DK Rewinds: maintaining and manufacturing spares for traction motors

May 6, 2017

DK Rewinds a Smethwick family business founded in 1976 by Mr Harbhajan Singh Bhogal, has two sites in the area, employing over 60 full time staff, including three electrical engineering apprentices.

It provides a “One Stop” repair and rewind service for traction motors in the utilities, rail (below) and industrial sectors.

It has a dedicated staff and specialist equipment providing a comprehensive maintenance service for those three sectors.

Its extensive CNC machine shop manufactures spares for many different types of electric motors in use all over the world today.

 The British rail freight company English, Welsh and Scottish Railway Company (EWS) was taken over by DB Schenker but trains still carry the EWS liveries and logos

The company was visited last year by London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross, who met staff and talked about their work.

Balvinder S Bhogal, managing director and Val Shawcross

DK Rewinds supplies components and undertakes repairs to keep London Underground trains operational. It specialises in repairing the traction motors that power Central Line trains, producing new components for motors that match the originals so that faulty trains can be quickly fixed and brought back into service.

Balvinder Bhogal said: “We have been working with Transport for London for 30 years as a key supplier. This has enabled DK Rewinds to invest in our workforce, which includes training apprentice and graduate engineers. The work we receive from TfL is very important to the Midlands and the region benefits greatly from these business links.”

The latest news: DK Rewinds attended the Freight in the City’s summit, Improving the last mile’, on 1st March 2017 at Edgbaston Stadium.





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”.





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


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 celebrated its 20th anniversary in November 2016.





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.


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.




A project which aims to encourage UK businesses to source locally

October 1, 2016


In April this year the press reported that after three years of trial and research, Glastonbury Festival launched a sustainable, recycled stainless steel pint cup for use on a major scale at this year’s event will only have been missed by those who don’t read newspapers or scan Twitter.

At least one of our readers will have enjoyed a pint from one of those stainless steel pint pots manufactured by APS of Great Hampton Street, Hockley. 


APS Metal Pressings Ltd, located at the Birmingham end of Hockley Flyover, has its own in-house fleet of trucks to ensure deliveries of pressed products, stampings and welded assemblies directly to mainland UK based customers, on time, every time. Established in 1970, the company supplies many industries, including the automotive, construction, mining and DIY sectors.

aps-potFor the Festival, the question of how to reduce the amount of waste – in particular pint beer cups – has always been a challenging one, according to its founder Michael Eavis. The stainless pints are made of food grade 80% recycled British stainless steel. When Festival-goers need a refill, they will be able to exchange their cup for a fresh one. Over 200,000 cups were in circulation in ten major bars across the site, with customers paying a £5 deposit when they bought their first pint.

The Festival’s Green Initiatives and Sustainability Coordinator Lucy Smith said, “For us, it’s part of the reusable revolution. It’s very similar to paying 5p for a carrier bag. We think people will take to it. The pints are made in Birmingham and it was a significant part of the project to have them made with British stainless steel.”

Michael Eavis hopes that the project will encourage other UK businesses to think about how they can support our steel industry during these very challenging times.

He said: “For me, the single most important thing was being able to source British stainless steel for the cups from the place where it was invented – Sheffield, and then to take it on to the home of manufacture – Birmingham. Week after week, there’s a story in the national press about jobs in the UK steel industry being put at risk. There’s seemingly no end to the negative slide of this critical industry, and if the jobs, skills and infrastructure are lost they won’t be replaced.”




Webster and Horsfall of Hay Mills: on the Times’ SME 2016 FastTrack list

September 14, 2016



Part of the FastTrack citation included this paragraph: “Founded in 1720, this family firm works with Birmingham University to develop its wire technologies for customers in the oil, gas, pharmaceutical and automotive industries. Led by chairman Charles Horsfall, 60, it lifted overseas sales to £2.4m in 2015, through online marketing and trade shows”.

Our 2014 history of this company which took us up to 1945, omitted news of its nineteenth century innovations – under Joseph Webster –  in the manufacture of music wire in the first half of the century which led to dramatic improvements in the quality of the sound produced by the concert piano of the age allowing the virtuosity of pianists such as Chopin and Liszt to attain even greater heights

In its account of the laying of the transatlantic telegraph cable there was no record that an earlier attempt to lay the cable had failed due to the inferior wire used in its construction, and that Webster and Horsfall was ‘the only company in existence’ able to manufacture wire of sufficient quality to ensure the success of the cable (1866). The Hay Mills Foundation Trust* has, within the archives, a complete record of the company’s part in the enterprise.

A post-war update is provided by the 2007 Telegraph obituary of its chairman, Col. John Coldwell-Horsfall

Following an extensive account of his military career, we read: “In 1946 Horsfall returned to England to take over the running of the family firm, Webster and Horsfall of Hay Mills, Birmingham. The firm, a manufacturer of Atlantic cable, mining ropes and many types of industrial wire, was in severe difficulties at a time of rising post-war demand. Horsfall immediately embarked on a programme of modernisation, scrapping old plant, reducing overmanning whilst maintaining good relations with the trades unions, and taking no salary himself until the firm was back in profit and had cleared its debts. It was back in profit by the end of the year, and by 1966 was enjoying the prosperity it had had in its heyday under his father”.

Proposals to help safeguard jobs within the company, as well as regenerate one of the most deprived areas of the city

In 2014 we reported that work was now underway to redevelop their ten acre Tyseley site as an industrial park with industrial, storage and distribution space. The buildings of architectural interest on the factory site, including the former workers’ housing on the Fordrough and a former schoolroom, will not be affected by the redevelopment proposals. Charles Horsfall, chairman of Webster & Horsfall, believes the proposals will help safeguard jobs within the company, as well as regenerate one of the most deprived areas of the city: “The development of our Tyseley site will generate an income stream from our surplus land to help us do this”.

*The Hay Mills Foundation Trust

webster-hay_mills_school_room_birminghamThe three hundred year history of manufacturing steel wire and wire rope in Birmingham and the histories of the people who worked here is being brought to life at Hay Mills.

Working with the archives of Webster and Horsfall, Birmingham’s oldest manufacturing business, in James Webster’s schoolroom (right) volunteers are delving into employment records and the worlds of music, transport, armaments, telecommunications, mining, oil, food production and health showing how the developments and inventions created here have been at the centre of some of significant and historic industrial events over the last three centuries.

The chairman said: “Our goal is to reach our 300th anniversary, in 2020, fighting fit” –  and it is possible that, with over 114 employees, this British SME with its fast-growing international sales will one day be too large to qualify for that title and so for this website.


For more historical information, go to