An innovative Lancashire engineering firm is targeting more export success as it celebrates another milestone in its mission to help UK manufacturers prosper by becoming leaner and smarter in their production processes.
Blackburn-based InfoServe365, the brainchild of local engineers Michael Hill and fellow managing director Adrian West, was established five years ago after the pair spotted a gap in the market for a straightforward yet powerful production efficiency monitoring and reporting system that didn’t require major capital investment.
The enterprising pair had started Optima Control Solutions, InfoServe365’s parent company, in 1995 and rapidly developed an unrivalled reputation for designing, building and commissioning high-quality drive control systems. Infoserve365 evolved from that experience and is now a UK leader in managed data collection and analysis.
Mr Hill said: “We believed we had a great product that had the potential to make a significant impact on the manufacturing sector. Both Adrian and I have spent a great deal of time in industry, we have a passion for it’s survival and indeed it’s growth and we enjoy doing what we do.”
He admitted that due to the recession, the last couple of years had been tough, but order levels are now picking up and he can see a wider market for their particular skills . “Our aim has always been to establish strong UK technical and commercial models then to export those models around the globe.
“There are tremendous prospects out there, as countries with established infrastructure and newcomers to the world manufacturing stage both find the need to address production inefficiencies.”
He added: “We believe that we offer cost-effective solutions for automated OEE reporting to all manufacturers. Reports that can identify potential improvements to clients’ plant productivity that can uplift efficiencies by around 15 percent, regardless of location or industry.”
The latest offering – AssetManager – is an innovative, out-of-the-box business management tool, comprising a simple touch screen interface, easily wired up to operating machinery and run through an internet connection, the system avoids the need to install expensive on-site servers.
Vital technical data is securely stored by InfoServe365 for easy global 24/7 access by registered customers, providing invaluable business intelligence such as productivity and downtime reporting, real time status and aggregated trend analyses – system prices start at around £5,000.
By designing innovative products to improve productivity, this British success story is able to punch above its weight and win business across the board from larger, well-known companies, such as Kodak, Camvac, Alcan Packaging and API Foils, to smaller independent manufacturers.
In fact the only cloud on the horizon is a possible future shortage of engineers, which could hinder the company’s expansion plans. Mr Hill said: “Engineering is a much-maligned profession. The last 40 years or so has seen the popularity of engineering as a career in UK schools decline – it’s a different story overseas.
“We have in the UK the highest reputation for engineering excellence – something that is admired worldwide. However, the labour pool is becoming shallower but much wider, which presents different employment challenges and opportunities, but can limit growth rates.”