In 2016, Julian Newton-Turner, Manufacturing & Supply Chain Manager with Energy Technology and Control (ETC Ltd) first met Hitaltech. The connecting and enclosing technology specialists were on a stand at the Southern Manufacturing Show in Farnborough. Julian was looking for fresh options for the company’s pad printed connectors which form part of the burner safety controls for high pressure steam boilers in breweries, hotels, hospitals, petrochemical sites, power stations and more.
“We were buying in connectors, sorting them out and then sending them out again, 1000 a time per different type, to a local pad print company to print them,” explains Julian. “Once they arrived back we would hold them in stock – but then minimum runs went up to a minimum of 5000 total pieces. We use 23 different connectors – although some of those may only be needed once a year. For a business that runs lean, that was an awful lot of stock to be carrying.”
Yet switching was not entirely simple. ETC’s CE and UL approved controls required similarly approved connectors to safely regulate temperature, pressure, water levels and the firing up process of industrial burners.
Hitaltech met the standard: “When I met with Hitaltech they told me ‘we have approved connectors AND we can pad print’,” he says. “They keep them all in stock, and I know they can restock us quickly, which makes us more responsive – which is important as we’re part of other people’s supply chains.”
Saving more than money
Costs were lower too. “I was paying £2 per connector and 25p for printing,” Julian recalls. Now I get the printed connector at less than the previous cost of the connector alone. When you get through a couple of thousand a year for most lines, and have 20+ lines, that soon adds up.”
Julian estimates the switch saved ETC £8-10K per year in pad printing alone, but the switch to Hitaltech did more than cut costs. “Our contract partnership with Hitaltech fits the way we work, and enables us to run lean, meet our supply chain commitments and avoid the hassle and inefficiency of carrying large stocks. When the connectors arrive, we just use them – I don’t need to think about anything else or pay a premium for short order parts.”
Managing the pressure of a pandemic
That efficiency has proved vital over the past few months, as ETC’s safety controls have seen huge demand during the pandemic. “Our clients are at the forefront of the drive against coronavirus,” confirms Julian. “Hospitals in particular need high pressure steam for cleaning and autoclaving. So we’ve been very busy.”
Whilst ETC isn’t a well-known name, the company’s controls are sold to some of the largest burner makers in the world who in turn sell to major boiler makers. And with those boilers working round the clock to clean and sterilise medical equipment, it’s fair to say ETC has become perhaps the least known essential service in the country.
Hitaltech is proud to play it’s part. “ETC is one of a number of our clients who have been under enormous pressure during the pandemic to deliver their products,” says Hitaltech MD, Andy Fitzer. “We’re delighted to hear that our way of working has helped our clients deliver on their commitments too.”
From connectors to enclosures
ETC’s relationship with Hitaltech didn’t stop at pad printed connectors. “We’ve started to use their DIN rail products in connector hubs”, Julian explains. “This is for the control system for a new smaller boiler, aimed at the light industrial market. It’s a stripped down version of our usual product that you might find in a microbrewery, for example.”
Although they looked at other suppliers for the enclosure for the new control system, “it was a natural step to go back to Hitaltech.” Julian wanted the new enclosure customised and printed, and Hitaltech has been heavily involved in the development of the product.
“One of the real driving factors was our relationship with Hitaltech’s sales support team. They’re our first point of call and have been very responsive and helpful. We’ve now agreed that the lid will be laser printed with various logos, bespoke for each client. It will be specially moulded in off white with black lettering, but we might have a bespoke colour – because we can!”
With that decision – and extensive testing – still to complete, Julian is confident of launch in late Spring 2021. So four years since that first meeting in 2016, how would he sum up ETC’s experience with Hitaltech?
“In a multitude of ways,” he says, “Hitaltech have helped make us more efficient.”