Leading plastics manufacturing equipment supplier Wittmann Battenfeld UK is keeping pace with supplying leading plastics processor Advanced Plastics and Composites (APC) with the production technology for new orders in a variety of demanding technical markets.
The Hull-based moulder is a 100% Wittmann Battenfeld machinery customer since its foundation in 1992 and the company’s most recent purchase is a Wittmann Battenfeld HM90t B6s injection moulding machine which is now moulding a variety of highly technical parts for the defence industries.
Wittmann Battenfeld UK sales engineer Danny Williams says that 'our HM range offers the best space-saving footprint in the industry, and this coupled with its large clamp area was ideal for the needs of this particular job at APC. This injection moulding machine replaces an existing 60 tonne machine, and we were therefore able to give APC a package that offered significantly more energy savings at a very competitively price.'
Williams adds that 'we are also supplying the B6s control - a B&R industrial processor,16 bit based, with Windows XP embedded. It has a large touch-screen visual display unit (VDU) which offers extremely flexible control and process history log, along with an extremely user friendly interface.'
Operating from a single site in Hull, East Yorkshire, APC operates solely Battenfeld machines with fourteen units ranging from 40 to 450 tons, from ordering the first machines in 1992 the company has steadily expanded and replaced machines. Director Chris Pearson says that 'we are very pleased with our relationship with Wittmann Battenfeld and with the sales and service that we received.'
Advanced Plastics embarked on a three year strategic growth plan in 2007 when the full shareholding of the business was acquired by a partnership consisting of Rob Anderson - one of three founding Directors of the company in 1992 and Chris Pearson – a former Automotive Business Unit Manager at Japanese owned Nifco UK. Both directors are from an engineering background and both play a key role in the day to day running of the business.
In establishing the vision for their company, Anderson and Pearson wanted to build on the already strong existing values of highly skilled technical support and outstanding customer service. APC also set out to insulate the future fortunes of the company from single market risk. The strategy has been to spreading the moulding focus across five major customers in differing sectors including Leisure vehicles, Technical automotive components, Gas Boilers, Defence and Filtration.
Since the new direction APC has seen growth in all of these areas. Pearson says that 'one interesting feature of the current recession is that many customers are repatriating their mould tooling back to the UK from Eastern Europe and USA. Despite other factors, the current weakness of the pound has a definite upside for some parts of UK manufacturing. Many OEM customers are using this period to rationalise suppliers based on financial stability. A certain amount of new product developments is also taking place in preparation for the pending market recovery.'
Pearson adds that 'at APC we have used a certain amount of production downtime in the early part of the year in order to train our staff in disciplines such as 5S and lean manufacturing. We have succeeded in utilising the Manufacturing Advisory Service, and we have also gone forward implementing automation needs and new technology such as Servo Robots, Linear Vibration Welding and Decorative Printing. In short, we at APC feel very positive about the future and about our abilities to compete in world markets. We are in a strong position for our current expansion phase.'
Meantime the APC partnership with Wittmann Battenfeld is set to go from strength to strength. Both companies are currently working through the specification for a 150 tonne locking force injection moulding machine. This will be supplied by Wittmann Battenfeld complete with Wittmann servo robot, bespoke automation package and ancillary equipment. APC will use this cell to manufacture over-moulded pleated paper filter assemblies for the agricultural and commercial vehicle market and internal flue gas carrying components for the gas boiler market.