Faber Technology in Parliamentary review of Manufacturing Sector
Member company Faber Technology, the plastic injection moulding specialists based on the Mochdre Industrial estate in Newtown, recently took part in the UK Governments Parliamentary Review into manufacturing.
The document provides an in-depth account from individuals and organisations in the industry.
As Lord Blunkett reported “With ongoing fractures in Westminster, the reverberations of which are being felt across the country, it is essential that politicians have a firm understanding of the challenges with which British organisations must contend; and that leaders in both the public and private sectors are aware of the difficulties faced by those working in all levels of politics, from local government to the national arena. This is why The Parliamentary review combines political content with stories from a wide range of organisations – small and large; new and old; those at the peak of their powers and those who have peaks to surmount. It is why these stories seek to inspire and challenge all who read them.
Faber Technology is a specialist plastic injection moulding company providing high quality and cost-effective moulding solutions to a varied client base. The company is based in Newtown, Mid-Wales. Established as a partnership in 1997, it was incorporated in 2002. It is family business with a company ethos of providing a top quality and flexible service to all customers, viewing no job as too small. Brian Bancroft, their managing director and Arburg-trained engineer with over 30 years of experience has built the company up from a two-machine mould shop to a busy 14-machine strong business, operating 24/7. Brian writes the following:
Through its many years of experience, Faber is able to offer outstanding services and highly competitive moulding solutions to a wide range of business sectors, including those related to IT components, automotive, electronics and the environment. Faber has an enviable reputation for being able to accommodate small batch runs and complex designs, and offer complex, specialist design solutions. Utilising the latest Pro-Engineer CAD software, our company has an in-house CAD trained engineer who can help see a project from thoughts on paper through to design and, ultimately, a manufactured product. We liaise directly and daily with the tool makers on behalf of our customers. Our meticulous attention to detail requires repetitive tool trials and fine-tuning of the mould, ensuring that the end product is perfect with a near-zero margin of error.
We have also been awarded ISO14001, demonstrating our commitment to the environment. We ensure that as much of our waste plastic as possible can be reground without compromising its quality. Moreover, in 2003 we were awarded ISO 9000-2008, and with regular internal audits we ensure that the rigorous quality control routines that these standards require are upheld.
Faber also has a team of assembly workers with the requisite tools and expertise to assemble products into their finished form. We have the machines and knowledge to produce twin shot moulded parts, whereby the finished part is made of two forms of plastic moulded into the final product. This has enabled us to manufacture a more diverse range of products for our suppliers.
My extensive experience has enabled the company to develop a unique over moulding service, whereby plastic is moulded over a separate component. For example, one of clients asked us to come up with a solution for encapsulating an impellor shaft with magnets and rings. We successfully achieved the required end result with a 0.4mm margin of error, and now manufacture these 24/7 – just one of our many success stories.
What makes our business model successful?
Some of the Team at Faber Technology
It’s not immediately clear how a small company such as ours could survive in the current climate, where so much manufacturing is moving overseas. The short answer is that we work tirelessly and operate some basic but effective management methods:
Hands on Management team – I discuss the technical requirements directly with the customer; with my technical expertise I ensure the machines are running with optimum efficiency while keeping a constant eye on quality.
Lean overheads – Our staff are flexible and are able to cover different processes in the business. Our office team consists of Sue (Finance Director), Christine (Office Manager), Hannah (Office Administrator). Sue is part-time but is also able to work from home remotely and a cover for Christine. Hannah will operate machines at weekends or help out in dispatch too.
A happy working environment – We have a very low staff turnover. The average length of service for the current team is 9.5 years. Every Thursday the company provides a free lunch from a local sandwich bar. We accommodate a flexible working environment, working around school holidays and school hours for those who have responsibilities for children at school. In return a responsible, committed and punctual approach to work is the minimum we expect from our staff.
Additionally, our wages are above average for our area, and we reward pay rises annually in line with inflation and with recognition of contribution to the business.
Operating these basic principles of management has resulted in a work force that is reliable and willing to work extra hours at weekends or evenings when required. We are able, therefore, o offer our customers complete flexibility. We can continually adapt our production schedules to meet
the constantly changing demands of our customers. If they bring orders forward, we shuffle things around and put the hours in to meet the new delivery date. Never a problem.
We welcome short runs too. If a client requires just a few items, it’s not a problem; we can accommodate it.
Investment – We regularly invest in top of the range injection moulding machines, keeping our company in line with the latest machine technology. We don’t over-invest in systems that may provide information overload; rather we rely on off-the-shelf software that does the job, backed up by in-house designed systems and direct communication with all members of staff.
No overly voracious shareholders – The shareholders of the company are the management team and we ensure that remuneration is realistic and comes second to investment.
Monitor cash on a daily basis – Our FD, Sue, keeps an assiduously close eye on the bank balance and ensures we live within our means.
The challenges we face
Over the past five years there have been challenges as a result of many things. One example is increased energy prices (35 per cent over the last five years). Environmental tariffs, too, are burdensome for our sector. Another example is the extra 2 per cent cost regarding pension costs, which has caused financial and administrative difficulties. On top of this, national minimum wage changes have increased over and above inflation. Finally, council taxes are always on the rise, imposing yet further costs. All these rising costs have been absorbed by us rather than passed on to our customers. We have to remain competitive so that our customers choose us rather than overseas suppliers. However, we will have to react to these increased costs soon in order to remain profitable.
Government policies that help us
Over the past two years we have invested time and money in developing our own products that have been sold through Frenzee Ltd. With the research and development rebates we have been able to reduce our corporation tax bill significantly, which has helped us re-invest in new machines and replacement machine accessories.
In any case, whatever comes our way, we will survive. Optimism is the prevailing sentiment at Faber Technology.
You can read the Parliamentary Review at https://www.theparliamentaryreview.co.uk/editions/manufacturing-and-services further details on Faber Technology at www.fabertechnology.co.uk