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Manufacturing BEST PRACTICES FOR INDUSTRY LEADERS

Issue 171 2019

today

Raising the

standard Becoming more energy efficient makes sense from a business perspective and an ethical one. Can you afford to ignore it?

Maintenance • 3D printing Automation • Communication • Exports

EUROPE

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Chairman Andrew Schofield

Editor

Managing Director Joe Woolsgrove Editor Libbie Hammond Assistant Editor Will Daynes

Manufacturing BEST PRACTICES FOR INDUSTRY LEADERS

Production Manager Fleur Daniels Art Editor/Design David Howard

standard

Advertising Administrator/Office Manager Tracy Chynoweth studio@schofieldpublishing.co.uk

Operations Manager Natalie Griffiths Research Managers Jo-Ann Jeffery Ben Richell Editorial Researchers Mark Cowles Tarj D’Silva Jeff Goldenberg Mark Kafourous Richard Saunders Kieran Shukri Advertising Sales Mark Cawston Dave King Theresa McDonald Gary Silk Sam Surrell Exclusive Features Darren Jolliffe Web Sales James Whiteley web@schofieldpublishing.co.uk

today

Raising the

Advertising Design Fiona Jolliffe

Operations Director Philip Monument

Issue 171 2019

EUROPE

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Staff Writer Vladi Nikolov

Becoming more energy efficient makes sense from a business perspective and an ethical one. Can you afford to ignore it?

Fascinating

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stories

n this, the last issue of 2019, I would like to acknowledge what a privilege it has been to work with so many distinguished companies this year. It’s always such a pleasure to feature your stories and fascinating to hear about all the different approaches that are being adopted and ways in which success is being achieved. There’s usually a common denominator though – valuing staff, investing in their development and appreciating the contribution they make to a business. One of the features in this month’s MTE touches on this subject too – and suggests increasing communication across a manufacturing business can bring multiple benefits, including tapping into the first-hand experiences of frontline workers. New technology solutions can help businesses to connect their workforce, and this not only gives employees a voice, but helps the employer to attract and retain top talent. It sounds like a win-win and I will be keen to see in 2020 if this sort of solution gains traction in the sector.

Social Media Abigail Blake Subscriptions i.kidd@schofieldpublishing.co.uk

libbie@schofieldpublishing.co.uk Follow us at: @MTE_magazine

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

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

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Features 4 Manufacturing news

6

Updates and announcements from the manufacturing arena

6 Energy saving

Becoming more energy efficient makes sense from a business and ethics perspective, which is why it’s time to look at energy saving systems

8 Maintenance

12

With advanced solutions in place, managers can take a holistic approach to plant maintenance and a long-term view of managing assets

10 3D printing

3D printing isn’t likely to entirely replace traditional manufacturing, but it is emerging as a resource efficient, greener cost effective supplement to production

12 Automation

Addressing misconceptions and tackling barriers to automation with a positive mindset is the key to improving productivity in UK industry

14 Communication

The right tools can help businesses to connect to their workforce more effectively, and give employees a voice wherever they are

16 Exports

There are strategies that manufacturers can adopt to help protect themselves and their suppliers from uncertainties in the marketplace

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Contents Focus on... 20 Ideal Boilers

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28 AR Metallizing 32 Whittan Group 36 Beardow Adams 40 EPC-UK

52

44 Designplan Lighting 48 KP Components 50 IV Produkt 52 Blackrow Group 56 Kia Lucky Motors

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60 Aurora Lighting

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63 Fläkt Woods 66 Kingfield Electronics 70 Batten & Allen 72 Thurne-Middleby 74 OE Electrics

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News in brief Gold award OnRobot’s One System Solution has been awarded the gold medal in the Industrial Automation category of the LEAP awards. The software was recognised for making robotic applications faster and easier to implement by seamlessly integrating any OnRobot product with a wide range of leading collaborative and light industrial robot brands. CEO of OnRobot, Enrico Krog Iversen, sees OnRobot winning the prestigious Gold award as recognition from an industry ready to embrace solutions that break down barriers to automation. “With the One System Solution, we have created a single robotic system that speeds up deployment, making it easy, fast and cost-effective for manufacturers to build collaborative applications.”

Relocation aanouncement Fast-growing industrial automation specialist Sewtec has revealed it will relocate to a 75,000 sq ft facility in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, as the business continues to implement its transformation strategy. Sewtec has signed a 15-year agreement to lease an existing building in Silkwood Park near junction 40 of M1, which is more than double the size of its current premises in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. A multi-million pound investment will see Sewtec create a state-of-the-art design and manufacturing facility. Expected to be operational by March 2020, all 130 employees will relocate and the business estimates that more than 70 new jobs will be created at the site in the next three years.

Benefits access Nearly half (45 per cent) of manufacturing workers say they miss out on workplace benefits, according to research by Benni, the innovative employee-paid workplace benefits solution. Kyle Addy, Voluntary Benefits Director at Benni, commented that access to the right benefits can have a very positive impact on morale and foster loyalty in a fluid jobs market. “Our research suggests that not only is building the right benefits package across all industries key to retaining talented employees, but that workers also want access to health and protection benefits, whatever the sector.”

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Absolut solution Siemens Digital Industries Software is now collaborating with The Absolut Company regarding Siemens Opcenter™ Execution software, part of the Siemens Digital Enterprise Suite, Manufacturing Execution System (MES) solution. The company will conduct a pilot of Siemens Opcenter Execution Process (formerly known as SIMATIC IT® Unified Architecture Process Industries) in one of its three factories in Åhus as the first step of an enterprisewide roll-out across the three factories which produce spirits for global distribution. “The Absolut Company always strives to have best in class manufacturing where Industry 4.0 will be a key enabler to deliver on future consumer demands. We are happy to have Siemens Digital Industries Software as a key partner on this journey,” said Anna Schreil, VP Operations at The Absolut Company. Siemens Opcenter Execution is part of Siemens’ offering for the consumer-packaged goods and food and beverage industries. The solution has been developed to cover the entire value chain, from reception of incoming material to distribution of produced goods, including quality control, product planning and scheduling as well as reporting, trends and advanced analysis. Siemens Opcenter Execution Process can help The Absolut Company to increase traceability, to manage orders more efficiently and to monitor production in real time.

Powerful packing

Morrisons fresh produce depot in Rushden, Northamptonshire has installed two automated Brillopak crate loading potato cells, UniPaker, taking productivity and efficiency to a whole new level. Capable of orientating packs quicker than any human being, the robot arms “never miss a beat,” according to site manager Andy Day. Believed to be Europe’s first single pick potato packing cell, the UniPaker robotic pick and place cell was engineered by Brillopak in collaboration with the Rushden team. At speeds of at least 75 packs per minute for each cell, the two UniPaker systems cradle bags of potatoes, each weighing from 0.5kg up to 2.5kg, loading one at a time into crates, following multiple sets of presentation formats. The installation, which forms part of a warehouse-wide efficiency improvement investment, has resulted in a 90 per cent reduction of labour. Both UniPaker case loading cells house two high-payload Omron Delta robots. Working simultaneously alongside each other, the robotic spider arms deftly loads potato packs individually into crates in set patterns at the programmed orientation. The robots do this with a degree of dexterity and rotation that would not be feasible with a layer-based automated handling system. Clean, empty crates are fed automatically into both cells at a constant pace by two Brillopak Crate DeStaker systems. Once filled, the crates are stacked and palletised by an end-of-line robotic system.


Manufacturing News Hot investment As part of the total £6m investment plan for expansion of its Bridgnorth Series facility, automotive casting specialist Grainger & Worrall has installed two new, partially automated melting towers at a cost of £1.5m. The investment provides a significant increase in efficiency, and reduction in process time and energy consumption. Further enhancing the company’s capability and capacity, the melters can now process two tonnes of dual alloy ingot types per hour simultaneously, up from 800kg. As well as offering distinct health and safety benefits for operators, the semi-automated process is fully traceable, providing precise control of timings and temperature to help optimise the melting process. “Installation of the two melting towers, which was a huge undertaking that required the facility’s roof to be raised by two metres, negates the downsides traditionally associated with batch processes: the peaks and troughs of process flow and the requirement to sustain furnace heat even when not in use, leading to production inefficiencies and a high level of waste energy,” says Andrew Hough, Grainger & Worrall facilities director. “Melting tower design enables the pre-heating of the next batch of alloy ingots using the waste heat from the furnace below. Ingots can be pre-heated to 400oC, providing a vital process o head start before melting occurs at 750 C at furnace level. Two different types of alloy ingots can be utilised, which is a key benefit for the current automotive industry, where different alloys are frequently used depending on final application: engine block or head, for example. The running of two melters enables us to offer increased production flexibility, which provides a further time advantage for our vehicle manufacturer customers.”

Look in the lab

In a surprise move, Maserati is opening the doors to an exclusive and usually off-limits location: the Maserati Innovation Lab. The Brand’s engineering hub, inaugurated in September 2015 and located on via Emilia Ovest in Modena, is for the first time sharing with the outside world its fundamental role as the Brand’s beating pulse, driving research technology, development and planning. The Maserati Innovation Lab is a state-of-the-art facility where the cars of today and tomorrow are developed. Here, the digital processes support the product development, applying the exclusive Maserati formula which, by means of an integrated approach, prioritises the human factor right from the initial phases. Concern with customer needs has been scrupulously incorporated into the virtual simulation process thanks to an exclusive mix of hardware and software. The digital processes supporting product development take place in three major areas: the Static Simulator, the latest generation Dynamic Simulator featuring DiM (Driver-in-Motion) technology and the ‘User eXperience’ development labs.

Pioneering project Nissan Motor Ibérica is coming close to finishing the testing phase of a pioneering exoskeleton project before integration into production lines at Barcelona’s Zona Franca plant. The external exoskeleton devices help reduce the stresses normally placed on the muscles of line workers by up to 60 per cent, lowering the risk of work-related injuries and enhancing overall wellbeing. The Catalan Automotive Industry Cluster (CIAC) is sponsoring the project to introduce exoskeletons into the automotive industry, with the Eurecat Technology Centre and the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) also taking part. Nissan Spain has facilitated the extensive testing of the exoskeletons in a real production setting, trialling five different models that support the legs, shoulders and back since the start of 2018. Feedback from the 14 participating employees helped Nissan identify the two models offering the lowest weight, highest level of and best performance. These two models, further tested between May and July 2019, provide optimum shoulder support for workers performing overhead tasks during a significant percentage of their shift. Made of light alloy materials, the futuristic devices weigh between 1.5 and three kilograms.

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Raising the

standard

With environmental impact expected to be higher on the agenda than ever before in 2020, Andy Green discusses why now is the time to consider an energy management system

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t’s fair to say that 2019 has been a revolutionary year for climate change. We’ve seen public action on the subject like never before, with students striking; the rise of Extinction Rebellion; and 16 year old Greta Thunberg addressing the UN Climate Action Summit in New York. As we move into 2020, interest in the issue looks set to increase further, with many events scheduled to form an international response to our climate emergency. As public awareness of the climate change crisis continues to be raised, the focus will extend beyond government and on to businesses to act. And, with many key 2020 events taking place in Europe – and specifically the UK – UK and European businesses will be particularly under the spotlight. COP26, which is taking place in Glasgow at the end of 2020, will bring a significant amount of attention to the UK, as the UN seeks to drive climate change targets. With this in mind, it has never been more important for businesses to ensure that energy use and environmental impact is at the top of their agenda. In August last year, the publication of ISO 50001:2018 was announced by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The update was prompted by rising energy prices and climate change, and addresses major challenges facing businesses today, such as reducing costs, growing more sustainably and – as is likely to become increasingly prevalent - satisfying CSR pressures from stakeholders. As a first port of call when considering carbon footprint, a good first step is for businesses to assess their energy management system. It is currently mandatory for all organisations with more than 250 employees or a turnover of over £42m to be Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) audited every four years – this standard purely identifies any energy issues, but does nothing further to ensure that changes are implemented or that improvements are made. ESOS may alert a business to an area of concern, but ISO 50001 goes much further than this - with targets to meet and annual audits - to make sure that changes are made. The main advantage of opting for a proper energy management system is that it is proven to drive change – rather than just complying

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Energy saving with the law. This, in turn, should improve the organisation’s bottom line. While it does necessitate some work from the team, it makes everyone more focused and results in demonstrable improvements. This is of significant value for companies, as they can physically prove to stakeholders and shareholders that work is being done in this extremely important area to make the business more efficient, more sustainable and more profitable. The ISO 50001 standard works by increasing an understanding of what types of energy an organisation uses; how efficiently it is using that energy, and how further efficiencies can be made. As part of the audit, benchmarking takes place, and a shortlist is provided for establishing policies, processes, procedures and specific tasks to meet the energy targets and objectives set out by the individual organisation. This creates a structure to work towards improved energy management. A company policy is created, targets are implemented to meet the policy, energy data is analysed, results are measured and annual progress reviews are booked. Since its update in 2018, ISO 50001 now adopts the ISO’s requirements for management systems, including the high-level structure, identical core text and common terms and definitions, known as Annex SL. This makes it easier to integrate into existing energy management systems. It has been brought in line with the updated versions of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 and is now based on the same model to ensure it is delivering positive change. The high-level structure is the thing which is sure to make a difference, as it requires greater involvement of leadership and employees, which is more likely to create a culture change, rather than parts of organisation acting in isolation. The standard is open to any organisation, regardless of size, location or industry; and those with an energy management system certified to ISO 50001 do not also need to undertake specific ESOS audits. While a standard ESOS audit may be cheaper and easier in terms of outlay, the savings from a full energy management system will more than make this back. With COP26 in Glasgow in 2020 and the eyes of the world on the UK, the use of an energy management system like ISO 50001 can put businesses at the forefront of the industry’s reaction to the climate emergency on a global scale. Plus, by reducing energy usage, businesses not only minimise their carbon footprint, but can also become more profitable, satisfying both stakeholders and shareholders. Becoming more energy efficient makes sense from a business perspective and an ethical one. In the current climate, can any organisation afford to ignore it? l

Andy Green Andy Green is Business Development Director at BM TRADA. BM TRADA, part of the Element Group, specialises in providing a comprehensive range of independent testing, inspection, certification, technical and training services. It helps organisations to demonstrate their business and product credentials and to improve performance and compliance. BM TRADA exists to help its customers to make certain that the management systems, supply chain and product certification schemes they operate are compliant and fit for purpose. www.bmtrada.com

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Accurate

predictions

Kevin Price describes a seven-step journey to prescriptive maintenance

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oday’s manufacturing plants tend to consist of a wide assortment of assets patched together like a colourful quilt. The machinery and equipment can range from highly advanced robotics to outdated legacy solutions, stretched past their normal life expectancy. Plant engineers must make these disparate assets integrate and perform as one, which can be a challenge, especially when lean budgets, escalating market demands and conflicting strategies add to the complexity. Forward-thinking plant engineers, though, can step up to the challenge, elevating processes beyond simple reactionary mode. It begins with a new mindset – and modern technology.

How did we get here? Most plant engineers have already witnessed at least one transformational episode during their career, whether it was the adoption of Lean Principles in the 1980s, deployment of mobile solutions in the 1990s or migration to the cloud in early 2000s. More disruptions are coming. The pace of change continues to escalate, even as manufacturing growth starts to slow. Brexit and potential trade wars all add to global market uncertainty. In order to remain competitive in this high-stakes era, manufacturers must be agile, resilient and finely-tuned enterprises operating with minimal downtime. Waste, inefficiency and delays need to be curtailed, too, so the enterprise can focus on priorities: aligning with customers and developing new products. Increasing competition makes these capabilities more important than ever. Assets must keep running, even the machinery that may be past its prime and needing frequent repairs. With minimal resources and numerous demands for their time, maintenance teams must develop and follow a strategy. Today’s shortage of highly skilled technicians also places

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a strain on operations. Reactive maintenance is no longer acceptable. Fixing breaks, one emergency after another, is an inefficient use of resources. It frustrates personnel, managers and customers.

First, change the mindset Achieving Prescriptive Maintenance, at the top of the asset maintenance maturity model, requires an evolution of processes and technology. But the change in thinking must come first. The new mindset must be the foundation for the journey, and like most changes in the company culture, this one must come from the top of the organisation. Only the top executives can establish priorities for use of resources and establish that assets have intrinsic value which must be protected. Whether it is a robotic arm that performs welding, an autonomous forklift that follows a track in the warehouse floor, programmable packaging equipment, or overhead doors on the shipping bays, each asset represents a cog in the overall enterprise. Some, like power generation, are mission-critical and cannot be allowed to fail. Others may be less essential, but still play a role in operations or customer engagement. Size is not the driver influencing value, neither is cost to replace the asset. One innocuous-looking, £2 belt on the conveyer system can halt all MTO packaging, keeping a customised order from shipping on-time, jeopardising a pending million-pound deal. Wellness Focus. It is easy for manufacturing plants to fall into the habit of pushing machinery to its limits, reacting to failures and treating symptoms. A more holistic approach with an emphasis on prescribed maintenance and preventive care is an entirely different approach, requiring a long-term view, rather than focusing on than the next emergency to be addressed. One way to transition to this new thinking is by deploying prescriptive maintenance in one department first as a


Maintenance 2. Streamlining routine. Technology helps streamline and automate basic tasks, such as scheduling routine inspections and maintenance, tracking parts and materials used so inventory is accurate, and monitoring use of consumables (ink) and replaceable (filters), and parts subject to wear (belts and brake pads). When the basics are covered easily, personnel have time to up to focus on more advanced questions such as diving into analytics. 3. Planning cashflow. Using risk assessments and condition assessments, managers will be able to project future needs and calculate related costs, including replacement parts or any outside special services or contractors that may be needed. With data easily accessible, managers can evaluate replace vs. repair decisions and factor in the cost of down-time. 4. Predicting the future. Today, innovative Business Intelligence (BI) solutions with Artificial Intelligence (AI) contain powerful predictive capabilities, using algorithms and data science to identify patterns in data points and project next likely outcomes. Users can explore ‘what if ’ scenarios and obtain forecasts of likely costs and likely demands. 5. Prioritising investments. This glimpse of future investment needs can be juxtaposed against projected cash cycles also taking into account forecasts for shifting demand. Managers can then prioritise major capital investments when funding and political backing is in place. Plans for stopgap, bare-minimum fixes may be needed when funds are limited.

proof of concept. This allows the team to gather success data and help make the case that preventive care is more cost effective. Risk Assessment. A comprehensive risk assessment helps to change attitudes. An assessment, which can be done by a third party or internally, takes into consideration multiple attributes and helps prioritise assets, based on data and facts, not emotional anecdotes from users. Scores are typically based on the impact the asset or component has on fulling customer orders on time, user safety, satisfaction of customers, environmental impact, compliance with federal and state mandates, maintaining profit margins and keeping the plant open and operational. Condition Assessment. Assessing current conditions is like performing a wellness check-up on the assets in the plant. Initial assessments can require substantial resources, but after the first round of evaluations are collected, updating the status on a regular basis becomes much easier and well worth the time. Condition assessments are fact-based, using standardised definitions and clear standards which are objective and consistent.

6. Providing early warnings. Managers will be able to use predictive analytics to identify early some potential critical issues so that adequate preparations can be made, including having necessary parts or back-up equipment on standby. For example, when a generator nears end-of-life expectancy, back up replacements should be on hand for a seamless switch-over. 7. Meeting compliance. Managers should be alert to such issues as: ADA accessibility, building code compliance, OSHA or EPA mandates, or workforce or public safety issues. Non-compliance can be costly. It can also jeopardise safety or hurt brand equity.

Final take-aways Plant engineering and plant maintenance teams have many pressures they face today. Some are operational and involve keeping assets running. Others have more to do with cashflow strategies and decisions about whether to repair vs. replace or upgrade. A new mindset helps companies change the focus from reactive to prescriptive. Technology also helps managers make well-informed decisions. With advanced solutions in place, managers can take a holistic approach to plant maintenance and a long-term view of managing assets. l

How technology can help Modern Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) solutions help plant engineers and maintenance teams step up their processes and make effective asset management part of the overall enterprise strategy. Here are seven ways modern solutions help plant management: 1. Reliability. Reliable plant operations can become a differentiator. Customers will notice that orders are always on-time, as ordered, and with unwavering product quality. These are unusual characteristics in some industries.

Kevin Price Kevin Price is Product Evangelist for EAM, 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. www.infor.com

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Printing the

3

future

Four reasons why 3D printing is now a powerful competitor to conventional mass production. By Fernando Hernandez

D printing has often been a bit of a buzzword in society, with many knowing little about it and its potential. However, in 2018, IDC cited that the European 3D printing market is worth around $5 billion. What’s more, Western Europe has been delivering the majority of 3D printing revenues and the industry is expected to continue growing in the coming years. With the rapid advancement of 3D printing within a short period of time, it’s now a realistic competitor to traditional mass production. Traditionally, injection moulding and CNC machines have long been the kings of mass production, but as technology progresses, established manufacturers and their supply chains will no longer be able to match 3D printing’s edge and agility. The technology has come a long way in terms of product spread, volume and sustainability, making it a real contender for everyday use in manufacturing industries.

1. Prototype: Time is money In the creation stage of the product lifecycle, 3D printing can bring about drastic reductions in production costs and help companies develop ideas at a faster pace. The manufacturing process is often stifled with the expensive costs of design complexity and space for production in its initial stages.

The PartPro300 xT is the most advanced FDM printer in the brand portfolio. The heated chamber ensures a constant temperature, offering excellent performance for complex geometrics and advanced materials. It can print with multiple material types including ABS, PLA, Tough PLA, PETG, Nylon, Water-soluble PLA, Carbon Fibre and Metallic PLA. Its dual extrusion module allows the use of two different colours or materials to create more diverse product designs and strengthens the physical 3D models by combining two materials in one single print

The PartPro350 xBC offers cutting edge printhead technology that delivers industry-leading colour part production. With speeds up to 18mm per hour for a fully loaded build volume, the PartPro350 xBC is 150% faster than other colour binder technologies. The printer offers full-colour printing in one process by integrating all steps and curing, colouring and 3D stacking at once, with CMY three-colour ink and transparent binders

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A new design, for instance, using traditional manufacturing production requires significant time, space, resources, and labour, further delaying time to market. In using 3D printed prototypes, manufacturers can create faster and avoid the risks of setting up an assembly line only to end up with a flawed product and having to start again. The 3D printing process brings the manufacturer closer to the product, whereby a prototype can determine faulty and disruptive factors quicker, allowing teams to recreate an improved and more functional product much earlier on in its lifecycle.


3D Printing While the speed of printers varies, 3D printed parts and prototypes can typically be produced within a few hours compared to the days or even weeks traditional parts may take. Most importantly, the changes made along the way don’t impact production costs, bringing greater design freedom. One-way 3D printing manufacturers do this is a plug-and-play approach, using smart filament systems which are powered by an AI algorithm making it ready to print with a high success ratio.

2. Range of products 3D printing was once limited to a small pool of materials and therefore limited design options, but with more advanced materials, more applications are available, ranging from motorcycle engines to construction mechanisms to designer dresses; they’ve increasingly become capable of complex designs and can create difficult shapes that aren’t possible through means of traditional manufacturing. The range available allows large manufacturers to launch products specifically customised for consumers. The shaving supply and razor brand, Gillette, now produces custom 3D printed razor handles, for example. This ability extends to the mass-customisation of BMW’s MINI cars, where customers can add their names and symbols onto their car’s dashboard trims.

3. Broader range of materials As mentioned earlier, 3D printing was previously confined to ABS/PLA plastics. Now there are over 500 materials including carbon fibre, nylon, Polycarbonates, metal (with other plastic as binder) and several kinds of PET plastics available to work with. Recently, metal printing has presented a unique opportunity for traditional manufacturing to use 3D printing, particularly with niche products, and is an area showcasing the most uptake. The automotive, aerospace and medical industries have so far been some of the key employers of 3D printing, as the vast array of high performance materials available now allow for faster development of pit equipment to experiment with. For this reason, engineers have a richer material portfolio to work with and through a greater range of properties are then able to understand how to make more robust and hazard resistance parts. It also helps these industries determine how they can make products with fewer parts, a particular benefit for the aerospace industry, where manufacturers can reduce plane engines from having hundreds or thousands of parts to fewer than 100. While full disruption hasn’t yet occurred with 3D printing and the aeronautic industry, it has the potential to create lighter, more cost effective, efficient and eco-friendly planes. A newly 3D printed boat that is fully functional and beat traditional manufacturing time is an indication of 3D printing’s bright future.

4. Environmental Impact With consumers far more conscious of where their products come from, another key advantage of using 3D printing over traditional subtractive methods is that it is an effective environmentally friendly solution. The typical supply chain starts with more and turns into less, carving and shredding its way down into the desired product, meaning the majority of what you produce is waste. 3D printers can measure the exact material requirement and use only what is required in its production process. The impact cannot be understated when viewed across the entire cycle, as this process removes the need to transport and discard waste created in the assembly line, drastically reducing the carbon footprint per product created. If both companies embrace home 3D printers, the global impact of manufacturing could be positively altered to meet the global requirements to reduce carbon emissions.

Keys to the kingdom While 3D printing isn’t likely to entirely replace traditional manufacturing, it is emerging as a resource-efficient, environmentally friendly and costeffective supplement to production. The technology itself is set to be a highly useful tool to companies to create the products of the future. With 3D printing, organisations can drastically improve their production capabilities, particularly in the prototype phase with its specialised in-built tooling. Entire industries are already employing the technology to gain the advantages, now is the time to invest in and determine how 3D printing will transform each business and households. l

Fernando Hernandez The MfgPro230 xS is one of largest SLS printers in market with a print volume of 230x230x230mm. It allows you to create prints with no support material due to its SLS technology, resulting in less material being used and fewer breakages due to the isotropic mechanical properties of the technology, ensuring every print job counts. The printer can print up to one litre per hour making it one of the fastest printers on the market

Fernando Hernandez is EMEA MD of XYZprinting, a leading global provider of comprehensive 3D printing solutions. It is the number one global brand in desktop 3D printing products and services, and is now growing its industrial additive manufacturing business as well to support professional manufacturers. It is backed by the world’s leading electronic manufacturing conglomerate, New Kinpo Group, which earns more than $36 billion revenues annually and has more than 8500 engineers in R&D across four continents. https://pro.xyzprinting.com/en-GB/home

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2020 –

The year of automation As we move towards 2020, attention inevitably turns towards what lies ahead in the new year. Tom Bouchier reflects on the state of automation over the last 12 months, and looks forward to what could be a pivotal year for UK manufacturing

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report published by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee (BEIS) in September highlighted the disadvantageous position of UK automation. Falling behind its G7 counterparts in terms of robot density, Britain will struggle to keep pace with the productivity of international competitors if action is not taken. If UK manufacturing is to realise its potential, it must overcome its apparent reluctance to automate. There is undoubtedly a superb base of technology and research in British industry, which, providing it can overcome the current barriers to automation, provides a fantastic platform for economic growth and prosperity. However, barriers remain, and the UK must work together to move industry forward.

Address misconceptions The biggest challenge we face as a nation is to generate awareness around the benefits that robots and automation can bring to businesses. There are a number of misconceptions that must be addressed, which are ingrained into our society for various reasons. One of the most damaging beliefs is that automation is expensive. This is particular prevalent amongst those that need it most, specifically

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SMEs that are ready to expand their business but perhaps feel they do not have the capital to do so. The fact is that automation is not out of the financial reach of many UK manufacturers, and the economic gains of introducing robots into a production line more than offsets any upfront cost. In addition to the subject of expense, there is a general lack of awareness over the numerous applications that automation can be used for. With benefits for a whole host of industries, such as automotive, aerospace, food & beverage, OEM, and medical, there are a wide range of industries which could enjoy significant economic growth by adopting automation. Plus, advances in collaborative robots, or cobots, add another tool to a manufacturer’s armoury. The way we, as an industry, educate the end user on the benefits of automation is crucial. Business owners are understandably protective of their company, and no one is interested in being lectured on how they could be improved. This year, FANUC hosted its first ever UK Open House, showcasing the potential of automation by providing manufacturers with a hands-on experience with the latest robots. These events are very important for industry, and manufacturers should endeavour to attend similar open days in 2020 and beyond.


Automation FANUC is introducing its own IIoT platform into the European market, known as the FIELD system, which stands for FANUC Intelligent Edge Link and Drive. It is great for breaking down barriers to automation within factories themselves, enabling communication between various machines and robots of different generations and manufacturers. This type of open platform technology can play a major role in encouraging a wider adoption of automation, and it is an exciting prospect for the year ahead. This type of open communication can actually be applied to the way UK industry liaise with Government. Many, myself included, frequently call on the Government to be more decisive in leading the transition to new technologies, and to provide a platform upon which British businesses can grow. But a certain degree of responsibility lies with experts to support the Government, by providing a crucial base of industry-specific knowledge to support their efforts to influence a change in attitudes.

Educate for tomorrow

Final thoughts

Alongside upskilling those already working in manufacturing, we must provide pathways for those seeking to enter the industry. The most effective way to secure the future of UK businesses is to provide a stream of enthusiastic and automation-literate employees, capable of engaging with the latest technology. There has to be a concerted effort to engage young people, and the best way to do this is to continue to provide strong apprenticeship programmes. The key is to take a cross-party approach to this, because the health of UK industry is too important to be politicised. We must look at how funding can be used to foster growth – for example tax breaks could go to OEMs to enable them to improve training and prioritise apprenticeships. It is also important that organisations, such as WorldSkills, continue to inspire young people and develop their skills. It raises awareness over the need to address growing skills gaps, which we can see all too clearly in UK manufacturing. FANUC’s ongoing partnership with WorldSkills is part of its commitment to raise awareness of automation, and by equipping apprentices with the competencies and knowledge to take into the future, British businesses can continue to compete on a world stage.

There is clearly room for improvement in the UK when it comes to adopting automation into manufacturing, and the low robot density compared with our G7 counterparts is worrying. However, there is sufficient appetite for progress and technological advancement to be optimistic that 2020 will be a pivotal year for British businesses. Addressing misconceptions and tackling barriers to automation with a positive mindset is the key to improving productivity in UK industry, and by generating awareness and offering training, there is no reason to believe that the year ahead will be anything but successful. l

Attitude change Changing perceptions of automation and robots should not be limited to UK manufacturing – it is something that needs addressing on a much wider scale. Resistance to automation can largely be attributed to the distrust of robots that is inherent within British society. The pervasiveness of this mindset should not be underestimated, and everyday features as prevalent as ‘I am not a robot’ buttons on websites are indicative of the negative attitudes towards robotic technology. By educating those outside of UK industry as well as those within it, we can break down some of the barriers to robotics by removing the stigma associated with the word. Rather than fighting against the introduction of modern technology, Britain should be pioneering automation, and changes to attitudes will help make this possible.

Inclusiveness Encouraging people to talk about automation is a great start, but to foster inclusion within technologies is something which is beneficial to UK industry as a whole. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) refers to the networking of devices for the purpose of interaction and data exchange, and is likely to be a major trend moving into 2020.

Tom Bouchier Tom Bouchier is Managing Director at FANUC UK. At its state-of-the-art headquarters in Ansty Park, Coventry, FANUC UK brings together worldleading capabilities in industrial robots, machine tools and plastic injection moulding machines to facilitate the complete integration of factory automation systems for UK manufacturers. www.fanuc.eu/uk/en

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Get

connected

How to engage frontline workers within the manufacturing industry. By Julien Codorniou

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echnology is a crucial part of modern industry, and it’s no surprise that businesses that are slower to increase their uptake of new and innovative tech struggle to compete. The same can be said for the importance of utilising the latest tools and technology to retain and attract the best talent in order to stay on top. Earlier in the year, Deloitte highlighted in its Industrial Manufacturing Industry Outlook report, the growing skills shortage in the manufacturing industry, with a predicted 2.4 million jobs to remain unfilled by 2028. This predicted shortage has the ability to seriously hamper the positive growth

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and regeneration the industry has witnessed, with leaders in this sector needing to consider innovative approaches around talent management and recruitment. Our recent Deskless not Voiceless research highlighted that while 95 per cent of business leaders understand the value of collaboration tools, only 56 per cent have implemented them into their business. Workplace collaboration tech enables companies to come together and connect, whether that's giving remote workers direct access to HQ or enabling employees that are spread across different time zones


Communication to communicate. In turn, this increased connectivity enables employees to have a voice no matter how big their company is or where they are working. The following three points demonstrate the imperative need for businesses to prioritise connectivity and collaboration in their workforce to attract and retain top talent.

Employee engagement While the majority of employees working in the manufacturing industry are factory based, there is still potential for a disconnect between employees and their management team. Not only does this create distance between themselves and their senior colleagues, it also hinders productivity between their immediate and wider teams. Our research revealed that just three per cent feel connected to their C-suite in the UK and US. This lack of connection between employees and head office can result in an unmotivated workforce, with employees feeling undervalued and not listened to which, in turn, will have an impact on productivity. However, when employees have the ability to communicate and connect with those across the business, it increases engagement and ultimately retention. When a collaboration tool, such as Workplace from Facebook, is introduced, the number of employees that feel they are not connected to their head office decreases from 17 per cent to eight per cent, not only allowing for businesses to build a stronger internal culture but also encouraging employees to engage with different aspects of the business.

Encouraging communication In a highly competitive industry, having engaged and connected employees can be the differentiator between failure and success. Yet, with remote or off-site employees that are not always based in HQ, ensuring that an entire workforce is connected can be difficult. Our research shows that 14 per cent of employees do feel connected to the leadership team, however, when employees have access to collaboration tools, this number increases to 25 per cent. With 2.4 million jobs expected to be unfilled in 2028, having a familiar tool to onboard new starters allows companies to grow quicker and inform their employees faster. Millennials and Gen-Z workers expect to be able to communicate as quickly and easily inside the workplace as they do in their free time. Whether it’s remotely on a mobile device or a desktop computer in an office, encouraging employees of all types to engage with collaboration tools should be at the top of a company’s priority list.

Allowing ideas to spread Collaboration is crucial for sharing ideas and innovating processes in order to develop and grow. The speed in which businesses can adapt has the potential to distinguish between them and their competitors. Frontline workers are often the face of organisations and an untapped resource, with first-hand experiences of a business’ customer base. Challenges that frontline workers face can revolve around their need to be on-site, working remotely or working away from a desk. One in four people in the workplace believe that their ideas are stifled due to poor communication. With 88 per cent of workers believing that everyone has a responsibility to develop new ideas, and 98 per cent of leaders agreeing that new ideas should come from everyone - it is a vital priority for business success that ideas have the potential to be shared and valued. Technology can help to re-open the lines of communication and motivate and encourage employees to share their ideas. These tools also help workers feel that the organisation they are a part of values community and communication. Not only can employees share ideas and feel part of a community, they can also enable news to be shared

throughout the business regardless of where they’re physically located or what technology they use to connect. Industry-wide, technology’s impact has been widespread, not just in terms of machinery, but also in how today’s workforce expects to connect and communicate. With the large majority of employees working off-site or away from a desk, communication tools are a way to address these expectations and allow businesses to connect their workforce. In turn, they have the ability to attract and retain top talent by giving employees a voice, no matter where they are. l

Julien Codorniou Julien Codorniou is VP of Workplace from Facebook. Workplace connects everyone in an organisation using familiar Facebook features like chat, video calling, posts and groups. It works alongside the business tools you already use, providing a simple, secure and more productive way for people to share knowledge, work together and build connected communities - including more than 150 companies with over 10,000 active users. It has customers spanning nearly every industry, including Walmart, Starbucks, Spotify, WW, AstraZeneca and Deliveroo. https://en-gb.facebook.com/workplace

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Uncertain

times

Recent political uncertainties, such as Brexit and the US trade wars, are causing ambiguity in the market, especially for exporting manufacturers with long supply chains. Robert Glass explains the benefits of working with a company that can help insulate you through these challenges

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e’re in uncertain times. The US threatened to leave the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the United Kingdom continues to teeter on the edge of withdrawing from the single market and the yellow vest movement continues to block roads in France. These are only a few of the many politicly unstable actions occurring around the globe. With all of these situations making headlines, and with further environmental and political inclemency set to begin, there is little hope of it ending anytime soon. These global issues are making it harder for businesses, especially manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers (OEM), to forecast

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what is happening along trade routes, and how it will impact their operations. Changes in tariffs and political agreements also mean that previously promoted products could lose preferential status, which will increase costs and reduce profits of producers. Changes in tariffs are another potential outcome of the instability that could play havoc with exports. For example, if the UK is to leave the single market without a deal, World Trade Organization (WTO) tariffs would come into effect, which would mean that there would be an attached cost for goods to enter the EU region. In the case of composites, WTO tariff codes such as 3923109010 would apply, adding a 6.5 per cent duty onto the value of the exported goods. Tariffs are also dependent on the point of origin of the goods in question. Products that are produced in a single country makes it simple to define their origin. However, with the increasing global nature of manufacturing and production, this is rarely the case. Goods that are produced using materials or components from more than one country can affect the point of origin and subsequently the imposed tariffs. Some countries must fulfil quotas on the number of parts making up an end product that are sourced internally or from other countries that


Exports that can help protect orders to a certain extent, these techniques can’t circumnavigate tariffs and trade war challenges. Global producers, such as Exel Composites, have established production facilities across the globe, allowing for products to be manufactured and shipped from multiple geographical locations. This means that depending where the order originates from, global producers are able to export the product to the client regardless of its location. For example, in the case of a hard Brexit, it may be more difficult for UK producers to export to the European mainland. By way of illustration, looking at a possible post-Brexit scenario where UK products may be more expensive to export to mainland Europe (into the EU), Exel Composites would be able to shift production from its UK plant to one in the EU, isolating, for example, an Italian customer from the UK trade policies.

Production chain Having a chain of production facilities enables global producers to find alternative routes to export products to clients, all while maintaining the quality of product that is developed from shared business knowledge. This can also allow products to maintain preferential status reducing the risk of origin-based tariffs. This global process is also easier and more feasible than ever before due to increased access to automation and the ease of moving knowledge-based expertise thanks to modern technology. Global producers are able to ensure that the quality of products is maintained no matter where they are produced. For this reason, global manufacturers and businesses looking to export should strive to have production facilities in range of locations to ensure that they are able to insulate shipments from any ongoing uncertainty. This will also enable the manufacturers themselves reduce costs and increase profit margins, as they will be able to export from a more reasonable geographic location without the fear of punitive tariffs. OEM products and trade routes are under threat from rising political uncertainties. These instabilities are continuing to threaten the easy movements of goods and cutting into profits. Luckily, there are ways that manufacturers can use global suppliers to help protect themselves and their clients, regardless of what is happening in the world. l

have specific accords with them. In the EU these products are defined as having preferential origin. This origin status confers, on the goods that have fulfilled certain criteria, specific tariff benefits that can facilitate goods movement within the EU. Critically, because product supply chains are increasingly becoming more complex, not every business can afford to set up a just-in-time manufacturing system with all suppliers in one location. This is especially true when producers are looking to implement new materials or components that haven’t been used before, which demonstrates that having good routes are critical to innovation.

Global production Globalisation means that no region is an island. Manufacturers in the UK exported 46 per cent of all UK exports into Europe in 2018, and many manufacturers source components for products from further across the globe. With routes between countries becoming less predictable and impeded by tariffs, businesses are looking for methods of exporting that can protect or circumnavigate potentially difficult routes. While businesses have a large arsenal of techniques, such as hedging,

Robert Glass Robert Glass is Head of Marketing at Exel Composites, a global technology company headquartered in Finland. The world’s largest manufacturer of pultruded and pull-wound composite solutions, its global manufacturing, R&D, and sales footprint serves customers across a broad range of industries and applications. With 60 years of composites experience and engineering expertise, it works closely with customers to design and manufacture high quality composite solutions using carbon fiber, fiberglass, and other highperformance materials. www.exelcomposites.com

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Manufacturing BEST PRACTICES FOR INDUSTRY LEADERS

Focus on... 20 Ideal Boilers 28 AR Metallizing

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today

EUROPE

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32 Whittan Group 36 Beardow Adams 40 EPC-UK

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44 Designplan Lighting 48 KP Components 50 IV Produkt 52 Blackrow Group 56 Kia Lucky Motors 60 Aurora Lighting 63 Fläkt Woods 66 Kingfield Electronics

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Innovation in

action

With over 100 years of experience in providing the best quality products, Ideal Boilers stands at the forefront of the domestic and commercial heating markets, leading the industry in setting new standards and challenging technological boundaries

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hen considering the highefficiency, technologicallyadvanced boilers of today, there is one company that can be proud of its involvement in their evolution. Ideal Boilers has been a pivotal player in the introduction of British-made, affordable and reliable heating products into homes across the UK and beyond throughout its history; and as Doug Lloyd, COO of Ideal Boilers, began by highlighting, the company is very proud of its achievements. “We have introduced many revolutionary products to the market over the last century,” he revealed. “The Ideal Cookanheat, launched in the early 1920s, was a

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radical product for the UK heating market and its success firmly placed the Ideal brand on the map. The simple combination of a cooker and boiler allowed thousands of homes to enjoy central heating at a lower cost than any other appliance available at the time. “The launch of our Logic range in 2009 was another landmark moment for the business. Its arrival meant we could offer customers our most efficient boiler to date – with more than 90 per cent of the heat released from burning fuel being recycled back into the system – further guaranteeing our quality, reliability and exceptional value. “Today, Ideal Boilers is leading the UK’s

domestic and commercial heating markets, driving the industry forward in setting new standards, challenging technological boundaries and constantly evolving to meet new regulatory targets.” The principles of quality, innovation and value that underpin the activities of Ideal Boilers were created in 1906 at the time of its founding and for more than 110 years, innovation has remained integral to Ideal Boilers’ DNA. “It’s central to everything we do and is firmly engrained in our principles, as we strive to provide market-leading heating appliances that meet and exceed our customers’ needs,” Doug agreed.


Ideal Boilers ebm-papst

“Alongside innovation, I believe our people-centric approach and ability to be flexible also underpin our continued success,” he added. “Ever since we first started doing business, we’ve continued to evolve. We have great relationships with our industry bodies,

regulators, our merchant and installer partners, and our customers – having our finger on the pulse means we can adapt quickly to changes in the market and constantly meet new regulatory requirements.” To get an idea of the scale of Ideal Boilers’

ebm-papst is a leader in ventilation and drive engineering technology and a much sought-after engineering partner. With around 20,000 different products, we have the perfect solution for practically every requirement. We believe the consistent further development of our highly-efficient GreenTech EC technology provides our customers with the best opportunities for the future in industrial digitisation. With GreenIntelligence, ebm-papst already offers intelligent networked complete solutions that are unique anywhere in the world today and that secure our customers a decisive advantage. Fans and motors from the global market leader can be found in many industries, including ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration, household appliances, heating, automobiles and drive engineering. Since creating the world’s first gas blower for condensing technology, we have been the market leader for efficient components and complete, perfectly matched systems. We develop blowers, venturis, valves and burner controls together with our customers, and supply everything as a full package.

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Ideal Boilers Advanced Plastics Advanced Plastics is a market leader in the design and manufacture of technical injection moulded products, proud to be working in partnership with Ideal Boilers, both contributing to and sharing in its unrivalled success of recent years. From initial design concept to volume production, we adopt the latest technology coupled with our vast technical experience to achieve the most cost effective solution for every project. Serving demanding markets such as HVAC, automotive, defence, renewables and construction we pride ourselves in consistently delivering outstanding levels of value, customer service, technical support, product quality and delivery performance, meaning we remain the preferred long term partner for existing customers and a credible proposition for new clients. Over 40 million products a year are produced in our 65,000 sq. ft. world class UK manufacturing facility housing forty injection moulding machines up to 1500t clamp force with extensive in-line automation and complimentary secondary processes.

‘‘

The business has been awarded three prestigious Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in the past ten years, which is something I’m immensely proud to have been a part of. Two of our award wins have been in the Innovation category – recognition for the way we live and breathe our founding principles each and every day

growth and success, Doug shared some impressive figures on the company’s output by the end of this year, Ideal Boilers will have sold more than 420,000 domestic boilers in the UK market. “This means that one of every four new domestic boilers being installed across the country at the moment bears the Ideal name,” he stated. “The same level of success can be found in the world of commercial and industrial boilers, where the Ideal name and connection is even more prevalent. More than one in three commercial and industrial boilers installed in 2019 will have come from our factory in Hull. “The Logic range of domestic boilers is our best-seller. With its state-of-the-art technology and best-in-class reliability, it delivers

exceptional value without compromising on performance. The Logic range was commended by the Queen’s Award judges in 2019 and has received Good Housekeeping Reader Recommended status for the last three years.” Furthermore, Ideal Boilers’ commitment to innovation shines through not only in its products but also in the way in which it operates, and in its manufacturing processes. “We’ve adopted modern techniques, streamlined our suppliers and increased efficiency on the production line, to grow into an operation that’s fit for purpose and able to accommodate continued growth,” Doug explained. “As we’ve continued to grow, we’ve more than tripled our overall manufacturing

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Ideal Boilers

Grundfos HVAC OEM Since the 1960s, Grundfos has grown its expertise in the UK market, and today all major boiler manufacturers use a Grundfos pump in their solution. Grundfos was the first to introduce Integrated Water Circuits (IWC) almost 20 years ago, and is today the number one supplier. Grundfos HVAC OEM offers flexibility in the supply of IWC components, and has the largest capacity for circulators and also assembly of IWC. Grundfos is a global water technology company committed to pioneering solutions to the world’s water and climate challenges and improving the quality of life for people. With a solid ownership structure, an unmatched solution-focus on energy efficiency and system optimisation, and a long-term commitment to sustainability, Grundfos is perfectly placed to do this. Founded in Denmark in 1945, Grundfos is today one of the world’s leading providers of pump solutions, with annual production standing at more than 17 million units and with over 19,000 employees.

output, and we’ve achieved this without increasing the footprint of the business. It is one of our greatest strengths that we can build industrial boilers and domestic boilers under one roof. This helps us keep overheads down and share best practice, while passing on the benefits to customers in terms of both product performance and cost savings.” Having previously referred to the reliability of the Logic range, Doug noted that thanks to the confidence Ideal has in the dependability of all its products, it is able to offer marketleading warranties: “This is a result of our endless work to eliminate component failures and operator mistakes. Our production process follows a no-fault forward method. In short, this means that the output of every stage of the process is tightly controlled. Any error or component fault is detected and rectified before the product can pass to the next stage. More than 200 different checks are carried out throughout the manufacturing process, and all of our boilers are rigorously tested using air to simulate the flow of water and gas, so that we are confident they are fully functional before they leave the factory.

“From a customer’s perspective, our reliability record is what keeps us ahead of the game – it’s impossible to under-estimate the importance of winning people’s trust. When I first joined the company, a boiler warranty typically lasted just 12 months; now we’re talking about up to 12 years. “The Ideal Max range, for example, comes with a ten-year warranty as standard and can be extended by an extra two years when installed by a Max Accredited Installer. The warranties we can offer are testament to the stringent tests and quality checks each boiler must pass before it is allowed to leave the factory. At the end of the day, the boiler is the beating heart of the home, and people want to be confident that it will deliver on its promises, year in year out.” As we head into the New Year, Doug noted that 2019 represents another 12 successful months for Ideal Boilers, having seen increased market share, higher employee numbers and two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise – in the International Trade and Innovation categories. He also pointed out a significant event from 2015 that has undoubtedly contributed to the

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business’ continued success. “Four years ago Ideal Boilers was acquired by Groupe Atlantic, and I think it was one of the best things that’s happened to us,” he said. “Groupe Atlantic is well-established as the market leader in France, and we have a fantastic opportunity to further grow the Ideal brand in the UK with its support. The synergy between the two businesses was clear from the outset, not just in terms of the combined product range we can offer, but also the core values that we share, including a real desire to invest in our long-term future.” Doug also pointed out that Groupe Atlantic’s technical knowledge and support – especially when it comes to alternative heating solutions like heat pumps and water heaters – will stand Ideal Boilers in good stead to adapt to recent and ongoing legislative changes around de-carbonisation. “These latter areas could present a challenge, but we are committed to energy efficiency and will continue to innovate with the environment in mind,” he added reassuringly. Groupe Atlantic may have brought a

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Ideal Boilers certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to Ideal Boilers but the company remains steadfastly British, proud of its roots in Hull, which Doug identifies as ‘part of our identity’. He emphasised how important the city is to the business, both in terms of history and also as a valued source of exemplary staff members. “We pride ourselves on having employees that have been with us a long time, and we’re fully committed to employing people from the local community,” he said. “Generations of families come through our doors and it makes me hugely proud that people choose to spend long careers here,” he continued. “Over the last ten years we’ve grown our workforce from 546 to 835 people, with our market share more than tripling to over 25 per cent in the same period. This success is down to the commitment and hard work of all of our employees – we simply wouldn’t be where we are today without them.” Looking into 2020 and beyond, the future looks incredibly bright for Ideal Boilers. The company is predicting that its sales volumes and market share will continue to increase,

as the investments it has made in improving efficiency, reliability and quality convert into rising customer demand for its range. “The future can be unpredictable at times, but there’s one thing that’s for certain: our core values of quality, innovation and value will remain at the heart of everything we do,” Doug confirmed. Having been with Ideal Boilers since 1987, Doug’s perspective on the business and his experience in the market is unsurpassed, and he concluded with some thoughts on what he personally has found to be the most rewarding aspects of his time at the company. “The business has been awarded three prestigious Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in the past ten years, which is something I’m immensely proud to have been a part of. Two of our award wins have been in the Innovation category – recognition for the way we live and breathe our founding principles each and every day. To be recognised at the highest level is a true honour and I have to say, going down to Buckingham Palace to collect the awards is right up there in terms of a career highlight!”

Ideal Boilers Products: Boilers, controls and accessories https://idealboilers.com

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Tapping into

opportunities

In its latest discussion with Dr Bart Devos from AR Metallizing, MTE learns about the company’s new acquisition, its strategy for the continuous improvement of staff and its journey from a straight supplier to a vital support partner for its clients

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hen it comes to the metallized paper industry, AR Metallizing Group is not only the top global manufacturer in the sector, but also renowned around the world for its approach to sustainability. By listening to customers to find out what they need, and dedicating expertise and investment to research and development, over the years AR Metallizing has created ground breaking products such as its awardwinning SilberBOARD metallized paper range,

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and innovative concepts such as ZERO% films. These are all designed to supply its customers within the food, beverage, entertainment and consumer packaged goods industries with a sustainable alternative to foil or film. With the capacity to produce over 50,000 tons of metallized paper from its four production sites in Belgium, Italy, the US and Brazil, AR Metallizing is able to work with clients wherever they are based. When MTE caught up with him recently, Dr Bart Devos, CEO, described the business as ‘truly global’ and this

means it is well-placed to take advantage of any opportunities as and when they come up, with the support of its shareholder, Nissha. “This is a very fortunate position to be in, and for the moment, we don’t have any concrete plans for further geographical growth,” he added. “What we are doing though, is looking at global trends and thinking about markets - particularly in developing regions where we can leapfrog from our current plants in Europe, the US and Brazil to develop further, building solid foundations for the future.”


AR Metallizing

Dr Bart Devos, CEO of AR Metallizing

He continued: “AR Metallizing tries to maintain a geographically global outlook. Sometimes, particularly in Europe and the US, we can get caught up in the regions that we know, and not look further afield. Take Latin America, East Asia and Africa, for example. “They are oftentimes overlooked and, if they are considered, it is as a vast, single market, rather than thinking about the very different countries, each with unique needs that can present very different opportunities. So, we’re trying to stay ahead of the curve in geographies

like this, and explore how we can grow our client base on the continent and where and how we can add value to a growing number of interested parties there.” At the same time as expanding its markets, AR Metallizing Group is also keen to strategically integrate new acquisitions into its business. Bart gave some more details about the decision-making process behind company purchases, and the latest business to be amalgamated into its operations, Eurofoil Paper Coating GmbH in Berlin. “We collaborate and liaise extensively with our partners and customers, learning about their challenges and what products they’d like to see from us, and a more significant portfolio of direct food contact products was something that came out of those discussions,” he said. As Eurofoil Paper Coating GmbH is a leading European manufacturer of laminated and metallized inner liners, the acquisition will help AR Metallizing to further develop and serve its customers with an increased number of products for direct food contact, which is something Bart is ‘looking forward to.’ “It also further compliments AR Metallizing’s goal of becoming the ‘go-to’ partner to support leading, global brands make a smooth transition

to sustainable and recyclable packaging,” added Bart. “We’re not just on hand to present a sustainable packaging material, instead we’re working with the aim of collaborating with these brands to help them understand the proven science, technical features and characteristics behind our paper-based products, as well as providing practical support to help make a change to our products’ cost and time-efficiency. “I think this is where we come into our own, and we aim to be unique in our industry. We understand these organisations: they are very large, highly matrixed, international companies and a lot of different factors are at play as they look to shift towards sustainability. Change doesn’t happen overnight for these firms – multiple factors have to be addressed before they can physically change suppliers or materials: these are companies with numerous stakeholders, compliance processes, testing and approvals to undergo before change can be a reality. It’s therefore our aim to step up in the space, moving away from simply being a pure play ‘supplier’ and instead having our experts on hand to support these businesses at all points in the transition process – be that sharing our ideas, experience or science, all in addition to

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Above: Launched in 2019, Packle, AR Metallizing’s newest brand

our actual products. To this end, 2019 saw us successfully launch Packle, AR Metallizing’s newest brand which aims to connect and support brands and multinational businesses directly.” MTE has been privileged to feature AR Metallizing in previous issues, and in the 2018 article, Bart highlighted the company’s team of

Remant NV The family owned Remant Group has established a longstanding reputation as a trusted logistics service provider which focuses on international sea freight, logistics in Africa, overseas reefer transport and profound customs expertise. In our relationships with our customers, which come from a wide spectrum of industries and niche markets, we emphasise transparency, respect, commitment and solidarity. We offer innovative and sustainable solutions tailored to your transport needs in a cost-efficient way. Our employees are dedicated, flexible and professional in their approach to logistic solutions. It is this combination that makes them true ‘Transport Architects’.

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staff as pivotal to the success of the business; 12 months later he again saluted their efforts, and noted that their dedication and long service records were of prime importance going forward: “We are lucky to have a very loyal and dedicated workforce; it’s a norm that the majority of our global team has been with us for a long time – in many cases even several decades isn’t unusual. In today’s landscape, where it’s much more usual to change jobs every few years, I’m very proud that we have such longevity within our staff. I believe that you only really get this sort of long-term dedication from employees when they feel that you care about their wellbeing with real authenticity.


AR Metallizing “I’d say that as a company, part of this core authenticity is to recognise and honour the extensive experience our team has built up. After all, wouldn’t it be such a waste to let all that go because we didn’t think about knowledge succession and sharing the skills we already have in-house? As a result, we are very focused on personal development and career progression – we want to see people move onto positions with more responsibility over time. “To help my staff reach their full potential, I try to be accessible. Especially for the younger generation (millennials to some extent, but thinking towards Generation Z who are already joining the workforce) leadership has to evolve. I think CEOs and senior management need to become more available and be a more integrated part of the team. This is also crucial in attracting and retaining talent. “My vision for the company is that anyone within AR Metallizing can ask me questions, give suggestions, present ideas, talk about improvements we can make and tell me how I can support them in their development journey. “I don’t want to be a mysterious man who sits at a computer making big decisions and yet who isn’t in touch with what’s happening on the factory floor. AR Metallizing is guided by making sure leadership is human, with the goal that this will translate to an engaged workforce. Practically, I make it a personal goal to get to know the global team, talk with them, be transparent, visit plants regularly and engage in discussions.” Alongside the support of the more experienced team members, AR Metallizing is also very focused on bringing in fresh talent. “We spend a lot of time mentoring, training and accompanying our newest team members as they learn the ropes and discover firsthand about our products and manufacturing processes,” added Bart. With the end of 2019 fast approaching, Bart

acknowledges the year has had its trials, but describes himself as a ‘believer in seeing the bigger picture and addressing challenges directly’. “I think the manufacturing industry as a whole cannot ignore that we are all undergoing some challenging times. AR Metallizing is in a strong position for 2020 – our recent growth of Eurofoil Paper Coating GmbH Berlin, underlines this, but we are also cautious: there may well be further headwinds ahead,” he stated. “That said, what is less talked about are the opportunities that these challenging times bring. As an example, we’re seeing some exciting new trends: we are getting new enquiries from new markets, so we are actively pursuing growth in these regions.

“For 2020, we will be listening carefully to what our customers want and in parallel, developing our product portfolio to keep up with evolving demand. So, all in all, I think it’s going to be an interesting year. For the companies that can retain agility and know what customers want and where they want it, there continues to be enormous untapped opportunity.”

AR Metallizing Services: The leading global manufacturer of metallized packaging and labelling solutions to premium brands www.armetallizing.com

AR Metallizing’s metallized packaging solutions enable premium brands to maintain, or even improve, their trusted look and feel, without the use of plastics

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Investing in

success

Steel storage product manufacturer Whittan Group today finds itself in the midst of a major investment and upgrade programme that looks set to drive business both in the UK and on the international stage

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hen Manufacturing Today Europe last spoke with Jonathan Templeman, CEO of Whittan Group, the largest manufacturer of steel storage products in the UK, in the final few months of 2018, he found himself approximately 12 months into his new role and leading the business on a path towards achieving its ambitious growth targets. Now, in late 2019, Jonathan is able to reflect upon what he admits has been a “mixed bag” of a year, albeit one in which Whittan Group has been able to accentuate the positives to be had in the storage market. “I think when we look at the market over

the course of 2019, it is hard to ignore the fact that there has been a fair amount of disruption and delay caused by the continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit, particularly when it comes to some of the larger customer projects we would have expected to have seen take shape,” Jonathan begins. “Having said that, on the positive side, the solutions and automation side of Whittan Group’s business has continued to grow strongly, and we also continue to attract business from ecommerce retailers and other disruptive players that are gaining ground at a time when more traditional retailers are scaling back.” In the case of Whittan Group’s solutions business, and its related major projects


Whittan Group

business, Jonathan expects demand for its services to increase as more and more of its customers work to achieve greater cost savings and become more efficient in the way they store their goods. “For example,” he details, “we have seen an increasing trend towards storage going higher – so better utilising warehouse space in this manner – and a lot more customers are beginning to look at how to introduce semi-automatic elements to their facilities, such as conveyors or shuttle systems. There are also one or two of the larger players looking at the possibility of adopting full-end-to-end automation solutions.” During our previous conversation with Jonathan, one of the topics he was keen to

discuss was the ambitious three-year upgrade and investment programme that the group was, at the time, preparing to embark upon. As he goes on to reveal, much has been achieved in the time since. “The investment itself covers multiple elements of Whittan Group, and includes our European operations where we have put capital into our rolling lines and other tooling at our Spanish factory in Durango, however I think it would be fair to say that the bulk thus far has been directed towards the pallet racking side of the business. “Since we last spoke, we have completed the installation of a new paint plant at our shelving factory at Brierley Hill, and we have carried out work on our critical rolling

‘‘

Due to the way the supply chain in general is changing to meet the needs of consumers that want things ‘next day’, there are a lot of positive underlying forces at work that make the next five years or so look very good indeed

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machines at our Milton Keynes (MK) facility, including upgrading a sophisticated line on which we can punch, form and paint steel. We have also continued to invest in our 3D design tool, Design 360, and successfully introduced SAP across the MK facility. Looking ahead, we have plans to upgrade our paint plants and rolling mills in Milton Keynes, will be spending more on upgrading our IT infrastructure both in the UK and in Europe, and we are even now doing feasibility studies in regards to the future use of robotic welding solutions and other ways to automate some of our material handling processes.� Automation is very much a recurring theme when speaking about Whittan Group’s outlook for the coming years, and with good reason. When it comes to new product development, much of it is being driven by its customers looking increasingly towards the use of shuttles and cranes in storage, rather than the more traditional driver racking. Meanwhile, the benefits of adopting automated solutions are

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Whittan Group

becoming clearer for both Whittan Group and its customers. “For ourselves, as a manufacturing entity, automation helps to address two key issues,” Jonathan states. “The first is the availability, or lack thereof, of skilled labour – which the ability to automate some aspects of our operations can address – and the second revolves around consistency and quality. When it comes to welding, in particular, if one can ensure that the machine is set up properly and that material is fed into it in a controlled manner, then the result can be a faster, more consistent, high quality weld. “For our customers, meanwhile, the challenges are fairly similar. From a labour perspective, automation has the ability to answer the question that more and more companies have about how they will be able to recruit people to operate things like forklift trucks in the future. It is the potential efficiency gains, however, that I believe you will find will be the bigger draw for customers and will be a big motivating factor in their changing of the ways they store goods.” With a General Election due to be held before the end of the year, much about

2020 still hung in the balance at the time of our conversation with Jonathan. Nevertheless, with multi-million-pound contracts in place with some of the major players in the worlds of fast fashion and ecommerce, and with a service and maintenance offering (one which best supports those customers with large estates of warehouses or ‘back-of-store’ storage) that is also starting to pick up strong traction, there is much to both he and the wider Whittan Group to be optimistic about. “I have every confidence that the UK market will remain a good one to operate in, and I think there are parts of Europe that will grow also, which is why we plan to expand our technical support base on the continent in the near future,” Jonathan adds. “Due to the way the supply chain in general is changing to meet the needs of consumers that want things ‘next day’, there are a lot of positive underlying forces at work that make the next five years or so look very good indeed. For us, it will be about procuring the investment needed to execute our own ambitious growth plans, and based on past evidence we definitely have the credibility to achieve this.”

Whittan Group Products: Steel storage products www.whittan.com www.manufacturing-today-europe.com l 35


Sticking to

sustainability Having completed a significant investment in a new facility in Germany, Beardow Adams continues to perform well worldwide with its high-quality adhesives

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019 has been a year of important events for one of the world’s top adhesives manufacturers – Beardow Adams. In the 12 months since we last had the pleasure to report on the business’ development, it has released new products in line with emerging market requirements, continued to grow in multiple sectors, and completed crucial investments in its facilities. “One of the most noteworthy highlights of the year was the opening of the company’s first-ever purpose-built facility in Frankfurt,” begins CEO, Adrian Day. “It is one of the largest production lines for hot melt adhesives in mainland Europe and is located alongside our

existing site for water-based labelling adhesives. The unit spans 6000 square metres and comprises of three 2000 square metre halls that are linked together for optimum workflow. Once it has been operational for at least six months, our ambition is to have it accredited to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standard for food hygiene.” The decision to build a new facility, thus creating extra capacity, in Europe was a result of the Brexit referendum in 2016. Beardow Adams’ original idea was to get the facility going in November this year when the UK was expected to have already left the EU. The extension of the deadline, however, took away


Beardow Adams

Above: Bob Adams opens the multi-million Euro Frankfurt production plant to better serve mainland Europe

the pressure from the company to hasten its production activities, allowing it instead to experiment with new manufacturing techniques. “As the site is an extension to our UK operation, we could afford to slow down a little and play around with new processes. For example, we are doing a lot of testing around the coatings that we apply to the products and this will continue until the end of the year. Early in 2020, we will be ready to turn the light on and go into full-flow production,” Adrian clarifies. “The layout of the Frankfurt factory is unlike anything we have in either the UK or the US, simply because the facility was purpose-built

for us. In fact, we have drawn inspiration from its design to drive some improvements to our unit in Charlotte, North Carolina where we have reconfigured some of our equipment to make ourselves more efficient and increase productivity,” he continues. It is no surprise that Beardow Adams has aimed to introduce improvements to its establishment in America, given the strategic importance of the US market for the company. Adrian explains: “Because some of the technologies that we use in America have already been superseded in Europe, say, five years ago, in a way, we are trying to encourage the market to move to newer technologies,

as we have experience of working with these. We can see that this approach is starting to bring the desired results, with a lot of our US customers being quite open to change, and we are expecting to have a 50 per cent increase in sales across the country next year.” Back on home soil, Beardow Adams has enjoyed promising growth with its woodworking products across the UK and Europe. Towards the end of 2018, the company also launched three new packaging adhesives as part of its BAMFutura range. “Woodworking and packaging are the two areas where we are seeing an uptake in demand for our products,” Adrian says. “On the packaging side,

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

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the adhesives we introduced have diverse properties, one of them being highly resistant to both very low and very high temperatures, and another working very well with specialist boards on surfaces that are difficult to bond. “Many of our customers tend to now insist on using recycled boards, which makes bonding harder. There is actually a general trend where people want to operate in an environmentally-

friendlier way and replace one technology with another, driven by green considerations,” he points out. “Therefore, we have developed a couple of adhesives, which aim to tackle some persistent issues. For instance, we created a pallet stabilisation product to stick boxes onto pallets and thus reduce the amount of plastic required to wrap these boxes. Similarly, we have also found a new solution to wash off the label


Beardow Adams

of glass bottles, in response to new regulations that are being established in Sweden and Germany next year.” In Adrian’s opinion, there are four main categories that customers are keen to fall into when pursuing a green solution for their products. “Sometimes, people do not necessarily have a clear idea of what they are looking for, but they know they want something. Usually, they are asking for a product that is either recyclable, biodegradable, compostable, or bio-based. Each of these approaches contains its own challenges. Starting with recyclability, it is not easy to go for one solution that will work equally as good everywhere, because different countries have different levels of recycling infrastructure installed. This is why we need to treat each customer individually and take into account the specifications of their environment before developing a customised adhesive that allows the product it goes into to be recycled. “The biodegradable and compostable adhesives are quite similar to one another, but the issue with them is to determine after what period of time you want them to start to biodegrade,” Adrian goes on. “We have looked at the materials available to

produce biodegradable solutions and at this point in time, there are companies that offer biodegradable solutions, but they seem very unstable and not fully functional. We pride ourselves on the quality of our products and because of that, we have chosen to continue to develop with raw materials as they become available for these types of glues, but not go to market just yet, because we do not think they represent the quality of an adhesive a customer would want nor the functionality their adhesive requirements need. Instead, we are focusing on the fourth type of requirement clients have, namely, that we produce bio-based adhesives. This means that we are buying our components from sustainable sources. We feel this is the right direction to go in, because there is a full cycle of buying sustainable materials, putting them into an adhesive and then into a product, and finally using it as a raw material again at the end of its life.” Due to the fact that each project Beardow Adams undertakes is heavily customer - and geographically - specific, the company has to demonstrate a very high degree of versatility in satisfying individual requirements. As Adrian notes, however, this is exactly where the

manufacturer’s strength lies. “We have a very quick turnaround in our technical development and it really helps that we operate in such a wide range of sectors, because we can apply our knowledge from one industry to another and draw inspiration from past projects.” While its sustainability efforts will remain a priority for the company in 2020, Beardow Adams is also conscious that it needs to fill the capacity of its German site, which will be another focus for the business in the coming 12 months. “From a sales perspective, we are seeing some growth in certain Asian markets, so another target of ours is to develop this further. Last but not least, thanks to the success we are having with our woodworking materials, we are now starting to look at producing in Eastern Europe, where we are expecting to attract a lot of interest from prospective customers,” Adrian concludes.

Beardow Adams Products: Adhesives www.beardowadams.com www.manufacturing-today-europe.com l 39


Blasting

success

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EPC-UK

EPC–UK has the extraordinary capability to develop a tailored solution for each of its clients, whilst keeping safety as a top priority in its operations

S

erving a diverse customer base of businesses operating in mining, cement, aggregates, civil engineering and defence, EPC–UK is a whollyowned subsidiary of the EPC Groupe. The latter company was founded in 1893 in Paris and for over 125 years, has enjoyed a reputation for effective solutions, technological innovation and high-quality customer service. Less than 15 years after it was launched – in 1905 – the group began operations in the UK to gradually grow into one of the country’s most trusted and respected suppliers of explosives for

commercial and military applications. Today, the business runs two sites, in Derbyshire and Essex, ideally located for road and logistics channels. Its facilities – including fully-bonded warehousing and a licenced explosives dock – are rigorously controlled to enable handling of Class 1 explosives, Section 5 goods and protectively marked material. On multiple occasions during our conversation with the Managing Director of EPC–UK, Ben Williams, he reiterated that the company’s overarching ambition is to be seen more as a service provider rather than simply as a manufacturer. He singled out EPC–UK’s ability to listen to its customers and create innovative and flexible solutions that are driven by the needs of every individual client. “It is our services behind the products that customers place value on. We are being highly valued for our engineering competences and the full ‘Rock-on-Ground’ service, which is a single-source solution that is applied within the aggregates sector. At the hear t of this service, we use our bulk emulsion solution, otherwise known as Ammonium Nitrate

Blasting Intermediate (ANIB). It is the primary raw material in our Blendex range of site-mixed bulk explosives and is used not only by our Rock on Ground teams, but also by our direct supply customers.” In March 2019, EPC–UK officially opened its new bulk emulsion facility at the company’s Rough Close Works site in Derbyshire. Designed to deliver the necessary infrastructure required to enhance the safety of the emulsion manufacturing process, the state-of-the-ar t site is the result of EPC–UK’s largest investment in the last 25 years. The new facility has been created by adapting existing buildings to enable the company to house the process equipment and raw material storage vessels. Two new structures accommodate an ammonium nitrate silo, used at the beginning of the process, and a final product silo at the other. From a design perspective, significant attention has been paid to the facility’s ability to heighten safety with the incorporation of new control system displays, the variety of access and egress

Left: A trained operative preparing to fire off a charge and above: With over 100 years of experience, EPC-UK is an essential ‘one stop’ for drilling and blasting services

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Below: EPC Metrics offers a comprehensive service for the remote assessment of vibration and air over-pressure

‘‘

Our long-term vision is to remain the leading provider for explosive services and become a service entity where manufacturing complements the service and not the other way around

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Below: Drone surveying - The drone provides a virtual reality 3D image which is rotational, enabling advanced viewing from any angle

improvements and the colouring and labelling of process pipework. “Safety is our number one priority and we pride ourselves on our ability to play a leading par t in helping to ensure safe working environments,” Ben discusses. “Some telling examples of our commitment to maintaining

safety as a fundamental cultural value of the company, include the fact that we have trained all of our commercial drivers to The Institute of Advanced Motoring standard in order to give them additional road safety awareness, as well as having 30 trained individuals as Mental Health First Aiders.


EPC-UK Below: EPC-UK’s BEP building with the workforce and bottom: One of EPC-UK’s trained operatives

“We have been developing ourselves as the complete service company for commercial explosives, having also grown a capability to provide a full in-house logistics solution for all of our manufacturing businesses. We have identified the need to utilise technological innovations to complement our services,” Ben continues. “For example, we now have a fully-integrated digital offering for our full-service customers. This includes our own proprietary software solution – Exper tir – a blasting software platform developed with the use of photogrammetry and drone surveying. We are aware that digitalisation should be an ongoing process, with technology moving fast, so our aspiration is to be leading the implementation of digital services using AR and VR with a complementary Digi-Cal service within the next five years.” EPC–UK has not spared its resources with regards to new product development, either. For the company to guarantee the consistency in the quality of its items, it has set up its own testing facilities with laboratories including X-ray technology for

checking product compositions. “We follow very strict testing regimes on our products. It is a very special manufacturing process that we have in place and, as such, we must be rigorous in this regard. “When I assess our future prospects, I can see significant potential for growth in all sectors in which we operate,” he concludes. “We want to make some of our processes even more sustainable and to employ additional best practice techniques. Our longterm vision is to remain the leading provider

for explosive services and become a service entity where manufacturing complements the service and not the other way around.”

EPC-UK Services: Commercial explosives, drilling, and blasting services www.epc-groupe.co.uk www.manufacturing-today-europe.com l 43


Below: London Bridge. Designplan provided the lighting for the platforms and concourse areas

Lighting the

way

The luminaires designed and manufactured by Designplan Lighting are created with the primary mission of providing its customers with peace of mind, a feeling that is gained by knowing that its products can withstand whatever is thrown at them

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ack in 1963, what kick-started the life of luminaires manufacturer Designplan Lighting (Designplan) was the idea for what was then a revolutionary product, namely an extra strong light fitting engineered to withstand the most severe environmental conditions, and perfect for transport, social housing and custodial settings. Over five decades later, the company continues to raise the bar in design and innovation, pushing forward the latest techniques and materials as it sets industry standards for robust, weather and vandal resistant products. The result is a business that employs more than 140 people, and has sales in over 20 countries.

Designplan’s luminaires incorporate metal bodies and specially designed diffusers that can resist up to 250 joules of energy, while high ingress protection and corrosion resistant paint are other key components. Meanwhile, incorporating removable gear trays ensures easy to maintain luminaires, whilst enabling cost-effective technology upgrades. “I believe that, were you to ask any of our customers for the word that best describes Designplan, the first response you would be likely to get is ‘robust’,” states Managing Director David Barnes. “As a business, we have made our name on the back of producing tough, reliable, dependable products, but today the term ‘robust’ refers not only to these


Designplan Lighting Below: The lighting at HMP Berwyn is 100 per cent LED. Some applications incorporate sensors to control the amount of artificial lighting to maximise the benefits of natural light

‘‘

Designplan’s future very much rests on further enhancing our service, continuing to push through Lean thinking and techniques, keeping our costs down, and developing new products

but to Designplan as a whole, whether that relates to our robust manufacturing processes, our supply chain or any of the other qualities or characteristics that our customers have come to value. These include the fact that they can rely upon us to be there for them should anything go wrong, and that we have always stuck to our roots, making products for the sectors that we thrive in, albeit products that we continue to develop for the modern world.” The sectors in which the company plies its trade are transport (where successfully completed projects include London Bridge Station, Edinburgh Gateway and Copenhagen Metro), custodial (HMP Berwyn and Aylesbury

Police Station), social housing (Haynes Park Court, Romford, and MHS Homes, Rochester), secure healthcare (Broadmoor Hospital), and urban (Hudson House car park, Epsom, Newport Underpass, Melbourne etc.). “Where Designplan really excels is in situations where there is some form of demanding requirement of the application/product,” David explains. “In the case of the transport sector, this can mean manufacturing products with high impact and ingress protection ratings – while remaining aesthetically pleasing – while in the custodial sector it can mean delivering market leading vandal resistance in addition to anti-ligature properties, where required,” he continues. “What links our work in each sector, however, is the simple fact that what we are producing are strong, dependable products that normally perform above regular luminary standards and requirements.”

The engine behind Designplan’s success is the company’s purpose-built, end-to-end manufacturing facility in Sutton, Surrey. “Our building is what we call a full manufacturing facility, where metal enters at one end and finished products leave at the other having been exposed to full safety testing that often goes above and beyond respective British, European and global standards,” David says. “Inside, we have complete punch pressing, folding, machining, welding, powder coating and assembly capabilities, as well as our own tool room, a fully-equipped R&D laboratory, a collaborative robot, and even an autonomous vehicle – called Ralph – that trundles up and down all day long! “The entire building itself has been designed to be energy efficient. We possess rainwater harvesting equipment, have solar panels installed across the roof, a heat wall which

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Below and opposite: Designplan’s purpose-built, end-to-end manufacturing facility in Sutton, Surrey

helps us to suck in hot air into the factory, and LED lighting throughout. Our machinery, much like our products, has been chosen to be as energy efficient as possible, and this is an ethos that extends throughout Designplan, right down to our attitude towards physical waste, which we are constantly striving to reduce, and recycling all of our metal scrap.” Efficiency and continuous improvement are themes dear to the heart of David, who has worked with and implemented Lean manufacturing techniques and practices since the early 1990s. “For me, Lean is not only about doing more with less resource, but also about eliminating the waste that the customer does not value. By that I mean things like making products right first time, which is why ensuring the utmost standards of quality are maintained at all times is of huge importance to us at Designplan,” he details. “We see Lean endeavours such as that mentioned as being a major win for not only ourselves, but also our people and of course our customers. By working this way, we can produce products more efficiently, reduce costs, make the jobs of our employees that little easier, and cut lead times. “Lean thinking has also helped us better manage our inventory as well and improve the speed at which we move materials and products through our factory. Over the years, we have more than halved the travel time of our products, which has in turn halved the

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Designplan Lighting

amount of space required for inventory. In this space, we have installed the previously mentioned laboratory, machining and other functions that allow us to provide greater levels of service and added value to our customers.” Looking ahead to 2020, David expects that the company will continue to experience growth, albeit in the short-term this will likely come from international markets, particularly Germany and Australia. He is keen to stress, however, that longer term the UK will remain a great place to do business, with numerous infrastructure projects on the horizon that Designplan intends to be a part of. “Another big area of focus for us in 2020 will be the technical offers we possess as a

business,” David adds. “One area revolves around connectivity and technology such as the Internet of Things, helping our customers to be able to connect our products together. A second area involves retrofit gear trays. While the most credible of manufacturers are really only working to produce LED lighting today, there is still a huge stock of florescent products out in the market that stand ready to be upgraded. Designplan makes a full range of retrofit gear trays for our products, and we are very excited to be able to bring this service to our customers in order to deliver real energy and cost savings. “Meanwhile, on a strategic level, Designplan’s future very much rests on further enhancing

our service, continuing to push through Lean thinking and techniques, keeping our costs down, and developing new products. In the not-too-distant future, you will see several new products unveiled in the transport and custodial markets, for example, each with some really impressive new features that our customers have been asking for, so watch this space!”

Designplan Lighting Product: Robust luminaires www.designplan.co.uk www.manufacturing-today-europe.com l 47


Where visions meet

solutions

Major investments in new facilities in Europe and the US have marked the year of KP Components’ 50th anniversary

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he summer of 2019 was a hot one for Denmark-based manufacturer of high-precision and complex parts – KP Components. Characterised by a number of significant infrastructure developments and occasions for celebration, the months of June, July, and August were a time of milestones that laid the groundwork for even more impressive growth in the coming years. To start with, midway through the year, KP Components celebrated its 50th anniversary. Either side of the jubilee, the company opened a new production hall in Sweden and a new warehouse in Denmark, and then announced its plans to build a second plant for its US operations.

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“We have almost doubled our production space in Sweden with the inauguration of the new factory in June. Since then, we have installed four new CNC machines, producing parts primarily for the mobile hydraulics and transportation segments,” explains CEO, Søren Husted. “In Denmark, we took the decision to open a new dedicated warehouse, in order to create a better and more optimised logistics setup, as we have a lot of customers who depend on us to carry part of the inventory in their supply chain. It is a relatively high number of goods that we store and the automated system we have introduced to the warehouse is helping us to be a lot more efficient.” The completion of the warehouse in June coincided perfectly with KP Components’

intention to hold a big party for its employees and acknowledge its half-a-century anniversary in a fitting manner. Therefore, the warehouse provided the venue for the internal celebrations, while the manufacturer also organised several other events for its external partners – customers and suppliers alike – inviting them to join in the festivities. “Shortly after, in August, we also shared our plans to open a new 50,000 square feet building in Easley, South Carolina, to meet the increasing demand from the US,” Søren continues. “This will be a $16 million investment that will create nearly 50 new jobs and will see us install several milling machines to serve the projects that we already have in the pipeline. Crucially, the land


KP Components that we have bought will allow us to expand the new plant further, if necessary, to a size of 100,000 square feet. This way, we can futureproof our activities in America and have the confidence that we will be able to react in a timely fashion, if the requirements for our services there grow dramatically.” There has, indeed, been some strong growth from Sweden, Denmark, and the US in recent times. KP Components has continued to win new customers and increase its market share, which has also informed the investments in the new facilities. Nowhere has this been more evident than in Sweden, where the company has registered excellent results for a third year running since its acquisition of Trestads Precisionmekanik (TPM) in 2016. “It has been an exciting few months, during which we also renamed TPM to KP Components, so that we could establish the KP brand in Sweden, as well,” Søren says. “We supply various market sectors, such as hydraulics, transportation, marine, and energy, but out of these, the former two are the ones that have, both historically and in the present day, demonstrated the greatest demand for our products. “We follow a very focused strategy where we aim to be the best in producing complex parts at a reasonable volume. It is key for us that we have a fairly high quantity of components to make, because this justifies the setting up of automated production. More importantly, we always stress our capabilities in creating very complex and high-precision parts. As a turnkey supplier, we are a specialist in different types of machining, honing, grinding and thermal deburring. Our aim is to deliver our products directly to the customer’s assembly line, thus fulfilling our onestop concept.” Serving some of the largest and best-known global OEMs, KP Components has been awarded the contract for multiple projects in Sweden and Denmark over the past 12 months. Notably, some of these include OEMs moving away from one supplier and going to KP Components, instead, recognising the better quality the Danish manufacturer can offer. A lot of the large OEMs in question also have locations in the US and their common approach is to seek suppliers that have an operation in the country, as well. Consequently, the fact that KP Components has opened a plant in America, gives the company a strong advantage in the US market and determines its successful exploits. Søren adds: “By definition, there is a very big demand for hydraulic components in the US.

independent of these concerns, because our base in America has everything us and our customers need, which means that the OEMs can be assured that there will be no disruptions in their supply chain.” He wraps up by divulging the plans KP Components has for the foreseeable future: “First and foremost, our goal is to pursue additional growth in the US. Together with this, we will carry on bidding for new projects and, hopefully, winning them, which will enable us to gain more market share. It is hard to predict where the company will be in five years’ time, but I do not see any reason why we should not stay on an upward trajectory, given the abundance of opportunities available in the global marketplace.”

KP Components Another reason why we are in a very good position there, at the moment, is because we are not affected by the uncertainties caused by the China-US trade war. We can operate

Products: High-precision metal parts www.kp-components.com

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Confident

air

Swedish manufacturer of air handling units IV Produkt celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019 in the best possible way – by achieving a turnover of SEK 1bn for the first time in its history

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hen it became clear that IV Produkt had successfully taken its turnover over the SEK1bn (£81m) line, it surely must have felt as a wink from fate that the figure was reached in time for the air handling unit manufacturer’s 50th anniversary. It has indeed been a year of festivities at IV Produkt, which culminated with a big party in Växjö – in the hockey arena of the company’s home city, with the manufacturer inviting over 650 employees, partners, and key suppliers to share the special moment. “We worked on meeting this target for a long time and we are immensely gratified by the end result,” Magnus Lind, SVP Sales & Marketing, proudly begins. “We have continued to perform well within all the markets where we have established a presence, enjoying a nearly 30 per cent year-on-year growth on our markets outside Sweden. What makes me particularly happy, is that we do well in all countries. Our brand and products are as attractive to one area as they are to any other, which demonstrates their strength and appeal to a wide customer base.”

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When we previously talked to Magnus at the very beginning of 2019, he outlined some of the dominating trends in market preferences. Now, almost a year on, he maintains that these have had an even stronger impact on businesses in the air handling sector, mainly in regards to product development. “The demand for air handling units with integrated cooling or integrated reversible heat pumps continues to grow. The same

can be said about the increasing popularity of space-saving solutions. Another important trend is that units tend to get bigger in size, due to the need for more efficient ventilation systems. Therefore, we have started looking at different ways of transporting and delivering our products, and then installing them on-site at our clients’ premises.” In order to stay in line with its customers’ requirements, IV Produkt has launched the


IV Produkt case in the next few years,” Magnus remarks, before bringing the conversation to an end in an upbeat fashion. “Looking ahead, by 2026, we should absolutely be one of the major players in Europe when it comes to air handling units – be it from technology, sales, or volume point of view. We are getting bigger and bigger on the continent and with the potential up for grabs, exciting times look to be in store for us.”

Envistar Top with ThermoCooler HP, which is a product that acknowledges all of the technological developments the market wants to see in an air handling unit. “Both the EcoCooler cooling unit and the reversible heat pump ThermoCooler HP are available as options for this product,” Magnus explains. “What is more, it saves up to 70 per cent of floor space, compared to a traditional installation, because we have put the duct connection on the top of the unit and not on each of its sides. This makes Envistar Top the most economic and energy-efficient solution for the available floor space. As mentioned earlier, it is necessary to make it easy to transport a unit into a building and Envistar Top, in particular, has been designed in a way that allows it to pass through narrow passages. “It is fair to say that the product has been an immediate success, which, perhaps, comes down to the fact that it combines two technologies that have been released separately before, but which can now be integrated into the same item. We are really pleased with the early uptake of the Envistar Top with ThermoCooler HP, it having started selling virtually from day one,” Magnus adds. Given the incessant flow of orders IV Produkt has to handle, the company has purchased several new pieces of equipment to speed up its operations, including a frame cutting machine and a pipe bending machine. Moreover, it conducted a study of its manufacturing process throughout the factory, whose findings have since resulted in a reduction of idle time and an increase of efficiency by around six per cent. It appears, though, that largest investment IV Produkt is planning to make, is still in the pipeline. Magnus reveals that the company is actively considering an extension to its manufacturing facility, with the blueprints already in place. “We still do not know exactly

when we will push the button, but we are certainly growing our footprint by another 6000 square metres. Having reached SEK1bn, it made sense to set ourselves a new target, and we now aspire to double production volumes by 2026,” he declares. “At the moment, there is a steady growth in the markets where we operate and we are fairly confident that this will remain to be the

IV Produkt Products: Air handling units www.ivprodukt.com

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In-house

excellence

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Blackrow Group Having gathered vast experience in a host of industries, Blackrow Engineering has grown into a seasoned and versatile engineering services provider, whose one-stop shop proposition is regularly being sought-after by household global brands

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arely does an engineering company have the capacity to do “nigh on everything,” as Blackrow Engineering’s Group Head of Project Management, Eifion Evans, puts it. The Grimsby-based business – established exactly 39 years ago – is a remarkable exception, its capabilities ranging from the design, engineering, manufacture, and installation from say 50p-wor th products to the delivery of large-scale projects valued at millions of pounds. “It is quite unusual for a company to be able to offer one-stop shop solutions for every industry under one roof,” Eifion begins. “Whether that is mechanical or electrical engineering, fabrication and installation services, laser cutting, or engineering project management, we can respond to any sor t of customer requirement. For example, this year, we were involved in a major £7.5m scheme for a brand-new factory in Peterborough where we had to demonstrate our full skillset, deploying circa 100 people on-site at the peak of the project.” Owing to the fact that Blackrow supplies more or less every sector you can think of – including food and FMCG, pharmaceuticals, petrochemical, waste-to-energy, renewables, and power generation and utilities – the company has had the unique oppor tunity to pick up the best practices in each of these areas. As a result, it has grown unrivalled

knowledge and exper tise that enable it to routinely execute even par ticularly complicated projects. “The food industry and the wasteto-energy sector are two areas that are showing visible signs of growth and an increased demand,” comments Eifion. “Our experience in the former allows us to produce equipment for crisps and snacks, chilled foods, meat and fish, as well as bread production lines, and we have served some of the largest blue-chip companies in the world. Through our capabilities, we can provide high-quality design, manufacture, installation, and maintenance of a range of food handling systems, conveyor systems, gantries, mezzanines, and platforms. “We often take par t in big waste-to-energy projects, too, and have already gained years of experience in this emerging sector,” Eifion continues. “In this highly-specialist field, our customers are usually looking for turnkey solutions, with our services including heavy fabrication, electrical engineering, pipework, manufacture and assembly, and installation and commissioning.” Another sector, which Blackrow has identified as one where considerable growth can be pursued and achieved, is defence. As in many other industries, the company is already ahead of the game, thanks to its previous experience in the area. “After Brexit, we expect a lot of inward investments to

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be made in the UK, especially in the defence sector. There will be a lot of new fabrication, manufacturing and repairs works that will have to be done and as our team also does some work for third-party suppliers, we feel we can intensify our efforts in this respect, too,” Eifion reasons. For it to nurture its capabilities and prepare to accommodate the growth in the aforementioned sectors, Blackrow recently completed a cycle of investments that saw the organisation spend nearly £1 million. “We invest in the business all the time, but the latest series of developments has been particularly noteworthy, because we tripled the size of our machine shop and also our electrical department,” Eifion reveals. “Among other things, we purchased a new 4000m/220-tonne Amada press brake for our sheet metal department, also bringing in a new XYZ milling machine, capstan lathe, five-metre lathe, a 12in stroke slotting machine, a horizontal borer, and a 75-tonne hydraulic press. As we strive to operate in an environmentally-friendly way, we have also spent £90,000 on a NitroCube that will allow us to produce nitrogen from the air circulating in the workshop.” Historically, much of Blackrow’s growth has been generated through word of mouth, as the company has gained an enviable reputation across the business world for its in-house faculty and site installation works, creating an unparalleled breadth of products and skills. As the times are changing, however,

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Blackrow Group

the organisation has now decided to design an extensive marketing strategy. Advancing it, Blackrow has formed a dedicated sales and marketing team, which spends a lot of time and effort utilising social media and applying efficient digital marketing principles to engage with existing and prospective customers alike. Eifion adds: “We have captured insightful data from monitoring the visits to our website, as well as from our activity on social media, and we now have a better understanding of where the interest is coming from and what our audience relates to. It has also become a common practice at Blackrow to regularly go to industry exhibitions and be more proactive in seeing our clients and establishing stronger relationships with them. As a whole, we are very pleased with the sales and marketing team’s input to our growing turnover.” There has indeed been an impressive surge in the company’s annual figures. In 2018, Blackrow registered a turnover of £18 million,

while for 2019, the expectations are that this will soar to £24 million. Speaking of the company’s future objectives, Eifion imparts that the aim for the next couple of years is to at least maintain the same pace. “We want to grow in a controlled manner and make sure that we have got the necessary internal structure and supporting services in place to manage this growth. This includes focusing on our facilities and extending our programme of ongoing investment. We want to ensure that we have the latest technology, in order to be as cost effective as possible. “Last but not least, we are looking to employ more people for the branches we have set up lately – in Chichester, Cambridgeshire, and Scotland – and work more intensively with our apprentices. By developing their skills, we will guarantee that we can rely on a strong workforce of skilled engineers in the years to come,” he concludes.

Blackrow Group Services: Mechanical and electrical engineering, design, fabrication, sheet metal, laser cutting, installation, project management, CDM www.blackrow.co.uk www.manufacturing-today-europe.com l 55


Below: Kia’s state-of-the-art factory at Port Qasim, Karachi, Pakistan

A different beat to

Pakistan

Kia Lucky Motors has just commenced full production of its first two models in Pakistan, with the manufacturer aiming to raise the benchmark in the country by making top-class vehicles, which reflect international standards

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Kia Lucky Motors

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or many years, it was incredibly difficult to enter the Pakistani automotive market as it was being dominated by three Japanese car manufacturing giants – Suzuki, Toyota, and Honda. With Pakistan one of the emerging economies with the lowest ratios of cars per 1000 people, it was time for the country’s government to act. The introduction of the Auto Policy 2016-21 meant to attract new automakers by allowing them to import localised parts at 25 per cent duty for a fiveyear period, thus lowering the entry barrier to the market. Having sensed the opportunity stemming from the new policy, one of Pakistan’s largest conglomerates – the Yunus Brothers Group (YBG) – decided to diversify into the automotive industry, and set up a

partnership with Kia Motors to form Kia Lucky Motors in 2017. Without wasting any precious time, the new organisation set out to build an advanced manufacturing plant, which was completed in just 18 months. “We have placed really strong emphasis on quality and have installed pieces of equipment that will enable us to produce exceptional cars and take the entire Pakistani automotive market to a whole new level,” enthuses Asif Rizvi, CEO of Kia Lucky Motors. “We became the first car manufacturer in the country to introduce a robotic painting line and a full vehicle coordinate-measuring machine (CMM) for highly advanced measuring right from the start of our operations. If these features have been implemented elsewhere, this happened at a much later stage of the

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Below: The paint shop at the new factory

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Above: Factory staff members and right: Asif Rizvi, CEO of Kia Lucky Motors

There is a massive potential for the automotive market in the country to grow significantly within the next decade and when this happens, we will be ready to capitalise on the boom

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development of other manufacturers’ plants. What is more, both the paint shop and the CMM, together with our new assembly shop, have been designed and installed by some of the premium suppliers in these areas, which once again highlights our striving for achieving the highest quality in our work.” To Asif, the quality in question comes at a certain price, hence Kia Lucky Motors is not sparing any expenses in building a plant with the finest machinery. “The investment is definitely worth it, because there is a hunger among the people of Pakistan for something

new that maintains a consistently high standard. Over the years, consumers have been quite limited in their choice, having just one or two brands to pick from, but we are now aiming to change that and provide them with more options that satisfy their needs,” he discusses. Quick to put its ideas in practice, Kia Lucky Motors has launched two models in the


Kia Lucky Motors space of just three months. “In August 2019, we introduced the Kia Sportage, with the Kia Picanto coming out shortly after, in the second half of October. The former is a SUV and the Picanto – a hatchback,” Asif explains. “The Sportage SUV has a 2000cc engine and targets the upper end of the market, while the Picanto features a 1000cc engine and is more of an entry-level vehicle. In any case, both products have been designed to reflect one of Kia’s best-known slogans, ‘A different beat’,” he continues. “We want to be seen as a brand that has something unique to offer. One example of this would be our focus on styling. We have two of the best auto designers in the world working for us – Peter Schreyer and Luc Donckerwolke – whose immense experience involves designing models for major names such as Audi, Lamborghini, and Bentley, previously in their careers. In addition to this, we pride ourselves on being different with regards to offering an excellent value for money and an unheard-of four-year warranty or 100,000 kilometres.” Going into a bit more detail on the special features incorporated particularly in the Sportage model, Asif points out that it is Pakistan’s first All-Wheel-Drive among the vehicles manufactured in the country. He adds: “The car also has a panoramic sunroof, as well as a host of smart features, a lot of which will be another first for Pakistani consumers. One of these features is the Advanced Traction Cornering Control (ATCC) which monitors and analyses road conditions, making sure the right amount of torque is focused on the wheel with the most grip to counteract over or understeer. Another such innovation is the hill-start assist control (HAC), which was introduced to help the drivers navigate some of the hilly areas of the country. In fact, we have a test track in our facility that mimics all the possible road conditions and we drive each vehicle on it, in order to gauge how it would react in real conditions, paying heed to the specific landscape of Pakistan.” Earlier in the conversation, Asif mentioned one of the taglines under which Kia operates – ‘A different beat’. Now he introduces us to another of the brand’s mottos to illustrate its approach to organising itself internally and attracting young people with fresh ideas to drive it forward. “We are proud to follow the ‘Be young at heart’ slogan, because we are very keen to project ourselves as a youthful and vibrant organisation that also employs lots of young people who contribute new ideas and bring energy and extra motivation to the team,” Asif comments.

“Normally, the younger factory staff members come with a certificate of vocational education, but we then subject them to our own training programme to develop their skills further,” he goes on. “As part of this training, we have sent some of them overseas to other Kia plants, such as the ones in South Korea, Vietnam, and Slovakia, where they can pick up key abilities, which they then subsequently apply in their work for us. It also helps that we have built a very flat company structure and we do not have layer upon layer of people, which makes communication, coordination, and collaboration a lot easier, so the youngsters’ voice can certainly be heard across the business. The good blend of experienced professionals and fresh graduates enables us to create a new Kia culture, which is all-important for our future aspirations.” The strong technical capabilities of Kia Lucky Motors’ workforce are guaranteed

to come in handy, as the manufacturer will be looking to employ its Power to Surprise (another of Kia’s taglines) when it launches even more vehicles for its Pakistani customers in the near future. “In short, we would like to provide something for everyone,” Asif remarks. “Our plan is to offer the people of Pakistan vehicles of every range, from entry level to mid-range and high-spec. There is a massive potential for the automotive market in the country to grow significantly within the next decade and when this happens, we will be ready to capitalise on the boom,” he concludes optimistically.

Kia Lucky Motors Products: Automobiles www.kia.com/pk/main.html www.manufacturing-today-europe.com l 59


Out in the

light

Carried by entrepreneurial spirit, Aurora Lighting has been quick to embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) in lighting concept through its highly successful and ever-developing AOne control system

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ndependent research has concluded that Aurora Lighting is now the most recognised lighting brand in the UK. Quite a feat, one shall agree, for a company that was started by a handful of enthusiasts only 20 years ago. Grown in the best traditions of entrepreneurship, the privately-owned business has proven agile enough to adapt to the seismic changes that have taken place across the lighting industry in the first decade of the 21st century. “By 2008-2009, it became obvious that LED was going to be the light source of choice, which caught a lot of the companies in the field by surprise, because, up to that point, their factories were all set up for the production of traditional halogen lighting,” begins Aurora’s Director of Product Development, Darren Casey. “Our business, too, star ted as a halogen specialist and we had our own tough decisions to make, but because we were smaller, privately-owned, and very entrepreneurial, we were able to pivot to become an LED lighting manufacturer relatively quickly.” One aspect that has not changed since the halogen days, as Darren calls the early years of Aurora’s history, is the product types that

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capture the customer’s attention most. “We have built our business on the development of our fire-rated downlights category. These products are now a lot more advanced from a technological point of view, having originally been a rather simple can with an MR16 or GU10 lamp inside, and they remain our most popular line. Presently, our fire-rated downlights take the form of an integrated LED system with built-in fire protection and they are incredibly sought-after in the UK, due to the fire regulations we have in place here,” he discusses. In recent times, Aurora has also been among the pioneers of exploring and subsequently integrating IoT in its products. Its Trade division has developed the most comprehensive range of smart lighting both in the UK and in Europe, which features fire-rated downlights, lamps, switches, sockets, remote controls, and many others. Aurora’s Projects division has developed a smar t commercial solution that can be tailored to an organisation’s individual requirements, resulting in greater energy savings, optimised space utilisation and an enhanced work environment. In 2017, Aurora Trade launched its innovative AOne system, which


Aurora Lighting allows home and small business owners to take full control of their premises from anywhere in the world via their mobile phone. The solution works with Gooee, SmartThings and EchoPlus and can be voice controlled with the leading smart home platforms: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. It enables smart control of any of the over 1000 products in Aurora’s range, proving to be the most advanced technology of its kind. “It is a very lighting-centric system and while there are many solutions that enhance home automation, we believe that no one does lighting better than us, simply because we know what people want from lighting control,” Darren maintains. “AOne was designed to primarily serve the residential sector and was introduced specifically for our Trade division, but as we continue to grow the range, we would like to develop products for commercial environments, too. At the moment, we are not aware of any other company in the UK that has in-house development teams like we do. The tendency is for our competitors to buy ready-made systems from abroad, while we develop our own. Over the past two years we’ve had to integrate a new team of software, firmware and app developers with no prior experience of manufacturing into a traditional engineering team. We’ve therefore had to modify our working practices and processes to incorporate agile development methodology alongside our hardware development processes to allow the teams to work together effectively. “This will make it a bit more challenging for us in the market, but at the end of the day, we end up with products that our customers want and ones we are really pleased with, so we are not going to change our approach.” Ensuring that it has complete control over the manufacturing of its products has been a key consideration for Aurora. The company runs a total of three manufacturing facilities – one in the UK and two in China – each of which is playing a different function. “Generally speaking, we have a lot of our products tooled in China, which we then assemble to order in the UK for our Projects division,” Darren explains. “The factory in Dongguan is where most of the R&D is done and it has been set up for some small-scale production. In

contrast, the Ji’an site has been geared for high-volume production. Most impor tantly, we are able to manufacture the vast majority of the components required to make our products. This holds true par ticularly for the downlights category, where we can manufacture every single item in the range from end to end. To us, this is of utmost impor tance, because it allows us to oversee every step of the process and guarantee that the products that make up our core business are of the highest calibre. “Even on the rare occasions when we have to source components from external manufacturers, we apply extra vigilance to make sure that they meet our self-imposed quality standards. It falls upon our in-house QC team that travel around the country and inspect every single shipment that arrives from China, to confirm that only the best materials enter the factories,” Darren continues.

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Aurora Lighting

Manufacturing process

Dongguan, China

Liteplan We have worked alongside the Aurora team for many years, providing solutions to their emergency lighting needs. This is an exciting relationship for us as the team at Aurora collectively work at such a pace. Their product evolution is handled so efficiently and due to their experience in this regard, they are constantly innovating. As their emergency lighting specialists, Aurora know that Liteplan will find the most efficient solution to drive their products in an emergency situation. Ji’An City, China

The first 20 years of its existence bore witness to the active marketing and growth of the Aurora brand. Being on the threshold of its third decade, the company is willing to maintain its hard-earned position at the forefront of the lighting market by continuing to move in line with emerging technologies. Darren adds in conclusion: “IoT is going to be a major focus area for us in the coming years. In addition, we will direct some significant resources in expanding our Projects division fur ther. We supply international brands like McDonald’s through it, which is one par ticularly impor tant account for us that we are growing globally, so deepening our relationship with them is one of the top priorities on our agenda.”

Aurora Lighting Products: LED lighting and technology www.auroralighting.com

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Fläkt Woods

Excellence in

solutions

An unrivalled reputation for the quality and size of its range of certified ventilation and fire safety fans enables Fläkt Woods to stand out in the UK, European, Asian, Middle Eastern and North American markets

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hen someone first hears the name Fläkt Woods, it is likely that the first image that will surface in their mind will be that of an axial fan solution. Yes, Fläkt Woods is among the most prominent manufacturers of this type of product globally, par ticularly with regards to fire safety. The company competes successfully in the building ventilation, kitchen extraction, various industrial, and road tunnels and metros segments. “Of these four areas, the largest is supplying fans for the building services and HVAC market where we still export approximately 70 per cent of our products,” begins Steve Chesney, Managing Director of Fläkt Woods. “We also have our Tunnel & Metro division, which produces fans for

the global road and rail tunnel markets and leads the world in complex underground solutions. “Another field in which we are active is commercial kitchens. We put all types of kitchen extraction equipment in the kitchens of major restaurant chains. This is done predominantly across their UK distribution outlets, but we do work abroad, too with our established par tners,” Steve continues. “Last but not least, we design and develop bespoke products as OEMs. If you take a large chiller or generator, for example, we are the ones that manufacture

custom fans that go on that product where we offer high efficiency, low noise and guaranteed quality.” A number of competitive advantages separate Fläkt Woods from other businesses

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Colair Electronics Ltd Colair Electronics Ltd is a family run business and a key supplier of controllers to Flakt Woods for over 40 years. We have been involved in development with them in this period. We supply controllers of all types to many manufacturers and distributors and are happy to tailor them to individual needs and design bespoke projects for manufacture. This year’s project has been an EC fan management controller; this is a technically advanced EC controller, with BMS override, PIR input and Fan Fail power and boost indicator along with boost interface to a standard PIR and BMS system for a major fan manufacturer.

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in the fan manufacturing arena. Fläkt Woods has one of the broadest cer tified product ranges in the market, which features items that can exceed the highest efficiency requirements according to EU standards, makes it the preferred choice for customers. “Higher performance and higher efficiency

are the two chief requirements clients have at the moment,” he comments. “We listen to them carefully, in order to design fans that suit their needs and as we do so, we continually expand the range of efficiencies and pressures that we can offer.” Alongside the standardised products in


Fläkt Woods

its catalogue, Fläkt Woods is also capable of designing to order customised air movement solutions for the more specific requirements of its customers. Steve adds: “We also benefit from the utilisation of advanced technology that suppor ts our product configuration effor ts. We have the most advanced fan selector, which allows designers, consultants and contractors to configure products in accordance with their requirements remotely from our factory and we can then create a quotation for them based on their selection.” He goes on: “In addition, we have 3D scanning and rapid prototyping capabilities, which once again demonstrates our forward thinking and desire to take advantage of new technology. Then, when it comes to ensuring the reliability of the product, we undertake X-ray inspection of all rotating cast parts that go into our fan assembly, which gives customers a lot more confidence in its performance and quality.” Fläkt Woods’ growth over the years has been exclusively organic and has been achieved through the organisation’s worldwide activities. Together with its domestic UK market, it has historically been strong in Finland, Poland, Italy, and Germany in Europe. It is currently expanding in Asia. Moreover, Fläkt Woods has recently made a return to the Nor th American market, having previously had a business there. “It was divested as par t of a larger project, but our customers wanted us back – so that is what

we are providing.” Now that the company has reappeared on the other side of the Atlantic, it will be pursuing growth predominantly in the tunnels and metros segment. “The high amount of sales we make is just one par t of the equation,” Steve maintains. “We also place very strong emphasis on our customer service and making sure that we have market acceptable lead times. Furthermore, we try to add value wherever we can, which is why we say that we do not merely sell a product, but also can provide a complete turnkey solution. For instance, we provide control panels and contracting for installation to customers. We also have our aftermarket business where we offer maintenance and ongoing service. It is an aspect of our organisation that we are planning to exploit a lot more in the near future, because we have an enormous installed base of products around the world and we have the exper tise to add value by providing on-site field services. “We never accept we have achieved everything – we are always striving to meet and exceed new challenges,” he added. Whether it is increasing productivity in the factory or stretching its commitment to improving the office environment, it is through new technologies where Steve wants the company to set its sights in the coming years. “Everything we want to introduce, such as new customer relationship management (CRM) software and some

smar t configuration tools, will add value to our customers. Right now, we have a capacity to manufacture 80,000 fans a year and I am sure we can do a lot more from our 177,000 square feet factory, if we implement the efficiencies we have in mind. Automation will be especially impor tant, given our expectations that we will have a larger and more profitable organisation as we bring our American business into the fold. There are also some considerable markets in Europe, where we are yet to increase our market share, so I can definitely see a fruitful future lying ahead of the company,” he concludes.

Fläkt Woods Services: Ventilation & Fire Safety Fans www.flaktgroup.com/uk/ our-brands/woods/ www.manufacturing-today-europe.com l 65


End-to-end

manufacturing

Kingfield Electronics provides total manufacturing solutions to customers looking primarily for a one-stop-shop approach to their outsourcing requirements

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ver a period spanning almost 35 years, Kingfield Electronics has continued to attract market-leading, high-expectation customers with a requirement to outsource either all or a significant part of their product manufacturing process. The provider of world-class contract electronics manufacturing (CEM) solutions serves companies operating in a variety of high-reliability, high-quality, and functional-critical sectors, including process control instrumentation, scientific and laboratory instrumentation, defence, aerospace, and oil and gas. Kingfield Electronics’ core competences

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far exceed just manufacturing. In fact, the Chesterfield-based organisation typically provides total product management solutions to organisations with a zero-touch manufacturing strategy. This encompasses engineering support, global procurement and supply chain management, manufacturing, test, configuration, shipping, field service, and whole life support, including obsolescence management. Included in the company’s service offering, are its global material sourcing capabilities, where it has access to both UK and offshore sourcing and manufacturing operations. In addition, Kingfield Electronics possesses advanced prototyping skills, as well as a low

and medium-volume PCB assembly capability comprising of surface mount and through-hole PCB assembly, AOI, and fixtureless flying probe test capability. Last, but by no means least, the company can provide extensive box-build and system integration with considerable expertise in low to medium-volume high-mix environments. If we are to examine each of these services more closely, starting with material sourcing, we will see that Kingfield Electronics has set up a strong global supply chain consisting of vendors in the UK, Eastern Europe, the Far East, and the US. Looking to address its customers’ needs in the most effective manner possible,


the company has to maintain a fine balance of delivering a cost-optimised supply chain without making compromises with the best-in-class quality of the products supplied. The requirement to prototype new PCB designs is a key service offering within Kingfield Electronics’ design-to-manufacture process. No matter how extensive the design phase has been, there is always a requirement to prototype PCB boards before committing to actual manufacture. As a result, not only does that provide extensive feedback from the manufacturing activity, but it also paves the way for ongoing manufacture, as much of the engineering process is completed during these initial stages. Box build has universally been considered as Kingfield Electronics’ core competence. Largely due to its extensive experience in the field of turnkey assembly, the company can produce a breadth of products – from delicate scientific instrumentation to the most rugged box and panel assembly suited to the harshest of military or industrial applications. To do this, it has to call forth the full extent of its capabilities,

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Kingfield Electronics

Valuing hard work and commitment, the business is keen to support the enthusiasm and creativity its people bring to the table and channel them in a way that inspires them to do their best every day

Blakell Europlacer End-to-end Solutions for Electronics Circuit Board Manufacturers As respected electronics production equipment manufacturers ourselves, we are uniquely placed to offer premium products from trusted business partners that support our own industry-leading Surface Mount machines. Our goal is simple: to provide effective full assembly line solutions to our customers. We supply entire suites of complementary SMT products but also the critical process expertise behind them, ensuring productivity targets are met. In short, we take complete responsibility for the supply, delivery, installation, commissioning, application and field support, spares, customer service and training for every piece of equipment we supply. We believe it’s a level of service that’s in a different league. Our loyal customers agree, including Kingfield Electronics who selected a full Europlacer SMT line over equipment from our competitors. Kingfield has since installed a second Europlacer line, having been pleased with the original decision and with the exemplary support received.

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Kingfield Electronics

from engineering support through to finished, configured products. This is also the area where Kingfield Electronics can add the most value to its clients by managing the entire manufacturing process from start to finish. At this point in time, all of its box build electronics activities are based in the UK, however, regional manufacturing in the Far East can be considered, should this be a key customer requirement. This is an important clarification, given that manufacturing close to the point of sale is a key aspect to take into account when considering the cost of shipping. It is namely the ability to ship directly to the end user that is the other service, which draws on all facets of Kingfield Electronics’ capabilities. By doing this, the company directly supports those customers with a zero-touch manufacturing policy as it removes the need for any direct involvement in the day-to-day management of a product. Because many of the products Kingfield Electronics makes require regular services or are else destined for harsh environments where damage is likely, the CEM provider offers a range of solutions to fully support a product during its service, thereby eliminating the need for customers to manage their own return and repair activity. Typically, the company can provide the management and shipping of spares and service replacement equipment. It offers a full return to base repairs service, which includes the analysis and reporting of the failure mode, alongside recommendations for improvement

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where necessary. On certain occasions, Kingfield Electronics can also look to deliver on-site repair activities, should there be a specific requirement for that. None of the services discussed so far would be of such reliability as is often associated with Kingfield Electronics, if it was not for talented and passionate company workforce. Valuing hard work and commitment, the business is keen to support the enthusiasm and creativity its people bring to the table and channel them in a way that inspires them to do their best every day. Kingfield Electronics strives to maintain a working environment that encourages staff to use the skills they have to the utmost, and creates opportunities to acquire new expertise and develop both as people and employees. Knowing where its biggest strength lies can thus be singled out as the chief reason for the company’s continued success. Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2020, Kingfield Electronics is in a strong position to grow its impact on its customers’ activities further and continue to optimise their efficiency, enabling them to advance in the market.

Kingfield Electronics Services: Contract electronics manufacturing www.kingfield-electronics.co.uk


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Machining the

future

Batten & Allen operates an impressive range of machinery in its Cirencester facility that gives the engineering company a staggering capacity for producing pressed metal parts

W

hen first faced with the fact that Cotswolds-based Batten & Allen has the capacity to produce the whopping amount of 650 million pressed metal parts and stampings per month, it is impossible not to marvel at the sheer scale of the engineering company’s operations. Running a facility in Cirencester that is open 24/7 and employs a three-shift model, Batten & Allen designs and manufactures a range of products, 85 per cent of which are then exported to customers in Europe, Central and South America, Far East, South Africa, and Australasia. The business’ story began in a garage in 1972 when

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two toolmakers – Alan Batten and Les Allen – decided to set up an independent company specialised in the production of miniature precision stampings and electroplating. Close to five decades later, the organisation has moved into a 53,000 square feet site featuring a state-of-the-art toolroom with its own design facility that assists customers with prototypes and best material utilisation. With regards to the machinery in place, the production unit includes high-speed presses, plating, process control laboratory, and fully-equipped quality department with laser measuring capability. Over the years, Batten & Allen has developed a collaborative approach that sees it work closely with industry leaders in raw material manufacture. Courtesy of their in-depth expertise, the company’s engineers can help customers with initial product design and prototyping, best material choice and utilisation, a choice of finishes, as well as cropping and assembly tools to integrate Batten & Allen’s parts into the customer assembly process. The variety of materials that the business can stamp ranges from copper and aluminium through

to Nilo, stainless steel, and silicon steel. This is being done with the help of 22 Bruderer presses weighing between 20 tonnes and 50 tonnes, the fastest of which being able to run at 1800 strokes per minute. Taking pride in designing and manufacturing its own ancillary equipment by incorporating lean techniques and taking into account customer and quality requirements, Batten & Allen can produce small close pitch components with material thicknesses in the range of ten microns thick foil to more heavy-duty single-piece stampings up to 2mm. Moving on to its plating capabilities, the company has adopted a number of innovative techniques to achieve selective reel-to-reel plating with a positional accuracy of 0.2mm. It currently runs eight in-house electroplating


Batten & Allen lines that can plate stamped components reel-to-reel, as well as pre-plate continuous coil material for subsequent stamping. Moreover, Batten & Allen’s engineers can assist customers with the selection of plating finishes, while the company’s process laboratory enables the monitoring and control of the plating solutions and the thickness of the plating, thus ensuring that minimum waste is generated and both customer and environmental requirements are met. For it to guarantee that the tooling it makes serves its purposes, Batten & Allen produces all of it in-house, using its fully-equipped toolroom. The organisation looks to expand its capabilities regularly and one of the most significant investments it has made, is in the design, development, and implementation of the standard tool format, which allows it to standardise the design and considerably reduce lead times and cost to the customer. This has also increased efficiency and produced significant savings in downtime since only individual modules need to be replaced in the event of attention being required. Even though the development of modular tool units has reduced the consequences of damage, the latter can still prove to be costly. To counter that, Batten & Allen has also created its own tool protection system consisting of sensors attached to the die set, which constantly monitor and report on tool performance. The sensors can detect pitch variations and abnormal thickness – such as a metal

slug caught in the tool – and stop the press within a single cycle. A practical example of Batten & Allen’s resourcefulness in serving its customers can be found in the work the company did for a global player in the consumables sphere who was looking not only for a high-volume stamped clip, but also required integration into its production process. In response to the client need, the engineering specialist designed the clip in such a way that it could be supplied as a continuously reeled part to prevent damage through distortion, also designing and building the cropping and forming tool, which integrates the final assembly process. The latter was built alongside the manufacture of the progression tool ensuring compatibility of tolerances and functionality of the parts. Finally, as part of its complementary service offering, Batten & Allen provided a detailed catalogue of parts and service requirements for the cropping and form tool and assistance in

commissioning the tool on the customer’s site. Following its yearly plan to invest in the latest technology equipment, in order to keep itself at the forefront of the industry, Batten & Allen places equal importance on developing its people. Each year, the company employs a new technical apprentice to maintain its capabilities and future-proof the business. By continuing to apply its continuous improvement ethos and focus on achieving high customer satisfaction levels, the business has every reason to believe that it will thrive in the years to come.

Batten & Allen Services: Stamped metal parts, small components, metal pressings, and metal clips https://batten-allen.com

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Thurne two bacon Slicer

PolySlicer 1000 cooked meat slicer

Meaty prospects

The growing demand for Thurne-Middleby’s bacon slicers has driven the manufacturer to increase its capacity, in parallel with the company’s amplified sales activity in new countries Thurne one case ready portioner

T

he purchase of a new building to add to its production space reflects Thurne-Middleby’s continued growth in recent times. Having nearly doubled its turnover over the last four years, in 2019, the manufacturer of food processing machines – chiefly bacon and cheese slicers, and case ready meat portioners – proceeded to acquiring the facility next door to its existing factory in Norwich, in order to double its footprint. “With the extra space available, we will be able to build a higher volume of fullyintegrated machines,” begins Thurne’s President, Peter Jongen. “Instead of manufacturing only a slicer, we produce a full line with advanced conveying systems, card

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dispensers, and other innovative traits. At the new facility, we will have enough room to incorporate these into the slicers and test the machines in-house, which, in turn, will make the installation process at our customers’ premises a lot quicker. “We have a product portfolio, which fits well with clients’ wishes at the moment. As a company, we do not merely sell machines, we sell complete solutions, which is exactly what the market is demanding,” continues Peter, explaining the leading reasons behind Thurne’s growth. “Our customer service team is a lot bigger than what competitors of our size are able to deploy, because it is a key priority for us to nurture the relationships with our clients. We are very keen to partner with a customer

for, say, 20 years, and every decision we take in relation to developing and marketing our solutions, is in line with this strategy.” Historically, the US and Canada have been where Thurne has achieved its greatest success. A few years back, however, the company developed a new product specifically for the UK market, which has performed so well that it is impossible not to credit it with the improved fortunes of the business. “We have sold more than 20 of these systems here in the UK,” Peter points out. “This year, we have also launched a new range of streaky bacon machines and a red meat case ready machine, which are gradually starting to attract the interest of the market all over the world.” It may still be early days, but three Thurne one bacon slicers have already been sold, with


Thurne-Middleby One bacon high performance L-Board Diverger Line

the company holding talks with several more customers for the on-site installation of the product. Peter discusses its properties: “It is designed for the higher end of the market and is packed with multiple high-tech features. For instance, this solution comes with a patented vision system with fat and lean detection, which enables its users to cut the bacon into the right thickness. What is more, the compact autoloader maximises throughput and the machine’s capacity of producing over 100 retail drafts and up to 150 ten-slice food service sheets per minute, mean that Thurne one bacon excels in the two most important performance indicators for customers, namely, yield and throughput.” Slightly different, the Thurne two version has been developed with less in-built technology, but the same degree of reliability as its brother. Then, the third new addition to Thurne’s catalogue – a case ready machine, which was premiered to the public in Chicago in August – is also already piquing the curiosity of businesses on either side of the Atlantic. Judging by the initial demand, Peter’s expectation is that the first models of this product will be installed and validated on-site at customers’ facilities before the first half of 2020 is through. Alongside the aforementioned regions that have become a stronghold for Thurne over time, the last couple of years have borne witness to the organisation’s expansion into other sizable markets. Peter details: “For about 12 months, we have been quite active in Mexico and the Spanish-speaking part of South America. We are also proud to reveal that, not long ago, we also sold a full bacon system in Moscow. Furthermore, we now have agents in South Africa and Australia, meaning

that we can say that we operate across no fewer than five continents. At this point in time, we feel that we have enough on our plate, regarding the company’s global growth, so we will focus on developing these markets in the coming years, trying to make the most of the opportunities we come across.” Even more aggressive innovation when building new products will be the order of the day at Thurne in the foreseeable future. Peter discloses that a centrepiece of the company’s three-to-five years’ strategy is to further diversify its offering and establish a presence in new segments of the meat industry. “We are working towards the creation of solutions that will target different sectors from the

ones we have become known for, i.e., bacon and red meat. In addition, we are also hoping to mature in the geographical areas that we discussed earlier. If we meet our objectives, I think it is realistic to expect at least a 50 per cent growth in sales within the next few years,” he concludes.

Thurne-Middleby Products: Bacon, cooked meat, and cheese slicers, and case ready meat portioners https://thurne.com

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Below & insert: PLY with its innovative use of birch plywood and laminate, takes the traditional desk top power module in an exciting new design direction

Charging

forward

OE Electrics picked up some of the most prestigious UK business awards in 2019, which reflect the business’ inspirational development and remarkable international growth

D

avid Masters – Group Managing Director of OE Electrics – had every reason to be in sparkling mood during our conversation at the beginning of December. The night before, his company had won the ‘Product of the Year’ category for Lighting, Technology, and Accessories at the Mixology North Awards with its PLY desktop power plug socket and USB charger. It was the latest of a series of acknowledgments for the designer and manufacturer in 2019, the others including winning a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Export and being named as one of the ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain’ by the London Stock Exchange Group. “We are an innovative company with a really high reputation for quality and we invest a lot in our people, technology, and R&D, constantly bringing out new products to stay ahead of the competition. It is this investment that has been recognised by the external bodies. We are all rightly proud of these awards, because each and every one of us has contributed to this success and deserves to feel part of it,” discusses David. The Queen’s Award won by OE Electrics demonstrates unequivocally that the business’ international exploits are meeting with success. While the UK and the Middle East have traditionally been the strongest markets for the company, it is now focusing on Europe, working closely with its partners, and growing all over the continent. “We have very desirable products, because of their advanced technology, but also because of their

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aesthetics. Customers love the designs we offer them and we often say that we work in a fashion industry where the physical characteristics of a charger or a socket are key,” David explains. He adds: “Trends and customer requirements vary across countries. Sockets often differ in size and shape, so the most important thing is to do your research and understand what works well in every specific place. Thanks to our flexible manufacturing system and good stock level, we have the ability to adapt our products to fit a particular country and this is why we are being so successful in multiple markets.” In support of its ambitions in Europe, OE Electrics opened a facility in Germany at the beginning of the year, which is now starting to pick up pace. Coinciding with the launch of the site, the company released its QikFit range at the Interzum exhibition in Cologne. “There was a lot of interest for the product at the trade fair, which has given us confidence that we are doing the right thing in Germany. It is still a work in progress, but the early signs are encouraging. “As regards QikFit, it is a modular, plug and play system that comprises a number of components, which allows customers to create their own mixed range of power data and USB charging,” David continues. “It is a low-cost and flexible solution, which requires minimum skills to assemble. Owing to the efficiency of our electrical assembly process, we can have a range of products that can be put together. As discussed earlier, most


OE Electrics Below: Everton Football Club – PLUTO satisfies the growing need for easily accessible AC power sockets and USB charging in informal areas

C-Pak C-Pak is part of a family run business that has operated for 25 years supplying OEMs across the UK. We carry stock to enable customers to begin projects immediately. We specialise in circuit protection equipment which meets CE, RoHS and CMRT standards.

countries have their own type of socket, so variation is pivotal to serving their requirements.” One main challenge for OE Electrics at the moment is keeping up with the ever-changing needs of mobile devices that are constantly updating their electronics. The company has to keep pace of that and, in the meantime, address the increasing necessity for charging solutions that have to be set up in more locations than ever. “People are constantly looking for some sort of charging solution, whether indoors or outdoors, in order to keep their battery topped up. Due to the fact that their mobile phone is absolutely essential in that they can access much-needed apps and even flight tickets, for example, we have to come up with convenient ways to enable the on-the-go charging of a mobile device,” David maintains. Indeed, what started as a company predominantly operating in the office environment sector, has now grown into a sought-after entity delivering its products across a vast array of fields, such as airports, universities, schools, and auditoriums. Another growing market for OE Electrics presently, is football stadiums. Recently, the organisation has had installed some of its solutions at what is widely believed to be England’s finest ground – Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium – having also been specified by AFL Architects who were commissioned by Everton FC to install its PLUTO and PIXEL units at the club’s new Academy Family Lounge.

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OE Electrics Below: Royal Holloway University where OE Electrics provided all of the in-desk and on-desk power/USB solutions throughout the building

“We are looking for a bit more of the same in the next year or so, with regards to further expansion and cementing our position in these industries,” David shares his expectations for the coming months. “We are very excited about a new concept we are going to launch next year, which, hopefully, will provide a solution for some of the pressing demands we are facing.” In conclusion, the Managing Director pays homage to OE Electrics’ late founder, Richard Hobbs, who sadly passed away earlier this year. “He is the reason why we are all here today. Despite his loss, we remain a family business, with his son – Tim – being our Technical Director. We have a strategy to grow across the world and we are confident that the business is strong enough to achieve significant global expansion. Richard would have loved that and it will be the best we can do to honour his legacy.”

OE Electrics Products: Power and data distribution solutions www.oeelectrics.co.uk 76 l www.manufacturing-today-europe.com


Profile for Schofield Publishing Ltd

Manufacturing Today Europe Issue 171 December 2019  

The latest edition of Manufacturing Today Europe

Manufacturing Today Europe Issue 171 December 2019  

The latest edition of Manufacturing Today Europe