West Yorkshire based Dugdale Ltd anticipates a 2018 that will be filled with creativity, innovation, new PVC-based product applications and new technical challenges.
The UK’s leading independent PVC compound specialist is currently reaping the benefit of some four years of continuous investment in its plant, factory infrastructure and in leading edge PVC polymer technology. Since the company’s MBO in 2014, over £3 million of funding has been directed into all areas of the business.
Interplas 2017 saw the company launch the final stages of the four-year investment, its new PVC applications laboratories and pilot-scale production plant. Dugdale has already welcomed existing and new customers to use these new services and facilities; in order to work in collaboration to refine existing products and to conceive new ones.
Business Development Manager Andy Tombs says that ‘our business is built on two fundamentals – in-depth PVC expertise, and customer service, first and last. Our new PVC applications facilities have been conceived and created with both of these principles to the fore.’
Dugdale will therefore continue to use 2018 to promote and develop these new services and facilities – which will also house, support and enhance the100 plus years of expertise in the core technical team.
Led by Dr Jeff Ryan, Technical Director, the technical team continues to experience high demand for its abilities to create new and bespoke PVC compounds to order and within short lead times. Andy Tombs sees no let up in this demand through 2018. ‘Our current level of business sees us exceeding our previous year’s performance of formulating an average over fifty new PVC compounds per month. Colour matching, customer application requests, price pressures and legislative changes are the predominant drivers.’
Tombs notes that ‘whether we like it or not, regulation is a key driver and influencer in many end use markets – automotive, packaging, medical and all aspects of the construction industry and the building environment. Researching and keeping ahead of this regulatory curve is a key part of what we do at Dugdale and is expressed in some of the solutions that we offer our customers to ensure the final products are future proof.’
For the ‘out and out’ product inventors and innovators the new Dugdale facilities offer a much needed resource: Tombs notes that ‘there are significant commercial rewards for those manufacturers who are willing and able to innovate with new PVC materials, new alloys and new additives. However, such projects typically need failsafe scientific and technical support to reach fruition – ideally leading up to pilot scale production and testing for the customer. All of this is now part of the Dugdale mix through 2018,’ which, according to Tombs, typically involves proving its niche expertise to customers and then supplying solutions – from concept to finished materials.
Dugdale also makes a point of helping customer processes and production at the customer’s place of manufacture. ‘It goes without saying that everything we do has to work as it should within the customer’s factory and infrastructure,’ says Tombs. ‘It is part of our brief to make sure that our materials are performing faultlessly on site. With that in place, we are then able to discuss new compounds and new possibilities via our constantly evolving innovation programmes.’
Recent expenditure in new materials silos, offsite storage, including new compounding and mixing equipment is operational and bearing fruit at the Sowerby Bridge facility. Dugdale has been careful to match its hardware spending with training and investment in the people side of both manufacturing and customer service.
Tombs says that ‘we set a market leading standard by our friendly and unique independent status. For example, in the area of orders and order processing, our internal sales coordinators, Robyn and Julie continue to set the bar higher each year with an efficient and customer-focused response. Dugdale is keenly aware that business is nothing without relationships and 2018 will see us further investing in that area, including fresh faces in the customer-facing team – key for sustaining and enhancing a successful business.’
In short, the coming year is set to be a very busy one for Dugdale – in all aspects of the business.