One of the UK’s leading manufacturers of ‘high performance’ alloys has completed a £100,000 investment in a new testing room at its West Midlands factory.
Alloy Wire International (AWI), which celebrates 75 years in business in 2021, has designed and equipped the facility to include two tensile testers, a Micro-Vickers hardness tester and four lab furnaces to support heat treatment.
It has also acquired macro and micro imaging technology and a custom-built metallographic lab to help with the preparation of materials.
This project means a lot of the sub-contract testing can now be done in-house, shortening lead times for its global customer base and giving it the opportunity to test new processes and materials quickly.
It took over six months to complete the fit-out, but the firm is already reaping the benefits with several new customers agreed in the last month, all keen to take advantage of the rapid turnaround provided by AWI.
“We were increasingly asked for more testing as our customers strive for exacting performance from the materials they purchase,” said Andrew Du Plessis, technical director at AWI.
“The decision was taken as part of an overall commitment to improve our service and the range of testing we can deliver in-house, and this is reflected in the level of investment and extent of capability we can now offer.
“What this means to our clients is that we will have far greater control over testing and, I have no doubt, this will reduce lead times for them.
“We’ve also improved our image analysis capability through the purchase of new micro and macro imaging systems, allowing micro-graphic examination up to 1000x magnification. This will significantly boost our R&D activity, so we can continue to bring new materials and services to market.”
Alloy Wire International, which manufactures round, flat and profile wire for more than 5,000 customers, was founded in 1946 by John Stockdale in an old ambulance station in Old Hill in the Black Country.
The company’s founding principles of ‘manufacturing quality, delivering reliability’ has stood the test of time and remains a crucial part of how it deals with its global client base, spanning automotive, aerospace, medical, nuclear and oil and gas.
Today, the firm is employee-owned with most of the staff owning shares in the business, a decision made by existing Chairman Bill Graham and the current senior management team.
This inclusive culture has been crucial in helping AWI more than double turnover from £5 million to £11 million in the past 13 years.
Andrew added: “75 years is a fantastic achievement for the business, but we can’t rest on our laurels and need to continue to invest in leading the world when it comes to supplying more than 60 exotic alloys.
“To mark the big anniversary, we have launched our ‘Wired for Good’ campaign, which will see us commit to becoming carbon neutral and to support a number of local charities. It also means listening to our 5,000-plus customers and making investments that will deliver a competitive edge to them.”