A winning collaboration in the West Midlands

Posted on 15 Jun 2011 by The Manufacturer

MAN, a collaborative group of companies with different engineering disciplines in the West Midlands, is celebrating after securing £5m worth of contracts for renewable energy projects.

The group of nine manufacturing firms from across the West Midlands has had a sharp rise in demand for its technical expertise from companies involved in the production of LED lighting, wind power, solar power and alternative fuels. Fifty local jobs have already been created as a result of this new drive and this figure could be potentially trebled over the next year.

Cheslyn Hay-based company PP Electrical Systems is leading the way in the production of solar cells after benefitting from the surge in printing of special photovoltaic inks onto semiconductor substrates.

Tony Hague, managing director of PP Electrical Systems explained the uniqueness of his company: “[Renewable energy] is a growing market and one that is keen to embrace the skills and world class manufacturing processes we already employ.”

“Our company is also interested in the collaborative approach that MAN offers – especially from the security of supply angle and the fact that we – as a group – can offer a single gateway to every aspect of mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering imaginable,” he added.

Three MAN members have used support on offer from the West Midlands Manufacturing Advisory Service’s new product development initiative to start developing an alternative fuel source for a global technology business. It marks the largest project yet for the group, and will initially draw on the skills of advanced chemical etching and precision press worker Brandauer’s progression tooling capability.

“Volumes are worth about £300,000 at the moment, but the longer-term projection is going to be about £2.5m per year,” explained David Spears, managing director of Brandauer. “What is even more pleasing is that this project illustrates the key benefits of using MAN, which basically means companies can use one, two, three or all member companies depending on their needs,” he said.

Originally established as part of an Advantage West Midlands-backed automotive initiative, MAN has evolved into a self-sustainable group that boasts a combined turnover of £70m and employs in excess of 600 people.
The five original members – Alucast, Barkley Plastics, Brandauer, FW Cables and Westley Engineering – have been joined by Advanced Chemical Etching, PP Electrical Systems, Wrekin Circuits and now SMT Developments, giving it a complete manufacturing solution for customers in every sector imaginable.

Renewable energy is one of the group’s major priorities for 2011 and significant investment will be channelled into marketing the collective to key industry players and through attendance at strategic events.

It is also involved in Renewable Energy Supply Chain Opportunities (RESCO) and looking to maximise any opportunities that come from being part of this increasingly influential network.

George Archer