Thanks To Materials and Manufacturing Technologies
Thanks to Materials & Manufacturing Technologies for their article showcasing our new facility… Exciting times.
For many businesses in the composites sector the autoclave is the beating heart of the company. Since it was established in 2011, West Yorkshire- based Premier Autoclave & Oven Solutions has built an enviable reputation servicing, maintaining and improving the efficiency of these essential workhorses. Now the company has extended its capabilities with the recent investment in a refurbishment workshop. M&MT reports.
At the end of March 2022, Premier Autoclave & Oven Solutions will relocate from its office and parts storage unit to a bespoke
2,500 ft2 refurbishment facilities, literally just a stone’s throw away. Representing an investment of around £100,000 the new facility has capacity for autoclaves up to 3 m in diameter and is equipped with all the plant and tools required to provide a full restoration service.
Head of Sales, Scott Dyson, explains: “It’s a pretty exciting time for the Premier team and we’d like to think this is a positive move for our customers and the UK composites market in general. We’re already trusted by much of the industry to service and upgrade their equipment, and now we have the capacity to offer cost-effective autoclaves of the highest quality that are supported locally.
“Our focus remains firmly on maximising the efficiency of our customer’s production through servicing, support and upgrades to existing plant. Our performance here is how we’re measured and what we pride ourselves on.
“However, we want to offer a full package solution and the refurbishment proposition has come about because our customers often need additional capacity. Previously we passed any enquiries on to others in the industry as it was outside our scope. Now we can offer complete autoclave refurbishments at the new facility.”
Most customers’ autoclaves can be upgraded at their site, being retrofitted with more efficient hardware, as well as Premier’s inhouse developed control system that can be configured to exactly match customer requirements. “Using our industry knowledge and autoclave expertise, our team advise and design autoclave specifications bespoke to customer needs. Ultimately, we drive to help customers produce high quality, compliant parts as efficiently as possible, at maximised throughput and with minimised costs,” states Scott Dyson.
He continues: “We are helping them achieve process security to meet delivery promises to their customers. From our point of view the customers’ customer is a key consideration as they often set standards and specifications that the autoclave must achieve. Understanding these specification and the industry so well is critical, so having a combined knowledge that goes beyond 100 years in the business, provides our customers with confidence when it comes to choosing Premier for key projects.”
For most customers Premier can carry out an onsite upgrade, only autoclaves that require significant, probably structural, changes would need to be removed and taken to the workshop for refurbishment and subsequent hydrostatic testing to prove the vessel integrity.
Premier can source additional autoclaves for customers from a stock held by the company or via its established links to suppliers
in the sector. Says Scott Dyson: “Also, because we look after such a large section of the market, we get prior warning of any equipment that might become available if a customer is moving and downsizing, or even an old autoclave that is being replaced with a new unit.”
Turnaround for a full restoration is about 8 weeks depending on the complexity of the project.
The initial stage is certifying the vessel to PD5500 including hydro testing if, for example, additional ports are added for extra capacity. After that comes the hardware and software required along with cladding and painting; effectively making the autoclave into a new machine. By re-using an existing vessel Premier can save up to 60% for the customer but still have all the benefits and warranties of a new unit.
The pressure on businesses to operate greener as well as the current ballooning of energy prices efficiency are other key reasons that composite manufacturers are considering an upgrade or refurbishment to a latest, most efficient technology. With Premier seeing efficiency improvements of up to 300% following upgrade works, there is growing demand.
Scott Dyson states: “With the cost savings associated with refurbished autoclaves, it is not surprising that a number of our current enquiries are coming from ‘start-up’ businesses as there seems to have been a lot of moving and shaking in the industry during the past 12 to 18 months. It is a sign of the upward trajectory that composites is on – even in these uncertain times I’m optimistic and excited for where the industry is headed and how we can help.”
Speaking about the company’s growth, Scott Dyson says: “We are moving into a facility that will perfectly match our requirements. There is room for some growth although we don’t want to do
that too quickly as we must ensure we have the right staff. Recent appointments include a new engineer that has over 10 years’ experience in refurbishing autoclaves and a new service and calibration engineer who will be on the road visiting customer’s sites.
“We are also looking for an Office Manager to support us going forward. A huge part in all of the new appointments is continuing to build on our already strong team. We’re very lucky to have a group, from management to accounts to engineers and beyond, where everyone is passionate about what we do and wants to help us and our customers push forward.”
He concludes: “We will always give honest advice to the customer because that’s how you foster long-term relationships. For example, if a customer thinks they need a full machine overhaul, we’ll be first to tell them if a small package of works would suffice for their needs – it may seem counter-intuitive for sales, but long-term trust is at the heart of everything we do. It is what brings our customers back time after time.
With our pool of knowledgeable mechanical, electrical and process engineers don’t be surprised if other capital equipment items receive the ‘Premier’ treatment in the near future.”