Brandauer: joint winner of the ‘Innovation in Manufacturing’ title

April 6, 2019

Our first coverage of Brandauer (2012) followed Carl Chinn`s broadcast on this Newtown company which had celebrated its 150th anniversary a few months earlier, mentioning that it had produced components for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

There were two other reports in 2015, one celebrating its successful reshoring and multi-skilling.

C.Brandauer & Co is one of the UK’s leading independent presswork specialists, manufacturing millions of precision components every week. It employs 65 people at its factory in Birmingham, investing in the latest technologies to ensure it can compete globally, with 70 per cent of its turnover going overseas to China, the EU and US. One such is Visi Vero CAD/CAM software and Microsoft Dynamics Navision, a state-of-the-art Enterprise Resource Planning system that helps to optimise processes.

It is also the only manufacturer in the UK with a license to manufacture EloPin®, a groundbreaking press-fit product which allows the solderless connection of terminal pins to a printed circuit board, which is promising to revolutionise the world of automotive electronics and the first contract, worth nearly £1m, has already been secured. Rowan Crozier (above, left), CEO of Brandauer, said “EloPin® is proving a global phenomenon and we fully expect it to generate over £2m of revenue in 2019.”

At the December West Midlands Tech Awards, organised by BirminghamLive and CoventryLive, The Mail reported that this SME manufacturer faced competition from many other firms to be named joint winner of the ‘Innovation in Manufacturing’ title, sharing the accolade with Jaguar Land Rover (JLR).

 

 

 

 

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Fracino: five years on

September 30, 2018

Aston coffee machine manufacturer Fracino was first featured on this site in 2012, with two blogs following on in 2013 – one being The ’Made in Britain’ mark: the FT cites Birmingham firm Fracino.

It is good to hear of Fracino’s TV coverage, from a Shirley reader, who comments: “the BBC has caught up!” He sent word that TV news (21st September) had reported from the factory with interviews with the founder’s son and Fracino’s MD, Adrian Maxwell (above), emphasising the “Made in Britain” mark as a selling point. They also interviewed a young (girl) apprentice and another manufacturing boss from other companies who had come in for the item

An online search revealed that a few days earlier the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce reported 17 new appointments, including service engineers, boiler manufacturers and assembly line operatives, increasing Fracino’s ‘multi-award winning team’ to 70, continuing:

“A third production line has been installed to meet increased demand and a multi-million pound investment programme has brought benefits including cutting-edge production and fabrication equipment and modern, energy saving technology”.

The team sells thousands of machines every year to customers including Subway, Patisserie Valerie, Living Ventures Restaurant Group, AMT Coffee and Pathfinder pub chains. The manufacturer also exports to over 70 countries worldwide.

Admirable aspects of its work include:

  • fabricating the majority of the company’s components in-house,
  • placing a high priority on its in-house training certification for engineers, introduced in 2015.

Selected as the nation’s premier coffee equipment and beverage supplier

The first ‘State of the nation’ survey, which targeted over 500 coffee shops, was followed by a ‘Hot to Stock’ study of more than 400 café owners. Fracino emerged as the nation’s premier coffee equipment and beverage supplier.

And last Friday, Catering Insight reported that Fracino was invited by BBC Breakfast to respond to findings by the manufacturer’s organisation, the EEF, on how the UK is the world’s ninth largest industrial nation though most people think it is only ranked 56th.

A BBC crew filmed live from Fracino’s manufacturing facility where 5,000 machines are produced annually – each displaying the Made in Britain marque.

With predictions that the UK will take its place among the world’s five biggest industrial nations by 2021 if current trends continue, Adrian Maxwell says British manufacturing – which makes up 44% of total exports and directly employs 2.6m people – plays a vital role. He added that although the UK market has faced major challenges over the last 12-18 months, mainly due to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the manufacturing sector is booming.: “Fracino is proud to be making a key contribution with quality products which are commissioned by global brands.”

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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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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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Berck of West Bromwich: worker-management co-operation, training and investment

September 26, 2017

Berck Ltd, a family-run company in West Bromwich, founded in 1947, took difficult decisions to weather the downturn following the 2008 economic crisis.

To reduce costs, the company chairman Brian Yates and the management team decided to cut 11 jobs in the firm, which employed 90 people (above). They also asked the remaining employees to cut working hours and they agreed to do this in order to help the company through the crisis. After applying for a bank loan secured against the factory buildings, there was still a question about Berck’s ability to pay its monthly instalments on the loan and the directors were asked to take a salary break of two years, and put in some of their own money.

These measures were successful and in 2015, Berck received a Made in the Midlands’ Manufacturing Achievement Award

Berck produces a wide range of precision components, including cabling and routing, brackets batteries, terminal contacts, in-tank fuel cell sensors, air bag technology, switching for dashboard systems, which are used in the majority of car manufacturing plants in the UK and overseas. Products are exported to China, Mexico, India, Brazil, Egypt, the United States, Dominican Republic and most countries in Europe. components. Berck also serves over twenty other sectors, including domestic appliances, home computers, alternative medicines, i.t networking and solar heating

Like many successful West Midlands companies covered on this website, they invest in training and new machinery.

Above: Joe Hickman, toolroom apprentice – more news of apprentices on their Facebook page.

Last year, Berck invested in a Nikon Metrology iNEXIV VMA-4540 CNC video measuring machine (below) to replace Mitutoyo Quick Vision Ace CNC optical coordinate measuring machine (CMM) and a Kemco manual touch-probe CMM to inspect sheet metal parts and tools. See the Nikon pdf.

The latest widely reported news is that in July this year, Berck acquired Walsall’s Fourjay, specialists in deep drawing. The staff from Fourjay will now move across to West Bromwich to join Berck’s 70-strong workforce. Darren Yates, managing director at Berck, welcomed the addition of people with a variety of new skills to their skilled workforce.

Berck will now be supplying the MoD with vital fuses for Typhoon Eurofighter and F-16 combat jets. May they be used only for defence.  

 

 

 

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