New boss, Dermot Sterne wants investment, growth in automotive and a move into aerospace as his goals for Applied Component Technology (ACT).
Sterne, who has more than 25 years’ experience in industry, has joined the Wrexham-based manufacturer to capitalise on its expertise in delivering lightweight solutions to a global customer base.
The former MD of Stadco and Wrightbus believes there are massive opportunities to tap into the reshoring trend and has pinpointed new markets that could benefit from the firm’s innovation in design, material development and world class manufacturing.
He has already added manufacturing expert Mark Pople to the management team and, just recently, signed off a £1m project, including investment in a new production cell to be installed in the summer.
Sterne explained: “This is a very exciting time to be involved in industry in the UK and we are definitely looking to make the most of it by focusing on our core strengths in automotive and other sectors that suit our expertise.”
“One of those markets is aerospace and we have been working with a new customer to design, manufacture and assemble a new lightweight product due to be launched in September.”
He continued: “It has the potential to create millions of pounds of annual sales for us, but we need to be ready to meet the demands of producing high volume products that satisfy the exacting demands of the aircraft industry. This is one of the reasons we are investing in the automated production line and focusing on high quality equipment and error-proofing technology.”
Applied Component Technology (ACT) is also expecting growth in its core area of automotive, where it manufactures interior trim and exterior products, including loadspace covers/floors, barrier nets, sun blinds and bespoke grills for customers, such as General Motors and BMW.
High strength, lightweight, bio-sourced composites are also being used and it is this area that links into aerospace from ACT’s automotive experience.
“Last year, the UK made around 1.6 million cars, up from about 1 million in the recession and now just below our all-time peak,” continued Sterne.
“The SMMT believe a realistic target is 2m by 2017 and, whilst this should be broadly welcomed, there are challenges to overcome if suppliers in this country are to fully benefit.”
The recent report by the Automotive Council, highlighted the fact that too many components assembled into these cars are imported…many from the Far East where there are significant logistical costs and communications issues.
It revealed that carmakers in the UK only source 30% of their parts from firms in this country, whereas Germany is closer to 60%.
Sterne added: “Naturally, suppliers have their role to play too. We must ensure we are meeting the quality, productivity and delivery targets of the OEMs and bringing our own technical innovations to the fore.”
He concluded: “This is why it was pleasing to be able to add to the strong skill set of our team by bringing in Mark Pople. He’s worked with some of the automotive sector’s biggest names and brings experience in lean manufacturing, 5S and six sigma.
“He will play a crucial role in enhancing the offer for our automotive customers and with the introduction and integration of the new production line for our aerospace work.”