Funding gives Metaltech lift off in new markets

Posted on 17 Feb 2015 by Victoria Fitzgerald

North East heat treatment engineering firm, Metaltech, is set to target growth in aerospace, defence and offshore wind after securing national accreditation and a major funding boost.

Metaltech, is targeting growth in aerospace, defence and offshore wind.
Metaltech, is targeting growth in aerospace, defence and offshore wind.

Metaltech, which employs 24 people at its County Durham facility, has become one of the first firms in its field to be awarded the SC21 Bronze Award, highlighting a commitment to world class quality, delivery performance and continuous improvement.

The accolade comes just weeks after it received £50,000 worth of funding from GROW:OffshoreWind towards the purchase of a specialist Bogie Hearth furnace, for post weld heat treatment cycles, as well as, larger sealed quench facilities, including marquenching for distortion control.

Supported by the Business Growth Service’s Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), the company took just eighteen months to go through the rigorous process and expects to use the standard to be in with a chance of supplying more components to the MoD and next generation aircraft.

“SC21 is a major achievement for our business and I believe we’re one of the smallest firms to go for and successfully secure the Bronze award,” explained Dr Graeme Forster, managing director.

“A lot of the major Tier 1s and primes will only consider you if you have this accreditation and we saw it as a natural progression from the AS9100 standard we already held.”

Image L to R: Dr Graeme Forster (Metaltech), Alan Whittaker and Jim Barr (both MAS).
Image L to R: Dr Graeme Forster (Metaltech), Alan Whittaker and Jim Barr (both MAS).

He continued: “It’s a long and demanding journey, but it provides you with a great continuous improvement framework that delivers better communication, efficiency gains and cross functional working within the workplace.

“MAS has been tremendous and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support, knowledge and patience of advisors Alan Whittaker and Jim Barr. They understand our business, got the timing spot on and then delivered the external assistance required to get us ready for approval.

“This included an automated spreadsheet system to allow us to closely monitor both quality and delivery performance – two of the key SC21 metrics. We are now in a much better position to win new work in the aerospace, defence and security sectors.”

The Manufacturing Advisory Service has worked with Metaltech for more than five years and recently advised it on a successful application to the GROW:OffshoreWind Enabling Fund.

Nearly £50,000 has been secured to go towards the acquisition of new furnaces and quenching capabilities that will increase its capability from one tonne to four tonne payloads – essential when providing key thermal processing for the larger components demanded in these sectors.

“Our reputation for delivering quality vacuum hardening, induction hardening, plasma and gas nitriding and conventional quenching had led to us receiving a lot of enquiries, but due to size restrictions on our existing machines we were having to turn them away,” continued Graeme.

“Again we looked to the Manufacturing Advisory Service and were pointed in the direction of GROW:OffshoreWind as a mechanism to gain some additional funding towards our investment plans. It didn’t stop there as we received help to put together the bid and are just about to start production with the larger Bogie Hearth furnace.”

He added: “I fully expect offshore wind and marine to be our biggest growth markets in 2015.”

MAS’ Alan Whittaker concluded: “Metaltech is a great example of a SME competing with bigger rivals on quality, performance and flexibility and the combination of SC21 and larger capacity will help it grow from its current turnover of £1.5m.

“It is also extremely innovative, developing a molybdenum disulphide dry film lubricating coating (MT2936) for use across a range of diverse markets, from excavation to offshore and marine.

“The product, which has already received significant interest, boasts exceptional low friction, high load bearing properties and excellent corrosion resistance (500 hours salt fog resistance).”