CNC machines help firm keep production in UK

One of the UK's leading producers of insulated panels and doors for cold room storage, ISD Solutions, has invested £300,000 in new machinery to expand its manufacturing capability and keep production in-house.

The £300,000 investment included the purchase of two new CNC machines, two new CNC folders for the metal shop and a roll forming line - image courtesy of ISD Solutions.
The £300,000 investment included the purchase of two new CNC punching machines, two new CNC folders for the metal shop and a roll forming line – image courtesy of ISD Solutions.

For many years, ISD Solutions has been focusing on its successful contracting business, buying in parts from abroad and increasingly relying less on its own manufacturing capabilities, according to the Gloucester-based business. However, ISD describes the arrival of Paul Sauntson as manufacturing manager as a “watershed moment”.

Faced with the choice of ceasing in-house production or putting in the necessary investment to make it work, ISD took the decision to overhaul its production resource and to invest in new machinery – with the added benefit of improving productivity and increasing capacity.

Supported by £35,000 from the Gloucester Growth Hub, ISD’s £300,000 investment included the purchase of two new CNC punching machines, two new CNC folders for the metal shop and a roll forming line.

Stauntson explained: “Our challenge was to source the right machinery – ideally from the UK, which was not entirely possible; and making it fit into our existing premises.” Who added highlighted that having three separate building added to ISD’s logistical difficulties.

“Our investment in machinery had to be carried out alongside developing our own skilled, adaptable and engaged workforce. Having already begun the workforce development process some years earlier it made our decision to invest in new equipment far easier.”

Now, through the changes made to its fabrication processes and by implementing a once-piece flow methodology to replace the existing batch production methods, ISD is already able to make doors and all trims and flashings in-house rather than spending the money elsewhere on outsourced supply.

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The enhanced quality control possible with in-house manufacturing is also hoped to deliver improvements in the thermal accuracy and performance of ISD’s products, as well as fostering more competitive pricing.

Since Brexit, the business has seen a substantial increase in material costs, but, with the improved efficiency from its new equipment, price increases to clients have been substantially less than they would have been, noted Stauntson.

He added: “We expect to see a rapid return on investment – certainly within the next two years. For the future, we envisage being able to build the majority of standard insulated doors required by all ISD divisions in-house eventually. The new fabrication capability is also broadening our thinking around design and makes further innovation possible.

“In terms of growth for the future, we have not yet seen the emergence of an export business, but the planned new products and redesigns have certainly attracted overseas interest. So, I hope it is just a matter of time.”

As part of its new focus on in-house manufacturing, ISD has forged links with Gloucester University to cultivate opportunities for work placements and internships as a means of not only fostering talent within the organisation, but also helping to boost the local engineering skill base.

ISD is reportedly looking to create a significant number of new manufacturing jobs in the months and years ahead, including apprenticeships.