Forward Industrial Products Group

September 4, 2018


Forward – which takes its name from Birmingham’s motto – is a Tyseley-based SME. It manufactures, imports and distributes fasteners, turned parts, varied MRO solutions and integrated managed stores to various industries in the Asia-Pacific, Central Asia, Middle East, Africa, Central/East Europe, West. Europe, North, Central and South America.

It specialises in the manufacture and supply of safety critical special fasteners and turned parts to their customers’ drawings and engineering requirements.

Forward supplies some of the largest manufacturing companies in the world. Much of its business is automotive and original equipment manufacturing but it also has an ever-increasing market share in the aerospace, rail, power generation, infrastructure, Ministry of Defence and oil and gas markets.

Its customers range from a one site operation here in the UK to multi-site international operations throughout the world, with partnership manufacturing sites in Europe, Taiwan, India and China, which have been developed over a long period of time.  More news of its customers here:

Should the delivery of product be delayed, damaged or even sink, Forward can manufacture at no extra cost here in the UK, using its own manufacturing facilities for cold forging and turned parts that replicate its supply chain abroad, to keep production lines going until the problem has been resolved.

No other distributors can offer such a service – and often when a competitors’ product is delayed they will ask Forward to ‘infill manufacture’ for them.

In August, Forward hosted a well-attended networking brunch for Made in the Midlands members at the iCentrum building at Innovation Birmingham campus. Keith Johnstone, Forward sales manager, gave a presentation to members outlining the company’s ethos and its strategy of Source, Supply and Integrate.







Protective coatings made by Indestructible – a family-owned company in Sparkhill

August 9, 2018

Indestructible Paint, a manufacturer of high performance paints and coatings, started in 1978 in a small workshop in Acocks Green. Today it operates from a growing storage and manufacturing facility in Sparkhill near central Birmingham and recently acquired adjacent premises that will allow for expansion. 

It is an independent family-owned company, employing some 50 people. Founder Doug Norton, the chairman, works with Brian Norton, managing director, brothers Alan (finance), Michael (IT) and sister Jill (logistics operations).

Brian Norton says: “As developer and manufacturer of high performance paints and coatings, we have always taken the view that reliability of supply and product innovation are fundamental – particularly when allied to a commitment to working closely with customers of all sizes and disciplines”. A video takes the viewer inside the factory.

Its coating paint – approved by many including Rolls Royce and Pratt & Whitney – protects metal used in harsh off-shore, industrial, or chemical environments against humidity, salt water and chemicals. Heat resistant coatings are used in stoves, vehicle exhausts, fireplaces, engines, radiators, barbeques and brake calipers. Its innovative research and development facility designs products to meet the needs of individual customers.

The company’s current focus is on finding environmentally friendly alternatives to hexavalent chrome-based coatings used in the aerospace and automobile industry. In the U.S., the EPA lists hexavalent chromium as a hazardous air pollutant because it is a human carcinogen, a “priority pollutant” under the Clean Water Act, and a “hazardous constituent” under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.” 

Indestructible Paint exports to 65 countries worldwide, has active distributorship agreements from the Far East to the USA and customers include leading manufacturers in aerospace, defence, marine and general engineering.

The company won a 2018 Made in the Midlands Export Award (2017 award winners filmed here) because it showed that it understands the complexities and barriers of the global market and has overcome them to export 70% of its turnover.






Salts Healthcare, now at Birmingham’s Advanced Manufacturing Hub in Aston.

July 17, 2018

Last year Salts Healthcare, which manufactures medical devices, moved into the Apollo building in Birmingham’s Advanced Manufacturing Hub in Aston. Here is a brief history from its Wikipedia entry:

Brothers John and William Salt started out as apprentice locksmiths in Wolverhampton in the early 1700s. Using the skills gained from his apprenticeship, John Salt became a well established surgeons’ instrument maker. In 1793 the business was passed onto Richard Salt who opened a second site in Coleshill Street. Thereafter the business moved to Bull Street and then Cherry Street. By the end of the 19th century, trade in Birmingham was improving and the Salts’ business was awarded the Royal Seal of Approval. Demand for medical products continued to grow into the early 20th century and, during World War One, Salts manufactured artificial limbs for serviceman injured during the war.

Salts is divided into three divisions:

  • Stoma Care, which designs and manufactures stoma care devices and additional products;
  • Medilink, a network of 19 customer care centres that supply and dispense stoma care and continence products by all manufacturers
  • and Techstep, which manufactures custom-made paediatric orthopaedic footwear (above).

Salts Healthcare International has a UK based International team working with highly skilled, experienced people across the world.






Aston’s JS Wright sets up prefabrication unit

June 14, 2018


As construction workers from EU countries leave following the Brexit vote and the skilled British workforce is ageing, Britain is once more turning to prefabrication.

In a new warehouse facility in Digbeth, J.S. Wright has set up a prefabrications unit, producing low carbon Heat Interface Units (HIU), which act as a bridge between the central boiler and the heating and hot water systems of individual apartments.

The HIU units will reduce installation times in large developments such as Mount Anvil’s 595-home high-rise Keybridge development and Hill’s 580-apartment canalside scheme at Fish Island Village in London.

After the retirement of JS Wright’s previous owners, the company was bought by its senior management team: the finance director, national design and estimating director, national mechanical contracts director and national electrical contracts director. (Aston premises, left)

Reuter’s Astrid Zweynert reported a major policy announcement in 2017; the government said it supported off-site construction, promised financial support for prefabs and to make public land available for “modular schemes”, as they are now known. She added, after a brief account of post-war prefab building: “Faced with a chronic, new housing shortage, Britain is once more embracing prefabrication as it struggles to meet its promise to build a million homes in England by 2020.

Valued homes: Grade 2 listed Phoenix Wake Green Road prefabs in Moseley

There are examples of a UK off-site construction industry emerging. York Press reported in 2017 that L&G Homes has been set up in a factory near Leeds to build up to 4,000 prefab homes a year. The factory, which is the largest of its kind in Europe, and will at full capacity produce 3,000 modular homes a year, has just revealed its first prototype.

Though many eye-catching detached homes have been built using continental modules, a linked Birmingham site focussed on low cost prefabrication. Building Design highlighted three prefabricated solutions to the housing crisis in 2016.

The first design (above), by Urban Splash, was one of the new range of low-cost prefabricated housing solutions being ‘rolled out’ across the country with the potential to help tackle Britain’s affordable housing crisis and offer new employment opportunities.





The Times, the FT and the Chancellor focus on late payment

May 13, 2018


Earlier two football clubs were commended on this site: Liverpool managed an average of 27 days, beating Arsenal’s 35. The fastest payer was Music Magpie – an online reseller of CDS, DVDs and books – averaging just five days, with 94% of invoices settled within 30 days.

Oliver Ralph (left), insurance correspondent of the Financial Times, reports that companies around the world are taking longer to collect payments from customers, leading to a growing risk that they could hit trouble as the global economy slows.

Research from trade credit insurer Euler Hermes shows that companies are accepting much longer payment terms from their customers than they were a decade ago.

The average global days sales outstanding, or the number of days it takes for suppliers to be paid for their goods or services, has grown by one-tenth since 2008 to 66 days and is likely to increase again this year.

Ludovic Subran, chief economist at the Euler Hermes, said the trend increases the risk of insolvencies. One in four is because of non-payment from customers.

He continued:

“This is one of the dark sides of the recovery. Companies are extending a lot of trust in the way that clients pay them — it is a loosening of discipline. The longer you wait, the more the risk that your clients hit trouble. When there is a cyclical downturn the companies with longer payment terms are those that get hit first.”

Companies in New Zealand only have to wait for 43 days on average, while South Africa, Denmark and Austria also recorded low numbers.

James Ashton of the Times (right) reports that small contractors say a familiar trick is to delay signing contract terms for as long as possible after work has begun in good faith. That way a purchase order cannot be raised, nor can an invoice be submitted. Only when customers have signed on the line can the clock start ticking. One small business owner toldhim about a large firm that demanded a 1% discount for 14-day payment. When the supplier said that 30 days would be just fine, she was told it was their way or the highway.

He added that Carillion, the collapsed constructor, made small firms wait 120 days for payment in order to flatter its own cash position

The company employed an “early payment facility” so suppliers could borrow against their invoices before being paid. It made a mockery of the Prompt Payment Code which asks that 95% of invoices are paid within 60 days and that firms “work towards adopting 30 days as the norm”.

Ashton points out that under new disclosure rules, larger companies are now obliged to begin publicly reporting their payment practices.

In his spring statement chancellor Philip Hammond called for evidence designed to wipe out “the continuing scourge of late payments”.

Former MP Paul Uppal (left) had been appointed as the small business commissioner to campaign for prompt payment and mediate in disputes. But though the total outstanding to small firms has fallen from £30 billion to £14 billion in five years according to the BACS payment system, the Federation of Small Businesses is still concerned about cases affecting their members.

Unless otherwise agreed, a payment is deemed late 30 days after an invoice is received by public authorities and 60 days by businesses. Thereafter, under the terms of the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. a firm chasing payment is entitled to charge interest of 8% above the base rate, plus a recovery sum of £40 up to £1,000, rising to £100 for £10,000 or more. However small suppliers do not insist on this because they fear that they will receive no further orders from the customer so charged..

In 2015, Tesco promised to pay within 14 days small suppliers who delivered it less than £100,000 of goods a year and kept its word, followed later by Morrisons, Waitrose and finally Asda.

As Ashton commentsOther large companies should make prompt payment as important to their image as reducing their carbon footprint and increasing recruitment diversity”




More good news from West Midlands manufacturers: ADI Electrical, W H Tildesley and Brooks Forging

March 30, 2018


Gasification Plant Converting Waste to Fuel – a ’world first’

This post updates the 2016 coverage of Adi Electrical, whose head office is in Kings Norton, Birmingham.

The group offers building & refurbishment, electrical, engineering compliance management, environmental, maintenance, manufacturing automation & information systems, mechanical, project management, system efficiency, and utilities systems.

After integrating and installing a £5 million pilot plant in 2016 and 2017, which proved the commercial and technical feasibility of the concept, the projects arm of the business is now coordinating the installation, at Advanced Plasma Power’s Swindon site at South Marston business park. The plant is the first facility on the planet to produce a low carbon bio-substitute natural gas, BioSNG, from household waste. Read on here.

The Swindon installation is due to come on line this summer. When up and running, it will process 10,000 tonnes of refuse and waste wood every year to produce 22GWh of grid quality gas – enough to heat 1,500 homes or fuel 75 heavy goods vehicles, decarbonising heating and transport. The product can be pumped into the gas mains network to be used in existing gas appliances, such as domestic boilers and ovens, or compressed natural gas filling stations.


Brooks Forgings’ collaboration with W H Tildesley

Updating 2016 news of Brooks Forgings, established in 1960, a leading UK supplier of hot-forged and machined fastener components. Its head office is in Cradley Heath and its manufacturing base is in Lye, Stourbridge.

In 2016 we also reported on W.H.Tildesley’s regeneration which included purpose-built forge buildings and extended shop floor area which has enabled it to house larger projects. Continual investment in people, plant and processes has made their facility the most modern forge in the UK.

All forge hammers were rebedded using the latest damping technology to minimise vibration and additional air-conditioning was installed to provide a cooler working environment and improve ventilation.

Tildesley is a member of the Midlands Aerospace Alliance and is described as having a long and successful history of supplying forgings to the aerospace industry, for ‘legacy applications’.

Brooks Forgings had a contract to manufacture and export a requirement for fourteen highly specialised lifting bail bars used to lift crucibles of molten aluminium at a treatment plant located in Bahrain. The project entailed numerous processes including upset forging, drop forging, hot bending, machining and an extensive testing regime.

All tooling for the project was designed and manufactured in-house. Each bail bar was installed in a test jig that was specifically designed to mirror the final application, packed suitably in custom built wooden cases and exported via air freight.

The two companies collaborated on this project for the first time since Tildesley joined the Brooks Engineering Group in April 2017.








Good news from four West Midlands manufacturers: first, RSD Pressings of Cannock

March 16, 2018

C & H Howe Limited was originally founded in 1940 as manufacturers of metal toggle fasteners to the metal box industry and in particular ammunition boxes during the Second World War. In 1962 the company was incorporated remaining in the same ownership until 1985 by which time it had also grown to be a market leader in the manufacture and supply of exhaust clamps. The new owners decided to invest and develop the company further into press work (forging, pressing, stamping, roll-forming of metal; powder metallurgy and robotic welding) with a key focus on supply into the automotive and building industries.

The company was renamed RSD Pressings by the owners and management of the business on 4th January 2016, following the building of a new purpose-built manufacturing facility (above).

RSD Pressings now supplies many of today’s leading car manufacturers, making components and assemblies for every part of the car: seating, sub-frames. cross car beams, bumpers and body.

As Made in the Midlands member Daniel Burton, Operations Director RSD Pressings, explained that since joining MIM in early 2016 as gold members the company has participated in 3 exhibitions. The exhibition’s move to the Ricoh Arena last year was seen as a big step forward and provided an ideal platform for the event to grow further, given its position within the country. He continued:

“Aside from the fantastic networking opportunities coordinated by MIM, one of the main reasons we joined was to raise the profile of the company and hopefully grow our customer portfolio in the process. The exhibitions provide an ideal platform for this to take place given the exposure they bring and we have been luckily enough to attract two new substantial customers to our business from the exhibitions alone.

Learn more via RSD Pressings’ impressive, information packed, well-illustrated website


Forthcoming good news re three other companies featured on this website earlier: WH Tildesley, Adi Group and Brooks Forgings