A Birmingham printing company has quadrupled its production after it commissioned a local firm to design a way of automating its manufacturing process.
A1 Printing, based in Stechford, is beating its Far East rivals by printing around 55,000 cable ties a day ? mainly for the health sector.
The company, founded in 1990 by husband and wife team Chris and Christine Hobley, diversified into cabletie printing ten years ago after struggling in the traditional corporate printing market.
However, after the A1 secured a contract with large suppliers, they found it increasingly difficult to meet production demands.
Mr Hobley said: ?Demand was growing organically, which was fantastic.
?But we had trouble taking on staff who were willing to man the machines, so it was just the two of us working from seven in the morning to 11 at night.
?Even then we just weren?t meeting demand. We realised
we had to find a way to automate the process.?
Keen to keep the designs of their new machines a secret, A1 approached Businesslink for help.
They were given who provided funding through Advantage West Midlands? Diversification Project and put the firm in touch with andy Taylor at Tamworth-based Taylor Design. The company designed and built a machine which automated the feed, orientation and printing of the cable ties.
Production swiftly increased from 1,500 per hour with the hand machine, to over 6,000 per hour with the new equipment.
Mr Hobley said: ?At first I thought the process couldn?t be automated, but we started
with a blank sheet of paper and worked through to produce a design.
?It?s a completely different concept to our original machines and, with the increased rate of production, we can guarantee clients a 48-hour delivery.?
The company has now employed three extra staff, allowing Mr and Mrs Hobley time to concentrate on the future direction of the company.
?The new machines have given us an edge,? My Hobley said. ?As far as we know, nobody can print ties as fast as we can.
?This means we can compete with the Far East, by the time they add the time and cost of shipping to their product, we work out quicker and cheaper.
?We also have a lot more time to spend with our clients and developing a strategy for the future.?
Richard Stannard, design, innovation and IPR advisor at Business Link Birmingham, said: ? I was incredibly impressed with Chris?s foresight, imagination and enthusiasm to see the project through.
?There were many times when others would have given up, but Chris?s dogged determination to realise his dream, combined with Andy Taylor?s flair for innovation and highly developed engineering skills, have been a winning combination.?