Barnsley robotics company goes global
12 October 2011
A robot designed and built in Barnsley to protect electronics from the elements is going global.
The machine, developed by Advanced Coating Robotics Ltd, selectively applies thin layers of material, known as conformal coating, to circuit boards to prevent dust, moisture and other damage.
It has already been sold to electronics and solar manufacturers overseas in countries including China, India and Lithuania.
The company has been formed by two Barnsley businesses - SMS Automation, a company which specialises in state of the art automation systems, and SCH Technologies, a leading conformal coating firm.
Gordon Watson, managing director of SMS Automation, said the project was among a number of exciting projects for the company, which has increased turnover by almost 40 per cent since it expanded into bigger premises at Carlton’s Wharncliffe Business Park in 2010.
Its success has been boosted by help from Enterprising Barnsley which offers business support to Barnsley businesses with growth potential.
Gordon said: “The machine is already being used by manufacturers in the automotive and communications industries and for making solar powered street lights.
“It can be customised to meet specific requirements and can also be supplied as part of a complete design-to-installation coating line service for electronics manufacturers.
“Our collaboration with SCH Technologies harnesses the many years’ experience and expertise of the two companies and has enabled a system designed and assembled right here in Barnsley to be exported around the world.”
Gordon founded SMS Automation in 1999 and continuing links with a company based in California’s Silicon Valley has allowed the firm to keep abreast of latest developments in motion control technology. Gordon now heads a team of seven, including his son Christopher, a recent master’s graduate.
The firm has designed and installed automated systems for leading manufacturers which make a diverse range of products from biscuits and Easter eggs to toothpaste and glass. In many cases, new life has been breathed in to old production lines to not only improve efficiency and quality but to ensure high levels of safety.
In addition, SMS Automation has carried out several contracts for UK Fuel Business, based at Springfields Fuels, near Preston, which turns uranium into nuclear fuel for all of Britain’s nuclear power stations.
SMS experts are currently building a robot to transfers batches of nuclear fuel from one area to another.
Gordon said: “The machine will move at speeds of up to one and half metres a second but must handle the fuel with as much care as possible.
“We’ve established our reputation on this attention to detail along with our high level of expertise and the ability to work to other people’s processes.”
The tie-in with SCH Technologies is among projects to broaden the scope of SMS’s business from purely bespoke systems to off-the-shelf solutions, so developing training is a major aim for the future.
Specialists from Enterprising Barnsley have helped SMS Automation with financial analysis to assist in its on-going development.
Enterprising Barnsley is a partnership between Barnsley Development Agency, Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre and the University of Huddersfield’s Barnsley Campus to offer support to local businesses with growth potential.
The programme has attracted £2.89m investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.
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