In addition, we would like to cement our status of a market leader in the UK, not only in plastic housewares, but also in bakeware and cookware. On top of that, we will continue investing heavily in our assets. We are in a very good position in this respect, because manufacturers trust us and often approach us with their new and innovative machinery, as they know we have the financial resources to pay for it. This gives us the upper hand against our competitors, for we can access the latest state-of-the-ar t equipment earlier than the rest of the industry,” Tony concludes.

UK Director, Tony Grimshaw

BMB - The perfect partner As a very much ‘hands on’ person in running his business, Andy Holt, founder of What More Plastics, recognised the same approach inherent in BMB. Since BMB’s inception in 1967, the original ownerEgidio Bugatti still remains a daily influence in the business and along with his son, Marco, they have a shared vision for the future growth. BMB has always focused on improving its product in order to maintain its recognised and envied position as a producer of equipment that guarantees elevated performance levels whilst achieving real energy savings. From small beginnings to a business that currently enjoys a €150 million turnover supplying a truly diverse market worldwide.


relationship between the UK and the EU notwithstanding, he notes that What More’s business on the other side of the Channel has actually grown over the course of 2018. “We have seen a three per cent rise in our expor t activities as a whole, which is a very encouraging sign, because we are already the

What More UK

Products: Plastic housewares, gardening, storage, and baking and cooking products

Faltec Europe Ltd

Motoring along A world-class manufacturer of interior and exterior trim products, made in the North East of England, Faltec Europe has become an integral part of the supply chain for a host of global automotive manufacturers

nicely F

ormed in 1989, and previously known as Hashimoto Ltd, Faltec Europe Ltd is today the largest private sector employer in South Tyneside, boasting a workforce of around 550 workers. A world-class manufacturing company, Faltec Europe is also an accredited Tier 1 supplier to the automotive sector, with key global OEM customers, for whom it manufactures a wide range of exterior and interior trim products. The company is a proud member of the wider Faltec Group. Headquartered in Japan, and with a global workforce of more than 2500 men and women, the group seeks to offer premier-quality feel and functional beauty in all of its automotive parts, accessories and supplies. As a key driver of innovation in the automotive sector, the group also strives to create the value that its customers desire, while also ensuring that its various subsidiaries and affiliates continue to evolve with the changing times.

Committed to achieving manufacturing strength and cost competitiveness for customers in areas such as North America, Europe, South East Asia and China, Faltec Group and its subsidiaries in Thailand, the US and China work closely with the R&D departments of its automanufacturer customers to ensure optimum satisfaction and continuous innovation. Making a daily effort to fulfill its mission statement of ‘Providing valuable, leading-edge products and services to help create a beautiful, prosperous automobile society’, the global business handles six major categories of products: plastic exteriors, moldings and painting, window sashes/metal products, electrical/electronic components, textiles and chemicals. For its own part, Faltec Europe puts its own success down to its passion to be the best and most innovative business in its field, while also maintaining a total commitment to health and safety and the environment, research and 47

Faltec Europe Ltd


The company defines its business model as being not only robust, but also flexible and adaptable, giving it the ability to evolve what it does and how it does it, which it finds to be the best way of adapting to a fast-changing market, and an at times volatile global economy

development, continual produce and process improvements, and to manufacturing quality products for its customers. Equally as fundamental, and in its own words, “what makes the company great”, are its people. Indeed, it is Faltec Europe’s talented workforce, led by a highly experienced and dedicated senior leadership team, that tirelessly ensures that its customers receive high quality products, at the best price and delivered on time. Such is Faltec Europe’s degree of expertise, the company is responsible for manufacturing the vast majority of the vehicle trim products we see every day on the most popular cars on the roads in the UK. From front bumpers to radiator grills, roof mouldings, door mouldings, door sashes, roof finishers, weather strips and more, the company produces over 300 products for many of the best known global automobile manufacturers. For almost 30 years, its business has been growing, developing and innovating, and this approach has seen it become recognised by its peers for its ability to constantly exceed customer expectations. The company’s capabilities span from plastic extrusion and brightwork co-extrusion on stainless steel, to injection moulding using a series of injection moulding machines ranging from a capacity of 150 tonnes to a maximum of 2500 tonnes. Additionally, it also possesses two paint plants capable of painting external trim parts up to two metres in length, and in a gloss finish. A key partnership with a market leader in automotive paint products ensures that Faltec Europe remains at the cutting edge of paint and process development, and application.

The company defines its business model as being not only robust, but also flexible and adaptable, giving it the ability to evolve what it does and how it does it, which it finds to be the best way of adapting to a fast-changing market, and an at times volatile global economy. Faltec Europe’s quality management systems are regularly audited, and it proudly holds IATF16949:2016 and ISO9001:2015 quality management standards. Maintaining a competitive edge thanks to its global presence, diverse product and technological range and its ability to support customer demands, the company continues to seek out and identify areas of growth across a variety of market segments. An example of its pursuit of new opportunities came in September 2018, when Faltec Europe was one of 130 exhibitors to appear at the fourth annual North East Automotive Alliance Expo event, the first to be held at the Beacon of Light in Sunderland, Tyne & Wear. As well as meeting with prospective customers, current suppliers and reacquainting itself with other automotive sector contracts, the company had the chance to listen to keynote speakers and celebrate regional success stories. Faltec Europe was also supported by a visit from Faltec Group global sales team representatives, equally keen to praise the company’s continued prosperity and growth.

Faltec Europe Ltd

Services: Automotive components and parts 49

Bath ASU’s full-time research and development laboratory

The best With flexible, tailored services, and game-changing innovation and development at the heart of its operations, Bath ASU makes thousands of products each week that improve the lives of patients nationwide

Chris Watt, CEO


medicine E

ach and every day, Bath ASU’s team of specialists is responsible for the production of life-changing medicines at its Corsham, Wiltshire manufacturing facility, which are administered to patients in hospitals or at home throughout the UK. This has been the case ever since a management buy-out/buy-in from the University of Bath (where the business was first founded as an education, training and R&D resource in 2000) transformed it into a commercial operation in 2006, and Bath ASU’s ongoing dedication to this vital cause has seen it receive multiple accolades and commendations over the years from various respected bodies. One of the more recent examples of such recognition being bestowed on Bath ASU was the listing of its parent company, Qualasept Pharmaxo Holdings Limited in the fourteenth annual Sunday Times Top Track 250 of the largest privately-owned businesses in the UK. “Achievements such as this, together with our listing in the annual Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100, and our topping of the South West Business Insider Growth 100 list and the Alantra Pharma Fast 50 list, help to establish a truly

solid foundation upon which we can build an even better business than the one we have today, which also means our people can continue to build great careers for themselves,” explains Bath ASU’s Chief Executive Officer, Chris Watt. Today, Bath ASU can be found providing a complete range of aseptic manufacturing services, including patient-specific chemotherapy, dose banded batch chemotherapy, central intravenous additive services and patient-controlled analgesia products. Constantly looking to introduce new and innovative methods to improve its service, Bath ASU’s R&D team explores ways to make its products safer, longer-lasting and ever more dependable. “We have introduced a total of eight new medicines this year, the most technically difficult of which is an antibody-drug conjugate that we worked on for more than two years. The successful development of this product means that we can now work on all medicines in this particularly important class,” Chris details, before going on to review some of the major recent industry developments that are helping to contribute to Bath ASU’s growth.

Bath ASU The clean room at Bath ASU


“New injectable medicines become available to UK patients every year. By utilising our R&D team, we work on continually adding those types of medicine to our range with extended shelf lives, making us more and more useful to our hospital customers,” he continues. “In the last year, the industry has also seen Pharmaxo (Bath ASU’s sister homecare company), for the first time in its history, begin to deliver nursing services using its own directly employed nurses. While the commitment

to working with nursing partners remains, this new undertaking is giving us greater flexibility and control where we need it most. “Meanwhile, when it comes to future developments, new biosimilar medicines competing with novel biological products has been a focus area for the NHS this year in its bid to reduce costs. Such is the rapidly evolving nature of the sector that there can be three or four new products on the market within a matter of

The world’s need for better protection never stops, so Ansell is constantly researching, developing and investing in order to manufacture and distribute cutting edge product innovation and technology, marketed under well-known brands like BioClean™. With operations in North America, Latin America/ Caribbean, EMEA and Asia Pacific, customers in more than 100 countries around the world trust Ansell and its protection solutions that enhance human well-being. The complete BioClean™ portfolio meets rigorous ISO and EN regulations, and maintains continuously high standards, ensuring that the products being used protect the safety of people, the accuracy of research results and the integrity of products. 51

Bath ASU Manufacturing facility at Corsham Science Park, Wiltshire

weeks that our hospital customers want to buy, so we need to ensure that we can deliver these medicines to support the NHS.” In addition to the above, Bath ASU has also begun a four-year research collaboration with its local hospice, Dorothy House, and the University of Bath to develop greater levels of knowledge and understanding of the stability of commonly co-administered drugs in palliative care. “This forms part of our wider social commitment, developing care practices for a group of patients

that is generally overlooked by the pharmaceutical industry,” Chris states. From an internal perspective, significant areas of focus for investment during 2018 have included enhancing the capability and capacity of the company’s Quality Assurance team, and the integration of its Account Management teams across both Bath ASU and Pharmaxo in order to provide hospitals with a single point of contact to access its products, whether the patient receives treatment in hospital or at home. At the same

time, its team has been working on extending the company’s workflow systems to remove paper and transcription from its processes. In early 2019, Bath ASU plans to begin validating semi-automated sub processes, which it believes will improve accuracy and productivity. The past year has also resulted in the company making further impressive strides when it comes to its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy, as Chris details. “Our policy is to trade on the smallest possible environmental footprint, while building the largest possible social footprint, and we work with a number of like-minded parties and companies to make this happen. For instance, we started working with Waste Handling Solutions, one of the UK’s leading suppliers in the field of waste handling equipment, approximately one year ago, and in that time, they have helped us to implement new recycling equipment and processes. “This year alone, we have reduced our volume and cost going into general waste by 40 per cent. With bigger balers and a dewatering screw, our waste needs less downstream processing, and therefore is worth more. Equally important is that we have removed nearly a full-time equivalent role in production from processing waste, which, to be frank, is probably the worst job there was to have in that team! Particularly important, as part of our GDPR compliance, we can now shred all media holding personal data onsite removing the risk of data breaches downstream.” Taking one final moment to reflect on the past 12 months, before turning his attention to what 2019 will hold for Bath ASU, Chris makes sure to mention the development of the company’s successful apprenticeship programme. “Our apprentices are mentored throughout the year and have been progressing very well, with one of our first actually now mentoring the new intake. Such is the manufacturing capability and confidence of this individual, that they even recently applied for a supervisor position within the company, which is exactly the sort of personal development that we are looking to deliver through our apprentice scheme. “When it comes to our own future, in 2019, Bath ASU will continue to focus on extending its product portfolio, bringing in new medicines in order to support the NHS. Our efforts to achieve this will also help to form the backbone of our long-term goal, which is to be recognised as the aseptic compounding business of choice for all hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.”

Bath ASU

Products: Pharmaceutical specials



Driving Since the late 1940s, VENTREX has transformed from being a local manufacturer into a global Tier 1/Tier 2 supplier of specialist compressors and valves to the automotive industry


ounded in 1949, originally under the name of Adam Metallwaren, VENTREX began life as a contract manufacturer of simple mechanical components such as tire valves. Having taken on its current moniker in 1992, the company steadily grew and evolved, eventually becoming part of Dutch manufacturer, Aalberts Industries N.V. in 2015. “VENTREX is one of the leading strategic partners to the automotive industry, with our


products being used in motor powered vehicles and agricultural machinery the world over,” begins the company’s Head of Research & Development and Chief Technical Officer, Gerald Jaritz. “Our innovations focus on a holistic approach, simultaneously improving safety, efficiency, comfort and environmental friendliness. Our headquarters in Graz, Austria, is home to 140 employees in the fields of R&D, automated production, quality management, administration and management, while our soon-to-be completed competence centre for smart valve engineering will provide us with a hub for cutting-edge progress in compressor and valve technologies.” Operating in niche markets, VENTREX’s product range and field of expertise consists of compressed natural gas valves, air conditioning valves and compressors for pneumatic suspensions, with a number of its products such as its electronic

pressure regulator for compressed natural gas (CNG) in cars currently settings standards in the automotive sector. The company’s portfolio of products also includes electronic pressure regulators, safety tank valves and end-plugs, while it also leads the market in filling and evacuation valves for automotive air conditioning. “As a technically empathic developer and producer of compressors and valve technology, we offer our customers more than just a product, we offer them long lasting partnerships that ultimately contribute to their success,” Gerald continues. “We do so by providing and implementing solutions to their everyday challenges in business and making their lives easier. We are a curious and bold business, one that does not rest on its laurels and is not afraid to think and act outside the box, using agile methods and going beyond existing limits of technology. 53

BRAWO S.p.A. – HOLDING UMBERTO GNUTTI (HUG) As a multinational corporation in hot forging and machining for more than 150 years, Brawo, together with its sister companies in Canada and in the US, delivers its brass and aluminium products worldwide. Equipped with more than 50 forging presses, from 200 to 2500 tonnes, and with more than 50 four and five axis flexible cells, our production fits for a variety of applications and always generates a customised product. After approaching the automotive sector, Brawo has significantly broadened its business, increasing its turnover to €404 million in 2017 and relying upon 750 employees.


“For example, we are currently working on the fourth generation of electronic pressure regulation, because in the near future CNG cars will be powered mono-fuel, without an emergency gasoline tank and with direct injection technology. We are also working with the liquefied state of aggregation of natural gas as we prepare for

the possible future demand for cryogenic valve technology. Meanwhile, our compressor engineers are also working on a number of innovations, with a particular focus on delivering a reduction in noise while maintaining high efficiency levels. “We also try to combine technology trends and new developments with social engagement.


The new competence centre will be the latest way in which the company looks to produce added value by creating symbioses between technology, business and people. This in turn, it expects, will help to further redefine the customer experience. “As technical empaths, we listen, we think, we reflect, and then we develop,” Gerald adds. “It is our goal to become the number one solutions provider for valve applications, and to achieve that we will be expanding our current business areas, while also investing in new, futureorientated technologies. We certainly are seeing trends towards more sustainable and eco-friendly mobility, and the need to develop smarter valve technology via a digital approach, and in order to allow our teams to meet these needs we will continue to invest in both them and the working infrastructure that they require.” For example, we have beehives on our premises. The bees act as valuable observation objects that allow us to test our developed IoT applications promptly. Furthermore, the proceeds from the honey produced by our bees goes to local charities.” A combination of manufacturing and people orientated factors have allowed VENTREX to prosper in the way that it has over the years, with the company successfully bringing together a high degree of production flexibility, technical competence, automation, short reaction times and a skilled workforce under one roof. “We value the talent and experience of each one of our employees,” Gerald enthuses. “It is their passion and drive that allows us to reach our goals, and we are very proud to offer our employees a professional environment that fosters individual development, participation and fast career opportunities.” The next phase in the company’s history, one which is currently ongoing, is the investment in an entirely new competence centre for smart valve engineering. This new facility will not only act as a global hub for cutting-edge progress in developing compressor and valve technology, but will also bring together VENTREX’s various departments under one roof to craft its future accordingly. “We are working to create a space that provides an excellent and versatile infrastructure for our employees, one which follows the principle that we collectively operate as a team that values communication and participation,” Gerald explains. “The R&D floor of the centre will include an open space design, providing zones for project teams, creative thinking, what we call ‘silent working spaces’ and areas for rest,” Gerald details. “The other half of the R&D floor will then consist of testing facilities, which will include a suite of 3D printers, an electronics lab, and testing facilities

for high pressure and cryogenic applications. The ground floor of the centre will then be dedicated to our competence area for prototyping with high end machines and working facilities, with the short distance between our creative zone, testing facilities and model shop making the entire innovation and development process more agile.”


Products: Compressors and valves for the automotive industry 55

People With a constant stream of innovative solutions being delivered to customers throughout the world, Mettis Aerospace is helping to forge the future of some of most complex and demanding of industry sectors




f you were to take a tour around the Redditch facility of Mettis Aerospace (Mettis), one of the world’s leading manufacturers of precision forged, machined and subassembled components, there are a wealth of different sights that will draw one’s attention and amazement, but few stand as proud, and more importantly as tall, as one of its most recent, game-changing investments. The sight in question is the company’s new, 40-tonne counter-blow Bêché hammer press, called the DG40. Possessing the equivalent power of a 20,000tonne hydraulic press, enabling Mettis to produce forgings of up to 750 kilograms depending on the material, the DG40 represents one of the company’s largest single investments in decades. “The installation and trialling of the DG40 marks a significant moment for Mettis,” begins Chief

Operating Officer, Jeremy Cieslik. “We have a proud history of almost 80 years of being an industry leader and this new counter-blow hammer press, the first new press to be installed on this site in some 35 years, sends out a very strong and clear message to our employees, customers and peers that we intend to continue going from strength to strength.” One of the secrets to this success comes in the form of the tried and tested production system that the company has in place, one that is categorised under what it calls the ‘Four P’s’ – Pounds, Process, Product and People. “If we look at things initially from a ‘Pounds’ perspective, in the time since we last spoke around 12 months ago, Mettis achieved sales totalling approximately £76 million in 2017, with 2018 on track to result in an increase in this figure to

Mettis Aerospace


We will continue to work to unleash the immense potential of our organisation, enabling it by focusing on things like succession planning, training and transferring knowledge through the generations of people that work for Mettis

£85 million, and with a more than achievable target of £100 million by 2020,” Jeremy continues. This impressive increase in turnover has also coincided with a period of sustained internal investment, which has seen around £25 million ploughed into the business and its processes in the space of five years. “A sizeable percentage of this investment has been used to introduce new technologies, including robotic additive layer techniques, water jet cutting, infra-red heating and blue light scanning solutions,” Jeremy adds. “We have also welcomed the development of the first 3D scanner in the UK that can distinguish between parts that look identical to the human eye, with automated part marking so that they can be organised into kits before being delivered to final assembly lines.” This pattern of investment is only set to increase, with new, prestigious contracts set to be signed that will shepherd in the construction of an entirely new facility, complete with a state-ofthe-art machine shop. “This ‘factory of the future’ will help to take the business to another level of process capability,” Jeremy enthuses. “Featuring a flexible manufacturing system, it will help us to decimate standard machining times when it comes to titanium, resulting in a reduction in our cycle times by at least an estimated 50 per cent.” From a product point-of-view, a core demand that Mettis’ customers share in common is their desire for class-leading products that fulfil their requirements, and the company works to meet this appetite by having a steady stream of innovative concepts and solutions in the pipeline. “If I look at our new product to market portfolio, we currently have 48 products within our New Product Introduction (NPI) process, which make up all manner of different capabilities, materials

and manufacturing processes,” Jeremy says. “When I joined the business five years ago we had a peak of only about 20 such products in NPI, so this goes some way to highlighting our continued commitment to innovation and just why Mettis is today active on all leading aircraft and next generation programmes, as well as other vital defence, nuclear, rail and maritime projects.” Last, but by no means whatsoever least, there is the people aspect of the company. Since we last spoke, more than 40 new starters have been brought into the business. “Our people represent the very heart of Mettis, and we provide them a platform upon which we encourage each individual to be bold, courageous, creative and innovative in everything they do,” Jeremy reveals. “We also actively encourage multiskilling, allowing for a flexible and agile workforce that can be allocated tasks as work flows through, and in response to fluctuations in our order book. We have also continued to promote our apprenticeship programmes, bringing in four new apprentices in 2018 and resurrecting a dedicated forge master apprenticeship. Such actions form 57



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Mettis Aerospace

ISCAR UK ISCAR UK is proud to be a supplier of superior cutting tools to Mettis Aerospace. ISCAR engineers work closely with Mettis Aerospace staff to help lower company cutting tool inventories, reduce machining cycle times and to ensure the efficient manufacture of premium quality components. These aims are achieved through the supply of cutting-edge, cost effective tools and the application of advanced production methodologies. ISCAR technical staff are readily available to provide expert advice, whilst all customer training needs are satisfied at ISCAR UK’s Training and Seminar Centre. This impressive facility includes a 90 seat auditorium and a CNC machining demonstration unit.

part of our long-term plans for not simply the next year or two, but for the next 20 or 25.” On that very subject, Jeremy then turns his attention to what he describes as the four key drivers for future growth. “One of these drivers involves the continuous improvement of our productivity, with our efforts in the last five years resulting in an increase in turnover of 50 per cent. Despite this, we know there is more that we can do to improve this further by undertaking things that will reduce variability and increase efficiencies,” he details. “The second driver involves the roll out of what we have called the Mettis Advanced Planning System (MAPS), which we have been using to map out all of our interfaces, from the point we receive customers’ orders to when we deliver parts to make our order delivery process more effective. “The third driver is quality and our push towards achieving zero defects. We have made significant progress towards this by engaging all parties involved in the production process, and providing the required levels of training,

development and time needed to identify issues or failings, and then do what we do best, and that is turning these into positive solutions. Finally, we will continue to work to unleash the immense potential of our organisation, enabling it by focusing on things like succession planning, training and transferring knowledge through the generations of people that work for Mettis.” With a roadmap in place that will go a long way to helping Mettis achieve its long-term goal of becoming a £500 million Group by 2025, Jeremy has every right to be confident about what the future will hold. “We are continuing to utilise a winning and successful formula, but believe me we are by no means complacent,” he concludes. “This is precisely why we are driving quality and productivity, and improving the delivery planning process in order to reduce time to market. Nevertheless, we recognise that all of that needs to be enabled by our organisation, and the key to that is our people!”

Mettis Aerospace

Products: Complex precision forged and machined components 59

Metal masters A family run business that has specialised in presswork since 1947, AE Oscroft has diversified its service offering considerably in recent decades, delivering high quality support to customers from a growing number of industry sectors


t was in 1947 that Arthur Edgar Oscroft founded the company that continues to bear his name, AE Oscroft, initially producing presswork metal parts from the rear of his home in Redditch. Thanks to the invaluable support of his wife Dorothy and later his daughter Diana, Arthur was able to expand the business within its original location to the point where it had as many as six power presses, numerous hand presses, drilling machines and ancillary equipment. By 1965, it was time for AE Oscroft to spread its wings, moving into a 9000-sq. ft. two storey facility. As the business flourished, the second generation of the Oscroft’s came onboard, with eldest son Ian joining in 1957 and brother Chris following in his footsteps in 1961, after the completing of a five-year apprenticeship in machine tool making at Archdale Machine Tools. The third generation would later take their places within the family firm, with Ian’s two sons Guy and Tim joining in the early 1980s, and Chris’ son, Chris Jnr, in the early 1990s. Throughout all of this, AE Oscroft continued to steadily add new products and technologies to its service offering, and today offers a complete, bespoke service in the design and manufacture of pressings, welding, value added assemblies and prototypes in a diverse range of materials.


AE Oscroft

AIDA Challenging the Next Century

“I think when you look back at our growth and success over the years it really comes down to the values we have always had as a family with our desire to help people and deliver beyond expectations, whether they are customers, suppliers or employees,” begins AE Oscroft Managing Director, Chris Oscroft. “We have carried forward the spirit that was first instilled within the business by my grandfather and this has helped AE Oscroft remain strong for so many years. We have always believed that what makes a business successful is the way it not only prospers, but also the way it deals with

AIDA is world-leading supplier of mechanical and servo metal stamping presses, automation equipment and complete metal forming systems. AIDA was the first company in the world to develop and market direct-drive servo presses (DSF - Direct Servo Former), delivering to date over 1000 units worldwide. AIDA presses are used to manufacture a broad range of items including automobile components, appliance parts, electric and electronic components, connectors and terminals, and motor laminations. Since its foundation in 1917, the company has continuously evolved, and today AIDA has production plants in Asia, Europe and North America, with a global presence in over 60 countries worldwide. 61

AE Oscroft

challenges as they arise, and we do this by leveraging three generations of knowledge and expertise.” Historically a subcontract presswork supplier of components to the automotive industry, it was through this work that the company became well versed in supplying to a highly demanding, fast-paced sector, as well as the vital need to be able to work flexibly and with new types of material. “What we have decided to do in more recent years is take the expertise we have picked up working with automotive customers and transfer this into other industry sectors to deliver challenging projects with tight turnaround times seamlessly,” Chris states. A good example of the above that comes to Chris’s mind involved the company being tasked with the production of a special rail seat in triple tempered aluminum for a particular customer that was, at the time, finding the project to be non-viable due to the cost of the process and its 21-minute cycle time. “What we did in this instance is sit down with the customer, run a number of simulations and devised a way of using conventional pressing methods to essentially re-develop the product for the customer,” Chris explains. “The end result was that we were able to reduce the cycle time down to just two minutes and do so at a quarter of the previous cost. Since then, the customer has managed to secure a number of contracts that will result in the installation of thousands of these new seats.” In 2013, the company made arguably its most significant move to date, relocating its operations to a new 53,500-sq. ft. facility, and in the process investing a considerable amount of capital into its machine capabilities. One of the biggest additions has been a £1.5 million Servo Press with a 630 tonne capacity, which joins a range of CNC presses down to 25 tonne capacity, two CNC millers, robot welding facilities, spot welding and projection welding tools, a fully operational tool-room, a quality centre, a full consultative prototype service and a fleet of branded vehicles. When placed under the same roof, this suite of services has helped AE Oscroft become a veritable one-stop-shop for its customers. “Other specialisms we are looking to introduce or expand upon within our facility include non-destructive testing welds and five-axis laser cutting, the latter of which is a service being increasing requested by our customers,”


Chris continues. “We have made a very concerted effort to deliver a product that is wrapped up with a comprehensive design, development, testing and quality service offering. This is allowing AE Oscroft to become better integrated into its customers’ projects at an earlier stage, and in turn making us better equipped to deliver greater value throughout the process.” Another large part of the business that we would be remiss not to mention is the manufacture of steel wheels, which became a key facet of AE Oscroft following its acquisition of well-known UK manufacturer Weller Wheels. “What we saw in Weller Wheels was the opportunity to address some of the issues that exist today when it comes to the mass production of aluminum wheels by relaunching the brand as Europe’s only low volume manufacturer of steel wheels, built from scratch using traditional methods,” Chris says. “Not only do aluminum wheels all look very similar, they also present the risk of experiencing a catastrophic failure when curbed, whereas steel wheels look unique and they also provide increased safety properties. What an important brand like Weller Wheels allows AE Oscroft to do is design, develop, FEA test, physically test and integrate with customers to develop bespoke, added value solutions to suit their needs.” Going forward, it is Chris’s intention to retain the company’s strong presence within the automotive sector, developing in line with its customers as they navigate through a rapidly changing industry. These changes have resulted in AE Oscroft becoming increasingly involved in electric vehicle manufacturing, an area where it has a fair amount of experience from its days supplying the Formula E CX75 project and working with some of the big players in the development of electric vehicle batteries. Today, it finds itself playing an important role in assisting in the evolution of said batteries, working to create better life cycles and achieve better costs.

AE Oscroft

Products: Presswork manufacturer and supplier

Materials Services Aerospace

Customized global supply chain solutions for the aerospace industry Global footprint, local presence Flexible and reliable partner Reduced risk and total cost of ownership for our customers Global Quality Management system Material supply with value-added services Tailored first stage machining Finished parts and assemblies 3rd Party Logistics

thyssenkrupp Aerospace Global Headquarters thyssenkrupp Allee 1 45143 Essen Germany

Wondrous precision Constantly challenging the conventional, Laser Wire Solutions willingly takes on its customers’ problems, employing its ingenuity to create exceptional cable and wire stripping machines

Dr Paul Taylor, CEO & Founder of Laser Wire Solutions, sitting before an Odyssey-4 unit

Pic: Huw John Photography

The Laser Wire laboratory showing Odyssey-4 units

Laser Wire exhibits at the Electrical Wire Processing Expo earlier this year in Milwaukee, USA



he story of Laser Wire Solutions is one that can inspire any fledging entrepreneur.Through hard work, perseverance, and thinking outside the box, the designer and manufacturer of state-of-the-art laser products for the precise removal of insulation from specialist high-value wires and cables, has succeeded in becoming a leader in its field only six years after its inception. “Innovation is our buzzword,” states the company’s founder and Managing Director, Paul Taylor. “The commercial acumen, which enables us to recognise gaps in the market, together with our deep understanding of laser physics, as well as our willingness to work flexibly and in close collaboration with our customers to creatively solve their specific problems, have been the biggest drivers of our success. We consider ourselves to be responsive and proactive in our approach to dealing with customers and we also have a reputation for not shying away from challenging projects. Our vision is to help clients create products that take their respective industry a step further into the future.” Today, Laser Wire Solutions supplies its cable and wire stripping machines to the medical, data communications, automotive, and aerospace sectors, having built a strong customer base.To get to this prominent position, however, Paul had to overcome multiple challenges when he started the business, being a small player with limited financial resources. Bags of experience in applied laser technology, gained while working on diverse projects such as DVD manufacture and the building of optical atomic clocks for over 20 years, as well as commitment to delivering solutions to complex problems allowed him to find a space in a sphere where large blue-chip medical device companies were struggling to find suppliers who could develop their required solution. Paul continues: “Supported by a SMARTCymru grant, we developed and sold the company’s first high-tech laser wire cutting machine to a French company in 2012.The first of its kind, this machine strips microscopic wires used in a range of technologically advanced products, such as pacemaker coils, medical devices, and mobile phones.This initial success gave the business credibility and helped us raise £275,000 of investment from Finance Wales and the Xenos Business Angel network, which provided the much-needed cash injection to enable bigger orders to be fulfilled. “Having secured the additional funding, we were able to develop our Odyssey technology, which has secured us the lucrative account of Biosense Webster – the medical device manufacturing arm of Johnson & Johnson, an American multinational medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods manufacturing company,” he adds. A range of enamel wire strippers, the Odyssey products are capable of the highest quality removal of thin polyimide like coatings from medical catheter wiring and precision coils. “The Odyssey-4, in particular, launched in 2017, is a clear example of innovation meeting customer needs. It helped us generate over £1 million in business last year with demand having stayed strong throughout 2018, too. Another example of innovation is the Mercury-6 that is used for stripping

Laser Wire Solutions

Queens Award presentation by Lord Lieutenant for Mid Glamorgan, Dame Kate Thomas, presented in July 2018. Pic: Huw John Photography

multi-layer automotive battery cables. Its creation was instrumental in us winning first one, and then several more orders from Tesla,” Paul points out. Doubling the sales volume of its Mercury machines could largely be put down to Laser Wire Solutions receiving the support of Schleuniger AG – a multinational manufacturer of precision mechanical wire processing equipment. “By being a niche player, we were spotted by Schleuniger who took a 20 per cent share in our business. In turn, we have leveraged their international network of agents and distributors. We are currently training and supporting them to sell our entire laser range to their large international customer base and in doing so, we anticipate to broaden our geographical reach,” Paul discusses. Earlier this year, Laser Wire Solutions won another major grant, this time from Innovate UK, for the development of robotic cutting-edge laser soldering at a sub 0.1mm pitch capability. Paul comments: “Nowadays, small medical devices are hand-soldered, using a microscope and a very steady hand.The next generation of devices, like ultra-sound cables, calls for a connection pitch of only 0.1mm, but this is beyond the skill of all but the most experienced operators and, hence, is a major bottleneck for production.” As a result of its rapid development, between 2014 and 2017, the company’s turnover rose dramatically from just £250,000 to over £5 million, with Paul aiming the business to hit the £15 million mark by 2021. In addition, the staff headcount also increased in the said period – from four to 26 employees, who filled the newly-opened highly skilled design and engineering positions at Laser Wire Solutions.


Further evidence of the company’s success can be found in the recognition it has received from a number of renowned institutions that have placed it on their lists of best-performing businesses. Laser Wire Solutions was named the fifth fastest growing manufacturing company in Europe on this year’s FT1000 Fastest Growing Companies list, also finding a place in the prestigious Deloitte 2018 UK Technology Fast 50 ranking and on the ST Hiscox Tech Track 100 league table. More impressive still was the Queen’s Award for Enterprise (for International Trade) it was presented with in July, highlighting its 176 per cent compound annual growth in revenue over the last three years. Holding a 100 per cent export record, Laser Wire Solutions places continuing to build close connections with its overseas customers on top of its priorities for the future. Paul explains: “We need to keep delivering value-added solutions and offering critical technical support when our clients need it. As technology evolves and wires and cables become more complex in composition and configuration, lasers often prove to be the only viable stripping solution, which, in turn, creates a sustained need for our capabilities and services. Looking ahead, the challenge for us is to remain innovative, flexible, and responsive to market needs, whilst managing our direct and indirect costs.”

Laser Wire Solutions Products: Laser wire strippers

The Mercury-6 with barcode reader 65



SPI Lasers has continued to bring innovative fibre lasers to the market in 2018, having also taken care of future-proofing the business by expanding its manufacturing space


ith lasers being on the cutting-edge of technology, the pace of their development is rapid, to say the least,” begins Mark Greenwood, CEO of SPI Lasers. Headquartered on the South Coast of England, in Southampton, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of fibre lasers has enjoyed a positive year with considerable growth, investment for the future, and exciting product development. During 2018, SPI Lasers has introduced four new items to its product line – two under its redENERGY brand (200W Air Cooled and 200W pulsed) and two for the redPOWER brand (8kW and 2kW single mode). “We increased CW power to 8kW in multi-mode and 2kW in single-mode, in order to enhance our capability for oscillation welding. In addition, our newly-released 200W nanosecond laser has significantly increased battery foil cutting speeds. Last but not least, we have developed ‘pierce detection’ capability for our multi-kW CW products, using back-reflected light monitored within the laser to detect the pierce point. This allows fast initiation of cutting, thus speeding up manufacturing time in processes where multiple cuts are required,” comments Mark. Fierce competition and price pressures have proven to pose certain challenges for SPI Lasers over the past 12 months, but Mark reports that the business has remained stable, courtesy of its key accounts valuing the company’s high-quality product and service offering. “A recent Customer Satisfaction survey discovered that more than 90 per cent of our customers have rated our products as ‘high quality’ or better, which is a clear sign that we place a strong emphasis on addressing our clients’ needs accurately. This will remain a long-term commitment of ours, as we are willing to continue offering top-class products backed by market-leading levels of aftersales service and support,” he adds. SPI Lasers’ products are used in a wide array of industrial manufacturing processes across the globe, including marking, welding, cutting, drilling, engraving, ablation, additive manufacturing, as well as cleaning. As a truly global business that exports 95 per cent of its solutions, the company has an insightful look at market demands and the direction the industry has taken in recent times. Mark discusses: “It is evident that there has been an increased demand for our products, when it comes to them being used in additive manufacturing, and this is happening on a global scale. Furthermore, the solar industry, especially in China, is also showing heightened interest in our lasers. “The global buzzword at the moment, however, is e-mobility. It is an area that continues to gain traction, quickly becoming a major focus, as companies race to manufacture the next generation of efficient electric vehicles. Lasers play a critical part in this industry, being heavily involved in the

redENERGY Pulsed lasers are incredibly versatile, easily able to even deep engrave stone


SPI Lasers manufacture of automotive batteries and infrastructure, and our goal is to ensure that our expertise is focused on this market.” Considerable infrastructure development has also been among the major highlights for SPI Lasers in 2018. The company expanded its facility in Southampton by 40,000 square feet, adding further office and manufacturing space to double its capacity and increase its overall site footprint to over 100,000 square feet. The construction took only six months to be completed and was opened officially in July at a grand ceremony. “Additionally, we have invested further in the UK through the purchase of a new facility in Rugby, which gave us access to an extra 80,000 square feet of manufacturing space,” Mark reveals. Having secured the Rugby site, SPI Lasers will now be able to enhance its ability to make components and assemble cabinets and cased products. Over the coming months, the newly-acquired manufacturing premises will be the subject of a multimillion pound refurbishment with the company intending on utilising the additional space to accelerate its vertical integration programmes and further optimise its manufacturing processes. In parallel, the investment in expanding the business’ Southampton plant will allow SPI Lasers to initially focus on doubling its pulsed production capacity, so that it can meet growing global demand. Purpose-built to integrate some of the very latest manufacturing technologies, the new state-of-the-art facility will ensure the consistency in the products’ quality. The development of the two sites also underlines the company’s mission to harness the very best of British engineering and innovation excellence, making sure that not only does it apply lean manufacturing techniques and processes in building its products, but also aims to attract the most skilled engineers and technicians to work on them. Due to the fact that a vast majority of SPI Lasers’ key customers are located in China, and more specifically, in Shenzhen, it was just natural for the manufacturer to open a new applications service and sales centre in the southeastern city. The facility is fully equipped with both 2kW SM and 6kW CW MM laser sources, with scanner and fixed head beam delivery options, as well as a full suite of pulsed lasers to be used on three independent scannerbased workstations. It also has a metallographic preparation area, welding quality evaluation tools, and an optical microscopy suite, suitable for completing a broad range of customer cases and investigations. Mark talks about the strategic importance of the move: “Being able to support our clients locally should bring tremendous benefit for us. We believe that we will be capable of markedly increasing sales in this part of the world, whilst forging the customer relations we have already established in the region. I should also mention that in 2018, we opened another service centre – in Chicago, in order to stay close to both our North and South American customers.” Based in Wauconda, Illinois, the facility complements the company’s existing sales and applications centre in Santa Clara, California. It has been equipped with all the

New in 2018 redPOWER 8kW High Power CW laser

tools needed to service the full range of SPI Lasers products, also including a splicing capability to enable replacement of laser modules and beam delivery cables. The facility also offers a full electronic test diagnostic and recalibration capability, as well as local spares holding. “Process monitoring, particularly with regards to welding and additive manufacturing, is a key area of interest to us, so we are currently evaluating the ‘pierce detection’ feature and examining the ways in which it can be used for other applications. This will be a major topic for us in 2019. The new year will also see the launch of a new product called VariMode. It will give customers the ability to change the beam characteristics and enhance processing capability,” Mark gives us a glimpse of what the coming 12 months might be holding in store for SPI Lasers. A bright metal show piece cut using a redPOWER CW laser, using back reflection technology 67

SPI Lasers “Together with this, we will remain focused on increasing CW power, providing high-quality, reliable laser sources. In fact, we have just sold our first 10kW laser, the demand for which is driven by an ever-increasing global appetite for enhanced productivity through higher power lasers. Speaking of SPI Lasers’ long-term strategy, we aspire to be a profitable and innovative global leader in the development and lean manufacture of fibre lasers by listening to and meeting (and even exceeding) customer expectations,” he concludes.

SPI Lasers Products: Fibre lasers

TeraXion TeraXion’s key photonic components and partnership approach helps customers design industry-defining laser, telecom and sensing systems, with more power, speed and precision. It is thanks to long-standing partnerships with committed customers, such as SPI Lasers, that TeraXion can continue to push the limits of the fiber Bragg grating and optical packaging technologies at the core of its highpower fiber laser offering. The future is bright for SPI Lasers, and TeraXion looks forward to pursuing this fruitful collaboration. Congratulations!


A press advert highlighting the endless possibilities that are opened up when using lasers in industrial manufacturing