Thursday, August 15, 2019

We’re a family engineering business that’s fuelling the Midlands manufacturing engineer




The Midlands’ manufacturing industry has come a long way, from producing Spitfires and trailblazing motor manufacturing, to embracing the digital revolution, there’s so much to be proud of.

While the region’s manufacturing scene may have changed just as much as the Midlands skyline over the centuries, one thing still holds true – family-run SMEs are the lifeblood of the manufacturing supply chain, providing the vital link between larger companies at the raw materials stage and the final manufacturing and sales process.

And we’re one of them.

We first started off life almost 40 years ago, back in 1981

Engineer, Tom Butler, was made redundant from his role as works manager at Colgrip so decided to set up his own business, with Archie Wilson, who already had his own company.

Our first premises were on Glover Street in Birmingham and were so small they were little more than a hole in the ground. Tom and Archie, who had decided to wrap up his company so that he could 100% focus on the new venture, worked in the factory, alongside with two other employees. They offered two services - bending 8mm materials and welded assemblies.

Of course, that was a while ago now and both Tom and Archie are no longer a part of the business today. And we are no longer based in a ‘hole in the ground’, but in modern 5,000sq ft premises at the Stirchley Trading Estate, which we have plans to expand in the future.

We’ve changed a lot since 1981

But are extremely proud of the fact Tom’s and Archie’s legacy very much lives on. While Archie sold his share some 20 years ago, Tom handed his over to his children, Tracy and Mark, who are the current directors of Rochford Engineering.

From the outset, the business has very much been a family affair, with three generations so far playing their part in shaping and delivering what we’ve come to be renowned for – delivering quality and excellence in metal. Here’s a quick plotted history of the family connections and how they run through the business:

1ST generation
Tom Butler – Founder and Director.
Margaret Butler (Tom’s wife) – Director.

2nd generation
Mark Butler – (Tom’s son) – Director – started working for Rochford in the factory in 1982.
Tracy Rushton (Tom’s daughter) – Director – Started working for Rochford in the office in 1997.

3rd generation
Stewart Lowe (Mark’s son-in-law) – Account Manager – started working for Rochford in the factory in 2008.
Jack Webb (Tracy’s son) – Assistant – started work for Rochford in the office earlier this year.

Looking to the future and remembering our roots

Our family connections are one of our core strengths. The older generations set the scene in many ways, sharing with us how they worked, which has instilled a culture of quality and getting things right first time around, that’s now instinctive to us.

Meanwhile, the younger generations have brought new, innovative ideas with them, which has enabled us to move with the times and drive the company forward with a fresh energy and drive.

Long-standing relationships

Our strong heritage has enabled us to carve a name for ourselves within the Midlands’ manufacturing scene, as well as establish long-standing relationships with many of our customers, who know us ‘from old.’

And while we may have evolved, continuously reviewing and refining many of our systems and processes so they are up to speed with modern day requirements, our wire forming, welding, machining, presswork, thread rolling, screw cutting and garden architecture services are to the same Rochford standards that our customers know and trust.

Being a family-run SME in the Midlands has paid dividends for us and our many customers who we’ve had the pleasure of working with over the last (almost) four decades. It’s provided us with the flexibility to efficiently and effectively work with our customers and suppliers; adapting our services to every brief we work on, while giving us the foundation and confidence to fly the Midlands manufacturing flag for another 40 years and more.


Friday, August 9, 2019

An expert’s guide to working with metal



You’ll know from our previous articles that metals are our thing. As specialists in wire forming, welding, fabrication, machining, presswork, thread rolling and screw cutting, there’s not much we can’t do or don’t know about metal.

Day in, day out we work with a wide range of metals, but on the whole, we mainly tend to work with stainless steels, mild steels, brass and aluminium.

And while none of these materials present any particular problems for us when we process them, it’s always best practice to take note of their properties, which we’ve summed up below:

Stainless steels

We work with up to 15mm diameter stainless steel and carry out presswork with this particular metal, using presses that weigh up to 40 tonnes.

Stainless steels are becoming increasingly popular due to their attractive appearance, corrosion resistance, low maintenance and strength. But for all of their benefits, they are more expensive than mild steels. However, when considered from a longer-term perspective, they can be more economically-viable once service life and lifecycle costs have been factored in.

All stainless steels contain various amounts of chromium, which gives them their attractive, bright finish. The chromium in the alloy forms a self-healing protective clear oxide layer that makes stainless steels corrosion-resistant.

The self-healing nature of the oxide layer means the corrosion resistance remains intact, regardless of fabrication methods. Even if the material surface is cut or damaged, it will self-heal and corrosion resistance will be maintained for many years.

Although the corrosion resistance of stainless steels comes from the presence of chromium, other elements are also added to enhance other properties, such as nickel, copper, titanium and molybdenum, for instance. These additions can make the steel suited to high temperature applications and increase corrosion resistance. As a result, stainless steels have a huge variety of uses, ranging from surgical equipment, domestic equipment, automotive parts and heat exchangers, to many architectural applications.

Mild steels

Mild steels are made up of iron and carbon and are one of the most commonly-used construction materials.

Known as mild steels because of their relatively low carbon content, this metal is very strong and can be made from readily-available natural materials. There are a variety of mild steels, depending on the content, and alloying elements besides carbon that give them certain desirable mechanical properties.

We often work with up to 16mm diameter mild steel wire and carry out presswork using presses weighing up to 40 tonnes. Of all the metals we work with, mild steels are one of the easiest materials to weld.

Mild steels are easier to work with because they’re quite malleable and are cheaper than stainless steels. And they’re very versatile, strong, cost effective and easy to manufacture, thanks to their low carbon content. As such, they’re extensively used in the construction industry and for machined parts, pipelines and many other applications.

Brass

This is a material we tend to work with every now and again. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, in proportions that can be varied to achieve different mechanical and electrical properties.

It's an ideal alloy for transporting water through pipes and fittings and also lends itself well to marine engines and pump parts. It therefore shouldn’t come as any surprise that one of the first commercial uses of brass was on naval ships. 

For more information or to discuss your metal forming requirements with us, contact us on sales@rochfordengineering.co.uk or 0121 773 0465.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Why we didn’t take a back seat with our latest designer bar stool brief



While the vast majority of our time (80%) is spent wire-forming, welding and machining for automotive sector projects, there’s another part of our business that keeps us incredibly busy too.

One minute we’re laser cutting and welding bars for a car chassis, the next, we’re working on a 6mm mild steel box section stillage for a supermarket warehouse. And then, in between all that, we’re fabricating stainless steel benches for a garden centre or a suite of bespoke seats for an interior designer that are destined for a trendy new restaurant.

The projects we work on really are that diverse

And while most people may think the automotive and garden architecture/interior design world couldn’t be more different, they’re actually remarkably similar to us.

Automotive, interior design, the projects still require the same attention to detail, precision accuracy and quality execution and finish. And they’re all just as challenging.

In fact, in some circumstances, our garden architecture/interior design briefs can test us more than some of our other projects, especially when they push the architectural boundaries.

But fortunately for us, we have the benefit of 40+ years to tap into, which enables us to deliver on the most complex of projects.

A case in point…

We were recently asked to fabricate the bases for these eight designer bar stools for a leading contract furniture supplier.



They look great, don’t they? And the project itself sounds like a relatively straightforward job, right?
Wrong, when we initially took on this particular project, we were immediately presented with a fundamental issue:

The bases weren’t strong enough to hold the weight of a person – meaning they simply wouldn’t have been functional in reality.

Our managing director, production manager and accounts manager, worked closely together to overcome the issues effectively and efficiently. And this is the approach they took:

They recommended how the metal should be cut and bent so that the bases would distribute weight evenly. They also advised on using 8mm, instead of 6mm, mild steel, to guarantee the bases would be strong enough for people to sit on without breaking over time. Armed with our insight, our customer then refined their design plans and we manufactured the bases, safe in the knowledge that the final product was 100% right for the requirements. 

While these stools may have tested us to a certain degree, they were no match for our unrivalled metal fabrication insight or skills. Rather than just simply following the brief and providing the customer with something that simply didn’t work, we manufactured a set of stools that are fit for purpose and have been designed to last.

Are you a garden centre/supplier, architect or interior designer with a metal fabrication project you’d like us to turn into reality? Straightforward or complex, we can help. To discuss your requirements with us, contact us on 0121 773 0465 or sales@rochfordengineering.co.uk.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Rochford Engineering does their first ever exhibition




Rochford Engineering completed their first ever exhibition in June exhibiting at the Made in the Midlands Expo at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
The show is an annual one-day event and is now in its 10th year. With over 260 exhibitors it is popular with industry leaders with over 2500 of them attending looking to speak with customers, suppliers and see what is on offer by companies based in the midlands.
At the expo the stand was very busy with lots of people finding out more about what do. On the stand we showed examples of some our small welded assemblies and machined parts and had a portfolio of other work which was too large for the stand such as our Stillages, Garden Arches, Bespoke Designer Stools and surrounds for lounge chairs.
“Showing people who we are and what we do has been extremely positive for us” said Mark Butler, Director of Rochford Engineering “It has allowed us to make connections we wouldn’t have been able to ordinarily and as Rochford expands into new markets this will be very helpful to us and our customers”

Mark added “We also want to thank everyone who attended the show and visited us on the stand – it made it a great show and we can’t wait to do the next one”
Got any questions or want to find out more? Contact us on 0121 773 0465 or sales@rochfordengineering.co.uk.  Alternatively, for more information about all our services, visit rochfordengineering.co.uk.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Behind the scenes - stillage cages

Stillage cages is a term that not everyone is familiar with and yet these cages are a part of everyday life behind the scenes in manufacturing and retail where they are used either for storage or for moving stock or products around a warehouse space or factory floor.

 As metal fabrication specialists, we’ve been designing and manufacturing stillage cages for almost a decade.

 Mainly made from steel box section and wire mesh, the cages generally tend to be used for storage purposes but they can also be used for moving heavy items which is one of the main reasons why they tend to be so widely used in the automotive world. They make light work of moving parts heavy vehicle parts around various parts of the production line.

 Over the years, the stillage cages we have manufactured have mainly been for the automotive industry. For example, we’ve made several cages to enable one of our customers to transport glass windshields around. However, they’re also hugely effective in other sectors and are often used within retail circles where they’re most commonly found to provide valuable storage within warehouse space.

 Stillage cages are as diverse in end usage as they are in design. They are also relatively complex structures that involve manipulating numerous metals to form their robust shape. Thanks to our expertise, we can manufacture stillage cages for any sector and for all manner of purposes, but we often find ourselves working from 12mm up to 60mm box section in either stainless steel or mild steel.

Nine times out of ten, we’ll work with drawings that our customers share with us and once we’ve agreed the materials, price, and timescales, we’ll set to work on manufacturing the required stillage cage.

Once the cutting’s complete, we’ll then fabricate the structure and, in some instances, we’ll also do something we refer to within our industry as ‘dressing down’, which essentially involves grinding down the sections that have been welded to create a seamless joint.

Depending on the customer’s requirements and our existing workloads, we can turn around a standard cage in two to three days. But if we’re working on something larger, for instance, we were once asked to manufacture a cage that spanned two metres, or the design is that bit more intricate, then it may take us a little longer to turn the plans into reality. But whatever the size, shape or requirements we’re working to, we’ll always make sure that we’re delivering quality and excellence in metal, which is what we’re renowned for.

Got any questions or want to find out more about our stillage cage manufacturing capabilities? Contact us on 0121 773 0465 or sales@rochfordengineering.co.uk. Alternatively, for more information about our metal forming services, visit www.rochfordengineering.co.uk

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Rochford Engineering goes from strength to strength


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