Investment in the latest technology is giving a UK manufacturer a global edge on its competitors and helping it build on recent factory expansion.
Wrekin Circuits, which is part of the unique Midlands Assembly Network (MAN), has
(l-r) Andy Morris and Dave Brown
spent more than £470,000 on adding a further 6000 sq ft to its manufacturing capabilities in Shropshire, purchasing a state-of-the-art drill machine and bringing in copper fill facility and a Plane Raze device.
The latest acquisitions give the company the ability to provide complex printed circuit boards (PCBs) in just three days, currently the fastest turnaround time in the industry.
It is an approach that has already led to a string of new contracts, including an order for LED technology that will save the rail sector £140m every year.
“Our industry is extremely competitive and customers are continually demanding smaller, lighter, more complicated circuit boards,” explained Andy Morris, Sales Manager at Wrekin Circuits.
“It’s all about offering new solutions to the customer and the recent investment in the MASS Plane Raze device and Schmoll Combi-Machine XRC drill allows us to offer high density interconnect for the latest generation component packages.
“Put simply, the new technology gives our engineers the capability to utilise solder pad positions to drill between layers on the board – thus increasing the complexity of the PCB.
“They then use copper filling and a mechanical process to produce a sealed and completely flat board that is eventually used in aeroplanes, satellite navigation systems, mobile phones and military equipment.”
He continued: “Normally, customers would expect this service to take ten days, but thanks to our expertise we are meeting some contracts in just 72 hours.
“Our R&D facility also helped to perfect processing on specialist insulated metal substrates for use in high power LED applications.”
Wrekin Circuits, which employs 38 people at its Telford base, currently supplies printed circuit boards to customers in seventeen different countries.
Its ability to manufacture in a wide variety of materials (polyimide, PTFE Cyanate Ester and Rogers) and offer heavy copper plating (up to 10 oz Cu), 50 micron tracks and heatsinks has made it a natural partner for clients involved in the semi-conductor marketplace, aerospace and defence and, increasingly, in medical instrumentation.
Whilst the last twelve months have been tough with scarcity of material and fluctuating demand, the firm has been able to post consistent growth and will top £2.2m sales this year.
“One of the key areas of recent investment has been adding an additional third of capacity to our site, giving us a combined 18,000 sq ft,” pointed out Andy.
“There will be some form of production in there, but the majority of that space will be used for stockholding a comprehensive range of laminates. This means we are in complete control of the manufacturing process and not waiting on shipments arriving that can take between 10 to 15 days. Ultimately this means we can turn around some jobs in just 24 hours.”
Another innovation for Wrekin is its involvement in the Midlands Assembly Network (MAN), a ten-strong group of sub-contractors who work together to share best practice and importantly win new business.
All members offer different manufacturing expertise and processes, ranging from aluminium die castings and plastic injection moulding to specialist wiring harnesses and advanced chemical etching.
Andy concluded: “This has been of real benefit for us and being part of the group has certainly reaped dividends on our bottom line and in helping us overcome industry issues by solving problems together.
“We are also able to channel our marketing budgets together to have larger floorspace at a greater number of exhibitions. In fact, Southern Manufacturing last year resulted in an order being placed by a company that has grown to become our largest customer.”
For further information, please visit www.wrekin-circuits .co.uk, contact 01952 670011 or see it at www.facebook.com/wrekincircuits