Major opportunities in the automotive sector are promising to help a leading Black Country manufacturer hit the £10 million sales mark over the next two years.
Alucast, a specialist supplier of sand gravity and pressure castings, is targeting £3m of new product introductions after impressing car markers and tier ones with its quality and technical expertise.
Backed by Magmasoft software, the company has been able to take a greater role in designing and prototyping lightweight structural parts and this has already led to £500,000 of work for a niche vehicle manufacturer.
It has also used the expansion to enhance its management team by appointing Martin Haynes as quality and technical director, responsible for delivering world-class performance and new model introductions. “There is a real momentum towards using aluminium in components, basically driven by the need to take weight out of vehicles,” explained John Swift, managing director of Alucast.
“This is an area we have significant expertise in and this has resulted in us being nominated for a lot of new work that we have gone on to win. The pipeline of opportunities is looking even better and I’m confident we can hit £10m by 2018.” He continued: “As part of this drive, we are keen to reduce the age of the senior management team by bringing in some younger people, with fresh ideas. Martin has been a fantastic addition since joining as quality manager and has been instrumental in us securing and being re-accredited for TS16949.”
Alucast, which is a founder member of the Midlands Assembly Network, currently employ 98 people at its Wednesbury factory and is on course to increase turnover by 10 per cent this year to £7.7m. The firm is no stranger to continued investment and is currently finalising a £500,000 refurbishment plan of its machine shop and other facilities that will include the installation of two 5-axis CNC machines.
This acquisition will enable it to speed up its machining capabilities and reduce time to market.
Mr Haynes, who chose the foundry sector over becoming a RE teacher, said: “Our drive for continuous improvement has really paid off, with our 10-strong quality team delivering outstanding manufacturing performance and ensuring we are competitive on price.
“When you combine this with our ability to call upon Magmasoft software and a soon-to-be-completed new machine shop, we are in an ideal position to offer lightweight castings to existing and potential automotive customers. “I’m delighted to be appointed as a director, five years after joining the firm. It’s a fantastic business with great tradition, but now it’s our turn to deliver the next chapter in our history.”
Mr Haynes has been involved in manufacturing for nearly 30 years and recently completed his innovation business leadership course at Warwick Manufacturing Group. In addition to investment in new technology and capital equipment, he’s also keen to ensure the workforce continues to have plenty of development opportunities. “A few years back we put 73 of our staff through a comprehensive training programme that delivered diplomas in business improvement techniques and a host of adult apprenticeships,” he said:
“That commitment – the largest in our 49-year history – delivered over £235,000 of immediate savings and countless softer benefits of having higher skilled workers. Personal development is key to our business, people really are our power.”
Alucast has the ability to take on a wide range of aluminium castings, from small volume prototype work/special projects produced via sand casting, through to medium volume work and high pressure volume orders running into hundreds of thousands of components annually. With parts manufactured from just a few grams in weight to large castings weighing up to a tonne, the business has a supply solution for most casting requirements and produces a range of parts, including automotive engine and chassis components and hydraulic and vacuum pump bodies.