Covid-19 is proving a stubborn thorn in our sides and we have tried very hard to maintain business continuity and timely deliveries throughout the last 4 months. We are very grateful to all our customers and suppliers who have helped us through this difficult period and apologize for any difficulties you may have experienced.
Working with an ever-increasing variety of customers and sectors, we have noticed higher demand for better and more varied surface finishes. As a result, we have decided to upgrade our deburring, finishing and treatment capability with a second surface grinder - an automated Timesavers 22 Series 900W machine with separately adjustable surface and brush control. Together with our super-fast and accurate Amada laser cutter, it’s part of our new larger and more modern machine park and proving to be a versatile performer, and we encourage you to ask us about how we can give your product a unique look and feel.
We are pleased to announce the commissioning of a new Press Brake, the third significant Amada machine in our shop. The HFE 3i 8025 - an upgraded version of our existing HFE M2 8025 - incorporates the latest software making it possible to connect via our main CAM computer and network with our Amada LCG 3015 2KW Laser Cutter. In the near future we will therefore be able to download 3-D drawings directly to production with pre-calculated bend and material allowances as well as folding sequence optimization. Additionally, tooling, programs, set-up knowledge and some spares can now already be shared and we anticipate faster production runs and lower floor times. This investment is part of our wider ongoing program to take advantage of new digital technologies that will allow us to offer our customers even better prototype turnaround and production lead times as well as lower prices.
As part of the ongoing efforts to improve our service we are pleased to announce that we have been awarded BS9001:2015 certification. This reflects stronger manufacturing and business processes such as document control, product traceability, heightened risk mitigation and faster quoting and prototyping. One of our main aims is to continuously improve our delivery performance. This is impacted by many internal and external factors, not least of which are uncertain prototype build times and machine reliability. Two of our three press brakes will therefore be overhauled in February and, reflecting the excellent performance we have enjoyed with our Amada press brake and fibre laser, we are investigating purchase of a second Amada type HFE press brake. This will allow us to share existing tooling and, with additional program storage reduce set-up times. Having recently taken on a very experienced estimator we are looking to increase interaction with our customers at the earliest stages in the product lifecycle to identify dimensional uncertainties, reduce unnecessary complexity and better understand delivery options.
Brexit preparation. In common with many businesses we have been preparing for leaving the European Union by identifying elements which we can control and our customers have already been sent letters outlining the steps we are taking to help minimize the impact a disorderly Brexit may have. Because of space constraints, a desire to maintain low work-in-progress and maintain fast throughput, we work on a just-in-time basis which means that most material purchases are linked to specific orders. Extraordinarily, we are increasing our inventory of standard materials and identifying additional sourcing options. We are therefore asking our customers to review their requirements for the coming months and identify critical orders as far in advance as possible so that we may jointly plan for their manufacture.
We're proud to be sponsors helping the University of Portsmouth Racing Team build and equip their new car. The latest progress update from the team is here UP Racing Team March 2018. It's fantastic to see the achievements that they have made and the passion, they love engineering just like we do!
As the year closes we have made several more significant changes and investments to increase our service quality and flexibility. A new electrostatic spray gun has allowed us to open a second spray booth. Compared to our existing gun, the new one is already demonstrating better and faster powder adhesion with a further reduction in VC leakage. The second booth reduces changeover times and simplifies cleaning for faster colour matching. Our long-established relationship with Mietrak Software continues with the upgrade to the new Mietrak Pro release. Additional functionality including improved planning and scheduling will make it easier to load and track orders and improve transparency. Deliveries to our customers should also become a little easier with the purchase of a new and larger panel van. Sliding doors on both sides will make it easier to deliver to tight spaces and simplify access when working multiple drop-offs. Last but not least we have introduced a night shift. This represents a major step for us and will increase our capacity and facilitate even greater flexibility.
We have just replaced our 8-yr old LVD CO2 LVD Laser with a brand-new, state-of-the-art Amada LCG 3015 AJ Fibre Laser. In practical terms the new laser technology means fewer wearing components and much lower beam degradation. Coupled with higher acceleration performance, automatic pallet changing and sophisticated software control 16mm mild steel, 10mm stainless, 8mm aluminium and even "exotic" materials like brass and copper can now be cut faster and more accurately than before. To minimise disruption we completed the installation over a weekend and took the opportunity to reposition our three brake presses for a better factory flow. The new machine represents a significant step in our drive to offer our customers faster turnaround times and even better quality.
A number of customers and prospective customers have been asking if we can work from 3D sources. Given that we are already in the latter stages of determining several important equipment upgrades for 2017, we are confident that we will be able to offer this feature shortly. To manage the continual increase in workload, we have also just taken on another experienced and enthusiastic press brake / folding specialist and it is pleasing to see that his skills have already been noted by our customers.
As part of our drive to increase customer service levels and ensure fast quote turnarounds, for 2017 our team will be boosted by the addition of two experienced staff in key estimating and sales support roles. As promised, we always strive to contact our customers personally and provide quotes in two working days. Occasionally we will need more time to deal with complex issues and locate specialist components or materials, but in every case both prospective and existing customers can expect that we will take the time to understand their requirements, acknowledge quote requests and keep them informed of progress.
Certification to BS 9001:2008 is a valuable component of our drive to continuous improvement. We are therefore pleased to report that we recently passed an audit of our manufacturing and management processes with flying colours. In the coming year we will further develop our systems and processes and intend to investigate other forms of certification and accreditation to determine how these can improve our manufacturing performance and service to our customers.
As part of our program to upgrade both our internal and customer-facing processes and systems we have re-designed our website to take advantage of new technologies which maximize the opportunities afforded by smartphones, tablets and wide aspect ratio computer screens. We hope you can find what you need quickly and easily.
PDS is pleased to announce the installation of new and upgraded nitrogen generating equipment which will allow us to run our laser cutting processes even faster. This will cut times, improve surface finish on some special stainless steels and generally underpin our drive for greater reliability.
We are proud to announce a significant order worth over £230,000. This represents a major step for PDS reflecting the trust placed in our company by a long-time customer now requiring thousands of matched components on a tight timescale.
In Summer 2016 ownership of PDS changed hands for only the second time in the company’s 30-year history. By continuing to serve our customers with excellent products delivered on time we aim to build on our heritage, develop new offerings and carefully grow the business in a sustainable fashion.