I heard some very interesting figures during a visit to the Trox factory to see the new press the company has just bought.
As well as the new sheet metal press which cost £600,000, Trox has upped its manufacturing workforce by 50%.
Peter Johnson, production director, says the UK workforce is 31.6million. The number of workers employed in manufacturing is 2.96million which is 9.4% of the total. This figure, for March 2007, is 49,000 less than in March 2006, a reduction of 1.6%. Twenty-five years ago, there would have been at least three times the UK manufacturing work force.
So the Trox move is but a small boost for the UK.
Trox says the new manufacturing facility will give it a substantial advantage over its competitors. The company adds clients do not have to wait weeks while components come from China before the units can be made up so the new machine gives Trox and its clients the ability to cut lead times.
More important for the company is working with clients.
There was another part to the press visit that I found just as interesting. Paul Hood, from J P Morgan, is the engineer in charge of the men who look after the m&e and maintenance work for the bank and, in this case, the cooling for the dealer desks.
Obviously, if a computer goes down and a dealer is out of commission for even a few hours, then there is the potential for the bank to lose millions of pounds.
Needless to say, the computers used are of the highest specification and the central processing units generate lots of heat.
Trox has a patented system which uses CO2 to cool these machines. It was originally an upright unit which fitted on to the back of the blade service unit. The system was then adapted with the coolers sitting in a trench beneath the dealer desks.
However this system means the desk and the dealers have to be in a certain place (over the trench) and this does not give the dealing room the flexibility it needs.
Hence, Paul Hood had a problem and possibly a solution. Could Trox build the cooling system so that it would fit above the floor level and sit underneath the hardware?
In a few months, Trox had the units up and working and Paul was a happy man.
Paul had his solution. Trox had another unit to take on the road and the dealer desks at JP Morgan had the flexibility - and the cooling - necessary.
I have been editing HVR now for nearly five years.
You, the readers, have always insisted that by working together - and the m&e contractor being involved early - the problems are ironed up and would-be mistakes are spotted before they cost money.
Obviously, this is not the same scenario but it does prove how supplier and client working together solve problems.
Working together is working smarter.
Paul Braithwaite, Editor