Month: July 2024

PMMDA welcome CARVECO as a NEW Member

Welcome to our latest member CARVECO, its great to have you on board, especially as we have a connection spanning over 20 years, we all look forward to working with you. Catch up with you soon at one of our events…


The Carveco™ software range is the trusted CAD modelling and CNC machining solution to a multitude of industries worldwide.

The easy-to-use, yet immensely powerful, tools included in Carveco software give sign-makers, woodworkers, engravers, jewellers (and countless other creatives) the freedom to design and manufacture high-quality 2D or 3D products from their artwork, faster than they’d ever thought possible.

Robotics Innovation from FANUC boosts aerospace manufacturing output

In the face of unprecedented demand for new aircraft, robotics specialist FANUC is helping the aerospace industry to increase production efficiency and boost output. Over the past five years, FANUC has supported Airbus with its in-house robotics strategy, culminating in Airbus developing a robotic drilling system which employs a FANUC M-800iA/60 six-axis robot. The system has improved drilling accuracy and increased productivity for Airbus, while freeing up human employees to work on more creative and value-added tasks.

Breaking the order backlog

The start of this year (Q1 2024) saw the global aircraft order backlog hit record-breaking heights, reaching 15,812[1]. Automation and robotics are considered key levers to support this increasing demand. FANUC has long championed the use of its industrial robotic solutions as a way for aerospace manufacturers to boost production rates, streamline their operations and cut cycle times.

“Automation has become crucial in closing the gap on the backlog in aircraft orders as it significantly enhances production efficiency, reducing the time needed for manufacturing complex components,” says Oliver Selby, Head of Sales for FANUC UK. “Additionally, automation minimises human error and allows for more consistent quality control, ensuring faster turnaround times and enabling manufacturers to meet demand more effectively.”

Automating drilling tasks

Boasting advanced automation technology and an experienced team of robotics experts, FANUC was the ideal company to support Airbus in the development of its in-house robotics division. With its multiple drilling applications still largely completed manually, automating this process was a priority – but sourcing a robot that was robust enough to meet Airbus’ requirements initially proved a challenge.

“The specific solution that Airbus was looking for did not exist anywhere in the market,” explains Oliver. “The robot in question needed to be extremely rigid and stiff but also highly accurate, and with a minimum 60kg payload. We therefore worked together with Airbus to develop a prototype and refined this until it precisely matched their specifications for lower payload/small hole drilling.”

From prototype to production

This prototype has gone on to become the M-800iA/60 six-axis model, which is now part of FANUC’s standard industrial robot range. Also suitable for laser cutting, welding or other applications which require extremely high levels of accuracy, it offers outstanding precision without slowing down the production process.

Following rigorous testing and validation with FANUC, Airbus placed the first commercial order for the M800iA/60. The robot is now part of Airbus’ proprietary automated mobile drilling system. This system has now gone into production and represents the first of a new generation of robotic solutions for Airbus that have been custom designed by its in-house experts, with technical support provided by FANUC. Now on its way to being integrated into the A320 Family pre-assembly line, it adds value to Airbus’ manufacturing processes by reducing costs and stoppages, all while improving quality and saving time.

Reaping the rewards of robotics

Since the introduction of the M800iA/60 to the market, FANUC and Airbus have further developed the technology and implemented it into larger robots in the high accuracy/high stiffness range – 190kg and 270kg payload versions are now available, with a reach of 2m and 2.7m respectively. These additional FANUC robots could allow for further adoption in other applications within Airbus as they move to higher rate production to meet increasing global demand.

“There are numerous benefits to aerospace manufacturers of automating their drilling applications with the M800iA/60, including improved accuracy and repeatability, increased output, and better use of personnel for more value-added tasks,” states Oliver. “Longer term, the development of an in-house robotics division should also enhance the industry’s ability to attract high-level talent to technology-driven, innovative and future-ready companies.”

The future of aerospace manufacturing

Oliver continues: “From FANUC’s perspective, working with Airbus has been an extremely positive and rewarding experience. Showcasing the benefits of automation and robotics to the aerospace industry is vital in helping the sector to reduce the current backlog. This project demonstrates how important it is to collaborate with a robotics partner that will provide the right experience, knowledge, training and technology to support companies to achieve their commercial aims. We hope this will be the first of many such collaborations between FANUC and Airbus to increase efficiency within their manufacturing applications.”

To learn more about the future of aerospace manufacturing, visit FANUC on stand 4900 at the Farnborough International Airshow, 22-26 July 2024.

Deadline Extended for #PIA2024 to Monday 5th August

NEW for 2024! This award celebrates excellence in additive manufacturing solutions for the plastics industry. Created for businesses that are passionate about offering solutions for improving the efficiency, sustainability and productivity of manufacturing operations.

Who should enter : Companies that create new materials and processes as sustainable solutions for manufacturing in the plastics industry, which may include products, processes, integrations, softwares, materials etc

Please read the basic criteria information before entering to ensure your entry is eligible.

Congratulations to the Interplas 75 @ 75 Most Influential People

PMMDA are proud to Congratulate all of its members and committee who were listed as one of the Interplas 75 most influential people by 2023 receiving their awards.

This list of 75 individuals were deemed worthy by the industry itself, based on their significant contribution to advancing the UK plastics sector during the 75 years of the Interplas show.

Nominations were collected via a survey and out of hundreds of nominations, the 75 individuals are considered to have made a significant impact to the industry during this period.

Very humbled to have received this in the post yesterday .. thank you Interplas UK and a big thanks to whoever nominated me and voted for me .. 😊😊
PMMDA Trade Association

Nikki Williams, PMMDA Committee Secretary since 2008

Being part of the ##UKPLASTICS industry is a privilege. Being included and recognised alongside some of the industry’s key contributors is an honour.
thank you to Interplas UK and all have supported me throughout my career.

Richard Hird, UK Sales Director of Labotek GB Ltd and President of PMMDA

These have just arrived from Interplas UK. Gary and Ricky were acknowledged at Interplas last year as each being one of the 75 most influential people in the UK plastics industry. 👏

Gary Probert and Ricky Thompson, Hi-Tech Automation Ltd

A very proud Richard Perry with his dads award too, STV Machinery LTD

Mixed emotions having received these two plaques over the weekend. I’m extremely proud to have my name alongside my fathers on the list of 75 UK Plastics most influential people. It would have been great to stand next to him on that stage.

A huge thank you to Interplas UK and the people who voted for me. 😊🥰
This came as a huge overwhelming surprise, and I’m so proud to have been selected as one of the most influential 75 in the polymer industry over the last 75 years. True honour!

Darren Vater-Hutchison, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag UK Ltd


A huge congratulations to Lee Thomas 🔥

We are delighted to have received this beautiful award to add to the collection! Lee Thomas has been recognised in the Interplas UK 75@75 list of top influencers in the plastics industry. His hard work and commitment to providing top-of-the-range equipment and service to the plastics industry deserve to be celebrated.

TH Plastics Ltd


Luxury packaging plays a critical role in delivering a consumer touch-point experience. However, all mass-produced packaging that serves a functional handling and storage purpose should be given equal attention.

For many consumable products across the value chain, minimalist polymer packaging that delivers a protective shield to safeguard against waste can help to enhance the non-verbal message of sustainability. Symbolically, if packaging items are also processed in the most energy efficient way with less machine downtime, close to zero rejects, and where feasible using recyclable polymers, this unquestionably strengthens the whole lifecycle narrative.

The on-going innovations happening in injection moulding are indicative of just how much sustainable value is aligned to current and future packaging trends and the interlinked dependencies on system efficiencies. With non-recyclable packaging set to be banned by the EU by 2030, UK packaging expert and regional sales manager Ashlee Gough explains why Sumitomo (SHI) Demag is intentionally focusing its efforts on supporting fast-cycling packaging manufacturers to more than halve energy consumption.

Manufacturing packaging has always been about balancing processing speed with cost. Now, the sector is also tasked with reducing environmental impact. With many high-end customers pushing to shift to an all-electric production model, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag has invested a lot of time and energy in creating a machinery collection that fuses the company’s all-electric drive technology, processing speed and energy-enhancing features.

“Fluctuating energy costs creates uncertainty. Particularly for packaging manufacturers where energy is the highest and most unpredictable expense. To counteract this, fast processing repeatability and reduced waste, combined with halving energy costs is now deemed imperative,” explains Ashlee.

Switching to all-electric sounds simple enough. Yet, when you have a model that’s been revered for its speed as much as the company’s hybrid packaging El-Exis series, accomplishing this takes time.

Processing speed has been the biggest hurdle to overcome.

“The challenge for any company is always going to be bringing a packaging machine to market that produces components just as fast, if not faster, without compromising cycle time, service life or energy use,” adds UK Managing Director Dave Raine.

Maintaining repeatability, speed and precision while simultaneously improving energy efficiency by utilising direct drive technology underpins the Group’s packaging strategy. Until recently, matching the force and speed of hybrid packaging machines was inconceivable. But, with 80,000+ all-electric machines now installed globally, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag has fused all their market expertise with application knowledge to edge ahead and give packaging processors the blend of productivity, reliability, and energy savings.

It is all down to Sumitomo’s in-house direct drive technology, emphasises Ashlee. “As each individual axis has a drive that has been developed specifically for each function, it means that packaging processors can achieve faster cycle time plus energy savings of up to 70 percent when compared to hydraulic machines.”

For the past decade, the El-Exis SP set the benchmark in energy consumption for machines operating a 2 second cycle time. PAC-E matches this speed and achieves the same injection dynamics, yet halves the energy consumption. Also filling a critical gap, the company’s latest IntElect S machine is geared specifically towards plastic processors mass-manufacturing narrow tolerance and thin-walled packaging lids and containers at the fastest speeds.

Both machines have been designed to incorporate future digital product passport technology. “As an active member of the R-Cycle community, being able to offer this interoperable software will go a long way towards supporting plastic traceability and the drive towards larger carbon reductions right across the value chain,” adds Dave Raine.

Around 90 percent of the machines installed annually by Sumitomo (SHI) Demag are now all-electric. The company estimates that a third of these are now used by packaging processors to produce caps, closures, lids and containers used by the consumer, medical and food sectors. “These technological advances opens up the associated benefits of the all-electric moulding machine market to even more packaging applications,” ends Ashlee.

The new PAC-E machine features an all-electric drive, saving packaging processors 50 percent or more in energy when measured against a high-speed hybrid packaging machine

By expanding the IntElect S series, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag opens up the associated benefits of the all-electric moulding machine market to even more thin-walled packaging applications

PMMDA’s Annual Karting Event was once again a resounding success…

Once again PMMDA’s karting event was a success with healthy competition from our members, making it an adrenalin fuelled afternoon of fun as always.

The sun usually shines on our annual Karting Day and it was no different this year.. sweaty drivers in those race suits! Well done to the Flegg boys who took first and third place and to the ‘Phat Boys’ team from Sumitomo Demag who came second, and also took the ‘fastest lap’ title. As always we had a great day and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. A big thank you to everyone who took part… roll on next year!

Prioritising TCO: Delving beyond purchase price

When looking to invest in a high-value piece of automation equipment, a key question of any potential purchaser is: what is the payback period? In the UK, the typical expectation is that this will be under two years. Yet the value that the right automation solution can deliver to a manufacturing business will last far longer than that. This focus on short-term return is hindering our productivity as a nation. Our neighbours in the EU typically expect payback in three to five years, which goes some way towards accounting for their higher levels of both automation and productivity (a German worker produces around one-sixth more per hour than their UK counterpart[1]).

Despite our relative reluctance to automate, the UK recently overtook France to become the eighth largest manufacturing nation. If we are to continue competing on the global stage, however, then it is imperative that we increase our level of industrial automation – we currently languish in 25th position in the IFR global robot league table – not least because of the ongoing labour shortages across all areas of manufacturing. We are the only G7 nation to sit outside the top 10 robot adopters; that alone should inspire us to increase our levels of automation in order to drive higher productivity, greater efficiency and increased output.

To do that, we need to get realistic about return on investment. Focusing on a sub-two year payback can lead to businesses making compromises when developing their manufacturing strategy, and thereafter their capital equipment and automation purchasing strategy, and forces decisions to be made that do not offer long-term value.

By contrast, determining the value of automation using total cost of ownership (TCO) is a far more accurate measure. Any investment in capital or automation equipment should form part of a business’ long-term strategy, and not simply because the purchase price fits into an arbitrary short-term payback period. By calculating the lifetime costs – and more importantly, the lifetime savings – associated with automation, manufacturers can ensure that the sums add up in the long term and not just at the point of purchase, resulting in the right solution for their business both now and in the future.

Below are the nine factors that make up TCO lifetime costs. Before considering any automation purchase, make sure to talk to your supplier about how their solution can help to control these costs, to ensure you’re getting real value from your investment…

  1. Purchase price – While much of the focus of any negotiation is concerned with purchase price, it actually only accounts for between 15-25% of the total cost of ownership. Solely focusing on this as the deal-breaker can lead manufacturers to invest in an automation solution which may not be fit for purpose. While FANUC strives to make our products extremely cost competitive when it comes to the initial purchase price, with as much as 85% of the ‘hidden’ costs of ownership coming via other factors, it is counter intuitive for manufacturers to base their sole automation investment decision on this point.
  • Training – Whether your workforce is used to dealing with smart, connected automated solutions or is unfamiliar with modern robotics, some element of training will be required to ensure the full value of your equipment can be realised. We offer an array of upskilling resources from our dedicated training facility in Coventry, from basic operating courses to full programming and maintenance courses. Ensure your business can keep up with the pace of change in today’s digital world by making sure any automation supplier you choose offers full training for the lifetime of your purchase.

It’s also important to focus on multiple stakeholder levels in the business. When adopting automation, different stakeholders will require different levels of understanding. For example, at shop floor level a technical level of comprehension will be needed; meanwhile, the C-Suite will need to understand the business case for automation.

  • Maintenance – Keeping your equipment running at optimal levels will ensure it delivers day after day, week after week, year after year. Our products are extremely reliable, so much of what we offer from a servicing perspective falls under preventative maintenance. We work with our customers to schedule any required maintenance at a time that’s least disruptive to their business, maximising equipment uptime.
  • Repair – The longer a machine is out of action, the greater the financial impact on your business. Speak to your supplier to find out what their average engineer response times are. At FANUC UK, we’re currently sitting at a sub-20 hour mean time to repair any faults, i.e., less than one business day.
  • Downtime – Preventing downtime to minimise production losses is essential. As well as ensuring your automation supplier offers preventative maintenance and short repair times, the best way to keep downtime to a minimum is to invest in equipment which has a reputation for reliability. Ask your automation supplier for evidence of its products’ mean time between failure (MTBF). For example, the MTBF for our CNC range is 25 years, and for our robots it’s even longer, at 32 years. Make sure you also find out from your automation supplier what services are available to support reduced downtime occurrences, such as augmented reality 24-hour support helplines. 
  • Upgrades – With technology evolving at a rapid rate, your automation supplier should be able to equip your purchase with the latest smart software upgrades as they are released. At FANUC, these include our Zero Downtime (ZDT) programme, which tracks our machines when operational and feeds back performance data to ourselves and the customer. This helps to predict potential issues ahead of time, keeping downtime to a minimum.
  • Security – Hand in hand with technological advancements comes cybersecurity. Ensuring that your equipment, as well the data it handles and produces, are kept secure is a pre-requisite and something that we take extremely seriously. Make sure your automation supplier can clearly explain their cybersecurity measures to help your business avoid a costly cyber breach.
  • Energy – No longer a ‘nice to have’, sustainability is now a business imperative from a financial, environmental, social and governance (ESG), and legislative perspective; not to mention essential for winning and retaining key contracts. As well as questioning the energy efficiency of any automation solution in terms of the electricity and gas it consumes, make sure to also find out its credentials regarding water usage, particularly when it comes to keeping the equipment clean. However, some solutions go even further and actually re-use energy within the process. For example, our all-electric ROBSHOT injection moulding machine has an advanced power regeneration feature that enables intelligent energy recovery, meaning it consumes 10-15% less energy than other all-electric machines.
  • End of life – Everything has a cost to recycle, so you’ll also need to factor in a plan for when your product reaches the end of its life. Of course, this will be determined by its expected lifespan. Will you need to recycle it and purchase a replacement in five years’ time or in 10, 15 or 20 years’ time? At FANUC, our philosophy is to offer the lowest total cost of ownership for our products with extended lifetime service. This means we commit to supporting our products for as long as the customer wishes to use them. We’re still supporting robots and machines that are over 30 years old.

To conclude, if UK manufacturing is to retain its place as a global powerhouse, we must increase our levels of automation. This requires a shift in focus by all stakeholders within a business towards purchasing the right equipment first time around and looking at the overall value it can deliver. Prioritising TCO – rather than obsessing over a short payback period – will help to ensure long-term success, supporting a business’ growth strategy to deliver higher productivity and ultimately, higher profitability.

By Oliver Selby, Head of Sales, FANUC UK