Updates and announcements from the manufacturing arena

Feeling good
Circutor SA, based in Spain, has chosen to use a compound of the THERMOLAST K family for the outer cover of its new MYeBOX power analysers. “When searching for an elastomer case material with perfect adhesion to polycarbonate, we approached our experienced injection moulder and followed their recommendation,” says Javier Nebril from Circutor’s development team. “After testing several hardness variants of the AD1 THERMOLAST K series, we chose a compound that provides the frame of MYeBOX with good impact and scratch resistance and a balanced soft, but nonslip feel.”

The UL94 HB-listed TPE is characterised by cost-effective processability in multi-component injection moulding. This processing capability with TPE not only allows high productivity and excellent energy efficiency but also avoids the problem of stress cracking, which often occurs particularly with polycarbonate. In addition, the material’s recyclability significantly reduces the amount of waste produced. KRAIBURG TPE supported the customer in both material selection and testing and colour matching the compound.

“Customers today expect technical devices to provide both functionality and a high degree of comfort and aesthetics,” emphasises Josef Neuer at KRAIBURG TPE. “MYeBOX is an excellent example of the plenty of possible innovative applications that combine exacting technical standards with attractive and durable tactile properties, for which our thermoplastic elastomers can be used in a cost-effective way.”

Next-generation technology
UK engineering specialist Teddington has unveiled its next-generation control panel technology designed for ultra-long-life products and critical systems. IRISmodular is a new approach to the design and manufacture of panels that use Cortex-based digital processors.

Teddington MD James Henderson said the technology has been developed in response to changing market demands. “Following discussions with the MoD and private sector we realised that the lifecycle of products was being extended by between ten to 15 years,” he said. “At the same time, people were approaching us and asking us to reverse engineer a variety of different systems because a lot of small, niche manufacturers that provided these services were going out of business or being bought by very large companies. The costs involved were just too high.”

IRISmodular is designed for all panel types, makes and uses and can be deployed in new panels or as retrofit internals. James continued: “The unique, generic architecture means the modules are completely interchangeable – allowing us to retrofit a new processor with no impact on existing systems. As a result, upgrades are made easier and critical systems can keep functioning, offering enhanced security and improved longevity.

“Crucially, around 80 per cent of the work is already complete because many of the modules that clients need are already suitable for integration – GSM, MBUS, power control. Development efforts are then simply any bespoke hardware and software requirements. Production costs are reduced and time to market is that much faster.”

Massive investment
The last six years have seen successful Lancashire business What More UK invest £25 million in manufacturing at Altham – in new buildings, new product groups and, most recently, a £13.5 million investment in new state-of-the-art production machines.

Garry Ireland, Operations Director at What More UK, describes it as ‘the Rolls-Royce of equipment’. “As the biggest UK manufacturer of plastic housewares, it’s important we can deliver the best products in the shortest time. We haven’t quite finished installing all the new machines, there are eight more due to arrive this year. We will have invested £13.5 million in new machinery over the last two years alone.

“We have hybrid machines which are Italian made, and also German made machines. It’s safe to say they are all completely bespoke made too. After years as a leading manufacturer, through continuous trial and error, we know what we want from our machines. Alongside being more efficient and economical, the new machines are perfectly tailored to our requirements and those of our clients.”

Brexit proof factory
Leading cake decorations manufacturer Cake Décor has just completed a major investment in a new factory, making it totally Brexit proof – with all products being sourced in the UK and created at the new facility in Glasgow.

Since its inception in 2006, the Cake Decor business has grown every year, and now employs 100 staff at peak periods. The company began by manufacturing Writing Icing Tubes in 2006, and then added Sugar paste, Frostings, Choco Melts and Sprinkles to its range.

Always keen to expand, MD and founder Bill Donnelly has just completed a £1m investment in a new state-of-the-art sprinkle decorations factory.

Now fully on-stream, this factory supplies UK bakeries, large and small, with a full range of sprinkle decorations, from 00s & 000s to sugar strands to sprinkle shapes. Truckloads of these decorations leave the site every day, packed in 15kg bulk boxes, or resealable 500g tubs. The site has full BRC AA+ accreditation, and is fully-approved by every UK retailer.

The new Decorations Factory is the showpiece of the Cake Décor site. “Our new facilities allow us to produce wonderful ranges of sprinkles, at competitive prices, with the added benefit of being produced in the UK. This means the trade can have no Brexit fears with Cake Décor,” says Sales Director, Danielle Harvey.

The new facilities bring increased capacity, and the company has ambitious plans to work even more closely with UK and European plant bakeries and supermarkets.

Bill Donnelly, MD and founder of Cake Décor, says: “We are incredibly proud of our new manufacturing facility – we made the decision to invest heavily to increase our production to cope with the ever increasing demand for our products both in retail and food service and also to prevent any difficulties around Brexit. We are very excited by what we can now achieve both in terms of growth and reliability in these uncertain times.”

News in brief
European excellence
The Zero Defects Manufacturing Platform (ZDMP) project launched in January 2019, and will run for 48 months with an investment of 19m euros provided by the 30 sponsoring companies and the European Commission. Its mission is to develop and establish a digital platform and related Apps for achieving excellence in manufacturing through zero defect processes and products. Stuart Campbell, CEO of Information Catalyst, based in Haslington near Crewe, and Manager of ZDMP stated: “ZDMP will ensure that European industry remains competitive and keeps its leading manufacturing position by producing high quality products at a low cost in the most efficient way.”

The right direction
The volume of patent applications filed by UK businesses in Europe has risen again. The Annual Report statistics released by the European Patent Office (EPO) show that patent applications originating in the UK rose by 7.8 per cent to 5,736 in 2018; building on growth of 2.4 per cent in 2017. The UK has also retained its three per cent share of total European patent applications. Karl Barnfather, chairman of European intellectual property firm, Withers & Rogers, noted: “Whilst the headline figures are positive, there is still room for improvement. Businesses in Germany are filing four times as many patent applications in Europe as businesses in the UK. Underlying the EPO’s latest statistics, there is also a significant disparity in UK investment in R&D, compared to other nations.”

Carbon footprint slashed
Precision engineering specialist, Advanced Engineering, has seen staggering results from its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint in recent months. The company has been part of Aston University’s Low Carbon Project since May last year. Ever since then, every single element of its energy consumption has been measured, monitored and analysed.

Its efforts are already paying off across all areas of the business. The company has significantly reduced its relative carbon footprint, which was originally 240 tonnes, by 60 tonnes, as well as slashing its electricity consumption.