PlastikCity on Tour – PC Moulding & Automation

PlastikCity on Tour – PC Moulding & Automation

For our final visit of 2023, we were up in Wakefield to visit PC Moulding & Automation. We met directors Peter Crossley and Roger Ewers to discuss the company’s impressive recent growth in designing, manufacturing and installing specialist automation systems specific to the injection moulding industry.

Since its formation in 2009, PC Moulding & Automation (PCM) has carved out an impressive niche by combining its significant expertise in robots and automation in the field of injection moulding.

Founded by Peter Crossley, a former service engineer for a leading moulding machinery company, PC Moulding & Automation was created to address the critical need for specialised automation within the moulding industry.

[Pictured above left to right – Will Clarke, Peter Crossley, Roger Ewers]

As with many leading SMEs in the UK, PC Moulding & Automation began life addressing a gap in the market, and in the 15 years since its formation, it has grown into the go-to name in the market for specialised automation for the injection moulding process.

With past projects ranging from simple degating or demoundling, up to fully designing, installing and maintaining entire automation cells using 6-axis robots, PC Moulding & Automation has the skills and capabilities in-house to provide a wide variety of automation solutions to increase efficiencies for its customers in the plastics sector.

Before we sat down with Roger Ewers to discuss the company’s impressive recent growth, we had a chat about how the company got to where it is today and were treated to a comprehensive tour of the company’s Wakefield facility.

An Automation Adventure

An electrical and electronics engineering graduate from the University of Huddersfield, Peter Crossley’s first role as an engineer in a plastic moulding company, followed by seven years working as a Service Engineer for KraussMaffei perfectly laid the foundations for setting up PC Moulding & Automation as a company.

With his boots on the ground in many moulding facilities up and down the country, Peter was familiar with the pain points and issues these moulding companies faced when it came to the pressures of efficiency and the adoption of automation.

PCM Workshop
PCM’s current facility in Trinity Business Park, Wakefield, with a large open-plan workshop space.

Peter identified a gap in the market for a specialised provider of automation systems and equipment specific to the injection moulding market, and in 2009, PC Moulding & Automation was founded in a small business unit in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

The idea behind the company was to provide specialist and customised automation solutions, but with the focus solely on the injection moulding and plastics manufacturing market, a sector sometimes ignored by larger automation integrators. PCM saw this as an opportunity, dedicating itself to this sector, and soon needed to bring more injection moulding expertise on board as the company began to grow.

Roger Ewers joined the company in 2011 as Sales Director, focusing on growing the client base in the south of England. This marked the beginning of an era of significant growth for PCM, now serving customers across the UK, as PCM’s moulding expertise was further bolstered by Roger, who joined from a successful role as a Project Engineer for KraussMaffei.

The acquisition of Delta Engineering in 2012 was another milestone for the growth of the company as it broadened PCM’s capabilities, bringing milling, turning, welding, and fabrication services in-house, enabling complete control and customisation over its automation projects.

By 2016, PCM had outgrown its existing premises, moving to a larger 3000 sq ft facility in Wakefield. This enabled Roger and Peter to expand their workforce and make more space for their growing suite of machinery and equipment as the company continued to invest in both industry-leading software and hardware.

The final relocation was in 2019, as the company again outgrew its existing home. PCM moved to Trinity Business Park in Wakefield, to a modern purpose-built facility, over double the size of the previous location. The current site has much-improved office and conference space, and the large open workshop area streamlines efficiency in a space with many intricate ongoing automation projects being worked on at any time.

The Grand Tour

It was the Trinity Park facility in Wakefield where we recently caught up with Peter and Roger to discuss their journey with PC Moulding & Automation, the advantages of being such a specialist business, and their plans for the future.

Before we got into the details, Roger was kind enough to deliver the full guided tour of PCM’s impressive site. Immediately, it was evident from the tour that this is a positive and motivated workplace, with music playing over the radio as PCM’s team of engineers busily worked away on a variety of projects in progress in the workshop area. All the staff were incredibly knowledgeable and motivated and were happy to take a few minutes out to discuss the projects they were currently working on.

It was especially fantastic to see a significant contribution by apprentices and other young engineers – an area the industry has traditionally struggled to attract but is clearly held in high regard at PCM.

PCM Shop Floor + Staff
The bustling PCM shop floor – Left, Roger Ewers demonstrates to Jess Clarke, Middle – Apprentice Technical Engineer Jack Gavigan busy at his workbench, and Right – Project Engineer Matt Greenwood hard at work on a customer project.

A key differentiator for PCM is the company’s impressive in-house abilities, thanks to its skilled workforce and significant suite of machinery and equipment. With a 5 Axis Haas CNC machine (pictured below) and a 3 Axis XYZ machine on-site, the company can mill, turn, weld and fabricate entire turnkey systems itself, without relying on outside subcontractors for these processes.

This enables complete quality control and true customisation to be possible for every automation project – a core of PCM’s offerings. This also gives customers one point of contact from one supplier throughout the entire process and enables PCM to keep across all quality control and timescales without relying on external contractors.

PCM CNC Machine + Workflow
Left – PCM’s 5-axis CNC machine and Right – the workflow of current machining projects.

Finally, we had a look at the site’s significant office and conference space, discussing everything CAD and SolidWorks with PCM’s Project and CAD Engineers. Again, it was encouraging speaking with so many talented young engineers who are passionate about the work they do and the difference they make to customers, with engineers Thomas and Nathan (pictured below) both taking time out of their days to discuss current projects.

After a comprehensive look around the workshop and a nose at many ongoing projects for a variety of clients across the injection moulding market, we sat down with Roger to ask some more questions about what sets PCM apart from the competition and what the company has planned for the future.

To kick things off, Roger, what are PC Moulding & Automation’s key products and services?

Roger: “We are a specialist automation solutions provider, specialising in the injection moulding sector.

“We offer a huge variety of solutions, from simple robot applications up to full advanced automation cells for injection moulding. Regardless of a customer’s current setup, we can integrate with existing moulding machinery, guarding and safety systems to improve outcomes and efficiency of your manufacturing process.

“We design and manufacture entire automation systems, integrating ancillaries, conveyors, material and product handling and designing and manufacturing custom EOAT (end of arm tooling) to a customer’s specification. We can integrate 6-axis robots (KUKA, ABB and Fanuc), as well as offer Cobots (collaborative robots) from suppliers, including Universal and KUKA. We also have significant experience in many areas, including laser marking and degating, insert feeding with bowl and step feeders, in-mould labelling (IML), cartesian robots and much more.”

“We also have all the experience and capabilities in-house to manage these complex automation projects from start to finish. We can assess project requirements, design a solution using the latest SolidWorks software, manufacture the jigs, fixtures and components using our milling, turning and welding facilities, and assemble all electrical and mechanical components here in our factory in Wakefield.

“Instead of customers relying on multiple external suppliers, we handle complex turnkey projects under one roof, with a full understanding of the injection moulding process.”

CAD Engineers Thomas and Nathan
Left – Project Engineer Thomas Wise and Right – CAD Engineer Nathan Lawrence-Monck took time out to show ongoing CAD projects and how PCM uses SolidWorks to design completely custom solutions.

What is your target market? How has this evolved over time?

Roger: “Our core business is within the field of injection moulding. Many projects are for the automotive moulding industry; considering it has increased pressures for efficiency, automation is a natural fit, and our customers have a strong understanding of the benefits we can bring to their workflow. We also have a strong presence in the medical industry for similar reasons and have customers in the construction, agricultural and packaging industries, amongst others.

“All of our customers are involved in injection moulding in one way or another, and this is where our expertise comes into play, linking both our strong understanding of the moulding process with the latest developments in automation.

“This means we can offer our turnkey solutions specific to the moulding industry, and our customers receive complete design, installation and ongoing maintenance and support from one dedicated provider.

“After a difficult few years for some of our automotive customers, we’re starting to see positive signs on the horizon for the sector. We’ll be looking to support the automotive industry in the UK into 2024 and 2025 as it tools up for new car models, and hopefully, the lingering supply chain issues will be rectified to see a boom in this area in years to come.

“We’re also looking to grow our customer base in medical and construction specifically, but automotive will always remain a key focus for us.”

What sets you apart from the competition?

Roger: “Our focus is on the injection moulding process. We’re a very experienced company in the market for injection moulding automation specifically.

Our team is also a core strength. A large chunk of our employees come from a moulding or a technical processing background, meaning we understand the specific pressures and pains of the process and how best to leverage automation for improved outcomes.

“A few of us also come from service engineer backgrounds, previously working for moulding machinery companies, which has been a great grounding for a career in automation. As well as a relevant introduction to the problem-solving nature of our work, I believe service engineers are taught well in ‘firefighting’ – having to prioritise work under pressure to achieve positive outcomes. A lot of these skills come into play when having to think outside the box for a solution or for dealing with unexpected issues and prioritising a speedy and efficient response for customers. This means we have a significant focus on communication and response times, which are essential for customers working in high-pressure manufacturing environments.

“We’re also a relatively small team; there’s around 20 of us in total, including mechanical engineers, project engineers, designers, service engineers and apprentices, with a limited internal hierarchy. This means that our customers engage with the company from top to bottom and enjoy increased access and responsibility compared to larger suppliers.

“Our people are our major strength, and their commitment and enthusiasm are what sets us apart in the market. We understand the specific challenges of our sector and approach every obstacle with the knowledge and mentality to make a real difference.

“We don’t provide ‘out the box’ products. Every project requires a high-tech solution to a manufacturing problem, so making sure you have the right equipment and the right team behind you is essential!”

A recent Bagging Automation project was completed for a customer, increasing efficiency and productivity whilst reducing the risk of packaging errors.

What are the company’s plans for the next 12 months? Are you planning on attending any exhibitions or events?

Roger: “We’re looking at growing our team; recently, we hired three new engineers, with Nathan and Francis joining as CAD Engineers and Jack as an Apprentice Technical Engineer. In 2024, we will continue this focus, looking to hire and train young engineers to push the company forward.”

“We’ll also be visiting or exhibiting at various exhibitions linked to plastic moulding, so if you’re at MACH in April or Plastics Live in June, keep an eye out for us!”

Finally, do you have an official or unofficial company philosophy or mantra?

Roger: “Personally, my mantra is ‘Work Smarter, not Harder’ – I believe we should all take our time, take a step back and tackle complex problems with a clear head. As an employer, we need to make sure our staff have a supportive environment to work this way for the best outcomes.

“I also have a strong belief in the power of experience and tell my team always to remember their individual strengths. Between us, we have a formidable combined experience, so there’s no shame in asking for help or support from a colleague – together, we are stronger!

“As a small family-focused company, we put a lot of emphasis on our team dynamics and always strive to maintain a happy and motivated workforce.”

 

It’s clear from spending the afternoon with the PCM team that PC Moulding & Automation is an innovative company operating very successfully from its niche. With a strong blend of expertise, endeavour and a forward-thinking approach, the company is set to continue its impressive growth for years to come.

Thank you to Roger, Peter and the PCM team for taking time out to show us around PCM’s impressive facility and to educate us on the wonderful world of automation.

If you’d like to learn more about PC Moulding & Automation’s bespoke solutions, reach out to the team here.

After a very enjoyable and informative visit, we highly recommend booking a trip for yourself!

 

Look out for the next edition of ‘PlastikCity on Tour’ to learn more about our excellent UK-based partners.

There are now well over 260 active partners represented on the PlastikCity site, many of which offer highly specialised products or services to our sector.

During our everyday course of business, we’ll be making a point of visiting as many of these partners as we can and using the time to better understand what they offer the market. We’ll then showcase them through this ongoing series of articles.

Maybe you can benefit from their services!

Read more news about PCM Automation here.

 

 

PC Moulding & Automation
01924 485553
Website
Email

Related Posts

Subscribe to our newsletter