24 May 2012
Subcon 2012 preview
The ‘one-stop shop’ for a diverse range of sub-contract manufacturing services
With more exhibitors than ever and a comprehensive range of technologies on offer, Subcon 2012 is claimed to be the show to visit for companies looking for manufacturing services.
This event — being held 12-14 June at the NEC, Birmingham — will present nearly 300 companies offering services that include machining, turning, sheet-metal working, press working and fabrication, 3-D printing, plastic moulding, casting and surface engineering; also companies working in the areas of composites, electronics, metrology and materials supply. Moreover, around 70% of the exhibitors this year are from the UK, reflecting the resurgence of British manufacturing and the strength of the British manufacturing-services sector. The remaining 30% of exhibitors represent 18 countries in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia and the Far East.
Subcon has encouraged UK exhibitors to take part by sponsoring the participation of the metal-forming and castings industries and by providing the CBM (the Confederation of British Metalforming) and ICME (the Institute of Cast Metals Engineers) the opportunity to promote their members’ activities and the capabilities of UK suppliers. Subcon also reflects the way the sub-contract manufacturing sector is evolving; rather than just ‘filling in the gaps’ when the customer needs extra capacity, sub-contract manufacturing has evolved to become a central part of the manufacturing strategies of most large manufacturers.
Research by Subcon shows that most OEMs want more than just parts from their sub-contractors: 45% want assembly work done, while nearly 40% want a full manufacturing service from a ‘one-stop shop’. Customers also want their suppliers to manage ‘treatments’ for them, source third-party components and accept ship-to-line and Kanban responsibility. Over 50 of the exhibitors at Subcon offer this kind of integrated service.
This years’ Subcon seminar programme aims to hit the ‘hot topics’ concerning UK manufacturers with top-level speakers from Jaguar Land Rover, Aero Engine Controls (the Rolls-Royce and Goodrich joint venture), crane manufacturer Liebherr, the EEF (the manufacturers’ organisation), the Design Council and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy. The key themes this year include mitigating supply-chain risks and taking advantage of emerging opportunities.
The seminars run alongside the Subcon exhibition and are free to attend for registered visitors to the show. They start on Tuesday 12 June with a keynote address from Ralph Saelzer, managing director of the Sunderland works of the global crane manufacturer Liebherr and Semta Regional Council member for the North East. Entitled Business sets the skills agenda — how companies can ensure future growth and competitiveness, this will highlight the need to ensure that the UK supply chain is fit to meet the demands of a growing manufacturing sector, the risks of getting it wrong and the prize for getting it right.
Secure supply chains is the theme to be explored in a presentation by Jaguar Land Rover. As JLR experiences strong growth, it needs to be sure that its supply chain can support the company’s growth. In his presentation, the company’s purchasing risk manager — Michael Mychaljuk — will look at what the car maker perceives the risk issues to be, how it addresses them and what this means for UK suppliers. The importance of strong supply chains and capable suppliers will be the focus of a joint presentation by ADS and Aero Engine Controls. This presentation will look at the industry-led SC21 supply chain improvement programme and how it works for the suppliers and customers involved.
In a Breakfast Briefing, Andrew Johnson — senior economist at the EEF — will give an overview of the outlook and challenges for UK manufacturing. He will present the EEF’s analysis of the current economic climate, look at emerging trends and examine what needs to be done to meet challenges and seize the opportunities that lie ahead.
The ‘market openings’ featured in the presentations will include the opportunities in the oil and gas sector, which will be covered by Alastair Lang of NAMTEC; there will also be a look — by Dan Mistry of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy — at how companies can get involved in multi-billion pound fusion energy projects . In addition, Mark Knowlton of KPS will be making a presentation on value chain optimisation, lean working and supplier benchmarking; there will also be briefing sessions that take a closer look at additive manufacturing, nano-technology, printed electronics, on-line sourcing and single-point metal forming. Other highlights include Nick Guttridge of Gardner Group looking at supply chain consolidation in the aerospace sector, and a joint presentation by Design Council associate Jonathan Ball and Neil Pryke of James H Heal (a leading manufacturer of textile testing equipment) on design as a strategic issue. Places for these free-to-attend sessions can be booked via the Subcon Web site (www.subconshow.co.uk).
See them at the show
Creative Composites has extended its factory space by 40% to meet growing demand for its composites-manufacturing service and invested in an additional CNC five-axis trimming centre. The company’s range of five-axis turning centres allows it to offer customers precise trimming of composite components in very short cycle times. Its recent investments in plant and equipment total over £1.5 million. Based in Northern Ireland, Creative Composites manufactures high-quality composite components for a wide variety of industries, using a range of manufacturing processes including compression moulding, resin transfer moulding and hand lamination; these give it the ability to cater for projects with high-, medium- or low-volume demand.
Data Plastics recently used 3-D printing to help an inventor develop a revolutionary hair-brush that has just won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise (in the innovation category). Shaun Pulfrey, inventor of the Tangle Teezer hair-brush worked closely with Data Plastics’ own design team during the initial concept and design stages. He has now gone on to develop the concept further. The company recently bought a new Hewlett Packard 3-D Printer from Laserlines and will be promoting its new ‘printing’ service. From any 3-D dimensional drawing, Data Plastics can now produce the most complex of components — even those with movable parts.
ELE Advanced Technologies produces com-ponents for leading companies such as Rolls-Royce, Siemens and Borg Warner using high -technology non-conventional processes such as Viper grinding, laser drilling and electrolytic machining, as well as CNC milling and turning. Its markets include the power generation, aerospace and automotive industries. Located in Colne, Lancashire (and with a wholly owned subsidiary in Trencin, Slovakia), the company is one of only a very few manufacturers world-wide with the ability to undertake non-conventional machining such as STEM (shaped tube electrolytic machining) EDM, capillary drilling, laser drilling, Viper grinding and creep-feed grinding, alongside conventional machining such as high-speed CNC milling and turning.
The Midlands Assembly Network (MAN) will be displaying the Olympic Torch and a world first in electric powered vehicles — a road-legal three-wheeled EPV that is already attracting attention from Dubai and Singapore. MAN, which comprises 10 companies specialising in mech-anical, electrical and electronic engineering processes, has played a crucial role in both projects, with Alucast providing the top and bottom aluminium clips for the torch and FW Cables developing specialist wiring looms for the vehicle. These contracts are the latest in a long line of high-profile orders won by the collective, with Lightning Aerospace also providing fabrication services for a range of new flood barriers.
Engineering expertise and innovative thinking won Redditch-based metal metallic component specialist Samuel Taylor an £8 million a year export contract for smart meters, taking its turn-over to more than £25 million. The company developed a special metallic component that will be used in thousands of energy-saving smart meters for an American manufacturer. The company is making 1.5 million of the component at its plant in Redditch. Alastair Gordon, Samuel Taylor’s managing director, said the project was a challenge because it involved creating a part that is guaranteed to extreme consistency in order for the electronics to read the current while also being able to double as a 200A relay.
Thoni-Alutec, one of Europe’s premier castings producers, will be introducing its latest venture — the recently acquired Cinderford-based Cannop Foundry. Cannop plans to further enhance its capabilities at Cinderford to provide customers with world-class facilities for the production of low- to medium-volume high-integrity castings in both ferrous and non-ferrous alloys. On-going investments will give Cannop the ability to design and produce tooling, carry out casting simulation, manufacture, heat-treat and verify all products produced in-house. It has also established strategic partnerships with selected machining companies.
Following recent investment in two new induction heaters, fastener specialist RCF Bolt & Nut Ltd can now forge stainless-steel bolts up to M36 diameter. The Tipton-based company is also in the process of purchasing two CNC turning centres that will allow it to produce a wider range of special products and machine more high-grade bolt products. These latest investments follow the complete refurbishment of the company’s forging machines and the installation of automatic saws, as well as the installation of a new machine that allows RCF to thread products up to M64.
Bright Spark Precision Engineering,which is exhibiting at Subcon for the fourth time, counts defence, aerospace and power generation as its most important sectors; and despite a tough market, the company has increased its turnover significantly in the last two years (by 21% and 55% respectively). Continuing to invest in difficult times has been absolutely key to Bright Spark retaining its competitive edge and beating off the competition. The company has spent the year making major investments in CMM inspection equipment (from Status Metrology) and CNC machining centres (from Mills CNC Ltd). Commercial director Jon Hoyle says: “We are already making plans for our 2012 investments, and these will most likely focus more this year on CNC turning. An order has already been discussed with Citizen Machinery for an A32 sliding head CNC lathe and we are in talks with Mills regarding a Puma CNC turning centre with driven tooling.”