Satisfied Pentagon Customer features in this month's Manufacturing & Engineering Magazine
We have ended our dependency on those specialist contractors and supply chain partners although we still work wit h them and receive very close support in terms of the technical functionality of their products. But from an application point of view, we're developing everything ourselves, which gives us tremendous strength and provides great reassurance to our customers in terms of our sustainable
supply to them:
Achieving that growth and continuing to deliver high quality systems to clients, stresses Craig, effective, has been tough. There are many automation companies in the UK and Europe with 20-30 employees but perhaps not with the same experience in risk management; making that leap to be a global supplier is difficult though complex bespoke automation is a relatively niche market. it is worth in excess of $500 million annually and AGR is targeting a bigger share. That, Derek believes, is attainable due to the company's qualities: "There are certain projects where other UK suppliers are tendering for the work. But as a full remit in terms of AGR's total capability through feed systems and the level of automation we're doing at the companies who have multiple locations and a
much larger capacity than us. We're kind of a David playing against Goliath in that sense as we come up through the ranks. We're regularly supplying systems that are £3 million and more in value and, by identifying feed systems and process areas for technical innovation, we're providing advantage in terms of productivity and quality. Bringing a distinct benefit to the customer, combined with our
approach to managing projects makes them feel extremely comfortable with us as an organisation and a set of people t hat bring their project to a successful conclusion"
"WE'RE DEVELDPING EVERYTHING OURSELVES, WHICH GIVES US TREMENDOUS STRENGTH AND PROVIDES GREAT REASSURANCE TO OUR CUSTOMERS"
LONG TERM PLAN
The next stage of expansion is therefore to properly penetrate those markets and growth overall is likely to come from the high tech sectors. That's part of the intention to become the first choice supplier for automated systems, which is a long-term game plan that requires selection and training of quality staff. The complexity of the work means they can take a long time to become fully productive, which Derek recognizes as a constraint on the pace of growth: "One of the big challenges is that we've grown probably 40% each year over t he last two years and that' s a tremendous st rain on any organisation but particularly on a bespoke vendor." It' s tough to find people who are of the right quality and it's been tough to integrate them and then to get them from integrated to
productive , so that's stretched the whole organisation and particularly the management team. Now we're looking for a couple of years of consolidated stability before we move to the next level of growth. Our position is that, if we understand what we can cope with and we keep doing good work our clients will value what we do and keep bringing new projects so we grow to the next level. The key is not over committing ourselves:
Having started as a supplier of feed systems over forty years ago, the company has now developed into full automation to the extent that feed systems comprise only around 17% of turnover. That transition has been a major challenge with the need to develop in -house expertise in robotics vision systems, inspection processes and everything else needed for high tech solutions. Whilst some of that knowledge is available from specialist contractors, the company had to become self-sufficient. "Part way through that process, we realized we had to establish expertise in-house and remove that reliance on third parties to provide certain levels of application; says Derek. "It would otherwise be very difficult to reach the goals we set ourselves and so we set about building a team of people, software engineers in particular, that would be capable of doing everything we needed in-house, be it robotic controls, vision inspection or whatever.
*Please note this excerpt has been taken from the original magazine article
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