Life begins at 40! Posted On: December 19th 2017

Bracebridge Engineering turns 40 next year.... an ideal time for reflection on where we have come from, what we are doing now and what we plan on doing in the future.

1978 was where it all began back in Aston where we were first established. We made pressings for many different industries especially domestic components like shower parts and tap fittings. Copper was one of our biggest bought-in materials, as most of the components required a non ferrous material. As we moved into the 90's and 2000's BBE started to take on more industrial products and our niche for filter components started to take shape. By 2010, 80% of our work was for the filtration industry.

Over the years we worked closely with our customers to help them develop their products, most of which are still in use today. In more recent years we have diversified a little more to accommodate more industries as the technology we have here allows us to service many sectors. Today we service the Aerospace, Automotive, Industrial, Defence, and Commercial sectors.

With the advent of so many new technologies and advancements how to we progress with the times in what is a very old industry? Today we live in a digital age where instant gratification is the norm, Send an email and the receiver gets it immediately. Where a library may have taken a day of searching to get the information you were looking for, a quick Google search today will now reveal the answer in microseconds. Order a pair of shoes on Amazon and before very long what now takes a few days will take hours via drone.

So how do we adapt to this market? Industry 4.0 is happening right now and some manufacturers are able to turn around parts in a very short space of time, especially those who do not need specialist tooling to produce the components. However with Presswork it’s slightly more challenging. Many of the machines that produced components in the 70's are still in use today, yes they have updated controls and sensor systems but the bare bones remain the same. If a customer sends a drawing in for quotation today, how long will it take them to get the part they asked for? Traditionally this would take a few days to a few weeks to receive a quotation back dependent on the project and then anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to produce the tooling and then produce the parts! Today this remains largely unchanged, yes an email can get drawings and info to and fro a lot quicker but ordering material, machining up tooling, trialling the tooling, problem solving and producing the parts all take time - sometimes a lot of it. Bracebridge Engineering recognizes this as one of the biggest challenges that lies ahead for manufacturers, the cost of labour, material prices, overseas competition are all significant challenges however BBE see this particular challenge as the most problematic for today's customer. 

Going forward in 2018 it will be important to recognize that despite the above, much can be done in order to fulfil customer demand. Focus on quick turnaround of quotations, customer communication, selecting the right toolmakers for the job and streamlining production implementation are all areas that can be looked at. Aside from this, the way customers interact with businesses is also changing therefore we must accommodate the use of social media and the internet to the best of our abilities also to capture the way business is done.

Over the last few years we have gone through what I refer to as "growing pains" : new markets have been explored, big changes have been made internally and a gearing towards future growth has been a priority. In 2018 we have a number of exciting additions and changes we are making to increase productivity, efficiency and our customer satisfaction and experience. Company giants like Amazon, Coca-Cola, Google, Apple have grown their businesses to stratospheric heights through having a great product and being Customer focused, SME's like presswork companies can do the same by being like them.

The global metal stamping market is expected to reach USD 299.6 billion by 2025* and is very much a growing market. So Pressings and Stampings are not going anywhere in the near future so here at Bracebridge we are looking forward to the future and what it brings, maybe life really does begin at 40!