A Birmingham firm which once made castors for the roof of a baseball stadium in the US has spent £2 million on a new factory in the city.

Alwayse Engineering, which employs 50 people, has consolidated its operations at one site in Miller Street, Aston.

The new 34,000 sq ft location replaces three factories in Digbeth.

Alwayse, which last year had sales of £3 million, is hoping the move will improve productivity, communication and capacity required to take on new orders for its range of rolling ball transfer units which are used to help move cargo.

Chris Lydiate, sales engineer, said: "This is a very bold and challenging move for the business, especially when you consider the general nature of manufacturing at the moment.

"However, it is one that we have made with the future in mind and in a bid to strengthen our current position in the global marketplace, where we currently serve over 50 countries across the world."

Mr Lydiate, who joined the company as a shopfloor apprentice, added: "We have had the building designed with lean manufacturing firmly in mind and now boast state-ofthe-art design, sales and testing facilities.

"The additional space has also allowed us to move our specialist distribution company Alwayse Castors under one roof.

"The new factory is more accessible, more modern, it has got more space, and the light is much better. Now everything is under one roof communication is much better."

The company was formed in 1939 as the original creator of the ball transfer unit, which is basically a means of moving heavy goods easily.

A commitment to continuous development and engineering performance has seen the product range evolve, with the firm currently withstanding competition from abroad through the quality and diversity of its units.

Around 70 per cent of its products are exported, and it recently supplied to Lodige, a German cargo handling company, in a £350,000 deal.

Mr Lydiate said: "It's all about not standing still and making the most of your reputation by getting better time and time again.

"In addition to the facility, we have also invested £55,000 into a new CNC machine, which will help produce ultra precision units for the air cargo industry and bespoke projects, such as the ones completed on the Millennium Bridge in London and a famous baseball stadium in the United States."

Alwayse products were used to act as dampeners at the Millennium Bridge, which swayed in the wind when it was first built.

A more unusual order was for one man who wanted to buy two rolling units to fit to his tortoise which lost the use of its rear legs.

Alwayse Engineering has been supported by supply chain initiative Accelerate and Advantage West Midlands.

Accelerate has been working with the company for some time, providing strategic advice on trademark registrations and financial support for exhibiting at the recent Midlands Manufacturing exhibition at the Ricoh arena.

The latter was an excellent marketing venture, with over 30 good leads collected during the two days and one concrete order placed, said Mr Lydiate.

Business Link Birmingham's Norman Taylor said: "Manufacturing in this country has switched on to the fact that 'getting niche' or offering something different is the only way to compete with low labour cost countries."