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. 






Top posts in June: Linecross Composites & Newby Foundries – USA interest & a visitor from Kazakhstan

June 21, 2017

It is interesting to see these 2013 posts attracting attention and an unprecedented number of visitors from the United States – three times as many as from the UK, which usually heads the list.

Newby Foundries (iron & steel castings) has overcome its difficulties and BI Composites (Halesowen) was taken over by Linecross (above), saving 120 jobs. This means we say farewell as it now has 280 employees, more than the SME upper limit of 250.

The last entry on the Linecross website was dated 2015 – but probably public outreach is not a priority for the busy company. At the end of 2016 it was selected as one of the UK’s fastest growing private-companies by Real Business.

The advent of a solitary reader from Kazakhstan caused the writer to wonder what the link would be. She found that this country is home to one of the companies in Russia’s POLYPLASTIC Group. As a manufacturer of plastic materials and a processor into several products, reading about the wider range of Linecross products would be of interest and we noted several POLYPLASTIC UK contacts.

See one Kazakh POLYPLASTIC factory here: Arystan Stepnogorsky Pipe Plant

Russia’s industry was being severely damaged by a financial crisis in the 90s but POLYPLASTIC, set up in 1991 managed to maintain its level of production, becoming a top-rated plastics processing conglomerate.

Next week: an update on Kings Norton’s Adi Group





German readers head the stats list: Aquapak Polymers top post

May 22, 2017

Twice as many German readers visited the site last week compared with UK visitors – why?

Most read news: a March entry, Aquapak Polymers, a sustainable plastics manufacturer, is relocating from Kings Norton to new 50,000 sq ft production base at Hollymoor Point, Rubery. Mike Everard, managing director of Aquapak Polymers, said, “This is a world-class facility that will see the creation of new jobs for Birmingham, as well as supporting the regeneration of the area and the wider goals for the Midlands region.

We note that West Midlands manufacturing businesses are reported to have enjoyed a solid financial performance over the past month according to the latest sector tracking report from insolvency and restructuring body R3.

Later in June, after settling in to my new home in Gloucestershire, there will be news of King Norton’s ADI Electrical and Cradley Heath’s Arthur Perry & Co.




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.





Aquapak has moved its production base at Hollymoor Point, Rubery

March 5, 2017



Aquapak Polymers, a sustainable plastics manufacturer, is relocating from Kings Norton to new 50,000 sq ft production base at Hollymoor Point, Rubery. Mike Everard, managing director of Aquapak Polymers, said, “This is a world-class facility that will see the creation of new jobs for Birmingham, as well as supporting the regeneration of the area and the wider goals for the Midlands region. (Below, under construction)


By the end of March it will have the capacity to expand production to 30,000 tonnes of plastic pellets with flexibility to further increase production as demand grows. The recent ‘new plastics economy’ report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation revealed the alarming statistic that, by 2050, there will be more plastics than fish in the world’s oceans by weight. That report called for “moon shot” innovations to make plastic packaging more closed-loop compatible.

aquapak_2construction15_lrgThe new building, due to be fully operational this month

Social Stock Exchange, which is dedicated to businesses and investors with a positive social and environmental impact, explains that Aquapak has developed a multi-purpose polymer for packaging which is 100% recyclable and 100% biodegradable (water soluble). It promises to revolutionise the world of plastic packaging and help to stop polluting the world’s oceans. The aim is eventually to switch, where possible, to a non-fossil (and therefore more sustainable) bio-feedstock, which “will ensure we complete the sustainability criteria.”

Aquapak’s product is used as a coating for paper, to toughen car windscreens and in detergent pouches, where it is flushed into the waste streams. If it gets into the oceans, it will sink, gradually soften and fall apart, to be safely eaten by the bugs in the ocean and sea-life, tackling the ever-increasing problem of plastic waste and the resulting marine and environmental contamination. Its website sets out five aims:

  • bringing multi-functional plastics into a circular economy,
  • producing a recyclable and biodegradable material, with
  • a high performance barrier, high mechanical strength, compatible with all end of life options
  • optimising food waste collections with an anaerobic digestion compatible polymer
  • improving waste systems used in healthcare.

Mike Everard, Managing Director of Aquapak, explains in another article: “ The British Coatings Federation estimates that 78 million plastic containers and 50 million metal tins are used for decorative paint each year.  With only a third of Household Waste Recycling Centres accepting waste paint, and by default containers, this results in the majority ending up in landfill sites, being incinerated or simply gathering dust in garages and sheds up and down the country. Aquapak offers a fully recyclable, flexible plastic pouch as an effective, affordable and sustainable alternative to traditional metal tins or plastic containers.”




Thermotec news

December 12, 2016


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.




CMA Moldform in Erdington

March 8, 2016

cma moldform

Erdington’s CMA Moldform, established in 1990, provides design and casting facilities for industry, optical art moulding, centrifugal  and vacuum castings, and high capacity rotacasting. CMA has diversified into the development and manufacture of rapid prototypes and low volume parts production for the automotive, aerospace, defence, medical and art sectors.

Following the continued rapid expansion of the business, it undertook a major restructure and the various departments within the company; Rapid Prototyping, Scale Models, Art, Industrial Production and Specialised Products, from 1st May 2015, became separate businesses trading under the name: CMA Moldform Group Ltd.

Their customers – an ever-increasing list of companies – require low volume automotive, aerospace and medical manufacturing, artistic commissions, and a thousand parts from their scale model production department.  For other markets CMA makes display screen surrounds, flexible hoses, iPad supports, protective covers, production jigs, and marine assemblies.

Its art department produces a wide range of sculptures, trophies, interior designs including lighting, coffee/dining/bedside tables, exterior signage, bollards, statues, public and many bespoke limited edition designs.

cma moldform unityProbably the most high profile commission has been the Unity sculpture at Kings Cross Central designed by Simon Hitchens and resin cast by CMA, which “visually references the heavy engineering used in the area’s industrial past in a form suggestive of two large and redundant cogged wheels: the granite element symbolises the robust building materials used in the old Goods Yard, where commodities were moved about by rail and cart. The more technologically challenging blue resin element hints both at the Regents Canal and the important part it played in the transport of goods, but also the aspirational state of the art future being built at Kings Cross Central”, a regeneration area.

Like many of the companies featured on the West Midlands Producers site, the CMA Moldform Group has made judicious and substantial investment in new manufacturing equipment, bringing positive returns in the form of a number of new contracts, one growth area being the supply of component parts for World Rally Championship team entrants and other motor sport cars and motorbikes.