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Zircotec investment increases capacity ten-fold

Posted on 22 Sep 2020 and read 392 times
Zircotec investment increases capacity ten-foldOxfordshire-based Zircotec, an automotive and motorsports heat management specialist, is set to grow significantly this year, with a ten-fold increase in capacity.

This follows a £2.5 million investment into much larger premises and new equipment. The workforce is also increasing to meet exceptional levels of demand. This comes after having to overcome some unexpected hurdles over the last 18 months.

The company is a specialist in plasma-spray processing and thermal barrier solutions. Zircotec develops and produces industry leading high-performance surface coatings and finishes and bespoke heat shielding solutions. It works with many motorsport teams including Formula One teams, as well as several supercar and other performance car OEMs.

Zircotec now plans to build and grow on business established in other sectors, such as electric and hybrid vehicles, oil and gas, marine, power generation and aerospace, which it believes offer excellent growth opportunities.

These industries have stringent emissions targets and heat management requirements and Zircotec’s technology can provide a solution to manage heat, without adding excessive weight; key characteristics highly sought after in these industries.

Sales director Graeme Barette said: “The new and expanded facility means we can actively develop other sectors, where previously we were constrained by our capacity. Our success to date has largely been in automotive and motorsport, however we know our technology is valuable to many other industries too, particularly in the hybrid and electric vehicle markets.

“We know that lightweighting and heat management are critical issues in this industry and Zircotec has a solution that can solve these heat management issues.”

Zircotec offers a range of industry coatings with different performance characteristics, ideal for many different applications.

This includes the plasma applied ceramic coatings, a flexible heat shield material, carbon composite coatings, anti-wear coatings and ceramic fabrications, as well as industry-leading heat shielding solutions.

The company has also developed a conductive ceramic battery coating that provides RFI shielding with a weight-saving of up to 4kg per m2 compared to aluminum. This enables manufacturers to use carbon or plastic composite battery casings for hybrid and electric vehicles rather than the much heavier aluminum solution.

In July last year, a fire destroyed the previous Zircotec facility. A disaster recovery plan was put in place and within days the company was back up and running in a temporary facility nearby.

The new permanent home was found, just 300 yards from the old facility — a huge 20,000ft2 location, compared to the previous site, which was only 9,000ft2.

By October last year, following extensive adaptions, the company re-located to the new facility which was fully operational by the end of the year.

Barette is extremely proud of the company’s efforts in recent months, he said: “Back in July we were all devastated, and the whole workforce really pulled together. By the end of the year we were in this much bigger and better facility, ready for expansion, to meet anticipated growth — then Covid-19 happened.

“You couldn’t make it up. Thankfully the workforce is back, with even more staff than before, and we are still recruiting to increase our headcount by almost a fifth because the demand is there. This has been an exhausting but rewarding period for all of us and we are really excited about the future.”

The new purpose-designed building is set to accommodate planned growth. The amount of specialist equipment has in some cases, trebled. This includes the addition of a bespoke heat shield facility. A team of specialists can create unique heat shield solutions to meet a customer’s specific requirements.

Some of this specialist equipment has also been automated. Previously there was one automated booth used for plasma spraying. This is being increased to five, significantly increasing the available capacity, to meet growing demand.

Automation will reduce downtime, delivering extremely consistent results at the same time as massively increasing production output. This is in-line with OEM requirements and mass production programmes.

Mr Barette added: “Lightweighting and temperature management are becoming increasingly important for manufacturers across several different industry sectors. Our plan is to position ourselves as thermal management specialists. We are working towards becoming IATF 16949 certified and a Tier One supplier.

“We want to be a supplier of thermal management solutions for OEMs, where we can offer solutions from the outset and be involved at the design stage.”

The focus today is very much on continued innovation and Zircotec has a five-year plan in place to grow the company by 400%. This will be achieved by moving into new markets and an ongoing investment in the skilled workforce.