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Manufacturer defies Brexit uncertainty

A Telford fabrication specialist is defying Brexit negativity to secure a number of new contracts, contributing to a 20% increase in turnover in 2018.

Hitherbest, which provides sheet metal/punching, folding and powder coating capabilities, is taking advantage of the value of the pound against the dollar, as well as a number of productivity improvements masterminded by its production team.

The company has also benefitted from expert assistance from the Business Energy Efficiency Programme (BEEP) and the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP), with the latter completing a strategic review and identifying ways in which the firm can improve its energy usage.

This led to the introduction of specialist energy engineering consultancy Pro Enviro and a comprehensive project that has already generated nearly £15,000 of savings and a reduction in gas, electricity and powder usage.

“We’ve had a very strong twelve months that has seen us win a lot of work to produce parts for switchgear cabinets, industrial equipment and the heating and ventilation sector,” explained Peter Grant, managing director at Hitherbest.

“Five new jobs have been created, taking our total workforce to 35 highly skilled staff. In line with this expansion, we were also using our machinery and plant more and recognised the need to work smarter with energy to have a positive impact on the environment and help to manage costs effectively.

“Internally, we didn’t have the right expertise to make it happen, so we decided to turn to support from BEEP and then the Manufacturing Growth Programme.

“It has proved to be a wise decision, as this approach gave us a framework and support for an in-depth analysis of the environmental opportunity that we knew we had, but simply didn’t have the resource or knowledge to carry out whilst still trying to keep on top of day-to-day priorities.”

Hiterbest has been working with MGP and experts Pro Enviro to modernise its powder coating line, replacing the burner boxes, rebuilding the top section of both ovens and installing new modulating burners. The re-design also included the integration of a new control system into the existing tracks and powder delivery system.

“Based on our extended shift pattern that we use to offer fast turnaround services, these improvements should reduce gas costs by £3640 and electricity by £3700, whilst a 1.6 tonne decrease in the amount of powder used could add up to a £7,400 annual saving,” added Peter.

“The greater control of the system will also improve the quality of the finished parts significantly, whilst improving our carbon footprint…something that is important to how we operate.”

Catherine Bray, manufacturing growth manager at MGP, added her support: “Hitherbest is a fantastic example of how SMEs can access our services and make the most of grants to improve their businesses.

“What we do best is forensically look at what is causing a manufacturer an issue and then explore ways in which we can overcome it. In this instance, we brought in Pro Enviro, who used its specialist knowledge to put in place modifications that are already delivering a host of cost and social benefits.”

Hitherbest is investing £350,000 into new technology, including the acquisition of a Trumpf Trumatic 5000R, which replaces existing equipment and helps the company increase capacity in line with customer requirements.

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