Published On: Wed, Jul 16th, 2014

British machines for British fabricators

British engineering is alive and thriving on the Norfolk coast with window and door machinery manufacturer Stuga taking centre stage

IMG_4373You would not be blamed for arming yourself with a bucket and spade for a trip to Great Yarmouth, but the reality is you are more than likely to dig yourself up something more than a few spades of golden sand. The Norfolk seaside town has, over the years, built up a flourishing engineering industry based around the oil and natural gas rigs located in the nearby North Sea. With engineering running through the veins of many local businesses, Great Yarmouth has proved to be the perfect location for the UK’s premier manufacturer of machinery for the window industry.

Stuga’s association with Great Yarmouth can be traced back to the early 1970s when current director Gareth Green’s father worked, then later set up his own engineering business in the town. With a plotted history associated with the window industry that saw Gareth’s father Tom in the early days create tooling and routing systems, Stuga today finds itself at the forefront of window and door machinery innovation. Its current crop of machines, led by the ZX4, ZX3 and Autoflow 2 sawing and machining centres, are in the vanguard of technical development.

What makes Stuga stand out is its dedication to UK manufacturing. With an expert workforce, the company has been able to develop and manufacture machines that have answered the needs for increased automation in the window industry. As part of its ongoing commitment to customers, Stuga has enhanced its own capabilities with the appointment of Steve Baxter as Operations Director. Joining existing directors Gareth Green and Steve Haines, Steve has a comprehensive background in logistics and operations. He has a clear remit in his new role: “My target is to ensure everything is driven by the customer. To achieve this we need to ensure all our production planning, from component supply right through to assembly, is driven by the demands of our fabricator customers. To facilitate this we call on the services of like-minded local engineering businesses as well as global suppliers who are all able to deliver to us the component we need to manufacture our market-leading range of machines.”

Stuga machines are highly desirable in the marketplace, so it is important that sales and production work together in perfect harmony. Steve Haines is in charge of sales and sees the appointment of Steve Baxter as integral to the future success of Stuga: “Demand for our sawing and machining centres has been very strong but we are governed by our own manufacturing output. We have been selling 12 large sawing and machining centres on an annual basis. They normally take around 4-5 weeks to assemble, but the true lead time is much longer when you factor in the logistics of the components. As we move out of recession, component suppliers have increased their lead times, so we need to ensure we cement our relationships with these suppliers. The appointment of Steve is crucial in this process given his background in logistics. We have also invested heavily in manufacturing, with the purchase of a new lathe and CNC machines, thereby doubling our internal capacity.”

As we move away from recession, the focus has returned to new machinery and the Autoflow 2 is proving a big hit with customers. Steve Haines believes the shape of the market is changing: “The Autoflow 2 Sawing and Machining Centre is our compact offering; it has a smaller footprint but has tremendous flexibility. More and more fabricators are offering specialist products and the Autoflow 2 is the perfect choice for production of vertical sliders and residential doors. However, its flexibility enables it to be used right across the business. We are seeing customers purchasing two of these machines to run different lines, with the added advantage of being able to switch 100% of production across both machines.”

The assembly hall at Stuga is a hive of activity, but it is not just new machines that are being worked on. Recognising the thriving market for second-hand machines, Stuga has rapidly educated the market into recognising that it is always best for a Stuga machine to be worked on by its own team of expert engineers. As Technical Director Gareth Green points out: “There are around 150 Stuga Sawing and Machining Centres in operation at the moment. I know everything about all of them as we built them and in most cases have serviced them at at least one point in their lives. If you liken it to a car, we have the log book details here in Great Yarmouth, and for all machines newer than seven years old, we have cameras fitted so we can offer online visual support. This is invaluable, and through our own parts shop no component will ever become obsolete for any of our machines. I would recommend to any owner of a Stuga machine that they take out a service contract with us. We have the knowledge and expertise to guarantee the machine operates to its full functionality.”

It is really refreshing to witness successful British manufacturing. For fabricators, the added advantages are that expertise, support and knowledge are only a stone’s throw away and that reassuringly, Gareth will no doubt know the ins and outs of the very machine on your factory floor.

Tel : 01493 742348