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Manufacturing BEST PRACTICES FOR INDUSTRY LEADERS

Issue 164 2019

today

A shared vision of

excellence

Metallic aerospace parts manufacturer Gardner Aerospace is implementing ambitious plans for the future – all while maintaining its unrivalled level of service excellence

Also in this issue: • Disruptive technology • Energy • Maintenance • Servitisation • Human resources

EUROPE

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Editor

Chairman Andrew Schofield Managing Director Joe Woolsgrove Editor Libbie Hammond Assistant Editor Will Daynes

Manufacturing

Staff Writer Vladi Nikolov

BEST PRACTICES FOR INDUSTRY LEADERS

Production Manager Fleur Daniels

Issue 164 2019

today

EUROPE

www.manufacturing-today-europe.com

A shared vision of

excellence

Art Editor/Design David Howard

Metallic aerospace parts manufacturer Gardner Aerospace is implementing ambitious plans for the future – all while maintaining its unrivalled level of service excellence

Advertising Design Fiona Jolliffe Advertising Administrator/Office Manager Tracy Chynoweth studio@schofieldpublishing.co.uk Operations Director Philip Monument

Also in this issue: UÊ ˆÃÀի̈ÛiÊÌiV…˜œœ}ÞÊUÊ ˜iÀ}ÞÊUÊ>ˆ˜Ìi˜>˜ViÊ UÊ-iÀۈ̈Ã>̈œ˜ÊUÊՓ>˜ÊÀiÜÕÀViÃ

Operations Manager Natalie Griffiths

Take

Editorial Researchers Mark Cowles Tarj D’Silva Jeff Goldenberg Ben Richell Richard Saunders Kieran Shukri Advertising Sales Mark Cawston Theresa McDonald Gary Silk Sam Surrell Web Sales web@schofieldpublishing.co.uk Independent Sales Dave King Exclusive Features Darren Jolliffe Social Media Thomas Marques Subscriptions i.kidd@schofieldpublishing.co.uk

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care

he human resources feature on page 14 of this issue of MTE particularly caught my eye, as I like the idea of investing in the ‘maintenance’ of staff as you would with any other important bit of machinery on the shop floor. We take our cars for MOTs and get our boilers serviced at home – but do we take the same care of ourselves, or as employers,

appreciate the benefits of a happy, healthy workforce? As the author of the article, Kevin Rogers points out, ‘with an average of 4.1 sickness days per employee, the cost of absence soon adds up’. There are policies and practices that can benefit the whole company not just the individual – perhaps it’s time to extend the maintenance plan to include a human element?

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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!

Please note: The opinions expressed by contributors and adver tisers within this publication do not necessarily coincide with those of the editor and publisher. Every reasonable effor t is made to ensure that the information published is accurate, and correct at time of writing, but no legal responsibility for loss occasioned by the use of such information can be accepted by the publisher. All rights reserved. The contents of the magazine are strictly copyright, the proper ty of Schofield Publishing, and may not be copied, stored in a retrieval system, or reproduced without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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Features

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4 Manufacturing news

Updates and announcements from the manufacturing arena

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6 Disruptive technologies

Artificial intelligence makes industry more attainable and manageable, opening up opportunities – ultimately it is a tool for humans to harness

8 Energy

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For many businesses, energy is their most expensive operating cost. There are some immediate solutions available to mitigate these high expenses

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10 Maintenance

Predictive maintenance is an achievable goal with the right tools, guidance and motivation. Find the features, models and methods that work for your business

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12 Servitisation

Manufacturers are looking for new revenue streams, based on selling outcomes and services instead of strictly selling products

14 Human resources

Kevin Rogers says that manufacturing companies must invest in ‘maintenance’ of the individuals that run their factories, as well as the machines

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Contents Profiles

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18 Gtech 22 Bromford Industries 26 Stephenson 30 Fabdec

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34 Dynasafe 38 Gardner Aerospace 42 Aerotech Peissenberg GmbH & Co. KG

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46 Ham Baker Group

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42

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News in brief

Austrian investment

Leaders in partnership Rolls-Royce and ABB have announced a global partnership on microgrid technology and advanced automation. Together the two companies will offer an innovative, energy-efficient microgrid solution for utilities, commercial and industrial entities. Andreas Schell, CEO, Rolls-Royce Power Systems commented: “Combining our integrated MTU diesel and gas genset system technology and our control solutions, with ABB’s modular microgrid solution, control capability and remote service, will offer customers the combined strengths of the two world leaders in technology.”

Expansion plans Secure Trust Bank Commercial Finance has provided a £5m invoice finance facility to BCW Manufacturing Group, as the manufacturer looks to expand its factory space and production line. With a prestigious client-base including Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover, BCW currently has a turnover of £26m. To support growth plans, Secure Trust Bank Commercial Finance has provided £5m funding to BCW, which will be used to fund the expansion of the company’s existing site with an 80,000square-foot development. The bolstered headquarters will see the creation of a dedicated state-of-the-art automotive machining facility and additional warehouse space.

Focused on safety CHEP has celebrated 12 years of incident-free working at the company’s Dublin plant in Finglas through an industry leading health & safety initiative called Zero Harm. Jerry Hedderman, Service Centre Manager at CHEP’s Dublin plant said: “Everyone is extremely proud of the journey we have taken to get us to this milestone. I am delighted that we have been able to change the culture within the plant to one that is so highly focused on driving safety not only as individuals, but as a team. There is a real culture of care within the team now. We have a total of 45 staff at our plant in Dublin and everyone has played an active role in our Zero Harm initiative.”

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Dietsmann Smart Robotics Lab (DSRL), a 100 per cent-owned subsidiary of the Dutch Dietsmann Group, has made a substantial investment in Austrian robotics technology specialist Taurob GmbH. Peter Kütemann, founder and CEO of Dietsmann, said in his address: “Taurob has developed one of the first ATEX-certified intelligent robots with an intuitive control system and multipurpose interfaces for quick and easy add-on integration. We see it as the near future replacement of human inspection and maintenance missions, especially in remote and hazardous energy production locations.” In turn, Lukas Silberbauer, one of Taurob’s Directors, stated: “Compared to last year, our team has already doubled, and through our partnership with Dietsmann we will continue our strong growth path. We hired senior experts across multiple domains who help to make our robots more intelligent, capable and robust than ever before. Robots and Artificial Intelligence are the future, and we are well prepared to change the game.” Finally, his business partner, Matthias Biegl, expressed what this new partnership means for their company, explaining that: “The announcement of the strong partnership with Dietsmann is a milestone in the history of Taurob. This co-operation will add great commercial value to industrial end users and facilitate the wide distribution of ground robots and robotic services.”

Exciting step

Scott Henderson

ABGI Group, an international leader in R&D tax incentives and innovation consulting, has launched its UK division. Operating under the name of ABGIUK, the firm will be based in Edinburgh with its focus on companies with 500+ employees. With a heritage going back over 30 years, ABGI Group is the consulting division of Visiativ Group, a French listed company specialising in innovation and digital transformation. ABGI is dedicated to helping clients accelerate innovation and business expansion around the world. The new UK operation will provide expert advice and support in a number of areas including R&D tax credit claims for larger companies which qualify under the Government’s RDEC scheme. It will also support large British-based businesses with grant and subsidy management as well as innovation funding applications. ABGI-UK’s CEO, Scott Henderson, will continue with his current position as Managing Director of ABGI-UK’s sister company, Jumpstart. Other members of Jumpstart will also start to focus on the new division. Mr Henderson said: “The launch of ABGI-UK is an exciting step for ABGI Group. We are in a strong position to leverage our decades of experience and international footprint for the benefit of larger businesses across the UK. We also have the opportunity to work with Visiativ to explore the digitisation of our consulting business.”


Manufacturing News Reaping the benefits Nervacero S.A., a leading Spanish manufacturer of corrugated rods, is achieving increased productivity and process optimisation as a result of implementing AMETEK Land’s Slag Detection System (SDS). The SDS is a continuous thermal monitoring system, which provides accurate and timely detection of slag carryover in the steelmaking process. Processing over 700,000 tons of molten steel per year, Nervacero recently upgraded to the latest SDS-E version and uses it in the melt shop for monitoring the steel stream from the electric arc furnace (EAF) to the ladle. Pablo Beitia, Director at Nervacero S.A. in Spain, explains: “The SDS-E has helped to reduce slag carryover significantly and ladle refractory wear, as well as improved our ferroalloy performance whilst enhancing productivity of our melt shop and refining process. We have also been able to reduce our use of additives, therefore lowering our overheads, and avoid any ladle overfilling issues.”

£13.5m Global Centre of Excellence

Safer option Re-Gen Robotics, sister company of Re-Gen Waste Ltd, has launched the first and only remotely controlled, ‘No Man Entry’ robotic tank cleaning company in the British Isles. The company has invested £1.5m in two purposebuilt, fully compliant, Ex Zone 0 rated machines; one designed to desludge, wash and clean large scale tanks and a second, lightweight and highly portable compact unit suitable for use on smaller sites and underground storage tanks and containers, including petrol forecourts, interceptors and process tanks. The state-of-the-art, automatic tank cleaning system will eradicate industry fatalities in the British Isles, eliminating human exposure to Confined Spaces and hugely decreasing all risk categories. Re-Gen Robotic’s unique, closed loop cleaning system is fully compliant with existing safety legislation and can reduce cleaning time by up to 45 per cent, significantly decreasing downtime and loss of production whilst the facilities are not operational.

Artist’s impression

Woodhead Group has been appointed as the contractor for the University of Nottingham’s new £13.5m Research and Innovation Centre for Power Electronics and Machines. The research and innovation centre is the biggest contract secured by the construction company and will create a global centre of excellence for the university’s world-leading Power Electronics, Machines and Control (PEMC) Research Group. The centre is the latest of several significant projects completed for the university by Woodhead Group, including the BREEAM Excellent-rated Ingenuity Centre and the Research Acceleration Demonstration building. Professor Pat Wheeler, Head of the Power Electronics, Machines and Control Research Group, said: “New technologies for Power Electronics and Electrical Machines are essential to meet the massive economic and environmental benefits of transportation electrification and the integration of renewable energy sources in our electrical utility networks. “This Centre provides the exciting opportunity for the research group to continue to expand its world leading research work in these increasingly important research topics. “We are looking forward to working with Woodhead Group as well as the selected design and project management partners, to ensure the successful and timely delivery of this exciting flagship project.” The new facility, which was given £9.4m by the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (RPIF), which is run by Research England, will provide office and research accommodation for the research group and will join the Faculty of Engineering’s growing research cluster. The design has been put forward by architects Bond Bryan and will be project managed by Aecom, with Turner and Townsend acting as cost consultant.

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Fresh

thinking Kyle Huebner looks at where the electronics industry is today

Kyle Huebner

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here is a tendency to refer to new and innovative technology as ‘disruptive’, akin to something negative or irritating, when really it has the potential to introduce fresh and exciting ideas to an industry. While that potential is exhilarating, the transition into the new normal is a time of uncertainty. A meaningful disruption of any industry is a meticulous process, gradually testing and introducing entirely new techniques, technologies and ideas with deliberation. When enough of these ideas come to fruition at the same time, the results can be revolutionary. Industry 4.0 is the label assigned to the latest transformation in manufacturing. It is a collective term for the continually expanding explosion of data exchange and computerisation in the manufacturing space. The digitalisation and connectivity that are already fundamental to many elements of modern manufacturing offer the potential for the bar in manufacturing to be permanently raised. In the words of MIT scientist George Westerman, such technologies are the difference between ‘a caterpillar turning into a butterfly [and] a really fast caterpillar.’


Disruptive technologies The components Artificial intelligence (AI) is the most important catalyst in the change facing the industry today. AI is capable of mechanising processes, boosting efficiency and saving labour by automating human involvement. When truly integrated with automation, the benefits transcend the shop floor and permeate the business from the top down. AI can connect machinery in a way that allows devices to ‘speak’ to each other, collating countless volumes of data to analyse performance across the entire manufacturing process. This data can, with the right strategy and insights, result in hugely enhanced performance and operational versatility. Not only can existing processes become more streamlined and cost-effective, but manufacturers can make operational changes based upon the projections that AI provides. No other technology has offered the physical on-site benefits alongside such strategic introspection since the computer. From the supply chain to the introduction of robots, AI is driving industry-wide digitalisation through selfevaluation; it introduces both game-changing mechanisms and the analytical lens to improve them.

Productive disruption All this buzz has led customers to approach design through to manufacture companies and specifically ask how they leverage AI to build products more efficiently or how the end result benefits. This will differ in every use case. As AI doesn’t have a universally agreed definition, it means it’s easy for companies to add excitement to a product or services by namedropping it. Deep learning, machine learning, neural networks and so on are amalgamated into an exciting, complex and nebulous idea that is used as something of a marketing ploy. As a general rule, the brute-force element that is Industry 4.0 has given way to the idea of more ‘sophisticated manufacturing’, which has erroneously at time been termed as AI. This is the use of technology to incrementally improve every part of the business. There is the potential here for paper to transcend into the digital, with every document or data point becoming another node of information to help decision makers and operation management. For all of the excitement around AI, there is an understandable risk of attempting too much, too soon. You can’t go into every function on the manufacturing floor and plug in technology to guarantee improvement. Once the hype around AI dissipates and the real-life applications of the technology become more commonplace, expectations will begin to find a balance between idealism and realism. The better we get at writing and understanding the behaviours of AI, the more function can be applied on both sides of the customer relationship. Demands will be met in a more reliable and predictable fashion, and the production cycle will be quicker than ever before.

The human factor Just as AI champions can be too enthusiastic in the applications of the technology, so too can sceptics bring the negative associations of ‘the allknowing machine’ into their evaluation of how and where the technology should be disrupting processes and industries. Some would argue that streamlining is not necessarily beneficial if it eliminates jobs. As recently as January The Daily Telegraph suggested that four in five manufacturing firms are struggling to secure skilled workers, whilst Engineering UK’s 2018 industry report highlighted a shortfall of 124,000 skilled (Level 3+) engineers. The removal of further positions in favour of an AI-based alternative could theoretically exacerbate this. History has proven this sort of thinking to be false. It may be difficult for manufacturers to acquire skilled employees, but a technology that makes a powerful and beneficial impact will demand that people learn how to

use it. We did so with the computer, which is now a staple part of business communications. At the time of adoption, the level of familiarity and education of the tool was quite varied. Every company in the AI sector expects AI to create more jobs and is strategising based on this assumption. When the ATM was invented, people said it would destroy banks by removing the need for tellers. But less tellers per bank meant that banks could open more branches, allowing them to vastly widen their footfall and hire more tellers than ever. “At the dawn of the self-service banking age in 1985, for example, the United States had 60,000 automated teller machines and 485,000 bank tellers. In 2002, the United States had 352,000 ATMs – and 527,000 bank tellers. ATMs notwithstanding, banks do a lot more than they used to and have a lot more branches than they used to,” - Charles Fishman, The Toll of a New Machine, FAST COMPANY. There are also elements of manufacturing that simply do not suit automation and AI’s involvement. Humans are exceptional at handling variation, have a creative capacity that data cannot accommodate for, and – even if nothing else – are needed to maintain executive control on the AI systems that are being introduced. Ultimately, AI is a tool for humans to harness. It makes industry more attainable and manageable, opening up far more opportunities than it kills. The impact that it will make in the long term on the human skill-set will create jobs across every industry in maximising its potential. v

Kyle Huebner Kyle Huebner is Manufacturing Automation Manager at Plexus. Plexus is an industry leader that specialises in serving customers with complex products, providing global Design and Development, Supply Chain Solutions, New Product Introduction, Manufacturing and Aftermarket Services. With a culture built around innovation and customer service, Plexus’ teams create customised end-to-end solutions to assure the realisation of the intricate products in demanding regulatory environments. www.plexus.com

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Unlockingaccess Craig Akers looks at the impact of increased energy costs across the UK, the perceived restrictions placed on smaller manufacturers from mitigating the impact, and the potential immediate solutions that many seemingly do not yet realise the potential of

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K industry is at a crossroads in its energy consumption. Grappling with a series of interconnected pressures, many industrial users of electricity face the prospect of spiralling energy prices with a corresponding reduction in competitiveness. For many businesses, energy is their most expensive operating cost, with some experiencing annual energy bills at circa 20-25 per cent of their operating costs. And yet, attempts to mitigate the cost of energy all-toooften run into the familiar road blocks. The UK’s ageing and inefficient asset base is one barrier, but so are capex constraints and the perceived technical obstacles of implementing many of the potential solutions. 2019 has been coined by many as ‘the year of decentralised energy’ and awareness of its benefits is only going to snowball. A recent piece of research commissioned by Aggreko found that 43 per cent of respondents had considered their own electricity generation. However, 38 per cent of respondents have had an investment for new equipment to reduce energy consumption turned down in the last five years due to capex restrictions. The cost of energy, and to a slightly lesser degree sustainability, are clearly

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the key drivers for companies wanting to move towards a decentralised future. This isn’t just our opinion; we have conducted extensive qualitative and quantitative research within the market to understand key drivers and pain points. However, UK businesses that have a large, constant demand for energy (such as manufacturers) face two key threats. One is that the price of energy in the UK will rise, compared to the cost faced by competitor firms abroad, placing UK firms at a significant disadvantage. And secondly that they will be unable to maintain their energy supply needs from the grid, stunting growth.

The growth of decentralised energy Decentralised energy, as an independent source of power, is a solution that is quickly becoming adopted by many large industrial and commercial organisations. There are already a number of examples in the manufacturing industry where companies are harnessing technologies such as wind, solar and CHP. However, this just is not a viable option for the majority of companies, yet. We are however seeing more companies take smaller steps to reduce costs in their organisations. Demand side response (DSR), for example, is


Energy a solution that has been round for many years. More and more businesses are discovering the revenue potential of engaging in DSR and many are now enjoying lower electricity tariffs for their flexibility. But that appears to be as far as we’ve got in the UK. What’s clear is that there is definitely ambition to move to a completely decentralised energy future, however, there are many obstacles in the way.

Barriers to adoption Cost and funding Money - it makes the world go round, but is also a barrier to progression in many areas of life. As stated previously, this has stumped a number of UK companies who feel at loggerheads with the need to drive down costs, but not having the capital to do so. Nevertheless, there are solutions to be found with certain incentives and adapting purchasing behaviour which we will come on to. Lack of technical expertise The two main barriers to decentralised energy come hand in hand. As with any new technology, the R&D required and the consequently high price point makes evolution difficult for many. This, coupled with a typically human resistance to change, means these barriers are perceived to be more impactful than they actually are. Aggreko’s recent research also highlighted that a staggering 76 per cent of businesses leave energy decision-making in the hands of other job roles aside from energy managers with potentially no specific technical energy knowledge. It is therefore no wonder that industry is not moving at a faster pace to change the way we generate and use energy. The future of decentralised energy is exciting but with many options to be considered and technology to understand, it can understandably cause a headache for many. So, with businesses concerned about the lack and cost of energy, how it will impact their business going forward, and sustainability, we need to break down the barriers to a cheaper, reliable source of power. Let’s look at some of the solutions that may help take industry forward:

production processes or to power essential every-day requirements, including lighting, heat and IT capabilities. What’s more, the heat generated can also be used to produce hot water with combined heat and power (CHP) units, offering extra cost savings, particularly in processing environments. It can also harness steam for a number of applications in addition to heating. The key point for end-users is that this type of technology can be deployed without making any significant changes to an end-user’s usual processes. The gas generator a simple switch from using mains electricity to gas generated electricity. While it still utilises some grid supply, it can significantly reduce the use and reliance on it, simultaneously reducing the costs due to the spark spread i.e. the difference between the cost of electricity and the cost of gas.

Waking up to off-balance sheet solutions The capex crunch that many industries are suffering from shows no sign of abating. However, one option that organisations should consider as an alternative to permanent fixed plant is hire equipment, which provides an off-balance sheet option with no requirement for depreciation of tangible assets – whilst also solving the technical knowledge issue. What’s more, hire solutions also come with maintenance capability, which ensures that products will always be optimised and any downtime can be foreseen and minimised. For those who might be intrigued by the potential of hire for their business but unsure of the financing options available, there are still many incentives within reach, such as Good Quality CHP under CHPQA. The Association of Decentralised Energy is a great source for this information and they have been very helpful in providing insight for Aggreko’s research. As highlighted, there are various solutions available to manufacturers who may think that they are not there yet. The purpose of Aggreko’s campaign is to create awareness of this bridging gap solution. v

Craig Akers

Gas generation Modern gas generators are one potential solution to reducing energy costs while we start to level with our European counterparts on decentralisation. When combined with battery storage capability, this solution can provide gas generated electricity that can be used as a primary power source for

Craig Akers is Sector Team Leader for manufacturing at Aggreko, a world-leading provider of mobile modular power, temperature control and energy services. Aggreko is working at the forefront of a rapidly changing energy market and is focused on solving its customers’ challenges to provide cost-effective, flexible and greener solutions across the globe. It harnesses innovation that helps it maintain a global reach and supply portable equipment for a wide range of uses. Aggreko specialises in serving eight key sectors: Oil & Gas, Manufacturing, Mining, Petrochemicals & Refining, Business Services & Construction, Events, Data Centres and Utilities. www.aggreko.com/en-gb/sectors-and-services/manufacturing

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Achievable

goals

Pulling down the barriers to predictive maintenance. By Jos Martin

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redictive maintenance promises a lot, from minimising machine downtime to adding revenue streams for equipment vendors with aftermarket services. These benefits are eminently achievable but only if you can keep engineering and business challenges from being the barrier to progress. So, what are the most common obstacles that stop businesses from successfully implementing predictive maintenance? And how is it possible to solve each of these challenges?

1. We don’t have enough data to create a predictive maintenance system Many predictive maintenance approaches rely on machine learning algorithms, so there must be enough data to create an accurate model. This data usually originates from sensors on machinery, but if the sensors are new or the way readings are logged limits the information, you will need to think about the best way to access enough data to build your models. The solution is fourfold: • Look to other departments in case they collect data that can be amalgamated with other data sets. • Contemplate changing the data logging options to record more data, perhaps on a test fleet if production data is not available. • Generate test data using simulation tools and combine that data with what sensor data is available to build and validate predictive maintenance algorithms. • Analyse data early to understand which features are important and which may be redundant so that unusable data can be deleted.

2. We lack the failure data needed for accurate results Failure data is a crucial part of teaching algorithms to recognise the warning signs to trigger just-in-time maintenance. However, failure data may not exist if maintenance is performed so often that no failures have occurred, or the

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system is safety critical and cannot be left to fail. To stop this, it is possible to simulate failure data and learn how to recognise warning signs from operations data. An engineer with detailed system knowledge of how the physical components work will be able to generate sample failure data with the right tools. Using a simulation product, an engineer can then build or use a physical model of the machine. Tools such as failure mode effects analysis (FMEA) provide useful starting points for determining which failures to simulate. The resulting failure data from those simulations is then labelled and stored for further analysis. When failure data isn’t present, operations data might show trends about how a machine degrades over time. But looking at the raw sensor data from a system, or machine with hundreds of sensors can be intimidating. Statistical techniques such as principal component analysis (PCA) can help reduce the dimensionality of such datasets and provide valuable insight into how equipment operates over time.


Maintenance In addition, it is also possible to generate data from existing models which can then be used to improve the amount of failure data.

3. We understand failures, but cannot predict them Understanding the cause of a failure is important for your business, but there is a significant difference between identifying what went wrong and knowing how to predict it. Root cause analysis is an integral part of domain knowledge. That, paired with predictive maintenance algorithms, creates an effective predictive maintenance program. If the algorithm part of the equation is a new and intimidating undertaking, you can take steps to reduce the learning curve. Firstly, it is important to define upfront what your goals are (e.g. earlier identification of failures, longer cycles, decreased downtime). You should then think about how the predictive maintenance algorithm will affect these goals. Building a framework that can test an algorithm and estimate its performance relative to your goals will enable faster design iterations. It will no longer be up for debate whether a new algorithm is better than the previous state, but rather it will be clear if a new algorithm is better based on the agreed-upon goals.

• Pre-process data by adjusting noise filtering or outlier settings or comparing the effect of different filtering on overall algorithm performance. • Instead of feeding sensor data directly into machine learning models, extract features from the sensor data. These features capture higher-level information in the sensor data. • Train the model by classifying the data at the outset and creating a comprehensive list of failure scenarios to predict, choose classification methods, and simulate models. • Generate code and deploy models as an application on hardware. Predictive maintenance is an achievable goal with the right tools, guidance, and motivation. Find the features, models, and methods that work for your business and iterate until you get it right - and remember you do not have to do it alone. v

But, if the understanding of what is causing the failures is there, then the right amount of domain knowledge is present. Make sure you understand the features and factors that affect the performance of the system and build a predictive maintenance algorithm. Once you and your team are comfortable building the algorithms for a simple problem, you can apply that knowledge to more complex systems. When predictive maintenance algorithms begin to show promising results, use current and historical data to test and validate models before moving to production. Use the domain knowledge within your team to tune models to predict different outcomes based on the cost/severity of those outcomes and to further validate models, add generated failure data similar to known historical conditions and test the system.

4. New predictive maintenance models come with financial risk Every new technology requires investment that must be justified, and the time required to realise ROI should be as short as possible. But this is difficult when there are uncertainties about how quickly you and your team can learn to use these new tools. If machine learning has only recently been introduced, it is only natural to see what might be considered an advanced application of it as a risk. However, there are steps to take that can minimise that risk and get up and running with a working predictive maintenance model as quickly as possible: • Work with tools that your engineers already know and work with. • Access sensor data gathered from multiple sources, such as databases, spreadsheets, or web archives.

Jos Martin Jos Martin is Senior Engineering Manager at MathWorks, the leading developer of mathematical computing software. MATLAB, the language of technical computing, is a programming environment for algorithm development, data analysis, visualisation, and numeric computation. Simulink is a graphical environment for simulation and Model-Based Design for multidomain dynamic and embedded systems. Engineers and scientists worldwide rely on these product families to accelerate the pace of discovery, innovation, and development in automotive, aerospace, electronics, financial services, biotech-pharmaceutical, and other industries. https://uk.mathworks.com

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Targeted

approach Servitisation - the five core characteristics of successful OEMs. By Gary Brooks

Gary Brooks

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anufacturing models of the past were very black and white: manufacturers would make and sell their products, and then their service organisations would repair those products after they broke down. In recent years, however, more and more manufacturers have been adding a competitive edge through a portfolio of integrated products and services, which has seen companies changing the way they do business. Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as increasing customer expectations, are all redefining the role of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Consumer preferences are also shifting from ‘ownership’ to ‘access’. For example, rather than owning a car, long-lease car rental or subscription to businesses like Zipcar for one-off trips are gaining popularity. This is driving manufacturers to look for new revenue streams, based on selling outcomes and services instead of strictly selling products – a trend now referred to as servitisation.

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Servitisation With consumers having become accustomed to 24/7 service, access via any device and switching suppliers to obtain the purchase they want, at the right time, for the right price, manufacturers cannot afford to keep customers waiting. These changes are forcing manufacturers to evolve their often suboptimised after-sales service operations, moving from a reactive, break-fix service model to one focused on maximising product uptime. Technologies such as sensors, IoT and machine learning enable the pre-emptive repair of equipment before it ever fails, therefore allowing manufacturers to focus on maximising product uptime, increasing performance and many other servicerelated metrics. It’s fair to say the industry has been slow on the uptake, because the move from making products to delivering product-centric services is no mean feat – it means transforming both the organisational structure and processes. Particularly over the past few years though, the widening gap between customer expectations and after-sales service realities, in addition to the emergence of Industry 4.0, has accelerated demand for the model, serving as the catalyst for manufacturers to make major changes, and ultimately, shift towards servitisation. The industry still has a long way to go – with many OEMs, industry analysts and academics suggesting the complete realisation of a servitisation-centered economy could take anywhere between five and 15 years. However, a number of core characteristics of leading OEMs are beginning to emerge – with the most common five noted below: 1. Optimised service parts supply chain. Executives globally are clocking on to the often sub-optimised, but lucrative, after-sales service space. According to McKinsey; “growth through aftermarket services offers a comparatively short and straight path to new revenue streams” and an optimised after-sales service organisation can offer “improved financial performance that sustains the company through the larger, long-term bets it makes.” For years, manufacturers have based after-sales service on a reactive, break-fix business model. This essentially means that the time between a piece of equipment breaking down and a technician servicing the machine can be huge, and the risk and the cost of downtime are all on the customer. In a servitisation-centered business, however, manufacturers must ensure they have a sophisticated service parts management solution in place to pre-empt repairs so that service parts are always available when and where they are needed. 2. High-level of service part fill rates. By identifying potential product failures prior to a breakdown occurring, manufacturers are able to transform their service parts supply chain from a costly and inefficient “just in case” model, to a highly efficient “just in time” model, where inventory levels are optimised, and service part fill rates are near 100 per cent. 3. Executive buy-in. Successful manufacturers are the ones which are working to establish the necessary infrastructure, resources and budget to make a shift to servitisation possible. Research from Worldwide Business Research (WBR) and Syncron shows that 66 per cent of manufacturers are beginning to feel pressure from the executive suite to shift away from a reactive, break-fix service model and move towards one that is focused on maximised product uptime. However, 98 per cent of equipment end users indicated they want to see more manufacturers offer service agreements

that include maximised product uptime. Those succeeding are the ones finding ways to accommodate these demands – those who don’t risk being left behind. 4. Optimised service part and service contract pricing. It may seem obvious that selling a service part or service contract for the optimal price is a key way to create competitive differentiation, but too many manufacturers are still using outdated methods like cost-plus or simple spreadsheets, which discourage efficiency and cost containment. With e-commerce players like Amazon and eBay becoming more focused on the service parts space, competitively priced parts will become more important than ever. Modern service parts pricing technologies ensure the end customer has a great experience, while the manufacturer is simultaneously maximising revenue and margins. 5. Subscription-based uptime service models. In the future, OEMs will no longer report on the number of new products sold, or even service parts revenue. In fact, they will follow the path many SaaS companies have taken, reporting on recurring revenue from subscription-based services. Customers will subscribe to their equipment much in the same way as they do their Netflix subscription, paying for output and value. Developing this portfolio of services is challenging and takes time, so it needs to be thought of as a marathon rather than a sprint. But, it’s the OEMs that have a strong vision for maximising product uptime, with executives who are driving their company to make the vision a reality, that are leading the way. Knowing where to place investment is tough, but a targeted approach which embraces technologies like sensors, AI and IoT, as well as the necessary resources and training is the key to success in a servitisation-focused world. v

Gary Brooks Gary Brooks is CMO at Syncron. Syncron empowers the world’s leading manufacturers to maximise product uptime and deliver exceptional after-sales service experiences, while driving significant revenue and profit improvements. From industry-leading investments in research and development, to providing the fastest time-to-value, Syncron’s award-winning, cloud-based service parts inventory, price and uptime management solutions are designed to continually exceed customer expectations. www.syncron.com

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Staff

maintenance How to tackle musculoskeletal disorders and stress in the manufacturing business

M

anufacturing is a world of precision and efficiency – where ensuring all the machinery within a company’s workshop or factory remains in good working order is the key to productivity and profitability. Businesses focus heavily on the quality and condition of their equipment (and rightly so), with significant investment made into maintenance schemes to avoid costly downtime when a part breaks. But many employers are simply not doing the same for the people who operate the machinery – despite the fact this can be just as costly for the business. Kevin Rogers, a former senior manager within the industry who now focuses on employee wellbeing as CEO of Health Cash Plan provider Paycare, says companies must invest in ‘maintenance’ of the individuals who run their factories, not just the machines… “When I worked as an accountant within an automotive pressing company,

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I sat in my office and all day long I would hear the noise of multiple presses, the biggest of which was 100 tonnes. If I couldn’t hear that noise then I knew there was a big problem because, putting it simply, the noise meant we were making money. “The presses operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week – and because they were so important, the company had invested in a preventative maintenance programme to minimise the chances of them suddenly grinding to a halt. “And, we see this trend repeated across pretty much every other area of the business – the computers the HR department use are insured against loss or damage, the company cars driven by the management team are regularly serviced, even the photocopier is likely to have a maintenance programme in place to ensure it remains in good working order. “But the irony is, the firm I worked for had absolutely no ‘maintenance’


Human resources programme in place to ensure its staff didn’t succumb to poor health, physically or mentally. Some may argue that you can replace a human more easily than a machine – but actually if that person is on long-term sick leave, or at work but not working at their best due to a health and wellbeing issue, then they are ultimately costing you money. And even if they leave the company due to their health, you then have the time and financial outlay associated with hiring a new recruit. “Surely it would be simpler to just look after your current staff, and make sure all of the experience and knowledge they have stays within the company? “While it’s impossible to completely eradicate sick leave, there are many policies and programmes managers can introduce to try and minimise the risk of an employee becoming unwell. We know two of the biggest causes of absence are musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) and stress/mental health, and there are various insurance policies employers can put in place to tackle their effects. “MSDs are a range of conditions affecting the muscles, bones and joints including carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. According to the Office for National Statistics, absence due to MSDs accounts for 18 per cent of the time taken off work in total. “Even if the team member comes to work, in reality they’re potentially not well enough to be there – contributing to the huge rise in presenteeism reported to the CIPD, with 86 per cent of people saying they’d seen people working when they obviously weren’t well enough. “Early diagnosis and treatment is key to minimising the effects of MSDs, so encouraging a workplace culture where people feel able to take time off for a doctor’s appointment, or feel comfortable enough to approach their manager if they’re starting to feel unwell, is absolutely key. “Having an open-door policy where managers are available as often as possible for an informal chat can help foster an atmosphere where staff feel able to speak up if they are concerned about their health. “Employees spend a large portion of their waking hours at work, so colleagues and bosses are well placed to notice if someone appears to be struggling. It’s not about bosses training to become physiotherapists or mental health experts, but about realising that the implications of such health issues will subsequently have a negative impact on their company’s efficiency and bottom-line. “In the event of a diagnosis of MSD, staff should see their working routine and responsibilities tweaked to suit their needs as much as possible, whether it’s less heavy lifting or minimising the need for repetitive motions. They should also be encouraged to attend sessions with a physiotherapist, chiropractor or other health professional – and this is where having an employee wellbeing strategy in place can provide huge return on investment. “Within the workplace, it’s also highly likely that some of the team will be struggling with a mental health issue – one in four people are now experiencing problems such as anxiety or depression. Again, encouraging staff to seek medical assistance and providing access to an employee assistance programme for confidential advice can help hugely. “Despite many issues, such as suicide, disproportionately affecting more men than women — with men three times more likely to take their own lives and those in their late 40s particularly at risk (Samaritans) — they are less likely than women to engage with any healthcare support. Some of the

reasons might be embarrassment, shame, or simply not being able to get an appointment at their physical GP surgery, and the use of online apps such as our Paycare GP 24/7 app absolutely helps ensure that people don’t put off seeing or speaking to someone. “Of course, these health concerns affect women too but, in a maledominated industry it’s absolutely critical that these issues are spoken about freely, confidentially, and most importantly, without judgement. As managers within the industry, it’s their duty of care to ensure that their team know exactly where they can go should they need support in a particular area of their lives, and GP apps are another route to ensure your staff receive quick, effective and qualified advice when it’s needed. “Not only can they remove some of the barriers people face when seeking health advice, but an app can be used at any time of the day or night — even on a lunch break at work — so there’s really no excuse in making this costeffective, but crucial, service available to your workforce as a way of protecting and maintaining their health. “Other ideas which can, and have, worked for businesses include dedicated workshops on topics like financial worries or managing workplace stress, setting up a wellbeing focus group, offering more flexible ways of work, and clearly communicating and sharing reminders about what options are available to the team, so they know what support is in place and how they can use it. “With an average of 4.1 sickness days per employee, the cost of absence soon adds up. But there are many options for employers looking to implement policies and practices which will benefit the company as a whole as well as the individuals within it. It really is a case of treating your staff like you would your machines, and putting a maintenance programme in place to minimise the risk of something going wrong.” v

Kevin Rogers Kevin Rogers is CEO of Health Cash Plan provider, Paycare, a not-for-profit Health Cash Plan provider that helps businesses recognise, reward and retain their employees, and provides preventative support covering their physical, mental and financial health and wellbeing needs. www.paycare.org

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04/09/2018 09:49


Manufacturing BEST PRACTICES FOR INDUSTRY LEADERS

Focus on... 18 Gtech

today

EUROPE

www.manufacturing-today-europe.com

22 Bromford Industries 26 Stephenson 30 Fabdec 34 Dynasafe 38 Gardner Aerospace 42 Aerotech Peissenberg GmbH & Co. KG 46 Ham Baker Group

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Founder and CEO of Gtech,, Nick Grey

Making life

easier

Gtech spent the better part of 2018 optimising its operations and now the company is ready to pursue further growth with the help of the two new innovative products it is releasing this year

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Gtech

F

or nearly two decades, Gtech has not compromised with its commitment to creating the best home and lifestyle products possible, in order to bring extra comfort and peace of mind to its customers. Founded by its current CEO Nick Grey in 2001, the designer and manufacturer of cordless home and garden appliances first gained prominence when Nick developed the world’s first cordless power sweeper. Since that watershed moment, the company has experienced a meteoric rise, going on to sell over 25 million products in 19 countries. The three key principles followed by Gtech have been in-house performance, customer service, and careful advertising. It is Nick’s unflinching tenacity, however, that should be outlined as the leading reason for the company’s impressive development over the years. Full of creative ideas, he decided to leave his job as Head of Product Development at a vacuum manufacturer and instead go solo. Initially working from his home in Worcestershire, he started exploring the possibilities of realising his designs and the first product he developed was the aforementioned cordless power sweeper. As it met with unbelievable success, particularly in the US, Nick felt that it was time for him

to launch the Gtech brand in his native UK, having previously focused predominantly on overseas markets. Admittedly, it took some time finding the right formula to penetrate the British market, but there eventually came a time when the vast majority of the business was based in the UK. This not being the first time Gtech has featured within the pages of Manufacturing

Today Europe, it is wor th recalling the goal Nick set for the company in early 2017 to once again grow its international appeal. Taking a look at its latest financial results published in the summer of 2018, it is safe to say that Gtech not only hit this particular target big time, but also turned over a record £120.8 million. According to the company, it achieved global sales of £17 million and it

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Uniserve Group Uniserve Group proudly supports Gtech with technologically advanced global supply chain solutions. Uniserve provides Gtech with origin warehousing and upstream logistics solutions in Asia, in addition to complete warehousing and inventory management in the UK. These services link seamlessly into its multiaward winning end-to-end ocean, air and road freight products, and are supported by the intelligent, highly sophisticated, One World supply chain management platform. During an 18-month partnership with Gtech, the pair have found many synergies between the two organisations and have developed a formidable supply chain partnership - they are certainly not businesses that stand still.

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merits mentioning that more than half of this international growth came from Taiwan where Gtech sold a total of 40,000 products, most of these being the handheld Multi vacuum cleaners. The mind-boggling growth achieved by the business in the last five years called for

it to slow down a little bit, and this is just what Gtech did in 2018. “Growing from £4 million to £120 million in a relatively short period of time rendered us a bit inefficient,” says Nick. The entrepreneur’s candid verdict led to a year in which Gtech simplified its structure, reviewed its operations, and


Gtech reduced unnecessary costs. It would perhaps be most accurate if we described the company’s endeavours in the past 12-18 months as taking a step back to take two forward in the coming years. “Indeed, while our turnover in 2018 was not as high as in previous years, we are now once again ready to grow and we are pleased to say that we have gotten off to a very strong star t in 2019,” Nick remarks. “As a whole, I think that the outlook for manufacturing in the UK is quite positive. In my opinion, if people here continue to invest in R&D and focus on specialist areas of manufacture, the industry will thrive.” Sharing his observations on the condition of the floorcare market in which Gtech is a leading representative, he feels that it needs to get back to its basics in certain areas. “The way I see it, some of the new products in the market are somewhat ill-conceived. Apparently, certain companies tend to focus on technology only for technology’s sake and, as a result, their products seem to break down and go wrong all the time. At Gtech, we are trying to keep away from these tendencies, as we aim to combine high cleaning performance with ease of use, longevity and reliability, and simple clean, lowmaintenance technology.” Adhering to this product development philosophy, the company has begun working on two exciting new products. “Firstly, we are looking to create a new type of vacuum cleaner, which, in our estimation, will be the smallest and most compact high-performance cleaner ever developed,” Nick reveals joyously. “We are also planning to launch a robotic massage bed, which has the ambitious task of countering what we see as a sharp decline in the public’s mental health and back conditions, and I have to mention that, according to my understanding, the two are linked.” When Nick set out to restructure the company, he noticed that a central data system was required to link Gtech’s different teams together. “Some of the divisions were working with their own data, which was not always optimised for cross-departmental performance, hence the need to bring in new infrastructure. In fact, one of our main objectives for 2019 will be to bed it in and optimise our operations,” he maintains. “We are also hoping to get back on the growth path and we deem it perfectly possible to grow by around five per cent over the year. As for our aspirations in the long-term, our vision has not changed since

the creation of the company in 2001 – we want to establish Gtech’s products as the most reliable, high-performance, easy to use, and easy to maintain vacuum cleaners in the world, thus making life for our customers easier and more enjoyable.” Having grown familiar with the way Nick handles the changing dynamics of Gtech’s operation over the multiple conversations we have had with him, there is no doubt that the latest adjustments he has introduced, will turn out to be wise moves that will ensure the business’ healthy future. As the company prepares to add new key products to its range, we are sure there will be even more to talk about the next time we catch up with him.

Gtech Products: Cordless home and garden appliances www.gtech.co.uk

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Unrivalled

precision

Bromford Industries invests heavily in new machinery and training its staff, as the company aims to make the most of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and remain the partner of choice for the world’s leading aircraft engine OEMs

Below: Alan Dunbar, Group Vice President of Business Development

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C

ustomer focus, continuous improvement, teamwork, respect, and integrity. These are the values by which Bromford Industries live, which have guided the manufacturer of complex engine, landing gear, and precision components to a continued success since its formation in 2009. Additionally, the business has grown thanks to investing in people and new technology – a trend that has become ever stronger since Bromford was acquired by Liberty Hall Capital Partners in 2016. Alan Dunbar, Group Vice President of Business Development, reflects on that watershed

moment for the company three years ago: “Following the acquisition, Liberty Hall Capital Partners has invested in excess of £18 million in capital equipment, which has allowed us the opportunity to grow organically and through the acquisition of world-class technology and new businesses. Safe to say, these investments have transformed the entire business leading us to unprecedented success.” In terms of technology, Bromford purchased state-of-the-art 5-axis CNC machining equipment, focusing heavily on robotics and automation. “For Bromford, it is especially important to embrace the Fourth Industrial


Bromford Industries Revolution and integrate automation and digitalisation into all levels of our operations,” Alan maintains. “The integration of new technology into our work has allowed us to reduce our operational costs and improve lead times. We have also invested in increasing our capacity, as we understand the current challenges the aerospace industry and our customers face.” At Bromford’s Birmingham facility – one of the five locations the company operates from, nine 5-axis Okuma machining centres have been installed. Alan adds: “These machines are connected via machine monitoring software, which provides us with real-time data. Indeed, there are currently substantial machine movements across the facility, as we are replacing old machines to fully optimise our 65,000-square foot facility. “Being an aerospace component manufacturer, quality is paramount for us and therefore, we have invested in a new inspection facility and CMM machines at Bromford Leicester, too,” he continues. “We also have an automated inspection robot at Bromford Technologies (based in Alcester, Warwickshire), which delivers instant CAD models. Speaking of the Alcester site, the recently added capabilities there complement our existing competences in 6-axis laser profiling and drilling, fibre laser, flatbed profiling, and EDM. Our company is constantly researching emerging manufacturing trends and we are looking to utilise our engineering expertise to develop efficient processes on how to integrate these trends into our portfolio. An example of this is additive manufacturing. We use our 3D printer at Bromford Technologies to manufacture fixtures, tooling, and prototypes, and this not only reduces costs, but also shortens lead times.” By introducing new technological advancements, Bromford has also made it clear that it takes the issues of sustainability and waste management very seriously. Alan elaborates: “Our aim is to reach the ultimate ‘lights out manufacturing’ and we have already cut down 80 per cent of our lighting consumption at Bromford Birmingham. What is more, we now reuse coolant and other waste, and keep specific in-machine temperature without external resources, which enables us to reduce our overall CO2 footprint.” Together with purchasing new machinery, Bromford has also contributed resources for a number of employee training programmes, highlighting its commitment to developing its staff and raising their qualifications. “Six Sigma and the Management Development Programme are two good examples of our people-oriented investments. We feel that empowering and

upskilling our workforce is essential, if we want to retain the expertise and level of quality, we are known for in the aerospace manufacturing industry. Moreover, we have acquired the much-needed technological competence to remain competitive during the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Alan explains. As a whole, all of Bromford’s UK manufacturing facilities are vertically integrated – from customer enquiry, to development, to concurrent engineering, manufacturing, assembly, testing, finishing, certification, and, finally, delivery. The company’s extensive use of integrated computer systems for all aspects of its business process ensures excellence in information technology, process control, reporting, and documentation. Through this lean arrangement, Bromford has attracted several major OEMs who make up the business’ impressive customer base. In

addition, Bromford’s impeccable service has been recognised by another of its major clients, who recognised the performance with five Best Supplier awards in seven years between 2011 and 2018, valuing the company’s 100 per cent goal-setting mind-set. Bromford’s acquisition by Liberty Hall Capital Partners in 2016 was followed by the purchase of AeroCision – an aero engine rings and casings manufacturer based in Connecticut, two years later. The move reflects the dramatic growth in the delivery of next-generation, fuel efficient engines and supports Bromford’s objective of being a fully-integrated, diversified engine component supplier. As part of the operation, an additional joint venture in Bangalore (India) was brought in to expand the company’s capabilities further, thus putting it in a favourable position in the global aero engine supply and logistics chain. “AeroCision has now been fully integrated

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Bromford Industries

MSC Industrial Supply Co. To compete in a challenging environment, manufacturing companies like Bromford Industries are working in partnership with MSC for independent engineering advice. Whether the aim is to run a highperformance machine operation or the need to reduce takt time, MSC takes time to understand your production targets, offer process solutions and uncover the costs associated with your indirect spend. Many customers are feeling the benefit of MSC’s engineering support, which ultimately has a huge effect on boosting productivity. Mathew Kavanagh, Engineering Manager, comments: “Our approach is to find the right tool for the application. The most important factor is our customer’s success, and we’re proud to say that last year we saved the British manufacturing industry over £1 million in cost savings, which could be reinvested.” Underpinning all of this are MSC’s people, who are passionate for delivering exceptional customer service and are invested in making British manufacturing great.

into Bromford and we have already invested in the business by acquiring the latest simultaneous 5-axis CNC milling and turning equipment, providing the ability to run multiple parts simultaneously,” Alan remarks. “Furthermore, with the integration of AeroCision into Bromford and winning new work, we have opened new jobs in the local area of Chester, Connecticut and are actively recruiting additional machinists and programmers. Now that AeroCision is officially part of the Bromford family, it is being included in all strategic plans and corporate activities, as well as in our Management Development Programme, as we seek to strengthen and expand our presence on the other side of the Atlantic.”

Acquiring new businesses appears to have become a mainstay of Bromford’s strategy going forward and Alan reveals that more organisations are set to join the company throughout the rest of 2019 and beyond. “These complementary companies are aligned with our overall strategic direction and will provide the baseline driver upon which further investment will be made, so that we can increase our customer footprint, global reach, and capability offering. In a nutshell, our long-term strategy is to build upon our success in the last couple of years and to continue investing, winning more work, and acquiring businesses whose competences will be of use to us in our growth efforts,” Alan concludes, exuding confidence that the future for Bromford is brighter than ever.

Bromford Industries Products: Rings and casings for aero engines; landing gear components www.bromfordindustries.co.uk www.manufacturing-today-europe.com l 25


Below: Stephenson’s factory site

A personal

touch T

Combining innovation, technical expertise and a flexible approach, Stephenson delivers tailor made solutions for personal care brands and manufacturers worldwide

o trace the history of Stephenson means taking a considerable leap back in time, to 1856 to be precise. It was back then, in Bradford, Yorkshire, that the business would begin life manufacturing soap based agents for the processing of wool in what was a thriving industry in the north of England. This would remain its sole activity until the 1960s, when the business began to diversify significantly, first by moving into producing speciality products for the textile industry, and later into the paper recycling and rubber sectors. The evolution of Stephenson would then take

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its greatest leap to date in the late 1990s with the introduction of personal care products, focused on soap bases using saponification technology. “The concept of reinvention is one that runs throughout the history of the business, and it has been our realisation of the need to diversify over the years that has brought us to where we are today,” begins Stephenson’s Chief Executive Officer, Jamie Bentley. Jamie represents the fifth generation of his family to run the business, and it is he who has witnessed first-hand its recent transformation. “We adopted this plan to make soap bases for


Stephenson Below: The process of filling ready for sale

Inset: Top - Syndopal, a pH 5.5-6.0 extruded syndet base - and bottom - Durosoft, developed to aid the demand for natural products and green chemistries

the personal care industry some 20 years ago – building ourselves around the manufacturing of niche, organic and sustainable raw materials – and it was approximately five years ago that we succeeded in building up enough critical mass in this area to become 100 per cent focused on these activities.” Today, Stephenson utilises its technical expertise, innovative, creative chemistry and a state-of-the-art research facility, to develop and supply products for brands and manufacturers worldwide, from small and medium sized craft businesses to multinational blue chip brands such as L’Oréal and Unilever. It supplies these with a whole range of melt and pour, extrude, liquid and cosmetic concentrates, as well as key ingredients – which it markets under the name DUROSOFT® - such as emulsifiers, emollients, thickeners and solubilisers. “At the heart of our long-term success has been industry-leading technical development, coupled with customer service,” Jamie continues. “We work in close harmony with our customers in order to provide them with the materials necessary to produce niche products, brands and stories that have

authenticity, or that meet a particular need. We export approximately 85 per cent of everything that we make, with roughly one third going to customers in Europe, one third to the United States and the other to the rest of the world. We also have a unique situation whereby not one of our customers makes up more than seven per cent of our business, and this gives us a hugely varied base of brands and companies to work with.” The health of Stephenson is there for all to see – after all, this is a business making a regular turnover of over £25 million in a multi-billion-pound market – and as such it has a right to feel that it is in control of its own destiny. “I believe that a

business of our size makes its own fortunes and creates its own opportunities,” Jamie states, before going into detail about a recent product development that showcases this thought process perfectly. “We have developed

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Below: Melt and pour products being assessed

Datel Group Stephenson has been a customer of Datel’s for over 15 years. To further amplify its current solution and enable growth, the business has invested in Sage Enterprise Management. Lucy Bilbrough, Head of ‘Helping People to Make Things Better’ at Stephenson, shared how Sage will assist the business and help it to achieve future ambitions. “Our goal was to find an easily integratable solution that would support our current systems and future business growth. We wanted a system that would assist us with our new focus on personal care and continue to support the people within the company to work more efficiently.”

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a product called Syndopal®, which is a soap free, ultra-mild extruded syndet base, making it ideal for the manufacture of luxury, high performance, opaque, solid beauty shampoo and conditioner bars. “Being a pH 5.5-6.0 extruded syndet base,

Syndopal® can be made into a high-quality shampoo bar that is as good for washing ones’ hair as a bottle of branded shampoo. We think that this has incredible potential, not only as it forms part of our wider drive to use mild synthetic formulas to make the soap bar more


Stephenson Below: Stephenson’s manufacturing site

of a modern cosmetic product, rather than a toiletry, but also because it provides one possible solution to the challenge of reducing single use plastic packaging.” The process of soap making, even dating back centuries, has always been about achieving the right chemical reactions, and for Jamie and his forefathers the most interesting evolution to watch over the decades has been the way that the alchemy around the whole process has been transformed into a very accurate science. Keen to take this to the next level, Stephenson has spent several years investing around £1 million per annum into advancing its manufacturing technology, specifically with the adoption of advanced automation systems. “Our embracing of automation is not at all about reducing head count, rather it is about improving efficiencies so that we can make larger volumes within the infrastructure that we possess, and reduce batch times significantly through the use of analytics and data,” Jamie states. “As we work with natural raw materials, there will always be a level of variability when it comes to the chemical mixing process, therefore if we are able to control the dosing and processing of these we are able to create a more consistent

product. Consequently, it means that we have raised our skill level, which allows us to begin to manufacture more complex products. To this end, we are currently investing £750,000 into new reactors, all in the hope of producing more technically clever and improved natural products.” The efforts of Stephenson’s chemical experts are also being felt beyond its traditional market segments, with the group having recently spun out a company by the name of CO2Sustain®. “This company is built around a patented, liquid, non-silicone antifoam ingredient, which is used as a processing aid in the carbonated drinks industry,” Jamie says. “By adding it to the drink making process, it controls foam during filling and increases the perception and longevity of fizziness in the finished beverage. The creation of CO2Sustain® came about thanks to our expertise in manipulating bubble size,

with the technology benefiting several of the world’s largest drink brands and continuing to grow rapidly.” Returning to Stephenson, with its infrastructure and personal care ranges, the remainder of 2019 promises to be just as eventful, as Jamie goes on to conclude. “We are presently installing an entirely new computer system, which will be completed at the end of summer 2019, which will be tasked with receiving customer orders, scheduling and then prompting the production of products, so this represents a massive step forward for the business. At the same time, we will continue to invest in our Syndopal® technology and machinery. The result, as of the beginning of 2020, will likely be a different looking business in terms of the equipment and systems that we utilise, yet our focus on driving the sales of our key products and ingredients will only increase!”

Stephenson Products: Speciality soap bases and natural ingredients www.stephensonpersonalcare.com

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Fabulously

innovative

A specialist in providing bespoke stainless steel heating, cooling, storage, and processing systems, Fabdec had a busy year in 2018, which saw the company develop new products and invest in key equipment to meet emerging customer demands

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A

continued increase in turnover, release of new products, investment in new machinery, and expansion into new markets have been the leitmotifs for Fabdec in the past 12 months. The specialist manufacturer of stainless steel heat transfer products achieved a 12 per cent growth in 2018, recording strong results across its water heating, brewery, heat recovery and dairy divisions. “The past few months have also been a time of innovation, marked by the introduction of four new products to our range,” comments Fabdec’s Managing

Director, Chris Powell, beginning his review of the latest highlights for the company. “These include a new milk cooling tank designed to use the best available space in a high cube container, thus reducing transportation costs for overseas customers, as well as a new water heater for milk parlours and a cow footwash. We have also launched a Hi-Flo water heater and a pre-plumbed unvented water heater, both using our patented 3S technology.” The 3S Excelsior pre-plumb unit, in par ticular, was installed last summer at a residential development in Newport,


Fabdec

Shropshire, providing reliable hot water alongside streamlined and disruption-free installation. Using the Venturi effect (the reduction in fluid pressure that results when a fluid flows through a constricted section of a pipe with no restriction applied to the volume of water) the heater automatically replenishes the expansion space, negating the need for an expansion vessel and saving time and money in future maintenance costs. In order to finish the year on a high, Fabdec showcased its new automatic footbath system tailored for animal hygiene in the dairy sector at the World Dairy

Expo 2018, held in Madison, Wisconsin. The Foot-Wash Plus builds on the company’s commitment to innovation by introducing a number of new features such as automatic counting systems, quick refill, and full-width pneumatic drainage guaranteeing usability and practicality. Following its successful showing at the Expo, the system is now available in three lengths – 2.5 metres, 3.6 metres, and 4.0 metres, thus providing multiple options for different configurations. “Foot-Wash Plus marks another step in the development of our animal hygiene line and one that brings a range of unique benefits to

‘‘

We want Fabdec to be recognised as a provider of energy efficient solutions, which have now become much sought-after by users, due to increasing energy costs the market,” Chris enthuses. “Animal hygiene is a key consideration for anyone working in the dairy sector and we are passionate about developing products that ensure our customers maintain their best-in-class standards.”

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Thölen Pumpen GmbH The successful family business specialises in mechanical and industrial engineering, supplying customers across nearly all industries, as well as distributors in Europe and the US. The company develops, produces and distributes pumps and accessory components, providing customised solutions for a variety of pumping requirements. Most customers operate in the field of medical technology, in the pharmaceutical or chemical industry, as system suppliers within the agricultural sector, the vending industry, printing press manufacturing and waste disposal. Thölen Pumpen GmbH can offer a large selection of different pumps and tubing which cover many different applications.

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As promised by Chris during our conversation a year ago, Fabdec also made strides in new markets in the brewery sector, namely the wine and spirits markets. “We have, indeed, manufactured tanks for the wine industry and we are currently building a 25,000-litre wine vessel for a winery. Together with this, our engineers are constantly working on various new products in all the other sectors we are present in, as we aim to address the growing demand for bespoke solutions in stainless steel vessels and heat transfer systems,” he adds. In a veritable testament to Fabdec’s active product development in recent times, the company was named Shropshire’s Best Manufacturer at the 2018 Shropshire Business Awards. Singled out for its never-ending pursuit of achieving and maintaining worldclass manufacturing standards, Fabdec was also praised for its ability to engage with its workforce, adopt new processes and technologies, and understand what it takes to provide tangible value to customers. The company’s success has also allowed it to invest in the next generation of industry


Fabdec

talent and support the local economy. To support its clients’ needs both domestically and overseas, Fabdec took on 17 new employees in 2018, with plans to employ a fur ther four new apprentices, reiterating its eagerness to develop talented young people across the Shropshire region. “We also have some major capital investment plans for our manufacturing plant in 2019 and we have even already taken delivery of a new laser welding system, which will give us more flexibility and efficiency in the process of standard and bespoke heat exchange plate manufacturing,” Chris reveals. “In addition, we have invested in a four-metre CNC press brake to increase our capacity. “Moving forward, we are looking to install a total of 908 solar photovoltaic panels on our factory roof, which will generate enough electricity to power both our manufacturing

plant and our head office. By doing this, we will significantly improve our impact on the environment and complement the investment in LED lighting we made last year,” he discusses Fabdec’s planned investments. For Chris, continuous capital injection will remain a key driver for fur ther growth, not only in 2019, but also in the long-term. “It is only through equipping ourselves with the best machines and arranging our operations in the most efficient way that we will be able to deliver on our promises to the customers. We want Fabdec to be recognised as a provider of energy efficient solutions, which have now become much sought-after by users, due to increasing energy costs. To this end, we will continue expanding our capabilities and developing innovative bespoke products so that we satisfy our clients’ needs,” he wraps up.

Fabdec Products: Stainless steel heat transfer products and dairy management systems www.fabdec.com

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Building a safer

world

Destruction Plant

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Dynasafe specialises in engineering technologies that neutralise remediate explosives and munitions, thus tackling critical challenges associated with public safety and security


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Dynasafe

When the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force in 1997, it set a deadline for all the countries that signed the treaty to destroy their chemical weapons stockpiles by 2023 and, right now, we see a significant increase in demand for destruction plants from those countries that still have stockpiles to eliminate

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tilising its reliable method of destroying conventional and chemical munitions and improvised explosives, Dynasafe has delivered over 350 containment chambers and 30 demilitarisation plants globally since the company’s establishment in 1991. “With fewer than 38 employees together in Karlskoga (Sweden) and Langenselbold

(Germany) where we engineer our products, we have emerged as the innovation leader with our explosive containment chambers and demilitarisation plants. Our systems are deployed in more than 70 countries,” CEO, Klaus Mailer points out. The production and sale of vented and gastight explosive containment chambers forms Dynasafe’s Protection Systems division, while

the Demilitarisation Systems department is defined by the company’s engineering and provision of systems for thermal destruction and mechanical disassembly, as well as of complete plants. Most recently, Dynasafe has also been trying to leverage its competence in the treatment of toxic off gas resulting from the destruction of weapons or ammunition through its Environmental Systems division.

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Top: Containment Chamber on trailer and Below: Containment Chamber on the back of a truck

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Discussing Dynasafe’s method of ammunition destruction, Klaus remarks that the technique is unique and developed by

the organisation and it is the only one in the world to apply it. “Basically, we heat up the ammunition in an indirect heated armoured chamber to the autoignition temperature of all known explosives where it is detonated and left to burn out, so that only scrap and the toxic off gas remain after the treatment. The off gases are then processed, making sure that we adhere to all environmental standards and demands in the area where we build up our systems.” Earlier this year, Dynasafe announced the launch of two new explosive storage chambers – DynaLOCKR F7 and F10, in response to growing market needs. These chambers are considered to be urban magazines where small amounts of explosive materials are stored. A one-drawer chamber system, the DynaLOCKR F7 can contain a two-kilogramme TNT equivalent charge, while the F10 is a two-drawer system capable of containing a 1.5-kilogramme TNT equivalent charge. Both products have been designed to serve a wide spectrum of requirements for the


Dynasafe Robot loading IED Containment Chamber

a deadline for all the countries that signed the treaty to destroy their chemical weapons stockpiles by 2023 and, right now, we see a significant increase in demand for destruction plants from those countries that still have stockpiles to eliminate.” Klaus also shares his aspiration to see Dynasafe directing more resources into its Environmental Systems business in the next five years. “It is a relatively new activity area for us, but one that has a very good potential. We have just assembled a dedicated sales team to get our off-gas treatment systems out into new markets. While it will take a few years to grow in this sector and become a big player, we are convinced that it is a feasible long-term objective for Dynasafe,” he concludes. explosives engineering, blasting, drilling, mining, fireworks, and pyrotechnic industries. “These systems are more apt to be used for long-term storage,” comments Klaus. “They allow first responders to store tactical explosive tools in their command centre, so, for example, a police station can store a hand grenade before it gets transported to a place where it can be destroyed. This marks some shift from the requirements for short-term containment chambers we have traditionally had to address when serving areas such as airport security, law enforcement, and public security.” Klaus continues: “We have definitely seen a reaction from the market in the wake of the terrorist incidents that, unfortunately, hit Europe in the past few years. More explosion containment chambers are now being commissioned and this is especially relevant in big cities where local police are required to deploy tools that will enable them to respond quickly to an emergency. “Moreover, because the world continues to become more mobile and people travel more, airport authorities will need to provide higher security levels while not negatively impacting the travel experience. We are active in this area and we expect to win new business, as no airport can afford to shut down if there is a threat,” he analyses current market conditions and trends. Owing to the multitude of ongoing projects in which Dynasafe is engaged Klaus is more than optimistic that the rest of 2019 will be a very strong period for the company. “I venture to predict that we will be able to double our turnover this year,” he says. “As a matter of fact, we anticipate the same high level in 2020 and 2021, too. When the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force in 1997, it set

Dynasafe Products: Containment chambers and demilitarisation plants www.dynasafe.com

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A shared vision of

excellence

W With a global reach and comprehensive aerospace manufacturing capabilities, Gardner Aerospace is a fully established Tier 1 strategic Airbus supplier with exciting, investor backed, long-term growth plans

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hen Manufacturing Today Europe previously documented the activities of Gardner Aerospace (Gardner) approximately two years ago, we discussed at length how this Tier 1 supplier of aerospace detailed parts and assemblies had enacted a major turnaround project in order to deliver growth, and prepare for the next phase of its expansion. Fast forward to the Spring of 2019 and we find a business that remains in rude health, with sales now totalling around $300 million per annum, 2250 people employed worldwide, and the recipient of investment from its Chinese parent company,


Gardner Aerospace

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We have every intention of being established as a top 75 aerospace company in the world – acting as a strategic supplier to a minimum of three aircraft manufacturers, two engine customers and two equipment sector customers – and with revenues of around $1 billion

aerospace parts manufacturer Ligeance Aerospace Technology (LAT). Gardner was officially acquired by LAT – at the time known as Shaanxi Ligeance Mineral Resources Co Ltd (SLMR) – in June 2017, and under its ownership the business has begun to capitalise upon the opportunity to accelerate its growth and spread its wings geographically. “Being a part of LAT has helped to establish Gardner locally in the Chinese market,” begins Chief Executive Officer, Dominic Cartwright. “The relationships that LAT have established over many years in the country, coupled with our own aerospace experience, enables us to provide a local service to our customers, while

retaining a truly international capability.” In 2018, the company took a further important step in its Chinese expansion plans by completing the construction of a 45,000 m² facility in Chengdu. “The first work packages, namely Airbus wing detailed parts, have now been identified and we are currently bringing know-how into the facility by building capability and using current customer approvals,” Dominic continues. “Meanwhile, Gardner is installing an in-house function to train local people to follow the ‘One Gardner’ ethos that we hold so dear.” The One Gardner operating model, of which Dominic speaks, is seen by the company

to be a key reason why it has become so well trusted to deliver its parts and is central to its consistent product quality, operational delivery and overall performance across all locations. “One Gardner facilitates consistent, stable operating performance, and ensures that quality, well-invested management systems are in place to provide a high degree of central group management visibility and control over operations,” Dominic explains. “It also calls for each of our sites to have a specific role in producing the type of detailed parts and added value services that our customers require.” Looking over some of the company’s other

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DSL Global Freight A new international service delivering critical loads for Gardner Aerospace has been launched by DSL Global Freight. DSL - a key supplier to Gardner Aerospace - has been providing a just in time delivery service in the UK for several years. Now the company has expanded its service to Gardner with weekly runs into France and Germany with small loads, and abnormal loads to Spain and back. DSL Director Julian Frazier said: “We are proud to be a key supplier to Gardner Aerospace and have been providing a daily time critical delivery service to its sites across the UK for several years. A strong working relationship with the client and using our own fleet enables us to meet tight timescales of just a few hours for collection and delivery across the UK. Now we are able to provide this time critical service across Europe for larger loads.” DSL Global Freight are specialists in abnormal loads and moving freight by road, sea and air.

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highlights from 2018, it would certainly be remiss not to cover its acquisition of precision machined parts manufacturer, Northern Aerospace Ltd (NAL). This development, announced in July 2018, brought a substantial machining capability into Gardner’s product portfolio, allowing a much broader product

and service offering, to further aggregate commodities, and increase its ability to make parts of various complexity and size in best cost locations. “The acquisition of NAL enhances Gardner’s capabilities by adding Long-Bed machining, as well as new OEM clients such as Gulfstream, Embraer and


Gardner Aerospace Pilatus, and has also helped to raise us to a higher level within the Airbus hierarchy,” Dominic adds. Speaking of Airbus, another highlight for Gardner in 2018 was the company’s elevation to one of eight top performing Airbus Detailed Parts Suppliers. Airbus has consolidated its Detailed Parts Supply Chain from 130 to 80 strategic suppliers, and the new D2P award for the top eight was announced in November 2018, and since then Gardner has been categorised as a D2P Class B Global Partner. Turning to Gardner’s position in the market in 2019, Dominic is enthused by the potential opportunities ahead. “The Gardner of today, I would say, now has a real value proposition and much greater credibility with engine manufacturers than ever before. As such, we are excited to be working with a number of engine and aircraft equipment companies, and we plan to address the opportunities that arise through organic means and through investment in our manufacturing process. At the same time, we are reviewing potential strategic acquisitions that will enhance our standing and footprint.” Dominic continues: “As we grow in size, our customers understandably expect more of us. Our manufacturing and engineering expertise positions us well to offer friendly support and advice to all of our customers in order to further reduce the overall manufacturing and support costs of the products that we supply. Now, we find ourselves in a position where we are particularly excited to be involved in future technology projects that include alternative manufacturing processes and materials.” With the immediate future looking very bright indeed, the bigger picture for Dominic and the rest of the Gardner team involves a number of important strategic objectives that the company hopes to achieve by 2023. “By this time,” he goes on to reveal, “we have every intention of being established as a top 75 aerospace company in the world – acting as a strategic supplier to a minimum of three aircraft manufacturers, two engine customers and two equipment sector customers – and with revenues of around $1 billion. To achieve this, we will require more talent, and thus we want to increase our global workforce to over 3300, while also broadening our technical capabilities, balancing market dependencies, and retaining the unrivalled level of service excellence that Gardner has become so well known for.”

Gardner Aerospace Services: Europe’s largest independent manufacturer of metallic aerospace parts www.gardner-aerospace.com

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A class of its

own

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Aerotech Peissenberg GmbH & Co. KG The new Mexican facility, AT Engine Mexico, under construction and due to open in late 2019

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As of late, we have set up another joint venture, this time with Mexico-based Grupo Punto Alto to create AT Engine Mexico and we are looking to open a new facility – AT Engine Mexico – in the country in the fourth quarter of 2019

Aerotech is expanding geographically, with the manufacturer of parts for aircraft engines opening a new plant in Mexico that will help the German-based company implement a major contract with GE Aviation

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ork has continued to pile up for Aerotech over the past few years. Its customer base expanding, the manufacturer of components for aircraft engines is one of the most valued partners of OEMs like Rolls-Royce, Safran, GE, and MTU Munich. It was the latter that formed Aerotech in 1970, which, back in the day, was used as a production site for the manufacture of parts for marine and military diesel engines, and, later, for commercial engines. “Gradually, we started looking for opportunities to become independent and win business from other OEMs,” begins Bernd Kretschmer, VP Sales. “In 2005, we opened a production facility in Czechia and eight years later, we entered a joint venture with an

Below: Bernd Kretschmer, VP Sales

English company called Abbey Metal Finishing, forming ATFIN – a business that specialises in carrying out chemical and electrochemical etching of parts using both semi-automated and automated processing. As of late, we have set up another joint venture, this time with Mexico-based Grupo Punto Alto to create AT Engine Mexico and we are looking to open a new facility – AT Engine Mexico – in the country in the fourth quarter of 2019, with parts being shipped from mid-2020 and onwards,” Bernd discusses the most important milestones reached by Aerotech. The foundation of AT Engine Mexico was the result of Aerotech winning a major $2.3 billion-contract with GE Aviation until 2034 that will see the company manufacture HP compressor blisks, spools, and HP

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Above: Michael Kern, CEO of Aerotech

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turbine disks, as well as manage the supply chain and establish and oversee all special processes required for the production. “It was a remarkable achievement for us to win the contract, because this was the first-time GE decided to outsource this function, which is rightly considered its crown jewel,” Bernd enthuses. “The Mexico facility will employ around 450 people and generate revenue of approximately $200 million, which will enable us to double in size.” Aerotech plans to turn the site into a onestop-shop where the entire volume of the parts will be handled. Bernd explains: “Because

we know the exact type of components that need to be manufactured, we will customise the facility to be able to perform the sophisticated and complex tasks related to the production process. For example, we will be using friction welding to create complete spools and also incorporating electrochemical etching and blue-etch processes.” Michael Kern, CEO of Aerotech, joins the conversation: “We are also adopting advanced turning capabilities in one machining operation. Our idea is to practically transfer our know-how from Germany to Mexico in the spheres of milling and turning operations,


Aerotech Peissenberg GmbH & Co. KG

which are really high-tech processes that will be introduced to that part of the world for the very first time. It is also incredibly positive to see how many people are interested in joining the company and working for us, so we need to initiate a rigorous recruitment process to ensure that we appoint the right employees that will lead us to success.” Bernd adds: “We trust fully in Grupo Punto Alto to help us with all the aspects surrounding the development of the infrastructure, the recruitment, and the legislation requirements we have to meet. The joint venture represents a perfect combination of a company that is an expert in parts manufacturing (us) and one that has proven itself time and again in setting up greenfield sites (Grupo Punto Alto). I believe that this complementation of our competences is what convinced GE to award us this contract.” “Speaking specifically of our recruitment policy, we intend on paying competitive and sustainable salaries to ensure high staff retention levels. In parallel, we will be offering our employees some clearly-defined career opportunities, creating development plans for each and every one of them,” Michael picks up where he left off. “It is absolutely crucial to maintain a stable and high-qualified workforce, because the kind of products we are going to manufacture require consistency in their quality and we cannot afford to make compromises with our work standards. We have built a reputation for exceptional manufacturing and engineering capabilities and reliability, and we are willing to stay this way and even improve our skills in the years to come.” The pair now moves on to comment on the requirements the aerospace industry has for its suppliers, as well as the challenges the latter are currently dealing with. “Competitiveness, both on technical level and from a cost perspective, is the main factor clients assess us against. It is a global market we operate within and the customers do not really mind where the parts are coming from, as long as

they are delivered on time. In order to be cost-competitive, it is not enough just to have access to high-tech machines and processes to make the components, but you need to have the right structure within the company and be prepared with a range of production solutions that make your manufacturing as lean as possible. For example, Aerotech has a centre of excellence here, in Peißenberg, supported by our facilities in Czechia and Mexico, which, when working together, give us all the knowledge and experience to manufacture and industrialise the parts,” Bernd analyses. Michael interpolates: “The highest risk for us and, as a matter of fact, for everyone else in the industry, is that not everybody can work at the same speed. It is easy to say how many parts are needed to assemble an

engine, but if only one of these is missing, then the whole process is brought to a halt. Therefore, it is important for suppliers to work in synchronicity and show the same level of ambition and dedication to delivering a task and growing together.” In conclusion, Bernd and Michael express a shared expectation that the aircraft engine business will experience certain growth within the next five years. Bernd wraps up: “We are confident that we are in a good position at the moment. We are creating the required setups in the market, in order to be attractive for engine manufacturers, basing our production sites in locations that work best for them. Given the anticipated growth in the industry, we will double our efforts in serving our clients in the best possible way.”

Aerotech Peissenberg GmbH & Co. KG Products: Aircraft engine components www.aerotech-peissenberg.de/en

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Go with the Unique amongst modern day suppliers, the Ham Baker Group offers complete engineered solutions which deliver optimum performance

T

he Ham Baker Group as it stands today can trace its history back to 1877, and current Group Managing Director Paul Nash describes this rich pedigree as the ‘Ham Baker heritage’. Thanks to a history of mergers, takeovers, acquisitions and purchases, the Ham Baker Group stands as a very different organisation to that of nearly 150 years ago, and indeed the current Group is actually a new company formed in February 2017. Controlled by Birmingham-based Intrinsic Equity, it operates as an independent specialist manufacturer and distributor of flow control products, and after a tough time, it is once again winning new orders, tendering for future high profile contracts, and presently has some very significant works underway. One high profile project benefiting from Ham Baker Group’s experience is Thames Tideway, or as Paul puts it: ‘The super sewer within London.’ “We are supplying 54 penstocks, 135 flap valves and 40 secondary isolation gates for all the 17 schemes throughout Thames Tideway, and effectively we are supporting the three joint ventures that are undertaking this construction. As you can imagine, significant engineering has gone into that, with some of these components located in very complex areas.” he expanded. While it is certainly a megaproject, Thames Tideway is not on the only significant contract

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flow benefitting from the expertise of Ham Baker Group, and Paul went on to give details of some of the company’s other activities at the moment. “We have picked up some major contracts in Hong Kong, and one of the key projects we have just completed is for the Drainage Services Department (DSD). This is in a sewage treatment facility called Stonecutters, and for this contract, we supplied two major doors that were installed 43 metres underground.” This might not sound too much of a challenge, until Paul explained that fully assembled, the Ni-Resist Cast Iron doors weighed 17 tonnes! “The customer was so happy with the Ham Baker Group products that as a direct result of producing those two doors, we are currently looking at a further five doors in the same facility,” he added. The third project that Paul went on to highlight is with Babcock Rosyth, where Ham Baker Group has been working with the dockyard specifically to refurbish or replace a number of well utilised penstocks that control the flow of sea water going in and out of the various dockyards. “The original penstocks were part of the Ham Baker heritage and one of them was 96 years old, so that far exceeded its 25-year design, life and warranty period,” revealed Paul. This is a great demonstration of the reliability of Ham Baker Group’s products in service, and Paul credits this as one reason why a number of clients return to the company. These three projects serve as perfect examples of how the company can provide solutions in particularly tricky environments, with a high level of engineering required. “With complex issues, customers come directly to us because they know they are going to get well engineered and precisely manufactured products

that will last well beyond their planned design life,” noted Paul. Ham Baker Group is also very successful in winning work on the distributor side of the business. “Allied to these strengths is our valve business, which brings a lot of technical knowledge to a project. Called IVL, it not only trades in valves, but it also gives back-up and technical knowledge, which are what the customers are looking for. To underline the Ham Baker Group in total, it is that technical expertise and knowledge that they come for, and then they trust in our solutions to keep coming back.” From speaking to Paul, it is very clear that Ham Baker Group prides itself on excellence in all areas, and part of rebuilding this prestigious brand is an ongoing investment programme in new processes, design facilities and CNC machinery. “We are currently reviewing our machining capacity and in some cases, are not buying new but refurbishing the current facilities because they are fit for purpose,” Paul explained. “On the IT side, we are also currently expanding our MRP system and linking in a whole raft of opportunities. “As far as the CAD and computer-aided engineering facilities are concerned, we are in the process of enhancing them, as well as looking at additional testing facilities such as photo elasticity analysis. We need this solution to demonstrate to our customers that our products can actually withstand the stresses and strains that they will be put under - it’s not always possible to find a hole that is 63 metres deep to prove this!” Paul previously referred to IVL and its work in valves - IVL is by no means the only division of Ham Baker Group – indeed, the Group possesses subsidiaries in Network Design & Distribution, Flow Control, Renewables, Pipelines,


Ham Baker Group Treatment, Flood Control, Pumps, Control Systems and Spares & Maintenance. While this represents a variety of components, it did not necessarily translate into work in a range of sectors. Paul pointed out that one of the reasons that the previous Ham Baker Group organisations struggled was because they were incredibly focused on the water utilities market in the UK. This is no longer the Group’s approach and he explained the reasoning behind this: “The water utilities market goes through five-year AMP (Asset Management Plan) cycles, and we are just in the process of transitioning out of AMP 6 into AMP 7. If we just stick to the water utilities as our main customer focus, we then follow the rollercoaster trend that exists within the AMP cycle,” he said. “So, we have purposely gone into additional markets as well as offering our customers not just a product but also a

Ham Baker Group

service. This benefits the customer because they’re getting better longevity of the assets that we are installing. Also, diversifying ourselves away from just serving water utilities is making the company more stable and allowing us to benefit other adjacent marketplaces.” Ham Baker Group is also endeavouring to use the skills and products from its divisions in a holistic manner, to create a one-stop-shop, rather than treating them as individual companies. “This is not just for products but for services as well, so once we have got all the processes in place, we are anticipating a period of stability while at the same time offering growth into all marketplaces,” said Paul. “I think that this new approach is key for us, as it will allow our customers to get better utilisation out of the Ham Baker Group assets, also saving them cost in the long-term.”

Services: Developer of innovative products for the water, waste water and process sectors www.hambakergroup.com

RAPID INDUSTRIAL FASTENERS –

Manufacturer and Distributor. Rapid Industrial Fasteners is proud to be in partnership with the Ham Baker Group, supplying fasteners, fixings and bespoke special items in a range of materials, including 316 stainless steel, duplex and super duplex. As an experienced manufacturer and distributor, Rapid’s flexible and responsive service, combined with an ISO9001-2015 certified quality system, is an ideal fit for the demands of Ham Baker’s business model.

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Profile for Schofield Publishing Ltd

Manufacturing Today Europe Issue 164 May 2019  

The latest edition of Manufacturing Today Europe

Manufacturing Today Europe Issue 164 May 2019  

The latest edition of Manufacturing Today Europe