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

March 30, 2018

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

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WM manufacturing opportunity: permanent magnets for wind turbines

December 23, 2017

Birmingham’s Professor Rex Harris (FREng) is drawing attention to a recent article in the Guardian Review on wind energy giving an up-beat view of off-shore wind farms which, he agrees, are showing a lot of promise, particularly compared with the very expensive and increasingly problematic nuclear option. He comments:

“However, in this article, there was no mention of the vital role played by NdFeB-type permanent magnets in the direct drive generators provided by companies such as Siemens”.

The untutored writer consulted a second engineer who said that readers may have noticed wind turbines of rather different shapes starting to appear. The more traditional ones have a nacelle behind the rotor – the gearbox to convert slow rotation to a higher speed required by the generator.

He continued: “These gearboxes are expensive and heavy, bringing new problems to solve. One solution is the turbine with NdFeB, otherwise known as rare earth magnets. They eliminate the need for the gearbox, driving the generator directly at the speed of the blades. They can be recognised by a large ring structure behind the blades. (The traditional gearbox opposite has the low speed shaft to the left. It makes the high speed shaft to the right turn approximately 50 times faster than the low speed shaft.)

Stanford Magnets reports on the emergence – over the last two years – of commercial-scale & direct drive permanent magnet generator systems with the hub directly connected to the generator (right). Being direct drive, these turbines have significant advantages over the geared variety:

  • significantly increased reliability,
  • reduced maintenance costs,
  • reduced downtime for maintenance
  • improved efficiencies in the power conversion process and
  • greater efficiencies when wind speeds are not at full rating.

The second engineer warns that “engineering is always a compromise and there is a clue in the name RARE earth: these generators need a large quantity to make the magnets required. There is a limited amount of these materials and they are predominantly found in China”. 

Mineral reserves: resources known to be economically feasible for extraction economically and technically feasible to extract. Note that the New Scientist reports that in what is said to be the first detailed report on the country’s supply, the US has 13 million tonnes of rare earth metals –  but it would take years to extract them.

Source: https://investingnews.com/daily/resource-investing/critical-metals-investing/rare-earth-investing/rare-earth-reserves-country/.

Professor Harris and his colleagues David Kennedy and Adrian Arbib end: “With this medium to long term threat to the magnet supply very much in mind, the West, including Europe and the USA, should recreate its previous manufacturing capacity for the production of NdFeB-type sintered magnets, start to exploit alternative rare earth reserves and develop and support NdFeB-type magnet recycling. Simply leaving matters to market forces will certainly not be sufficient”.

 

 

 

 

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Updating KPM Marine 2013: John Clancy’s legacy fund, the BSBLF 

December 7, 2017

Birmingham City Council leader John Clancy said earlier this year, “(Entrepreneurs) risk-takers are hugely important to the city economy, creating jobs and wealth. Given the right support, they can help us create inclusive growth across Birmingham, so I’m delighted that we’re able to support our SMEs through the new Birmingham Small Business Loan Fund.”

The Birmingham Small Business Loan Fund (BSBLF).is administered by ART Business Loans and supported by Birmingham City Council, Thin Cats peer lending platform and Unity Trust bank. It provides loans of between £10,000 and £100,000 for small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) in Birmingham that are unable to obtain any or all of the finance they need from high street banks.

KPM Marine, which we featured in 2013, (KPM safety products lead in global marine and automotive markets), has been able to use a BSBLF loan to provide working capital to help it take advantage of growth opportunities presented by recent shifts in the value of sterling.

KPM products and designs – in Mott Street, Birmingham – are the first choice of work-boat builders, military and rescue agencies throughout the world. Julian Morgan, Joint Managing Director of KPM Marine, said “We can find ourselves competing with some of the world’s largest manufacturers . . .  95% of our supply chain is based in Birmingham, which is not only good for the local economy, but also gives us greater flexibility, faster response times and better control over quality than sourcing products and materials from the Far East.”

In 2003 the Duke of York looked over Rikki Hill’s V24 ‘Bat boat’ under the watchful eye of Jules (Julian) Morgan, owner and design director of KPM Marine and founder member of Idea Birmingham.

Julian’s business partner, Joint Managing Director John Key adds: “We moved into the marine sector around 15 years ago and have developed our product range to include bilge pumps, engine reventilation systems, shock-mitigating seating systems and interior fit out modules. We are delighted to have won naval contracts on both sides of the Atlantic and in Europe. Our latest success is as part of the supply chain providing a fleet of up to 38 workboats to support the Royal Navy’s new flagship carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth”

Steve Walker, Chief Executive of ART Business Loans says: “KPM Marine is a good example of the type of business we are here to support – innovative and dynamic small to medium sized enterprises which are the lifeblood of the local economy, but which struggle to access finance from the banks.”

The BSBLF aims to lend £3m to Birmingham business over three years. To apply go to www.artbusinessloans.co.uk or call ART on 0121 359 2444.

 

 

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Nov 1-2: Mechatronic Solutions launch the Podconnect at the NEC

November 1, 2017

We return to Mechatronic Solutions after this two year old post was selected by most of the visitors to this site last month – the majority coming from the United States.

A fact summary:

This company designed its first robot for the Morgan Matroc ariel assembly in 2000 and the  Kaizen workshop was developed in 2002, described on this site in 2015.  – see with Change Agent Andrew Thomas.

It now offers RoboPod, a standardised platform for robot applications that they say ‘represents a first in the industry’ used in these sectors:

and also automotive  aerospace, packaging, process automation and testing

Robopod have unveiled the Podconnect, an Automated Intelligent Vehicle (AIV) which – as its name suggests – has in-built intelligence and can operate autonomously. It connects machines and systems for ultimate efficiency: “Automated logistics and safe, efficient delivery of materials make the manufacturing environment work seamlessly with other functions”.

As well as these physical and logistical benefits, Podconnect provides detailed information back to managers; providing valuable statistics on performance, output, stock and flows. See a video here.

The Advanced Engineering Show 2017 is described as ‘The UK’s largest annual gathering of advanced engineering professionals’. It attracts professionals from across the UK and worldwide advanced engineering industries: including managers and directors as well as those specialising in fields as diverse as Research and design (R&D), Design, Test engineering, Production, Logistics and Procurement.

On 1st November, the 2-day exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham will see Mechatronic Solutions launch Podconnect AIV Autonomous Intelligent Vehicle plus a new Robopod brochure setting out information about the whole range. 

 

 

 

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Subcon Lasers: ‘in the forefront’ due to continual investment in the latest technology

April 16, 2017

Subcon Laser Cutting, based in Nuneaton, invests in the latest technology available to keep at the forefront of a rapidly changing and challenging manufacturing environment.

Business Desk published news of its acquisition of the UK’s first 8kw fibre laser cutting system with Cooline technology, which helps to cut fine detail into thick material and is controlled remotely using the latest iPad technology. This machine, installed at the end of 2016, was supplied and made by the Trumpf Group in Germany and the investment is already opening up opportunities including new orders from India, with further enquiries from Belgium, Switzerland and Italy.

Production Engineering Excellence Magazine, which covers the latest technological developments relevant to production engineers and managers, reports that Subcon Laser Cutting received the CET Coventry & Warwickshire ‘Excellence in Manufacturing’ award. The winners were announced at a gala dinner and presentation night at the Ricoh Arena in October.

This interesting photograph shows Subcon’s 5 Axis Laser Cutting TruLaser Cell 7040. Though  other laser cutting services will only work on flat sheet, bar and plate, the 5 axis service is involved with creating high quality 3D parts. It is highly regarded by the automotive industry because it is versatile – can work with anything ranging from prototype/body to supporting all kinds of production lines.

Tom Mongan, general manager of Subcon Laser Cutting, speaks in similar vein to the one of the co-founders of this website, Peter Davies (Professional Polishing, Smethwick), who noted that although the usual downbeat attitude to manufacturing persists, when he attends business gatherings the attitude is buoyant, with news of orders coming in.

Mr Mongan said: “Depending on what you read or who you listen to, they say UK manufacturing lags behind our EU counterparts in productivity and investment, well not from where I am standing and I would like to know who is providing the statistics and information”.

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Warrior Doors in Tyseley

March 26, 2017

Warrior Doors Ltd is an SME manufacturing company making stainless steel, aluminium and fully glazed high security doors  for commercial properties, industrial premises, banks, bullion dealers, jewellers, local authority housing and housing associations. Two items from many on their website have been selected:

They were the main contractor to manufacture and install secure communal entrances and rear doors and stainless steel bin store doors for 35 buildings for Solihull Community Housing in Chelmsley Wood.

Many of the communal entrance doors had experienced vandalism damage and were not secure – a cause for concern for both current and potential tenants.

Warrior Doors provided a safer living environment, vermin and vandal proof, attractive, welcoming communal entrances and an entrance to their home allowing high levels of light into the space and visibility for tenants.

The second had a remarkable film which dramatically demonstrated the effectiveness of the Warrior door and shop front screen: Warrior Door Vs BMW 5 Series – RAM RAID Fail. It recorded the whole attack – and the way in which Warrior’s equipment saved the shop owner, his daughter and grandchild, two customers and the stock from loss and injury.

 

 

 

 


Zaun, another successful West Midlands manufacturer

February 25, 2017

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zaun-logo Zaun, which makes high security and perimeter systems steel fencing, has an extensive range of perimeter fencinghigh security fencingsports equipmentautomatic electric gatessecurity bollards and hostile vehicle mitigation products. It designs and provides equipment for homes, housing estates, business premises, commercial properties, parks, public space and the perimeter of play and sport areas.

The company was originally based in Rupert Street in Birmingham, importing mesh from Germany, but relocated to a larger five-acre site on Steel Drive in Wolverhampton and has 44 employees according to its Owler profile, though its Linked-in site says, confusingly, that it has 51-200.

After this move, it invested in the Paul Holloway Manufacturing Facility (named after a former employee). This now houses the world’s largest mesh weaving machine which produces the firm’s ArmaWeave, its most intruder-resistant product for the high security market. In 2016, Zaun bought a new tube laser cutter, a further mesh welding line and automated other key processes to enhance its manufacturing capabilities and cut out waste. Additional bailers and squashers have boosted recycling while a new forklift truck has improved materials handling.

  • 2012: Zaun was the largest supplier of temporary high security fencing systems to the London Olympics
  • 2013: it protected the top secret Bilderberg Conference at The Grove Hotel near Watford;
  • 2013: its equipment was used at the G8 Summit at Lough Erne in Northern Ireland;
  • 2014: it provided fencing for the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague
  • and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games,
  • 2015: Zaun was awarded the coveted Security Industry Product of the Year
  • 2015 Award from Security Industry E-Mag

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Zaun celebrated its 20th anniversary in November 2016.

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