ACE’s managing director Ian Whateley with executive director Chris Ball
Telford-based Advanced Chemical Etching
(ACE), which supplies parts to customers in sectors such as aerospace, automotive, electronics, general engineering, medical and telecoms, has secured £800,000 of new orders from companies looking to tap into exacting quality and new product development expertise.
The company has seen a significant rise in fuel cell projects and new projects increasing in volume by 25%, all setting the scene for an anticipated drive to achieve £10 million sales this year. This push will be boosted by the ramping up of two ‘Chemcut’ etching machines at its Hortonwood 33 facility, giving it a major boost in capacity and faster turnround times.
ACE managing director Ian Whateley said: “There is so much manufacturing innovation in the UK and we are finally seeing other countries switch back on to what we offer here. In addition to sales, there has also been a 10% increase in the number of new projects we are involved in and, all of these, are looking for a strategic partner that can work with them from design through to early-stage prototyping and low and medium volume supply.”
He continued: “Exports now account for nearly 30% of our annual turnover and we are seeing really strong demand from Austria, Germany, Switzerland as well as our traditionally strong markets of Belgium and the Netherlands. There are also new opportunities coming in from the Far East and the USA, and this, alongside strong demand from our domestic customer base, is something we want to explore further with our two ‘Chemcut’ machines nearly up and running.”
The scope of ACE’s activities is far and wide and can include anything from safety critical components for aircraft and Formula One cars, to meshes and electronic connectors, battery interconnectors, fuel cell bi-polar plates, cooling plates and heat exchangers.
All parts are developed and manufactured at its main site in Telford and at the company’s dedicated sister business, ACE Forming Ltd
, in Kingswinford. This means the business is in a rare position of being able to etch or form parts to meet the customer’s cost point and, importantly, the desired performance of the end application.
Chris Ball, ACE executive director, added: “We have seen volumes surpass where they were before the pandemic, with aerospace gathering pace as airport traffic surges. The opportunities are out there, and we have taken the decision to not only invest in the latest etching technology, but also increase our workforce with eight new people recruited in the last 12 months alone.”
He concluded: “£10 million sales threshold is definitely in our sights for 2024, as we continue to put Shropshire on the global manufacturing map.”
ACE has just kicked-off accreditation to the aerospace AS9100 process, with the initial audit taking place in February and approval due to be completed by May this year.