A proactive approach to automation and technology is helping plumbing systems company, John Guest, cope with rising international demand for its innovative products.
John Guest is growing, and growing fast. With annual output measured in millions, it’s unsurprising that the family-owned business has turned to automation to help meet growing demand.
From humble beginnings, almost 60 years ago, John Guest has grown to encompass five sites in the UK: the head office in West Drayton, where most of the fittings are designed, engineered and manufactured; a tube and pipe extrusion facility in Maidenhead; an overflow manufacturing site in Cornwall; its primary distribution centre in Bracknell, and a warehouse in Hayes.
Through an expanding network of fully owned sales subsidiaries, the company exports to countries across Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australasia; with exports now accounting for roughly half of total sales.
The Manufacturer recently sat down with John Guest’s director of manufacturing, Peter Short, who noted: “The more automation we can put in, the better we will stand in the future to ensure that we can continue to meet global requirements.
“Growing at the rate we are, it’s very difficult to react to and cope with demand without investing in automation, particularly for our high volume, standardised components. Additionally, our production staff are being upskilled so that they can contribute to further growth in the future.”
The challenge for Short and his team is that many of the automation ‘quick wins’ have already been realised.
He noted: “One of our challenges is that automation is ideal for high volume, standard products. Those investments can be anything up to £500,000; but spending that sort of money on a product we’re manufacturing 10,000 of a month, it becomes unjustifiable.”
To that end, the business is now exploring whether parts can be grouped together for partial automation with manual processes only undertaking the final stages of assembly, and what benefits collaborative robots (or cobots) might bring, allowing humans and robots to truly work as one.
The Manufacturer Smart Factory Expo
Nov 15-16, 2017 – Exhibition Centre Liverpool
The UK’s biggest showcase for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) – a revolution in manufacturng agility, innovation and thinking.
Highlighting the best solution providers and technology offerings, this unique FREE event is for manufacturing business leaders keen to adopt the relevant tools and knowledge to drive business growth.
New for 2017:
- Buyer Lounges – matching buyers and sellers
- Tech Zones – Industrial IoT, Automation & Robotics, Additive Manufacturing, Digital Transformation, and Big Data
- Solution Theatres – engaging expo attendees with case studies and cutting-edge developments
- Mentor Clinics – find the answers to your questions
- Innovation Alley – growing the expo ecosystem with hardware start-ups