Laura Clarke, Image: Rob Finney Photography

The UK’s leading manufacturer of scaffold board end bands has posted an impressive 12% increase in volumes, thanks to a timely investment in new equipment and a switch to a 4-day working week.

Chilwell Products, which is now under third-generation family ownership, has invested nearly £100,000 into equipping eleven of its power presses with the latest servo feed technology from Bruderer UK.

The company which is based in Stanton by Dale were originally looking to continue using air feeds but were convinced by experts from the high-speed press specialist to trial its MF-2P servo feeders and the results have been astonishing.

Volumes have gone from 15.6million to 17.5million over the last twelve months and, better still, the firm has managed to achieve this in just four days, making Friday a permanent day off as a thank you (whilst all staff still maintain full pay).

“We always thought that using servo feeds would mean the material would slip when oily, but these initial concerns were quickly blown away once we put the equipment through a supported trial,” explained Laura Clarke, Managing Director of Chilwell Products and the granddaughter of founder Derrick Telford.

“Through experience, we found set up times were far quicker and they run the material significantly more efficiently than our incumbent air feeds; fewer jams, less downtime, less material rejected and wasted. All making for a much more efficient production.”

Image: Rob Finney Photography

She continued: “With this in mind, we began to roll-out the feeders across every press in our factory and are now up to eleven, with a twelfth on order.

“Working 39 hours per week and overtime during multiple points throughout the year is now a thing of the past. We always worried that we’d have to move to a larger premises and buy additional presses, but we’ve even eliminated one of the lines as it proved to be surplus! Thanks to Bruderer UK, the outlook and future for the company really has been totally transformed.”

Laura, who took over the reins from her mother and now Company Secretary and Director Lorraine Clarke in 2019, is a firm believer in work/rest balance and ensuring Chilwell Products looks after the heart of its operation – its people.

Boosted by the new technology and changes on the shopfloor, the 30-year-old business leader has written into employee contracts that they’ll never have to work on Fridays or weekends again.

It’s also worth noting that annual salaries are remaining the same, despite staff working five hours less every week.

“We’ve made the changes and have still achieved a 45% increase in capacity, helping us increase turnover and giving us the chance to go after new opportunities,” continued Laura.

“Everyone at Bruderer has been brilliant. From the start, they understood our issues and our concerns and quickly came up with a solution that eased our fears and, instead, opened our eyes to up the opportunity.

“The eleven servo feeds are all high quality and installed in a timeframe that suited our business, with the added bonus of having full support of an account manager on hand if we had any small issues in the early days.”

Image: Rob Finney Photography

Adrian Haller, Managing Director of Bruderer UK, added: “We’re very used to our technology and equipment having a really positive impact on the shopfloor, but it is even better to hear we have helped introduce a new culture that has transformed Chilwell Products.”

He concluded: “This is definitely a story we are going to tell people when they visit us at MACH 2022 in April – it really underlines what a difference you can make to production and capacity if you explore different processes. Better still we’ll guide you through the entire process.”