We are delighted to announce we have recently taken in delivery of a latest, state of-the-art sorting machine!
This is our most advanced optical sorter – having four cameras and an Eddy current checking station which can be used for comparative testing; ensuring parts are to the correct heat treatment specification (Property class).
As our sales of threaded parts in general continue to increase, with clinch studs in particular, we wanted to provide customers with a greater level of security regarding the products property class – rather than simply supplying a second-party heat treatment certificate.
The cameras not only check for contamination and dimensional inaccuracies, but also incorrect aesthetic elements such as misshapen heads, clinch ring defects, and colour. As well as lettering and other non-dimensional problems.
The parts which pass the camera and Eddy current scrutiny are fed directly into the dispatch boxes ready for shipment to the customer. This ensures no post-sort contamination. The combination of these technologies ensure we move nearer to our goal of defect-free products, and to build upon our already impressive quality record.
Clevedon fasteners are cold forging company, our main product line is rivets, not pop rivets but solid, semi-tubular, fully tubular and self-piercing rivets. For anyone reading this that is not sure what I am talking about, if you have double glazing at home then the window hinges holding the windows in place were probably made using our rivets. The multi-point locks on your patio doors probably have our gears in their drive mechanisms and lock adjusters in parts that lock the door to the frame.
Riveting is one of the oldest but most robust form of fixing usually plate but also other materials together
This is the History of Clevedon Fasteners Ltd a sunset business which according to conventional wisdom should have passed into history long ago, but as you will see, the business is far from conventional and is alive and thriving .
Clevedon Fasteners Ltd started life as Clevedon Rivets and Tools in 1939, it took its name from the road in which it was established, Clevedon Road, Balsall Heath, Birmingham.
The company was founded by colleagues Bertram (Bert) Godwin and Frederick (Fred) Wood. In those days, all cold heading tooling was made from tool steel. Bert and Fred saw an opportunity as they believed that Carbide would provide tooling with much greater tool life. Having been unable to convince their employers at the time Baxter’s Bolts, Screws and Rivets, they took the plunge and set up Clevedon Rivets and Tools.
No one was particularly interested in this new-fangled material which was much more expensive than the tradition tool steel tooling, but the pair persisted, sending out tools on a trial basis to other cold forging companies
Fred also recognised early on, that there was a future in non-ferrous rivets and started making Aircraft rivets
Eventually the tooling found its way to a company called Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds, known today as GKN, one of the largest fastener manufacturers in the UK at the time, They were amazed at the longevity of the carbide tools they put on test and as everyone in the industry knows, what GKN approved became the tooling of choice for all manufacturers.
The advent of the war in September 1939 proved another step in the development of Clevedon as due to their tooling prowess and knowledge of aluminium alloy rivets, they were awarded the plumb products by the War Ministry when they rationalised the UK manufacturing for the war effort. Clevedon supplied rivets for the manufacture of aircraft for the RAF including Spitfire’s made at Castle Bromwich in Birmingham, currently home to Jaguar Land Rover.
As the business developed, the pair had to move premises and on one fateful weekend, when the move was due to take place, due to the lack of people to help move on the weekend, they decided to move on the Friday, during the day. On the evening the Clevedon Road premises were flattened by the Luftwaffe!
In 1940, the pair were joined by Bert’s brother, Ron Godwin.
Clevedon Rivets and Tools were incorporated in 1943 and remained a private company until 1954, when together with a company called Samuel Smith and Sons, they became a public company.
Clevedon have always been a profitable company and when the venture with Samuel Smith and Son started to fail, an entrepreneur by the name of Dennis Dukes saw an opportunity to add to his growing group Astra Securities.
Wanting to change the personnel in his new venture, Dennis Duke telephoned Richard Wood, Fred’s son and offered him the position of Managing Director. Richard accepted, but his first task in his new role was to get rid of the incumbent Managing Director………His father!
Clevedon Fasteners Ltd moved to its current premises on the Reddicap Trading Estate, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham in 1955
In 1960 a young man by the Name of Ken Hodges joined the business at the tender age of 14. Ken is still employed by Clevedon Fasteners Ltd at the age of 73!
Clevedon Rivets and Tools was run by Richard wood and a young engineer by the name of John Mathews, son in law of Bert Godwin one of the original founders, from 1968 onwards
The business went through numerous ownership and personnel changes over the intervening years, in 1972 they joined a Company called BTEC and were added to their Fastener group, headed by the improbably named Bifurcated and Tubular Rivet Company in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. Known as Biff and Tub, at its height Biff & Tub manufactured 100,000,000 fasteners per week
The business went through various ownership changes with various groups and small conglomerates culminating the purchase of Clayhithe by a company called Roxspur in 1998
During the years Biff and Tub used to manufacture products known as Bifurcated (split rivet) rivets, these were used predominantly in the wooden packaging industry to rivet crates and reels. The advantage of the Bifurcated rivet was that it did not require a hole to set the rivet, instead the bifurcated rivet was forced into two layers of wood and the legs of the rivet splayed into the second layer forming a bond
Engineers at Bif &Tub took this idea on stage further and applied it to semi-tubular rivets (SPR). Hence self-piercing rivets came into being
This revolutionary technology, being able to bond layers of dissimilar materials without the need to drill holes, giving a clinch that was stronger than traditional spot welding was seized upon by automotive companies keen to bond lightweight aluminium panels to steel. SPR’s had the advantage that plated panels could be bonded without any degradation to their corrosion resistance.
Roxspur immediately saw the commercial possibilities and broke Biff & Tub (now renamed Aylesbury Automation) into three component parts, Aylesbury Automation (manufacturers of specialised machinery) The Fastener Division and a self-piercing division called FastRiv
Various companies made bids for the Fastener interests of Roxspur. Textron (later to become Avdel and subsequently Stanley Black & Decker) were eventually successful in purchasing FastRiv but were not interested in either Clevedon Fasteners, or the specialised machinery division of Aylesbury Automation
Steve Hardeman (Fastener division General Manager and General Manager of Clevedon), Charles Hopkins (Aylesbury Automation and Clevedon Finance Director) and David Davis (Production Manager, Clevedon Fasteners) mounted and MBO for Clevedon in 2000. Unable to source funds through traditional Venture Capital routes due to the relatively low value involved, they were eventually backed by Langham Industries, a privately owned group of companies based in Dorset.
Textron were unable to make a success of Aylesbury’s Fastener Division and decided to move “Fast-Riv” (the self-piercing product) to Langenhagen in Germany and close the Aylesbury site.
Clevedon made a successful bid for the assets of the ex-Aylesbury Automation Fastener division and after a complex set of negotiations, the Fastener Division was relocated to Sutton Coldfield along with a number of ex-Aylesbury employees, over a six-week period commencing in May 2001. This move involved over 25 machines, associated tooling and stock. It is a credit to the team involved that customer deliveries were unaffected by this move
Textron had significant production problems in Langenhagen and Clevedon supported them, being the source of Fast-Riv for Textron worldwide until the problems were resolved.
Having just purchased the business, albeit as minority stake holders, the renamed Clevedon Fasteners Ltd was then dealt a near fatal blow by the tragic events of 9/11. British Aerospace a major customer to Clevedon for aircraft rivets, took the turmoil caused by 9/11 as an opportunity to close their regional jetliner (RJ) business in Manchester. By 2nd Qtr. 2002 Clevedon faced the loss of £300k of profitable business on a turnover of £2.4m
Faced with such a business critical issue, the usual route is to cut costs (usually people costs) and retrench.
Instead Clevedon signed up to go to their first oversea exhibition, this process was aided through “Passport to Export” a government-sponsored initiative. Brochures were produced in three languages, the web site was upgraded, key members of staff had basic German lessons and support for overseas travel was given. In September 2002 Clevedon exhibited for the first time at Automechanika in Frankfurt.
The response from ex-colonial territories, the Far East and Eastern Europe was astounding. Having been told by government of all complexions how UK manufacturing was poor in terms of quality and delivery, visitors were astounded to learn that there was still a UK company producing rivets and the orders rolled in. The £300k turnover shortfall was quickly replaced and Clevedon went from exporting to only two countries to twenty eight and their largest overseas territory became the Far East. In 2002 Clevedon’s exports were £30k they are now (2018) £1.2m
In 2003 the Birmingham Chamber Of Commerce awarded the “Best New Exporter” to Clevedon Fasteners Ltd. As a result of Automechanika and the demand generated.
In 2008 when the banking crisis stopped the commercial world in its tracks. It was clear that Clevedon’s business model needed modifying to ensure greater resilience in the future. Clevtec became a buying and selling arm of Clevedon Fasteners Ltd in 2010. Clevtec was able to buy product not normally associated with fasteners necessarily
Clevedon main product lines have usually been non-threaded, but it soon became apparent through Clevtec that there was a market that Clevtec were unable to service due to our lack of expertise and equipment to manufacture socialist threaded components
In 2012 Clevedon purchased Blakeacre Ltd. Blakeacre had developed a range of technically competent threaded products including:-
Clinch Studs Weld Bolts Lok Bolts and Collars CD Studs
In addition, they manufactured Various standard and customer specific threaded products.
Given their location in Great Barr, Birmingham, they were a perfect fit to enable Clevedon to now offer a full range of fasteners. Blakeacre’s product range are now sold under the Clevtec Brand.
In 2015 Clevedon became involved in a project run by Aston University, called Servitisation. This was based on the experience of MAN trucks who (under a UK MD) effectively stopped selling trucks in some of its markets and started selling a service, i.e. for a monthly fee, the truck, servicing, tyres were all looked after, but also lots of by-products came as standard, for instance, drivers performance was monitored in order to drive down fuel costs. This process has been taken up by many large scale manufactures including Rolls Royce Aero-Engines
Clevedon have always given outstanding customer service, however a discernible trend became obvious as more companies moved their manufacturing off shore. When new products were needed or new applications, Clevedon would be contacted, provide the necessary information to give a solution only to find that information, given freely to customers as a service, resulted in drawing and ideas, when they moved into volume manufacture, being sent abroad to be made, with no benefit to Clevedon.
The other worrying trend was that Young Designers brought up on computers and IPad and using the latest iterations of Computer Aided Design software which now combine the traditional Drafting Facilities with structural, flow and performance, Finite Element Analysis. In theory products can be taken from concept to proposed solution, rendering, testing and performance simulation through to proposed manufacturing route. All of this within the software environment, reducing time, the need for expensive physical testing, resulting in a fully formed solution that meets the design concept envelope.
The problem is that the resulting design is then stopped from proceeding when it meets the real world and the purchasing department give them the bad news, that the new shiny design is far too expensive
The lack of understanding of basic engineering processes and techniques and their associated costs is frankly, shocking
As a result of these combined trends Clevedon through Clevtec now offer a “design Support Agreement” to customers where we take design performance envelope and subject it to basic engineering assessment within a defined cost point. This was introduced in 2017
On the 4th of January 2015 Steve Hardeman (MD) and Charles Hopkins (FD) bought out the major shareholder in Clevedon Fasteners Ltd, Langham industries.
In 2016 in order to provide improved customer service and to streamline Clevedon’s processes, all storage and despatch was moved into a purpose built facility in Wednesbury which include a finished product optical sorting operation
Clevedon Fasteners Ltd have just finished 2018, which will result in a further improving in profitability for the year. The next 80 years beckons and if it is anything like the first 80, it certainly won’t be dull.
Many pundits bemoan the lack of productivity in the UK. They may have a point but then again…
Measured productivity is the ratio of a measure of total outputs to a measure of inputs used in the production of goods and services. Source UK Gov’ Stats.
International Comparisons of Productivity – Final Estimates, 2016
Table 3: Constant price GDP per hour worked
2007 = 100
G7 exc. UK
Sources: OECD, Office for National Statistics
And there we have it in black and white, the UK’s productivity is worse than our international competitors with the exception of Italy. Case proven m ’laud…
This is where it gets tricky. The government statistics include services and the public sector. I am not clever enough to calculate the productivity of a service, but my experience of public services suggests that productivity is not high on their agenda.
As manufacturers, I am only interested in manufacturing (someone has to be!)
Contrary to widespread perceptions, UK manufacturing is thriving, with the UK currently being the world’s eighth largest industrial nation. If current growth trends continue, the UK will break into the top five by 2021. In the UK, manufacturing makes up 11% of GVA, 44% of total UK exports, 70% of business R&D, and directly employs 2.6 million people.
Source: The Manufacture
We are simple “metal bashers” (read some of our other blogs and you will realise we are much more than that, but it helps my case to keep it simple!). As far as I am concerned, productivity is the labour input against the productive output.
As you may know, My FD and I bought out our major shareholders in 2015. We started to seriously focus on Productivity towards the end of 2016.
I looked at various publications and went to a number of seminars on the subject. Most were by their nature, generalisations, many were purely academic exercises which bore no resemblance to the real world and I gained no new insights to how we may improve our productivity.
So back to basics, literally.
Our measure of productivity is labour hours against productive output (number of parts produced in our manufacturing plant, number of dispatches made in our warehouse)
We switched off half of our ERP system and re-wrote the key data requirement to enable our managers to have the information specific to them, that they used on a day to day basis, in Access. This had the effect of freeing up their time inputting information into the ERP system and saving time by them not having to trawl through reports to find the information they needed. We are an SME, this drastic course of action may not suit all companies, but it certainly helped focus departmental responsibility and accountability in the correct areas.
We focused on the simple things, why our overtime bill was static when in some months we didn’t meet our output targets, but when we exceeded them, overtime increased. OK I know you are reading this and saying “that wouldn’t happen here. Do the exercise, you might be surprised how many people come in early to avoid the traffic!
We shared much more cost information with our employees that specifically related to their areas, so they could see the costs rack up for little gain.
We employed a coach to work with our managers to ensure they managed and gave them the support to improve in areas that they recognised their weaknesses. This was a key move as the coach was not a member of the senior management team and was tasked with improvement not weeding out failing managers. Buy in to this took time but the results were better than I could have hoped.
Using 2016 as a base 100% Productivity 2017 107% Productivity 2018 114%
This has resulted in higher profits, a lower break-even, better cash flow and less fire-fighting.
It’s a little like sport science, get the basics right and make small steps.
That’s our journey so far regarding Productivity (please note no employees were harmed during this process!)
The new revision of ISO 9001:2015 is significantly different to its predecessor ISO9001:2008. ISO allow three years transition for changes but due to the magnitude and change in emphasis involved in ISO9001:2015, many companies are finding this timescale challenging. This gives companies up to 2018 to complete the transition to bring their systems and processes into line with the new standard.
One of the most fundamental differences is the idea of Organisational Context, this requires business to be cognisant of the internal and external issues and requirements that can impact on the business and thereby its management system. Context becomes a fundamental business consideration and helps to ensure that the management system is designed and suitably adapted for a specific organization. This helps provide the right focus, approach, and balance to the different elements of the management system rather than the same generic approach across all organizations.
This is a new departure for ISO9001 and I believe is a prelude to the eventual dove tailing of ISO9001, ISO14001, ISO18001 (shortly to be re-named ISO45001) and possibly others into a coherent standard covering all aspects of the businesses day to day operations and social responsibility within the environment and the wider community
A key aspect to the change is the move towards the business taking a risk-based approach to thinking and acting. Now an organization will need to determine the risks and opportunities that need to be addressed to give assurance that the Quality Management System (QMS) and therefore the business can achieve its intended outcomes.
Much of this focus on risk and risk management has been cemented in the new system by a requirement to specifically relate the role that top management plays in creating and supporting the QMS. There are now more areas where top management needs to demonstrate their involvement and engagement with the quality management system, such as:
Ensuring integration of QMS requirements into the organizations’ business processes
Promoting awareness of the process approach
Assuring the QMS achieves its intended results
Supporting other relevant management roles to demonstrate their leadership
These changes are wide ranging and significant but I am very pleased that Clevedon Fasteners have been through the transition with our certification body, BSI and have been awarded our ISO certificate for ISO9001:2015