Continuous improvement drive leads to export growth

Precision metal specialist, Advanced Chemical Etching is setting its sights on international expansion after boosting its export work by 10% in the first seven months of 2017.

Continuous Improvement - Advanced Chemical Etching (ACE) currently has a workforce of 46.
The firm develops and manufactures all components at its 25,000 sq ft facility in Telford and at its sister business, ACE Forming in Kingswinford – image courtesy of Advanced Chemical Etching (ACE).

Advanced Chemical Etching (ACE) has secured three major projects in aerospace, communications and the medical sector, taking overseas trade to 38% of its £5m turnover.

It comes after the company embarked on a continuous improvement programme that has increased on-time delivery and right first time performance – reportedly, two crucial factors in securing the recent contract wins.

The latest continuous improvement exercise has been in operation for six months and has involved collecting data on current operating parameters and reviewing what is working well and what could be improved.

This has seen the firm alter its chemistry settings and the introduction of twice daily process control checks, which have already resulted in a 2% increase on right first time figures and the potential for a 10% boost in throughput on certain products.

Managing director of ACE, Ian Whateley explained: “Our export activity has been steadily growing year-on-year since 2010, but the last seven months have definitely seen a spike that we’re hoping to sustain.

“There may be an element of the pound slipping making us more competitive. However, a lot of the projects we are winning are extremely technical and not many firms around the world can deliver the complexity of components the customer requires.”

Interest has come from multiple regions, including Germany, Luxembourg, the US, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Thailand.

ACE’s broad scope of activities covers anything from safety critical components for aircraft and cars, to simple washers, electronic connectors and ornate clock faces.

With the latest production machinery and a culture of ongoing investment at its 25,000 sqft facility in Telford, the business can make products in materials, including stainless steel, nickel alloys, copper, beryllium copper, phosphor bronze, brass and, thanks to new processes for exotic materials, aluminium, titanium, molybdenum, nitinol and elgiloy.

Advanced Chemical Etching, which is working towards the AS9100 aerospace quality standard, has made a number of key appointments to cope with recent expansion, including a new technical sales specialist and business development expert.

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