An innovative light controller that pledges to save energy and cut costs is being made in the North East after the inventor chose to manufacture locally.
Alex Carter, an experienced commissioning engineer, turned his back on the possibility of international production after realising he could make his Light Harvester in the North East quicker and cheaper than he could overseas.
Mr Carter, managing director of Durable Technologies, has invested more than £200,000 of his own funds into setting up his manufacturing facility in Hartlepool and developing a supply chain, which includes a number of local firms.
Working with the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) and the North East Business and Innovation Centre (North East BIC), the company has completed its first installation at UK Steel, with plans in place to sell over 7,000 units this year.
The move will lead to the creation of four new positions, doubling the workforce within twelve months.
“We had developed the Light Harvester exclusively in the North East so ideally wanted to keep the manufacture local,” said Alex, who runs the business with his wife Lorraine.
“This new product contains the light detector and controller in one easy-to-mount casing and, for the first time, uses bluetooth technology and a special App to view data and make adjustments.
“The trials of the first installation show that we can reduce lighting costs in monitored areas by nearly 80%.
“It’s a greener and more cost effective alternative for commercial and industrial premises throughout the UK.”
Durable Technologies has been working with North East BIC on a number of design and re-engineering issues aimed at reducing costs of making and assembling the product in the UK.
At the same time, the management team was working with MAS on accessing funding to develop new tooling for the presence detector element of the ‘Light Harvester’ range.
Together with ongoing mentoring and support, this encouraged the company to consider manufacturing in-house and build its supply chain locally.
“We did look at producing overseas, but quickly realised that it didn’t work out any cheaper and the logistics issue left us with little flexibility in terms of ramping up production,” said Alex.
“I also like the comfort of knowing I can jump in the car and be down the road in 20 minutes to discuss any issues that might come up during supply.”
Chris Hylton, manufacturing advisor at MAS, added: “There’s a lot of talk about reshoring at the moment and Alex’s story reinforces the notion that the UK is a good place to manufacture.
“We worked with the company to understand the cost implications of producing in-house and also in identifying critical suppliers to the process.
“As part of this, we were able to secure funding to help with the completion of the tooling.”
Durable Technologies, which won the North East Business Award for Innovation in 2013, is currently working on another major project to produce light controllers for a household electrical manufacturer.
Combined with the ‘Light Harvester’, the project will see the company increase turnover by 100% to £600,000.