Hindson said the added value for AutoRIM comes from integrating the different parts of the system together. ‘KM has good purchasing power. We can source about 70% of the components for our low-pressure Rim-Mix machines locally. The parts we can’t get locally we have asked KM to source. We place orders for pumps, pressure gauges and Siemens controllers, for example. KM is buying these in considerable bulk, and we get some of their savings when the parts are sold on to us. It is a win-win.’
Pumps, for example, are an unglamorous yet vital part of the polyurethane machinery ecosystem. ‘The PU industry has, historically, relied on the RexrothA2VK high pressure piston pump,’ Hindson said. ‘The manufacturer changed the design and stopped production of the original. This was a big problem for the industry because, although there was a work-around, it was not straightforward. KM has bought the rights to make the original design of pump and improved on it, and introduced the option of an integrated magnetic coupling. The new HPP pumps are supplied by AutoRIM, and can be retrofitted directly onto any make of machine.’
Train for success
Maintaining and replacing parts like pumps will be a key part of AutoRIM’s relationship with KM, Hindson added. ‘The combined technical support services of KM and AutoRIM< are several times bigger than other people in the UK,’ he said. ‘We have six fully trained engineers at AutoRIM. It can take up to five years to train a technical service engineer. Both Polytec EMC [see box] and KM saw that we were a business with good support engineers who had been through the ranks and know their stuff.’
Technical service engineers are one route that AutoRIM hopes will lead to a growing business for itself, KM and Polytec. ‘You can’t grow without the people to build the machines and install them,’ he said.
The order book is looking good, which he believes shows the approach is working. ‘In a relatively short period of time we went from having one partner to having several, enabling ourselves to keep our British identity,’ he said. ‘That’s very important.’
While all the relationships are important to AutoRIM, the tie up with Krauss Maffei could prove pivotal in bringing state-of-the-art mixing technology to a wider audience.
KM’s Bate added that Stephen Lambert is responsible for sales and project management, and there is also an after-sales team in the UK, plus support from Munich. ‘Stephen has his team and AutoRIM,’ he said. ‘Each can tap into their respective teams for help. We, effectively, have a joint support team of about 15 people in the UK. It is all about trying to support the customers.’
KM wants to diversify into the broader PU market. AutoRIM’s access to the UK market through its technical staff could be helpful. ‘Our vision for the future has changed,’ Hindson said. ‘In our previous life, it was focused on new machine sales, but customers are increasingly asking for support with their existing machines until they are ready to change. Maintenance is so important. For me it is the way to go.’
Customers ask for machines to be modified or upgraded for new projects, he added. ‘Service and retrofits to old machines, or a new mix head or pumps can be a very cost effective and rapid solution to a problem,’ he said. ‘A well-staffed technical department could be a big competitive advantage in the UK and Ireland. We plan to increase our headcount and train more engineers.’
Hindson added that KM have asked them to take a serious look at assembling their machines in the UK. ‘We will buy parts and assemble under license in the UK in Whaley Bridge, probably from the fourth quarter,’ he said. ‘We already have machines here and in KM Warrington to show people. There’s room for us to be a lot bigger than we are.’
Other parts of the picture
AutoRIM also works in partnership with Padova, Italy-based CAMI. Hindson describes it as a ‘beautiful’ Italian engineering company. ‘With their help, there is nothing, regardless of brand, we can’t repair,’ he said.
The next partnering was with Polytec EMC, a machinery company specialising in multi-component and high temperature elastomer processing. Hindson says that, like KM, this company is keen to grow in the UK.
Hindson also signed an agreement with H&S Anlagentechnik to offer chemical bulk storage systems. Euroklimat industrial water chillers round out the portfolio.
Hindson explained that within his company’s portfolio, AutoPress manufacture panel production equipment in Birmingham, UK. Design, meanwhile, is done in Whaley Bridge, and they can integrate mixing and sandwich panel technology to supply integrated discontinuous panel production lines.
‘If you are a bigger consumer or want to reduce waste, you would consider a chemical storage system together with a high- or low-pressure mixing machine and a panel press to go with it,’ he said. ‘We try to put together the right package of equipment so that customers can come to one source. We look at people’s requirements in an integrated way.’