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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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 http://rsdpressings.co.uk/about/

 

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

 

 

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Post-Brexit, with an ageing workforce and a shortage of graduates with science, engineering or mathematics qualifications, effective training is needed for younger and older workers

February 18, 2018

 

In April 2017 an apprenticeship levy was introduced. It requires companies with a £3m payroll or above to pay 0.5% of it to the government in return for vouchers, which smaller companies can also access, to spend on apprenticeships . . .

The EEF’s summary – from the employer’s perspective

The FT’s Business editor writes: “It is now clear that the UK government’s apprenticeship levy simply isn’t working. Apprenticeships fell by more than a quarter in the last three months of 2017 year on year, having fallen by 60% in the previous three months. Since April, when the levy was introduced, there have been just 158,000 apprenticeship starts, compared with 269,000 in the same period a year before”.

Some universities are now offering degree apprenticeships

These offer the opportunity to gain industrial knowledge and practical, relevant experience by combining study with on-the-job training. Leeds Beckett University is one such provider for non-levy and levy paying organisations in Leeds City Region.

And at post-graduate level

The Engineering Integrity Society events have recently included Young Engineers Seminars in January 2018, July 2017, December 2016, for newly qualified engineers from different companies who are encouraged by more senior engineers to attend. EIS is a long established charitable society, which focusses on the areas of fatigue, testing and durability. EIS members have many years of experience in these fields gained through working in some of the best-known companies in the industry.

“The levy has led employers to recoup the cost of existing in-house training schemes by relabelling them as apprenticeships” 

This Times leader also points out: “Ofsted cannot cope and the reasons are not complicated. The new apprenticeships target has increased its workload but its budget has been cut by 38% over the last two parliaments: it stood at £200 million in 2011 and will fall to £124 million by 2020. Reversing this cut would be easy to justify if the apprenticeship levy were working, since this would in due course drive up wages and tax revenues as well as skills. But the levy is not working. It was meant to incentivise large employers to invest more in apprenticeships by requiring them to pay into a central fund from which they can claim back some or all of their training costs.”

MP Meg Hillier, chairman, adds that parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has found that private providers are paid with taxpayers’ money to deliver public services but that government sometimes fails to monitor the results or penalise those that do not deliver.

A number of private providers have failed – the most widely publicised being First4Skills (funded by the government’s Skills Funding Agency) – and including Talents Training and Shared Educational Services Limited – leaving the apprentices and the institutions which hired them in serious difficulties.

Undeterred, last month the Cabinet Office launched a policy paper: Shared Services strategy for government.

Mission impossible? “The government is seeking to boost the number of apprenticeships at the same time as slashing the budget for Ofsted who are responsible for enforcing quality”

This is the charge made in another Times article, by Joe Dromey, senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research, who has given evidence to the education select committee’s inquiry into apprenticeships.

The FT’s Business editor believes that the need for training and reskilling is imperative at a time when manufacturing is at a turning point, with the industrial internet about to revolutionise processes and business models and the integration and linking of big data, analytical tools and wireless networks with physical and industrial equipment. 

 

 

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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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Metro and Redwood: new banks offering loans and savings accounts for small and medium sized companies

September 7, 2017

Metro Bank started operations in 2010. Its first branch in the West Midlands will be the flagship operation for the region.

Business Desk adds that Metro Bank is the UK’s first new retail bank in more than 100 years, providing both retail and commercial banking services. The four floor Birmingham operation will also be slightly larger than its other outlets, which typically create around 25 jobs.

The model is based on a retail format and located at the heart of the busy shopping area.

Its website says: ” We’ve built a different kind of high street bank. A bank with stores that are open when it suits you, 7 days a week. A bank where you can walk in without an appointment and walk out with a working account, debit card and all. A bank that tells you exactly what you’re getting, in language that actually makes sense. A bank that puts you first”.

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Redwood Bank promises that its money is being invested in British businesses and our local communities

Redwood Bank, Britain’s newest business bank for SMEs, is open for business just over four months after securing its initial banking licence.

The FT reports that co-founder Jonathan Rowland said the uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote would continue to restrict appetite among the mainstream banks to engage in commercial property lending:

“This is an ideal time to apply for a full banking licence; the major banks have not returned to anywhere near their pre-crisis business lending levels and the uncertainty caused by Brexit is likely to worsen the situation.” Mr Rowland helped to restructure and recapitalise Kaupthing Bank Luxembourg, a subsidiary of the Icelandic bank.

Gary Wilkinson, co-founder and chief executive of Redwood Bank, said: “We are delighted to be open for business so soon following the issuing of our initial banking licence. We aim to offer a real alternative for small and medium sized organisations, providing them with simple transparent loans and savings accounts, great service and a promise that our money is being invested into British businesses and our local communities.“

 

 

 

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Arc Specialist Engineering Limited: Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Walsall

August 6, 2017

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Arc Specialist Engineering Limited, formerly known as Bowman Birmingham Limited, is a group of steel processing businesses formed in March 2013 which manufacture and supply various specialist steel products. Its majority shareholders were Marc and Nathaniel Meyohas (Greybull Capital, a family-owned, family-run business, see its dealings with Tata, Morrisons and more). Over the years the number of employees has grown from 200 in 2013 to 500.

In July 2017 Mobeus Equity Partners backed Arc’s management team buyout and refer to a partnership with the Arc managers.

Its strategies: to differentiate services and find niche markets

  • As UK manufacturers facing overseas competition, the Arc companies look for manufacturers of products that won’t travel well, because items that are easy to dispatch overseas face competition with countries such as China, South Korea and Taiwan.
  • They have found that small-volume manufacturing accesses markets that larger competitors wouldn’t enter, such as the pre-coated non-stick bakeware market. Many bigger coil coating businesses are coating 100,000 plus tonnes of metal per year; while Arc’s subsidiary Cooper Coated Coil (below) coats just under 20,000 tonnes per year.

  • PVC window and door reinforcement products access markets which require lower run quantities, more frequent deliveries and more product variety than larger firms are interested in offering.
  • Because relatively small amounts are manufactured Arc’s companies are good at ‘changeovers’ – converting an assembly line or machine from running one product to another
  • Its system enables the managing director of each business to be close to customers and employees within the business, providing not only the product itself, but also knowledge, advice and an excellent service, building strong long-term relationships.

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Over Greybull’s four years of ownership, time and resources were invested to turn Arc around. Andy Richardson, who leads the current management team, said: “The past four years have seen a transformation of Arc into a profitable growing business, with hundreds of jobs saved along the way, all made possible by much-needed investment in our manufacturing capabilities. We are immensely excited about the next stage of our journey, which would not have been possible without Greybull’s guidance and support. We are very grateful for everything they have committed to the business”.

 

 

 

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