Macmillan Coffee Morning
Laser Process staff have begged, bought or baked a magnificent range of cakes in aid of a coffee morning on behalf of Macmillan Nurses.
The cakes include custard tarts, cupcakes, muffins, cheesecake and chocolate eclairs and even mini yorkshire puddings with jam.
Another great team effort - thanks to all involved.
Lighting in the Tower of London
Laser Process often gets called upon to produce components for high prestige projects. One such project recently completed was for the supply of components for new light fittings at the Tower of London. The contract was completed by one of the worlds leading lighting manufacturers, a company who have been involved in producing light fittings for palaces, government buildings and other high profile buildings.
New Sales Manager
Clare Melia, formerly sales manager with ASD Metal Services, joins Laser Process today as Sales Manager. Clare has over twenty years of experience in steel sales and will be applying this experience to reinvigorate the Company’s sales function.
Laser process is about to take part in it's fourth exhibiltion of the year. February saw us at Southern Manufacturing in Farnborough. This was a very well attended exhibition and we are still in discussion with potential customers we met there. A talking point of the exhibition was the fact that it was closed early on the first day because of concerns caused by the extreme weather conditions being experienced.
In May we were at Mach14 at the NEC. This was also a well attended exhibition but the jury is still out on the benefits to ourselves.
Also in May we attended the Made In The Midlands Expo in Wolverhampton. This was a one day 'table top' exhibition highlighting the best that Midlands manufacturing has to offer. It was well supported and generally accepted to have been a success.
Tomorrow we will be back at the NEC for Subcon. This annual exhibition has become the largest one in the Midlands with attendance figures increasing year on year. We are looking forward to a successful show and hope to meet many new customers there.
Stainless Steel Grades Explained
A nice graphical explanation, from Aalco, of the various stainless steel grades.
Follow this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvZdcucQDAE
We have, this week, succesfully negotiated our reassessments for ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001. This has given us accreditation to 2017 which will mean 18 years since we achieved our first Quality approval. Well done to all Laser Process staff and to Bob Hawkins, our consultant since 1998.
WW11 Memorial in Stoke-on-Trent
A sculpture to commemorate the role played by miners in Stoke-on-Trent to rebuild a village destroyed during World War II has been unveiled.
Lidice, in what was Czechoslovakia, was demolished by German forces in September 1942.
Local miners raised the equivalent of £1m to help rebuild the fellow coal mining community following the war.
Between 150 and 200 people atended a ceremony where the six-metre-high (19ft) sculpture, was unveiled.
Nearly 180 men were executed in Lidice and many women and children were later murdered in concentration camps.
Councillor Adrian Knapper said: "The connection between Stoke-on-Trent and Lidice is a very proud and emotional one and this sculpture will help to make sure it lives on for many years to come."
The £100,000, project, named Unearthed, has been funded by the city council.
'Good over evil'
Artist Nicola Winstanley said the sculpture was designed to tell the miners' "amazing story of generosity".
"It's a testament of what people can do and how good can overcome evil," she said.
"The shape of the structure looks like it's coming out of the ground which shows its geological mining connections."
Ms Winstanley added the "discs" on the side of the sculpture represented the tags miners wore to identify themselves.
Each tag features the initials of 3,000 members of the public who have promised to share the story of Lidice with two other people, following a promotional campaign about the project.
The memorial was manufactured by our customer Patera Engineering, of Stoke-on-Trent. Laser Process were responsible for the production of approximately 3000 laser cut and engraved stainless steel discs.
We appointed two new apprentices yesterday, that makes it three in the last month. We have two who will be trained in three of our main departments - sales, production and CAD and one who will become a multi-disciplined CNC operator.
A big welcome to Dan, Matt and Dean to Laser Process - here's to a great future.
New Sales Engineer
This week saw the introduction of a new Technical Sales Engineer for the east of England.
Derek Payne comes to us with a wealth of laser cutting and sheetmetal experience and will be a valuable addition to our sales team.
We have a considerable number of customers in the east of England but we have never been able to service them as well as we would like. Derek will be doing that as well as expanding our presence in the area. Those of you in the area will, no doubt, get to know him over the coming months.
Bring it on home....
For some years now we have been hearing about how the Far East is becoming the manufacturing powerhouse for the world, and how the UK would become nothing more than a service based economy.
During that time there have been many people, including me, who have expressed doubts that it could continue to be so indefinitely. There have always been certain issues with having production so far away, issues that would include transport (time and cost) control of operations, quality and intellectual property rights. Larger corporations who have the wherewithall and financial strength to operate their own manufacturing bases so far away are protected from these concerns because they have supervision on the ground but the majority of companies buying from the Far East do not have that luxury.
Fuel costs have led to ever increasing transport costs and shipping is becoming very expensive when compared to original budgets. A shortage of ships, of late, has also led to longer and longer delivery times which also adds to the cost, not least because larger stocks are required to allow for delays.
Wage rates in the region are increasing and, although they started from a very low base, they are impacting on production costs - and, anyway, where items are produced using the latest, high tec equipment, labour costs are often a small percentage of production costs.
The protection of intellectual property rights is going to be a problem for a long long time and may never be resolved adequately.
The biggest problem, though, is quality. It is difficult to be absolutely sure of quality standards unless you are actually there at the sharp end. If you have to wait up to two months from the time of shipping to the time of local inspection you will probably be looking at damaging delays in supply.
In a recent survey of manufacturers, in the Midlands, 16% of respondants said that they had either repatriated some of their manufacturing or were considering doing so. The overriding reason given for this action was quality. Not shipping costs, not IP rights but quality. They were all convinced that the Midlands was better able to supply quality goods than they were in the Far East.
Those of us involved in manufacturing, in the Midlands, have always known this.
If there were to be one main reason for manufacturers not bringing work back (or not shipping it out in the first place) it would be the high cost of labour in the UK. We do not want to be a low cost economy and so we have to increase productivity. to do this we need to invest more in equipment and processes and, more importantly, in skills.
An alarming report this week found that a single digit percentage of young people were thinking about careers in production. We have to stop messing about with 'mickey mouse' education systems, show the kids where they can find an exciting future and provide the training to turn them into the engineers of tomorrow. We have had experience in trying to recruit from a so called Technology College, and what a waste of time that was.
We have had some excellent people passing through apprenticeship programs with this company but it is also true that a lot of the applicants are totally unsuited because their levels of educational attainment are nowhere near where they need to be, because, to a large degree, they have been neglected. We have got to create an environment where young people think of manufacturing first, before they think of careers in digitals arts or performing arts or any of the other 'flavour of the month' subjects.
To this end JCB have to be congratulated on their engineering academy in Rocester, we could do with more.