Russ Cockburn

Member Article

Thermacore Europe secures SC21 Bronze Award

A Northumberland thermal management specialist is setting its sights on new opportunities in the aerospace and defence sector after securing a major accreditation.

Thermacore Europe Ltd has taken just eight months to secure the Bronze SC21 Award, which aims to accelerate competitiveness and performance in the UK supply chain.

The company, which has been supported by the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), is on course to win £200,000 of new contracts as a result of its commitment and achieved zero parts defects for many of its clients.

Employing 61 people at its Wansbeck Business Park site, the company will now use its Continuous Sustainable Improvement Plan (CSIP) to develop new technologies for aerospace, communications equipment, medical, military and power electronics.

“We were introduced to SC21 by one of our customers Selex Galileo and quickly identified a host of benefits we could achieve from taking part,” explained Mark Robinson, Quality HSE Manager at Thermacore Europe.

“Working with advisers from MAS and specialist consultants Guthrie and Craig, we developed a CSIP that focused on a company-wide commitment to improving on- time customer delivery and the implementation of kaizen techniques, including putting a dedicated ‘5S’ team in place.”

Mark continued: “It’s all about accelerating lean manufacturing and we now have 13

‘improvement’ activities we are taking forward that will eliminate waste and provide the customer with an even better level of service.“

Founded in 1970, Thermacore specialises in the custom design, development and manufacturing of highly engineered thermal management systems and components for use in applications such as radar systems, space stations and the high-profile Eurofighter jet.

Backed by its US parent, the company invests approximately £300,000 in new technologies every year and is currently looking at transferring its lightweight k-core©heat exchange components to the UK and Europe.

There are also plans to develop vacuum brazing to aid the move towards weight reduction.

Mark picked up the story: “Last year, 80% of our £5.7m turnover was exported overseas and we have to build on this by continually developing the next generation of thermal management solutions.

“SC21 has given us a great platform on which to expand and I have no doubt it will help us retain work and put us in line for future opportunities in aerospace and defence.

“The assistance we received from MAS was a great help and speeded up the process considerably. It’s always good to get an impartial sounding board to test ideas with.”

The Manufacturing Advisory Service has been working with Thermacore Europe since 2006 on a host of improvement projects and the implementation of energy management systems.

It conducted a series of diagnostic assessments over a three-month period to understand the areas of the business that would benefit most from SC21 before bringing in specialists to deliver the in-depth support.

This focused on customer satisfaction, operational efficiency improvements and achieving Bronze level recognition.

“Thermacore Europe is one of only a few manufacturing companies in the North East to embark on SC21 accreditation and one of the first to achieve Bronze Recognition,” explained Alan Whittaker, MAS Specialist Manufacturing Adviser.

“It is already having a positive benefit on the operational performance of the company and will soon become an imperative part of doing business in that sector.

He concluded: “We are hoping this success story will act as inspiration for other local manufacturers to register interest in the Supply Chains for 21stCentury programme.

Thermacore Europe is part of US-owned Thermacore Inc, which employs 185 people across five facilities.

It is now looking to achieve the AS9100 quality accreditation and work towards the Silver SC21 mark.

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This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Russ Cockburn .

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