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

zaun

Zaun celebrated its 20th anniversary in November 2016.

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Thermotec news

December 12, 2016

thermotec-2-building

Thermotec Plastics, based  in Electra Park, Witton, is a Birmingham-based plastic and composites manufacturer, ‘bespoke supplier’ of engineered solutions in vacuum forming/thermoforming, polyurethane mouldings and super lightweight composites, working in several sectors including luxury automotive, off-highway vehicles, aerospace and defence.

PRW, the leading trade magazine serving the UK polymer industry, reported last year that Thermotec had received major funding to help support its plans to develop and expand the business. The group received funding approval from Birmingham City Council from the Greenbridge Supply Chain Programme for SMEs which can give grants for business support packages, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Thermotec’s managing director David Rose said the funding would allow the business to target more business and recruit up to 11 new staff, to join the current workforce of 50 employees, adding:

thermotec-machine“Receiving this funding from The Greenbridge Programme, combined with our own investment will allow us to put automated processes in place that not only increase productivity, but allow us to improve the environmental impact of our activities”. In April 2016 Thermotec announced the addition of a seventh Vacuum Forming Machine to  to support increased demand and new contracts.

crank-trayIn May Thermotec introduced a new crank tray for Jaguar Land Rover From paper concept to product was a 10 week process; and the timeframe for changes could be shortened to 5 Weeks. The whole project, from design to tooling and manufacturing has been done within a 50 mile radius in the Midlands.  

In addition to the new recruits it is aiming to hire, Thermotec has taken steps to upskill its existing workforce with the help of Made in the Midlands members InTraining – a process about which no information has yet been found.

 

 

 


Meriden-based StadiArena’s project in Ahmedabad

October 22, 2016

stadiarena-logoStadiArena’s unique technology was developed by StadiArena founder, managing partner, accountant and former professional footballer Paul Fletcher (below right) in 2004, before he set up the business in 2007.  It enables an outdoor sports stadium to be converted into a 47,000sq ft, 4,000 capacity, pillar-less, multi-purpose indoor arena that can host sports, concerts, exhibitions, conferences, trade shows and other events. This happens at the touch of a button; in six minutes, a partition wall is activated and the first 16 rows of seats are retracted, creating a covered space which can be used for exhibitions, concerts, conferences, film screenings, indoor sports and receptions.

stadi-paul-fletcherStadiArena’s website adds that the system incorporates a hurricane-proof, hoist fabric door, now known as a StadiDoor – a form of which is currently used across the world. Once closed (within 6 minutes), this specialised, lightweight door transforms a stand into a fully enclosed permanent arena environment, creating a venue for numerous sporting and cultural events, increasing the usability and financial viability of the stadium. By simply retracting the door (within 6 minutes), the stadium returns to its core sporting use.

The StadiArena system means that irrespective of the stadium’s core sport, it can generate income that isn’t linked to a particular team’s performance and deliver valuable ‘legacy’ and community facilities. 

In 2014, Business Desk reported, “StadiArena is helping with the construction of the world’s first purpose-built, indoor/ outdoor 25,000 capacity stadium”. It had won a £4m contract to work on the project in the Gujarat province of India in 2009 after the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, now Prime Minister of India, championed the project. Work had begun in spring, with the installation of the structure’s steel frame.

stadiarena-ahmedabad

And Business Desk, reporting on the opening of the stadium, notes that this concludes seven years of work, which began with signing a multiple licence agreement with TransStadia. It quotes the words of Ian Stokes, managing director of StadiArena, “It’s taken a long time but we are absolutely thrilled that the Ahmedabad stadium is now open and hosting its first major sporting event. At 47,000sq ft, it is the largest open space arena in India and will also become the best football stadium in India”.

StadiArena’s press release relates that on Friday 7th October 2016, the Ahmedabad stadium officially opened and hosted the Kabbadi World Cup (7th-22nd Oct), broadcast by Star Sports to 125 countries.

 

 

 


Crofts & Assinder

May 29, 2016

crofts logoEarlier this month Pamela Pinski wrote about Crofts & Assinder Limited based in Lombard Street, Digbeth, “the birth place of industry in Birmingham”.

On the company website we read that in 1875 George Crofts and Frederick Assinder started trading as brass founders in Lombard Street, Digbeth (below: the latest premises).

They specialised in the design and manufacture of cabinet handles and fittings and now use a range of materials including: brass, steel, cast Iron, zinc (mazak/zamak) ceramic, glass, acrylic, plastic and wood. Their products have been used in Rolls-Royces, London’s Ritz and Waldorf hotels, the White House in Washington and the Titanic.

crofts factory

Chief executive, Alex Crofts, the great-great grandson of founder George Crofts has pressed for more schools, and more students, to take an interest in manufacturing and engineering when it’s perceived as an undesirable career choice? Changes to educational funding have meant that the teaching of practical skills in some schools and colleges is reducing, meaning that students miss out on the chance to experience new skills and learn about our industry as a career. He writes about this subject which is taken seriously by other producers featured on this site:

”To address the skills gap, we should look closer to home. It’s important that we don’t forget our existing staff and we invest our time and money in order to teach them new skills. Moreover, individuals who have worked in a company for many years possess traditional skills, which are just as important as modern and technically advanced skills”.

“[T]he UK Commission for Employment and Skills 2016 survey revealed that ‘the modest economic growth of the past four years has been met by an unprecedented shortage of skills, leaving thousands of vacancies unfilled’. In my opinion, the lack of skills could be down to the decline in students wishing to pursue a career in manufacturing.

” . . . [I]ndustry must work closely with teachers and career officers in schools and colleges to offer work experience placements and apprenticeships, which provide a true taste of the industry. Whether it’s through career talks and fairs, work experience, workplace day visits or career sessions with motivational speakers, it’s our job to support and inspire the next generation of young people.

In recent years, Brumhour reports, Crofts has made significant investments into their product design range and now offers an exclusive bespoke design service. This has been followed by a 40% rise in export sales across Australia, France, Benelux, Germany, China, North America and Russia.

For more information, see the Crofts & Assinder website here.

 

 


Brooks

May 8, 2016

When the writer complained about discomfort during longer cycle journeys she was told to get a Brooks saddle. That solved the problem.

brooks saddles

A search revealed that Brook’s founder, John Boultbee Brooks, was the son of a Victorian leatherworker who sold horse tack.

brooks velocipedeWhen his horse died in 1866, it is said that Brooks started commuting to the workshop in central Birmingham on a velocipede (aka a boneshaker), which had a wrought iron frame and tyres, a carved wooden saddle, no chain and wooden wheels.

After a week or so riding it, the wooden saddle was giving him so much trouble that he made his own out of leather. 149 years later, some of the earliest saddles that JB Brooks patented — notably the leather B17 — are still being produced in Birmingham to a virtually identical specification.

The leather is sourced from English and Irish cattle because the relatively harsh island climate means these animals have developed thick skin.

The original factory, founded in 1866, was in Great Charles Street, just off New Street in the centre of Birmingham. As the company grew, Brooks commissioned the building of new purpose-built premises next to Snow Hill railway station. The business was sold to Raleigh in 1958 and moved to a redbrick Victorian factory in Smethwick.

brooks saddles logoSince 2002. Brooks has been owned by Italian saddle giant Selle Royal. Cycling Weekly reports that 34 people are currently making saddles in Brooks’ Smethwick factory, which is divided into three sections: metalworkers, leatherworkers and assemblers. It manufactures other cycle accessories such as handlebar grips, leather bar tape, rain capes, trouser straps, toe straps, mud flaps, maintenance tools and tool bags.

“We can make 1,000 saddles a day,” says Brooks’s Steven Green. “So it comes to about 5,000 a week, and we work 46 weeks of the year.”

In Italy, Selle Royal manufacture 80,000 foam padded saddles a day – technologically advanced products – but Selle maintains the traditions and history of Brooks, made only in Smethwick, Birmingham, England.

Today Brooks saddles are available in over 20 countries. Germany continues to be the largest consumer of Brooks saddles by quantity, the Netherlands per capita.

brooks tokyo cycling club

They sell well in Japan – see the interesting exchanges on Tokyo Cycling Club’s forum.

Future prospects are promising: more high-end manufacturers of bicycles are now specifying Brooks saddles as original equipment.