Rutland Plastics talks with Made in the Midlands

Made in the Midlands approached us to talk about our recent investment programme and to take part in their monthly ‘meet the editor’ discussion where selected businesses discuss the latest news and events involving Made in the Midlands members.

This month’s guest editor was John D’Angelillo, systems integrator and MD of Bauromat and on the panel were Patrick Bek from Birmingham University, Emma Rodgers from SGS UK and our Director, Stuart Johnston. The discussion focused around the introduction of change, the implementation of new systems and integrating these into existing processes.

John asked Stuart about the recent growth of the business, buying new machines and moving to a 24/7 operation, specifically about what government incentives Rutland Plastics received to install the solar PV panels and how long did it take for us to start seeing the benefits?

Stuart replied ‘’ As a plastic injection moulder we consume huge amounts of electricity in our machines and therefore power is essential. We invested £2m in building a new warehouse and decided to go the extra step by putting solar panels on the roof, about 250kW of panels. It was an investment of about £250,000. The impact was immediate and the impact grows week by week as energy prices increase. In terms of government incentives, we didn't really get any, in fact we had an issue as the grid in our area wasn't strong enough to feedback electricity into, so the move to a 7 day operation has helped as we are now using all the electricity we produce. As we evolve as a business and continue to invest in new machinery the payback becomes quicker as the machines are more energy efficient so we use proportionally more of our own electricity. As a business we are now looking at whether we can put even more panels on our roof so we are more self-sufficient.

John then asks about moving to a 24/7 operation and what challenges this brings to the business. Stuart says ‘’ We have huge capital investment in this business and we need to continually invest for the future. The current Government tax incentives are important to ensure that the UK continues to grow its manufacturing sector’’ Stuart continues ‘’It was a bold move to go to 24/7 working and the first challenge was finding people who wanted to work weekends, thankfully we had some incumbent staff who volunteered as that working pattern suited their lifestyle but as a business we have also started investing in automation. We have been using collaborative robots for almost 3 years now and these are beginning to get embedded into our processes. We have gradually introduced automation into our production to ensure engagement of the workforce. This means that we need slightly less people but more importantly the jobs themselves are more interesting, people aren't undertaking repetitive work and are able to undertake a more variety in their work and this makes us a much more competitive and high quality supplier.’’

John responded ‘’ I think your business is an example of how to introduce automation, to do it slowly, get it right first time and make sure the staff buy into it, they have to be part of that process and without that you don’t get the successes you have been achieving’’

We really appreciated taking part in the editors discussion and it’s great to see other businesses in the midlands being successful in their field.

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