May 30, 2024

Staffordshire metal fabricator makes cutting-edge investment

A tech-savvy steel fabricator in Stoke-on-Trent is looking to double its turnover in the next five years after purchasing a state-of-the art laser cutting machine.

Acquiring the new equipment is the latest milestone in Ecam Engineering LTD’s steady investment drive, which has already seen turnover more than double in the past 10 years.

Powered in part by 350 recently installed solar panels on the factory roof, the laser cutter works 33% faster than the company’s previous machine, with no extra electricity used. It is also able to run an automated process where it loads and unloads itself, operating out of hours to improve efficiency and drive down lead times.

Funded by a six-figure loan from Lloyds Bank, the purchase of the machine is helping Ecam to remain competitive in the global market. It is also forming part of wider plans to digitise the business over the next two years, through a collaboration with Birmingham City University.

As well as providing energy for the new machine, Ecam’s solar panels prevent energy from going to waste by powering the factory’s key equipment. Since their installation in June 2023, the panels have saved around 83.5 tonnes of CO2.

These improvements come as part of the business’ overarching sustainability mission. In March 2024, it was awarded the ISO14001 accreditation for sustainability, an internationally recognised standard which considers an organisation’s operations such as waste management, resource use and efficiency.

Phil Arme, director at Ecam Engineering LTD, said: “With the rise of automation in manufacturing, it’s clear that robotics is becoming a smart area for investment. We want to ensure we’re using this technology to complete menial tasks, so that we can free up our employees to add value in other parts of the business, prioritising learning and development. Thanks to this model, we’re able to invest more in our trainees, with 10% of our growing workforce now made up of apprentices. So, the latest purchase of a state-of-the-art laser cutter felt like the natural next step for us.

“Ecam Engineering has banked with Lloyds Bank for over 55 years, supporting many of our biggest milestones, including the management buyout which allowed me to acquire the business a decade ago. Since then, I’ve continued to regularly assess how we can improve Ecam’s operations and boost turnover. Lloyds Bank is always my first port of call when a new idea sparks.”

Mick Downes, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, said: “Ecam Engineering is constantly pursuing new growth avenues that benefit both colleagues and customers. The company’s growth in the past 10 years goes to show that technological innovation needn’t come at the expense of profit, and automation can aid team growth rather than hinder it. This new equipment is helping Ecam to offer competitive services, that help it to stand out among its peers.

“As more and more manufacturing businesses look to greener production methods as part of the net zero drive, Ecam serves as a reminder that sustainability improvements come alongside operational innovations. At Lloyds Bank we’re geared up to help businesses realise the development they’re targeting.”

Ecam provides specialist services for companies across the construction, automotive, rail, medical and lighting industries, boasting an impressive roster of clients, such as construction manufacturer JCB.

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