Steve Rolinson

Erodex has the tools for growth

Erodex UK Limited, the UK's leading supplier of EDM graphite and tooling to the aerospace market, has experienced record levels of growth after investing £3.5m in new tooling facilities.

Overall turnover increased 20% during the last financial year for the Halesowen-headquartered group, following previous record years for the company.

The growth has been a direct result of its latest investment, specifically targeted at securing more work within the aerospace and industrial turbine sectors.

As part of the investment drive, the company has opened a new £1.5m tooling facility in Halesowen and has pumped £2m into a new site in Virginia, North America.

Director Steve Rolinson said: "We have experienced significant growth on the tooling side of the business, which in fact is the fastest growing part of the Erodex group.

“The decision to invest in our own tool rooms and dedicated tooling inspection facilities has given us a real point of differentiation in the market.

“As well as designing the optimum electrode, the electrode holder and work piece holder, Erodex design and manufacture the whole package, all with a single point of contact.

“This is unique in our market and we are seeing more and more customers buying into this mindset because of cost and time savings.”

Erodex has also been boosted, like many other British manufacturers, by the falling value of the sterling since Britain voted to come out of the UK.

The sliding pound has led to surging exports for the nation’s buoyant manufacturing sector and this investment has really helped Erodex capitalise on the trend.

Steve added: “Since the EU referendum result, Erodex has seen growth in both domestic and export business.

“While we have many innovative and highly skilled people here in the UK, it is too early to definitively say however how the decision to leave the EU will affect UK aerospace.

“That said, the UK has a long history of being at the forefront of aerospace and I don’t anticipate that changing in the near future.”

And as well as picking up a number of new clients in China and Israel, the company has benefitted from its decision to open two new tooling facilities.

The decision to create a new UK tool room enables Erodex to produce its own tooling in house - particularly that with a significant amount of intellectual property.

Doing so allows for tighter quality control, greater support and the carrying out of function trials by their own toolmakers prior to release.

Steve added: “Erodex has a long history of local investment in both equipment and people. This policy has seen us grow over the past 40+ years and we will continue to do so going forward.

“The new tooling facility in Halesowen gives us the ability to offer our customers an even better level of service.

“Having our designers and highly skilled engineers in close proximity allows for better innovation and greater quality control.”

Regarding the expansion into America, co-director John Rolinson added: "Rolls Royce Group announced that they were opening a new turbine blade facility in Virginia and Erodex were asked to support that as a result of our long-term working relationship with them.

“This started off with us supplying graphite electrodes from the UK, however as their Virginia operation grew, we entered conversations about starting a tool room there so that we could offer the same fixture care and repair as well as inspection/trialling of tools in Virginia that we would do in the UK.”

To facilitate the growth, Erodex has expanded its workforce by 10% to above 100, taking on three experienced aerospace tool makers, a tooling manager, two project managers, designers and more CNC operators.

A group quality manager and group quality engineer were also recruited as part of a move towards AS9100 Rev D, ISO14001 and NADCAP Certifications.

Steve adds: "The move towards AS9100 Rev D, ISO14001 and NADCAP Certification will allow further diversification of Erodex into flying parts.

“We currently make the electrodes required to make flying parts, but accreditation such as this will enable Erodex to handle and inspect flying parts ourselves, which is part of our longer-term strategy for growth.”

So, what’s next for Erodex, more growth? Steve concluded: “With the continued growth of the aerospace sector, we expect to see this trend continue.”

Published: 14 June 2017

Article by Bryce Wilcock
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