Manufacturing BEST PRACTICES FOR INDUSTRY LEADERS
Issue 166 2019
a way of life Products from high performance machine and system expert Randek represent some of the most fundamental systems used today by manufacturers of prefab houses Also in this issue: Robots • Cloud collaboration • ERP • Tax • Digital transformation
Chairman Andrew Schofield Managing Director Joe Woolsgrove Editor Libbie Hammond Assistant Editor Will Daynes
Staff Writer Vladi Nikolov
BEST PRACTICES FOR INDUSTRY LEADERS
Production Manager Fleur Daniels
Issue 166 2019
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feel like I have been writing about ERP for as long as I can remember in publishing. Over 20 years ago now (gulp) when I started at my first trade magazine we were talking about MRP – ERP was really coming on the scene as the next Big Thing, aimed at large enterprises. As with all tech, those early systems have continuously evolved and now the systems are getting another makeover – into ERP 3.0. Phil Lewis of Infor gives the details on page 8 – and he puts forward that people are the key to successful ERP: ‘If you can empower people to be more productive, organisations become more productive, and economies prosper as a result.’ He believes that the latest incarnation of ERP stands to represent a ‘genuine game changer.’ What do you think?
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4 Robots Despite the common misconception, robots create work and increase productivity â€“ Sophie Hand explains why taxing them isnâ€™t a good idea
6 Cloud-based collaboration Andy Bell advises manufactures to move over to cloud-based technology in order to benefit from the efficiencies and scalability that it offers
8 ERP Once again, ERP systems are getting a make-over. Phil Lewis looks at ERP 3.0, which has data driven insights at its heart
10 Tax With the advent of Making Tax Digital in April this year, James Smith discusses how this new approach can benefit manufacturers
12 Digital transformation With digital transformation being lauded as the next big thing, manufacturers are trying to adapt. Gunther Rameseder highlights some common pitfalls
14 Manufacturing news Updates and announcements from the manufacturing arena
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Contents Profiles 20 Baker Labels
24 Captec 28 Nufarm UK 32 Sewtec Automation 36 Lawrence David Trailers 42 Zotefoams
44 Evans Vanodine 48 Huntleigh Healthcare Ltd 50 Mansfield Pollard 54 Radical Sportscars 58 Photocentric 60 Randek AB
64 DS Smith 68 Red Arch Manufacturing 71 REPL Group 74 Dreams www.manufacturing-today-europe.com l 3
Are robots the
Sophie Hand explains the negative impact that the robot tax could have on the manufacturing industry
n 2017, amid fears that machines would replace human workers in the future, one of the world’s most automated nations, South Korea, introduced the world’s first robot tax. It is a contentious issue — Microsoft founder, Bill Gates has previously argued that to help fund social services and education, robots should be taxed at the same level as the people they replace. For the past ten years, the UK has had extremely poor productivity growth. Unlike previous recessions, the UK’s growth in productivity did not bounce back after 2009. In fact, it has struggled to remain positive at all. However, investment in robots could change this. A 2017 study by
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the Centre for Economics and Business Research found that a one-unit increase in robotics density is associated with a 0.04 per cent increase in labour productivity. According to the International Federation of Robotics, the UK only has 71 robots for every 10,000 employees. This low number of robots could suggest that there is a bias towards labour over capital investment, which may have contributed to the productivity issue in the UK. Daniel Mahoney, head of economic research at CPS, has previously suggested that going ahead with a robot tax in the UK would further discourage investment in capital and would be hugely damaging for the
economy. He stated that: “…the country already suffers from a low capitallabour ratio, which is dampening productivity growth and holding back wage increases.” Mahoney makes an interesting point. Automation is an important aspect of improving manufacturing productivity and retaining competitiveness in a global market. If businesses don’t automate, they will be left behind. This makes automation not just a business issue, but also a personal one, as it can result in job losses and will certainly affect the amount of salary increases that the business is able to make.
Slowing job creation In his statement, Gates suggests that robots are taking jobs from humans. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Using robots to carry out laborious, monotonous tasks frees up human workers to do bigger and better
things. Robots can even create jobs as many careers in data science and programming are only available today because of the introduction of automation. This poses the question; does the UK want a manufacturing workforce that is only capable of repetitive tasks, or one that is evolving to meet future needs? Rather than taxing robots, perhaps the manufacturing industry should focus on upskilling its workforce so that it can work in a more automated environment. The importance of upskilling was highlighted in the 2017 Made Smarter report, which called for a Commission to lead the upskilling of over one million industrial workers in the UK. There is a range of emerging skills essential for employee success including software development, equipment troubleshooting, critical thinking, communication skills for collaborative work, manual dexterity and the ability to perform complex system tests. While I don’t agree that this upskilling should be funded by a tax on robots, a tech-savvy workforce is key if the UK is to improve its productivity growth. Despite the common misconception, robots create work and increase productivity — taxing them would have a negative impact on the UK’s productivity and its position in the global market. Perhaps, rather than following in South Korea’s footsteps, we should take a more German approach to digitalisation by enabling our workforce to operate alongside robots in a productive setting. v
Sophie Hand Sophie Hand is UK sales manager at automation parts supplier EU Automation. EU Automation stocks and sells new, used, refurbished and obsolete industrial automation spares. Its global network of preferred partner warehouses, and wholly owned distribution centres, enables it to offer a unique service within the automation industry, spanning the entire globe. It provides worldwide express delivery on all products meaning it can supply any part, to any destination, at very short notice. www.euautomation.com
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potential How cloud-based collaboration is changing manufacturing. By Andy Bell
he rate of cloud adoption has increased across all industries – for organisations it’s no longer a case of asking ‘should we make the move?’ but rather, ‘how can we get there?’ Many recognise the advantages that cloud technology can offer but aren’t sure of the path they need to take in order to fully leverage its capabilities. For the manufacturing industry, cloud-based technology has a huge part to play in the digital factory – it provides manufacturers with connectivity and visibility across their operations. It also enables digital tools to be rolled-out quickly, facilitating collaboration and improving efficiencies for teams. In such a competitive and fast-paced industry, this ability to react to market changes is essential. To stay one step ahead, many manufacturers are looking to leverage emerging technologies, such as blockchain or IoT (Internet of Things), and at the same time need to find ways to get on top of the growing amount of data with which they are faced. The cloud provides them with the ideal platform to do this.
Machines Connectivity is vital for manufacturing operations – companies need to be able to share data and interpret it quickly so that smarter business decisions can be made. These types of data-driven decisions now lie at the heart of everything a successful business does. Cloud solutions are best positioned to facilitate the collection and connection of this data from operational technology. Working hand-inhand with the evolution of IoT, which has quickly become an essential part of the digital factory, this new breed of solution can help us to easily transfer information between connected devices – whether these are located on the factory floor or in the back office. With vast quantities of data, this ability to gain real-time information has never been more important. Manufacturers need accurate information so they can make changes where it matters. They can then be proactive with their operations and plan effectively – if there’s consumer demand for a certain product, production levels
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can be adjusted accordingly, for example. Or, if a machine is near end of life and likely to break down, alerts can trigger preventative maintenance to be carried out before this happens if information about its condition is available. Additionally, external data sources such as weather forecasts can be automatically accessed and blended with internal data to enrich the overall picture and contribute to more informed decisions.
People Machines can only do so much though. Employees also play an essential role in making digital change a success – and cloudbased technology can play a huge part in bringing them together more effectively. Moving your team’s working processes to cloud applications is a great way to improve their productivity and facilitate collaboration. For some organisations, communication on the factory floor is still documented by pen and paper, with entry into the system lagging and
happening at the end of each shift or day. This manual method of reporting means managers can’t review progress, or report on any issues, until sometime after the event. With real-time tracking of production progress and inventory levels though, staff can examine products at every point in their lifecycle via a tablet or smartphone. Products can be scanned using barcodes or QR codes to see they are where they should be and automate transactions. Automatic inspection software can also make it much easier for staff to identify any faults in products. When everyone is working in this way, on the same system and viewing the same data, there will be no limitations when it comes to communicating across departments, offices or factories. People won’t have to waste time looking for siloed information – they will be able to source it easily from one place. Teams can then be freed up to focus on meaningful work, rather than struggling to fill in the gaps.
When it comes to the IT infrastructure, customisation of existing systems can present potential roadblocks – it might be that you have been working on legacy systems that are proving hard to update and are inflexible in how they have been set up. Ultimately, organisations will need a single source of truth to drive through this move to the cloud. With a next-gen ERP system, such as SAP’s S/4HANA sitting at the heart of the enterprise, cloud-based applications will become easier to access and roll-out. With a strong digital core, nothing will be left disparate – you’ll be able to see what’s going on in all areas. Once they’ve made the move to cloud, manufacturers can start to benefit from the efficiencies and scalability that it can offer them, putting them in the best position to embrace change and innovate quickly. Those who embrace its potential are set up for years to come. v
Andy Bell Andy Bell is CTO at Edenhouse Solutions. Edenhouse has many years’ experience working with businesses to maximise their SAP investments. Its SAP specialists implement the latest SAP technologies and Cloud innovations, and through its unrivalled SAP Support Services it is dedicated to helping customers optimise their investment in SAP. www.edenhousesolutions.co.uk
Business Systems However, migrating your business processes to a cloud environment doesn’t come without its share of challenges and associated risks. There are elements of change that must be factored into the implementation process. How easily will you be able to integrate the new technology with existing systems? Will employees require a change management strategy to get them up to speed with working on new cloud-based tools?
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Simon Niesler looks at the rise of ERP 3.0 and explains why people are at the heart of the latest generation of business software
s manufacturing evolves at unprecedented levels, so, too, do the software systems behind them. While ERP solutions have brought data management and end-to-end views to enterprises for decades, some early systems lacked flexibility. Even the second-generation ERP solutions were sometimes complex, not doing enough to help boost workforce productivity. This is changing. Once again, ERP solutions are getting a make-over. This fresh approach, ERP 3.0, is focusing on empowering workforces, expediting tasks and supporting fast decision-making. Data-driven insights, powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) are at the heart of this modern approach, and the potential impact on productivity is immense.
A glance to the past It’s fair to say that ERP solutions in the past often received bad press. Traditional, early versions were typically expensive, inflexible, difficult to use and painful to implement. The next generation of ERP sought to address these shortfalls, bringing beautiful design and intuitive user experiences to desktops, flexibility enabled by Cloud apps and enhanced mobile accessibility, and the introduction of added intelligence via BI and AI. But despite many industry players professing that the second generation of ERP solutions represented the pinnacle of an industry maturing, and a driver of increased profitability for manufacturers, research paint a different picture.
The Productivity Problem
Despite ERP investments undoubtedly delivering clear ROI, one major problem persists for manufacturers today. Productivity – that is measured by the amount of work produced per working hour - remains a huge problem across the world as many advanced economies’ rates remain at near historic lows. While the precise cause of the fall isn’t clear, productivity is key to long term economic growth and higher living standards. A highly productive workforce is essential for operational efficiency, meeting customer demands, controlling costs, and maintaining margins in a highly competitive global market. Therefore, current productivity levels represent a conundrum which can’t be ignored. The UK, for example, should in theory be reporting strong productivity, with strong engineering, high-tech and pharmaceutical industries investing in digitalisation to drive performance. The reality, however, is that productivity is falling with no signs of this trend reversing any time soon. Output per hour is set to rise just 0.2 per cent in 2019, compared with rates averaging more than two per cent in the decade preceding 2008.
Meet ERP 3.0 As leaders across the world look at ways in which to address the problem, they are faced with a limited number of options. In the absence of being able
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to acquire additional headcount - which is a luxury most simply cannot justify in the current climate - helping people to accomplish complex tasks quickly signifies the last hand in play in the quest for increased productivity. With this in mind, technology is evolving and ERP platforms are being developed with people and productivity at the centre of their design, a shift known as ERP 3.0. The concept of people being at the centre of ERP might seem, on the surface, to be an oxymoron. However, for anyone who has ever thrown their hands up in the air in frustration at not being able to retrieve the document needed to unlock a bottleneck, respond to a supply chain query, source a spare part, or ensure a delivery is made on time and in full, it will certainly strike a chord. These small incidents add up, causing delays, impeding decisionmaking, and interfering with a collaborative, innovative company culture. Such kinks in workflows, whether on the shop floor or the back office, can no longer be tolerated.
ERP 3.0 easier – this has already been addressed. This shift focuses on the complete picture of each employee, from a machine operator who needs to verify a recent spec change to a line of business manager who is planning crew assignments. Technology can help support informed decision-making, proactive intervention, creative-problem solving and cross-departmental data-sharing. This might be lowering entry barriers for people to take on more complex activities, automating processes or introducing AI to redistribute certain tasks, or indeed provide enhanced insights to empower the worker to increase performance. Typically, when a manufacturer is asked about the biggest challenges they face, they’ll refer to people and skills gaps as the major threats facing them in the coming years. In fact, a recent survey by the British Chambers of Commerce reported that British manufacturers are facing the biggest shortage of skilled workers since 1989. Traditionally this challenge is seen as distinct from technology, but ERP 3.0 aligns them, supporting the recruitment, retention and development of people across a number of aspects. Of course, you’d be hard pushed to find a company marking out systems as a USP in a job advertisement. However, those who foster a culture which embraces modern thinking and systems which not only make tasks easier to complete, with more visibility and engagement, and less training, will inevitably boost satisfaction, resulting in the attraction and retention of a greater proportion of talent, and a more productive organisation. Taking this a stage further, ERP 3.0 addresses the skills challenge through prioritising the development of people, ensuring that potential is recognised, skills are maximised and talent is deployed, or indeed redeployed, into the most suitable areas. Essentially skills are monitored and valued in a similar same way as a production line, optimising yield and reducing waste.
Power to the People Empower People The old adage that very best technology will fail in the hands of the wrong people proves itself time and time again. Of course, it is people, not systems, who are ultimately accountable for driving business value – whether that is through continuous improvement or company-wide digital transformation. Systems designed to maximise people’s potential and empower them are therefore destined to succeed. ERP 3.0 embodies this ethos, and is about providing the tools to help people be the best they can be, empowering workforces, expediting tasks and supporting fast decision-making based on the very best, latest insights. Innovative functionality, like self-service reporting capabilities, user-defined workbenches, augmented analytics which suggest solutions, predictive science, and voice-responsive personal assistants, help drive this new approach. To be clear, this shift is not just about making the user experience
Ultimately if you can empower people to be more productive, organisations become more productive, and economies prosper as a result. Technology is the best tool we have in the quest to achieve this vision, and the latest incarnation of ERP stands to represent a genuine game changer. Welcome to the age of ERP 3.0. v
Simon Niesler Simon Niesler is Senior Vice President and General Manager for Western Europe at Infor. Infor is a global leader in business cloud software specialised by industry. With 17,300 employees and over 68,000 customers in more than 170 countries, Infor software is designed for progress. Infor customers include 19 of the top 20 aerospace companies, 19 of the top 20 automotive suppliers and 17 of the top 20 industrial distributors. www.infor.com
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James Smith looks at why the latest tax legislation can help drive efficiencies across finance departments in the manufacturing industry
n 1 April 2019, the Making Tax Digital (MTD) regulation was brought in by the government. This means all VAT registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT registration threshold, £85,000, must keep their records digitally and file VAT returns using HMRC compatible software.
Why has it been brought in? This latest legislation is part of HMRC’s long term ambition of becoming one of the most digitally advanced tax administrators in the world. The aim is that this MTD initiative will make it more efficient, more effective and easier for businesses to get their tax right. Currently many businesses find getting tax correct too complicated, with avoidable mistakes costing the Exchequer over £9 billion annually. Digital records will reduce the amount of tax lost to these errors and make the process easier for those dealing with VAT returns. This is just the first step as the Government looks to change taxes over the next few years. However, MTD will not be mandated for other taxes until at least April 2020, but businesses can get involved in the Income Tax pilot now on a voluntary basis.
How do companies comply? To comply with MTD, from 1st April 2019, mandated businesses need to keep their business records digitally. They also need to file their VAT returns via HMRC’s new digital platform by using a dedicated and compatible accounting software or a combination of software packages or spreadsheets. From April 2020, data must be exchanged digitally between all software used by a business for VAT. With the MTD legislation, the onus is on submitting tax returns to HMRC via a company’s finance system as opposed to directly on a manual basis. More than ever, it is crucial that the data within a finance system is clean and accurate. The principle of ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’ has never been more relevant. Digital systems support the maintenance of
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sound management accounts by helping to ensure only clean, accurate and verified data is posted to the finance system – thereby eliminating human error and the potential for error in financial accounts and tax submissions.
Are there any benefits to manufacturers? MTD provides a great driver for companies to assess their current financial and accounts processes and evaluate if automated systems may benefit them. This combined with more MTD legislation planned and existing regulations in place such as reporting on late payments means companies can’t afford to ignore digital solutions when it comes to accounts processes. It’s worth looking at why traditional manual processing methods are prohibiting accounts payable (AP) teams and why digitising can bring a multitude of benefits.
The problem with paper Despite the digital age many AP teams still use manual processes to log, validate and approve invoices. This approach is outdated and has multiple issues that cause delays, errors and waste time and money. Problem areas include spending time searching for lost or misfiled invoices, printing and physically filing the invoice and then system input time. There is also the issue of security, especially now with legislation such as GDPR making companies at risk for fines if personal data is not stored correctly. If we take automation and the AP department we can see some real benefits to the business area.
How invoice automation can bring benefits to AP: Automatic data extraction – This reduces the manual entry of data from documents, which in turn prevents human error, and increases the speed of the process. Online storage – With an online document management system files
are securely stored with secure access. In addition, it has user permission control that segregates duties and ensures that authorisation is given to those who need it. Files can also be accessed via smart devices to support remote working and approvals. Greater visibility and collaboration – Automated document management provides a clearer audit trail which makes it possible for teams to view all the document activity. It also enables workers to use the latest, up-to-date version of documents, which facilitates collaboration. Reporting – An invoice automation system can provide reports on the process performance, including volumes, speeds and duration of processing. These reports are easily generated giving users fast, clear and accurate information. Cost savings – All of the above lead to a cost saving in time allowing workers to focus on other tasks that can help drive the business forward rather than focusing on administration. As with the points above, however, there are specific functions to address pain points in accounts. Automatic data and duplication extraction – 85 per cent of invoice data can be automatically entered, without human intervention. This also completely eliminates duplicates from the system which can be a huge issue for accounts payable departments. Automatic coding - For non PO based invoices, automatic coding reduces coding error and speeds up the process. For PO invoices, the matching is automatic which allows faster and more concise reconciliation of AP records. Supplier Portal - This gives visibility of the suppliers processed invoices therefore reducing queries coming into the AP department from suppliers. In addition to cleaner, error-free data processing, the result of all these benefits brings an end-to-end process productivity gain of a 75 per cent time saving. This is based on cost savings, redeployment of staff, recruitment avoidance and the ability to take on more work with the same staffing levels. It also enables improved workload, process and resource management and helps greatly with conformance to pay-on-time legislation in the UK. Digital solutions now mean that approvals can be completed remotely using cloud access, and there is no longer a delay whilst the authoriser gets to their desk. And the automated system eliminates the errors associated with the human touch. Digitising tax is only just starting but companies need to act now so that they are agile enough not just to deal with legislation change, but also to help their bottom line and productivity levels. Using MTD is the perfect opportunity to bring huge benefits to organisations as they seek digital transformation and I urge all companies to investigate solutions that will be able to help them transition and in the future. v
James Smith James Smith is Head of UK Sales at Kefron. Kefron simplifies the document and information management world for its customers. It works to understand its customers’ business processes so that it can take the pain out of paper, enabling customers to focus on what matters to them. Kefron’s team are skilled in their areas of expertise for delivering the right solution to customers. www.kefron.com
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Gunther Rameseder asks: what’s tripping manufacturers up on the path to digital transformation?
ack in 1958, the average lifespan for a company stood at 61 years. But today, things couldn’t be more different. In the current landscape of rapid technological innovation, the average lifespan has shrunk to fewer than 18 years. Managing Director of McKinsey & Co., Dominic Barton, attributes this shift to the power of digital transformation. He ascertains that: ‘technology has led to fundamental business change for everyone’ going on to cite urbanisation, big data and significant improvements in computing power as contributing factors. And few industries have been transformed as significantly as manufacturing has. Manufacturers globally have entered into a race to transform how they operate through the digitalisation of every business unit in the hopes of remaining competitive, but there are some common mistakes that are tripping up lots of digital transformation programmes.
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Not knowing where to start Recently commissioned research from Celonis of over 1000 C-suite executives and over 1000 business analysts found that manufacturing businesses lack a clear understanding when it comes to their transformation efforts, with half (49 per cent) of senior leaders admitting they don’t know where to start when developing their strategy.
Not setting clear goals to measure success Perhaps more concerning is the lack of clear results and return on investment from implementing strategies, as 43 per cent of senior leaders in the industry believe their business transformation has been a waste of time. With over a third (36 per cent) of manufacturing firms having spent more than £500,000 on transformation strategies in the last 12 months, organisations run the risk of incurring huge costs with no return. This practice could result in projects that are likely to be dismissed before they have even taken off.
Not understanding as-is before leaping to what can be Most organisations are struggling with transformation initiatives because they are diving into execution before understanding what to change first. Manufacturers need to set goals for business outcomes instead of simply prioritising technical results. C-suite executives should first understand business drivers and internal processes before delving into a transformation programme. In fact, more than eight out of ten (83 per cent) of executives in the sector admit they do not review their internal business processes to understand what needs to be prioritised when setting initial goals and KPIs for a transformation strategy. This might stem from the fact that they don’t know how to gain better visibility, since the majority of leadership (64 per cent) said they would feel more confident in their transformation strategy if they better understood how their business is being run. This trend doesn’t only apply to manufacturing leaders, but also the wider organisation as a whole. Our research found that more than-a third (35 per cent) of analysts in the industry are not basing their work on internal processes when executing their company’s transformation strategy. This paints a larger picture, revealing that business leaders are investing in transformation initiatives without identifying a specific problem, going in blind with no clear path.
Racing to tactics before strategy is understood Despite acknowledgements that an understanding of the here and now would be beneficial to inform transformation strategy, businesses are still jumping straight into tactics. As an example, only 36 per cent of C-suite executives in the manufacturing industry state that they plan to invest more in getting better visibility of their processes, a crucial step on the path to digital transformation. Yet, more than eight in ten senior manufacturing leaders identify artificial intelligence/machine learning (83 per cent) and automation (83 per cent) as areas they want to maintain or increase investment in, without truly understanding the benefits and outcomes of these technologies. From the beginning to the end of any digital transformation strategy, organisations need to realise how internal processes shape their businesses in order to determine which technologies will work best. This is particularly pertinent for manufacturers, where the use of AI and automation within their factories could transform their entire workflows – but only if deployed strategically. Transformation strategies will inevitably be part of every manufacturer’s operations, because no business can avoid adapting to the latest industry and technological trends without the risk of being left behind. However, transformation strategies should be founded in concrete insights derived from processes that are actually happening within a company. Manufacturing firms are rushing into costly initiatives and are falling at the first hurdle. But having a better understanding of inefficiencies in underlying business processes can help them to invest wisely to enable greater productivity and provide the best possible service for their customers. v
Gunther Rameseder Gunther Rameseder is Vice President Solutions Engineering at Celonis, is the New York- and Munich-based leader in business transformation software, turning process insights into action with the process mining technology it pioneered. Companies around the world including Siemens, GM, 3M, Airbus and Vodafone rely on Celonis technology to guide action and drive change to business processes, resulting in millions of dollars saved and an improved experience for their customers. www.celonis.com
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News in brief Network transformation Coats, the world’s leading industrial thread business, has selected Aryaka to streamline the performance of its business applications across its China sites. Headquartered in the UK and with 19,000 employees across 50 countries, Coats has already achieved a 300% improvement in employee user experience since deploying Aryaka networking services. The company is addressing the challenges of connecting its locations in China to its European offices by replacing its legacy, underperforming MPLS solution with Aryaka’s global managed connectivity delivered as a service. “Aryaka was the only provider that was able to optimise and compress the traffic to our critical applications both in the cloud and on hosted datacentre providing a simple design and fully managed service,” said Tania Sanchez, Head of Global Architecture, Coats.
21-year landmark Tetra Pak has published its 2019 Sustainability Report online, marking 21 years of sustainability reporting. “This year’s sustainability report shows many improvements that Tetra Pak is very proud of. Especially in the North European market where renewability is high on the agenda for both consumers and our customers,” says Berit Hoffmann, Marketing Director at Tetra Pak North Europe. “For example, over 80% of our European sales of fully renewable carton packages are in the UK, Scandinavia and the Baltics. This shows that these markets care about the sustainability performance of packaging, choosing Tetra Pak to bring them the solutions they need.”
Long-term thinking needed Too many small to medium manufacturers are focused on stockpiling at the expense of long-term productivity planning, software specialist, Access Group, has said. Andy Brown, divisional team leader at the company, says reports indicate that many companies are becoming too focused on mitigating disruption from potential trade barriers at the expense of longer-term investment to improve productivity. He said: “The true objective should be to improve productivity over the longer-term in order to increase competitiveness in the context of global markets.”
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Going smaller Israeli 3D printing startup Nanofabrica has been selected to participate in the Siemens’ startup commercialisation programme - Siemens Dynamo. Nanofabrica is providing pan-industrial micro manufacturing 3D Printers, that allow a variety of new applications across sectors like aerospace, automotive, medical, optics, and semiconductors. “We have been following Nanofabrica for almost a year,” says Ran Livnat, an Innovation Partner at Siemens Dynamo. “Some of our more innovative customers are already using their technology commercially, and we were able to witness the disruptive effect it has on product design and on production.” Jon Donner, CEO of Nanofabrica added: “Joining the Siemens Dynamo program is a great honour for us. We see huge potential in working together, and we already signed up as a precision manufacturing supplier in the Siemens Additive Manufacturing Network. These are exciting times for Nanofabrica and for the 3D Printing industry in general. While there are an increasing number of manufacturers from across all sectors of industry that are adopting additive manufacturing as a viable production technology, the micro manufacturing sector has been neglected. There is an inexorable drive throughout the industry to miniaturise products and components, but additive manufacturing has been unable to achieve the levels of resolution, speed, and cost effectiveness necessary to facilitate ‘mass’ micro manufacturing.”
Factories of the future are taking shape at the UK’s newest advanced manufacturing park. Architects are busy designing 180,000 sq ft of factory space for tenants of phase one of TeesAMP advanced manufacturing park, in North East England. Now the team behind the designs – which will be home to the next generation of UK manufacturing – have spoken about the creation of the first 14 buildings. Mark Barlow, co-founder and project architect at Logic Architecture, explained: “It’s a real privilege for our team – who live and work in Tees Valley – to play such a strategic part in shaping our industrial future.” Mark’s team has been working on TeesAMP since its inception. He added: “So far we’ve designed fit outs to include offices and meeting rooms overlooking the river Tees with changing rooms and showers. Externally we have separated visitor and staff parking from the compounds with charging points for electric vehicles. We’re creating a state-of-the-art environment that will set the standard for this type of advanced manufacturing development. “TeesAMP is designed to look and feel like an impressive business park – not an industrial estate with all the offices orientated to the front, and that’s the impression you’ll get when you drive down the central boulevard to the central artwork feature. “TeesAMP will be the catalyst for an industrial renaissance in Tees Valley, and it’s on us as architects to make sure we create an industrial home that will stand the test of time.”
Manufacturing News Pioneering recycling solution
Going 3D in Spain
Unilever has pioneered the use of a new detectable black pigment for its High Density Polyethelyne (HDPE) bottles for its leading brands, TRESemmé and Lynx, so they can be detected by recycling plant scanners and sorted for recycling. The new detectable bottles will be phased in during 2019 and will allow Unilever to further ‘close the loop’ and include the recycled black plastic back in new packaging. In 2019, TRESemmé and Lynx will both introduce a minimum of 30% recycled material into their packs. Unilever has carried out extensive trials, in partnership with RECOUP and waste management partners Veolia, SUEZ, Viridor and TOMRA, which have proven that this new pigment can be technically detected within their material recycling facilities in the UK. The knowledge and expertise from developing this technical solution for detectable black bottles will be made accessible to others in the industry, as well as to other markets globally. This move to using the new detectable black plastic is part of Unilever UK’s commitment to The UK Plastics Pact and its new ‘Get Plastic Wise’ campaign, a Five Point Plastics Plan which aims to tackle plastic waste in the UK and move towards a closed loop where plastic stays within the plastic economy, not the environment. Sebastian Munden, General Manager of Unilever UKI, said: “We’ve been working on a solution for black plastic for some time, and this move to using detectable black plastic in our TRESemmé and Lynx bottles means we will potentially be removing around 2500 tonnes of plastic from the waste stream. “Unilever has committed to ensuring that, globally, all of our plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, and to using more recycled plastic content in our packaging.”
Ultimaker, the global leader in desktop 3D printing, has announced that Heineken is using its solutions to produce a variety of custom tools and functional machine parts to aid in manufacturing at the company’s brewery in Seville, Spain. Using a set of Ultimaker S5 printers, engineers at Heineken now design and print safety devices, tools and parts on-demand rather than outsourcing the job to external vendors, increasing production uptime and saving around 80% in production costs on the parts they 3D print. “We’re still in the first stages of 3D printing, but we’ve already seen a reduction of costs in the applications that we found by 70-90% and also a decrease of delivery time of these applications of 70-90%,” said Isabelle Haenen, Global Supply Chain Procurement at Heineken. “Local manufacturing helps us a lot in increasing uptime, efficiency and output. We use 3D printing to optimise the manufacturing line, create safety and quality control tools, and create tools for our machines which that help us to reduce change over time. I think there will be even more purposes in the future.”
Leading the race Kite Packaging, one of the UK’s leading packaging distributors, has seen a hugely positive response to its 2019 initiative aimed at reducing the impact of plastics in the environment. At the end of May the company announced that it is well on its way to reaching its goal, with the initiative already delivering a 95 tonne plastic reduction. The team at Kite launched its 120 tonne challenge at the start of 2019, setting itself and its customers the task of reducing plastic usage by a total of 120 tonnes by the end of the year. With a focus on ‘reduce, re-use, recycle and replace’ Kite has utilised a wide range of new ecofriendly products and its state-of-the-art Mobile Test Facility to target opportunities for itself and its customers.
Part of the reduction includes Kite no longer sending out any direct mailing in polythene mailing bags, as well as carrying out an ongoing review of its distribution process to minimise plastic wrapping around products. To support customers joining the initiative Kite’s new Mobile Test Facility, the first of its kind in the industry, has been despatched to customers’ premises all around the UK along with a team of packaging technologists and specialist engineers. The Kite team is able to utilise the Mobile Test Facility to work alongside customers and carry out waste minimising packaging audits, as well as exploring and testing more eco-friendly packaging alternatives.
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Manufacturing BEST PRACTICES FOR INDUSTRY LEADERS
Focus on... 20 Baker Labels 24 Captec
28 Nufarm UK 32 Sewtec Automation 36 Lawrence David Trailers 42 Zotefoams 44 Evans Vanodine
48 Huntleigh Healthcare Ltd 50 Mansfield Pollard 54 Radical Sportscars 58 Photocentric 60 Randek AB 64 DS Smith
68 Red Arch Manufacturing 71 REPL Group 74 Dreams www.manufacturing-today-europe.com l 19
Tricks of the
Having celebrated a record month in terms of turnover at the tail end of 2018, Baker Labels is enjoying an extended period of growth, supported by targeted investment in equipment and its people
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ctober 2018 was a massively significant month for Baker Labels. It was then that the UK’s leading trade label manufacturer celebrated the major milestone of reaching a company record monthly turnover of £1 million. A fantastic achievement by all accounts, it was one of the standout moments for what Managing Director Steve Baker correctly describes as another 12 months of growth, investment and expansion. “In the last year, the process of moving our Materials depar tment into the new adjacent unit was completed, leaving
room for our next phase of project and equipment investment,” he details. “At the same time,” Steve continues, “staff numbers have increased, with – on average – a new employee star ting each month, and for the first time in ten years we have added to our team at senior management level, in recognition of the scale of our growth and our future plans. All of our people have also been able to benefit from the expansion of our ‘Wellbeing at Work’ programme. Through this, we have seen the creation of things like walking and football training groups, an increase in charity involvement, and have
Baker Labels Below: Harry, Mandy and Steve Baker – “we’re a family business”
Above: Steve Baker with the new inkjet press
been able to offer greater support to staff facing personal or work-related issues. These initiatives have helped to maintain our strong family ethos, and encouraged our staff to feel connected and invested in the company.” When it comes to the strong, continued demand for Baker Labels’ services, Steve credits the company’s reliability when it comes to getting jobs done as and when they are needed. “As a trade printer, our customers’ demands for quality are exceptionally high, as is the need for a quick turnaround,” he explains. “This is something that we have prepared for through dedicated
investment in the best equipment, alongside well-trained and well-organised staff right through the production chain. Trialling, testing and implementing new ideas and techniques to find solutions for trickier designs has proved invaluable, and something that other printers are often unwilling to take the time over. Fur thermore, there is no doubt that our integrity towards trade ethics, providing a confidential service, is invaluable to our customers.” The above-mentioned investment in equipment and machinery has added considerably to Baker Labels’ manufacturing
As a trade printer, our customers’ demands for quality are exceptionally high, as is the need for a quick turnaround. This is something that we have prepared for through dedicated investment in the best equipment, alongside well-trained and well-organised staff right through the production chain www.manufacturing-today-europe.com l 21
“At Bakers, we recognise that people are our most valuable asset and their performance is vital to the quality of service and product we provide to our customers”
capabilities, with examples of its more recent acquisitions being a new Truepress Jet L350UV+LM and two ABG Digicon Series 3 presses. “The L350UV+LM offers an increased colour gamut, including orange ink along with the C, M, Y, K set and white ink,” Steve adds. “Orange ink enables richer reproduction of vivid colours, adding to the
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visual appeal of fruits and other foods. The new press also offers low migration inks, improving safety for food package labels, plus it benefits from a chill roller that increases stability for thin materials and unsupported films. This will allow us to offer a significant increase in the range of packaging and label applications that can be printed.
“The two ABG Digicon Series 3 presses, on the other hand, have increased the level of quality embellishments that we are able to produce. One of the presses comes complete with two flexo heads, a ‘Big Foot’ (50 tonne) hot foil/embossing unit, two laminating stations, flatbed silk screen, foil doming unit, die cutting and auto slit knives. It is proving to be a fantastic asset that suits the increased demand from customers and end users that want to add finished quality to their labels. The challenge for us is letting more people know what is possible from these machines so that they can make the most of what we have to offer!” As a reel-to-reel trade label printer, Baker Labels’ recent investments have also focused on increased digital capabilities and advanced quality finishing. However, customer requests come in all shapes, sizes and quantities, and the company’s sales team pride themselves on being in a position to provide competitive
quotes at all times. With this in mind, it has also spent approximately £70,000 in adding a Ricoh Pro 7200x digital sheet fed colour press this past Spring. Its addition provides Baker Labels with the option to offer ultrashort run labels work, as well as a variety of further tricks and optional extras to customer projects. Turning the topic of discussion to the company’s future, one of Steve’s immediate goals involves the continuous improvement of its internal standards and compliances. “We already run very high health and safety procedures, and maintain high standards around our factory, but are now in the process of regulating this level to BRC standards,” he reveals. “This will ensure that we are a verified supplier within the supply chain providing safe, compliant, effective food packaging. This will have several implications for our staff, our site and our processes that we aim to address over the course of 2019.”
Above: (L-R) Commercial Manager Jamie Doogan, Production Manager Paul Sykes, Managing Director Steve Baker, General Manager BakPak Phil Smith and Technical manager Jamie Godson with the first major investment of 2019, the Screen Truepress Jet L350UV+LM
Above: Steve Baker welcoming Phil Smith to Baker Labels having joined its senior management team
Services: Label printing www.bakerlabels.co.uk
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Below: Captec’s computing racks oncology systems
Tried and tested
technology An internationally recognised tried, tested and trusted supplier of specialist computing platforms, Captec operates in a unique space within the marketplace where systems and solutions are required to go beyond the limits of commercial computing
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aptec – standing for Computer Applications Technologies – has been in business since 1985, when it first began trading under the name Integrated Measurement Systems Ltd. Arriving at the dawn of the personal computer age, the business was the brainchild of founder and CEO Max Toti, an electronics engineer from Southampton University with previous careers experience with the likes of IBM and Hewlett Packard. Over the next third of a century, the business continued to expand and evolve to become a multi-award-winning designer and
manufacturer of specialist computing platforms that can be designed to any form factor, whether it be rugged tablets and industrial computers, or complex computer racks and Internet of Things (IoT) computing. This has led to Captec becoming the proud recipient of two Queen’s Awards in just three years, the first being the Enterprise Export accolade in 2016, and the second coming in the prestigious Innovation category this year. “When you think about computing,” Max begins, “it basically splits itself into two broad categories. One is consumer/commercial computing, where you have mass produced
Captec Below: Max Toti meeting Her Majesty the Queen upon receiving Captec’s second Queen’s Award for Enterprise in three years
products designed for use in non-hostile environments such as the home or workplace, and the other is computing designed for critical applications where reliable products are needed in often challenging operational environments. It is in the latter field where Captec specialises, and where we have become experts in providing platforms for a wide variety of applications, from transport network infrastructure and defence systems, to highly certified markets such as the medical equipment industry.” As Max goes on to detail, while there are lots of people out there today that can make
consumer-led computers, a great deal fewer have the unique know-how, experience and IP expertise to engineer platforms that meet exact requirements irrespective of complexity or environmental demands. “In the course of our history, we have developed the means to deploy computers onto war ships, submarines, oil rigs and within oncology machines, so you can see that we possess quite a broad depth of knowledge and engineering capabilities,” he states. “Through our commitment to research and development, and innovation, we are constantly pushing the envelope as we make our platforms faster, cool them more
effectively, protect them from greater shock or vibration levels, or certify them to very high industry standards, to name just a few topics. I think it is definitely fair to say that we are more willing to experiment and try new things than most other companies would be, and this has paid off in the form of a number of successful projects through the years.” Examples of such projects are numerous, but by taking a handful of both past and recent case studies, one can see the breadth of applications that Captec’s solutions are today vital components within. For starters, very few commuters on the London Underground
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Below: Captec’s production floor
Smithie UK Smithie UK is a British IT hardware distribution company based in Basingstoke with over 16 years of experience in IT storage. Our geographical position and purpose built facilities enable rapid delivery times to our customers and quick returns turn around. Our team is dynamic, small and immediately responsive, and are highly trained and informed of any new or pending technologies. Smithie UK’s vendor relations are of the highest regard and we are consummate professionals in linking the end user with the manufacturer to enrich the procurement experience and maximise the value of any project or deal that the client is engaged in. This, and our permanent onsite team, dedicated warehouse, and service centre means that Smithie UK is the essential provider for storage.
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network will be aware of the critical role the company’s technology plays in its day-to-day running. “We have done many projects over the years for London Underground and today a large proportion of its infrastructure runs on our computers,” Max reveals. “This includes all of the key station management systems –
from public information display systems and signalling to barriers, ticketing machines and digital signeage – as well as the platform which supports the Oyster Card.” Meanwhile, within the medical sector, Captec provides highly certified computers to, the world’s second largest manufacturer of
Captec Below: Left- Mobile computing racks for oil & gas exploration, right - Racks for naval satellite communications, centre - Specialised computers for marine sonar applications
oncology equipment. These computers manage and control the delivery of non-evasive cancer treatment using radiation, and as one would expect such highly precise clinical equipment requires the most reliable, certified and trustworthy systems, which is what Captec prides itself on delivering. More recently, the company has bolstered its track record of winning important contracts with the signing of an agreement to design a completely new, advanced computer rack architecture for use by the Royal Navy. “This particular contract win comes at a crucial time when the Navy is undergoing a refresh of its satellite communications systems,” Max adds. “The prime on this contract – Airbus – required a partner to design an advanced architecture in order to deploy systems in all of the Navy’s surface vessels, and we have since created a very modular rack, complete with all the equipment payload that accompanies it and the ability to accommodate existing communications hardware. The result has been a sizable, prestigious and successful project for all parties involved.” Much of Captec’s growth has been a result of organic investment and development, however it also owes its success to its ability to identify good acquisition opportunities. A good example of this was its acquisition of Cove Industrial Enterprises in February 2019. With a number of complementary capabilities and a common customer base, especially in the aerospace and defence arenas, Cove was already one of Captec’s key suppliers of sheet metal work. When its founder and owner Gordon Day approached retirement, the time proved right for Captec to make an acquisition offer, and the result has been the ability
to provide customers with an end-to-end service and create a value stack with a single point of accountability, one that reduces the complexities of having a mixed supply chain. Captec has since followed up the above with the acquisition of Aleutia, a business heavily involved with embedded, edge and IoT computing. “The marriage of Aleutia’s innovative legacy products with our own technical capabilities, experience and international reach will enable us to refresh, revive and reposition our computers around several exciting new applications including artificial intelligence, machine vision, security and machine learning,” Max enthuses. “In the longer term, we have further acquisitions in the pipeline where the focus is on the IoT, which is where I see a lot of potential for growth for the foreseeable future.” More pertinent for Max and the rest of the
Captec team, however, is the news that the company has recently signed up to the London Stock Exchange’s (LSE) support and capital raising ecosystem, ELITE, which is primarily designed to prepare companies for a stock market floatation. “My plan is that, by Q4 of 2020, Captec will be floating on the LSE’s AIM market,” Max adds. “In doing so, we will look to access larger pools of capital, which in turn will open doors to bigger acquisitions on an international scale, particularly in the United States.” Needless to say, then, that Captec finds itself in the midst of an exciting period of time, but also one in which Max wants to remain with his feet on the ground. “By nature, I like to think of myself as an ambitious person and that has helped in transforming what was at first a one-man-band into a company with over 200 employees across the growing group as well as a large global supply chain. While the months to come will be predominantly about growth and scaling the business, I never want to lose sight of the real heroes of our story, namely our fantastic customers and our incredibly talented people,” he concludes.
Captec Products: Specialist computing platforms www.captec-group.com
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Growing a better
Nufarm employs a tried and tested technology to manufacture phenoxy herbicides that help with the optimisation of cereal and grassland crop yields. Running highly-automated processes, the agrochemical producer is getting ready to increase its output
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olding more than 85 per cent of the global market share, Nufarm is the undisputed leader in the production of phenoxy herbicides. The Australia-headquartered company specialises in manufacturing MCPA, mecoprop, dichloprop, MCPB, 2,4-D, and 2,4-DB from multiple sites across the world. As post-emergent herbicides, the phenoxies are a family of chemicals related to the plant growth hormone indoleacetic acid, which, when sprayed on grass crops, kill broadleaf weeds to increase the yield of the crop. The city of Bradford is home to Nufarmâ€™s UK operations and has been such since 2008. Two years after the site at Wyke Lane was acquired, the company closed its other plant in the
country (in Belvedere, Kent) and relocated all of its activities to the new facility, where it produces most types of the aforementioned herbicides. Site Director Paul Else discusses its functions: “First of all, the site has been in operation since 1877 and was privately owned until we bought it 11 years ago. All of the specialities we needed were already in place when we took control of the plant, so we retained and absorbed them. We have a team of PhD chemists who undertake a lot of product development work, as well as regulatory, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, and control engineering teams. “Notably, many of these functions now serve not just our UK operations, but also support our colleagues from other parts of the world.
For example, our chemistry team is doing a lot of work to help our site in Gaillon (France) integrate its latest major acquisition into the business,” Paul points out. “Together with the range of herbicides that we make here in the UK, our facilities in Linz (Austria) and Laverton (Australia) produce 2,4-D, which extends our market coverage further,” he continues. “As a whole, we are backwardintegrated with the key intermediates, so we bring in base commodity chemicals, convert them to the intermediates we need, in order to manufacture the actives, and then produce these actives themselves. We also hit all levels of the value chain by being able not only to provide the technical active, which is a solid melting at about
140°C, but also convert it into liquid derivatives, which we then supply in bulk or in anything down to a one-litre can.” The herbicide technology used by Nufarm is not new at all. The unique mode of action of the various products, however, has ensured their longevity and they are still widely applied across the world, be it as standalone solutions, or in partnership with other types of herbicides. “They mimic a naturally occurring plant growth hormone called auxin, thus overstimulating growth and killing unwanted plants, which leads to the yield per planted hectare being significantly higher. We live in a world where we have increasing demand for food and it is clear that we need to address the food deficit issue over the next 30 years. Therefore, it is critical to optimise the yield from all the land available to us and our products are very effective tools to do that,” Paul maintains.
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Top: Nufarm’s young award winning Wyke sales team Bottom: One of Nufarm’s sales team visiting a farm
Richard Alan Group Providing Term-Contract Services to Nufarm Established in 1970, the West Yorkshirebased Richard Alan Group is proud to be part of the continued success and safety record at Nufarm. With a broad portfolio of businesses providing highquality engineering design, manufacture, installation and servicing to clients across the UK. Complemented by the group’s scaffolding, pump, gearbox and recruitment companies, working together they deliver turn-key project solutions for customers in the chemical, pharmaceutical, water and oil & gas industries, to name but a few. The Richard Alan Group stands for quality, safety, innovation, value and excellent customer experience. It is an ethos embedded into everything they do and their partnership approach creates a unified culture based on a passion for unlimited success. With a workforce in excess of 150 people, every one of them having an important role to play in the success of the business from the back-office teams to the highestskilled workshop operatives. Their skills, expertise and commitment make Richard Alan what it is today.
For Nufarm to remain cost-competitive, the company has invested considerably in process automation. “We now operate a distributed control system, which is being monitored by our staff who take and analyse samples at critical control points and, if necessary, make adjustments to it,” Paul explains. “The level of automation and control we have over our processes, is key to our success, as we are able to consistently make products of the highest quality. The forecasts are for continued growth in phenoxy herbicides demand, so we have a programme of investment in place that will help us handle customer requirements.” Having opened up on how the market might look like in the years to come, Paul adds that the increasing pressure to reduce pesticide application rates is one of the big challenges
faced by the agrochemical industry in Western Europe at the moment. “A lot of research on historic actives is being done to increase their efficacy, because fewer new active ingredients are being released into the market, as the process has become long and expensive. We operate in a heavily-regulated area where you have to clearly demonstrate that the materials you work with and produce are ecologically and toxicologically benign. Our regulatory scientists and toxicologists spend a lot of time identifying impurity species, which are then synthesised by our chemistry department, so we can screen them and ensure that they are safe.” Nufarm has become an industry leader not just because the company makes wise infrastructure development moves, but also because it was shrewd enough to focus on introducing young blood into the business long before the widening of the skills shortage gap in British manufacturing. “Fifteen years ago, we realised that it was going to be difficult for us to hire people with the skills we needed once our then-workforce reached retirement age,” Paul remembers. “Due to offshoring and increased competition from the Far East, in particular, the process industries in the UK suffer and the number of workers being employed in these sectors have decreased dramatically since the turn of the century. Consequently, we decided to set up a process skills apprenticeship scheme that would help us create a pool of skilled people. Upon taking another six apprentices this year, we will have a cohort of about 16 young people at various stages of their training, so it is safe to say that this initiative of ours has been quite successful year-on-year. On top of that, we also upskill our existing staff, offering them paths for continuous improvement and putting the highest-performing individuals through leadership development programmes.” Looking ahead, continued expansion and revenue growth are natural future goals for Nufarm, with the company also aspiring to launch a number of new products in the forthcoming years. Paul concludes: “We have done a lot of work through our operational excellence programmes to increase the efficiency and capability of our manufacturing footprint. Now, it is about using it to its full potential to release these new products.”
Nufarm UK Products: Crop protection and plant control products https://www2.nufarm.com/uk/
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Coming off a strong 12 months, rapidly-growing specialist precision engineering company Sewtec Automation is now looking to the future and a potentially game changing move into new premises
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lthough it boasts a proud heritage that dates back to 1897 – when it was born out of the Singer sewing machine company’s design and development team – and today possesses a client base including numerous blue chip entities such as Nestlé, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, and Proctor & Gamble, Sewtec Automation (Sewtec) has typically gone about its business quietly. “Previously, Sewtec has essentially hidden its light under a bushel,” Managing Director Mark Cook readily admits. “What we have been doing recently is making our capabilities much more widely known to the market and the attention that we have received has been hugely positive.” An example of said attention is the
numerous awards that have been lavished upon the designer and manufacturer of bespoke automation systems for the food, pharmaceutical, personal care and tobacco sectors in the past nine months alone. These include topping the digital technology and engineer category at the Insider ‘Made in Yorkshire Awards’, picking up the Exporter of the Year award at the Yorkshire Post ‘Excellence in Business Awards’, the best UK pharmaceutical robotics and automation specialist crown at the GHP Manufacturing and Packaging Awards, and winning the international trade category at the prestigious Yorkshire Business Masters Awards. Sewtec’s awards success, however, is just the icing on the cake of what has been an extremely
Products Directive) regulations. Included within this is the requirement for all tobacco companies’ products to be trackable and traceable down to individual packets. The adoption of these new rules has required investment and upgrades in various machines, but has created a very pleasing spike in demand for Sewtec’s services. Going forward, the World Health Organization has plans to introduce a similar global standard, FCTC (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control), which we expect to have a positive
impact on our business, having been responsible for some pretty ground breaking work in partnership with the European Union.” In addition to the specialist equipment brought in to facilitate the needs of its tobacco clients, Sewtec has also been investing in enhancing its capabilities in innovative ways. “We have spent a fair bit of time and money working with various partners, namely the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre, in order to develop our expertise in additive manufacturing for metals,” Mark states.
prosperous year since it last featured within the pages of Manufacturing Today Europe. “In terms of new business, the last nine-to-twelve months have been particularly strong, and we expect that we will exceed our original turnover expectations by a significant margin when those figures are revealed at the end of the financial year,” Mark explains. “This increase in demand has come about due to several factors, including a general pattern of growth in industrial automation and the continued strength of our export operations, which account for around 80 per cent of our business. “On a more specific level, we have also seen a big uptick in business relating to the introduction, in May 2019, of the EUTPD2 (European Tobacco
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“At the same time, we have invested in our IT and management information systems in order to identify efficiencies throughout the business.” Sewtec has built its reputation on its ability to design and build machines, but Mark realises that it is important to recognise the men and women behind the success of the business. As such, it has been diligently introducing wider initiatives in regards to the development of its people. “We have begun rolling out significantly more training opportunities, with one-to-one leadership coaching being offered to directors down to middle management,” he says. “We have also taken on a larger number of apprentices, while also creating enhanced benefit programmes for existing personnel, ranging from bonus schemes to a new health insurance policy. All of these efforts are designed to not only attract new talent, but to further incentivise those skilled people that contribute to our success each day to remain with Sewtec.” From an infrastructure and equipment point of view, the company also has plans in place to acquire additional machinery in the form of new CAD tools and CNC machines, however
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Managing Director Mark Cook
these will arrive when Sewtec makes its longplanned move to new premises. “As of today, we operate from several locations, renting out various warehouses and sheds in the vicinity of one another for the purpose of storage and machine assembly, which, as you can imagine, is somewhat inefficient,” Mark states. “We have identified a couple of options that will allow us to consolidate our activities into one site that will provide us with twice the total space that we currently enjoy. Whichever option we pursue, this move should be completed during the course of 2020, and will open up a wealth of new opportunities for the company.” Securing the aforementioned premises is understandably at the top of Mark’s list of priorities, and doing so will form a central pillar in the company’s plans to double turnover in the next two years. “One of the exciting aspects of
our relocation is that we already have customers ready to talk to us about larger, more complex programmes once we have more space to work with,” he says. “Alongside this, we will continue to do all that we can to attract the right level of resource into the business to support our growth, as we believe we will be much better located to attract talent, and to retain our existing personnel. Last, but not least, we will ensure that we work with the very best supply chain partners, as this is absolutely essential.” It is clear that the next 12 months are set to be an extremely exciting time for Sewtec, but Mark and his team are remaining determined to keep their feet on the ground. “We are certainly optimistic about what the near future holds for the company, but what is most important is that we remain focused and win the business that will take us to that next level,” he concludes.
Sewtec Automation Products: Automation solutions www.sewtec.co.uk
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quality Lawrence David Trailers recently had the majority of its business acquired by Wielton, which will enable the manufacturer of trailers and truck bodies to grow its product range in the UK and provide it with a multitude of opportunities to expand in the Europen market
ccording to Andy Dodge, Managing Director of Lawrence David Trailers, the secret to the lasting success of the manufacturer of rigid truck bodies and trailers, is its ability to provide customers with exactly what they want. As Andy puts it, “we sell them what they want and not what we want to sell them, and this has been going on for 46 years.” Established by Lawrence Marshall out of a rented Nissen hut near Peterborough in 1973, it did not take long before the company established a reputation for quality and forward-thinking engineering. “Everything that we put together is built for longevity. The time and effort that go into designing the product, allows us to offer longer warranties than our competitors, because we know how good it is and that it is going to last. It is a true testament to the quality of our work that our products are Tier 1 within the financial industry and what I mean by that is that a bank would put a higher residual value on our trailers and bodies than the majority of our competitors,” Andy maintains.
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Lawrence David Trailers Another indicator of Lawrence David’s respected status within the market, is the very high customer retention rate the company has kept throughout its history. With 90 per cent of its business generated by repeat orders, it is no surprise that customer care is pivotal to the manufacturer’s operations. Andy elaborates: “There is a lot of hard work involved in selling a truck body or a trailer to a client, but it is even harder to retain this client. It all starts with delivering on time and to the right standard. After that, you need to maintain this consistency and continue delivering on your promises without compromising the quality of the products.” September of last year was a time of important changes for Lawrence David, such that these are expected to ensure the prosperity and growth of the business in the years to come. It was then that Europe’s third largest semi-trailers manufacturer – Polishbased Wielton – acquired 75 per cent of the Lawrence David group, opening up a host of new opportunities for the latter. “The transaction has certainly given us some
Welland Supplies Ltd.
better economies of scale and will allow us to add a number of new models to our portfolio in the coming 12 months. We are looking to introduce products like tippers, flatbeds, and low loaders, to mention but a few, which will definitely give the business a real push,” Andy enthuses. Speaking of the rationale behind the merger, he adds: “Wielton first approached us at
Welland Supplies Ltd. is proud to be the main supplier of specialist fasteners to Lawrence David. It’s a partnership that has been forged over 20+ years, and one that has been built on foundations of hard work and commitment, and ensuring we always give a constant level of first class service and product quality. We want to thank the management and staff for everything they have given us during that time, and look forward to working closely with everyone, as they go forward into an exciting future of growth and technological excellence, helping them every step of the way.
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Lawrence David Trailers a time when we were just getting into the process of starting to build our own chassis. We do not produce these currently, using a competitor from the UK as a supplier. While our relationship with this manufacturer has been excellent, there is still a risk of potential supply chain issues, which we had to mitigate. Just then, as we had decided to commence production of chassis, Wielton came to us to discuss the feasibility of teaming up with them. “There are around about 14,000 chassis produced every year by Wielton and when you put the extra 4000-5000 that we need, you can imagine the growth opportunity that is in for their group to establish a strong presence in the UK market. We were deeply impressed with Wielton’s senior management team, the ethos of the company, the strong work ethic, and the second-to-none facility they operate in Poland. They truly ticked all
Reliable, Proven Fasteners and Innovative Services
uck’s unique fastening systems date back over 70 years. The original Huck fastener was designed to solve problems due to extreme vibration between joined materials. The Huck Lockbolt, based on Lou Huck’s original design, provides high stability and facilitates lightweight, stronger and more durable structures. Huck’s ever evolving lockbolt capabilities are helping users solve challenging applications – no torque, easier evaluation, maintenance free and high corrosion standards. Star Fasteners’ team is focused on working with engineers from the early design specification and engineering stage, right through to manufacturing. It provides support on fastener selection and installation methods to ensure that all stages are optimised prior to the start of production. Innovative fastening solutions, which include the Huck structural blind fastener range, standard rivets, threaded inserts, sealant and adhesives, as well as over 3000 stock
products, underpin Star Fasteners commitment to helping customers with their fastening requirements. Star continues to develop increasingly complex products for lightweight materials and design fasteners that do more than just one job. Always looking for ways to innovate and take every opportunity to work with relevant partners, its commitment is in developing new fastening solutions and bringing them to market faster. Star Fasteners offer an extremely cost-effective associated tooling range and an all-encompassing installation advice and tool maintenance/repair service. A well-stocked tool room, as well as extensive hire fleet ensures a rapid response. Email firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. +44 (0)115 9324 939
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the boxes for us, but the one thing that won us over, was their vision of how they should develop their businesses across Europe. As they had already acquired some well-known brands in France, Germany, and Italy, their strategy was to leave these to trade under their own names. They wanted to keep the local feel of a business, while offering their support as a larger brand, whose resources could help these companies expand accordingly,â€? Andy explains. Even before the merger with Wielton, Lawrence David already had its own development plans, which the company advanced by virtue of a ÂŁ3 million investment in its steel fabrication capabilities. â€œWe purchased a new laser with an automated loading and warehousing system, along with three new press brakes. This proved a catalyst for the complete change in the mode of production we are presently putting in place. Starting from the second week of August, we are going to a fully-automated line of production, having brought some lean manufacturing processes to increase our
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Lawrence David Trailers capacity and give ourselves some very good stabilisation,” Andy reveals. Moving onto the recent additions to Lawrence David’s product portfolio, he highlights the dropside body with its crossmachined aluminium flooring, which marks a departure from traditional timber flooring. “We have been experimenting a lot, because we firmly believe that in 2019, the industry should be moving away from timber-based products. We now have a huge offering of composite panels, which we are using to build trailers and truck bodies that are fully recyclable and easier to repair. “Some of these ideas of ours are also finding application in the trial project we are currently doing with Tesco for the development of several double-deck trailers,” Andy continues. “The truth is that costs have gone up for operators, given the pound’s weakening due to the uncertainty around Brexit, and the fact that we buy the majority of our products from Europe. Therefore, we have had to become more efficient and inventive in producing our trailers and bodies, in order not to pass this cost onto the customer.” Another trend that has been observed by Andy sees customers looking increasingly for a ‘from the cradle to the grave’ type of service. He expounds: “People want us to be a onestop shop and this is what we are essentially, as we offer a number of complementary services. Customers want to be able to buy a trailer, they want somebody to maintain and track it, and they want to be able to hand it back at the end of a period, and then take a new trailer. For example, we have a very competitive solution for tracking trailers that has proven very successful with some of the UK’s largest operators. In addition, we have our repair and maintenance business, which is a division of Lawrence David that was not purchased by Wielton, but that adds significant value to our overall proposition.” Despite the challenging first half of 2019, Andy is confident that the market conditions for Lawrence David will remain favourable in the long-term. He concludes: “Every product that you have got in your house has, at some point, been on the back of a truck, so, we have got to keep moving goods by road one way or another. The smaller home delivery market is only going to grow and we also look forward to bringing some of Wielton’s products into the UK to expand our offering. Together with this, we feel that the pillarless products we offer, will have a greater appeal in the European market in the coming years, so we are certainly not short of opportunities, going forward.”
Lawrence David Trailers Products: Trailers and rigid truck bodies www.lawrencedavid.co.uk
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Left: Zotefoams’ new manufacturing facility in Kentucky, USA Below: Autoclave delivery, Kentucky Right top: Zotefoams’ Croydon plant becomes fully operational following a boost to its manufacturing capacity Right bottom: Zotefoams is currently building a new manufacturing site in Poland that will begin operations in mid-2020
Facing considerable growth in demand for its specialised lightweight foams, Zotefoams is currently investing heavily in its manufacturing sites around the world
t was while working beside none other than Thomas Edison himself, that English engineer, Charles Marshall developed an interest in the production of the punctureproof tyre. The year was 1921 when Zotefoams, then known as Onazote Limited, developed the world’s first hard and soft expanded rubber, with Marshall drawing inspiration from the work of the Pfleumer brothers, who had conceived the original concept of filling tyres with some form of expanded lightweight material, rather than air. Some 40 years later, Zotefoams produced the first polyethylene foams, before developing a range of lightweight polymer foams. Today, it is the largest manufacturer of lightweight cross-linked polyolefin block foams, which it sells under the AZOTE® brand. Upon opening
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a new manufacturing site in Kentucky, USA in 2002, Zotefoams began exploring other highperformance foams from advanced engineering polymers, such as polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), nylon, and thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs). As a result, the company has developed its ZOTEK® range, as well as the T-FIT® insulation system. “We also license patented MuCell® microcellular technology,” Group CEO David Stirling adds. “Developed specifically for extrusion applications, the process creates ‘micro-bubbles’ in the core of plastic parts or products by injecting gas into them as they are manufactured. This produces a foamed core bound by a solid skin as integral material that appears indistinguishable from a solid product. “The high-tech foams we produce are
a critical component in lots of everyday applications. From automotive insulation to yoghurt pot manufacture, they help solve the issues of a diverse mix of industries, including transportation, packaging, building and construction, medical, sports and leisure, and many more.” Recently, Zotefoams was approached by award-winning supplier of aircraft seating Thompson Aero Seating, as the latter was working on its latest concept, which required soft-touch trims around the rear of the business class seating to negate the need for a composite panel to give structural support. The idea was to reduce the overall weight of the seat, thus lowering flammability and saving on fuel costs. Due to its exceptional heat release
performance and fire, smoke, and toxicity (FST) properties, the ZOTEK F foam was selected to complement the aluminium frame around the seating. The successful completion of the project led to an estimated 1.6kg reduction in weight per seat, which has allowed Thompson the flexibility to add more technology to its seats. The foams produced by Zotefoams’ proprietary manufacturing process are purer, lighter and offer better performance than those manufactured by other methods. As such, demand in these environmentally conscientious times continues to grow, such that the company decided to boost its foam expansion capabilities at its Kentucky facility. To this end, it initiated a four-year $42 million investment programme that would see it install three new extrusion lines and two high-pressure (HP) autoclaves, primarily to increase capacity of AZOTE polyolefin foams. “The first HP autoclave was commissioned in 2018 along with two extruders, while the
second autoclave is due to come on stream in late 2019,” reveals David. “So far, the investment has proven a key contributor to our recentlyreported eight per cent increase in sales of the polyolefin foam range, and the US operation is now positioned as a significant, standalone contributor to our Group’s capacity, with North America making up 26 per cent of our revenue.” Following the increased demand for its high-performance products (HPPs), Zotefoams initiated a £12 million project to increase the capacity of its headquarters in Croydon, UK too. “The investment has seen the installation and
housing of two low-pressure autoclaves and will extend capacity for the HPP product range by a factor of up to six times. It will help us perform the expansion phase of our process and is intended primarily for the expansion of ZOTEK HPP foams. The project began in November 2017 with the facility becoming fully operational later this year,” David explains. Demonstrating its commitment to its many customers in Central Europe, Zotefoams is currently building a new manufacturing site in Poland that will begin operations in mid-2020. “The €26 million investment will increase capacity of polyolefin foams by another 20 per cent, as it will serve to produce AZOTE foams, as well as act as a production hub for the T-FIT range of technical insulation products,” David points out. 2018 was another year of record sales and profits for Zotefoams. The company has also maintained momentum in the early part of this year, while also picking up a number of accolades and certificates. David details: “We were named winner of the ‘Innovation in Technology’ award at the PLC Awards in March. More recently, we became an accredited Authorised Economic Operator (AEO), which recognises that our place in the international supply chain is secure and our customs and procedures are efficient and meet EU standards. This has given us access to some simplified customs procedures, which will make it easier for our overseas customers to do business with us. “We remain confident about our future prospects and are excited by the opportunities we see for continued progress. There is a clear call for reducing energy usage through light weighting and we are looking to capitalise on that,” he says. Looking to the future, David says, “Our products are frequently part of the sustainability agenda for customers and end users alike and we continually strive for efficiency improvements in our production processes. We are making advances in both the type of foams that we offer and their uses for existing materials. We know that our products and technologies offer many environmental benefits and we intend to develop more of these to address global needs in a sustainable manner.”
Zotefoams Products: Cellular materials technology www.zotefoams.com
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2019 marks the 100-year birthday of Evans Vanodine, with the Prestonbased manufacturer of cleaning and hygiene chemicals using its centenary celebrations to prepare itself for future growth
W William Charles Evans
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hen William Charles Evans established his own business in 1919 – under the title of W. C. Evans & Co. Ltd – little would he have known of the impact it would make on so many generations of his family and countless other people in the century that followed. Initially, the business specialised in producing spraying essences for cinemas, and in the decades to come would become synonymous with the development and manufacture of products for the cleaning and hygiene industries. Today, Evans Vanodine’s products cover an extensive range of applications for the industrial, janitorial, food
process and animal health sectors, and can be found in over 80 countries worldwide. Nick Evans is one of the newest generation of the Evans family responsible for leading the business – holding the position of European Sales Manager – and is as well placed as anyone to discuss how it is marking the fact that 2019 is Evans Vanodine’s centenary year, and of its importance. “Marking 100 years as a business is an incredibly important and proud experience for everyone associated with Evans Vanodine,” he begins. “Our official day of celebration was 19th February 2019, when we brought all of our people under one roof to properly praise their efforts, and since then
Sunderland Peacock & Associates Ltd
we have hosted various functions at different events and expos, and inviting people to our premises in order to share our gratitude with our vast array of customers. Such happenings are likely to continue for some months to come, possibly even extending into 2020! “One of big focus areas for us, however, is using the centenary to really drive home to the industry, our customers and our staff the fact that we have no intention of resting on our laurels. In the background, we have
invested millions of pounds into the building of new facilities and we are in the midst of a company-wide brand refresh project, so this centenary year is not just about reflecting on the past, but also using it as a springboard for the next phase in our development.” So, what, in Nick’s opinion, has been the secret to the company’s decades of success? “In all of its forms throughout the years, Evans Vanodine has been known for the quality of its products, the level of expertise it possesses,
Sunderland Peacock Architects (SPA) are based in Clitheroe, Lancashire in the UK, and have 37 years of experience working on a wide range of projects in the manufacturing and other commercial and residential sectors. SPA Director, Stuart Herd, said: “We are proud to be a key supplier to Evans Vanodine International Plc, and to have designed and overseen the recent expansion of its Head Offices in Preston.” SPA have forged a strong working relationship with Evans Vanodine International Plc, resulting in high quality tailored solutions, and are excited to be working on new plans for its future developments.
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and for its ability to deliver to a customer’s specific requirements,” he explains. “Maintaining that high level of quality, remaining a trusted part of the industry, being willing to evolve and create new solutions, and encouraging an environment where we let our people do what they are best at, has been at the heart of our continued prosperity.” Today, around 60 per cent of the company’s total turnover comes from its industrial/ janitorial product range, which can typically be found in locations such as hospitals, schools, bars and restaurants. Making up the vast majority of the remaining 40 per cent of its sales are its animal health/livestock protection products, which include farm disinfectants and other goods designed to improve the health, wellbeing and efficiency of animals for farming. While the former category continues to benefit from a rising awareness of the importance of hygiene and cleanliness in sensitive environments, it is the animal health market that is the fastest growing segment for Evans Vanodine, particularly when it comes to exports. “In terms of growth, we have seen high
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Evans Vanodine levels of demand coming from places such as the Far East – China in particular – which is a region where we have been present for some time, building up a critical mass of expertise, and have proven to be extremely quick to market,” Nick states. “Elsewhere, we have seen an increase in enquiries coming from Russia, with people interested in viewing our product range, and even at home in the UK, we are seeing both sides of our business displaying a good consistent level of sales growth.” With such growth has come the need to make the earlier-mentioned investment in the company’s facilities, and, as Nick details, the upgrades made have been extensive. “We have been based at our premises south of Preston since 1981, when it was purpose-built on what was then a new business estate, and it was in 2018 that we took the decision to carry out an extended overhaul of the facility, particularly our laboratories,” he says. “It is within our labs that we carry out our own on-site testing, which is not only rare for a company of our size, but also a testament to our commitment to supplying high quality, researched products. Together with new offices and several other additions, the total cost of this investment comes to around £2 million. While this is admittedly a considerable sum, every penny is worth it, as it will again go a long way to making Evans Vanodine ready to embark on the next 100 years of its journey.” Making sure that the company is best prepared for what both the immediate and long-term future holds is a collective effort, and across the business the Evans family and its employees have been working hard to ensure that Evans Vanodine remains efficient and quick to respond to its customers. “As a company, we know what we are best at, which is delivering high quality products at a fair price to customers that trust us, and that will remain at the core of Evans Vanodine regardless of where the future takes us,” Nick declares. He goes on to add: “We also need to remember that the goal is not simply about securing the financial future of the company, but about making all of our employees happy and proud of their working lives. We are incredibly proud that a fifth of the men and women amongst us have been with the company for more than 20 years, and this is a culture that we want to maintain as we go into the next few decades. Above all, it is important to remember that, while Evans may be the name above the door, the success of Evans Vanodine over the last 100 years is a result of the efforts of our staff, and we owe it to them to keep it a success for many years to come.”
Evans Vanodine Products: Industrial hygiene and livestock protection products www.evansvanodine.co.uk
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Huntleigh Healthcare is a leading provider of innovative and high quality medical equipment that is trusted by healthcare professionals throughout the world
ver since it was formed in 1979, Huntleigh Healthcare – trading as Huntleigh – has operated under the belief that providing great healthcare is a collective effort and that the greatest contribution it can provide to both patients and professionals is confidence. A proud member of the Arjo group – a Swedish healthcare organisation employing some 6000 people globally – Huntleigh is responsible for developing innovative solutions that help clinicians carry out roles such as the assessment and treatment of vascular disease, the monitoring and assessment
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of foetal wellbeing, and vital signs monitoring. At its Cardiff-based facilities, Huntleigh’s core technologies centre on ultrasound transducers, electronics and the electro mechanical design of medical devices. As well as acting as the development centre of excellence for Huntleigh products, it also provides the same function for Arjo’s ‘Pressure Injury Prevention’ and ‘Venous Thrombo-embolism Prevention’ product categories. Huntleigh products are today exported to more than 50 countries, with 75 per cent of its revenues deriving from export markets. The company’s Diagnostic Products
Division can proudly boast a number of world leading brands such as Dopplex, Hydroven, Sonicaid and Smartsigns. “Huntleigh products are the premium goods in the market, providing accurate and informative data to the clinician to allow them to do their jobs effectively,” explains Huntleigh Managing Director, Peter Cashin. “Our products are expensive, but last for a long time, often exceeding the expectations of the purchaser. Quality always takes top priority in our processes, and the regulations surrounding medical device manufacturers
Huntleigh Healthcare Ltd are exceedingly tough, not allowing for lack of attention to detail.” As Peter goes on to detail, Huntleigh’s most recent product releases continue the trend of having great possibilities for future growth. “The SC1200 and SC1500 range of high-end patient monitors enable Huntleigh to extend its reach into ICU and HDU departments within the hospital,” he says. “Later, in September 2019, we will also release the new and patented ‘WoundExpress’ product, which is aimed at the UK wound care sector, providing a piece of equipment that will help to heal previously unhealing leg ulcers. This remarkable product will save the NHS significant amounts of time and effort by helping patients to recover from very difficult to heal wounds.” Bringing new products to market when in an accelerated growth phase, which Huntleigh finds itself in, is however a difficult task, and Peter knows that it requires the whole workforce to be in step and motivated. “Everybody plays a part, whether it be the designer, the warehouse operative, the production operators and engineers, or the commercial section of sales, marketing and customer care,” he declares. “By bringing everybody together with the same mission and thought process we can make sure that quality remains at the heart of all that we do.” The company’s manufacturing activities focus on local production of high end ultrasound transducers, which require highly skilled soldering processes to ensure consistency of ultrasound performance, and building sophisticated electronic products, which use the transducers from componentry supplied by its global supply chain. “Operating to ISO 13485 and MDSAP standards, the control systems used at our factory in Cardiff are well proven and tested,” Peter continues. “Device traceability, down to electronic component level and operator training level is a prerequisite, while all products and processes are documented and filed for a minimum of ten years. Field failure can be traced from its serial number, to the date of manufacturer, person, equipment and component supplier, and we ensure that our global supplier base is assessed to rigorous standards and have regular interaction with our quality representatives.” Equally as important as the company’s manufacturing processes are the people behind them, which is why the training of new people in new processes is a key area in which Huntleigh spends a lot of time and effort, in order to ensure that its capabilities remain of the highest order. “We have a mature workforce with
many long-term employees who are excellent, and we are bringing in new young talent to work alongside them to properly facilitate the transfer of skills and know-how,” Peter states. “Meanwhile, our apprentice scheme is proving very successful.” At the time of going to press, the company was little more than two months on from celebrating winning a highly sought after Queens Award for Innovation 2019. It was presented with the accolade in recognition of its new range of Digital Handheld Dopplers. These new Dopplers have raised the bar in terms of performance, offering previously impossible standards for handheld devices, helping clinicians to make quicker and more accurate assessments of patients, thus making their jobs easier, safer and more efficient.
On the back of its continued success, Huntleigh’s plan going forward is to invest and develop its base of operations, while setting up market pods around the world to develop local sales strategies that suit local needs. Peter, however, is keen to stress one further point. “The main thing that has helped in this successful journey is the employees of the company, who have been superb in getting stuck into what can sometimes be challenging situations, and overcoming them by having the knowledge and nous to think their way out of them,” he adds. “They are then joined by a supportive executive management team that has believed in making the necessary investment, have stuck to their principles and delivered profitable growth, as well as a great working environment!”
Huntleigh Healthcare Ltd Products: Vascular care, foetal and patient monitoring solutions www.huntleigh-diagnostics.com
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Mansfield Pollard supplies air handling units to meet the most rigorous commercial and industrial standards, in the some of the most confined and problematic locations
Mansfield Pollard’s air handling units have grown into a symbol of British manufacturing excellence, with the company thriving on its nimble navigation of the market and the ability to evolve as new requirements emerge
usiness acumen and good understanding of what customers want have been instrumental to the success Mansfield Pollard has had throughout its illustrious 153-year existence. Founded in 1866 as a sheet metal fabrication specialist to the woollen and cotton industries, the Bradford-based company has bravely taken on market changes and made the most of the various oppor tunities for diversification it has encountered. “It was in the mid-1970s that we began manufacturing kitchen canopies, which, to this day, remain one of our core product groups. Three years later, we got into the air handling unit market segment and thence,
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we continued exploring areas we had never worked in before, which helped us to develop the company further,” Managing Director, Joanna Robinson, points out. Towards the late 1980s, Mansfield Pollard entered the acoustic control field, which is the third main product group for the business. With the beginning of the new century and due to popular demand, it reached out fur ther, growing its cooling and ventilation capabilities – a market, whose importance has increased significantly over the past few years for Mansfield Pollard. “Rapid growth in technology and par ticularly the exponential use of cloud based computer storage creates incredible
Mansfield Pollard amounts of data that needs to be housed somewhere,” Sales Director, Louise Frankland, says. “Therefore, we have started creating unique solutions for data centres where every application is engineered for energy efficiency, reliability and value for money. As always, our products are tailor-made and we have already custom-built air handling equipment and condensing units working for some of the biggest data centre suppliers in the world.” The provision of bespoke solutions requires the development of close relationship with customers, so that the latter’s requirements can be met accurately. “Customer service is right at the heart of our business,” Louise notes. “We are trying to build strategic and long-standing partnerships with clients where we act almost as a trusted advisor to them. We have the experience and capabilities to solve their problems and offer a real end-to-end service – from upfront consultancy, in-house design and manufacture, through to installation, commissioning, and after-sales maintenance. “About two years ago, we underwent a
bit of a strategic change, as we decided to drive back into the specification route of the market and begin forging relationships with key consultants that would enable us to get involved in a project right from the very star t. It is key for us to be able to forestall any potential issues prior to a project going out to tender, hence the tweak in our approach,” she clarifies. Joanna continues: “Every project we undertake is unique in its specifications, which means that we have to be flexible in designing the right solution. Our in-house engineers have both the technical ability and manufacturing experience to offer a full end-to-end solution, from unit footprint and energy optimisation through to build and installation methods tailored to suit site access, location and physical size of the unit. In addition, our customers rightly expect a longevity of product, and superior quality standards have always been a key driver for the Mansfield Pollard team. All product lines are manufactured to meet the most rigorous commercial and industrial standards and are built to last.
SPC SPC is a market leading manufacturer of energy efficient heating and cooling products, supplying to the HVAC and specialised markets in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. SPC’s product range is used throughout the public and private sectors, from healthcare and education to offices and retail developments. Steve Gage, SPC’s Managing Director said “SPC aims to partner with leading brands such as Mansfield Pollard and establish long term working partnerships. We are proud to have supplied Mansfield Pollard over the past 20 years with bespoke solutions to meet their heating and cooling requirements.”
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Above top: An acoustic enclosure, designed to accommodate equipment and reduce noise levels Bottom: Kitchen ventilation helps to overcome the problems of heat, smoke, grease, combustion gasses, noise and odour
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“Focusing on what our customers need is just one par t of the deal, however,” she goes on. “It is also extremely impor tant that we evolve our manufacturing process, in order to build as energy-efficient and cost-effective products as possible, without compromising on quality. We have adopted a culture of continuous improvement and learning from our previous projects to understand how we can do things better. Fur thermore, we have
introduced numerous lean manufacturing practices and invested heavily in automation to streamline the workflow in the factory.” The wider use of IT has also become a priority for Mansfield Pollard in the last two years. Louise repor ts that the company has invested in excess of £100,000 in its new bespoke Air-Pro estimating system. “As we mentioned earlier, because we recognise that every building and environment is unique,
Mansfield Pollard each solution is individually optimised to a greater or lesser degree. Where Air-Pro has really delivered benefits is in streamlining the full process from AHU design through to the auto generation of all piece part cut and fold lists. Our clients can now benefit from industry leading turnaround times at all stages of the process and this gives us a significant level of competitive advantage in the marketplace.” Joanna adds: “From an R&D perspective, we have made use of IT to initiate some developments around a demand-based control system for our commercial kitchen canopies. Temperature sensors are placed inside the canopy plenum to detect cooking activity beneath it. The rate of canopy airflow can be adjusted in real time, as the cookline temperatures increase the ventilation rates increase accordingly (and vice-versa). The typical energy efficiency saving when compared to a traditional kitchen extractor can be as much as 60 per cent. Often the system is linked to the BMS via an intelligent and responsive touch screen control panel, something that wouldn’t have been seen in commercial kitchens until a few years ago.” After years of establishing itself as a recognisable brand that is synonymous with quality, flexibility, and strong customer service across the UK, Mansfield Pollard has now begun considering its opportunities to grow overseas. “The Middle East, in par ticular, has excellent potential. Take Dubai as an example. Our kitchen canopies find a wealth of applications in the restaurant and general hospitality industries, and we are now striving to take advantage of the fact that British manufacturing has such an excellent reputation in this part of the world, to push forward into this market. In the meantime, we will continue to have our UK market as the main focus area for the company,” Louise comments. “As we approach the close of our financial year (end of July), we have just had our Offsite Strategy Day, which saw us sit down and discuss where we want to take the business in the next three to five years. To our immense gratification, there will be no major change in the direction we took a couple of years ago. This is a testament to the way we operate and shows that we are on the right path. Our goal now is to continue building upon our legacy. We want to push our core products further and invest in R&D, looking at best practices to make them smaller and more efficient, thus addressing our customers’ requirements.
There are exciting oppor tunities for us in the UK and in international markets, and we feel
the business is in a very strong position to capitalise on these,” Joanna concludes.
Mansfield Pollard Products: Air handling units www.mansfieldpollard.co.uk
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Radical Sportscars The launch of the Rapture marks a new generation of extreme performance driving, bringing the thrill of real downforce from the race track to the road
Going the extra
For Radical Sportscars, the summer of 2019 will go down as one of its most significant as it plays host to both a Royal visit from The Duke of Gloucester and the launch of its highly-anticipated new model, the Rapture
hen Manufacturing Today Europe spoke to Darryl Roberts, Director of Operations of Radical Sportscars in late June 2019, we happened to catch him at an incredibly busy and exciting time for the Peterborough-based producer of racing and track cars. “Just last night I was attending the Insider Media ‘Made in UK Awards’ finals, which Radical Sportscars qualified for by picking up the Automotive Award for the Central and East region from it several months prior,” Darryl begins. “While
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we did not walk away with another prize on this occasion, it was great to be recognised and to be rubbing shoulders with such great company.” There was little time, however, for Darryl to pause for breath upon his return, as he was then in the midst of preparing for an imminent Royal visit from The Duke of Gloucester, who will officially open the production centre for the company’s newest model, the Rapture. “Naturally, this will be a hugely exciting experience for everyone here at Radical Sportscars,” Darryl states. “We know that The
Duke of Gloucester is a very technically minded individual himself, so having him in attendance to look around our premises and meet some of our talented people is an event of great importance to us.” From there, the company turns its sights to the world-famous Goodwood Festival of Speed event in West Sussex where, on 4th July, it unveils its new Rapture model, a racing car that will be as at home on the road as it is on the track, and one that will usher in, what Radical Sportscars describes as, ‘a new generation of performance driving’. “Anticipation from customers for the Rapture has been extremely high in the build up to its launch, and we believe it will be something that really makes people sit up and take a fresh look at what we are capable of,” Darryl enthuses. “We have had a number of customers place orders for the car before even seeing an image of it, so we anticipate strong sales over the next 12 months, which we will be focusing on delivering.” The launch of the Rapture culminates what has been a highly successful period of time for Radical Sportscars. “From an operational point of view, we have continued to grow our dealer network, increasing it by around 25 per cent to give us coverage in all parts of the world, and in 2018 we made a total of 144 cars, which was a five year high for
Fine Cut Group For 35 years, Fine Cut Group has been a leading provider of premium industrial graphics. The key to its success is combining traditional craftsmanship with cutting edge technology. Fine Cut has worked alongside Radical for many years providing reliable, high-end label and nameplate solutions. With state of the art in-house capabilities, Fine Cut can offer a diverse range of labelling solutions for industries such as automotive, aerospace and medical, amongst others. Its products and services include labels and nameplates in metal and plastic, precision laser cutting, laser marking, anoprinting and chemical etching, as well as corporate I.D and badging, rally and event plaques, and bespoke projects too. Fine Cut prides itself on its versatility and exceptional ability to find the perfect solution, whatever your industrial graphic requirement. From a metal nameplate, resin domed badge or laser marked free issue part - it has it covered.
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Right: The RXC Spyder
Below: The RXC Coupe
Below: The SR 1
Below: The SR 8
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Radical Sportscars us and a fantastic achievement by everyone involved,” Darryl continues. “Our efforts in this regard show that when our operations come together in a smooth manner – by which I mean that we have all the parts that we need, when we need them, that our bill of materials is working well, and we have fully trained people to put our cars together – then there is no reason why we cannot go that extra mile to achieve those sorts of volumes. At the same time, we continue to push for continuous improvement when it comes to the quality of our products, and the result has been that the cars that are coming out of our factory today are the best that they have ever been!” Turning to the steps that the company has made internally to improve its overall operations, Darryl details various efforts being made to take Radical Sportscars to a higher level of performance. “From a manufacturing perspective, we are placing more emphasis on things like lean techniques, and in investing in areas such as our main assembly workshop and our composites body work department,” he says. “In the meantime, the development of our people remains of huge significance. Part of my work has been to assist in driving forward employee training, whether that be from a health and safety standpoint – where we have successfully reshaped the culture of the factory environment in order to install a great sense of order and awareness – or from a customer service angle, where we have been stressing the importance of that first customer touch point and beyond.” Given the highly technical nature of Radical Sportscars work and the myriad of advanced systems that go into its cars – from fluid transfer technology to Formula 1 ‘style’ gearshift solutions, and everything in between – the company’s need for a strong, dependable supply chain is massive. Fortunately, forging good relationships with suppliers is in the company’s DNA. “In our field, you rely heavily on your supply chain,” Darryl states. “We are not a high-volume manufacturer, in that we are building around 130-to-150 cars per year, therefore we need suppliers that are nimble, have a first-rate speed of response and are happy to work closely with us at all times. Our focus on quality means that we place high expectations on our suppliers, which is why we only work with the very best.” As far as what the immediate future holds for Radical Sportscars, Darryl’s personal mission is to see the company continue the growth journey it has been on in recent years. “Since coming into the company almost three years ago, I have been able to witness the
development that has been made in terms of not only facilities and operating procedures, but also people and the overall quality of our products,” he points out. “For myself personally, I want to help to steer things on in this direction as we make the further improvements necessary of any forwardthinking company. “More imminently, our focus as a business is making sure that the Rapture launches flawlessly. In anticipation, we have put this car through its paces and put it through more test miles that any previously, therefore it will launch as the most reliable vehicle that we have ever produced. From there, we have plans to develop another new car in the near future, and we will gather later in 2019 for our annual meeting to discuss our strategy for
the next few years. So, as you can probably gather, this is a very exciting time for Radical Sportscars, and we look forward to what the future has in store.”
Radical Sportscars Products: Racing cars www.radicalsportscars.com
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pioneers For Photocentric, 2019 is shaping up to be a momentous year in which it introduces a number of disruptive, game changing LCD 3D printers, resins and chemicals to various markets
he last 18 months have been a particularly productive period of time for international 3D printer manufacturers Photocentric. “We have been incredibly busy in recent times, during which we have developed a number of new printers,” begins Managing Director, Paul Holt. “We have also taken on more engineers and chemists and have started to work closely with BASF – one of the largest chemical producers in the world – to offer functional resins. “In the meantime, we have exhibited at the Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) conference and the International Dental Show (IDS) event for the first time, as well as at RAPID for the third time. It was at the latter that we were able to showcase our new Magna printer for the first time and having it alongside our prototype LC Maximus large format printer
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meant we drew a strong degree of attention from manufacturers that need large parts.” For Paul and the rest of the Photocentric team, the first half of 2019 has been very much about laying the groundwork for the launch of its new printers, starting with the LC Magna, for which it already has a full order book. “We believe LC Magna to be a disruptive, industrychanging machine,” Paul enthuses. “The largest LCD screen-based printer currently available on the 3D market, it is truly one-of-a-kind. Driven by our vision of enabling custom mass manufacture, LC Magna is a cost-effective, large format printer capable of large component prototyping and mass production at an affordable and competitively positioned price. “Its combination of large build volume and accurate printing make it the right tool for mass manufacture. The build volume is 510mm x 280mm x 350mm and it operates with a 4K
Ultra HD screen, giving it unparalleled precision and detail when creating high resolution mass manufactured parts. LC Magna’s large build volume capabilities and maximised build plate capacity allows users to increase throughput, speed up assembly production and reduce lead times. Therefore, a glasses manufacturer – for instance – can now produce 36 optical frames within 12 hours, while a dental technician can print 46 flat arches in just over two hours. Magna is our first release of our next generation of LCD printers, we will be releasing our next additions later in 2019.” Another recent highlight for the company was its success at the 3D Printing Industry Awards in early June 2019, when it was presented with the ‘Best Desktop Printer of the Year’ prize as a mark of recognition for its previous LCD printer innovation – the Liquid Crystal (LC) Precision 1.5. “This was a
Photocentric credible sign of the hard work and dedication that everyone at Photocentric pours into our unique method of LCD printing,” Paul states. “It is exciting as it gives a glimpse into what the future may hold for us as we start to release our next generation of LCD 3D printers that will revolutionise the additive manufacturing industry.” As Paul goes on to detail, there is a vast array of wonderful examples of LCD technology being used in proactive industries today. “An example of this would be Quimbaya Orfebreria, an Argentinian goldsmith,” he says. “In the face of some difficulties arising from product demand outweighing supply, it made the decision to replace traditional methods with 3D printing by making use of the LC Precision 1.5. As a result of this, the company’s manufacturing time was reduced by 80 per cent, production was increased by 400 per cent, and it is now able to produce more intricate and complex designs for its clients.” As a chemical manufacturer, as well as an LCD printer manufacturer, Photocentric has a host of exciting new products in the pipeline for release later in 2019. These include, a high temperature resin, which has been tested to 300 degrees centigrade, as well as a new grade of stronger, more flexible resin. Furthermore, having witnessed first-hand the demand for LCD 3D printing at the 2019 International Dental Show, the company will be releasing its first targeted dental printer – Liquid Crystal Dental – this year. “Quarter four of 2019, meanwhile, will see the release of something huge, that being the Liquid Crystal (LC) Max,” Paul reveals. “This will be the largest LCD printer to ever become available! It uses a 4K 40” LCD screen and offers a massive build volume of 700mm x 893mm x 510mm, and for prints like large automotive parts, furniture, sporting goods or even full scale body mannequins, LC Max is the printer of choice for extra-large requirements.” Earlier, Paul made mention of Photocentric working closely with BASF, and partnerships such as this will form a key part of the future growth aims of the company. “In the case of BASF, our partnership focuses on establishing and expanding the 3D printing business with materials, system solutions, components and services,” he adds. “This cooperation offers solutions to industries that enable processes to be made using additive manufacturing to replace traditional tooling methods, and creates flexibility of geometry, absence of tooling costs and custom design. “At the same time, we are developing our partner network to springboard into the US
and Asian markets, and are working ever-more closely with large industrial OEMs and with our distribution partners around the world to offer solutions to real applications. The key to growth will be proving that we have the printers and materials that the market needs. There are
many additive manufacturing technologies available now, but few that offer affordable, large scale printing, and the opportunity to work closely with the manufacturer to develop the right materials for specific applications, which Photocentric can do!”
Photocentric Products: 3D printers, resins and chemicals www.photocentricgroup.com
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a way of life Randek leads the way in the development of ingenious automatic solutions for prefab home manufacturers, constantly introducing improvements to its systems to address emergent customer demands
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whole lot of ‘firsts’ are associated with Randek, hence the reputation held by the manufacturer of high-performance machines and systems for the prefabricated house manufacturing industry as the most innovative in its sphere. Since the 1960s, the forwardthinking Swedish company’s focus has fallen entirely on the delivery of automation equipment, examples of which represent some of the fundamental systems used to this day by the prefab home industry. “Things like the butterfly table or the nailing bridge are Randek innovations that
have been widespread for many decades now,” claims the company’s Chairman, Johan Larsholm. “Over time, we have started to automate more and more, and one of the remarkable milestones we have reached, was the delivery of the very first mass production line to the US – the Auto Wall system, which still has the highest capacity in the market many years after it was released. “Another historically significant development that we have introduced, was the first-ever CAD/CAM wall production line back in the 1980s. It was key for us to find a way to convert CAD data to production
data, in order to manufacture a variety of wall elements more quickly and efficiently, and we are proud that the line is still up and running at the factory of one of our main customers, Myresjöhus,” Johan discusses. Randek has also made notable strides in the realm of roof trusses. The company delivered the first automatic truss production line, having recently released its AutoEye solution, which enables a photo of the truss to be taken and then compared to a CADgenerated theoretical model. “The system can pick, place, position, and press the nail plates to the roof truss automatically, which means that these processes need no longer be manually done. This, in turn, improves the accuracy and the speed of the plating process immensely,” Johan explains. “As of late, we have also embraced the opportunity to introduce robotics to our offering, and the ZeroLabor robotic system is a fantastic addition to our product range,”
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he continues. “The customers are increasingly interested in automation and ZeroLabor, as a fully automatic solution, has a real appeal for them. Its flexibility allows it to be integrated into existing production lines or work as a standalone unit and it can handle the production of walls, floors, and roofs. In fact, I believe this is the only robotic wall production line available in the market at the moment.” In recognition of the growing demand for robotic solutions, Randek has initiated a series of development projects that will enable the utilisation of robots in some of the more traditional systems created by the company. “A recent novelty is the introduction of a third robot to ZeroLabor to increase the capacity of the product and give customers more options when choosing the level of capacity that they need,” Johan says. “We have also developed an add-on function to the ZeroLabor system where the robots also cut, place and fasten laths automatically. These are important pieces that create a ventilated cavity between the wooden cladding and the external sheet. All in all, we are constantly trying to equip our existing systems with useful new features and strongly invest in this kind of project.” When asked about the secret behind the efficiency of Randek’s
It was also astonishing to discover how many of the most advanced automation systems utilised by the prefab home industry have been borne out of the company’s creative genius and dexterous deployment of technology
Beckhoff Beckhoff implements open automation systems based on PC control technology. The product range covers industrial PCs, I/O and fieldbus components, drive technology and automation software. Products that can be used as separate components or integrated into a complete and seamless control system are available for all industries. The Beckhoff ‘New Automation Technology’ philosophy represents universal and open control and automation solutions that are used worldwide in a wide variety of different applications, ranging from CNC-controlled machine tools to intelligent building automation.
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operations, Johan maintains that the key is to set up the right capabilities within the company and have them interact as smoothly as possible. “For example, we have an in-house mechanical design team, as well as a dedicated software team to develop the software code to the machines and the robots. Furthermore, the resources at our disposal also include a CDT-file system to translate production data, and a 3D model converter software. “The overarching element, however, is the skilful staff that can build these mechanical systems and that possess the required knowhow about commissioning, setting up the factories, and getting them up and running through connecting all the data. In many instances, we start from scratch and end up delivering a holistic solution, and for us to be able to do that, we need all the preconditions to be fulfilled,” Johan adds. “Taking into account the ongoing trends in customer preferences, we feel that we are well-positioned to meet their needs,” he turns his attention to what the future may hold in store for the company. “The prefabricated
home manufacturing sector is very buoyant and as demands for prefabrication grows, so does demand for automation equipment. For example, Australia’s biggest house dealer is currently setting up the biggest house factory in the world and we are supplying them with two AutoEye systems and four Auto Wall lines. “At the same time, it is not just big factories and big wall production lines that are required from clients. A lot of customers want smaller and more compact lines and we have recently delivered a successful project in North America where we installed two ZeroLabor units with just one robotic cell and one framing station. This trend is also the cue for us that we can more actively target smaller and mid-sized companies who may not have the space to accommodate extremely long production lines,” Johan observes. He has also noticed that customers are often keen on having the opportunity to upgrade their Randek equipment later on, once they have purchased one or more
pieces at first. “Many people will share with us that, for example, they do not insulate a wall in-house, but are planning to start doing so at some point in the future, so they are interested in the possibility of slightly reconfiguring their production lines, and this is just what we offer. They do not have to invest in entirely new equipment, but only add one or two more machines to grow the capability they need, and this proposition on our part is another good example of the level of flexibility we display in serving our customers.” From speaking to Johan, it became crystal clear that innovation is a way of life for Randek. It was also astonishing to discover how many of the most advanced automation systems utilised by the prefab home industry have been borne out of the company’s creative genius and dexterous deployment of technology. With market conditions being favourable and its desire to play around with its systems insatiable, exciting times are ahead for the Swedish manufacturer.
Randek AB Products: Automation equipment for the prefabrication home market http://randek.com/en/
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A time of
For DS Smith, the last several years have been a time of significant change, featuring the acquisition of assets in both Europe and North America, and the sale of its plastic division
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hen Manufacturing Today Europe last shone the spotlight upon the activities of DS Smith – one of the world’s leading providers of corrugated packaging – in the summer of 2018, it was an interesting time for a company that operates in 37 countries and employs over 31,000 people. It was then that, amongst other things, it was in the midst of advanced talks to acquire Europac – one of the most prominent packaging companies in Europe – and pushing forward with its efforts to solidify its newly established presence in the US corrugated market following its purchase of Interstate Resources in 2017.
Speaking with Group Finance Director, Adrian Marsh, almost a year later, it quickly becomes apparent that the last 12 months have been equally as exciting. “The last year has been one of good volume growth, particularly when it comes to our FMCG customers and those whose operations incorporate e-commerce sales,” he begins. “In that time, we have successfully grown the business organically, taken a larger share of the markets in which we are active, expanded in each geographic region we are represented in, and made significant capital investment throughout the business, which is continuing to deliver benefits.” This calendar year began with the
DS Smith completion of the above highlighted acquisition of Europac in January 2019, a development that has given DS Smith a much larger presence in Iberia and a particularly good craft paper asset in Portugal. “The actual integration of Europac into the DS Smith Group has been exceptional,” Adrian enthuses. “During the regulatory process, the people at Europac were able to gain a better understanding of DS Smith, while we were able to reaffirm the fact that Europac was extremely well aligned to our values and how we operate. The result is that we could single out the best facets of both businesses which will help us to grow stronger together. “The assets that we have acquired, certainly from a paper making perspective, are excellent, while those on the converting/packaging side are well invested sites in good locations. What we saw was the opportunity to truly optimise these assets, and they have been very receptive to that. This, in turn, has allowed us to increase our synergy targets from €50 million to €70 million, which will create fantastic benefits for everyone concerned. Therefore, it is safe to say that the purchase
Axchem Axchem group of companies specialise in technical support and the application of chemistry to improve paper machine efficiency, reduce waste, develop paper strength through chemistry, improve printing and paper stability through hydrophobicity, image with colouration, biological management, and offer paper testing and analytical services. Axchem group of businesses extend around the world to support the paper industry.
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....the work we are doing with our customers to identify solutions on both sides of the Atlantic is really exciting – particularly in North America – and we will continue to work as hard as ever to generate strong cash flow into the business
ERIKS Achieving your productivity and profitability goals is down to the reliability of your assets. Therefore, having clear visibility is essential. ERIKS Reliability Services help you with this burden, supporting fine tuning your processes through monitoring, measuring and trend checking, so you make full use of your plant.
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and integration of Europac has been very much a transformational development for DS Smith.” Similar terminology was used when it came to the aforementioned acquisition of Interstate Resources, and the moves made by the company to grow its proposition in North America since suggest that these were certainly not loosely thrown around words. “In addition to opening our new head office in Atlanta, Georgia, we have also broken ground on a new greenfield site in Lebanon, Indiana, which will be the site of a large, state-of-the-art converting facility that will give us the capability and capacity to serve our multinational customers,” Adrian states. “The greenfield site is expected to come online in October/November 2019, and when it does it will increase our converting capacity by around one third, which we anticipate being a major driver for future growth!” The year of 2019 will signify another defining moment for DS Smith, as it was in March that the company announced that it had agreed to sell its plastic division to private equity group Olympus Partners for an enterprise value of £585 million. “The plastics division had been a part of DS Smith some considerable time, however it was one that hadn’t been our focus for a while as it is not where we see the future, which is in our development of sustainable fibre-based packaging,” Adrian explains. “As such, we decided it was the appropriate time to sell that asset, and that will allow us to reallocate capital and utilise the funds of the sale to drive growth in our underlying business.” The sale of DS Smith’s plastic division is just one of a long line of initiatives that the
company has enacted to boost its sustainability efforts. These included its newly signed agreement to become a Global Partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a partnership that will accelerate the company’s circular economy drive and support innovation across the business, including recycling and carbon-efficiency in e-commerce. It will also go a long way towards DS Smith achieving its long-term sustainability targets, which include manufacturing 100 per cent reusable or recyclable packaging by 2025. It is fair to say, therefore, that Adrian is very pleased with the performance of the company in recent times. “Things are going well,” he somewhat understatedly adds. “We are seeing strong growth originating from our sustainability agenda and through the continued rise in e-commerce-related business. Meanwhile, the work we are doing with our customers to identify solutions on both sides of the Atlantic is really exciting – particularly in North America – and we will continue to work as hard as ever to generate strong cash flow into the business. “As far as what the next 12 months will hold, I expect that if we speak again then we will be talking about a number of positive topics. These will likely include, the success of our greenfield site in North America and how that will be delivering high value solutions to customers, the continued integration of Europac’s assets into the group, and wider growth in Europe as a whole. Lest we forget, also, the on-going support we will provide to our FMCG and e-commerce customers as they seek out the very best in packaging innovation and design, which DS Smith has proven it is able to deliver.”
DS Smith Products: Corrugated packaging www.dssmith.com
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On a winning
With volume requirements increasing for Red Arch Manufacturing as a result of winning new business, the components and accessory parts supplier has introduced key improvements to its manufacturing processes
any exciting developments have taken place at Red Arch Manufacturing since the automotive OE small/ medium volume component and accessory parts specialist last appeared on the pages of Manufacturing Today Europe three years ago. Growth in sales has walked hand-in-hand with infrastructure improvements and, ultimately, new product development and a number of highprofile projects the Northamptonshire-based company has undertaken in recent times. “2017/18, in particular, was an exceptional year for us, topped by record sales of
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£14.7 million. We also opened a new storage and distribution facility, and expanded our capacity at the production site by around 80 per cent to cope with the increase in demand for our products,” Red Arch’s Managing Director, Mike Theaker, begins. Listing some of the major highlights for the company in the past couple of years, Mike notes that Red Arch has evolved from producing prototype titanium exhaust systems for development purposes to becoming the UK’s largest titanium exhaust manufacturer producing parts for four OEM customers in volumes of up to 800 pieces per year. “To this
end, we set up a dedicated titanium facility, including three argon welding chambers with vacuum ante-chambers, dedicated cleaning, drying, and de-gassing facilities. Admittedly, it was a steep development curve, as we had to adapt the existing technology for automotive use, but we succeeded in achieving this task and titanium exhaust systems are now fully integrated in serial production at Red Arch,” he explains. Among the customers that the titanium facility now serves, are reputable names such as BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, and Lotus. One of the first projects that enabled Red Arch to showcase its newly-developed capabilities
Red Arch Manufacturing thin-wall material and employing several novel manufacturing techniques,” Mike passionately discloses some of the details around another of Red Arch’s latest works. Given the prestigious contracts the company has in place, it is just logical that it found a place on the Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100 list for a second year running, as well as on the WorldFirst SME Export 100 league table. “We are one of the few automotive companies included in the Fast Track again this year,” Mike comments. “This accolade increases our profile and provides confidence to our customers and suppliers. We are incredibly grateful to our team, whose skill and dedication in designing, developing, and manufacturing high-quality products, have made these recognitions possible.” Its sustained success has enabled Red Arch to place some sizable investment into its dedicated Advanced department, whose mission is to develop new products and manufacturing processes, and keep the company ahead of the competition. Mike elaborates: “We have significantly improved our internal acoustic
simulation code and testing capabilities, benchmarking in-house code with commercially available software. The use of a newlycommissioned muffler transmission loss test rig allows us to characterise all development mufflers prior to vehicle testing, reducing development time and cost. “As a company striving to do everything better than we did before and keen on
saw the manufacturer work on BMW’s M5 model. The utilisation of its lightweight technology resulted in an optimised exhaust gas routing that has been developed to reduce back pressure and enhance the powerful V8 TwinTurbo sound, also reducing the vehicle’s weight significantly. “Also during 2018, Red Arch embarked on its first project with Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations – the Project 8. This lowvolume supercar exhaust system pushed the boundaries of all that is possible in exhaust technology with high-temperature ASNEX titanium valved rear mufflers made from
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Red Arch Manufacturing
challenging conventional thinking, we have made further investment in equipment. This included the purchase of a new Crippa 100HE full-electric CNC multi-stack boost bending machine, a Mille Miglia DTR-70E fully-automatic cut off saw, an Adige SC425 rising saw, and a Ling Dynamics Systems (LDS) V726 air-cooled vibration system with LDS DPA-4 power amplifier and B&K control system,” he continues. Moving on to discuss the current state of the market and the opportunities and challenges lying ahead, Mike expresses his satisfaction that demand for Red Arch’s niche product has been growing by about 25 per cent year-on-year. “This trend is set to remain as lively as ever in the short to medium-term. Our business plan, particularly from 2021 onwards, looks extremely strong as the business continues its journey to becoming a medium-volume production supplier. “In the long-term, however, we are fully aware that the move towards electrification and the social, political, and economic changes across the world will transform the automotive industry. Environmental objectives are clearly key drivers for future technologies, even though I believe that we will still require IC engines for a while longer,” he analyses. “The key thing, however, is that, over time, we have continuously evolved to meet the new demands of our customers and, to us, maintaining this flexibility will be even more
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important in the future, as we tackle upcoming industry challenges.” During the next 12 months, Red Arch is committed to launching several new products and further expanding its capabilities. Mike discloses the company’s intentions: “A new low/medium-volume heatshield facility will be unveiled shortly, followed by an advanced hydroforming capability. Then, 2020 will see the release of our innovative active sound and AVAS system. What is more, advances
Red Arch Manufacturing Products: Components and accessory parts www.redarchmanufacturing.co.uk
in lightweight, high-strength, and composite materials are also in planning right now. “Crucially, we will continue to implement the change to gasoline particulate filter (GPF) into every product within the factory, addressing new industry requirements. All in all, we are confident that new customers and new markets open up plenty of opportunities and revenue streams, as we move towards our goal of reaching a turnover that exceeds £20 million by 2022,” Mike concludes.
CEO Cerys Johnson
REPL Group’s restlessness to continuously outdo itself has helped the consultancy and technology company win contracts with some of the largest UK retailers and make forays into key international markets
ommenting on REPL Group’s win of a 2019 Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade, CEO Cerys Johnson remarks that the accolade is a validation that the company is punching above its weight as, despite its relatively small size, it serves some of the largest retailers in the UK and, increasingly, in other parts of the world. Following the interview Manufacturing Today Europe conducted with Cerys, however, we cannot help but think that even if the company still qualifies as a ‘small business’, its mentality, continuous progress, and quality of work, are of a world-class calibre. In fact, the above statement can be easily underpinned by a couple of unambiguous facts and figures. Since its inception 11 years ago, REPL has achieved an impressive growth of 30 to 40 per cent in turnover year-on-year, while also increasing its headcount to some
320 staff. In addition, not only has the company won a Queen’s Award, but also pretty much every other major business accolade in the UK. The consultancy and technology group, whose expertise lies in helping retailers to use technology to its best effect in the spheres of workforce management, supply chain, customer experience, and ERP, has also been on the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 league table for four years running and named as one of the ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain’ every year in the last three years. On top of that, REPL was also the recipient of a 2019 Real IT award for ‘Best Use of New Technology’ for a project it did in collaboration with BP. But more on that specific award later. Now we give the word to Cerys herself who expounds the philosophy of the business and elaborates on the reasons for its ongoing success. “First and foremost, we are about driving
value-adds. We have developed global capabilities to provide assistance to our clients on various business aspects, including initial strategy and business change assessment, all the way through to project management, execution, configuration, testing, and support.” As a technology-centred business, REPL knows better than anyone else that, since the world of technology develops at a whirlwind pace, only a culture built around curiosity and desire for constant improvement and innovation can ensure that the company will remain relevant and successful in the long-term. “The three main elements of our philosophy also make up the motto of the company – ‘Innovate. Inspire. Deliver.’ The entrepreneurial spirit that is so characteristic of REPL helps us to achieve a very high level of engagement from our team, which is key to the environment we want to create and work in,” Cerys maintains.
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Below: The REPL team at Henley-In-Arden, UK
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I would single out the project we collaborated on with BP for which we also won the Real IT award as a telling example of our approach. It highlights our test automation capabilities, as we worked with BP to develop an automation solution for card payments that previously was not available
“More than anything, we want to encourage collaborative behaviour and make sure that everyone is pulling in the same direction for the greater good of REPL,” she continues. “Transparency is another feature we want to see at work. We want people to talk about their mistakes and I fundamentally think that mistakes are a good thing, because they show that you are pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and trying to learn and develop.” Over the years, REPL has honed an approach in its customer relationships that involves the development of a tailored solution for each and every of its client’s projects. “I liken our role to that of a last mile deliverer where we provide value-adds to a piece of software. There are a lot of large ERP software vendors that have very capable and credible solutions and many of our customers make use of. Then, we come in to add flexibility to these solutions, in order to maximise the benefit that they can bring to the client. Inevitably, every business is unique and has a distinguished way of operation, so it is crucial that we respect that and supply our own solution in a way that works in harmony with the client’s characteristics and the core capability of the software programme,” Cerys explains. “I would single out the project we collaborated on with BP for which we also won the Real IT award as a telling example of our approach. It highlights our test automation capabilities, as we worked with BP to develop an automation solution for card payments that previously was not available,” she introduces the nature of the project. “By doing this, we reduced the time and increased the quality of the test output massively. This is the first time that a robot has been used to automate testing and broke new ground for both REPL and BP. Normally, when you are testing payment cards, you need to physically enter a PIN code into the PIN pad, so we decided to invest in a robot that does that and runs the tests automatically.”
Instead of resting on its laurels, REPL is now looking to press on strengthening its relationship with BP, while continuing to work hard on a number of other projects. “We have this restlessness to continually improve, which drives us forward,” Cerys says. “We are constantly looking for opportunities to make things better and when doing this, we take on board the experience we have gathered and the lessons we have learned from our previous work to deliver even better products.” REPL’s culture of pursing perfection extends well beyond the product development area. Just over a decade after its establishment, the business now operates offices on four continents, making it clear that it has aspirations to be a global company. Together with its headquarters in Henley-in-Arden, it runs another three offices in the UK, two branches in the US, two in Asia (Singapore and Tokyo), and its latest location in Cape Town. Cerys discusses the company’s ambitious plans for growing these markets further: “Overall, I can
see the company double in size in four years’ time. We will continue to grow at a good pace in the UK, while in the US, I am expecting us to treble in size. With regards to South Africa, the start we have had, was very positive and should we maintain a strong pipeline in the future, we definitely see ourselves delivering benefits to more customers in the whole of Africa. Last but not least, Japan is the market that is taking the longest to really take off, but we are confident that the big project we are entering with a global hospitality provider will help us make the breakthrough. “Looking at the bigger picture, I cannot be prouder of the path we have walked so far. We are working with some of the world’s biggest retailers and expanding every year. If I was to go back to the Queen’s Award we won, it put us in the spotlight for what we do and how we do it, and the goal now is to remain under that spotlight and maintain our excellent reputation with our employees, suppliers, and customers for the years to come,” Cerys concludes.
REPL Group Products: Digital solutions for ERP, workforce, supply chain, and customer experience management www.replgroup.com www.manufacturing-today-europe.com l 73
All photography © Dreams
With its ‘bedquarters’ in High Wycombe, bed manufacturer and retailer extraordinaire Dreams sells 10,000 mattresses, bases and headboards per week to customers nationwide
proud British business, Dreams remains committed to making its products in the UK, with the Dreams Bed Factory in Oldbury now manufacturing over 250,000 mattresses and over 200,000 beds a year. Dreams is continuously looking at ways to improve its manufacturing efficiency and as CEO Mike Logue noted the last time MTE spoke to him, the business has invested over £1 million to re-lay out the factory and bring in new machinery and technologies in order to make it more efficient. “We have our own quality team, situated in the factory, so that we can quality-check every product that leaves it,” he added. “We have a very rigorous in-line quality inspection process, and the results of it can be seen in the under one per cent returns rate we have achieved.” Improvements to the factory are not the only developments that have been underway for Dreams. With both customers and employees in mind, every single one of its 198 Dreams stores in the country has been renovated.
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This has included refreshing signage and store layout, as well as introducing the ‘Comfort by Colour’ proposition. A simple and effective way of categorising customers’ potential mattress choices by colour, Comfort by Colour is a unique initiative in the sector and has been successful in making the shopping experience easier and more straightforward for the customer. While big recognisable brands such as Tempur, Silentnight and Hypnos are available from Dreams, the company also offers its own in-house brands, including Flaxby and Dreams Workshop. As recently as May 2019 the company saw another exciting product launch, with the advent of two new adjustable bed frames, the Sleepmotion 900i and the Sleepmotion 200i. The launch followed research commissioned by Dreams, which found that more than two thirds of Brits are unhappy with the quality and quantity of their sleep. As many as a third never wake up feeling refreshed. The state-of-the-art Sleepmotion bed frames
offer customers a wide range of ergonomic positions to choose from to aid sleep. This also allows customers to watch TV, read a book or relax in bed in their most comfortable position. Embracing the use of technology, the frames are remote and app-controlled, via the exclusive Napp by Dreams sleep-tracking app, offering comfort at the touch of a button. Commenting on these innovative new products, Daniel Parsons, Director of Buying at Dreams, explained the reasoning behind the launch: “Poor sleep is widespread in the UK today. Given there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to getting a better night’s sleep, it’s important we offer beds to suit all customer lifestyles. “That’s why we’ve developed our new Sleepmotion adjustable bed frames. By offering customers the tools to easily adjust their beds’ positioning, height and support, we’re empowering them to achieve the perfect conditions for a better night’s sleep.” Dreams’ Sleepmotion technology ensures
customers don’t miss out on the comfort of a perfect mattress either, as both ranges can be used with a wide range of Dreams mattresses including TEMPUR, Hyde & Sleep, TheraPur and Doze. Furthermore, choosing the mattress for the frame is now even easier thanks to Dreams’ Sleepmatch technology, which profiles individuals’
unique sleep requirements to help them find the perfect mattress. Developed through decades of testing and scientific research, the Sleepmatch system analyses 18 unique measurements, including height, weight, shoulder width and preferred sleeping position and conducts 1000 calculations, to pair customers with their perfect mattress.
BeA, a global provider of specialist fastening tools and consumables for manufacturing industries, continues to build a reputation for high quality industrial product backed by the highest levels of service and support. BeA have successfully worked closely with Dreams to bring about advanced automation and innovation. Offering bespoke tools designed and built for the bed-making industries, BeA offers manual, semi-automatic and fully automated fastening solutions capable of reducing costs and improving production efficiencies. With over 100 years of experience supported by quality and innovation, BeA remains a global manufacturer of fastening technology for the leading furniture manufacturers including Dreams.
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Unlike other mattress matching systems, Dreams’ is the only one to be backed by science, supported by the findings of a largescale research study by a leading university in the US. Customers are invited to try the innovative Sleepmatch process whenever they visit a Dreams store. While lying on the Sleepmatch mattress, the technology will capture key profile measurements before producing a Personal Sleep Profile, detailing their unique mattress requirements. Working in partnership with Dreams’ exclusive Comfort by Colour system, Dreams’ in-store colleagues will use the Sleepmatch findings to guide the customer to their ideal mattress; advising they choose the option that’s best for them. Daniel added: “Too many people in the UK are currently suffering from a poor night’s sleep – and a bad mattress can be the main culprit. Yet we know the process of picking a new mattress can be sometimes feel overwhelming and confusing. We don’t think it should be that way.
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That’s why we’re so proud of our Sleepmatch technology – the only system backed by science and specifically designed to make choosing the right mattress easier than ever. This nationwide rollout is a significant step towards helping more people to get a better night’s sleep.” Dreams’ Sleepmatch technology has already proved a huge success, having been introduced to its first Dreams store in November 2018. Globally the technology has resulted in over 12 million profiles being built within the database. The first half of 2019 has clearly been an exciting time of product development for Dreams, and reflecting its performance it recently was crowned Specialty Retailer of the
Year 2019 from Retail Week. Its expertise in providing the most restful night’s sleep was also recognised in another way when in February the company confirmed its partnership with Team GB as its ‘Official Sleep Partner’ up to and including the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. With the Games under 20 months away Dreams and Team GB will work closely together, specifically looking to help the athletes sleep, rest and recuperate. Sleep is an integral part of the athlete’s performance and as part of the deal Team GB will receive products and sleep advice to support their efforts in Tokyo. Dreams was delighted to become the first ever official sleep partner of Team GB in the run up to and throughout the 2020 Olympic Games, and Mike acknowledged how the company’s sterling reputation for excellence was pivotal in achieving this ground-breaking agreement: “We pride ourselves on being a great British brand as we make, sell and also deliver our Dreams beds - setting us apart from the competition and making us the best and most natural fit for the nations most loved sports team. “As the UK’s most recommended bed retailer, we’ve been helping our customers sleep better for over 35 years and this new and exciting partnership will see us utilise our wealth of knowledge and expertise to aid Team GB athletes rest and recovery, helping them to reach their full potential and be able to perform to the best of their ability.”
Dreams Products: The UK’s number one bed specialist www.dreams.co.uk
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