2012 has been another year of growth for Kidderminster-based bellows and machine protection specialist Beakbane. The company has introduced new product ranges, taken on new manufacturing facilities, and seen its products applied in a range of demanding applications.

These range from the extreme cold of the Antarctic and the red heat of a steel casting plant, to the top of one of the tallest buildings in the City of London as well as at the cutting edge of high precision on polishing machines used to make lenses for the world’s biggest telescope.

At MACH, the UK’s premier manufacturing technology exhibition, held at the NEC in April, Beakbane showcased the first fruits of an agreement with Wisconsin-based A & A Manufacturing that significantly expands its product portfolio.

The new product range included walk-on covers, cable carriers and bespoke and stock vulcanised convoluted bellows. Beakbane can now offer products and bespoke systems for almost any requirement in machinery protection, bellows and cable management.

The exhibition was also an opportunity for Beakbane to demonstrate its expertise in the manufacture of large fabrications for machine tool builders, its range of machine tool components, such as telescopic slideway covers, lamella covers and slideway wipers, and its ability to act as a supply partner from initial design to just-in-time delivery of finished products.

Last month, Beakbane also demonstrated its capabilities in composite materials at InnoTrans in Berlin – Europe’s largest event for the rail industry exhibition. Latest developments from Beakbane include composite structures with moulded-in metal frames that provide excellent lightweight impact resistance for critical areas on the train – such as bogie-mounted sensors, fuel tanks and the driver’s compartment.

To cope with its expanding business, the company has taken on an additional 16,000 sq ft unit to create a new facility that brings the manufacture of all its flexible and composite products under one roof. Along with investments in capital plant and process equipment, this will allow the company to create an optimum work flow and better opportunities for efficiency.

This has gone hand in hand with major training programmes to ensure that the company has the skills it needs to make full use of these investments and remain at the head of its field.

Roy Legg, Manufacturing Manager, says: “Beakbane recognises the value its workforce contributes to the business and the need for continued personal development of its employees. Beakbane has therefore aimed to enhance the capabilities of its employees to complement its overall investment to ensure future growth within the business.”

This strategy is underpinned by the company’s apprenticeship scheme, with four apprentices successfully completing their training within the last two years and three more currently undergoing training.

At the beginning of the year, 24 employees across the company undertook training in the latest versions of Microsoft Word and Excel from John P Legge (JPL) Computer Services, to raise the efficiency and knowledge of the new features.

Currently, Worcester Group Training Association is helping with the company’s succession planning requirements by training two members of staff towards achieving the Institute of Leadership and Management Level 3 NVQ in Team Leading.

Beakbane is also working with Track Training to take 34 employees towards NVQ Level 2 in Business Improvement Techniques, including the quality tool FMEA (Failure Mode and Effect Analysis).

Roy Legg adds: “The company understands that to be successful it is important to train its employees in the use of modern manufacturing techniques to maximise its investment in plant and equipment.”

To achieve this aim, the company has called on Capella Associates to provide personal development for 10 employees in FMEA and 8D problem-solving techniques to drive forward its commitment to deliver quality products and services to existing and new customers. Capella Associates will also provide Six Sigma training to help the company add more value to the business as part of its future strategy.