A specialist manufacturer from Redditch is celebrating its 35th birthday by pioneering a new solution to producing springs for the pharmaceutical industry.

Springpart, which employs 41 people at Washford Industrial Estate, has teamed up with the Manufacturing Advisory Service-West Midlands (MAS-WM) and Midlands Surface Analysis (MSA) to develop a new process for producing more corrosion-resistant springs that can pass recently-introduced industry tests.

The breakthrough was the result of rigorous analysis and the installation of a new cleaning and finishing line. The investment has already paid off, with the company re-securing £400,000 of contracts and a further 90,000,000 springs ordered for 2010.

Simon Kite, director of customer service, said: “One of our key areas of activity is providing high-quality stainless steel springs for the pharmaceutical industry for use in nasal sprays and asthma inhalers, for example.

“About a year ago, a leading European company introduced new rigorous tests to overcome rusting problems found across the sector and, in order to remain at the forefront of supply, we decided to embrace the change and look at new ways of making our springs more corrosion-resistant.

“We were already in contact with MAS-WM on a waste reduction programme and when they heard about what we were up to, they put us in touch with Midlands Surface Analysis at Aston University, which has been a tremendous benefit.

“Using state-of-the-art equipment we were able to identify and isolate many surface problems while highlighting several areas in the process that had not been considered a factor previously.”

Boosted by the expert assistance, Springpart developed a new manufacturing process that produces springs that pass the industry test and has subsequently secured an even greater share of the existing customers’ work, with the added possibility of supplying new clients.

“Seventy-five per cent of our work is shipped overseas to customers in Europe, the US, South America, South Africa and China, and our unrivalled experience also sees us produce a number of specialised springs for the automotive sector and for use in quality ballpoint pens, such as Parker and Mont Blanc,” Mr Kite said.

“Our 35th birthday could not have taken place in a more tumultuous year, but it has been one where we have evolved with industry requirements and we are now in an excellent position to build on anticipated strong growth in the pharmaceutical sector.”

MAS-WM’s Martin McKeever has been instrumental in forging the relationship between Springpart and MSA.

“This is a great example of a specialist body working with a company to solve a real business issue and the management team must be congratulated for the way they have opened up their operations and looked at the processes they employ,” he said.