Wherever you are, the chance is you won’t be far from something made by P&B Metal Components.
The company’s electrical contacts are found in everything from domestic sockets and light switches to cars and heavy duty industrial plant.
And, even if the contacts haven’t actually been made at Queen’s Award winning P&B’s factories in Sheffield and Whitstable, there is a fair chance that they contain materials processed by the firm.
P&B’s export award winning success – and the fact that it can take on, beat and end up supplying competitors, in the low wage economies of Asia, India and South America – is down to investment in innovation and expertise.
The result is the company can justifiably boast being the best when it comes to quality and the fastest when it comes to production.
“We produce more than 550 million components a year and 80 per cent of them are exported. Ten years ago 80 per cent of our products were sold in the UK,” says Jonathan Howard, operations director at the company’s purpose built factory on Acres Hill Lane, Sheffield.
“There is a lot of competition, but not in the UK and Europe, to any extent. Our main competitors are in Asia and India, to a lesser extent.
“We can and do compete with China because we are using technology developed in house for speed. In China they can produce 700 components an hour by hand, while our machine does 400 a minute.”
Even when P&B is using a commercially available machine, the chances are that in house enhancements enable it to run faster than the machine’s manufacturers ever dreamed of.
“We take pride in developing machines,” says Jonathan Howard, “especially when the Swiss came over here with a new machine to find we were running one of their older models at twice the speed.”
While P&B has the capability to turn customers’ finished designs into products, it prefers to get involved at an earlier stage.
“Sometimes someone will come to us with a complex draughtsman’s drawing and ask if we can manufacture it, but we try to get in at the ground floor. That way we can influence the design and help to make their product cheaper,” says Mr Howard.
P&B also strives to cut the costs of established components for clients, but making use of technology, new materials and design changes.