An innovative North East manufacturer is planning a global roll out of its new solution for safely testing marine bollards, a product that is poised to more than treble turnover within four years.
Working with the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) and consultant Ade Walton from Prozeus, Tyne and Wear Marine (TWM) has spent the last year developing the Bollard Load Test (BLT), which uses a powerful hydraulic ram and specialist torque rope to recreate more than 100 tonnes of ‘pull’.
The breakthrough replaces the traditional method of a tug pulling against the bollard, a method that has previously caused damage to vessels and can be dangerous to the people involved in the test.
The Port of Tyne initially approached the engineering team at TWM with the idea of finding an alternative and from a rough sketch the BLT was born.
The trademark has been registered and a patent is pending, with the long-term plan to roll out the testing service to other ports in the UK and across the world.
“I’m really excited about the Bollard Load Test and it appears I’m not the only one. We are about to start using the service at the Port of Tyne and four more ports are asking us to test their bollards for them,” said Jeff Main, managing director at Tyne and Wear Marine.
“With bollards requiring regular inspections, it should give us the perfect platform to create a specialist UK service division and, in order to get maximum exposure as quickly as we can, we are investigating the prospect of offering international licencing deals.
“We are proud that this product has been designed and manufactured completely in the North East and this will be the case going forward.
“Two people have been directly employed so far and this will increase dramatically as we look to take turnover from £1.2m to £4m by 2018.”
Mike Nicholson, Harbourmaster at the Port of Tyne, added his support.
He said: “We have been extremely impressed with the results of the first successful trial and we are now ready to roll out a regular testing regime.”
The Manufacturing Advisory Service and Prozeus has worked with the company on the development of the BLT and in securing funding towards market research, IP protection and development of market entry strategies.
They will now focus on helping the firm seek legislation to certify the performance ratings of bollards, not to mention putting in place the foundations for the expansion of its service division and structure for potential licencing opportunities.
Due to the anticipated interest, the firm is currently in the early stages of building a new factory adjacent to its current site, to give it more capacity and the ability to develop a bespoke production layout.
The company will again tap into support frrm MAS and Prozeus for tips on lean manufacturing and a complete feasibility study that it will use to leverage over £100,000 of funding from the GROW:OffshoreWind Flexible Enabling Fund.