Grassmats in Congleton impressed its customers with an improved, speedier service following grant support to invest in a new printing machine.
Based in Congleton, Grassmats specialises in producing high-quality rubber and plastic mats, including rubber grass mats for playgrounds, lawn protection, anti-slip surfaces and ground protection mesh for large events and overflow car parks.
The business had identified that the pre-cut markings for its mats were sometimes losing their adhesiveness before they could be fully laid at customer sites, due to the time-consuming laying process and the short curing time of the glues used. This meant that correct installation was often difficult, especially for international customers in warmer climates where the curing process is quicker.
Managing Director Neville Robson recognised the potential to create a template-driven solution that would allow layouts to be assembled quickly as a kit rather than needing to be cut on-site, but this had never been tested before and would require a new printing machine.
Neville approached Phil Anders, specialist advisor for the Cheshire and Warrington Manufacturing Growth Fund, who undertook a diagnostic of the project and helped Grassmats to submit a successful grant application for a printing machine that would enable them to print in pattern form.
The new machine, part-funded by a £7,800 grant, means mats can now be laid straight from a master pattern without the need for cutting or modification on-site by installers. In addition to increasing the rate of production at the factory, this drastically reduces laying time for installers – setting Grassmats apart from its competitors.
The solution has allowed Grassmats to win more lucrative work in international markets, as well as take on more staff at home in Congleton.
As Neville explains: “The equipment Phil helped us to purchase has made a big difference to our production speed, which in turn has led to more customers liking the speed of our service.
“In fact, even during Covid we have found ourselves employing an extra eight people thanks to our honed processes and efficiency. We even became one the Forbes top 50 most resilient companies in 2021.”
Phil added: “I’ve known Grassmats for a number of years and they are a great example of a traditional UK manufacturer that has put innovation first and found a novel way to solve a problem area in the business. The new template-driven solution shows real creativity and ingenuity.
“We looked at several different possible projects to improve the business at the start of 2020, but it was clear that the new printer would be the most transformative and set Grassmats aside from its competitors, both in the UK and abroad. From the first diagnostic of the project through to the grant application being approved, the whole process was turned around in just over a month.”