UK manufacturers ramp up production following lockdown easing

Numerous businesses have increased or diversified their output following the easing of lockdown restrictions for UK manufacturers. We highlight a trio of them below.

Yamazaki Mazak

The global manufacturer and distributor of machine tools has increased the number of shifts for production at its European Manufacturing Plant in Worcester. Initially, the company has said it will be focusing on the manufacture of a core group of machining and turning centres.

Mazak has been able to safely increase production levels at its European Manufacturing Plant by implementing a series of “stringent new factory systems and processes” which comply with UK government guidance on social distancing and workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yamazaki Mazak European Manufacturing Plant

Image: Yamazaki Mazak

These include conducting a full risk assessment for all production and administration areas of the site, and a breakdown of all potential risks to staff and customers, and proposed control measures.

Richard Smith, European group managing director for Yamazaki Mazak UK, commented: “There is no doubt that the last few months have been incredibly challenging for the UK as a whole, and for manufacturing. However, the resilience and adaptability on display across industry has been nothing short of outstanding.”

Stuart Astley, production director at the Worcester facility, added: “As a team, we have collaboratively created a safe working environment that has allowed us to complete machine orders and support our customers during these difficult times.”

“The workforce has played a key role in achieving this, not only by helping to establish the new ways of working, but by following them to the letter. They have been incredibly supportive of what we are doing, and I am happy to say that the morale on the factory floor has been superb throughout this difficult time.”


Brandauer

 The Birmingham-based metal pressings and stamping specialist has secured Innovate UK funding to help increase its capacity to produce more than 100 million nose clips for use in face masks every year.

Brandauer, which is part of the Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN), will use the £50,000 grant to develop its ‘Quick Clip Tool’ modular tooling that will add a unique quick changeover capability to a progression tool.

Nose Clip Production PR (L) - image courtesy of Brandauer

Image: Brandauer

This means the clips can be developed and manufactured in multiple materials, such as steel or aluminium and can be produced in various widths, thicknesses and lengths, helping to ease the global shortage of PPE.

The project will take about five months to complete and, once in place at the firm’s Bridge Street West factory, will allow Brandauer to increase supply to existing customers and open up production capacity to other clients.

Brandauer is one of the first companies in the country to be awarded Innovate UK-backing through its Covid-19 Business-Led Innovation in Response to Global Disruption competition

CEO, Rowan Crozier, commented: “Covid-19 has increased the demand for face masks exponentially across the world and, following the government’s ‘mandatory’ on public transport, it appears they will form an important part of the new normal for the foreseeable future.

“It’s anticipated that we’ll need more than 10 million units every month for the UK alone, fuelled no doubt by the growing DIY face mask industry. With this in mind, there is a big opportunity for a company that can offer access to fast capacity and inexpensive tooling flexibility in how clips are developed and manufactured.”

The ‘Quick Clip Tool’ represents an immediate £500,000 opportunity at a time when some sectors have reduced volumes.

Crozier concluded: “The next 12 months are going to be extremely demanding, there’s no getting away from that. However, the ‘Quick Clip Tool’ has the potential to make up for some of our sectors that are taking a little bit longer to emerge from the lockdown.”


Shiftec

Shiftec, a part of Liberty Engineering, has re-tooled machinery at its plant in Willenhall, West Midlands, to produce safety equipment for social distancing in vehicles, offices and industrial workplaces.

Machinery in Willenhall that would normally be used to manufacture industrial ink trays and automotive components has been adjusted to manufacture products needed to re-start the economy safely post-pandemic.

Shiftec retools factory to produce COVID-19 safety equipment for vehicles, offices and factories

Image: Shiftec

Managing director of Shiftec, Chris Baugh, commented: “Thousands of businesses across Britain are grappling with the challenge of keeping employees safe while resuming their usual activities.

“We wanted to do our bit to back the national re-start by producing equipment that will help people to maintain social distancing – or to protect people where a two-metre gap isn’t possible.”

Products being made by Shiftec include a driver protection screen for private hire vehicles or for commercial drivers who need a partition between themselves and passengers in the rear seat.

Temporary office partitions provide a transparent barrier between desks for office environments. Floor stencils make one-way routes evident through workplaces, and full-face shields are being produced for workers in higher risk environments.