Automation: Neck on the line

Posted on 20 Feb 2014 by Callum Bentley

How neckings manufacturer GBV Engineering preserved its UK presence and increased global competitiveness with automation investment.

GBV Engineering specialises in manufacturing neckrings which are used by glassworks to produce the top of bottles.

A family-run business established by Vic Cowlishaw and his wife Patricia in 1985, GBV Engineering is the only company in Great Britain to manufacture this product.

In recent years sourcing skilled staff had proved to be a great challenge for the business and even though GBV Engineering has invested time and money into apprentices, the trainees had not stayed with the business.

With an aging workforce, Vic was unable to replace staff who were retiring. To safeguard the company’s future, Vic needed a reliable operation and decided to invest in a fully automated production line.

Robots to the rescue

The company already owned two loading robots which operate CNC machines but there was a need to extend the fleet to increase capacity, stabilise growth and strengthen GBV’s position among its competitors.

The Cowlishaws have worked with Lombard since the inception of GBV and so the decision to seek asset finance from the same source was easy to make. A Hire Purchase facility to the value of £70,700 was quickly and painlessly agreed and used to invest in four robots and a CNC machine.

The robots are now used to load components onto the CNC machines; previously this process would have been done by an employee, as would random spot checks of the finished products.

Now every single finished item is checked robotically reducing the risk of error.

With an automated process if any faults are detected, production comes to a halt automatically. Vic is alerted and can amend the error remotely before restarting production. .

About Lombard

Lombard is the largest asset financer provider in the UK and was voted Best Leasing & Asset Finance Provider by Business Moneyfacts for five consecutive years from 2009 to 2013.

Lombard can provide a range of finance options for SMEs and large multi-national firms. Products include hire purchase, finance lease, operating lease and sale and leaseback. There are also green energy products available and specialist facilities for agriculture and technology products.

Security may be required and product fees may apply.

Find out more here.

The automation of this process, which is capable of running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, has cut production time by 60% and doubled output.

Capacity has therefore also increased and GBV is able to seek new contracts.

Furthermore, GBV can offer a more competitive price when tendering for those contracts since automation has made production more cost effective.

Vic comments, “Although GBV Engineering is the only company of its kind in Britain there are many competitors in the market globally and we only service about 10 per cent of the UK market.

“This investment will make us more competitive and safeguard the company’s future, without the need to rely on the dwindling number of skilled workers in our industry,” Vic summed up. “In addition, safeguarding our business will keep neckring manufacturing alive in Britain.”