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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Reynolds Technology wins Digital Engineering/Technology Award

December 27, 2018

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Some readers might remember news of Reynolds Technology in 2012. A management buy-out on 24th January 2000, led by Keith Noronha, had taken Reynolds – which had been acquired by an American company – back into private ownership, keeping all the employees on board and continuing to manufacture in Tyseley, Birmingham. After 90 years at Redfern Road, Reynolds moved to a modern factory building in Shaftmoor Lane, Hall Green, Birmingham.

RTL makes ‘high-end’ cycle frames renowned in the cycle industry, with 27 Tour de France champions crossing the finish line on bicycles built with Reynolds tubing.

Mr Noronha (centre) explains: ” We now have a much larger niche, high-end customer base that has doubled and includes sports cars, the oil industry and sports wheelchairs.

“The company works actively with Birmingham University to develop new high-performance materials and processes.

“It celebrated its 100th anniversary by announcing a complete product range, using steel, aluminium, titanium and carbon fibre”

Digital innovation

Reynolds won the Made in the Midlands award for their 3D print project collaboration, which has seen 3D printed ‘dropouts’ (components) go on commercial sale.

3D printing can create more complex structures than a process like casting can produce and tend to have a high strength-to-weight and a high stiffness-to-weight ratio. The process, which may be seen here, creates minimal waste, as the shape is built up, rather than being machined from a larger block of material. It allows for a customisable design. This means that parts such as these dropouts can be altered with the same ease as ordering a takeaway online.

Reynolds 3D printed titanium dropouts are tailor-made to integrate into its chainstays and seatstays. This indicates that 3D printed parts could well significantly reduce the time and cost for framebuilders, as they are built with such precision that they seamlessly attach to frames.

The award-winning 3D print project collaboration is an ongoing project between Reynolds, Renishaw, Independent Fabrication and Moss Bikes to develop two prototype frames using a 3D printed BB shell with an optimised design. At the award ceremony, Reynolds thanked employees at Renishaw, Independent Fabrication and Moss Bikes, as well as the team at Reynolds Technology themselves, for their hard work and dedication to introducing 3D printing to their range of technologies.

 

 

Read about the company’s history here.

 

 

 

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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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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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What have Liverpool and Arsenal football clubs in common with Music Magpie?

January 29, 2018

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Football clubs were among the quickest to pay their suppliers. Liverpool managed an average of 27 days, beating Arsenal’s 35. Entertainment Magpie, as Music Magpie – an online reseller of CDS, DVDs and books – pre-owned, refurbished, and fully guaranteed –  was the fastest payer, averaging just five days, with 94% of invoices settled within 30 days.

Companies that have more than £36m annual turnover, an £18m balance sheet or 250 employees are now obliged to report to the business department twice a year their payment policies, practices and performance, due to concerns about the administrative and financial burdens faced by thousands of companies because they are not paid on time.

Small and medium-sized businesses may have to borrow to cover shortfalls and a shortage of cash can in extreme cases force them into administration.

SMEs are owed £14bn at any one time, according to the government. The Federation of Small Businesses says that late payment should be a top priority for government in 2018.  “FSB research demonstrates that a third of payments to small businesses are late with many turning to personal credit cards and overdrafts just to survive,” said Mike Cherry, the chairman.

Andy Bounds, Enterprise Editor of the Financial Times reports that filings at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) reveal late payment of suppliers.

Most UK businesses take more than 30 days to pay their suppliers, with the average as high as 113 days. Filings by about 200 businesses show that only 29% of them manage to settle their accounts within 30 days or less on average, and that only 52% of invoices overall are paid in that timeframe.

UHY Hacker Young, the national accountancy group, which studied the filings, said the figures showed the government’s transparency push has “yet to make any significant impact on the culture of late payment”. It was reported that some businesses had standard payments terms of 120 days.

  • DS Smith, the paper, packaging and recycling group, had one of the worst records. Its recycling arm took 113 days on average to pay suppliers.
  • Waterstones, the bookseller, took an average of 69 days.
  • Clifford Chance Europe (a law firm) took 73 days.
  • Conviviality, owner of the Bargain Booze and Wine Rack chains, averaged 56 days.

None of the major supermarkets has yet reported its figures. Companies have until January or April to publish the data.

The business department said its new small business commissioner, Paul Uppal, would oversee a new complaints system and help to tackle late payments, potentially delivering a £2.5bn annual boost to the economy.

Richard Lloyd-Warne, partner at UHY Hacker Young, said: “Multiple governments have tried different ways to get bigger businesses to pay on time, including allowing them to levy interest on late invoices, and the much-delayed creation of a small business commissioner role.”

The new duty to report was “a good step” Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses said, but “changes need to go further to allow the naming and shaming of those businesses who are putting the squeeze on small firms”.

 

 

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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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Could Labour under Corbyn be the natural home for small business owners?

November 18, 2017

Ibrahim Dogus, an entrepreneur and chair of SME4Labour, wrote this article as part of a series in the run-up to the Budget on November 22. Extracts:

Small businesses are the backbone of their communities and, as the best councillors and MPs know, their support is vital to making a difference on the ground throughout the country. However, there are still some people who see a contradiction between a person like me – a small business owner, employer and entrepreneur – and my solid support for the Labour and trade union movement.

The reality is, small businesses thrive when their communities thrive. They prosper in a strong society where everyone pays their fair share and we work together for the good of all. This is why I have never seen my own aspirations in isolation from wider society . . .

I founded SME4Labour in 2015. I know there were many other small business men and women, self-employed and freelancers who share our socialist values, and I want them to feel that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is their natural home.

There is no contradiction between a desire for social justice, here and around the world, and a desire to build successful, socially-responsible businesses. And of course it is a two-way street. We will not win the next election without the active support of all sections of society, including the self-employed and small businesses.

SMEs are businesses with a turnover of less than £25m, fewer than 250 employees and fewer than £12.5m in assets. In Britain this accounts for 99% of the private sector, making up nearly half of private sector turnover, or £1.8 trillion. In total, SMEs employ more than 15.7 million people. 

These are the enterprises which provide local jobs, provide community facilities and pump wealth back into local areas.  It could be the takeaway industry, which I am keen to champion. But it could also be local hairdressers, motor mechanics, corner shops, cafes or laptop repairers. It could be the cutting edge digital companies designing new software or online retailers. It could be microbreweries or gin distilleries. Whatever shape or activity, these businesses are usually rooted in their communities, keeping the lights on late at night, and giving local people the chance to work. When it comes to politics, the people running these businesses should naturally gravitate to the Labour Party. They are the many, not the few.

We hear a lot about the “mittelstand”, the backbone of the German economic miracle. Here in Britain we have the “Brit–elstand” – the brilliant small and medium enterprises on which our economy relies. As Asia’s richest man Jack Ma has said, small businesses are to the economy what babies are to society. We need to invest in our small businesses just like we need to invest in our children. That is why at the election Labour pledged to:

  • Set up a national investment bank and regional development banks to help unlock £500bn of investment and lending, including from the private sector, to deliver the critical infrastructure and skills businesses need.
  • Reform government procurement to make sure that it supports good businesses and local industry.
  • Re-introduce the small profit rate of corporation tax and commit to no quarterly reporting for businesses below the VAT threshold, giving them the certainty they need to invest in their businesses.
  • Radically reform business rates to ease the burden on the traditional high street and town centres in an age of online shopping and to create a fairer system of business taxation for all.
  • Take action on late payment to prevent the exploitation of small and medium sized businesses to ensure every business, regardless of size has every opportunity to flourish.
  • Integrate our industrial strategy with our trade strategy so that they are joined up and complementary. Only by joining these two strategies together will we truly unlock Britain’s potential to create jobs, grow our economy and raise people’s living standards.

This adds up to an impressive offer to small business but could go further: the shadow minister for small business should be at shadow cabinet-level, not merely part of the shadow BEIS team.

SMEs are not just economically vital – they are the glue holding our communities together. If we are to change this country from the bottom up, we must do everything we can to support their development. Only then will we build an economy that works for everyone.  

 

 

 

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