Attwater: 150 years old and continuing to innovate

Uploaded 09 Apr @ 08:06am

Industrial laminates specialist Attwater & Sons may be able to look back on five generations of success as a family business, but the company has its sights set firmly on the future. 2018 marks 150 years since Richard Henry Attwater established his chandlery in Preston, Lancashire, selling to ships on the city’s docks.

Word of the company’s quality products soon spread and Attwater’s parts went on to feature on the Titanic, gold-medal-winning Olympic dinghies, and in advanced engineering projects around the world across a variety of industries. Managing director Richard Attwater says he’s proud of the company’s heritage, but planning for the future and innovating with tomorrow’s engineers in mind has been the key to a century and a half of global success. In recent years, Attwater has reinvested hundreds of thousands of pounds into purchasing new machinery, refining its processes and upskilling its team of expert staff.

This continuing investment has kept Attwater at the forefront of the marine sector for decades. The company is a proud member of British Marine and its accomplishments include producing tiller extensions which helped Sir Ben Ainslie’s crews score gold in both 2008 and 2012.

The company has acclaim in other industries too - Attwater produces materials and machined components for aerospace, oil & gas and power generation sectors to name a few. Its polyimide glass material was a key development and is one of the main reasons that Attwater has been so successful in the aerospace sector. Attwater also manufactures a range of gasket materials and of particular note are the various epoxy laminates with a stainless steel core for use with harsh chemicals.

Richard Attwater says of the company’s success in the aerospace sector: “This has proved to be a fruitful industry for us and we are working with many of the biggest names out there.

“Attwater has held AS9100 quality management certification for ten years now, proving our commitment to aerospace quality, composite laminates manufacture and machining. More recently Attwater gained AS9100 Rev D.”

Technical manager Matt D’Arcy added: “AS9100 is crucial to the business and complements the way we work – but importantly, we also have the knowledge and experience to help customers work towards their manufacturing goals.

“In the foreseeable future, the composites sector will place much greater focus on the materials themselves, such as organic fibres, and resins created from plant derivatives, as well as more traditional composites that are lighter in weight, but with higher performance and allow for energy savings in use.”

“Our components go inside the tools, machines and vehicles which keep this country - and many others around the world - working at peak performance,” says Richard Attwater. “What we do makes those things work. Knowing we play such a crucial role in all of this is what keeps us hungry to find the next step forward, and why we’re not afraid to invest in the technology and innovations of tomorrow.”

One of Attwater’s recent large-scale investments was more than £100,000 spent on two new CNC machines which not only work faster and more accurately than the machines they replace, but are also far more energy efficient. This followed a £200,000 investment in a new ERP system in addition to Catia and Solidworks 3D modelling software.

Attwater’s commitment to meeting and exceeding customer expectations is charted by its annual customer service survey, which continually sees customers rank the organisation as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ in eight categories ranging from telephone manner to value for money and reliability. Attwater’s quotations, ability to answer questions, delivery performance and reliability receive particularly glowing reviews.

“Our products offer a very high performance and quality–to-price ratio, which makes them perfect for a range of uses and a variety of customers,” says Richard Attwater.
“But the reason customers come back to us time and again is the quality of our service. Much of the work we do, particularly in the early stages, is educational, helping buyers understand the products, possibilities and constraints.”

“At the end of the day, we’re a family business with roots in the past, but we have only been able to survive and thrive for this long because we always move with the times and work hard to meet the ever-changing demands of manufacturing.”

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