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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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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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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Avonstar of Digbeth: metal manufacturing

October 14, 2017

Make Works, an open resource where you can discover skilled manufacturers, tools and materials to make work with in your area, lists Digbeth’s  Avonstar – a ‘light’ engineering firm which has been providing quality service to its customers for over 20 years.

Avonstar’s skilled 30 employees can handle all types of metal construction and parts of construction and undertake work in all types of metal – including steel, aluminium and stainless steel.It offers powder coating, which contains no solvents and releases little or no chemical pollution into the atmosphere, unlike liquid coatings.

They work with a wide range of clients based in Digbeth, including arts organisations and individual creative practitioners.

The Avonstar website appears to be ‘under construction’ but the company has developed another remarkable site for an online trading store.

Avonstar Classics supplies a wide range of useful metal goods to customers in many sectors including city councils, education departments and the automotive industry, supplying

  • clinics and hospitals
  • kitchen departments
  • car accessories
  • campervan/caravans
  • gardening stores
  • sports departments (for rugby, netball, fishing and football)

 

To see their full range go to Avonstar Classics.

 

 

 

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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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A Perry & Co: new staff and new premises

July 18, 2017

Good news has been received about yet another family-owned firm. A Perry & Co of Cradley Heath, established in 1925 by Arthur Perry, is run by fourth generation family members, employing 85 staff supplying products to clients around the world.

It is the UK’s largest independent manufacturer of hinges, ironmongery, threaded bar, fasteners and fixings, chains, in the UK increasing its number of customers around the world, due to its product range and justifiable reputation for quality and service. It supplies many industries, including boat and marine, heavy machinery (lifting gear), Architectural Metalwork, domestic/garden and the security sector.

A Perry & Co has moved next door to new 90,000 sq ft premises, doubling its warehousing space and taking on five new members of staff.The £3.5m investment includes two-storey office space for a call centre and administration, two large manufacturing units, a 90,000 sq ft purpose-equipped warehouse and distribution centre, a loading yard and car parking. Two new sectors have been introduced to the company by Mr Perry’s sons Steven and Chris: Primus, which specialises in garden art and accessories and Equestrian, which supplies a range of tack room, stable components and related equipment.

Up to 20 containers are now arriving every month. Instead of manually checking the stock and status of every product,  a new business software solution, OrderWise, does what was previously an extensive manual process.  Lead times, stock levels, future forecasted demand, forward orders, existing purchase orders, minimum stock requirements and more is automatically accounted for.  Purchase orders can then be  emailed, faxed or printed and sent directly to suppliers in their native currency.

The new centre will dramatically improve dispatch services to UK and overseas customers, now delivering to more than 14,000 pallet locations.

 

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