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Operational Efficiency

Genlab set to enter new markets with new product utilising the Internet of Things

The Business

Genlab Ltd designs and manufactures a range of industrial ovens, laboratory ovens, incubators, drying cabinets, water baths and other associated thermal products, supplying the aerospace, automotive and life sciences sectors.

The business has operated for over 50 years, from their factory in Widnes, Halton, employing 37 people in November 2017.

The Challenge

Genlab have built their reputation as a leading manufacturer in their sector by focusing on excellent customer service and developing innovative products and processes. Phil Crompton, Director at Genlab Ltd could see a new opportunity if the business were to consider integrating Industrial Digitalisation technologies. He said:

“We wanted to develop a new Printed Circuit Board (PCB) controller which would integrate the Internet of Things within our range of industrial ovens. This new technology had the potential to position Genlab as a leading supplier in domestic and international markets, and to win us new business.”

The business required the expertise of a Internet of Things engineer to design and develop this product, and called upon Phil Anders, Specialist Manufacturing Advisor for the Liverpool City Region Manufacturing Growth Fund for advice.

Phil met with the business to understand the opportunity and helped them to apply for the Liverpool City Region Manufacturing Growth Fund, which would provide the business with a grant for 30% of the cost to bring in a design engineer to design and develop the PCB controller.

Phil Anders said:

“This project was an opportunity for Genlab to use new technologies to develop a product range which would position them as a leading supplier. It was an exciting time for the business, developing such an innovative product, with such market potential.”

Whilst working with the business, Phil Anders learnt that the business was also dealing with challenges in their supply chains and lead times. 

Phil Crompton said:

“We were outsourcing the printing of stickers for our units, which is one of the finishing touches to our products. Unfortunately, we were dealing with an erratic supply chain, which was causing delays of up to 10 days, and meant we were disappointing our customers.”

 Phil Anders said:

“This issue with stickers seemed like such an easy problem to solve, but despite working with their suppliers, they could not bring the lead times down to those demanded by their customers. The only solution was for the business to bring this inhouse by purchasing a new printer which would drive down cost and eliminate the supply chain challenges.”

Phil Anders helped the business to apply for one of the Liverpool City Region Manufacturing Growth Fund’s capital grants, which would provide 50% match funding towards the new printer.  

The Solution

The business was awarded a grant of £4,600 to contribute to the cost of bringing in the design engineer. The project finished in late 2017 and the business will be launching the new product imminently.

Phil Crompton said:

“The launch of this new product is a really exciting time for Genlab. We’ve taken on two new members of staff to help us manage production and administration of this, and I anticipate this will see us boost turnover this year by £50K.

”The technology advances offered by Industry 4.0. are a huge opportunity for our business, and would expect to see us adopting it within more of our products, and throughout our business in the near future.”

In addition, the business was awarded a capital grant of £4,600, which provided 50% of the cost of the new vinyl printer cutter. This brought the previously outsourced work back in house, has reduced lead times, which is expected to boost turnover further. The business has created another new role to manage this new process.

“This new investment has helped us remove a significant bottleneck from our processes and supply chains. By bringing the production of stickers in house, we’ve reduced our lead times, created greater flexibility in production and are better able to service our customers. I anticipate that the investment from the business will see payback in one year.”

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Phil Anders

Phil Anders, Manufacturing Advisor

Phil has over 20 years experience, supporting business growth for small and medium manufacturing enterprises.

Formerly delivering the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), Phil is well versed in working with manufacturers to identify growth opportunities and implementing operational improvement plans. A Six Sigma Green belt, Phil is a lean manufacturing expert with specialisms in continuous improvement, waste minimisation and quality management.

To view Phil's full profile including technical capabilities and industry experience, please click here.

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