Manufacturing advanced

Posted on 3 Feb 2010 by The Manufacturer

Martin Kinsella, engineering manager for Comau Estil talks to Tim Brown about Comau being a market leader in the field of advanced engineering.

The company champions continuous improvement and competitive advantage through the design, manufacture, supply and installation of cutting-edge automated manufacturing systems. Specialising in robotics and with 34 locations in 18 countries, the company has more than 40 years experience maximising manufacturing efficiency in the automotive, aerospace, defence, recreational and heavy industries.

Due to the bespoke nature of their industrial automation solutions, the Comau production process is very comprehensive. The company undertakes every step from the initial concept and design phases through to product construction and extends beyond delivery by also providing training and ongoing maintenance services.

Comau Estil is the UK operating sector of Comau. Based in Luton, with branches in Coventry and Sunderland, the company provides manufacturing production solutions within the UK. As part of the Global Comau Group, the UK division is able to provide local service while offering access to a worldwide range of products and international expertise. “We pride ourselves on selling to our customers’ needs, focusing on delivering efficiency and productivity and adding value to our customers’ businesses,” says Kinsella. “We are able to provide our customers with localised support, with the benefits of global capabilities.”

Strategic relationships
The attractive combination of a local focus with international knowledge led to Comau developing a close association with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the UK Government organisation that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy. This affiliation developed in 2007 when Kinsella was invited to attend a UKTI business trip to India. “It was a real honour to be asked to take our experience and use it to show people overseas how much excellent work we have going on in the UK,” says Kinsella. “As a company, Comau recognises that it can only benefit from this association with UK Trade & Investment, which gives us excellent press around the world and lends us credibility in areas where we are not yet known.” The following year Kinsella, with the assistance of Jaguar Landrover, hosted an event in Halewood to demonstrate the high technological status of the UK advanced engineering sector. Then in May of that year, the UKTI took part in the 2008 UK Advanced Engineering Showcase, again in India. With the aid of Comau, UKTI helped highlight the UK’s technological advancements to over 400 companies in Pune, Chennai and Bangalore.

“The event itself was excellent,” says Kinsella. “We were able to show overseas companies exactly what we have to offer in the UK. In one of the presentations we showed a live laser-welding demonstration via webcam, which was really well-received. Throughout the programme, we could see that the Indian delegates were impressed by the engineering advancements offered by Comau and the UK.” Comau’s association with many of the automotive and aerospace OEM’s and their Tier 1 suppliers reenforces their position as a true market leader. Competitive advantage lies in the continuous improvement of products, processes and services, which depends largely on the application of ever more advanced and innovative engineering and technical solutions in the fields of automation and systems integration.

A company may, for example, gain a competitive advantage by incorporating cutting edge solutions integrating an automated robotic assembly or packaging line. Within the automotive industry this might take the form of automated joining and handling processes or assembly and machining applications. According to Kinsella: “There is a demand that exists all over the world and we have standard products that can solve nearly every customer demand.”

Forward momentum
Comau’s strong reputation, built on robust client relationships and a considerable delivery portfolio has allowed the company to diversify. This has not only meant a spread into different industries, such as packaging, but also different markets. Building on the networking aspects of his international work, Kinsella is confident of Comau’s ability to further extend its reach, particularly in strong manufacturing nations such as China and India.

As Comau continues its technological development in the field of manufacturing automation, further gains in efficiency are inevitable. There is now overwhelming pressure on companies to engage in economic streamlining and decrease their environmental impact.

Comau’s ability to help facilitate these goals will undoubtedly encourage more manufacturers to engage in developing their competitive advantage.

“In the current industrial climate we see that there is a great benefit for companies to use and re-use these tools in new programs,” says Kinsella. “Customers are demanding increased flexibility and shorter lead times. We have the know-how to achieve those goals and now it is just a matter of going for that market, identifying the right customers and offering them Comau’s basic strength, which is high quality low cost automation and productivity improvement.”